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Oct 31, 2014

Motorola DROID Turbo Will Be Launched Outside US as Moto Maxx

This may not surprise you, but Motorola plans to bring its new flagship smartphone that’s now exclusively available in the US through Verizon carrier, to other regions.

Dubbed DROID Turbo, Motorola’s smartphone is likely to arrive at other carriers in the United States, but also in other countries where the handset maker still operates. Although previous rumors claimed the DROID Turbo would be launched at AT&T as soon as Verizon’s exclusivity period expired, it looks like the smartphone will be first released elsewhere. GSMArena reports that Motorola DROID Turbo has been confirmed to arrive in Brazil on November 5. However, the handset will be released as Motorola Moto Maxx, as the DROID name is exclusive to Verizon.

The information has been confirmed via an invitation that Motorola Brazil recently sent to the press. The only thing that remains to be confirmed would be the actual name of the smartphone, as Moto Maxx is just a rumored name. But given the fact that the DROID Turbo is powered by a huge 3,900 mAh battery, the Moto Maxx name would make perfect sense especially that the previous RAZR and DROID Maxx models are equipped with high-capacity batteries as well. The information may also have been confirmed by the fact that Motorola recently trademarked the “Moto Maxx” name in the United States.

Motorola DROID Turbo aka Nexus 6 mini is a smaller alternative to Google’s Nexus 6, which comes with a huge 6-inch Quad HD display. Unlike Google’s new flagship smartphone, the DROID Turbo packs a much smaller 5.2-inch Quad HD (1440 x 2560 pixels) capacitive touchscreen display, which is supposed to appeal to more customers if Motorola decides to launch the device worldwide.

The DROID Turbo is powered by Android 4.4.4 KitKat instead of Lollipop

Apart from the smaller screen, DROID Turbo offers the same specs as the Nexus 6. So, expect the same powerful 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, Adreno 420 graphics processing unit and 3GB of RAM. The DROID Turbo comes with either 32GB or 64GB of internal memory, but just like the Nexus 6, it lacks microSD card slot for memory expansion. On the back, the smartphone boasts an enhanced 21-megapixel photo snapper with autofocus, dual-LED flash and 4K video recording. There’s also a 2-megapixel camera in the front for selfies and video calls. It’s also worth mentioning that DROID Turbo ships with Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system out of the box, but it has been confirmed for a Lollipop update by the end of the year.

Motorola Moto Maxx launch event invitation
Image credits to GSMArena

ASUS Z97-Pro, Odd Budget Motherboard Gets Gaming Features from ASUS ROG

ASUS usually reserves the Republic of Gamers brand for the absolute best hardware in its portfolio, but its policy seems to have become a lot more flexible now. The Z97-Pro motherboard shows that much.

You may have noticed the lack of ROG in the product name. That's because ASUS didn't include it, despite launching the newcomer through the ROG website. We can understand why other people are calling the Z97-Pro a semi-ROG product. The platform is no flagship, that's for sure, but it might just steamroll over every other would-be mini gaming PC motherboard on the market.

The specs of the ASUS Z97-Pro motherboard

We may as well get the obvious ones out of the way. There are four memory slots, for one thing, meaning that you can install quite a lot of DDR3 RAM. This also seems to be a full-ATX motherboard, so you don't, in fact, get to make a mini gaming PC from this thing. The “budget” systems still need mid-tower cases or larger. As you can see, one of the three full-size PCI Express slots is colored grey instead of black. That doesn't mean you can only install one video card though. In fact, you can choose between an x8/x8 dual-GPU configuration (NVIDIA SLI or AMD Crossfire) and an x8/x4/x4 configuration for tri-AMD gaming. In other words, for three video cards that can sync their resources despite the bandwidth difference.

It does put a damper on the purpose of the new motherboard though. ASUS envisioned it as a way to build a strong gaming PC around an Intel Pentium CPU (Pentium G3258 can overclock, for example), and AMD graphics might not scale well. Nevertheless, the option is there just in case. Moving on, the motherboard benefits from an Ethernet port, USB support, SupremeFX audio with an ALC1150 codec (with PCB separation), EM shielding, and headphone amplifiers with auto-detection. Finally, ASUS tossed in PCI Express to PCI connectors, two M.2 ports, SATA Express (12 Gbps instead of just 6 Gbps), ROG oriented DIGI+ control of the power delivery, SupremeFX audio, red/black heatsinks, and a BIOS with all the options needed for overclocking.

Availability and pricing

The ASUS Z97-Pro hasn't been given a tag yet, and we don't know when sales will begin. One thing's for sure, though. ASUS will have to somehow stay below the $100 / €80 price, because a higher price than that will put people off it, no matter how great it is.

