TOP NEWS
Philips 278E8QJAB display offers high-end color at a low-end price
— 11:30 AM on March 1, 2017

Philips' E-series monitors are intended to be more affordable than the higher-end P-line. Affordable doesn't have to mean mediocre, though. The company's new beautifully-named 278E8QJAB monitor is a 27" LED-backlit display with a curved VA panel. Philips says the new display can reproduce a particularly-wide color gamut: up to 130% of the sRGB space, or 104% of the NTSC color space.

While we'd rather see the display's gamut compared to wider color spaces, those specs at least mean that the monitor's colors should be nice and vibrant, and a cut well above most offerings. The rich 3000:1 contrast offered by the VA panel on the 278E8QJAB should help with that, too. The 1920x1080 resolution and 75Hz refresh rate won't win it any awards, but there's FreeSync support on tap for some gaming action. Response time is rated at 4ms. VA panels' viewing angles aren't usually as clear as those of IPS LCDs, but the monitor's relatively sharp 1800R curvature means that it is probably best suited for a single viewer anyway.

The 278E8QJAB comes with DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA connections, and a pair of integrated speakers. As usual with audio-enabled monitors, you also get 3.5-mm headphone and line-in jacks. Philips hasn't announced U.S. pricing or availability, but the company told Hexus that the monitor would be available in the UK later this month for £239, or around $294.

2 comments — Last by DPete27 at 11:49 AM on 03/01/17

Nvidia green-lights faster RAM on GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 cards
— 10:02 AM on March 1, 2017

Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang had a lot to say last night at GDC. The biggest news was the announcement of the $700 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and a $100 price drop on the existing GTX 1080. The crowd in attendance was arguably more interested in the company's updated development and performance measurement tools. Lost in all that madness was a smaller bit of hardware news: Nvidia has given board partners the green light to ready up GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB and GTX 1080 cards using faster memory.

Manufacturers now have the option to turn the GTX 1080 up to 11 by replacing the 10 GT/s GDDR5X memory from the reference design with faster 11 GT/s chips. The standard GTX 1080 specs haven't changed—cards built with faster memory will simply be marketed as factory overclocked units and sold alongside the regular ones. In the same vein, board makers can opt to build GeForce GTX 1060 cards with 6 GB of 9 GT/s GDDR5 memory instead of the standard 8 GT/s stuff.

This permissive policy on memory specifications should allow board vendors to hit a larger variety of price targets and reduce the rather wide gap between the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB and the GTX 1070, as well as the presumably-smaller divide between the GTX 1080 and its upcoming GTX 1080 Ti overlord. We're just counting the minutes until the first board partner tweets that it's "cranking the GeForce GTX 1080 up to 11."

9 comments — Last by Voldenuit at 12:31 PM on 03/01/17

Nvidia touts GameWorks and performance boosts for DX12 plus FCAT VR
— 9:00 AM on March 1, 2017

Hardware enthusiasts tuning into Nvidia's live-streamed GDC presentation last night were probably most interested in Jen-Hsun Huang's announcement of the almost-a-Pascal-Titan-X GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Nvidia's announcements regarding the DirectX 12 version of the company's GameWorks software development kit and the FCAT VR performance-monitoring tool were probably more relevant to most of the show's attendees, though. The green team also promised substantial performance increases in DirectX 12 titles in upcoming GameReady driver updates, something that's sure to please developers and gamers alike.

Nvidia says it has invested over 500 engineering-years into the development of the DirectX 12 version of GameWorks. The kit includes tools for physics simulation, error report analysis, profiling, and debugging. Nvidia claims that GameWorks DX12 takes advantage of asynchronous compute, potentially helping developers take advantage of otherwise-untapped hardware resources. The company's love-it-ot-hate-it HairWorks library for hair and fur simulation has been updated for DirectX 12, too.

The best news for Nvidia graphics card owners is probably the promise for increased performance in DirectX 12 games in upcoming GameReady drivers. The green team claims its engineers have "worked with game developers to deliver performance increases of up to 16%" in many popular DirectX 12 games including Ashes of the Singularity, Gears of War 4, Hitman, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Tom Clancy's The Division.

