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Feb 24, 2012

Video Previews of Optimus 4X HD, Optimus 3D Cube, and Optimus Vu Available

LG has unveiled to the world a range of appealing new devices during the past week, including the LG Optimus 4X HD, Optimus 3D Cube, and Optimus Vu. 

All three run under Google’s Android operating system and all of them will hit shelves as high-end smartphones. 

For example, we should note that Optimus 4X HD was made official with a quad-core application processor inside, while the Optimus Vu is the largest Android device from LG to date. 

As for the Optimus 3D Cube, LG launched it as the successor of last year’s Optimus 3D, and packed it with slightly better hardware. 

Today, you can have a look at each of these devices, courtesy of a series of videos that Italian website Telefonino has published recently. The videos are in Italian, but the images speak for themselves.

Zotac Has a Micro-ATX Board Nearly Ready

We've seen many announcements pertaining to high-end motherboards recently, but Zotac is offering a different flavor, or will do so once its ZT-H67D3 actually reaches stores. 

The reason why there is so much talk about high-end motherboards right now is the impending arrival of Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs. 

Since they promise a massive boost in performance, motherboard makers, like MSI and Intel itself, are all too eager to offer support for them. 

Zotac has now changed gears, or will do so sooner or later, according to Expreview

What the company has prepared is the ZT-H67D3, a micro-ATX motherboard for small form factor PCs and other, low-end and low-cost systems. 

The company is quite likely aimed at emerging markets where affordability is more important than usual. 

Speaking of which, the platform is supposed to be targeting the $63 price point, a sum that translates into 47.11 Euro. 

For that much money, owners get the H67 chipset, which handles Intel Core i3, Core i5 and/or Core i7 CPUs featuring the LGA 1155 socket. 

A 6-phase VRM powers whatever chip is bought (separately), as well as the four DDR3 memory slots (dual-channel memory supported). 

Additionally, Zotac implemented three SATA 3.0 Gbps ports, plus an eSATA 3.0 Gps connector and a pair of SATA 6.0 Gbps ports. 

Furthermore, there is a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, as well as a pair of PCI Express x1 slots and a legacy PCI. 

As for the back panel, prospective buyers may notice the distinct lack of a D-Sub output, even though DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI are all present and accounted for (one of each). 

Finally, 8-channel HD audio is supported, as is Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 (there is no USB 3.0, apparently). The exact availability date has not been disclosed, unfortunately, but it should not be too far off.

Nokia Belle Gets a Taste of Microsoft Apps

Following the release of the new Nokia Belle operating system for Nokia’s Symbian Anna devices, more applications with support for the new platform version have started to emerge. 

Among them, we can count the Microsoft Apps (aka a set of productivity apps from Microsoft), which are now up for download for Nokia’s Belle-powered handsets. 

These apps are meant mainly for business users who own Belle devices, and come as the result of the collaboration between Microsoft and Nokia. 

With Nokia Belle, anyone can easily stay productive when using these apps. Not to mention that users will also be able to easily connect to their work environment from just about anywhere.

“The idea of IT consumerisation is no longer just an idea – it’s real and happening everywhere around us. People are making their own choices when it comes to deciding which smartphone they want to carry – at home and at work,” David Mason, head of product marketing for Business Mobility, said. 

“And there’s really no need for a separate phone just to check your work email. With all the right security policies, great devices and the right apps – especially when they were developed and tested by Microsoft – both you and your IT manager can stay happy.”

The Microsoft Apps in this release include Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Document Connection, Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile, and Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast. 

With Microsoft OneNote, users will be able to create rich text notebooks through words and images, while also having the option to sync them to SkyDrive. 

Microsoft Document Connection offers a single view to all docs on the device, attached in emails and in SharePoint. Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile delivers chat capabilities with colleagues, while Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast enables fast sharing of PowerPoint presentations via phone. 

Microsoft Apps also offer support for 48 different languages, so that as many Nokia Belle smartphone owners as possible benefit from them. 

