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May 23, 2012

Five New Nexus Handsets on November Fifth

Google has been recently rumored to plan making some changes to its approach to the release of new Nexus handsets, through having more such phones launched at once from multiple vendors.

Nothing has been officially confirmed on the matter for the time being, but additional details on the this have emerged. Apparently, there will be five new Nexus smartphones launched this year, and all of them might arrive on November 5th. According to a recent article on talkandroid, November 5th marks the fifth anniversary of Android, and the new devices should arrive on shelves all at once to celebrate that. The info comes from a “trusted source,” but no specific info on these devices has been provided until now. However, since Google usually releases new Nexus phones with a new flavor of Android on board, we might expect it to make a similar move this year as well. 

Most probably, these five handsets will be powered by the Android 5.0 Jelly Bean platform, which has been already rumored a few times to arrive in 2012. What is unclear at the moment is whether these devices will be unveiled to the world on that day or announced before November 5th, with plans to have them on shelves on this date. Previously, Google had Nexus smartphones coming from two mobile phone makers, namely HTC Corporation and Samsung Electronics. Since it has just completed the acquisition of Motorola, we could expect for one of the aforementioned five phones to be made by this vendor (technically, they would come from Google itself). 

What remains to be seen is what other phone makers will join the Nexus party, though we might expect for LG to be one of them, as well as Chinese makers such as ZTE. All previous Nexus smartphones were launched with top-of-the-line hardware and features packed inside, and this might not change with the upcoming release, but no details on the matter are yet available.

iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5th-Gen Parts Leak Ahead of Refresh

Apple is reportedly planning to refresh both the iPhone and its popular media player, the iPod touch, at an event later this year. Recent hardware leaks indicate that the latter will also be getting a display upgrade, perhaps an even bigger one than the iPhone 5.

The parts obtained by BadGizmo Repair support all the recent chatter about Apple’s next iPhone, including the bigger screen, different internals (such as a new flex cable holding the Home button in place), and the camera modules - front and rear. Most importantly, the repair shop claims to have obtained the digitizer panel for the next-generation iPod touch. Unlike the iPhone’s touch panel, which reportedly measures 3.95 inches on the diagonal, the fifth-gen iPod touch’s panel tops 4.1 inches, says the source. “There isn't much detail but it looks like the iPod Touch will be getting a 4.1 inch display,” says the company founded in 2004 as a small iPod repair business, based in Colorado Springs.

“I am hoping that this means the iPhone will also have a larger display,” says one of the founders, who speculates that if the parts are already being made, there’s an offset chance the iPhone 5 could be released in July. Images of the same parts were obtained by MacRumors, which corroborated BadGizmo’s claims, albeit with an ounce of skepticism, since neither source was able to fully confirm the authenticity of the hardware. It wouldn’t be strange for Apple to introduce a slightly taller iPod touch alongside the new iPhone 5. The pixel count should be identical, but the form factor is slightly different.

After all, we’re talking two different devices here, one of which is held in landscape mode more often than the other, for gaming and movie watching. Yes, the iPod touch is that device.

Asus Australia Confirms PadFone Coming in July

Asus Padfone, the phone/tablet combo that should have been available on the market a few months ago, has just been confirmed for a July release in Australia.

Unfortunately, the company had previously confirmed the launch of the device, but the Padfone is only available in a few countries. According to Asus, that has something to do with Qualcomm’s recent Snapdragon S4 shortage, which has affected many players in the smartphone and tablet market. Anyway, Aussie Android fans who wish to give this unusual device a try will have to wait a few more months.

The Padfone will come with a few additional accessories, including a dock station, a tablet and even a stylus headset that can take incoming calls. No word on pricing options yet, but expect this one to be pretty expensive when bundled with any of the additional accessories. via AusDroid

Kyocera Hydro Stops at FCC En-Route to Sprint

The CDMA-enabled Kyocera Hydro has just been spotted at FCC (Federal Communication Commission), which points to an imminent launch in North America.

Given the long time partnership between Sprint and Kyocera, it’s almost certain that the Hydro C5170 will be exclusively available in the US through the former’s retail channels. According to the documents filed at FCC, the Kyocera C5170 has been approved with support for CDMA 1900 MHz, as well as Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth. Although Kyocera officially confirmed plans to bring top tier handsets in North America, the Hydro is a fail in this regard. 

