Posts Tagged ‘computer’

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The website VGleaks has purportedly revealed the official specs of the next-generation Xbox console, codenamed Durango. Most of the specs are in line with previous rumors, which consist something along the line of an 8-core x64 CPU and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. There is no confirmation on the GPU manufacturer, but earlier rumors point to an AMD Radeon 7900-based GPU.

 

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Block diagram of rumored Xbox Durango (Image credit: vgleaks.com)

VGleaks also released a system diagram of the next Xbox, which gives the leak some potential credibility. The specs also reaffirm past speculation of a built-in Kinect and Blu-ray drive. If everything is to believed from the leaked specs, the upcoming Xbox could look very much like off-the-shelf PC hardware; in fact, there is further speculation that the new Xbox could run a full OS like Windows 8 underneath the hood.

 

Microsoft is in the process of consolidating all their hardware and software assets to run…

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LAS VEGAS–While it first might have seemed like laptops and PCs took the year off at CES 2013, there have been a number of notable products that caught our eye. One of them wasn’t even on the show floor, or at CES at all.

The Microsoft Surface Pro, alongside last year’s Windows RT Microsoft Surface, are Microsoft’s self-made Windows 8 tablets, designed to attempt to reinvent computing and provide hero products for Windows 8. The Surface Pro was supposed to launch within 90 days of the Surface, which came out on October 26. We’re approaching the end of that window now, and I got my first chance to see the Surface Pro for myself this week. Despite my skepticism, you can color me impressed.

Whereas the Surface cost $500, the Surface Pro costs $899. But even though they look alike, they’re very different beasts: the Surface runs off an ARM processor and uses Windows RT, while Surface Pro has an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and runs full Windows 8, just like any laptop.M

The original Surface tablet received mixed reviews, largely because of its Windows RToperating system. The Surface Pro is the more significant product, because it makes no computing compromises: it’s the dream of a tablet as your PC, while the original Surface felt more like an iPad competitor.

Not only can you use the tile-based Windows 8 interface on the Surface Pro, but you can visit a regular desktop and open older applications, run Steam, and do anything you’d do otherwise. The Surface Pro connects to monitors and outputs at resolutions beyond 1080p, and you can add Bluetooth and USB 3 peripherals like mice, keyboards, and external hard drives.

Of course, Windows tablets aren’t new. Their limiting factors have been many: inferior touch screens and touch software on older Windows 7 devices, poor battery life, and limited peripheral connectivity have relegated many Windows tablets to being afterthoughts. Even recent full Windows 8 tablets from Lenovo and others have opted for Atom-based CPUs which theoretically add battery life, but limit processing power.

However, in my time with the Surface, it all worked exactly as advertised, and with a extremely elegant, bordering on beautiful, sense of design. The industrial magnesium chassis of the Surface Pro feels solid but not too heavy to hold in one hand. One notable difference between it and the slightly thinner RT version of the Surface is a hairline wraparound vent on the rear that works with internal fans to keep the more powerful CPU running smoothly. The Surface Pro felt slightly warm as I used it, but no more so than a third-gen iPad.

The 1080p IPS 10.6-inch display is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a small Windows computer. Even better, capacitive multitouch felt buttery-smooth. That’s the magic that made the iPhone and iPad so fun to use, and the Surface Pro, in painting programs and a few other apps I tried, felt comfortable to navigate.

The Surface Pro supports pressure-sensitive styli, and Microsoft has its own Surface Pen Pro that magnetically attaches to the power connector to hold it in place on the go. Writing and sketching felt natural, and palm-rejection technology activates the moment the Surface Pro senses the stylus approaching the screen.

For a spec comparison between the Surface and Surface Pro, see below.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro Surface with Windows RT
Starting price $899 $499
Screen size and resolution 10.6 inches, 1,920×1,080 10.6 inches, 1,366×768
Dimensions (HWD) 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37 inches
Weight 2 pounds 1.5 pounds
CPU Intel Core i5 Nvidia Tegra 3
Memory 4GB 2GB
Storage capacity 64GB (128GB option) 32GB (64GB option)
Ports USB 3.0, microSDXC, headphone, DisplayPort video out USB 2.0, microSDXC, headphone, HD video out

The Surface Pro starts at $899 for 64GB of storage, or $999 for a 128GB configuration. That’s expensive for a tablet, but just a small premium over many Windows 8 touch-enabled ultrabooks this small.