These apps can be installed on Nokia E7, Nokia C7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia X7, Nokia Oro, Nokia 700, Nokia 701, and Nokia 603. They will offer support for Nokia N8, Nokia E6 and Nokia 500 soon.

ViewSonic Unveils ViewPhone 4s, 4e and 5e with Android 4.0

This year’s Mobile World Congress will certainly be dominated by Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

The platform has already been announced as being set to land on shelves on a variety of devices, including three new phones from ViewSonic, called ViewPhone 4s, 4e and 5e. 

ViewPhone 4s will arrive on shelves with a 3.5-inch 960 x 640 Super Clear IPS LCD screen, 1GHz CPU, a 5MP snapper on the back, and a VGA camera on the front. 

ViewPhone 4e will arrive on shelves with a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 LCD, along with a 650MHz application processor, and a three-megapixel camera on the back. 

ViewPhone 5e will be much larger, featuring a 5-inch touchscreen display, capable of delivering an 800 × 480 screen resolution. It also sports dual-SIM capabilities, Engadget states.

Robot Manipulates Truss Structures

Another day, another blog about robots. This time, though, we've got something less about human interaction and more about automation. 

Some folks over at the Cornell Creative Machines Lab built a robot that can not only navigate trusses, but it can also work with them. 

That is to say, it can unscrew beams, move them around and screw them in place at the end of other sections. 

As the video shows, the weird thing is a sort of two-section caterpillar. Ok, maybe it's a stretch to make that comparison, but it's the only one that comes to mind. 

We aren't exactly sure what practical implementations this could have, but people will definitely come up with some if they think hard enough. Maybe some role will be found in architecture and construction work at some point.

Samsung GT-N8000, Galaxy Note Successor, Receives Bluetooth Certification

With only a few days left until Mobile World Congress 2012 opens, Samsung’s mysterious GT-N8000 received Bluetooth SIG’s approval.

The device is said to be Galaxy Note’s successor, but it is listed as “End Product” under “Samsung Mobile Tablet” category. 

This might hint to a recently leaked Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, as the model number follows the same pattern as the original Galaxy Note, which was codenamed GT-N7000.

The device will probably be announced after Mobile World Congress 2012, as Samsung has yet to confirm any major launch events for this trade fair.

For the time being, there are no other details regarding this mysterious device, but it shouldn’t take too long for more info to emerge in the following weeks. It’s also possible to see this one being announced at the MWC 2012, though we doubt it.

PQI Air Drive Adds 32GB of Wireless Storage to Smartphones and Tablets

Showcased for the first time at the beginning of the year during the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, PQI’s Air Drive wireless storage device has just been made official by the company.

PQI’s latest creation has the same functionality as Kingston’s Wi-Drive, but it features improved compatibility, which enables it to work even with Android-powered smartphones.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Wi-Drive, this is basically an external storage solution that can connect to various devices through an ad-hoc wireless network. In the case of the PQI Air Drive, this connection can support up to five devices simultaneously.

For storage purposes, the drive relies on an SD card slot, which is compatible with SDHC memory cards sporting capacities of up to 32GB.

Other features include a retractable USB cord, a built-in high performance lithium-ion battery that can offer an estimated 5 hours of continuous video playback, an activity LED, and an ultra-compact design.

In fact, PQI’s Air Drive is about the same size as a credit card since it measures 85x54x8mm, while its weight is rated at a mere 55 grams.

“PQI is honored and very happy to share the Air Drive with the public and looks forward to providing even more wonderful products in the future,” said a PQI representative.

“Breaking away from the physical barriers by going wireless enables people to access more possibilities and unlimited opportunities. 

“With PQI’s “Memory in the Air”, users can access the cloud like never before and enjoy wireless lifestyles with unlimited possibilities,” concluded the company’s rep.

PQI hasn’t provided us with any details regarding the drive's availability or pricing, but the company did mention that this will be available in two colorways, namely Iron Grey and Jet Black.