It's safe to say that a poor VR experience can be easily identified on feel alone. As we have discovered in the TR labs, though, precisely quantifying the goodness or badness of VR performance is far more tricky. Nvidia says its FCAT VR tools can take some of the sting out of VR performance analysis. The tool is based on Nvidia's existing FCAT frame capture analysis tool. FCAT VR can measure frame times, dropped frames, warp misses, and synthesized frames. Nvidia says the tool should be available mid-March.

10 comments — Last by gamerk2 at 12:34 PM on 03/01/17

Nvidia unveils the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at GDC for $699
— 10:00 PM on February 28, 2017

Well, the cat's officially out of the bag. Surprising nobody that was paying attention to the TIme teaser at GeForce.com, Nvidia has launched the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti this evening at GDC.

Folks like us that like to keep an eye on the comings and goings of graphics cards were expecting a card faster than the GTX 1080 but a bit slower than the eye-wateringly-expensive Pascal Titan X. In a change of the usual order of things, the GTX 1080 Ti is actually a bit quicker in some ways than the Titan X, thanks to its higher 1600 MHz boost clock.

Summing it up in few words: there's a lot of every flavor of the good stuff, and it all works out to what's an insanely high-performance card. Oddly enough, the GTX 1080 Ti has 11GB of 11 GT/s GDDR5X RAM on a 352-bit bus, two figures likely to send OCD buyers into a tizzy. Here's the full specs galore—and try to contain your credit cards in your wallets, yes?

  GTX 1080 Ti Titan X
(Pascal)
GTX 1080
GPU GP102 GP102 GP104
Boost clock 1600 MHz 1531 1733
ROP pixels/clock 88 96 64
Texels filtered/clock (int/fp16) 224/224 (??) 224/224 160/160
Shader processors 3584 3584 2560
Rasterized triangles/clock 6? 6 4
Memory interface width (bits) 352 384 256
Est. transistor count (billions) 12 12 7.2
RAM (GB) 11 12 8
RAM bandwidth (GB/s) 492 480 320
TFLOPS (FP32) 11.5 11.0 8.9

The GTX 1080 Ti uses a slightly refreshed version of the vapor-chamber blower cooler that's been appearing on Nvidia reference cards for some time now. The card requires eight- and six-pin PCIe power connectors to support its 220W TDP, and both Founders Edition and custom cards will apparently be available soon. The Founders Edition card will launch next week for $699.

Along with the launch of its highest-performance consumer graphics card yet, Nvidia is dropping the price of the GTX 1080, its former consumer performance champion, to $499.

Developing...

110 comments — Last by DPete27 at 12:29 PM on 03/01/17

Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless is ready for networking action
— 3:30 PM on February 28, 2017

The Pi Foundation's Raspberry Pi Zero caused quite a stir when it was unveiled in November 2015. The $5 computer has most of the capabilities of the Foundation's Pi Model A, in a much smaller package and for one-fifth of the asking price. The biggest complaint people have had about the Zero since its launch has been the lack of connectivity options, since it had no built-in networking and a single USB OTG port. The freshly-picked Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless adds 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, just like the Raspberry Pi 3.

The Zero Wireless represents the third revision to the Pi Zero board. The second version of the $5 computer added support for the Pi Foundation's popular camera modules. Its lack of networking capabilities led to something of a cottage industry devoted to Pi Zero networking, with solutions ranging from soldering cut-up USB cables, to standard USB Wi-Fi dongles, all the way up to specially-designed USB OTG hubs.

Wireless connectivity on the Zero Wireless is provided by the well-supported Cypress CYW43438 chip. The rest of the Pi Zero hardware remains unchanged, meaning the device is still packing a single-core Broadcom BCM2835 SoC running at 1GHz, and 512MB of system memory.  The physical connectivity options haven't changed. The Zero Wireless still has a a ribbon cable connector for the camera, a microHDMI connector for display output, a microUSB OTG port for devices, and a microUSB connector for power. Forty general purpose input-output (GPIO) pins are available for those with soldering skills.

