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Apr 19, 2012

XTEX Launches ICS-Based Tablet for Only $150 USD (115 EUR)

It looks like handset and tablet manufacturers are more concerned about their products’ prices than about their design quality and performance.

Even though there are some exceptions, the general trend in emerging markets is to launch extremely cheap devices.

In this regard, XTEX has recently announced the availability of an affordable 7-inch Android tablet. Simply called My Tablet, the slate is powered by Google’s latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Although the tablet doesn’t seem to feature 3G support, XTEX confirmed My Tablet as being Wi-Fi-enabled. However, the main highlight of the tablet is the fact that it will sell for only $150 USD (115 EUR).

Customers will be able to choose from three color schemes at launch, black, white and pink, but more color options may be added later.

My Tablet is equipped with a powerful 1.5 GHz single-core processor and packs 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, as well as microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 48GB).

The 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display supports 800 x 480 pixels resolution. XTEX also mentions that the table comes with a secondary 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls, but there is no info on the rear camera (if any).

The device also sports USB Mini, USB Ports, a TF Card Slot (supporting up to 32GB), headset port and HDMI 1080P output.

“Everyone is walking around with a tablet device under their arms. The 10-inch tablet's become a fashion accessory, like not so long ago when everybody wore cell phones clipped to their belt. The My Tablet 7-inch is just right. Not only is it about the size of a paperback book and ultra-slim to slip easily into a jacket or back pocket, but also it's loaded with features for convenience and on-the-go connectivity,” said XTEX VP Allen Kiehl.

Samsung Trademarks More Galaxy Family Names: Metrix, Velvet and Legend

It looks like Samsung is about to expand its Galaxy family portfolio even further with the addition of three new devices.

According to Pocketnow, Samsung has just filed documentation for the following trademarks: Galaxy Metrix, Galaxy Velvet and Galaxy Legend.

Other than that, we have no other details regarding this possible Android phones, but there’s a chance that Samsung will use these names for the same device, but different carrier-specific variants.

We’re not even sure that these devices will even make it to the market, as Samsung may decide otherwise for different reasons. Hopefully, we will soon get more info on the actual specs sheets of the trademarked devices.

All in all, it’s worth keeping an eye on these new trademarks for future reference, so stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Intel Sees Potential in Foundry Business, Still Reserved Though

We've seen how Intel has started manufacturing processors for other companies besides itself, and now we get to see just what its leadership thinks of the practice. 

Apparently, Intel is accepting contracts from other companies because it has leftover foundry capacity to use for such things. 

That means that the Intel Custom Foundry division isn't going to become a prominent factor in Intel's strategy. 

Even now, whatever activities the Custom Foundry is carrying out are being kept under wraps. 

Still, it is very possible that Apple SoCs, and other such things, will be produced. There is no evidence of anything having already been decided, but still. 

"The business model that we have today is one that I am extremely comfortable with and we are working as hard as possible to maintain," said Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, during the quarterly conference call with financial analysts. 

"As compared to other non-integrated device manufacturers, we get paid twice for our products: we get paid the equivalent of a foundry margin and we get paid the equivalent of an architectural margin and that allows us to generate fairly nice margins. So as long as we can fill up all of the factories we can build with Intel products at those kinds of rewards in terms of the ROI, that makes the most sense for us."

Intel's CEO has further said that the few contracts it has secured so far are along the lines of learning experiences for them. An example is the agreement to make Netronome Next Flow processors

"You havve seen some small announcements to that effect, where we have signed up some companies for some foundry activity over the next several years. I would look at those, and I would ask you to look at those as being learning experiences for us," Otellini said. "Anything is theoretically possible. The Apple win would be a lot more attractive than the Qualcomm win."

Firefox 14 Adds a Download Panel, It's Here to Stay This Time

Firefox may finally be getting a revamped download dialog. Mozilla has been experimenting with a panel-based download manager for close to a year now, but it is now enabled by default in Firefox 14.

It's only available in the Nightly builds, Firefox 14, but it looks like the feature is here to stay, so it should make it all the way to the stable channel and onto millions of computers in a few months. But we've been down this road before and nothing happened.

It doesn't look like much has changed since the feature first showed up. There's a button at the end of the main toolbar, after the home and bookmarks button, if you haven't modified the default layout.

