Archive for September, 2012

Intel Reveals Clover Trail CPU Details, Highlights Seven Upcoming Windows 8 Tablets

Intel is ready to take the lid off of Clover Trail, the newest member of the company’s Atom low-power processors. Along with Clover Trail info comes official announcements from seven Intel partners showing off hybrid Windows 8 devices that will soon be available. Intel is promising three weeks of ‘connected standby’ and up to 10 hours of HD video playback possible from Clover Trail devices.

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PC Advisor Asks "What is an Ultrabook anyway?" Because They Apparently Aren't Sure

With talk about the potential dilution of the Ultrabook brand one would almost think that Intel hasn’t set clear guidelines about what defines an Ultrabook. On the contrary, whether or not a laptop manufacturer calls a new product an Ultrabook tells me a whole lot about the product right away. PC Advisor has run a story claiming that “The truth is that there are few definitive specifications for an Ultrabook,” apparently not realizing that this is part of the strategy.

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Ultimate Coder Ultrabook Challenge Week 6 – Last Chance for Changes

chequered flagThe six teams competing in the Ultimate Coder Ultrabook Challenge have one more day to go. On the 28th September they must submit their final code to Intel. In the following week I will be testing and scoring with the other judges and on October 8th we’re going to see who’s won $10K.

Yes this is a promotional activity by Intel, but it’s one of the most interesting and educational I’ve ever been involved in. We’ve all learnt a lot and a useful trail of posts has been left by the contestants for anyone thinking about creating an Ultrabook-focused version of their Windows 8 application for either desktop or Windows 8 Store. You can find all of the posts, plus my commentary, here.

So on to the final week. Was it all about bug-fixing? Did anyone have to drop features? Read-on

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HCL Ultrasmart ME Ultrabook Launches in India

HCL Infosystems have just launched the HCL ME Series 3074  in India. It’s another 2nd tier Ultrabook and one of the first we’ve seen running Ivy Bridge in India.

 

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Running the 1.8Ghz Core i3 it comes with similarly entry-level specifications on the RAM, HDD< Screen and weight. You can probably guess those by now. (HCL store with full specs here.)

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Win an Ultrabook – 6 Chances

It seems there are a lot of Ultrabook giveaways going on at the moment. Three passed my twitter timeline a few minutes ago so I thought I’d search for some more and link them up for you. Most of these will be US-only offers. If you’ve spotted anything in your country, or are running a promotion, drop the information in the comments.

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All the current competitions we know about are listed below. Don’t shoot the messenger if they’re not in your location or have finished already!

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Electrified – With David Blaine and an Ultrabook?

I’m disappointed. Intel teases an Ultrabook experience called ‘always on’ and I’m getting excited that it’s a challenge to see how much battery life one can get out of an Ultrabook. It turns out it’s a stunt by David Blaine.

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Worse still, it’s in New York so I can’t even go and see it.

I suspect the ‘3 Days, 3 Nights’  and ‘One Million Volts’ theme means he’ll be inside a cage. If we’re lucky he’ll make an Ultrabook last that long!

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Black Mesa is a Free Remake of Half-Life, Here's How to Optimize It for Your Ultrabook [video]

If you know about Black Mesa, congratulations — you’re a gamer. This obscure fan-lead remake of Valve’s famous 1998 title Half-Life has long been shrouded in mystery. Going on 8 years of development, with the only mention of a release date being “when it’s done”, most thought Black Mesa would never see the light of day. However, earlier this month the official website for the remake began buzzing with hints of activity. To the delight of fans worldwide, Black Mesa has finally launched and is ready to let players relive the opening chapter of the Half-Life saga. The remake, which has completely rebuilt from the ground up, runs on Valve’s ‘Source’ game engine. What’s more, because it is a modification of Source, it has been released for free. Fortunately for Ultrabook users the powerful HD3000 or HD4000 graphics inside are quite capable of handling modern Source games with the right settings. In this video I’ll show you how to optimize your settings to play Black Mesa and other Source games on your Ultrabook.

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Make Your Own Modular Docking Station

Thunderbolt docks: expensive. WiGig docks: Not until 2013. Proprietary docks: Seldom seen on consumer laptops. USB3.0 solutions – cheap and available.