Press Release:ASUS today announced Z97-Pro Gamer, a high-performance ATX motherboard with 10Gibt/s M.2 and SATA Express connectivity, Intel® Gigabit Ethernet, exclusive SupremeFX audio with Sonic Radar II and GameFirst ll and LANGuard networking technologies to deliver pure gaming fun.
The Intel Z97 chipset-based Z97-Pro Gamer also benefits from ASUS Gamer’s Guardian, a collection of components hand-chosen for exceptional safety, durability and performance to protect gamers’ backs, and is the latest addition to the popular ASUS Gamer motherboard series.
Faster, smoother and more reliable gaming networking
Z97-Pro Gamer is equipped with Intel Gigabit Ethernet and ASUS-exclusive LANGuard for faster, smoother and more reliable gaming sessions.
Intel’s networking technology has the advantage of communicating directly with Intel processors to offer exceptionally-high Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) throughput, lowering overall processing demands and improving efficiency — releasing more power for games and gameplay.
LANGuard employs advanced signal-coupling technology and premium surface-mounted capacitors to improve throughput, and includes both surge protection and electrostatically-guarded components to defend against lightning strikes and static-electricity discharges.
Z97-Pro Gamer also has ASUS-exclusive GameFirst II technology, an innovative traffic-shaping technology that reduces lag significantly by prioritizing game-related data. Tests by ASUS engineers show that latency is greatly reduced — ping times are up to eight times (8X) faster with GameFirst II enabled. GameFirst II’s EZ Mode allows everyone to take advantage of low-latency gaming, with no need for expert knowledge.
Best-in-class gaming audio
Players gaming with Z97-Pro Gamer-based systems enjoy SupremeFX technology for near-lossless audio with a remarkable signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 115dB that enhances every sound detail.
The advanced audio chipset is isolated from electromagnetic interference (EMI) by a protective shield, preserving the integrity of the audio signals. Exclusive ‘red-line shielding’ horizontally separates SupremeFX audio components from the rest of the motherboard. This unique combination effectively eliminates analog interference to ensure flawless sound quality. Premium ELNA® audio capacitors are added to the mix to deliver a warmer, natural sound to complete the audio experience.
SupremeFX also has a built-in amplifier that drives high-quality headphones — all the way up to 300ohm impedance — for sound quality that’s as great as a dedicated sound card.
Z97-Pro Gamer also includes Sonic Radar II, an ASUS-exclusive technology that displays a stealthy overlay showing the precise direction and origin of in-game sounds. This enables players to hone their enemy-pinpointing skills, delivering a vital the edge in first-person-shooter (FPS) games.
Fastest gaming storage
Z97-Pro Gamer has the fastest consumer-storage connectivity, with both SATA Express and M.2. on board. SATA Express provides data-transfer speeds of up to 10Gbit/s from two PCI Express 2.0 (PCIe 2.0) lanes, enabling Z97-Pro Gamer players to speed up their game storage with the next generation of super-fast SSDs.
The new motherboard’s built-in M.2 socket also offers two native PCIe 2.0 lanes for data-transfer speeds of up to 10Gbit/s, giving Z97-Pro Gamer owners the freedom to choose their preferred method to speed up both their storage and gameplay.
Exceptional gaming durability
Z97-Pro Gamer is engineered with high-quality, highly-durable Gamer’s Guardian components for exceptional real-world protection for extended gaming sessions.
Gamer’s Guardian includes onboard resettable fuses that protect the connection ports and DRAM against overcurrent and short-circuit damage, while exceptionally high-quality, Japanese-made 10K black-metallic capacitors offer greater temperature endurance and improved lifespans.
Gamer’s Guardian ESD Guards on the USB ports, audio connectors and Ethernet (LAN) port ensure that Z97-Pro Gamer is actively protected against sudden electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Z97-Pro Gamer also has the ASUS-exclusive Digi+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) to enhance performance, increase efficiency and ensure reliability, and a stainless-steel back input/output (I/O) panel that’s chromium-plated and  corrosion-resistant to last up to three times (3X) longer than traditional panels.

ASUS Z97-Pro

ASUS Z97-Pro, socket & heatsinks

ASUS Z97-Pro, CPU socket

ASUS Z97-Pro, CPU socket

ASUS Z97-Pro, I/O panel
Images credits to ASUS

Samsung Introduces Its Slimmest Smartphones to Date: Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5

We reported yesterday that Samsung is expected to launch its Galaxy A Series in China in early November. Among the smartphones to be launched next week should have been the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7.

Well, it looks like the South Korean company decided to go official with the Galaxy A Series a bit earlier than it was expected. Samsung has just announced the upcoming availability of the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5, which will be available in select markets including China starting November. According to Samsung, Galaxy A3 and A5 are the company’s slimmest smartphones to date at 6.9mm and 6.7mm, respectively. Both are advertised as being optimized for social networking, but at the same time they’re both premium smartphones just like the Galaxy Alpha. The Galaxy A3 and A5 both feature metal clad unibody designs and come in a variety of colors, including Pearl White, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver, Soft Pink, Light Blue and Champagne Gold. When it comes to specs though, both smartphones fail to impress. They are equipped with 1.2GHz quad-core processors, 2GB of RAM (1GB RAM for Galaxy A3) and 16GB of internal memory. The good news is both devices pack microSD card slots for memory expansion (up to 64GB).

Samsung Galaxy A3 sports a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display that supports qHD (540 x 960 pixels) resolution, while the Galaxy A5 comes with a slightly larger 5-inch Super AMOLED display that supports HD (720p) resolution.

Both smartphones will be available in November with KitKat OS onboard

Another major difference between the two Galaxy A smartphones is the rear-facing camera. The Galaxy A3 is equipped with an 8-megapixel photo snapper with autofocus and LED flash, while the Galaxy A5 has a much better 13-megapixel camera with the same features. They both pack 5-megapixel front-facing camera for perfect selfies and video calls. Apparently, Samsung plans to launch more than one version of each of the two Galaxy A smartphones. The LTE model will also offer NFC (Near Field Communication), whereas the 3G variant won’t be getting this connectivity feature. It’s also worth mentioning that Samsung Galaxy A3 will be powered by a 1900 mAh battery, while the Galaxy A5 has been confirmed to drain energy from a 2300 mAh battery. Both batteries have yet to be rated by the manufacturer.

Software-wise, the Galaxy A3 and A5 will ship with Android 4.4 KitKat operating system out of the box, but we expect Samsung to offer an Android 5.0 Lollipop update at some point next year.