(Credit: Josh

Whether the Surface Pro is the best product in its price range will be determined. We’ve already seen a number of hybrid and convertible laptop/tablet designs from Microsoft’s usual hardware partners, including the Lenovo Yoga 11S, the HP Elitebook Revolve, and the ThinkPad Helix, not to mention more experimental gaming-centric devices like the Razer Edge. And, with Intel’s newer processors coming out on the horizon, you’d have to wonder whether the Surface Pro could be refreshed to benefit from even more tablet-ready CPUs.

The Surface Pro will compete with those devices and others. But, based on how good that Type Cover is and how good the Surface Pro’s screen feels — not to mention its small size — the Surface Pro seems well-positioned to rise to the top of the pack. From the moment the Surface was announced, the real killer feature was the Type Cover. To me, the success or failure of the Surface hinges on the ability of that cover to be comfortable and productive. And I think it is. It also draws power from the tablet, never needs recharging, and has a grip strong enough to hold the whole Surface tablet from the cover alone.

Can a tablet comfortably be your full PC? So far, when it comes to my limited time with Surface Pro, the answer seems to be yes. And that could, in the long run, be the most impactful development in PCs in years.

We’ll find out definitively once we have a chance to test the Surface Pro when it ships — hopefully, soon.

Source: CNET

Dell XPS 12 review

Posted: January 21, 2013 by Areeb Fazli in Technology
Tags: , , , , ,

If you’re one of the few who remember the original Dell Inspiron Duo from 2010, pat yourself on the back. Like that Duo, the new XPS 12 has a screen that swivels at the middle of the lid’s sides, so it can rotate 180 degrees along its horizontal axis and end up facing out from the back of the lid’s frame. This allows you to display the screen in what some call a “stand” mode, or else fold the clamshell shut to form a slate-style tablet.

While inventive, the original Duo was hobbled by a low-power Intel Atom processor and never lived up to its potential. Dell walked away from the Duo, which seemed doomed to be another too-early hardware leap, much like Dell’s long-lost proto-ultrabook Adamo laptops.

Imagine my surprise when Dell announced that the Duo was back, originally showing us the system behind closed doors this summer. The new version, now part of the high-end XPS line, has gotten a massive physical upgrade. Now it’s ultrabook-thin, with a slim metal frame around its screen, and a button-free clickpad. The new version trades up to current-gen Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, along with solid-state-drive (SSD) storage, meaning that in terms of hardware it can stand toe-to-toe any mainstream ultrathin laptop.

Between our preview this summer and now, the biggest change has been in the name. Dell has decided to drop the “Duo” branding altogether (perhaps it still has negative connotations) and simply call this the XPS 12. That’s certainly apt for a laptop with 12-inch display, but I do miss the descriptive nature of the Duo moniker — now there’s nothing in the name to indicate this laptop’s special physical features.

The XPS 12 starts at $1,199 for a Core i5 CPU and 128GB SSD, and goes up to $1,699 for the hardware we tested, with a Core i7 CPU and a 256GB SSD.

This is one of the first laptops with Windows 8, the new touch- and tablet-friendly OS, and it’s meant to be used as both a traditional laptop and a tablet. But when evaluating new hardware and new software at the same time, the question is: how much of the user experience in the XPS 12 comes from Dell, and how much from Microsoft? In an Apple laptop, it’s fair to consider software and hardware together, as a single company is responsible for both. For Windows-based systems, it’s sometimes hard to tell on which side of the fence the faults lie.

And, there are faults. Even though the XPS 12 is a slim, well-built, and frankly ambitious convertible, it works better as a laptop than as a tablet. In the closed, slate mode, it’s obvious that the Windows 8 operating system still doesn’t always know what to do with your apps and fingers. The not-Metro interface (my own shorthand name for the Windows 8 tile-based UI) works fine, but jumping into apps, even Windows 8-specific ones such as Internet Explorer 10, can yield unpredictable results.

For example, at this point, nearly everyone in the universe uses some form of Web-based e-mail, but Gmail navigation on the small screen in IE10 is tough. Shift the screen just a bit and the orientation changes, with just enough lag to be annoying. Tapping on a text field sometimes brings up the Windows 8 onscreen keyboard, sometimes not (and it takes several steps to call it up otherwise).

