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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

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