Samsung Galaxy A5 and A3

Samsung Galaxy A3 (front)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (front angle)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (right side)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (back)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (front)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (front angle)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (right side)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (back)
Images credits to Samsung

Oct 30, 2014

MSI X99S Mpower Custom Overclocking Motherboard Debuts

Intel may not officially name its Core i7-5000 Series central processing units “Super CPUs,” but it does refer to them as the Extreme Edition. The Haswell-E line as it were.

These chips only go well with the absolute best motherboards on the market. Those powered by the X99 chipset that includes the LGA 2011-3 socket. MSI has just released a mainboard of this type, called X99S MPOWER and featuring four PCI Express 3.0 slots (not counting the mini ones), eight DDR4 DIMM memory slots, and Military Class 4 components for endurance. According to the company, the X99S MPOWER has broken 26 records during the MOA 2014 overclocking contest. That's a pretty strong case for people to buy it over other high-end mainboards. Of course, the quad-GPU support, Turbo M.2 32 Gbps SSD support, SATA Express (12 Gbps for HDDs/SSDs), and Gigabit LAN will have a say in that as well, as will Audio Boost technology.

All in all, the MSI X99S MPOWER motherboard is about as strong a motherboard as you can expect from even the highest level of the consumer market. It will be priced accordingly, but it's not like hardcore enthusiasts and overclockers can ever make it far in their careers without cash to spare.

Press Release:MSI, world leading in motherboard technology, is pleased to announce its release of the MSI X99S MPOWER motherboard. After MSI launched its X99S XPOWER AC motherboard on August the 29th it's now time for its brother, the X99S MPOWER motherboard, to assist in dominating the benchmarks. The MSI X99S MPOWER is a custom designed overclocking motherboard, specifically for enthusiasts demanding the highest performance and the best stability while still getting a ton of OC features.
The MSI X99S MPOWER motherboard is ready to take the new 8 or 6 core CPU's and DDR4 performance to the limit, proven recently by already breaking 26 records during the finals of MSI's overclocking contest, MOA 2014. OC Certified and Military Class 4 components make sure it can handle anything while retaining absolute stability. The next generation OC Engine helps to push the system to its limits with more flexible bClk overclocking, needed for breaking records. The MSI X99S MPOWER also comes with Quad Multi-GPU support, OC Essentials, Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s, SATA Express, Audio Boost and Intel Gigabit LAN.
26 records broken with X99S MPOWER
After generations of proven world class overclocking performance, MSI is proud to add the X99S MPOWER motherboard to this record-breaking MPOWER family.
It's a motherboard truly built for overclockers, by overclockers. Built with Lightning DNA and Military Class 4 components, MSI's OC Certified models ensure stability and top overclocking performance with the latest Intel HEDT CPUs. This has already been proven during the latest MOA 2014 event in the Classic and NO LIMIT Grand Finals, where the X99S MPOWER motherboard was used to break 26 record on HWBOT.
Clever solutions are once again handed to enthusiast overclockers to help break world records. Featuring a large number of convenient overclocking tools such as V-Check Points 2, CeaseFire Lite, Go2BIOS and DirectOC buttons for realtime overclocking, the X99S MPOWER motherboard is ready to push your hardware to its limit.
OC Certified
OC Certified is a military class burn-in test for motherboards. Running Prime95 for over 24 hours with a highly overclocked CPU is already a stressing endeavor, but removing all airflow from the motherboard ensures that only the best motherboards survive. If a motherboard can survive this, it can survive any overclocking situation. MSI Overclocking motherboards are equipped with all the necessary features to make sure you get the most out of your system. From the Enhanced PWM with a large amount of power phases and Thermal Design that give you the best stability, to all the easy features that ensure that you don't have to perform a lot of tricks to get great stability in your quest for performance.
OC Engine
The MSI X99S MPOWER motherboard features a next generation Clock Generator for more flexible BCLK adjustments, from 100 / 125 / 167 MHz straps. Using these straps prevents system crashing while overclocking on the edge and opens doors to achieve the absolute maximum. The next generation chip offers even lower jitter and power consumption resulting in even higher stability under the most extreme conditions.
Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s
Delivering speeds up to 32Gb/s, Turbo M.2 is more than 5 times faster than a regular SATA III connection. Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s is the successor to M.2 10 Gb/s, offering performance up to 3 times as fast using PCI Express Gen3 x4. M.2 is packed in a small form factor and is compatible with 3 different sizes to fit most storage solutions. Gamers can enjoy a blazing fast system boot up and loading of applications and games.

MSI X99S MPOWER, unpacked


MSI X99S MPOWER, top view

MSI X99S MPOWER with quad-GPU graphics configuration
Images credits to MSI

Oppo N3 Officially Unveiled with 16MP Rotating Camera and 5.5-Inch FHD Display

Oppo’s new flagship smartphone has been teased many times in the last couple of months, but only a few details on its specs sheet leaked online.

Along with the previously rumored N3, Oppo also launched the R5, supposedly the world’s thinnest smartphone at only 4.85mm. We have already reported on the Oppo R5, so let’s see what the company’s new flagship handset brings on the market. Well, first of all, although it may look like a flagship smartphone, on paper the N3 doesn’t stand a chance against Samsung, LG or HTC top-tier devices. One would think that Oppo N3 will be popular among Android users because of the lower price tag in comparison with more established brands like those mentioned earlier. Alas, Oppo announced that the N3 would sell for no less than $650 (€515) outright, which is not the cheapest the company could go. Anyway, the Chinese OEM confirmed that the N3 would be launched in about 20 countries by the end of the year.

