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Oct 15, 2014

Google Nexus 6 with Android Lollipop Officially Introduced, on Pre-Order from October 29

Google has finally taken the wraps off its newest Android flagship smartphone, the Nexus 6. As expected, the smartphone will be powered by the latest version of Google's mobile platform, which is called Android Lollipop.

It appears that Google successfully secured the Nexus 6 name after all, even though previous rumors suggested that the company faced some issues on the matter. Along with the Nexus 6 announcement, Google also introduced the new version of Android, namely Lollipop, as well as the Nexus 9 tablet manufactured by HTC. As expected, the Nexus 6 has been especially released by Google to fill a gap in its offering. Until today, the search giant did not have any device that could compete with other flagship phablet launched by other handset makers. Nexus 6 is Google's alternative to Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, as well as other phablets in the same price range.

Google new flagship smartphone boasts a huge 6-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution and 496ppi (pixel per density). On the inside, the device is armed with a powerful 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Krait 450 processor, an Adreno 440 graphics processing unit and 3GB of RAM.There will be two Nexus 6 variants available for purchase via Google Play Store, 32GB and 64GB. Neither of these versions will come with microSD card slot, but this was to be expected.

Google's phablet seems to be an US affair for the moment

The Nexus 6 also packs an impressive 13-megapixel f/2.0 photo snapper on the back, which features dual-LED flash, autofocus and video recording. There's also a secondary 2-megapixel front facing camera, which indicates that Google isn't too fond of selfie smartphones yet. According to Google, the Nexus 6 will be powered by a 3,220 mAh non-removable battery, which supports Turbo Charging. This will provide users with up to 6 hours of use after only 15 minutes of charging. The company also confirmed that the Nexus 6 should definitely offer 24 hours of usage, though it's unclear under what conditions. Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in the United States beginning October. All major carriers in the country will offer the smartphone, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular.

The SIM free 32GB variant will be available for purchase via Google Play Store for $649 (€510) outright. Pre-order are scheduled to start on October 29 and shipping should commence in early November. No word on price tag for the 64GB model, but we do know Nexus 6 will come in two different color options: Midnight Blue and Cloud White.

Google Nexus 6

Google Nexus 6 (front)

Google Nexus 6 (left side)

Google Nexus 6 (front camera)

Google Nexus 6 (back camera close-up)

Google Nexus 6 (back side)
Images credits to Google

Android 5.0 Is Lollipop, Brings Material Design to Phones, Tablets and TVs

As expected, Google announced its new version of Android, along with Nexus 9 tablet, Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus Player set-up box.

With more than 5,000 new APIs for developers, Android 5.0 Lollipop is Google's most ambitious release since the mobile platform made its debut back in 2008. The most popular mobile operating system to date, Android is now focusing on flexibility and personalization options. Even though it's considered by many the most customizable mobile platform, Android 5.0 Lollipop focuses on convergence. Once again, Google is trying to bring on the market a product that could be used on multiple devices of different category, such as phones, tablets and TVs. Lollipop has been especially designed to offer users the possibility to pick up where they left off, “so the songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all the other ones.”

The focus of Android 5.0 is on smoother transition from one screen to another, so users can experience the same feel on either devices mentioned earlier. In this regard, Google has created a consistent design across all compatible devices, which is called Material Design. This will allow for smoother transitions between tasks and more intuitive ways to interact with your devices. More control over devices is another improvement Google has added into Lollipop, which allows users to adjust their settings so that only certain people and notifications get through. Moreover, you will be able to see an important notification directly on the lockscreen.

Surprisingly, Nexus 4 qualifies for an Android 5.0 Lollipop update

Android 5.0 Lollipop brings lots of new features and improvements, including a new battery saver that should extend battery life by up to 90 minutes. Google also added a guest user mode and enabled multiple user accounts, so personal data will remain private between users. Several security features have been included as well, such as the option to secure a device with a PIN, password, pattern, or even by pairing it to a trusted device like a watch or car with Smart Lock. The good news is Google confirmed Android 5.0 Lollipop will be available on Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 smartphones, as well as Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. All Google Play edition devices will receive the new version of the OS as an update “in the coming weeks.” The only devices that have been confirmed to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box are Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player.