The Pi Foundation has also launched an official case for all versions of the Zero. The case goes for $5 and includes a conversion cable to wire the Pi camera module to the smaller connector on the camera-enabled Pi Zero boards. There are three options for the layout of the top panel, for users that want a closed top, a small hole for the camera cable, or a larger hole for full GPIO pin access.

The Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless launches today for $10, though supplies appear to be limited. Eben Upton of the Pi Foundation says that 80,000 units have been produced so far, and that the Foundation expects to manufacture about 25,000 additional units per week going forward.

8 comments — Last by TravelMug at 8:13 AM on 03/01/17

Futuremark unveils new VR benchmarks and Servermark tests
— 2:30 PM on February 28, 2017

Futuremark, best known for the wildly-popular 3D gaming prowess test 3DMark, is at both the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona and the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco. The company is showing off is latest demo enhancement to VRMark, dubbed the Cyan Room. Futuremark is also talking up its forthcoming mobile VR test for VRMark, and a new type of benchmark intended for servers called Servermark.

When VRMark came out, it included an Orange Room test and a Blue Room test. The Orange Room is a relatively low-intensity test that measures a PC's suitability for VR by comparing it to the baseline requirements for the Oculus Rift (which are very similar to those for the HTC Vive.) Meanwhile, the Blue Room test is much more demanding and indicates that the PC is suitable for the latest and most demanding VR games and applications. Both of these tests use DirectX 11.

By contrast, the new Cyan Room benchmark uses DirectX 12 and is intended to be a showcase for the new API, like the Time Spy test the company released before for 3DMark. Futuremark says the new Cyan Room test will demonstrate how DirectX 12 can make even a modest system suitable for "impressive VR experiences." As with the other tests, you don't need a VR headset hooked up to run the benchmark. You do however have to buy VRMark, which is $20.

Futuremark also says it has "new benchmark tests" coming in the near future that are designed specifically for mobile VR platforms like the Samsung Gear VR. The company says the tests will be geared towards measuring both best- and worst-case performance so that users can see what their device is capable of, and what happens when it's been under heavy load for a long time. Mobile VR benchmarking software isn't very widespread, so Futuremark's addition is certainly welcome.

Finally, Futuremark is also showing two of the tests for its Servermark software at GDC and MWC. The Servermark VDI test is a benchmark intended to determine how many virtual desktops a server can support without performance degradation. Meanwhile, the Servermark Media Transcode test, like its name implies, measures a server's media transcoding chops. It's quite interesting to see Futuremark stepping beyond the gamer-focused 3DMark software.

11 comments — Last by BurntMyBacon at 10:05 AM on 03/01/17

AMD's next graphics cards will be called Radeon RX Vega
— 2:28 PM on February 28, 2017

Radeon Technologies Group honcho Raja Koduri says AMD's Capsaicin event at GDC has become a tradition at this point. Holding with tradition, the company announced the name of its Vega-powered Radeons at the event. Those Vega cards will drop the numeric nomenclature of their predecessors and instead be called "Radeon RX Vega."

Koduri actually talked quite a bit about Vega at the presentation, but we already had most of the information that he shared. We did see a couple interesting demos, however. The company demonstrated the benefits of Vega's High-Bandwidth Cache Controller, promising that the feature doubles minimum framerates in Deus Ex: Human Revolution versus "traditional VRAM mode." Koduri also mentioned that the packed math compute capabilities of Vega—another way to say "doing FP16 on FP32 units"—are "like having twice as many shader units" for certain calculations. AMD demonstrated Vega rendering twice as many hair strands on a character using those packed-math capabilities.

We've been looking forward to AMD's re-entry into the high-end graphics processor world nearly as eagerly as we've been awaiting the company's re-entry into the high-end CPU market, and Radeon RX Vega cards will seemingly carry that torch. Koduri didn't clarify whether there would in fact be multiple processors based on the Vega design or simply a single chip, though. Earlier rumors have seeded the idea that there might be a "Vega 10" and "Vega 11" as with the company's Polaris GPUs. We'll just have to wait and see.