We believe the price may be slightly different depending on country, but there won’t be major differences between the suggested retail price and the actual amount you will have to pay in these countries. For those who are unfamiliar with Oppo N3, here is a quick rundown of what the smartphone has to offer in terms of hardware and software.

When it comes to hardware, the N3 fails to impress

Let’s start with the latter and mention that the N3 will ship with ColorOS 2.0, which is based on Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, out of the box. For the time being, it’s unclear whether or not the smartphone will be upgraded to Android 5.0 Lollipop. When it comes to hardware, Oppo N3 is far from being impressive, especially when put against the Galaxy Note 4 or LG G3. The smartphone is equipped with a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, and Adreno 330 graphics processing unit and 2GB of RAM. The N3 has been confirmed to pack 32GB of internal memory, but it does not feature microSD card slot for memory expansion, so keep that in mind before making your purchase.

Oppo’s high-end smartphone sports a large 5.5-inch full HD (1080p) capacitive touchscreen display and a high-capacity 3,000 mAh battery, which should recharge from 0 to 75% in just 30 minutes. Another selling point of the Oppo N3 could be the 16-megapixel swivel camera, which features a Schneider Kreuznach lens, autofocus, LED flash and video recording. Have you decided on whether or not to pick this one up? Let us know in the comments.

Oppo N3

Oppo N3 (front)

Oppo N3 swivel camera

Oppo N3 swivel camera

Oppo N3 touch-sensitive controls

Oppo N3 swivel camera

Oppo N3 swivel camera
Images credits to Oppo

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Weighs as Much as a Hamster and Other Cool Facts

The Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact just started shipping in some markets around the world and the producing company is celebrating this event by unveiling a cool infographic related to the tablet.

Considering the majority of attention is going towards the Nexus 9 and iPad Air 2 these days, Sony seems to have chosen the right time to remind customers that it too, is offering a worthy slate to be taken into consideration. However, the tablet takes advantage of a smaller form factor than the Nexus 9 and iPad Air 2. Unlike its older siblings, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is an 8-incher working with the same HD Triluminous display technology with full HD resolution.

Sony highlights the tablet's sleek frame

One of the first things Sony mentions in the info graphic is how thin the tablet is. The company touts the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact as the skinniest in its lineup, coming in at 6.4 mm / 0.25 inches. It also weighs a meager 270 g / 0.5 lbs which is comparable to a hamster or one latte. However, since the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact came out, two tablets with even thinner frames got announced. We’re talking about the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series with 6 mm / 0.24 inches profile and iPad Air 2 with 6.1 mm / 0.24 inches. Going back to the Sony slate, the model comes equipped with two cameras (8.1MP on the back and 2.2MP up in front) and runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. The good news is that Sony has already announced it will bring the Android 5.0 Lollipop update to the tablet as soon as possible.

But what makes this little tablet stand out from the crowd is the fact that it comes complete with integrated PlayStation support. This means that if you can’t use your TV to play a game, because grandma is watching her favorite soap opera, you can take your tablet and pair it with your console instead and play games via the DualShock 4 controller (thanks to the new Remote Play feat).

Sony puts an emphasis on the tablet's waterproof feature

This feature is not advertised in the infographic, which places an emphasis on the IP 65/68 specifications instead. Sony says 1 in 5 mobile phones are damaged due to the devices being dropped in the toilet (really that’s what it says), so the new tablet follows the company’s tradition and is also waterproof to prevent accidental damage.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is super skinny

Complete infographic detailing Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Images credits to Sony Mobile

Xiaomi Working on 9.2-Inch Budget Tablet with Snapdragon 410 SoC

Low-cost device manufacturer Xiaomi took the world of tablets by storm when it unleashed its first product from the category, the MiPad.

The tablet was the first ever to take advantage of NIVIDA’s new Tegra K1 architecture and was of 32-bit variety. The MiPad brings a 7.9-inch screen with 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution and comes equipped with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (expandable up to 128GB via microSD). The tablet sells for $240 / €176 which can be considered super affordable given the specifications packed on the inside. But compared to other Xiaomi products, the MiPad is a little above the norm.

Xiaomi budget tablet on the way

But not to worry, Xiaomi will soon offer a new tablet that will probably sell for a more accessible price. Gizmobic reports having stumbled upon a new Xiaomi slate in the GFXBench database. This time the low-cost maker seems to be aiming for a bigger form factor. According to the listing, the new device will come equipped with a 9.2-inch display boasting 1280 x 720 pixel resolution and just 160ppi. For this next slate, Xiaomi will be doing business with Qualcomm, so the device will receive power from a Snapdragon 410 chip fitted with Qualcomm Adreno 306 GPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. We should also mention that the benchmark listing reveals Xiaomi will continue to produce Android tablets, as this latest one will take advantage of Android 4.4.4 KitKat.

As you can see, the tablet’s specs don’t seem to be all that disruptive, so that’s why we believe Xiaomi will be marketing it with a super affordable rate, maybe even below $100 / €78. Given the rising popularity of tablets with voice calling capabilities in the Asian region (India included), Xiaomi might also want to bestow this feature on its upcoming budget slate, but this is just speculation at this point.

Xiaomi is choosing to go bigger, tablet-wise

It’s interesting how the low-cost device maker chose to go bigger rather than smaller. So instead of working towards a 7-inch device, Xiaomi is seemingly prepping a device similar in size to the newest Nexus 9. But spec-wise, the two models couldn't be more different. Like with the MiPad, Xiaomi will probably market the tablet only in Asia. At some point, the company admitted the US market was a little bit too competitive for them. Still, the company might make a debut in the country, smartphone-wise, starting with 2015.