When a download is active, the button will show a timer, in minutes, indicating how long the download is going to take and showing a progress bar below it. Clicking on the button will open up the download panel that will list all current and recent downloads.

The panel means that Firefox can finally ditch the old dialog-based download manager, which has had plenty of critics and for good reason.

However, just because it's getting a new look doesn't mean that the Firefox download manager is changing all that much, the goal is only to have it better integrated with the UI, the functionality will remain largely the same.

Removing the need for a dialog is a step forward, Firefox wants to have configuration pages live inside tabs rather than their own windows, eventually. The panel also enables the download history to be integrated into the regular browsing history manager.

Firefox 14 should be moving to the Aurora channel next week, after Firefox 12 debuts in the stable channel. Already, Firefox 14 is looking interesting with click-to-play plugins and the integrated PDF viewer built with JavaScript.

Dual-Channel DDR3 Reaches 3256 MHz

With Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs on the way, people who have got their hands on engineering samples are busy testing their limits, and the limits of memory. 

What we have here is a video where an anonymous overclocker pushed 16 GB of DDR3 memory (unknown brand) to DDR3-3256. 

He started the PC with the DDR3 at 3152 MHz (1567 MHz actual) and slowly worked his way up in Windows. 

Some may say that 3256 MHz isn't all that incredible, but they would be forgetting that multiple-module overclocking is quite a bit harder to do compared to single-module. 

The setup was made up of an ASUS Maximus V Gene motherboard and an engineering sample of the Intel Core i7-3770K CPU. 

Speaking of which, the processor itself got overclocked not long ago, attaining 6.616 GHz.

Dell Alienware M14x, M17x and M11x Change Too, or Not

Dell's Alienware-branded gaming laptops are getting updated now that 2012, and the many new hardware components brought by it, are here or almost upon us. 

We'll first get the absentees out of the way, or the one absentee anyway: Alienware M11x, the 11.6-inch gaming ultraportable. 

While Dell updated the M14x, M17x and M18x, the M11x wasn't even mentioned, which might suggest that its end is nigh, because of the impossibility of adding an optical drive, among other things. 

Too bad. With the size of a netbook and the performance of a gaming machine, it has been doing pretty well for itself. 

At any rate, the other Alienware systems have been upgraded, and since we have already covered the M18x, we are going to look just at the M14x and M17x this time. 

One thing worth mentioning is that all of the laptops have 6 GB of RAM by default, while the upper limit is of 16 GB on the M14x and 32 GB on the M17x. 

In case people have forgotten (and the names aren't enough to suggest it), the M14x measures 14 inches in diagonal while the M17x has a 17.3-inch LCD. 

Graphics options have been added as well, with both NVIDIA's 6 series and AMD's 7 series graphics processing units making a stand. 

Even PCI Express 3.0 is present, along with 3 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, Creative's Sound Blaster Recon3Di, Klipsch-tested speakers, THX TruStudio Pro certification and support for 7.1-channel surround sound via HDMI 1.4a. 

Furthermore, there are some new storage options that customers can go for, including mSATA SSDs for caching purposes. 

That is to say, while an HDD still holds most of the data, a solid-state drive of 64 to 128 GB is used for initial writing, as well as system files. This allows for faster boot and overall higher performance. What's more, the whole caching process is automatic. Go here to see all the specs and the heart-stopping prices.

Shipped MIPS-Based Tablets Number 1.8 Million

MIPS Technologies doesn't get much direct attention from the media, but they have been successful regardless, having managed to power almost two million of all tablets shipped until today.

According to Amit Rohatagi, principal architect for MIPS Technologies, the number of MIPS-based slates sold in China by the dozen.

Ainovo was the first to offer a 7-inch Android 4.0-loaded slate at just $99 (76 Euro, give or take).

It then followed up with two more slates, after which competitors began to try their hand as well.

Overall, there are 1.8 million shipped tablets right now, which is not a small number by any measure. After all, mass production only started near the end of 2011.

If nothing else, we can understand why Advanced Micro Devices is racing against Google to buy MIPS. Forecasts say that 2012 will end with 10 million shipped units after all.

Intel Prepares to Scrap a Bunch of CPUs

Product change notifications have been coming in from Intel, which means that some CPUs are going to cease being manufactured soon.