Android 5.0 Lollipop
Image credits to Google

Videos credits to Android/Google

Behold the Nexus 9, Google’s Own Take at the iPad Air

As was expected Google finally lifted the veil off of the much anticipated Nexus 9 tablet. But this big announcement wasn’t made during a big, flashy event, but came out pretty quietly.

Google just posted the information on its official blog, without going into full length details. The tablet which comes with an 8.9-inch form factor is said to be “small enough to easily carry around in one hand, yet big enough to work on”.

The Nexus 9 wants to take on the Surface Pro 3

Apparently the real focus is on productivity, as the Nexus 9 will be offered with magnetic keyboard companion which can be folded in two different angles. There’s no problem if users want to keep the tablet/keyboard combo in their lap, as the accessory if designed to work well in this scenario. As the rumor mill prophesied, the Nexus 9 is the first tablet to run Android 5.0 Lollipop. The device is manufactured by HTC and represents the company’s comeback in the slate market, after an absence of three years. The new tablet will be up for pre-order starting October 17 and will hit the streets on November 3. Google said the tablet will be available Google Play but also third party retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Staples or Walmart.

Nexus 9 comes in three variants

Taking a look at the first promo pictures, we can see the tablet will be offered in black, white and sand (for the LTE model coming later this year). The new Nexus tab will be offered in three configurations:
  • 16GB for $399 / €312
  • 32GB for $479 / €375
  • 32GB with LTE of $599 / €468

Judging by these price tags, it appears the Nexus 9 is the most expensive Nexus tablet to date. Even if we were expecting a plastic-made Nexus 9, it appears the tablet is made of metal after all and boasts 2047 x 1535 pixel resolution display with 4:3 ratio, as anticipated. The slate is also the first 64-bit Nexus product, taking advantage of NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 Denver chip fitted with 2GB of RAM. The battery on inside should be capable of delivering a life cycle of up to 9 hours. The tablet also takes advantage of HTC's own BoomSound speaker technology.

It’s impossible not to make a comparison between the Apple iPad Air, as the tablet seems to follow the outlines of the Apple design. Speaking of which, the Cupertino tech giant is expected to hold a major iPad event tomorrow, just a day after the Nexus 9 finally stepped into the wild, where the iPad Air 2 sould see the light of day. Google also unveiled the Nexus 6 smartphone today.

Nexus 9 goes official

Nexus 9 with keyboard companion

Nexus 9 will arrive in three versions

Nexus 9 alongside Nexus 6

Nexus 9 in white
Images credits to Google

ROG GR8 Gaming PC Is Astonishingly Mighty for Its Size

Gaming PCs are usually big, glowing juggernauts that can steamroll past everything else on the consumer market in terms of sheer performance, but there are some miniature systems that can pack a punch as well. The ASUS ROG GR8 is one of them.

Having just been unveiled by ASUS, the new computer has all it needs to run almost every game there is at full quality. Sure, you won't be seeing any multi-monitor capability here, and some of the most recent high-quality games might task the graphics adapter too much, but otherwise you're in the clear. ASUS wouldn't have attached the ROG logo otherwise (Republic of Gamers).

The ROG GR8 specifications

As you might expect, the system relies on an Intel Core i7 CPU to operate, specifically the Core i7-4510U Processor, a quad-core with low power requirements normally found in laptops (4M Cache, up to 3.10 GHz clock). What the CPU can't do (graphics) is achieved by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card with 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM. As far as memory goes, you can choose up to 16 GB of DR3-1600 MHz via two SO-DIMM modules. Not the fastest memory, but it will get the job done. Storage is where the newcomer is most limited, since you can't have two HDDs for an SSD+HDD caching combo, unless you use the 2.5-inch extension bay. ASUS could have probably just allowed it by default. A 256 GB SSD is the default storage option.

