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Jul 16, 2012

Android Watch Z1 is The World’s First Android Wrist Computer

Miniaturization has been in full swing in the last two decades and only the TV market seems to be purposely going the other way, although the thickness is thinner and thinner. Japan is the first market to meet the Android Watch Z1 wrist computer.

This is a full Android computing device featuring a 2” capacitive touchscreen sporting a modest 320 by 240 pixel resolution. The system is powered by a less known MTK6516 dual-core processor running at a maximum frequency of just 460 MHz, while the operating system of choice is Google’s Android in its 2.2 reincarnation. As reported by Akiba-PC-Watch, There are 2 GB of flash storage on board and a full pack of features like a microphone, speakers, GPS, G sensors , LAN wireless, Bluetooth, a microSD slot and a 2MP webcam. The price is currently set at a high $289 (€235), but this is surely coming down once the new toy will be available in other market too as the Land of the Rising Sun is famous for overpricing any piece of novelty. The virtual keyboard is quite small and thus typing is difficult, but this is more of a monitoring device rather than a text communication one.

The user can check his email or Facebook fast and with ease and, if needed he'll go to his notebook or tablet for a reply. In our opinion, it is a little too big to be worn on the wrist, but we’re still hoping for a version with a 4” curved screen and a solar panel on the wrist bracelet. We wouldn’t complain it’s too big if it came in such a design.

Android Watch Z1
Images credits to akiba-pc.watch.impress.co.jp

ASUS High-Quality Custom AMD Radeon HD 7770 Video Card

Well-known motherboard and notebook manufacturer, maker of the legendary Transformer tablets, Taiwanese company ASUS has just announced a new AMD Radeon HD 7770 video card. The new device features high-quality components, improved cooling, hardware monitoring and is slightly factory overclocked.

The GPU has 640 unified shader processors, 40 texturing units and 16 ROPs, ASUS’ HD7770-DC-1GD5-V2 video card comes factory overclocked with frequencies set at 1020 MHz for the GPU and 4600 MHz for the memory. We wonder why ASUS even bothered with such a low overclock, but this may, in fact, offer the HD7770-DC-1GD5-V2 an advantage over other comparable cards that adhere strictly to the reference default frequencies. The new Radeon HD 7770 from ASUS features the company's DirectCU custom cooling solution that allows a direct contact between the GPU and the heatpipes inside the cooler. This enhanced cooling, the Digi+ VRM 6 + 2 phases power circuitry that brings 30% lower electrical noise on the PCB, along with the Super Alloy MOS will allow for stable overclocking using at least 28% higher voltages.

The cooling system occupies an extra slot in the system case, but this also brings two DVI ports along with a HDMI connector and a DisplayPort. There is also a DVI to D-SUB 15 adapter included in the package, a CrossFire cable; one DVI port is DVI-D and the other is DVD-I. The HD7770-DC-1GD5-V2 also comes with “GPU Tweak” of overclocking and hardware monitoring software and the company touts lower noise generated by the cooling system. The price is slated at about $189 or €155 for the European user.

ASUS HD7770-DC-1GD5-V2 video card
Images credits to ASUS

Office 2013 Customer Preview Now Official, Available for Download

Today, Redmond-based software giant Microsoft unveiled to the world the new flavor of its popular productivity suite, Office.

Dubbed Office 2013, the new flavor of the application comes with a new, intuitive design, which has been developed to work great with touch, stylus, and mouse and keyboard. The new Office 2013 was announced with support for Microsoft’s Windows platform, and can be used on a variety of devices, including tablet PCs. Moreover, the application was conceived so that it would provide users with a great experience on touch devices that run under Windows 8. On top of that, the new Office 2013 was designed to be more social, and comes with support for new scenarios related to reading, note-taking, meetings and communications. Kept connected to cloud services at all times, the new application version comes with SkyDrive integration, saving files to this location by default, while also featuring Skype, providing users with 60 Skype world minutes each month. 

On devices running under Windows 8, the application can deliver the best experience possible, Microsoft notes. Some of the main features the new Office 2013 delivers on Windows 8 include:
Touch everywhere. Office responds to touch as naturally as it does to keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger.

Inking. Use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. Handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease. 

New Windows 8 applications. OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger. 

Included in Windows RT. Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which contains new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft Surface.

These are only some of the capabilities the new flavor of Microsoft’s productivity suite has to offer. Those users interested in taking it for a spin will find it available as a Customer Preview on Microsoft’s official website.

Microsoft Office 2013
Image credits to Microsoft

TRENDnet World's Smallest Powerline Networking Adapter

Another month, another TRENDnet networking device, and this time we have one of those fabled “world's best” items on our hands.