52 comments — Last by DoomGuy64 at 12:46 PM on 03/01/17

Public Sleeping Day Shortbread
— 1:00 PM on February 28, 2017

PC hardware and computing

  1. Gigabyte Z270X-Gaming 5 motherboard review @ PC Perspective
  2. Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9 Oversized-ATX motherboard review @ Tom's Hardware
  3. Scythe Kabuto 3 CPU cooler review @ TechPowerUp
  4. HP’s Spectre 15 makes 4K on a laptop a livable experience @ TechCrunch
  5. Asus ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming mATX motherboard review @ Legit Reviews
  6. MSI Z270 Gaming M7 motherboard review @ KitGuru
  7. Review: Asus ROG G701VI laptop @ Hexus
  8. Palit GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX review @ Guru3D
  9. Philips Moda 245C7QJSB monitor review @ bit-tech

Games and VR

  1. I kicked a dinosaur in the face using Vive's full body tracking @ Upload VR (and he liked it)
  2. Vive Tracker and Deluxe Audio Strap cost $100 each @ Upload VR
  3. ZeniMax seek injunction shutting down Oculus SDK @ Rock Paper Shotgun
  4. Twitch doesn't just want to stream every game, they want to sell them too @ Quarter To Three
  5. Samsung updates Gear VR with new accessory: a handheld controller @ Ars Technica
  6. What the game industry thinks of Nintendo's Switch @ Polygon

Science, hacks, makers and gadgets

  1. France is raising drone-killing eagles @ New Atlas
  2. Bee ballers learn to score goals for treats @ New Atlas (bee ballers!)
  3. 60-watt USB soldering iron does it with Type-C @ Hack A Day (hot new trend?)
  4. Toast-bot butters for you (sometimes) @ Hack A Day

Tech news and culture

  1. Windows 10 Creators Update can block Win32 apps if they're not from the Store @ Ars Technica
  2. Intel reacts to AMD Ryzen apparently cutting prices on Core i7 and i5 processors @ Hot Hardware

Cheese, memes, and RGB LEDs

  1. Doctor's book presents the case against 'dairy crack' @ NPR (blasphemy!)
  2. Amish Cheese House sign comments on wild Oscars finish @ tulsaworld.com
  3. Watch a Lego genius build a machine that makes paper airplanes @ bgr.com

8 comments — Last by NovusBogus at 11:15 PM on 02/28/17

Join AMD for some noon-time Capsaicin & Cream
— 12:07 PM on February 28, 2017

Greetings, gerbils. As we all know, there's nothing better to add to chili pepper than some really nice cream. At least that's what AMD's telling us, since its Capsaicin & Cream event is kicking off in little over 20 minutes, at 12:30 CT (or 10:30 CT and 18:30 GMT). Although the company doesn't say it out loud, we'd wager we can expect a few tidbits of info, sneak peeks, and maybe some sexy glamour shots of the upcoming Vega graphics cards. You can watch the live-stream here:

Along with the likely info on Vega, AMD will be showing off the "hottest [...] VR technologies" and "previews of the summer's hottest PC games and VR experiences." AMD is only smart to try and take the Ryzen hype Kōtetsujō to a stop in the land of graphics cards with its Summer of Radeon initiative. Everybody's waiting for the red team's new cards with bated breath, and today's reveal could leave some gerbils foaming at the mouth in anticipation. Of course, Nvidia may well try to rain on AMD's parade.

60 comments — Last by gerryg at 12:05 PM on 03/01/17

Porsche Design's Book One takes a page from the Surface Book
— 11:30 AM on February 28, 2017

Porsche Design Computing might have just outdone Microsoft at its own game. The software giant has been on a roll with great hardware lately, but Porsche Design's newly-anounced Book One takes a good idea one step further.

If you think the Book One looks like a Surface Book, you're not alone. Like that machine, the Book One's screen can be detached from the keyboard for use as a tablet. On top of that, though, it also sports a cog-style hinge that brings the same 360° rotation offered by Lenovo's Yoga line and other convertible devices. The Book One sports more ports than its close cousin, too. You'll find two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, two USB 3.1 Type-C connectors, and one Thunderbolt port. For user input, there's a digital stylus that sticks magnetically to the side of the book, a backlit keyboard, and a Microsoft-certified Precision Touchpad.