Picture showing the current Xiaomi MiPad tablet
Image credits to Xiaomi

GFXBench listing revealing new Xiaomi tablet
Image credits to Gizmobic

Samsung Launching Galaxy A Series in Early November

Samsung Galaxy A Series is no secret as the South Korean company has already launched the Galaxy Alpha, the first device in this family of premium smartphones.

However, there have been lots of rumors running around which claim Samsung plans to launch at least three more Galaxy A smartphones by the end of the year: A3, A5 and A7. They may be released on the market under different names, but they will be priced differently considering they look pretty much different when it comes to specs. The cheapest of the three, Samsung Galaxy A3 was initially rumored to arrive first, soon followed by the A5 and A7. However, Korea IT Times reports Samsung plans to launch the entire series of handsets in early November. Surprisingly, the cited source refers to the Galaxy A series as being low-price, though previous rumors did not point to such a thing. The reason for this may be explained by the following phrase:

“The introduction of the Galaxy A Series, consisting of Galaxy A3, A5 and A7, is part of Samsung’s efforts to regain its share in the world’s largest smartphone market where it is competing fiercely with local smartphone brands including Xiaomi.”

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 will be initially launched in China

However, we doubt that Samsung will want to compete with Xiaomi on the Chinese market with some premium smartphones, which are usually more expensive than regular ones that use cheaper materials for manufacture. It’s unclear whether or not Samsung will only launch the Galaxy A Series in China in early November. We do know for sure these smartphones will eventually make it to other regions, but there are no details on when exactly that will happen. We expect more info on the matter to be unveiled during the Galaxy A Series launch in China in the next several days, so stay tuned for more details if you want to know when these handsets will arrive in your country.

Some may say that the Galaxy A Series is Samsung’s alternative to iPhone, given the stylish design and premium materials. The build quality of these smartphones is also superior to other regular mid-range handsets launched by Samsung, hence the slightly higher pricing. It will be interesting to see if Samsung will indeed price the handsets in the Galaxy A Series lower than rumors suggest. For those out of the loop, the Galaxy A Series smartphones should be priced between $350 (€280) and $500 (€400) outright.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (left) and Galaxy A3 (right)
Image credits to Android Mexico

LG 31MU97, Monitor with 4096 x 2160 4K Resolution

LG Electronics has rather fortuitously announced a monitor that could make the day of anyone in a position where a graphics card with 8 GB of GDDR5 VRAM is warranted. The display is called LG 31MU97.

Not that LG was thinking of gamers when it invented the product. Indeed, it was aiming for a different part of the potential customer base, that of graphics, video and game designers. Still, with both NVIDIA and Advanced Micro Devices preparing to launch some new graphics cards with 8 GB of VRAM, the new monitor could be a great fit for them. Sure, the adapters are intended more for multi-card installations and multi-monitor configurations, but why bother when you can stuff the 4K quality inside a single screen? Nevertheless, while the newcomer does have the size to satisfy customers (32 inches in diagonal), it doesn't possess the “standard” 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, but 4096 x 2160.

The specs of the LG 31MU97 monitor

As a professional piece of equipment, it has all the best trappings that LG could give it. No corners were cut in its creation. For example, the IPS screen technology (which naturally enables wide viewing angles of 178 degrees) supports over 99.5 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. It also lets users choose from several coloring options and modes, with dual color space permitting the displaying of two different color modes at the same time. That way, you can compare your work with what it could look like on other screens if you wish. The True Color Pro software is another LG creation that deserves a bit of attention. It provides color calibration capabilities independent of a PC. Considering the 10-bit color support, that's quite important to have.

Moving on, you can use the new monitor to edit standard Digital Cinema 4K without scaling the image, or edit footage with full color expression thanks to DCI color standard support (covers 97% of the DCI-P3 color space to reproduce realistic colors). In layman’s terms, everything boils down to the new LG Digital Cinema 4K Monitor possessing all the features (and more) that professionals could need in their video/game editing efforts.

Availability and pricing
The LG 31MU97 hasn't been given a price yet, but we do know that sales will begin this week in the United States of America, as well as South Korea, Germany, and Australia. The UK, Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Japan will get their turn later in November.

Press Release:LG Electronics (LG) today unveiled its new 4K Monitor (model 31MU97) for global rollout starting this week. The cutting-edge LG 31MU97 mates Digital Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution with a 31-inch IPS monitor to create an ultra-sharp high-end monitor that meets the standards of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI). The LG 31MU97 is especially well suited for professionals who demand the sharpest possible images for either work or leisure.
The monitor's ultra-high quality 4K resolution and life-like colors are ideal for photographers, video editors and graphic artists and its incredible picture quality allows for detailed and accurate retouching of any image. With the monitor's rich and vibrant colors and impressive 10-bit color, visual arts professionals will greatly appreciate the model's high color accuracy.
The monitor's IPS display supports over 99.5 percent of the Adobe RGB color space and provides users with several coloring options and modes in order to meet the wide spectrum of needs that graphic professionals require. Its Dual Color Space allows the monitor to display two different color modes at once so that users can compare different perspectives of their work simultaneously. Additionally, the Digital Cinema 4K Monitor comes hardware calibration-ready with LG's exclusive True Color Pro software.
The LG 31MU97 is equipped with several unique high-end functions that will satisfy most discerning professionals. Video pros can edit 4K content in the ideal resolution with standard Digital Cinema 4K without image scaling. Editing footage with full color expression is made possible by the DCI color standard support which reproduces color realistically, covering 97 percent of DCI-P3 color space, the standard for digital cinema projectors and digital camera. And the LG 31MU97 comes with an ergonomic pivot design that offers maximum convenience for displaying as much of the image on the screen as possible to minimize scrolling and dragging.
"LG's Digital Cinema 4K Monitor presents the company with an excellent opportunity to solidify our leadership in the global professional monitor market," said Hyoung-sei Park, head of the IT business division at LG Electronics. "This monitor's high-end features and functions make it the perfect solution for professionals who require a top-of-the-line monitor with all the technology currently available."
The LG 31MU97 will be available starting this week in markets including the United States, South Korea, Germany, Australia and the UK followed by the Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Japan in November