Even though it will be shipped with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system out of the box, and comes with a waterproof body, Kyocera Hydro does not stand out when it comes to hardware configuration. The smartphone has been confirmed to be equipped with a single-core Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon processor clocked at 1 GHz, which is complemented by an Adreno 205 GPU and only 512MB of RAM. Kyocera Hydro (C5170) packs 2GB of internal memory, which can be further expanded up to 32GB via microSD card. According to the manufacturer, the handset will be shipped with a free 2GB memory card in the sales package, but this has yet to be confirmed by the carrier.

It is also worth mentioning that the phone sports a 3.5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display supporting 320 x 480 pixels resolution. On the back, the Hydro comes with a mediocre 3-megapixel photo snapper, which features autofocus and video recording. Sadly, the smartphone does no come with a secondary camera for video calls.

When it comes to connectivity, Kyocera Hydro is an all-rounder. The phone offers various connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi hotspot, microUSB, as well as Bluetooth. FCC documents also mention a 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery, which has yet to be rated by the manufacturer.

HTC One XL Arriving in Germany in Early June for 659 EUR (835 USD) Outright

Vodafone Germany and HTC have teamed up once again to offer customers the One XL Android phone. The companies have a long history together, see the launch of the HTC Velocity 4G.

The carrier confirmed that only the black version of HTC One XL would be available for purchase beginning early June for 699 EUR (885 USD) off-contract. However, it appears that HTC is willing to make a better offer to One XL customers as they will be able to buy it for a slightly lower 659 EUR (835 USD) no-term price. Vodafone is not the only carrier in the country that decided to pick the HTC One XL, so Germans will be able to grab this top-tier Android phone via Deutsche Telekom and O2 as well. No word on other pricing options yet, but the outright price seems outrageously high.

On the positive side, HTC One XL comes with full LTE support and the highly praised Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC (system on a chip). Aside from that, it’s pretty much the same as HTC One X, so expect the One XL to boast the same stunning 4.7-inch Super IPS LCD2 capacitive touchscreen display with HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass coating. Keep in mind that HTC One XL will arrive in Germany with support for quad-band GSM / GPRS / EDGE, dual-band UMTS / HSPA+ / HSUPA for 900/2100 MHz networks, as well as tri-band LTE for 800/1800/2600 MHz networks.

Another strong point of the smartphone is the impressive 8-megapixel rear camera, which features HTC’s ImageSense technology, autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording. A secondary 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats is available as well. The phone’s dual-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz is complemented by an Adreno 225 GPU and 1GB of RAM. Unlike the One X that embeds 32GB of internal memory, the One XL has only 16GB storage amount. via UnWired

POV Intros Triple-Slot GeForce GTX 680 UltraCharged

There is a new video card out and about, one that Point of View made and gave a cooler larger than most seen so far.

Sure, the product isn't the first triple-slot card ever announced, but such beasts are still quite unusual. Point of View and TGT chose to name its video board GeForce GTX 680 UltraCharged, where UltraCharged obviously implies factory overclocking. The GPU has a base speed of 1,176 MHz and a GPU Boost frequency of 1,228 MHz. For those who've forgotten, the standard card works at 1,006 MHz / 1,058 MHz.

That said, POV's latest creation has some other assets, most notable of which are the High-Performance/ Wide-Bandwidth hardware design and Auto-Overclocking with advanced power management. The retail price is set at 570 Euro, which is about the same as $721, according to exchange rates.

Sony to Update Xperia S Straight to Android 4.0.4

Sony is preparing the release of Ice Cream Sandwich for its Xperia S smartphone, and might have it running directly under the Android 4.0.4 flavor of the platform, rumor has it. 

Recently, the company confirmed that the update would be pushed to this device in late Q2, but it did not offer info on why it is now arriving faster. Apparently, the handset vendor had a good reason for that, as it planned on skipping the Android 4.0.3 OS version initially expected for the device, and going straight for the latest flavor of the platform. A recently leaked Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for Xperia NX (SO-02D) – the Japanese version of Xperia S – shows that the handset runs under Android 4.0.4 with an updated 3.0.8 kernel. 

The firmware on this device was version 6.1.A.0.405, but no specific info on the enhancements it packed inside has emerged.