Inside, you'll find a Intel Core i7-7500U CPU with 3.5GHz turbo speed, alongside 16GB of RAM. The system's storage comes by way of an Intel 512GB SSD. While the Surface Book's screen has a non-standard 3:2 ratio with its 3000x2000 resolution, Porsche Design's system goes a bit more traditional, with a 13.3" screen sporting a 3200x1800 resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio. There are no options for discrete graphics cards, though.

The Book One will retail for $2,495 when it releases in April. That's not a bad number when compared to the closest Surface Book in price and specs. The Surface Book model that retails for $2,699 offers roughly the same specs, but with a Core i7-6600U CPU and a Nvidia 940M graphics card instead. The Book One may be the first offering from Porsche Design Computing, but it certainly looks enticing.
 

 

11 comments — Last by tsk at 9:41 PM on 02/28/17

Kingston DCP-1000 SSDs are ready for the datacenter
— 10:00 AM on February 28, 2017

As wonderful as it is to have speedy storage on a desktop computer system, the real need for the fastest drives is in the datacenter. Kingston's DCP-1000 line of PCIe NVMe storage devices is designed specifically for the requirements of that market. The DCP-1000 series drives are available in 800GB, 1.6TB, and 3.2TB capacities, all rated to deliver sequential read speeds up to 6800 MB/s. When it comes to sequential writes, smallest model can write up to 5000 MB/s of important business data per second, while the larger models can do 6000 MB/s.

The 1.6-TB model offers the highest random read and write performance, with a claimed 1.1 million read IOPS and 200K write IOPS. Endurance ranges from 187 TBW on the 800 GB model all the way up to 697 TBW on the range-topping 3.2TB unit. A PCIe 3.0 x8 slot is required to run the DCP-1000 at full tilt. In-flight data is protected via ECC memory and "enterprise-class power failure protection," presumably involving the bank of capacitors on the top of the card.

Kingston didn't offer pricing or availability information, but the drives' datacenter ambitions and high performance tell us DCP-1000 drives will be spendy. Whatever the price, the company is backing the drives with a five-year warranty.

7 comments — Last by Kougar at 5:38 PM on 02/28/17

Nokia 6 phone rises from the ashes with clean Android
— 9:00 AM on February 28, 2017

Not that long ago, smartphone shoppers who wanted an unadulterated Android device looked at Google's Nexus line. However, Google appears to be chasing high-end shoppers with its Pixel phone, leaving a bit of a gap in the market. Upstart smartphone manufacturer HMD thinks there's a neglected community of shoppers who want stock Android, regular updates, and quality manufacturing in an affordable device. Enter the Nokia 6.

HMD is a new Finnish manufacturer that brought together former Nokia employees and licensed the brand, which Microsoft bought in 2013. The upstart company garnered some press with its recreation of the classic Nokia 3310, but it's the Nokia 6 that's the real contender in the Android handset market.

The phone's specs are fairly impressive considering its price point. The Nokia 6 comes with a 5.5" 1920x1080 IPS display and is powered by a Snapdragon 430 SoC along with 3GB of RAM. There's a 3000 mAh battery, a 16MP rear camera, dual speakers, and a fingerprint sensor. The 32GB of internal storage won't make headlines, but there's a microSD slot for further expansion. The aluminum unibody is a decidedly premium feature, and a pleasant surprise at an affordable price.

The cherry on the top is that HMD announced a commitment to keeping its new line of phones regularly updated. Not only does the Nokia 6 come with stock Android, the company is promising monthly security updates and fast updates for new features. As a sign of the commitment to this promise, the Nokia 6 will have Google Assistant enabled out of the box.

HMD is also releasing the Nokia 5, a smaller variant of the Nokia 6. It has a 5.2" display, but is otherwise fairly similar to the bigger handset. It has the same Snapdragon 430 SoC and 3000 mAh battery, though RAM capacity drops to 2GB. HMD slightly downgraded the rear camera to a 13MP unit and reduced the amount of flash storage to 16GB.