As of April 16, 2013, the Santa Clara, California-based CPU maker will stop shipping the Celeron P4600 (2.0 GHz), the Core i3-370M (2.4 GHz), Core i3-390M (2.6 GHz), Pentium P6100 (2.0 GHz), Pentium P6200 (2.13 GHz) and the Pentium P6300 (2.2 GHz).

Meanwhile, customers can keep making orders, but the ability to cancel them will be gone starting October 16, 2012.

Intel says that a “shift in market demand” is to blame for this course of action.

Truth be told, we aren't surprised that it is trimming its product list, especially now that there are more advanced alternatives with comparable prices.

It is similar to the discontinuance of Several Core and Xeon CPUs that was announced last month.

A Closer Look at Windows 8 Enterprise

In addition to three Windows 8 editions that Microsoft will offer to people all around the world, namely Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT, there will be a special flavor of the upcoming OS, aimed specifically at corporate users, namely Windows 8 Enterprise. 

Microsoft hasn’t provided specific details on when these Windows 8 SKUs would become available for purchase, but rumor has it that October this year might be the lucky timeframe. 

The platform will be released as an important enhancement over Windows 7, being the first Windows release to offer optimizations for use on tablet PCs. 

In fact, Microsoft claims that the upcoming operating system will arrive as a reimagined version of Windows, specifically designed with business customers in mind. 

The aforementioned Windows 8 Enterprise edition, which will be delivered only to customers with Software Assurance, is the platform iteration that will include the enhancements aimed at the enterprise market. 

Microsoft already confirmed that Windows 8 Enterprise would arrive with all of the features included in Windows 8 Pro, but it would also add some new capabilities packed inside. 

These premium enhancements are meant to provide enterprise customers with mobile productivity, security, manageability and virtualization options that are needed in today’s business environment. 

Some of the main features that will arrive exclusively in Windows 8 Enterprise include:

  • Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable external USB stick. This will allow IT organizations to support the “Bring Your Own PC” trend and businesses can give contingent staff access to the corporate environment without compromising security.
  • DirectAccess allows remote users to seamlessly access resources inside a corporate network without having to launch a separate VPN and helps IT administrators keep remote users’ PCs in compliance by applying the latest policies, software updates, is easier to deploy, and it can be implemented with the existing IPv4 infrastructure.
  • BranchCache allows users’ PCs to cache files, websites, and other content from central servers, so content is not repeatedly downloaded across the wide area network (WAN). When used with Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 brings several improvements to BranchCache to streamline the deployment process, optimize bandwidth over WAN connections and ensure better security and scalabilty.
  • AppLocker can help mitigate issues by restricting the files and apps that users or groups are allowed to run.
  • VDI enhancements: Enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012, provide users with a rich desktop experience with the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN) for VDI scenarios.
  • New Windows 8 App Deployment: Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps.

But there’s more to it. Microsoft also promises better end-to-end security and improved manageability in this Windows 8 SKU. It also notes that businesses will enjoy an immersive, personalized experience on Windows 8-based tablets, that will include both mobility and PC-like productivity features. 

Those who haven’t tried Windows 8 yet can download the Consumer Preview via this link.

Intel Ivy Bridge Laptops on June 5, Lenovo Blows the Whistle

We've been talking about the impending arrival of Intel's Ivy Bridge central processing units and how there isn't, or wasn't, much of a way to find out when the laptops would start showing up. 

Sure, the first 22nm-based central processing units will be released on April 23, but it will take the mobile ones a while longer to show. 

There now seems to be an actual release date for notebooks, and it isn't because of some unofficial, questionable report. 

Instead, though the folks at Engadget were the first to spot it, Lenovo is the one responsible for the disclosure of the Ivy Bridge laptop availability date. 

What we mean by that is that this PDF includes a product roadmap where June 5 is specified. 

Chief River CPUs will lie at the heart of whatever notebooks appear on that date, but that doesn't mean that previous-generation models will suddenly disappear. 

In fact, Lenovo is going to continue selling mobile PCs powered by Huron River hardware until September, or thereabouts. 

Among the soon-to-be-updated notebooks, there are Lenovo's X220, X220T and X1, but there is a catch. 