Motorola DROID Fighter for Verizon Spotted in China with Android 4.0 ICS

Rumors on the unannounced Motorola DROID RAZR HD have come and gone, but we still don’t have any official word on its release.

Several leaked information pointed to a possible launch at Verizon Wireless as DROID Fighter, though we don’t have any other details available at this moment. So far, we’ve only been able to learn that the smartphone will be released globally as Motorola RAZR HD, but it will be known as DROID RAZR HD in the US. Today, the folks over at Droid-Life have spotted the DROID RAZR HD or DROID Fighter in China. In fact Chinese site Mobile.163 published several pictures showing three different versions of the earlier leaked Motorola DROID Fighter.

Apparently, each handset has been picked by a major carrier, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile. They will be launched as Motorola XT885, XT889 and MT887, though there are no details on their release dates. All three DROID Fighter versions come with on-screen keys and, thankfully, run Google’s Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Even though Motorola promised that its DROID RAZR smartphones, including RAZR MAXX, would be getting their Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades in Q2 2012, the US-based company broke its promise two times now, pushing back the update a few months.

Anyway, the DROID Fighter is said to be powered by the same dual-core processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and will boast an enhanced 8-megapixel rear photo snapper with autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording. Unfortunately, each phone in the picture has a 4.3-inch qHD capacitive touchscreen display, which goes against logic, especially given its Motorola RAZR HD name. However, this might change by the time the smartphones go official in China or US, the source of this leak claims, so stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Microsoft Offers a Quick Look at Service Bus Samples for Windows 8

Windows 8 is set to become commercially available only sometime in fall, but Microsoft is already making sure that its platform will be able to provide users with new, appealing applications built in line with the new Metro interface.

Thus, the company released as part of its Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 a sample library for developers interested in accessing Service Bus from Windows 8 metro style applications, along with a sample application that offers info on what basic Service Bus functionality is all about. Through this sample application – Service Bus Sample Browser for Windows 8 – developers can learn more on the functionality of the service bus, while also offering info on the code. The application comes with three simple samples packed inside, namely Service Bus Queues (First In, First Out message queues), Simple Topics (with support for a publish/subscribe communication model), and Peek Lock Sample (a new way to receive messages).

In a recent post on the Windows Azure blog, Microsoft offers details on how the Sample Service Bus Library for Windows 8 works, and also links to details on Service Bus Queues and Service Bus Topics for those who are new to the Service Bus. “Service bus operations fall into one of two classes: Management or Runtime. Management operations are used to Create, Enumerate, Get and Delete service bus entities like Queues, Topics and Subscriptions; Runtime operations are used to Send and Receive messages,” Microsoft explains. The post also goes deep into the manner in which the Sample Service Bus Library for Windows 8 was designed to implement Management Operations, and it also offered specific details on how Runtime Operations are implemented.

Those developers interested in getting started with the Service Bus for Windows 8 should head over to the quick look that Microsoft offers on the Sample Service Bus Library for Windows 8, where they will also find links to other useful resources on the software giant’s website.

OmniVision Shows Off 16 MP, 4K-Recording Phone Sensor

Cameras, whether they are part of other consumer electronics or not, are only as powerful as their image sensors.

OmniVision reportedly decided to really go out of its way this time, having released the OV16820 and OV16825. They not only manage 16 megapixel images, but they can shoot 1080p video and even 4K content at 60 fps. 4K2K (3840 x 2160) and QFHD (3840 x 2160 -Quad Full HD) are what we're talking about here.

As if this quality wasn't enough, the sensors can handle 4,608 x 3,456 resolutions too, although the frame rate will go from 60 to 30 fps. No way to know when phones equipped with either of these things will become available, but we suspect we'll have to wait until a dedicated video encoder that is capable of handling that much data appears.

6-Minute Preview of “The Amazing Spider-Man” Drops with “Men in Black 3”

If you feel you still haven't had enough of Spider-Man and can't wait for the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man” without seeing more footage from it, make sure you catch “Men in Black 3” in 3D IMAX theaters.

A new, 6-minute preview of the new Spidey film will run ahead of screenings of “MIB 3,” the film's director announces on the official Facebook page. “See an exclusive 6-minute sneak peek of The Amazing Spider-Man when you experience Men In Black in IMAX 3D starting Thursday at Midnight!” Marc Webb writes.