Finally, HMD has announced the Nokia 3, an unmistakably budget smartphone. Its 5" display has a resolution of 1280x720, and the Snapdragon SoC in the higher-end models is replaced with a MediaTek 6737 SoC. There's still 2GB of RAM on tap, and a 2650 mAh battery.

HMD has announced some very competitive pricing for these devices. The limited edition Nokia 6 Arte edition 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage will sell for $318 (or 300€). The regular Nokia 6, on the other hand, will go for only for $244 (about 230€). The Nokia 5 will carry a price of $201 (190€), and the Nokia 3 will cost $148 (140€). HMD expects to release all these phones in the second quarter of 2017.

 

31 comments — Last by NTMBK at 2:56 AM on 03/01/17

Join us as we unbox AMD's Ryzen review kit live
— 5:06 PM on February 27, 2017

It's the day of the buffalo here in the TR labs. AMD's Ryzen review kit has arrived after some logistical hiccups, and instead of ripping off the wrapping and sending all that hardware straight to the test bench, we figure we'll have some fun with it first.

Join me here in about an hour and a half as I unbox Ryzen live on YouTube and probably make a fool of myself in front of a dozen people. It'll be fun! Maybe!

Watch my Twitter feed for updates as we draw closer, and subscribe to our YouTube channel and choose to receive notifications so that you don't miss the ping when we go live. Stay tuned.

90 comments — Last by shaq_mobile at 2:41 PM on 02/28/17

Motorola unveils affordable Moto G5 and G5 Plus handsets
— 4:30 PM on February 27, 2017

After a round of leaks, Motorola has officially unveiled the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, the fifth generation of the companys bread-and-butter handsets, looking to offer mid-range features at a low-end price.

The G5 and G5 Plus offer some notable differences from each other. Motorola's American site only currently advertises the G5 Plus, while the UK site features both handsets. On top of that, there appear to be a few differences even among the same model names.

Both phones sport metal bodies and fingerprint readers this time around. The screen is a 1920x1080 display covered in Gorilla Glass 3, though the G5's measures at 5" while the one on the G5 Plus stretches to 5.2". A Micro-USB port handles data and charging, and yes, there's a 3.5-mm headphone jack, highlighting a distinct lack of courage from Motorola. While the G5 and G5 Plus have slightly different rear-facing cameras, the front-facing camera on both is the same 5MP number. There's also a microSD slot on tap to provide up to 128GB of additional storage.

Under the hood, the G5 is rocking a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC clocked at up to 1.4GHz, with an Adreno 505 GPU. The phone can be found with 2GB or 3GB of RAM and has 16GB of internal storage. A 2800mAh battery with rapid charging powers all of the hardware. The rear-facing camera is a 13MP unit capable of capturing 1080p footage at 30FPS.

Meanwhile, the G5 Plus is powered by a Snapdragon 625 running at up to 2GHz, with an Adreno 506 GPU. Some markets are getting this phone with 3GB of RAM, while US customers can pick it up with 2GB or 4GB inside. The base model has 32GB of internal storage, though American consumers can also pick it up with 64GB. A slightly-bigger 3000mAh battery powers the G5 Plus and is infused with Motorola's TurboPower charging tech that should offer 6 hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charging. For photos and video, the G5 Plus offers a 12MP camera that can handle 4K video at 30FPS.

The G5 and G5 Plus will be available in early March in some markets, though a US release date has yet to be announced for the G5 Plus. The Moto G5 starts at 199€, while the G5 Plus goes for $229 in U.S. shores and 279€ across the pond.

21 comments — Last by ronch at 1:02 PM on 02/28/17

HP Pro x2 612 G2 is a convertible you can upgrade
— 3:30 PM on February 27, 2017

We're fans of the Microsoft Surface around here, but there's no denying it's a consumer-grade device. Technical-minded folks often prefer a device with some measure of upgradeability and superior durability. If you're one, but you're keen on the whole Surface concept, maybe take a look at the newly-refreshed (and unfortunately-named) HP Pro x2 612 G2. HP is showing this highly-extensible Windows 10 detachable PC at the Mobile World Congress.