LG 31MU97
Image credits to LG

Oct 29, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 Google Play Edition with Android 5.0 Lollipop Coming in November

A Google Play Edition of Samsung Galaxy S5 has been rumored for quite some time now, but the South Korean company is still mum on the matter.

As soon as it became clear that Galaxy S5 won’t have the same popularity of the Galaxy S III or Galaxy S4, Samsung may have decided to delay the launch of a Google Play Edition version which wouldn’t have boosted the smartphone’s sales too much. However, a smartphone that looks like the unannounced Galaxy S5 GPE was spotted the same day Google announced the Nexus 6 and Android 5.0 Lollipop, right on the company’s Android.com website. A photo of the Samsung Galaxy S5 GPE was included in a collage showing various Android smartphones powered by a stock version of the operating system. Although many believed that Samsung cut the Galaxy S5 GPE from its 2014 roadmap entirely, this doesn’t seem to be accurate. According to YouMobile citing “some trusted reports” they have received, Samsung and Google will surely launch the long-rumored Galaxy S5 GPE next month.

The said reports claim the smartphone will be launched on the market on November, but there are no details on when exactly it will be available for purchase. The good news is that unlike the standard Galaxy S5, the Google Play Edition will ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system out of the box. Aside from OS, there won't be any difference between GPE and the current version of Galaxy S5. Aside from that, the smartphone is said to come with the same specs as the current Samsung Galaxy S5 model. It’s unclear though whether or not Samsung will add some of the improvements it included in the Galaxy S5 Plus version, which is expected to make its debut in Europe in the next couple of days.

That would mean the Galaxy S5 GPE should be equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor instead of the Snapdragon 801. In addition, the smartphone should also feature LTE-A support for blazing fast mobile data speeds. Given the fact that the information has yet to be confirmed by the South Korean handset maker, we recommend our readers to take it with a grain of salt until more details on the matter surface online. All in all, Samsung decision to bring the Galaxy S5 GPE on the market with Android 5.0 Lollipop in tow does make sense, so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility. We will keep an eye out for any additional info on the subject, so stay tuned for more. 

Samsung Galaxy S5 Google Play Edition
Image credits to Google

Huawei Honor 4X (Dual-SIM) with 64-Bit Chipset and 5.5-Inch Display Goes Official

Good news for customers looking for an affordable Android smartphone that would also come with new technology inside, as Huawei has just announced the upcoming availability of the Honor 4X.

Aside from the fact that it’s been priced pretty low even for a mid-range smartphone, Huawei Honor 4X is equipped with one of the newest chipsets from Qualcomm. Qualcomm recently launched two 64-bit chipsets, the Snapdragon 410 and 615, which are meant to arm mid-range Android smartphones. Some have already been launched on the market, while a few others have been announced and should hit shelves by the end of the month. Huawei Honor 4X is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 chipset, which accommodates a 1.2GHz quad-core processor inside, along with an Adreno 306 graphics processing unit.

The smartphone also packs no less than 2GB of RAM, but only 8GB of internal memory. Luckily, users can further expand storage up to 64 GB via microSD card slot. Although Huawei confirmed the Honor 4X would ship with Android 4.4 KitKat operating system with Emotion UI 3.0 on top, the press renders show the smartphone features Lollipop’s icons. It remains to be seen whether Huawei Honor 4X will be launched to Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box or it will get it later as an update. Speaking of launch, the Honor 4X is now available for pre-order in China for only 1300 yuan outright, which is about $210 or €165. This makes it a great deal considering its more than decent specs.

Moving on to camera, the phone boasts an impressive 13-megapixel photo snapper on the back, which features autofocus, LED flash BSI sensor, f/2.0 aperture and full HD (1080p) video recording.

A worldwide rollout should follow the Chinese release next month

But there’s more to it, as Huawei also included a no less impressive 5-megapixel camera, which should be perfect for taking selfies and video calls. Connectivity-wise, Huawei Honor 4X comes packed with LTE, 3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS with A-GPS support. Here are some details for those who would like to know how big the smartphone is: 152.9 x 77.2 x 8.65mm. It is also worth mentioning the Honor 4X weighs 165g (battery included). Last but not least, Huawei’s mid-range Android smartphone is powered by a high-capacity 3,000 mAh battery, which is rated for no less than 72 hours of continuous usage. Huawei Honor 4X will go on sale in China on November 6, but it’s unclear whether or not the Chinese handset maker will bring it to other markets anytime soon.

Huawei Honor 4X
Images credits to Huawei

AMD Cogent Kabini Micro Board PC Is Barely Larger than a Credit Card

Miniature computer systems have been gaining a lot more attention than usual in recent years, mostly because the technology to give them near-desktop performance levels finally exists. Or what passed for desktop performance half a decade ago.