Whether this new extended trailer will be different from the 4-minute preview that premiered not long ago, we do not know – and Webb doesn't say. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” with Andrew Garfield as the titular character, will be out on July 3.

News App in Windows 8 Release Preview Gets Detailed

Microsoft is getting ready for the release of a new version of its Windows 8 operating system, one that should arrive in early June as Windows 8 Release Preview with various changes announcing the final flavor of the platform.

Some of these would include the addition of new Metro applications from Microsoft, along with updated versions of the applications that were already packed inside the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release. Among these, there will be a News App built in the new Metro fashion, meant to deliver up-to-date information to user’s screens at all times. Microsoft hasn’t unveiled specific info on the software until now, but a recent leak that emerged over at win8china shows a few details on what the application should include when released.

Those who already used the Consumer Preview release of Windows 8 and had a look at the Finance app packed with it will find the News application awfully familiar, WinSupersite notes. It will arrive with horizontal scrolling and with a media-rich interface that sports large photos and quite appealing looks. Microsoft has also included an application bar with this software, providing users with various personalization capabilities.

From that bar, people will also be able to access the various sections of the app, such as Bing Daily, My News, Trends, and Sources. As any other Metro application, the News app will also have its own Tile on the start screen, for fast access to information. In addition to News, Windows 8 Release Preview is expected to bring along new apps such as Sports and Travel, as well as updated Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos and Reader applications.

Windows 8 Release Preview is the equivalent of the Release Candidate version of the next-generation platform, which has been reportedly signed off recently. Later this summer, Microsoft will release the OS to manufacturing, while being set to have it commercially available in fall.

ASUS TF700 Infinity Tablet Gets July Launch

ASUS TF700 tablet might be known by more people as the Transformer Pad Infinity.

Apparently, we now know when the company is going to start shipping this thing, and it won't be as soon as we'd hoped. After seeing the FCC filing just hours ago, we thought it wouldn't be more than a week or two before the official release. Alas, the ASUS Australia Facebook page mentioned July, so more waiting awaits. 

“Thanks for your interest, TF700 is expected to arrive around July time frame, we’ll keep everyone update when more information becomes available, stay tuned.” The TF700 will have a display with a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels at 224ppi. In other words, that Tegra 3 chip will be able to work at its best even without having to plug a TV into the Android 4.0 slate's video port.

Nokia Kills Carla Name, Now Refers to It as Belle FP1

Bad news for Symbian fans as Nokia quietly confirmed there wouldn’t be any Belle Carla update in the future.

Although it has been rumored that the Finnish company plans to release a major re-haul of the Symbian OS sometime this year, which was to be called Nokia Carla, it looks like it has been cancelled. In fact, Nokia Carla is said to be embedded into upcoming Nokia 808 PureView, but we all know that the smartphone has been confirmed to run Belle FP1. The information has been recently confirmed by Mattia Fiorin, product manager at Nokia Italy, who told Nokialino that Carla was no longer the name the company used for the promised update.

According to him, “FP1 is pretty much what was once called Carla.” Unfortunately, we don’t have a clue whether or not FP1 contains all the features promised in Nokia Carla, so until PureView 808 goes on sale we can only speculate. However, there is some good news as well. Even though we initially thought that Nokia won’t be able to push the FP1 update to N8 units, it has been confirmed that a specially tailored version will be available for Nokia N8 as well. Fiorin also confirmed the N8’s processor woul receive a minimal overclock in order to better assimilate the latest FP1 update. There’s more to it as Nokia’s official also confirmed plans to deploy a future Belle FP2 update on the N8.

While we don’t have any information on this Belle FP2 update, there are speculations that claim Nokia Donna has been renamed as well and will be referred to with this name. Apparently, Nokia Donna would bring support for 720p display and dual-core processors to Symbian operating system, though we don’t have any confirmation from Nokia yet. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

HP Pavilion G6 with AMD Trinity Selling for $570 USD

World’s biggest computer manufacturer, American company HP is reportedly selling the HP Pavilion G6 notebook powered by AMD Trinity in Taiwan for just 570 USD.