ADATA’s Energy Efficient DDR3L RDIMM Server Memory Runs at 1600MHz

Memory maker ADATA has recently announced the introduction of a new line of high performance RDIMM memory for cloud business solutions, which was designed to deliver improved levels of energy efficiency.

The new DDR3L DIMMs require just 1.35V in order to operate and are available as 4GB or 8GB modules supporting speeds starting at 1066/1333MHz and going up to 1600MHz.

According to ADATA, these RDIMMs (registered DIMMs) were tested to operate with a wide range of Intel and AMD processors, including Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Interlagos chips.

Furthermore, customers who require improved data reliability can opt for ADATA’s 8GB memory modules which are also available with ECC error correction.

As far as timings are concerned, these depend on the speed the memory is rated to run at, and DDR3 1066/1333 modules have been configured to run at CL 9, while the faster 1600MHz parts have somewhat looser timings as they work at CL 11.

“Reduced energy consumption is becoming increasingly important to our customers, not just in order to cut costs, but as a route to achieve sustainable business growth on a broad scale,” said Jacky Yang, product manager at ADATA.

“The entrance of these new Server DIMM modules are evidence of ADATA’s commitment to reduced costs and sustainable operating models for large data centers worldwide,” concluded the company’s rep.

Availability and pricing info wasn’t provided by the maker and a quick Google search hasn’t returned any results either, meaning that these have yet to arrive into retail.

In addition to its new DDR3L memory, ADATA has also announced the introduction of a new series of regular voltage (1.5V) server RDIMMs, which are available in 4GB and 8GB capacities with optional ECC support.

Intel's Xeon E5 CPUs Set for March, Itanium Gets Updated

Intel's central processing units are making the news again, only this time it is the server line that is getting attention instead of the oft discussed Ivy Bridge series. 

Yet again, Digitimes has provided some information that may or may not be completely valid, but chances are it is in this case. 

The report published here deals with Intel's upcoming collection of server processing units. 

This extends to more than the Xeon E5 series, which people have known about for months and even saw in action at CES 2012, albeit in an unexpected type of system. 

Despite being a processor meant for servers, it was used to make and demo a LAN party computer. 

That said, according to the new rumor, the first wave of Xeon E5 chip will debut in March 2012. 

15 models will be unleashed, for starters, as options for single-socket and dual-socket systems based on the Romley-EP platform. 

The so-called “weakest” CPU will be the quad-core Xeon E5-2603, at 1.8 GHz. Its bulk price is $202 / 151 Euro. 

The strongest is the eight-core 2.9 GHz Xeon E5-2690, whose own price, when sold in bulk quantities, will be of $2,057 / 1.535.99 Euro. 

Overall, the 32nm, Sandy Bridge-based E5-2600 line will cover the mid-range workstation and server segment, with up to 20 MB of cache memory. 

Furthermore, besides the E5-2600, there will be E5-2400 parts, with prices of $192 / 143 Euro to $1,440 / 1,075 Euro. 

Some Itanium server chips should be launched at around the same time as the above. 

As for the later months, the Santa Clara, California-based company plans to bring out four-socket Romley-EN server platforms. 

On a related note, for those more preoccupied with consumer products, the Intel Core i7-3820 was overclocked to 5.666 GHz and there is even some recent info on the Ivy Bridge CPU die.

Microsoft to Pack Office 15 with a Touch Mode

Microsoft’s upcoming Office 15 suite of applications is expected to become available with a so-called touch mode, which will be enabled only on devices featuring touch capabilities.

The suite will arrive with support for touch, but desktop users won’t be forced to have it enabled if their computers lack touch, it seems.

Basically, Microsoft will make the Office 15 applications desktop apps, but will also pack them with a button to enable touch capabilities, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley notes

Office 15 applications were promised with touch-optimizations, to fit the needs of upcoming devices running under the Windows 8 platform. 

Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will be loaded on Windows on ARM devices as well, as desktop applications as well, but with the said touch capabilities packed inside. 

These won’t be WinRT-based Metro-Style applications, as the rest of the software designed for Windows 8. 

Last month, Microsoft made available the Technical Preview version of Office 15, and the screenshot available to the left is a proof of the changes packed in Word 15. 

The said Touch Mode button is visible there, though it appears that it is not yet functional. However, the touch-friendly Office UI will be available in future product milestones. 

Through enabling both a touch and a non-touch mode in Office 15, Microsoft appears set to make the application suite also fit for users relying on keyboard / mouse for navigation and input. 

The latest leaked screenshots with the new product show a series of interface changes from the current flavor of Office, though they are not yet as clearly visible as they should be. 

The next release of Microsoft’s productivity suite, set to become available for the general public sometime in the summer, should unveil more on what the final product will actually look like. 

For the time being, no official release date for the product has been unveiled. Apparently, the Office 15 client, server and Office 365 complements will be released by late 2012.

iPhone 5 Makes Room Inside for LTE Radios - Report

Word on the web is that Apple is preparing to make the iPhone 5’s dock connector smaller so that the handset has room for LTE radios and a bigger battery inside.

While the dock connector is hardly a part that takes up a lot of room inside Apple’s handsets, anything that can be shrunk leads to a bigger something else, or an extra something else - in this case, an LTE chip.

iMore claims to have heard from its own sources that “Apple is getting ready to ditch the dock connector as it’s currently sized and implemented on iPods, iPhones, and iPads.”

The reason: “to save space inside the iPhone 5 for what are now more important components […] like battery and LTE radios.”

The blog appropriately points out to similar scenarios in the past, such as Apple putting the iPhone 4’s antenna on the outside of the device, or the switch from a regular SIM card to a micro SIM.

But there may be a more important reason why Apple might eventually shrink the dock connector, and it’s not to make room for other parts.

The next iPhone is widely rumored to be completely different from an aesthetic point of view. In fact, if Apple launches the iPhone 5 with a similar design to that of the 4S, that would make three phones in a row that look the same.

Considering how much the iPhone sells based on looks, Apple simply can’t afford not to innovate on this particular aspect.

And the next step to altering the iPhone’s design, most experts agree, is to make it teardrop-shaped, or at least tapered around the edges (much like the original iPhone, but thinner). Which means at least the top and the bottom are likely to get thinner.

A thinner bottom would undoubtedly lead to a redesigned dock connector, as the current one fills up the depth of the iPhones almost entirely.

Asus Dual-Socket Z9PE-D8-WS LGA 2011 Motherboard Up for Pre-Order

Showcased for the first time at this year’s CES fair, Asus’ Z9PE-D8-WS dual-socket workstation motherboard for LGA 2011 processors has just been made available for pre-order by a Canadian retailer for the equivalent of $634.56 US (474 EUR).

NCIX hasn’t mentioned when the board will start shipping, but this shouldn’t take long as Intel’s launch of the Sandy Bridge-EP Xeon E5-series processors is just around the corner.

Just like its SR-X counterpart built by EVGA, the Z9PE-D8-WS features dual LGA 2011 sockets which, in this case, are paired together with four DIMM slots each, in order to enable the motherboard to hold up to 256GB of RAM.

Seven PCI Express x16 slots are also available, driven by the 80 PCIe lanes available in the Xeon E5-series processors that are going to be paired with the Z9PE-D8 WS.

Of course, such a high-end setup forced Asus to go with a larger form factor than usual, so this upcoming creation will use the SSI CEB standard, which is usually reserved for servers.

On the storage side, Asus has placed 10 SATA ports, of which six appear to be 6Gbps capable, while two additional USB 3.0 ports placed in the back of the motherboard round up the Z9PE-D8 WS’ expansion capabilities.