At least every buyer gets 100 GB of ASUS WebStorage, even if the prescription does only last 12 months. Needless to say, the ASUS ROG GR8 gaming PC has all the networking and wireless capabilities you can expect, as well as audio.mic jacks (three on the back, 1+ mic on the front) and video outputs (HDMI, DisplayPort). USB 3.0 is supported as well, and you even have a Kensington lock port for security. Everything runs on a 19V DC, 6.32A, 120W Power Adapter. Surprisingly little power, but then again, this is basically a laptop in mini desktop form, so that was expected.

Availability and pricing

The ASUS ROG GR8 gaming mini PC should already be available, but the price wasn't included in the press release. The product does ship with a keyboard and mouse though, as well as the Windows 8.1 operating system. The keyboard will actually be larger than the PC itself. Let the LAN parties begin we guess.

ASUS ROG GR8 gaming mini PC
Image credits to ASUS

Samsung Galaxy Golden 2, High-End Android Clamshell, Coming Soon

Clamshell phones seem to be things of the past, as most handset makers have already cut out this form factor from their product line.

But Samsung is determined to keep the clamshell design from completely disappearing from the market by launching new handsets with a flip form factor. Last year, the South Korean company introduced the Galaxy Golden, an Android smartphone that featured a clamshell design. The device was initially launched in China, but it made it to India as well, though it was clearly overpriced (for unknown reasons). Even if the smartphone did not seem to be such popular among Android fans, especially due to the high price, it looks like Samsung has decided to release a sequel this month. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy Golden 2 is expected to make its entrance at China Telecom later this month, Dutch blog Techtastic reports.

Obviously, the smartphone will have the same clamshell form factor, but in order to appeal to more customers, Samsung added quite a few powerful features that are usually included only in high-end devices.

Galaxy Golden 2 comes with impressive features

The Galaxy Golden 2 is a considerable upgrade over the previous model in all aspects. For example, the clamshell comes with a much larger 4.6-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display that supports WXGA (1280 x 768 pixels) resolution. In addition, the Galaxy Golden 2 is equipped with a powerful 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, an Adreno 330 graphics processing unit and 2GB of RAM. According to the smartphone’s official manual that recently leaked online, the Galaxy Golden 2 has both GSM and CDMA, although the document does not reveal whether or not the device will also offer LTE connectivity.

On the back of the flip phone, Samsung included an impressive 16-megapixel photo snapper, which features autofocus, LED flash and 4K video recording. There’s also a secondary 2-megapixel camera on the front for video calls and selfies. Samsung Galaxy Golden 2 has two microSIM slots, as shown in the manual. One slot for the GSM and another one possibly for CDMA. It’s also worth mentioning that the smartphone will ship with the Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system out of the box, and there are slim chances that the device will receive any other major update in the future. Unfortunately, there’s no telling when exactly the Galaxy Golden 2 will be launched on the market and we’re still not sure whether or not Samsung will bring it to additional countries as well. Anyway, stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Samsung Galaxy Golden 2 official manual
Image credits to Techtastic

13-Inch iPad Also Has A8X Processor, TSMC Steals All Orders

The processor powering Apple’s largest iPad yet is being manufactured by Taiwanese foundry TSMC, the same company currently making the A8 chip for the iPhone 6 range.

The 13-inch iPad will be a “Pro” version of the Apple tablet and will run on a custom-designed variant of the A8 SoC (system on a chip). Dubbed A8X, the 20nm silicon will be larger in size than the A8 and could pose manufacturing problems.

TSMC wins the orders

Samsung used to be Apple’s top SoC supplier, but the iPhone maker has expanded its list of partners to include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in recent years. Slowly but surely, TSMC finally won the bulk of chip orders from Apple, leaving Samsung with a much smaller share than in previous years. As far as the larger iPad is concerned, it appears that TSMC has won all the orders, leaving nothing for Samsung. Sources familiar with the matter say, “Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has landed CPU orders for Apple's upcoming next-generation iPad expected to be released in early 2015,” according to a DigiTimes report.