In European currency that’s just 446 EUR, and the laptop is indeed delivered all around the world so, if any European Trinity fans want one, they can grab it from the Taiwan retailer PC Home. At this price, the HP Pavilion G6 is clearly not a high-end model, so we shouldn’t be too disappointed with its 2.5 Kg weight. That’s 5.51 pounds in imperial and it’s acceptable for a 15.6” notebook. HP Pavilion G6 is not trying to compete with any UltraBook, but when performance is concerned, especially in 3D graphics applications, it will most likely trounce most of Intel’s cheaper UltraBooks.

The reason for this is the fact that the A6-4400 APU is paired with a discrete graphics card, also from AMD, that comes with 1 GB of dedicated DDR3 video memory. The card in question is the Radeon HD 7520G, which will be able to work with the APU’s own iGPU for some powerful CrossFire action. Connectivity wise, the HP Pavilion G6 is well set up with a HDMI 1.4 port, a VGA connector, two USB 3.0 slots and a USB 2.0 one, Ethernet and Wireless N, Bluetooth 4.0 and a card reader, along with the two standard audio jacks.

Unfortunately, AMD’s A6-4400M APU is practically half of Trinity, as it comes with two cores and one FPU. The working frequency is 2700 MHz that can turbo up to 3200 MHz. The level2 cache is just 1 MB, and the Radeon HD 7520G iGPU has only 192 shader units. Why HP chose to include a discrete GPU with only 192 shaders instead of delivering a full A10-4600M APU is beyond us, but feel free to comment on this.

NVIDIA Kai: $199 Quad-Core Android Tablet

NVIDIA's Tegra mobile platform has become quite famous on the tablet market, so it is natural for the Santa Clara, California-based company to want to build on that prestige.

NVIDIA held its annual meeting with stockholders just a short time ago and, during it, it revealed a new tablet project called Kai. If one wishes to listen to the entire event, this link leads right to the recording. It isn't perfectly clear if Kai is a commercial product or just a reference design that NVIDIA's OEMs are going to base their own products on. There is also no law stating that it can't be both. Basically, Kai is NVIDIA's plan to create tablets that are better than the Amazon Kindle Fire, while costing just as much: $199 / 157 Euro.

We're pretty certain NVIDIA is thinking of the upcoming 10-inch Fire, not the 7-inch model that is about to get a price cut to $150 / 117 Euro. Either way, compared to $499 / 479 Euro, the price is a steal. “Our strategy on Android is simply to enable quad-core tablets running Android Ice Cream Sandwich to be developed and brought out to market at the $199 price point, and the way we do that is a platform we've developed called Kai,” VP Rob Csonger said. “So this uses a lot of the secret sauce that's inside Tegra 3 to allow you to develop a tablet at a much lower cost, by using a lot of innovation that we've developed to reduce the power that's used by the display and use lower cost components within the tablet.”

Kindle Fire can already play videos and music, in addition to performing all the duties of an e-reader. To outdo it, NVIDIA and company could settle for just a performance increase, but we're pretty sure video output options will be in the bag too, HDMI especially. On a related note, we guess that Kai will also spawn a Windows 8 version whenever Microsoft's OS makes its debut.

Nokia N8 Getting Belle FP1 and FP2 Updates Soon, Includes Minor CPU Overclock

It looks like Belle FP1 and FP2 major updates will come to Nokia N8 as well. For the time being, Nokia 808 PureView is the only smartphone that comes with Belle FP1 out of the box.

However, the update is expected to be pushed to all Nokia N8 units pretty soon. During the official launch of Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 900 in Italy, the company’s Product Manager Mattia Fiorin told Nokialino that FP1 would soon be available for the N8. According to Nokia’s official, FP1 will bring the latest Nokia Browser 8.2, along with a new version of Social app. Moreover, it is said that the update will be specially tailored to match Nokia N8’s requirements, which means it will be smaller than the standard FP1. That’s because Nokia N8’s 680 MHz ARM 11 CPU’s processing power has already been stretched out to its limits and would not cope well with the full version of FP1.

In fact, it appears that the Finnish company plans to make a minor overclock to the smartphone’s processor in order to successfully enable all the FP1 features without losing on the performance and stability side. We’re not sure what this “minimal overclock” would mean for N8’s CPU, but if it does make the smartphone run faster with FP1 on-board, then that’s good news for Nokia N8 owners. Obviously, this is not the first time that Nokia does this overclocking trick. Nokia 701 and 700 received a bump in speed when their CPUs where overclocked from 1GHz to 1.3 GHz.