If you want to use your Ultrabook, or any recent laptop on the desk, there’s a lot of options talked about, but not much available. You’re left with plugging in that HDMI, the keyboard and mouse, DVD drive, network cable and speakers every morning. Every time you want to use the laptop away form the desk you have to go through the same procedure. It costs time, is annoying and kills those connectors. Following up from my review of the Toshiba Dynadock U3, a USB3.0 docking system, I thought I’d try to build the same myself for USB3.0 components. Here’s the modular USB3.0 docking station…

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Intel and Sharp could bring IGZO Screens to Ultrabooks

topics_img04_bThe power used by a screen in a laptop is becoming a major issue. As other components in laptops reduce their power, the percentage of total system power used by the screen and backlight is growing. 20-30% average is common but if you’re just reading a static page, the backlight could account for up to 50%. Come Haswell, that could jump to 70% or more in quiet-state operations.  Advances in battery technology aren’t forthcoming so anything to get rid of those LED backlights is going to be worth taking a close look at. IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc Oxide) technology could be one of the few answers.

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2012 Ultrabooks Reach $599 and €599. Vizio Leads.

Forget Intel’s prediction of $699 Ultrabooks. Forget our own prediction of $599 by the end of the year! The $599 Ivy Bridge Ultrabook is here already with the a great offer on the Vizio CT14.  In Europe, prices have dipped to below €599.

 

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It’s Vizio that have come through with the most impressive offer. The Vizio CT14-A0 1.8Ghz Ivy Bridge (Core i3) with a 128GB SSD and 1600×900 IPS screen. We can hardly believe that!  It even comes with a Windows Signature (no bloatware) build of Windows 7 Home Premium. It’s at $599 at Amazon today.

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Why an Efficient Ultrabook is Better Than a Big Battery

Thanks to the exploding world of mobile, the computer industry has seen a refreshed interest in high efficiency components. Though Intel has always made a wide range of processors, until lately the company’s low-power products were sometimes seen as second-class citizens of the CPU world. Sure, they used less power, but this was often achieve this with lower clock speeds, fewer features, and sometimes the disabling of cores in the case of multi-core processors. With the Ultrabook initiative Intel has renewed emphasis on efficient processors that are not just on equal footing as the rest of their offerings, but rather showcase the extent of Intel’s processor prowess. The latest Ivy Bridge Core U-series processors found in Ultrabooks are more than just low-power — they are highly efficient processors capable of a high dynamic range of computing tasks. By packing the latest and greatest processor technology into a package that also has practical limits on how much power it can draw and how much heat it can produce, these CPUs present an alternative to using a standard CPU and simply slapping in a big battery; But which is better?

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Acer M3 Touch Ultrabook Coming with Windows 8

Acer is preparing to launch the Aspite M3 Touch with Windows 8. the design is based on a previous iteration of an Acer Ultrabook — the Acer M3. The M3 Touch is a 15.6″ touchscreen Ultrabook which competes with other big Ultrabooks like the Asus S56 and Vizio Thin and Light CT15 (indirectly however, as the latter two lack a touchscreen). Notebook Italia tracked down the M3 Touch for a brief hands-on and also uncovered European pricing.

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Toshiba U920T Hands-On (Video.) First Ultrabook with NFC

I had the chance to check out the Toshiba U920T / U925T slider Ultrabook at IDF last week in San Francisco and put a quick video together showing the slider mechanism, ports and screen which, is quite the glossy experience as you’ll see. There’s also an NFC demo – the U920T will be the first Ultrabook with NFC.

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Dell Latitude 6430u Launches for Business Users

Like HP with their Elitebook Folio 9470M, Toshiba with their Z930, Lenovo with their X1 Carbon, Dell are launching a business-focused Ultrabook. The Dell Latitude 6430u was leaked back in May but formal launch was announced by Dell this week.

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Clearly they were waiting for Windows 8 but note that this isn’t a touchscreen Ultrabook, despite the pretty touch-led Metro user interface being shown above.

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Asus Zenbook U500 Ultrabook Alternative Preview

 

Just when you thought Asus had learned from its past experience with netbooks that launching a myriad of confusingly named devices was not helpful to consumers, they decide to do it all again with the Zenbook brand and the U500. Up until now, the Zenbook line has shared two specific things; first, all Zenbooks featured a similar wedge shaped design and metalic finish. Second, all Zenbook’s were Ultrabooks. Until now, that is. Asus has decided to throw the U500, a 15″ thin and light laptop, in with the rest of the Zenbook branded computers. While we would have preferred Asus didn’t dilute the shared features of the Zenbook brand, that’s not to say that the new U500 thin and light is not shaping up to be a solid Ultrabook alternative.

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