The product the company saw fit to release is called TPL-406E2K and is a Powerline AV adapter kit with a speed of 500 Mbps. Its real advantage lies in the compact frame of the two TPL-406E adapters it is made of, 50% smaller than normal 500 Mbps powerline adapters (world's smallest, as it were). As before, all it takes for a network to be established is to have the two devices plugged in different electrical sockets inside a house. "The combination of 500 Mbps speeds, a small form factor, and a reduced price point redefines the 500 Mbps Powerline category," stated Zak Wood, director of Global Marketing. "Consumers considering Powerline solutions will notice the TPL-406E2K."

For security, TRENDnet implemented a Sync button that changes existing encryption keys (the adapters have a built-in encryption protocol without which they would not establish a connection in the first place). As for energy, power draw is reduced by 70% during standby. Coincidentally, this enables measurable power savings, since the units are always plugged in. Sales are already underway for the TPL-406E2K, for $109.99 / €90.32.

TRENDnet Powerline AV TPL-406E2K
Images credits to TRENDet

ASUS AMD M5A99FX PRO R2.0 Mainboard with Dual Intelligent Processors 3 Technology

Well-known mainboard manufacturer ASUS has decided to do what it does best and now it has just announced the most modern AMD AM3+ mainboard in the company’s lineup.

ASUS’ new AMD motherboard comes with the company’s latest mainboard technologies and practically upgrades AMD’s 9990FX chips with the best ASUS has to offer. The new component is officially designated as M5A99FX PRO R2.0 and ASUS touts Dual Intelligent Processors 3 technology. This practically refers to the TPU chip for automatic control of CPU voltage and the well-known EPU that takes care of efficient power use all over the mainboard. TPU is short for TurboV Processing Unit in ASUS’ dictionary and EPU is the acronym for Energy Processing Unit. ASUS also touts DIGI+ Power Control VRM for the CPU and DRAM that are controlled by the two aforementioned TPU and EPU chips. The mainboard supports almost any AMD AM3 processor starting from AMD’s Sempron X2 180 and ending up with the Bulldozer-based FX 8150.

ASUS’ M5A99FX PRO R2.0 mainboard is ready for all AMD 32nm SOI processors with maximum TDP of 140 watts and that means that it will likely be a good host for AMD’s upcoming FX 8350 Vishera CPU or the rest of the FX 8300 family. The maximum memory frequency officially supported by overclocking is 2133 MHz and the maximum capacity is 32 GB of DDR3 DIMMs. AMD’s SB950 Southbridge brings support for 6 SATA III ports, out of which one is located on the I/O panel as an eSATA connector. ASUS also added an extra ASMedia PCIe SATA controller for two more SATA III ports.

The M5A99FX PRO R2.0 mainboard supports an impressive 18 USB ports. Four of them are USB 3.0, while the other 14 are USB 2.0. The mainboard features a 6 + 2 phase CPU power line and a 2-phase DRAM power. Among ASUS’ useful utilities we must mention Remote GO!, USB BIOS Flashback, Ai Charger+ and USB 3.0 Boost (using UASP drivers). The official release date was 13th of July 2012, but there is no info on the official pricing.

ASUS’ M5A99FX PRO R2.0 mainboard
Images credits to ASUS

Odroid-X: A Small Board PC To Send Raspberry Pi Reeling

The Raspberry Pi is the only ARM PC, the only mini PC of this sort really, to became famous so far, but it might not have this monopoly for long.

There are noticeable differences between the Raspberry Pi and the Odroid-X, some of which might not be overly favorable towards the latter. Odroid-X is about twice as wide, for example, and it is, naturally, a bit heavier, although weight doesn't really matter for such small things. The other disadvantage of Odroid-X is the price. Raspberry Pi goes for around $35, or €28.66, give or take, but the newer gadget sells for $129 / €105.66. Once onlookers finally take a close look at the hardware though, the reasons for all this become obvious: Odroid-X is, quite simply, better than Raspberry Pi. One asset is the quad-core Samsung Exynos 4412 processor, with a clock speed of 1.4 GHz (Pi has a 700 MHz single-core). Another is the Mali 400 GPU (graphics processing unit).