There’s more to it as Nokia’s Mattia Fiorin also confirmed that the N8 will also receive the upcoming FP2 update, which has yet to be officially announced. On a side note, a new firmware update for Nokia N8 has just been spotted in Spain at Navifrim. Software version 111.30.610 will soon be pushed to N8 units, though we don’t have any changelog available for the moment.

RIM Updating the BlackBerry App World Ahead of BlackBerry 10

Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion is gearing up for the release of a new major flavor of its mobile operating system, namely the BlackBerry 10 platform, and it is also making changes to some of the services that will be available for it.

The BlackBerry App World, the one place where those who use RIM’s smartphones can find and download apps and games, is suffering some modifications as well. According to the latest reports on the matter, RIM has already sent out notice to developers to inform them on these changes, yet an official public announcement hasn’t been made yet. Some of the main changes that the app portal will suffer include the addition of a new Music Creation category, along with some new categories for children, and the removal of the Beta section. Apparently, the News cat in the BlackBerry App World has been expanded to include magazines and Blogs as well, and it has been rebranded to News and Magazines. 

The Reference and eBooks & Education was split into two sections, one being Education & Reference, while the other is Books. The Shopping section is now called Lifestyle, while Maps & Navigation has become Navigation and Travel and, obviously, includes the Travel category as well. The Music Creation section was added to Music and Audio as a subcategory, and there are also two Children’s Categories, namely Children’s Games in the Games Channel, and Children’s Books in the Books category. 

As mentioned above, another major change involves the Beta category, which is being discontinued. All apps in this category will be moved to relevant sections. What RIM hasn’t explained is how it will handle the beta testing of applications. The vendor already announced that it planned on removing sideloading of applications from its PlayBook tablet, and it might apply the same approach to the BlackBerry 10 OS as well. Only developers will be able to install applications from unofficial sources, which means that the Beta Zone might soon be shut down. Hopefully, the company will provide clarification on the matter soon, so stay tuned for more on this.

Samsung Officially Confirms Blocking Leaked S-Voice App, Says It’s a Test Version

The S-Voice saga continues with a new episode. This time it’s Samsung that comes forward with an official statement admitting it has blocked leaked S-Voice app due to the fact that this was just a “test version.”

S-Voice is part of Galaxy S III’s software and has been leaked last weekend, along with the first official Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM, which is supposed to run on Samsung’s Android flagship smartphone. However, Samsung claims that the Galaxy S III ROM leaked several days ago contains an earlier build of S-Voice app and not the final version. The folks at The Verge have reached out to Samsung for an explanation and the South Korean company issued the following reply:
 “An initial test version of S Voice which was found online has been blocked as Samsung Electronics does not want consumers to judge the quality of the voice feature based on a test version. When the product is launched, users of GALAXY S III will be able to fully experience S Voice.”

As you may notice, Samsung does not say anything regarding the compatibility of the S-Voice app with other Android devices, so until Galaxy S III goes live we won’t have any official statements. Although S-Voice access to Samsung and Vlingo servers was limited to Galaxy S III devices, the Android community found a way to trick these servers into thinking that any non-Galaxy S III smartphone is in fact a Samsung Galaxy S III. This means that most Android phones can take advantage of S-Voice, though the applications can only be installed on devices powered by Ice Cream Sandwich platform.

Still, until Samsung Galaxy S III hits shelves, most users who installed the leaked S-Voice won’t be able to tell if the personal assistant application is working as intended, or it’s just an early version.

Intel Core i5-3365M Mobile CPU Set for Q3 Launch

Intel may have decided to hold off on the launch of some of its CPUs, but that doesn't mean it has succeeded in completely hiding the information regarding them. 

Whether through controlled or unintentional information leaks, data about both desktop and laptop Ivy Bridge CPUs has been trickling to the net. The chip now falling under the magnifying glass, so to speak, is the Core i5-3365M. It will be a successor, of sorts, to the Core i5-3360M, which has not been released yet either, having been slapped with a June launch (2012). The Core i5-3365M will come forward in the third quarter and, like the one above, will have two cores and the HD 4000 integrated graphics. The clock speed is of 2.8 GHz, but can go all the way to 3.5 GHz when the Turbo Boost dynamic overclocking technology comes into play. Also, the TDP (thermal design power) is of 35W.