Bigger A8X silicon

The same people note that TSMC is currently making the A8 processors for the iPhone 6 and that the foundry “will continue to make the new CPUs for the new iPad on a 20nm process as it did currently for the A8 processors.” These people add that “the new CPU is tentatively codenamed A8X,” and that “the SoC of the A8X will be larger than that of A8's,” something that might affect yield rates. However, this is pure speculation on the sources’ behalf.

iPad Pro for business on the go

Whether or not the new iPad will be called Pro or Plus, the 13-inch tablet is said to be geared towards the enterprise sector. Businesspeople will be the primary target, but creatives will surely appreciate the larger screen size too. An extra three inches can make a whole lot of difference when talking about screen size, not to mention that Apple has plans to finally give iOS a split-screen multitasking feature that will enable users to work with several apps at the same time, something that Windows users have been enjoying for quite some time now. In fact, Apple’s reasons for deploying the larger iPad are said to be directly tied to Microsoft and Samsung. The two rivals have already flooded the market with enterprise tablets that go well beyond the 10-inch mark.

Apple A8X processor
Image credits to apple.club.tw

Motorola DROID Turbo Full Specs and Press Renders Leak Ahead of October 28 Release

The DROID Turbo is likely the next major launch from US-based carrier Verizon, which is expected to happen no later than October 28.

The Big Red has already confirmed that it will release a new smartphone in the DROID family on said date, but even if the operator hasn’t mentioned that the DROID Turbo is the device in question, source familiar with Verizon’s roadmap claim that this is the handset that should go on sale later this month. Initially leaked as Nexus 6, the DROID Turbo seems to have been “downgraded” to carrier-branded status and will only be launched at Verizon in the United States. However, the handset has kept all the specs of the alleged Nexus 6 sans the display, which is smaller than the rumored 5.9-inch screen that will be packed onto Google’s flagship smartphone. Today, the folks over at Droid-Life managed to get their hands on the full specs list of the DROID Turbo, so Verizon customers can have a glimpse of what to expect from this powerful handset.

Some of the specs that leaked several weeks ago seem to have been confirmed by the list published by the cited source, so those in the loop will most certainly recognize them immediately. For example, the device will sport a stunning 5.2-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution and 565ppi (pixel per inch). In addition, the screen will be protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Hardware-wise, Motorola DROID Turbo will be a beast. The smartphone will be armed with a 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, an Adreno 440 graphics processing unit, and 3GB of RAM with 64-bit access. On the back, the flagship handset will boast an impressive 21-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, autofocus, 4K video recording, Quick Capture gesture, and Highlight reel features.

The DROID Turbo will be made of Metallized Glass Fiber and covered with Kevlar

As expected, the phone’s 3,900 mAh battery will be compatible with Motorola’s Turbo Charger, which will be included in the sales package. The DROID Turbo will also support Qi Wireless charging, but you will have to buy a wireless charging plate separately. When it comes to design, the device is said to feature Metallized Glass Fiber (MGF) and rear cover reinforced with a layer of Kevlar. The latter isn’t surprising at all, as most of the previous DROIDs have been coated with the same material on the back. Motorola’s high-end smartphone will be water-repellent (coating guards against everyday spills and up to 20 minutes in a downpour), as well as scratch-resistant.

In terms of connectivity, the DROID Turbo is expected to offer a variety of options, including 4G LTE, XLTE with VoLTE, and Advanced Calling 1.0 coming within 30-90 days of launch. Last but not least, some exclusive apps and services will be pre-installed on the device, such as Moto Suite (Moto Voice, Actions, Assist, Moto Migrate), Zap Zone, Zap to TV, and Zap with Voice. Judging by the press renders leaked, Motorola DROID Turbo will be launched with the Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system out of the box instead of Android L.

Motorola DROID Turbo in Red (front and back)

Motorola DROID Turbo in Black and Red (front and back)
Image credits to Droid-Life

Magnetic Vortex-Based CPUs to Become Building Blocks for Future PCs

Hard drives, the prime type of magnetic storage devices, have been seeing some flak lately for being slow and bulky compared to solid state drives. However, they still maintain the capacity advantage, and the basis of their technology might see a rebound soon.