Dual Ethernet ports are also present, but only one of these is actually a Gigabit network jack as the other is linked to an ASPEED AST2300 2D VGA controller that also brings remote management capabilities to the Asus board, according to VR-Zone.

At CES 2012, Asus’ booth featured the Z9PE-D8 WS running dual Xeon E5 CPUs and four Nvidia graphics cards linked in SLI, a configuration that will definitely capture the interest of a lot of companies wanting to build a high-performance rendering workstation on the cheap.

Scythe Katana 4 CPU Cooler Stars at CeBIT 2012

Unlike ASUS, Scythe will definitely attend this year's CeBIT trade show, with a whole slew of products, the main attraction being the Katana 4 CPU cooler.

Given that Scythe is, essentially, a cooling product specialist, it was obvious that it would have some sort of high-tier CPU cooling module on display at the event.

The Katana 4 is the so-called star attraction, even though the company has other things to show, like a pair of D-class digital amplifiers.

Showing that Scythe is just as eager to sell audio products as it is on the cooling market, the exhibition will include the Kama Bay Amp Pro (SDAR-3000) and Kama Bay Amp Mini Pro (SDA35-2000).

The former relies on the Toshiba TB2924AFG IC (integrated circuit) and can output 16 watts per channel, continuously.

Meanwhile, the Kama Bay Amp Mini Pro uses the MAX98400A Power IC from MAXIM and can deliver 24 watts per channel while being smaller.

Nevertheless, the Katana 4 CPU cooler is bound to capture most of the attention of anyone visiting Scythe's booth in Hannover, Germany, between 6 and 10 March, 2012.

One of its highlights is the A.T.F.S. fin structure design (Aero Tuning Fin Structure): the fins are tilted and rely on intake holes for better airflow.

With this to ensure efficiency, the Katana 4 has three copper heatpipes and one fan, plus the N.G.C.S. (New Generation Clip System).

N.G.C.S. lets owners mount it on even the latest CPU sockets, which no doubt includes the upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs.

Alas, this year's CeBIT doesn't look like it will be as big or as crowded as in previous years, when we had people there. We've mentioned that ASUS has apparently decided that it wasn't worth attending this time. It may be that the poor economic situation of Europe is a bigger turnoff than people thought.

Nokia Carla to Arrive on Nokia 801

Nokia Carla, the next flavor of the Symbian platform, is expected to arrive on shelves later this year. The first handset to feature it is now said to be the previously rumored Nokia 801. 

The phone maker made it to the headlines a few times before, but was recently suggested to have been scrapped, along with the whole future range of new Symbian phones from Nokia, except for one flagship device.

A few days ago, this phone was said to be the Nokia PureView 808, and not the Nokia 801, as many might have expected. However, a recent article on smartphonegeeks suggests that Nokia’s next OS flavor will make it on shelves on the 801, which might be the handset in the photo above. 

We’ll take this rumor with a big grain of salt, but there is a chance that it might actually become reality, especially since nothing was made official on the matter for the time being.

World's First Quad-Core Mini-ITX Motherboards Launched by VIA

VIA doesn't get to brag about much on the CPU and motherboard markets anymore, but it still has its moments, like this one owed to the VIA EPIA-M900 and VIA EPIA-M910. 

The VIA EPIA-M900 and VIA EPIA-M910 are two mini-ITX motherboards designed to be used in the embedded market. 

This much is not enough to make them stand out, but the processors they bear manage to do that in their stead. 

VIA has chosen to outfit them with the 1.2 GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor. 

In other words, the VIA EPIA-M900 and VIA EPIA-M910 are the industry's first mini-ITX motherboards with quad-core CPUs. 

The thermal design power of the processor is 27.5W, but the chip still handles video quality of up to HD, even in multi-display configurations. 

"The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor delivers world class performance in the industry's leading power efficient package," said Epan Wu, head of the VIA embedded platform division, VIA Technologies, Inc. 