We should of course mention that Turbo Boost is limited to 3.3 GHz when it has to drive both cores up. Anyway, the Core i5-3360M and Core i5 3365M are pretty much identical, except for the speed at which their graphics work. The former will boast an HD 4000 with 650MHz to 1200MHz speed, while the latter has the same lower limit but a top frequency of 1,350 MHz. Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs are all based on the 22nm manufacturing process technology. We've followed the progress of the line very closely, upturning even the occasional rock (figuratively speaking of course) in our quest to keep up to date on what is and what will or may be.

Our conclusion is that the chips are unrivaled on the high-end market, but don't really offer enough to qualify as a better option than AMD's Trinity APUs on the mainstream segment, regardless of what certain, possibly biased, reviewers say.

ASUS Offers a Bootloader Unlock for the Transformer Pad 300

Giant motherboard manufacturer, Taiwanese company ASUS has just released a bootloader unlock for the new Transformer Pad 300, on its official website. This will most certainly void your warranty, but that’s better for ASUS, as it practically reduces their warranty costs overall.

When ASUS released the first Transformer tablet, we were amazed by its quality and performance. Many reviewers were asking for “perfect” features with a combined quality and economy to rival the Apple iPad. That kind of quality was only to come with the second generation, called the Transformer Prime.

Not only did the Transformer Prime bring a considerable performance improvement, but it also brought the much-desired quality. Take the metallic case away, along with other budget-oriented modifications and you have the Transformer Pad 300 that actually offers the same performance as the Transformer Prime, but for a lower cost.

The unlock software will allow you to install any custom mod you desire, but it will unfortunately void the warranty of your device. You can download the ASUS Tranformer Pad 300 unlocker (bootloader unlocker) here.

Windows 8’s Fast Boot Experience and Boot Options Menu

The fast boot is one of the main features that the new Windows 8 platform arrives with, but it can also be seen as one of its greatest weaknesses from a certain point of view. 

Windows 8 can boot faster than any previous versions of the platform, that’s a fact. With help from devices that have been designed specifically for it, Windows 8 can boot up in about 7 seconds, as the video embedded at the bottom of this article shows. Microsoft designed Windows 8 to be that fast, but it appears that it actually made it too fast to allow for any actions to interrupt the boot sequence. On new hardware, the first 2-3 seconds are those when the various individual portions that comprise the boot sequence are loaded, while the next seconds are destined to get users to Windows as fast as possible. Since the boot time is so short, users won’t have time to notice what’s being loaded, nor will they be able to react if they want to perform a different action than simply getting into Windows. 

To access the boot menu, for example, one would have to press the F8 key, but the new SSD-based UEFI systems have shortened the windows during which this can be done to only 200 milliseconds, which is not enough to be successful when hitting the key. This could be seen as a problem, especially when users would like to perform actions such as booting from a different device, troubleshoot issues, fix an error, or take advantage of startup options that are used by developers. 

A single Boot Options Menu

Windows 8 will come with all these options in a single menu, the boot options menu, which includes troubleshooting tools, developer options for startup, methods for accessing the firmware’s BIOS setup, and ways to boot to alternate devices such as USB drives. Moreover, the platform includes failover behaviors that will automatically bring up the boot options menu, as well as a set of methods to reach the boot options menu from the OS, even at times when nothing is wrong. To access the boot options menu, users no longer need to interrupt the boot sequence with key strokes. To boot from another device, for example, they will simply have to click on the “Use a device” button in the boot options menu.

Also there, users will find the option to reboot directly into the UEFI firmware’s BIOS setup, via a button available under the “Troubleshooting” node, within the “Advanced options” group. On older hardware, the UEFI-provided menu features are not available, but users will be able to enter the boot menu with key strokes, since the boot time will be a bit longer. On all devices, a Windows Startup Settings is available in the boot options menu, enabling users to take advantage of features such as disabling driver signing or entering a debugging mode. A Safe Mode is also accessible from there. 

“The boot options menu creates a single place for every option that affects the startup behavior of the Windows 8 PC,” Chris Clark, a program manager on Microsoft’s User Experience team, explains. “By bringing these together into a single place, the boot options menu has become a familiar, unified, and highly usable place for these related items. Tasks such as changing Windows Startup settings, entering the UEFI firmware’s BIOS setup, or booting to a USB drive no longer require interrupting boot with a keystroke – assuming you can get to the boot options menu itself.”