Sure, the application may differ, but in the end, it's still magnetic forces that a team from the University of Sheffield's Faculty of Engineering is focusing on. Led by Dr. Tom Hayward, the team believes that magnetic materials could become the basis for a computer's central processing unit, not just the storage space. Admittedly, we've heard of these and other “wonder CPU technologies” before, and nothing really came of them, at least not yet. This time, though, there seems to be something feasible and convenient about the theories put forward by the researchers.

Magnetic tornadoes to help build new computers

To be more specific, they will be what future PCs are made of if the researchers have their way, as the elements can not only store data (without needing constant power) but can also allow for the creation of logic gates. Logic gates are the fundamental parts of a central processing unit. Being open or closed translates into 1 and 0 in binary software, and from there, every operation we can carry out on a computer is enabled. Magnetic wires with a thickness of a hundredth of a human hair have been discovered to automatically form so-called tornadoes, or magnetic vortex domain walls, if you want the technical term. These vortices can be used to represent 0 when they turn clockwise and 1 when they spin the other way. Thus, binary data can be encoded.

That done, the vortices can flow through wires using carefully defined features in said wires, finally making them double as logic gates. In layman’s terms, the scientists have created a power-free (or nearly power-free) alternative to today's central processing units. Not a bad showing at all.

The ETA for practical applications

That's hard to say, since the team hasn't even built an experimental prototype yet. All they've done are virtual simulations. That means that it can take decades for something usable, meaning that Intel, AMD, ARM and VIA have more than enough time left to run conventional architectures and Moore's Law into the ground. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if these companies license the technology or immediately take over whatever company the research team sets up, assuming they take that route once their invention becomes viable.

CPUs like this Intel Core i7 might give way to magnetic ones in the future
Image credits to Intel

Canon EOS 6D Mark II to Bring Multiple Improvements, Have Higher Price Tag than Predecessor

Shortly after Photokina 2014, when we were mopping around about the lack of juicy rumors, news of the Canon 6D Mark II unexpectedly popped up.

Apparently, the camera is being prepped in Canon’s development labs, and when it hits the streets, it should arrive with a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system and a tilting display. The Dual Pixel AF feature is nothing new for Canon, as the system has been incorporated by products such as the 70D and recently the 7D Mark II. Now a new source talking about the EOS 6D successor claims Canon has reportedly been quite unsatisfied with the sales of the original camera.

Canon 6D Mark II will be more expensive

So it is planning to move the upcoming 6D Mark II up the ladder, by bundling it with more specs. This will result in the product being sold for a higher price compared to its predecessor. On the other hand, Canon doesn’t have plans of launching a lower-end, cheaper full frame EOS DSLR, but it wants to focus all its energies into building a more complete yet pricier 6D successor. Some might agree this is a good thing, while others won’t see the price bump in a positive light. Sadly, the source doesn’t supply us with further details. For example, what are the extra specs going to be? We are left only with what we knew before: the camera will take advantage of Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology and will have a tilting display, but this hardly justifies a price bump.

So we have to hope, Canon has something more in stores for the 6D successor. For the time being, the EOS 6D can be found with a discounted price in online retail locations like Amazon. Originally, the DSLR sold for $2,100 / €1,661, but customers can pick it up with $1,700 / €1,344 now.  When the price of a camera starts to drop, it usually is a good indication that its successor is in the pipeline, and this might be the case here. So we can speculate that, when it arrives on the market, the 6D Mark II will boast a price tag that’s higher than $2,100 / €1,661. You better start saving up now.

The Canon 5D Mark IV is also coming

Apart from the 6D Mark II, Canon is further said to be working on the 5D Mark IV, which is tipped to come equipped with 4K video recording. The 5D Mark III successor is expected to take advantage of the same Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, but sources are silent about whether or not we’re going to have a tilting display.

Image showing the current Canon EOS 6D
Image credits to Amazon

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