The ARM CPU architecture has been the prime basis for tiny computers for years, along with the Arduino platform. More recently, the Raspberry Pi has been making waves, thanks to its size no larger than a credit card (thickness notwithstanding). Intel has been trying to carve a sector of this tiny PC market for itself, using the NUC (next unit of computing), but has had limited success. It was enough to finally prompt AMD to join the race though. So without further ado, behold the CSB1790 tiny System-on-Module based on Kabini APU architecture.

The AMD CSB1790

Technically, it's the Cogent CSB1790, since Cogent is the USA-based embedded system-on-module provider. AMD just supplies the GX-420CA 2.0GHz quad-core SoC. Said SoC (system-on-chip) features a Radeon HD8400E GPU. A full graphics processing unit, not an iGP (integrated graphics processor) like in Intel CPUs. Just as important is the 72-Bit Wide DDR3L-1600 w/ ECC SODIMM Socket, which can hold up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM (random access memory). The Jaguar-based 64-bit x86 cores won't have trouble stretching their legs as it were. Other than that, the mini PC module has everything a PC needs in order to work, both alone and in collaboration with others: an x4 and two x1 GEN II (5g/s) PCI Express ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a pair of SATA III ports (for storage), two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 connectors, an M.2 SSD SATA module, and onboard 8MB SPI NOR flash for the BIOS.

Applications for the AMD Kabini Micro Board PC

Thanks to the hardware and Cogent's own MXM-2 form factor, the CSB1790 is good for human machine interface (HMI), point of sale (POS), transportation, home automation, building automation, security systems, home theater PCs, hospitality / entertainment automation, multi-head media and digital signage, plus kiosks and medical imaging. Any other embedded systems you can think of are eligible too. Collectively, all these scenarios are known as SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) sensitive requirements. Being compatible with off-the-shelf device platforms, as well as easy to include in a custom design, helps the CSB1790's prospects greatly as well. The product page has more information if you want to give each one of the technical tidbits a closer look.

AMD Kabini-based Cogent CSB1790
Image credits to Cogent

MSI GT80 Titan: 18.4-Inch Screen Notebook with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M in SLI

Gaming notebooks are getting more and more impressive by the minute, but if the current batch of products available on the market hasn’t managed to impress you all that much, maybe the next one we will talk about will.

MSI is a company mostly known for its highly powerful mobile gaming stations and the GT72 Dominator Pro is a good example in that direction. But the good people at Swe Clockers managed to find out the device maker is prepping another disruptive gaming solution.

MSI GT80 Titan will arrive in 2015

The machine is known as the GT80 Titan, and as the name suggests, it’s pretty massive. First of all, it comes with a pretty huge screen of 18.4 inches, when most gaming notebooks out there draw the line at 17.3 inches. Apart from the size, another aspect you’ll notice right from the start is the new Cherry MX Brown keyboard (produced by SteelSeries) which has been moved forward on its own plane and is flanked by a large touchpad on the right, which can apparently double as a numeric keypad. As for technical specifications, we don’t know the whole story, but we can share a few details with you nevertheless. Apparently, the laptop integrates two of NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 980M graphic cards in SLI configuration, while the power house of the device is said to be an Intel Core i7-4980HQ.

Resolution and RAM storage remains unknown at this point

What we lack at the moment is information related to the resolution of the 18.4-inch panel, the amount of RAM storage (although this is likely to be up to 32GB) and internal storage options. Expect the MSI GT80 Titan to make an appearance on the market in 2015, but exactly when this will be the case we can’t really say at the moment. Also, nothing about pricing has been revealed until now, but you should expect the Titan to become available for sale for a “giant” price-tag. When it arrives on the market, the MSI GT80 Titan won’t be the only laptop in the company’s lineup taking advantage of NVIDIA’s latest GPUs.

Immediately after the graphic chip maker make the availability of the two cards public, MSI was one of the first companies to announce it was updating its GS70 Stealth Pro, GT72 Dominator, GT70 Dominator and GT60 Dominator gaming laptops to the latest standard. On top of that, MSI also unveiled a special edition of the GS70 Stealth Pro model which will be offered from now on with a new crimson red paint job.

MSI GT80 Titan will arrive in 2015
Image credits to Swe Clockers

Motorola Posts Android 5.0 Lollipop Update Roadmap

Lenovo’s latest acquisition in the smartphone business, Motorola has just published its Android 5.0 Lollipop update roadmap. The US-based handset maker announced a few weeks ago that it would definitely offer the Lollipop upgrade to several smartphones, some of them extremely popular in various emerging markets.

Although Motorola did not share any details regarding the exact release date of the update for any of the smartphones, the company recently put in place a dedicated “software upgrade” website where customers can check out which products are eligible for Lollipop. Before listing the Motorola smartphones that have been confirmed for an Android 5.0 Lollipop update, we would like to mention the fact that it’s hard to make any estimates about the upgrade’s release given the fact Lollipop has yet to be officially released on the market. Speaking of which, Google confirmed that Android 5.0 Lollipop would make its debut on the market along with the Nexus 6, on November 3. However, we expect Google to send the final build of the operating system before its market release, which is less than a week away.

Well, according to Motorola, the next generation of Android, namely Lollipop 5.0, is now in development, which means the US-based company has already sent the final version of the platform to some handset makers. Motorola and Google have a strong relationship, even if the latter sold it to Lenovo. That might be one of the reasons Motorola is one of the first companies that are given the opportunity to tailor Android 5.0 Lollipop for its smartphones. Anyway, Motorola fans will be pleased to know that no less than 9 smartphones have been confirmed to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop very soon.