Accessing the boot options menu

When in need to get to the boot options menu on a Windows 8 PC to fix an issue preventing the OS from loading, the automatic failover behavior will do that, regardless of whether it’s a faulty driver, or something else. “We now algorithmically detect when this has occurred across multiple boots, and automatically boot directly into the boot options menu inside the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE),” Chris Clark notes. “Since the source image for WinRE contains drivers and files that are kept separate from the main Windows installation, it’s not affected by any software changes and is a reliable environment to begin troubleshooting from the boot options menu.”

Moreover, Windows 8 can suggest specific actions to be taken for resolving issues that prevent it from loading normally. For example, the specialized Startup Repair Tool will be presented in some of these cases. The boot options menu also has a prominent Continue button in the first position, which enables users to enter Windows at times when the PC does not actually have a problem. To access the boot options menu from Windows 8, users will need to go to the Advanced startup section on the General tab of PC settings. Hitting the Restart Now button available there will do the trick. 

Users can do the same through keeping the Shift key pressed while hitting Restart in the normal Shutdown menu. This allows for the boot options menu to be delivered even without signing in to the PC. More info can be found via this video. “There’s one other way to trigger the boot options menu during shutdown, and this way has the added bonus of working from Command Prompt. We’ve added a new flag to shutdown.exe: /o. The /o flag only works in conjunction with /r (for restart), so the full syntax is: Shutdown.exe /r /o,” Clark also notes. 

“We added this new flag to shutdown.exe because we wanted to keep this part of Windows consistent and predictable. Not everyone uses Shutdown.exe, but those who do, depend on it for the full set of shutdown-related tasks.”

QuadCore-Powered Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Gets a Pen Slot

Korean giant electronics company Samsung has reportedly thoroughly redesigned its up-and-coming Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 device, which now comes with a special S pen slot.

We were caught by surprise when Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 test scores were briefly revealed earlier this month. The main assumption is that, if the results are genuine, they are proof of the manufacturer's upgrade of the Galaxy Note 10.1 main processor.

Another thing that has changed about the Galaxy Note 10.1 is the fact that the producer added an S pen holder to the newest design of the mobile device. It was very strange to see that the Galaxy Note had no pen holder, back at MWC. We’re eager to test Samsung’s new toy when it is finally launched, probably during the next month.

Brazos 2.0 E1-1200 APU-Based HP Laptop Selling Early

Even though AMD's Brazos 2.0 accelerated processing units have yet to be launched, machines based on them are making their presence felt. 

The product whose specifications surfaced this time around is called pavilion dm1-4210au and is a laptop made by HP. With hardware based around the E1-1200 Brazos 2.0 APU, it is bound to start shipping next month (June 2012), as soon as the Brazos 2.0 line itself is released. Speaking of which, there will be another Brazos 2.0 processor, called E2-1800, which is faster in both processing (1.7 GHz) and graphics, while sticking to the same thermal envelope (18 W). That's neither here nor there though, so we'll go ahead and provide the specs of the Pavilion dm1-4210au now. 

The AMD E1-1200 is a dual-core chip with 1.4 GHz clock, the Radeon HD 7310 graphics (500 MHz) and 1 MB of L2 cache memory. 2 GB of RAM (random access memory) back it up and a hard disk drive provides storage space (500 GB). Moving on, the display measures 11.6 inches in diagonal and probably boasts a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 and LED backlighting. Finally, the chipset paired with Brazos 2.0 guarantees SATA 6.0 Gbps storage speeds (or at least the possibility for such) and USB 3.0 support. 

Other specs include Gigabit Ethernet (Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN), 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, a VGA output, HDMI, audio jacks (headphones/speakers and mic), HP TrueVision HD Webcam (with Integrated Digital Microphone), Beats Audio speakers and Bluetooth. HP's online store in Malaysia has actually put the item up for order, so check out the place for all the info currently available. The price is 1,399 RM, which roughly corresponds to $448 / 353 Euro. We suspect that the rest of the world will get their shot at the computer once AFDS rolls around (AMD Fusion Developer Summit, June 11-14, 2012).

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