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May 3, 2014

Haswell Refresh-Ready Motherboards Based on Intel Z97 Chipset Up for Order

Over the past couple of weeks, we saw several motherboards based on the Intel Z97 chipset get launched, though most of them weren't immediately available. Now they've started to crop up online though.

It wasn't exactly certain they would be put up for order this week, despite that quite a few of the products were supposed to become available this month (May 2014). There are, after all, still some days left before the Haswell Refresh series of central processing units reach stores (Core-series, Celeron and Pentium desktop and laptop chips). And, historically, when a company says that a product will debut this or that month, the chances of the release happening near the end of said month are about as high as the odds of it coming to pass in the first week. Nevertheless, the motherboards are already coming out. At least some of those from ASUS, Gigabyte and Micro-Star International anyway. Newegg has them listed. At the price of $150 / €150 we have the ASUS Z97-A and GIGABYTE Z97X-UD3H, then at $160 / €160 you'll find the MSI Z97-Gaming 5 and Z97-Gaming 7.

Even more expensive is the MSI MPower, at $200 / €200, while the ASUS Sabertooth Z97 and MSI Z97 MPower Max AC ship at $250 / €250 and $260 / €260, respectively. Searching “Z97” under the “motherboard” category will net all of these results, and some we haven't mentioned. Curiously, the ASRock mainboards that came out late last month (April 2014) aren't there, or weren't at the time of this article's writing. Odd, given how ASRock easily has the greatest collection (for now), numbering five distinct mainboard models. There are two main advantages to the Z97 chipset, besides the intrinsic support for Haswell Refresh CPUs. One of them is support for M.2 solid state drives. M.2 SSDs are much smaller than 2.5-inch and even mSATA, and are known as NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) as well.

The other main asset of Z97 is native support for SATA Express technology, a type of SATA which enables a bandwidth of up to 12 Gbps by using PCI Express links alongside SATA ones. The ASUS HyperExpress SSD is an example of a storage device that can use the tech to reach almost 800 MB/s data throughput. No doubt the number of Z97 mainboards will increase by the end of the month. Probably within the next two weeks even, since Intel's CPUs will be out by then, and even if they don't debut that soon, the platforms normally precede the chips by a decent interval.

Gigabyte Z97 SOC Force
Image credits to Gigabyte

LG G3 Specs Allegedly Confirmed Once Again

As the official release date of LG’s next flagship handset draws near, more and more leaked info on the device is available, the latest of which comes in the form of a new photo that allegedly depicts it, paired with supposedly confirmed hardware specifications.

Said image was published online by Twitter user Aleksey Ignatyev and offers a new close up look at the phone’s rear panel. In the background, one can see the phone’s hardware specs written on a sheet of paper, offering more info on what to expect from the device once it becomes available. The new photo appears to be nothing more than a clearer, larger version of a leaked image with the device that emerged online at the end of the last week. Additionally, the guys over at GSMArena claim to have received a scoop on the phone’s hardware specifications, and that it will indeed prove to be the high-end device that enthusiasts are waiting for.

Thus, LG G3 will feature a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 pixels screen that can deliver a 534ppi pixel density, as well as a 13-megapixel camera with OIS on the back. The phone will be powered by a 3000mAh battery and will sport a microSD memory card slot. Apparently, LG is planning two flavors of the handset, one with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of memory, and another with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage inside. Stay tuned for more on the matter.

Image credits to Aleksey Ignatyev on Twitter

BLU Life Pure XL Goes Official with 5.5’’ Screen, Snapdragon 800 CPU

Mobile phone maker BLU has made official a new high-end Android-based smartphone, in the form of BLU Life Pure XL, which is set to arrive on shelves with top hardware specifications packed inside but with a pretty affordable price tag attached.

The new BLU Life Pure XL appears designed to appeal to every Android enthusiast out there, due to said high-end specs inside it and should be able to easily compete with various flagship phones already available for purchase out there. The new handset has been announced with a 5.5-inch touchscreen display capable of delivering a full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels) resolution, as well as with a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor packed inside, with Adreno 330 graphics next to it. BLU has also announced that the new handset will hit shelves with a 16-megapixel camera on its back, capable of recording videos in full HD resolution, as well as with an 8MP front camera for making video calls and snapping selfies while on the go.

The new device will be released in two different versions, one packing 16GB of internal memory and 2GB of RAM, and the other packing 32GB of internal storage, paired with 3GB of RAM. However, this is not all when it comes to the new BLU Life Pure XL, as the handset also comes with the entire set of usual connectivity capabilities and sensors packed inside. This would include support for HSPA+ networks, along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. Additionally, the phone offers Wi-Fi Hotspot capabilities, and a microUSB port. The handset’s screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

On the downside, the new mobile phone runs under the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system and does not come to the market with support for 4G LTE networks. It won’t feature a microSD memory card slot either, it seems, and it comes with capacitive buttons on the front, as droid-life points out. However, considering the fact that BLU will be offering the smartphone at only $399 contract-free, users will certainly look over its shortcomings. The 32GB variant of the handset is set to become available for purchase today, May 2, and those interested in grabbing it should head over to Amazon for that. The 16GB version of the device is set to be released on May 9, with a price tag of only $349. Those who would like to learn more on the new BLU Life Pure XL should head over to BLU’s website for that.

BLU Life Pure XL
Image credits to BLU

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