"The high performance of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it the perfect platform for the creation of next generation digital signage displays and embedded projects." 

VIA EPIA-M900 measures 17 x 17 cm (6.69 x 6.69 inches), has a PCI Express x16 slot, a PCI slot and supports up to 8 GB DDR3. 

It is aimed at digital signage, POS, Kiosk, healthcare, media client system design applications, ATM and home automation. 

The back panel offers Gigabit LAN, HDMI, VGA, four USB 2.0, one COM port, three audio jacks and pin headers for various connections. 

Meanwhile, the VIA EPIA-M910 has specs similar to those above (though perhaps with different numbers of each port type), plus two SATA connectors. 

Both newcomers can replace the quad-core chip with a 1.6GHz dual core VIA Nano X2 E-Series processor or, in the case of the M910, a fanless 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor.

Quad-Core Intel Core i7-3820 Overclocked to 5.666 GHz

Overclocking goes on all the time, but one user or another sometimes performs a feat impressive enough that the Internet can't help but take note of.

This time, it is GUN'G'STAR of TeamRussia that has managed to push a central processing unit to its limits.

In fact, one might say that the overclocker went beyond the limits altogether, since the chip it chose to experiment on wasn't the most overclocking-ready one.

The chip in question, Intel's Core i7-3820, is one of the so-called “Limited unlocked” central processing units.

What this means is that, while the clock multiplier is not disabled, it is not unlocked all the way either.

In other words, the BClk multiplier is unlocked only to a few steps above the clock settings, so it should not be possible to achieve any records with it.

This obviously didn't stop GUN'G'STAR from at least trying, and he managed to actually push the frequency to 5,665.99 MHz, about 2 GHz above the stock setting.

The BClk speed was of 131.74 MHz, while the core voltage was set at 1.6 V and the multiplier value at 43x.

A system based on an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard was employed as the test bench, while 8 GB of GeIL DDR3-1600 memory backed up the i7-3820.

Needless to say, there was liberal use of home-concocted extreme cooling, and the four channels of memory were driven to exertion as well.

Some concessions had to be made, though: two of the four cores were disabled, as was the HyperThreading functionality. 

Nevertheless, the results are nothing to scoff at, even if they don't even come close to rivaling that beast of a 10-core, 20-thread Ivy Bridge-EP chip tested here. And that is an unfair comparison anyway.

For those interested in what else the test system used, the GPU-Z Validation, available here, shows an NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT (540 MHz GPU clock, 702 MHz RAM clock).

Samsung’s New Quad-Core Exynos CPU Demoed Ahead of MWC 2012

Korean handset maker confirmed earlier this month that it won’t have any major launch events at the Mobile World Congress 2012. However, it looks like there is at least one important announcement that the company is expected to make next week.

It appears that the company has shown its new mobile processor masterpiece the Samsung Exynos, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

The new CPU is based on the 32nm manufacturing process, unlike the older version that was built using a 45nm process. Samsung is expected to announce dual-core and quad-core processors based on this technology, next week at the MWC 2012.

Both types of processors, dual-core and quad-core will come in various configurations and will be clocked at up to 1.5 GHz. Samsung claims that its new CPUs deliver better performance and are draining less energy from the battery.

CyanogenMod 9 Nightly Builds on Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S and XOOM

The Android 4.0-powered CyanogenMod 9 is advancing nicely, and the team behind it has just shared some more info on what users can download and install on their devices. 

For example, they can now download CM9 nightly builds on handsets such as Galaxy Nexus (GSM and CMDA) and Nexus S (GSM and CDMA), as well as on the Motorola XOOM tablet PC (Wifi and 3G).

Only a few days ago, the team asked the community to offer help through donations, and they have managed to purchase three top of the line build servers, which help them continue their work. 

“We'll be setting up an automatic build schedule soon once we have all the kinks worked out. CM7 nightlies will also resume shortly as well,” Koushik Dutta, notes in a recent post on Google Plus.

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