The roadmap gives June 5 as the day when distributors can start acquiring Ivy Bridge Laptops, but that still leaves room for the possibility that consumers will only gain access to them in fall. 

Needless to say, if the new ThinkPads really do take another half a year to make it to the market, everyone else's laptops probably will as well. 

If Intel hadn't delayed the launch of its next-generation platform, chances are there would already be laptops running around. Alas. 

At least we know what to look forward to, and we mean more than increased CPU power. There is the GMA HD 4000 to consider after all. 

Based on previous reports, the integrated GPU will be quite a bit better than GMA 3000, even doing three things at once, and on three distinct displays to boot, all the while leaving CPU load at just 28%.

MSI Readies Radeon HD 7870 HAWK Graphics Card

Micro-Star International is preparing a new video card bearing the HAWK brand, one that is based on an AMD product. 

The full name of the device in question is MSI R7870 HAWK and the cooling module used by it is none other than the Twin Frozr 4. 

A custom-designed PCB (printed circuit board) was employed in the invention of the card, along with a special VRM involving the MSI GPU Reactor module (for power conditioning). 

Alas, we can't tell you what the GPU and memory clocks are going to be, because we don't know them either. 

We do know that factory overclocking will be involved though, and that further clock tweaks will be possible at owners' discretion.

Nikon D3200 DSLR Camera Formally Launched

There is a new digital camera up for sale, or there will be as soon as Nikon and its sales partners finish whatever preparations, checkups and protocols are left.

The new camera that Nikon created for the consumer market is called D3200 and promises to be both quick and capable in terms of image quality.

Powered by a 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor (EXPEED 3), it can shoot high-speed photos at 4 fps (frames per second) and record 1080p video easily.

The ISO range is 100 to 6,400, but one can push it all the way to ISO 12,800 for when trying to capture low-light images.

Also, video is filmed with full focus and either manual or automatic exposure control. A 3-inch 921k dot LCD panel shows the preview.

Not only that, but photographers can grow into their role via the Guide Mode and even have six Scene Modes to choose from (Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-Up or Night Portrait).

“When every moment is as precious as the next one, having a camera that takes the guesswork out of photography is important,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. 

“The Nikon D3200 HD-SLR offers effortless functionality and easy-to-use connectivity to mobile devices that answers the call for a capable, entry-level D-SLR that will change how you share amazing images with your friends and family.”

Nikon's D3200 has a stereo microphone and an HDMI output. It is compatible with Nikon’s dedicated DX-format lenses and over 50 FX-format lenses, as well as Nikon’s Speedlight System.

Availability should ramp up this month (April, 2012), if it hasn't already, in black or red colors. The price is $699.95 / 534 Euro (includes AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilization lens). A WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter (allows photo sharing with Android phones and tablets) will require an extra $59.95 (45.71 Euro) once it appears, in May.

Gainward and Palit Launch 4 GB GeForce GTX 680 Cards

It looks like it wasn't enough for Palit Microsystems and Gainward that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards is the best single-GPU graphics card so far. 

Sure, the Kepler-based video board did not win all possible tests, but it still showed an edge while being more affordable than the competition. 

Even so, however, there are those who feel the video controller is not powerful enough. 

As such, Palit and Gainward have released GeForce GTX 680 boards with 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM instead of 2 GB. 

The names of the add-in boards are Palit GeForce GTX 680 JetStream and Gainward GTX 680 Phantom 4GB. 

Both of them have special coolers (three fans on Palit's board, two on Gainward's), but their specifications are pretty much the same. 

In fact, the GPU and memory clock speeds are identical to those on the 2 GB reference graphics adapter. 

In other words, Palit and Gainward just strapped two extra GB on these beasts, claiming that it helps with “rich realistic and explosive HD gaming performance under maximum resolution setting.” 

For those who want numbers, the GK104 GPU (graphics processing unit) works at 1,006 MHz (base) and 1,058 MHz (GPU Boost technology). Meanwhile, the VRAM has a frequency of 6,008 MHz. 

Basically, the extra memory will make triple or quad-monitor setups work even more smoothly, assuming there was room for noticeable improvement in the first place. 