Just as important is the amount of RAM. Where Raspberry Pi makes do with 256 MB, Odroid-X possesses one full Gigabyte. As for connectivity, six USB 2.0 ports are present, along with an SD card reader, a micro HDMI output, an Ethernet jack and audio in and out. Finally, Odroid-X can be bought with several addons, such as a Wi-Fi module, a webcam and an LCD panel (10 inches or 13 inches in diagonal). Hardkernel, the company behind the product, allows orders to be placed on this page. Both Android and Ubuntu 12.04 should run fine on it, leading to quite a bit of potential uses (Android Kiosk computer, HTPC, programming tool, etc.). Of course, if you want to stick to the Raspberry Pi, there are various accessories for that thing too, like the Prototyping Pi Plate.

Odroid-X mini PC
Image credits to hardkernel

Blue and Huge Prolimatech Cooler

It isn't everyday that we see coolers something other than silver, given the materials normally used in their making, but Prolimatech has one of the few models that stray from the norm.

Applying paint to a cooler doesn't usually help with heat conductivity and dissipation, hence why most people avoid it. Prolimatech must have found a really good paint. The product in the photos is called Megahalems Rev. B and, as one can plainly see, has blue-colored fins, even though the material is stainless steel. The color fits the one used on Gigabyte motherboard, though said company seems to be moving away from it. There are just a few fins, at the top, that have a chrome finish. There is a detail that may not be immediately apparent: most of the metal parts of the retention modules are colored black. What is plainly visible, though, is that the cooler is enormous. Those 88 fins make it so large that you'll probably need a case about as deep as it is wide. A lot of weight for six 6mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes.

The rest of the specs are identical to those of the default Megahalems Rev. B, although the price may be somewhat higher than $70 / €57. For those who want a reminder, the item measures 130 x 74 x 158.7 mm, weighs 790 grams, fits LGA 1156, LGA 1366 and LGA 775 CPU sockets (Intel) and has a scratch-resistant top fin, to preserve shine. The heatpipes are aligned in a straight line (for air back draft prevention).  800-1200RPM fans are recommended, or 1600 RPM speeds if owners really want low temperatures more than they want silence. Speaking of which, two sets of fan clips let a couple of spinners be installed at once (Prolimatech doesn't include them in the product package).

Prolimatech Megahalems Rev. B blue cooler
Images credits to Cowcotland

Giada's i53 Mini PC, Small but Strong Nettop

If we'd been given only the list of internal specifications and nothing else, we'd have easily thought Giada's new computer fit the bill of standard desktop, but we'd have been wrong.

Instead, Giada has formally launched one of those very small personal computers, usually called nettops. The product name is i53 Mini PC. The default processor is the first clue that this is no ordinary small form factor personal computer. Whereas most nettops would make do with an Atom chip, this one has a Core series unit, and not just any weakling. A Core i5 proudly directs operations. That, of course, implies that graphics prowess stems from the built-in Intel graphics, and since this is the third generation of CPUs (Ivy Bridge), meaning GMA HD 4000. Moving on, whichever i5 CPU model ends up in the configuration, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM (random access memory) backs it up.

And thus we arrive at the rest of the spec sheet, with the hard disk drive (HDD) of 500 GB, Intel HD Audio with 5.1 channel surround sound, five USB ports (3.0/2.0), 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, video outputs (HDMI and VGA), Gigabit Ethernet and even a multi-format memory card reader slot. As for convenience, there are two major selling points here. The obvious one is size: the nettop has a very small case, with a weight of 1 kilo (2.20 pounds) and a thickness of 26 mm, or about one inch. The less obvious advantage is the remote control bundled with the i53 Mini PC, for remote boot-up, not unlike the ability of TVs. Verily, Giada calls its latest creation “an ideal home theater PC (HTPC)”, and we can't really begrudge it that claim, even though it's subjective. The computer does easily play full HD 1080P with clear sound after all. Giada ships the i53 Mini PC with Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or a Linux operating system. The price is $520, or 424.76 Euro.

Giada i53 Mini PC
Image credits to Giada

Using Visible Light for Phones and Tablets Data Transfers

Visible light is just the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we humans can see with our eyes, but that doesn't make it any less kin to radio waves and other radiation types (gamma, X-ray, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, microwave).

In other words, there is no conceivable reason for it to not be able to transmit data, provided the right system is in place. Sure enough, data transmission through visible light was actually invented a while ago. Unfortunately, practical implementations are still a no-go. That doesn't mean people aren't trying though. In fact, Japan-based Outstanding Technology has introduced the Commulight location system, which gives smartphones and tablets downloading info through photons instead of radio waves.

There are two dongles: one of them has USB, while the other goes inside device 3.5mm jacks. Integrated sensors access location-based information from an overhead data-transmitting LED. Possible uses of the system include indoor alternatives to Wi-Fi and GPS, coupon transmission, information exhibition in museums, etc.

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