That onscreen keyboard is miles ahead of previous Windows ones, but the layout of some keys is counterintuitive, and I ran into just enough lag to make using the Shift and Caps Lock keys especially troublesome.

But, these are the same problems I’ve found on other Windows 8 systems, so is it fair to lay them at Dell’s feet? On the excellent Acer Aspire S7, the touch screen was a secondary experience, mainly used for finger-swiping and scrolling. On the XPS 12, you’re expected to use touch much more. And as a touch-screen laptop, the XPS 12 works well. Folded up as a slate, it’s still not an entirely satisfying tablet experience.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $1,699 / $1,199
Processor 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U
Memory 4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3
Hard drive 256GB SSD
Chipset Intel QS77
Graphics Intel HD 4000
Operating system Windows 8
Dimensions (WD) 8.5×12.5 inches
Height 0.6-0.8 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 12.5 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 3.4 pounds / 4 pounds
Category Ultraportable

Design and features
Aside from the swiveling lid, the XPS 12 shares an overall design with Dell’s other recent high-end laptops, such as the XPS 14 and XPS 15. All are thin, with full or partial metal construction and dark accents. When closed, the XPS 12 looks like any small ultrabook, although at nearly 3.5 pounds, it feels dense and sturdy.

The interior is minimalist, with only the keyboard and touch pad. A power button, in the uncommon form of a slider switch, is located along the left edge, and most other functions, from the Wi-Fi antenna switch to volume control, are mapped to the row of Function keys. The wrist rest, keyboard, and keys are all matte black, with a powdery finish that resists fingerprints and nicely offsets the metal trim along the outer edge.

The XPS 12’s island-style keyboard is similar to the ones found on most current laptops. In Dell’s version, the keys have more-rounded corners than most, and the top row of Function keys is half-height. Typing was comfortable and accurate, and the keyboard is backlit.

The buttonless clickpad is only used when the system is set up as a traditional clamshell laptop. It’s a good size, considering this is a small laptop, and works well for general pointing and navigation. But, again, Windows 8 sometimes seems to not know what to do with touch-pad gestures. With some apps and Web pages, two-finger scrolling works well, other times it’s too fast and jumpy, and still other times, it’s very slow. Trying to execute Windows 8 moves such as displaying the Charms bar or calling up the Taskbar is a pain on a touch pad, and I usually found myself performing these tasks via the touch screen.

The biggest feature here, as previously described, is the rotating screen. Unlike other convertible laptops with rotating screens that swivel along the vertical axis via a central hinge, the XPS 12 rotates along the horizontal axis, flipping end over end. This is possible because the screen is placed inside a thin metal all-around frame, hinged in the center of the left and right sides.

The screen mechanism feels well-designed, and it stays in the traditional laptop position without slipping. Dell says the mechanism has been tested to 20,000 cycles, and it certainly feels sturdy enough.

When you want to flip the screen, a gentle push pops it out of the frame, and it rotates freely, locking in again at 180 degrees; this leaves the screen pointing out from the back of the lid, making it easy to show your screen to someone sitting opposite you (the motion sensor automatically flips the screen image over, so everything appears right-side-up). From there, you can push the lid all the way closed, so the keyboard and touch pad are inside the clamshell but the display is pointing up, making this a slate-style tablet.

When the XPS 12 is folded down as a tablet, you can access the onscreen keyboard built into Windows 8. As I mentioned above, it’s thankfully better than the onscreen keyboards in previous Microsoft operating systems, with responsive, well-spaced keys. I found the Shift key would lag a little occasionally, leading to some typing mistakes, and you’ll have to spend some time getting used to the layout, which is slightly different from that of the iPad’s familiar onscreen keyboard. Besides the standard keyboard layout, there are also split-key and handwriting options.

The biggest difficulty I encountered was the onscreen keyboard not popping up when it should have, in Google Docs, for example. If you need to call up the onscreen keyboard manually, it’s an unintuitive procedure, requiring too many steps (slide out the Charms bar from the right side of the screen; tap Settings, tap Keyboard, then pick the style of keyboard you need).

Source: CNET