Motorola may add more smartphones to the list of eligible products for Lollipop

Here is the complete list: Motorola Moto X (1st Gen.), Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen.), Motorola Moto G (1st Gen.), Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen.), Motorola DROID Ultra, Motorola DROID Mini, Motorola Moto G with 4G LTE, Motorola DROID Maxx and Motorola Moto E. Keep in mind though that, even if you don’t own one of the Motorola smartphones mentioned earlier, there’s still a chance that the handset maker will bring Lollipop to additional devices. While Motorola announced that these 9 smartphones would be the first to receive Lollipop, the company also said that the list of products would evolve over time, so you might want to check back for changes.

Motorola also stated that once Android 5.0 Lollipop got released on the market, it would start working with its technology and carriers to bring the update to as many products and as fast as possible.

Motorola smartphones eligible for Lollipop update
Image credits to Motorola

Nokia Is Ready for a Comeback in the Smartphone Business, but It May Take a While

For many, the Nokia brand is the most important in the world and the main reason they keep purchasing Lumia smartphones even after the Finnish company’s mobile division has been acquired by Microsoft.

Licensing the Nokia and Lumia brands was a smart move by Microsoft, but the Redmond-based company will eventually lose the right to put the Nokia brand on its products. When that happens, the Finnish company is likely to come back to what it’s been doing for about 20 years, making phones. Since Microsoft purchased Nokia’s devices and services division, the ex-handset maker focused on its other business like HERE, Nokia Mobile Solutions and Nokia Technologies. However, Nokia did not turn its face from the smartphone business even if the company is forbidden from launching any new devices under its brand for 18 months. The release of the Android launcher several weeks ago is a clear hint to Nokia’s plans for the next few years. Even if a comeback is not possible during the next year, there’s a high chance that we will see a new Nokia branded smartphone from the Finnish company arriving sometime in 2016.

The company's CFO hints to when Nokia could release a new smartphone

Forbes reports that during an earnings call following the release of its third quarter results, Nokia’s CFO Timo Ihamuotila did some interesting remarks concerning the company’s future business. Here is an excerpt of the Ihamuotila’s longer statement: “…we will of course carefully assess what would be the best way for us to maximize the value of the Nokia brand, also taking into account that we’re in the lock-up period still in the Microsoft transaction regarding our possibility to use the brand and we have recognized that Nokia brand is the most valuable from recognition perspective in the area of mobile phones and mobile devices. And there we cannot go yet at the moment.”

It will be interesting to see whether Nokia would be willing to bet on Windows Phone again, though we doubt that the Finnish company would want to compete with Microsoft. Judging by the fact that Nokia’s engineers are now looking to create easy-to-use UI for the Android ecosystem, we can safely assume that Nokia would go this route with its first smartphone after Microsoft’s acquisition of its Devices and Services division. The fact is that Nokia does seem keen on letting everyone know when exactly it can return to the smartphone market, but whether it will step into the fray or not, that is something that we’ll find out in the next months.

Nokia N9
Image credits to Nokia

Oct 27, 2014

Hisense Vidaa Pad Tablet Is as Thin as the iPad Air 2 at 6.1 mm

The race to produce thinner and thinner tablets is on. It might not be in the open where everybody can see, but device makers are avidly trying to appease customers’ taste for slim, light devices that can be carried around effortlessly.

As we have told you, Dell recently unveiled the Venue 8 7000 Series which currently holds the title as the thinnest tablet out there, being just 6 mm / 0.24 inches thick, thus beating Apple’s iPad Air 2 that comes in at 6.1 mm / 0.24 inches. It comes very close nevertheless. There are other skinny tablets on the market. For example, the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is 6.4 mm / 0.25 inches while the Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10.5 and 8.4-inch) is 6.6 mm / 0.26 inches.

China replicates the iPad Air 2 in thickness

But what if we told you there’s another tablet out there that’s just as sleek as the iPad Air 2. Chinese tablet manufacturers have instituted a tradition of copying iconic Apple products and now one of them has managed to replicate the tablet’s remarkable skinniness. We’re talking about Hisense which just unveiled a 6.1 mm / 0.24 inches tablet of its own, called Vidaa Pad. Naturally, this tablet will run Android out of the box, but we’re not being told which version this will be. Actually, Hisense hasn’t shed a lot of light on the specifications of the tablet. According to CN Gadget, the tablet will take advantage of one of the most powerful chipsets available on the Chinese market, but the information is not detailed. We’re shown a bunch of pictures of the tablet, which indicate the device might bring about a 7.9-inch form factor and that will be offered in multiple colors, like gold and red.

Imagining the Hisense Vidaa Pad

Since we’re not given any indication of the specs inside, we might as well speculate. It appears the slim tablet will be marketed as the company’s flagship. We could take cues from the Sero 8 Pro, which is expected to arrive in retail next month. So the new tab could boast 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution on an IPS display (the Dell Venue 8 7000 has 2560 x 1600 res). The tablet might draw power from a Rockchip RK3288 ARM Cortex-A17 quad-core processor fitted with 2GB of RAM and backed up by 16GB of internal storage.

This is all speculation and we have to wait to see whether this turns out to be the case or not. But unlike the Dell Venue 8 7000 Series or iPad Air 2 whose price starts at $499 / €349, the Hisense Vidaa Pad will certainly be a lot cheaper.

Hisense Vidaa Pad is a sleek tablet

Hisense Vidaa Pad in red

Hisense Vidaa Pad in gold

Hisense Vidaa Pad will be offered in multiple colors
Images credits to CN Gadget

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