Gainward's GeForce GTX 680 Phantom 4GB is fully detailed on its product page, while Palit has its own section of the website dedicated to the GeForce GTX 680 JetStream

Of course, prospective buyers should keep in mind that they will have to pay a small fortune for these things. Then again, people who can afford to make top-tier systems probably have no financial constraints. Still, caution is always good.

XOLO X900 Smartphone Launched with Intel CPU Inside

The first smartphone in the world to pack an Intel Medfield application processor inside is now official and en-route to shelves. 

It is called XOLO X900 and was made by Lava, but runs under Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, which can be upgraded to the newer Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. 

The handset is powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor and packs the company’s Hyper Threading technology for great multi-tasking capabilities and improved battery life. 

The smartphone was also packed with 400 MHz graphics core and 1GB of RAM, which should help the processor deliver great performance to all users. 

“A 4.03” hi-resolution LCD screen, dedicated HDMI output, full HD 1080p playback and dual speakers ensure an unmatched multimedia experience. Click up to 10 photos in less than a second on the 8MP HD camera which boasts of certain DSLR like features,” Lava notes. 

“With XOLO X900’s 400 MHz Graphics Processing Unit, 3D and HD gaming turn immersively realistic. Everything you have always wanted, and more, now comes in a blink into your pocket.”

The handset’s four-inch display can deliver a 1024 x 600 pixels resolution, while its 8MP camera allows HD video recording. A 1.3 MP front camera offers support for video calling at 480p resolution. 

WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth and NFC were also included with this device, along with Hi Speed USB port, and support for HSPA+ networks. 

The smartphone also comes with 16 GB of internal memory and with a 1460 mAh battery, that can deliver up to 7.8 hours of talk time on 3G, and up to 14 days of standby time. It is also said to offer up to 43.9 hours of music playback. 

The Lava XOLO X900 smartphone is set to become available in India at Croma starting with April 23rd. It will hit retail in early May, featuring a price tag of Rs 22,000 (around $450 / 325 Euro).

Galaxy S III Almost Confirmed with Quad-Core, Impressive Performance

In two weeks’ time, the next flagship Android device from Samsung could make an official appearance under the name of Galaxy S III. 

The South Korean mobile phone maker has set up a press event on May 3rd, and with this occasion the successor of Galaxy S II is expected to make an official appearance. 

Unfortunately, the handset vendor hasn’t provided official details on what will be announced on that day, which left room for a lot of speculation on the matter. 

The latest reports on this suggest that we’ll indeed see Galaxy S III launched on May 3rd, and that it will be an Android smartphone, powered by a quad-core application processor. 

This also means that it will be capable of great performance, and this is exactly what a source told The Verge: "Expect superlative benchmark performance."

While specific details on the CPU inside Galaxy S III were not unveiled, it was somehow expected for Samsung to make sure that the phone will live up to the promise. 

Chances are that it will arrive with the faster Exynos 5250, and not with the Exynos 4412 processor that was packed inside Meizu’s MX smartphone, though this might be only a wild guess.

However, there are also those who claim that May 3rd will bring to the spotlight a handset meant to be only a minor upgrade for Galaxy S II. 

Rumor has it that Samsung might launch the new Galaxy device only with enhancements comparable to those iPhone 4S included, when compared to its predecessor. 

There should be increased power efficiency and a series of new features packed with the device, along with a new, larger design, but no outstanding changes. 

Considering the fact that Samsung has promised a successor for Galaxy S II for the first half of this year, we would rather hope that Galaxy S III will deliver the increase in performance that it has been long rumored to include.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 and Dead Space 3 Leaked by Retailer

Two very big sequels, in the form of Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 and Dead Space 3, have just been leaked by a South African games retailer, although no other details have accompanied their listings.

Electronic Arts is definitely working on quite a few big games, but you can be sure that many are still closely guarded secrets.

Unfortunately for the company, South African retailer BT Games, via CVG, posted two very interesting listings on its website yesterday.

The first was for Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2, a possible sequel to the extremely popular Most Wanted title that appeared way back in 2005.

The second one was for a Dead Space 3 title, which practically confirms that the journey of space engineer and alien killer Isaac Clarke is far from over.

The listings only mentioned the titles of these games, so it may just be wishful thinking on behalf of the retailer. Even so, it seems that EA might make some pretty big announcements later this year, probably at E3 2012 in June.

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