The Pro x2 612 G2 originally debuted a couple of years ago as a relatively thick and beefy solid-hinge detachable. Users apparently complained about the weight and thickness of the device, as the new version is both thinner and lighter, at the expensde of the solid hinge. The new Pro x2 still comes with a stylus, and it's equipped with Kaby Lake CPUs ranging from the Pentium models all the way to the Core i7 offerings. You get 8GB of LP-DDR3 memory, PCIe SSDs up to 512GB, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an optional LTE modem. The tablet has a USB Type-A port and a and Type-C connector that does double duty as a charging port.

The big feature of this device, and what earns it its "Pro" moniker, is that it is fully repairable in the field. Simply remove the back panel, and all of the relevant components are available for fiddling. HP has an optional ruggedized case with its own kickstand that should offer a measure of protection from environmental hazards. Buyers can also get a USB Type-C dock that offers a USB Type-A 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an Gigabit Ethernet adapter, an HDMI output, two DisplayPorts, and a USB Type-C passthrough port for charging. A smaller "travel hub" offers VGA, HDMI, and USB 2.0 ports.

HP already has the product page up for the Pro x2 612 G2, and prices start at $979 for a version packing a Core m3-7Y30 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SATA SSD.

5 comments — Last by psuedonymous at 4:39 AM on 02/28/17

PlayStation VR steadily approaches one million units sold
— 2:30 PM on February 27, 2017

Google's Cardboard may have found its way in front of more eyeballs than any other virtual-reality headset on the market, but as it turns out, another player in the industry has reason to be happy about its first year selling VR devices. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House revealed that the company has sold over 900,000 PlayStation VR units in just four months of sales.

PSVR seems to have outperformed Sony's expectations. House admitted in the interview that he advocated for erring on the side of caution when the company was deciding how many units to initially manufacture. But then consumers purchased 915,000 headsets before February 19th, leading to a supply problem, particularly in Japan. House said that the supply situation should improve by April.

One selling point for the PSVR has been Capcom's horror game Resident Evil: Biohazard. House said that after the game was released, PlayStation VR users started spending twice as much time playing with the headset, on average. Sony hopes to see another bump in sales and engagement in May, when it releases the PlayStation VR Aim Controller, a gun-shaped appendage set to be released with a shooting game called Farpoint.

For contrast, the New York Times pointed to estimates from SuperData Research claiming that users have bought 243,000 Oculus Rift headsets and 420,000 HTC Vive headsets. Those devices have been on the market for more than twice as long as the PSVR, but Sony's VR headset has the advantage of being powered by a console system that's in the homes of 53 million consumers. As Google learned with Cardboard, there's a lot of potential in easy-to-use VR systems with a large install base.

10 comments — Last by derFunkenstein at 8:39 AM on 02/28/17

Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 will crack the floor you drop it on
— 1:00 PM on February 27, 2017

Panasonic's latest Toughbook CF-33 models seem to take after Microsoft's Surface Pro. Both machines have detachable keyboards and similar 12" multi-touch screens with work-friendly 3:2 aspect ratios, though the Surface Pro 4's 2700x1800 resolution is quite a bit sharper than the 2160x1440 pixels offered by the Toughbook. However, the Panasonic machine could best be described as the Surface's leather-faced, muscled cousin.

The Toughbook CF-33 is ready for Windows 10 with its 10-finger capacitive touchscreen display, Windows-Hello-compatible camera, and Windows-Ink-ready IP55 digitizer pen. The screen boasts brightness of up to 1200 cd/m² for use in brightly-lit or outdoor environments. The front-facing webcam is a 2MP unit, while a rear-facing 8MP number is provided for shooting "documentation" video.

The CF-33 can connect directly to physical devices through USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, and audio jacks. A 4G LTE modem is an optional feature, as is a U-Blox GPS sensor. Panasonic made no mention of wireless networking specs, but we would be shocked if the Toughbook lacked 802.11ac and Bluetooth connectivity.

The standard build includes an Intel Core i5-7300U processor along with 8GB of system memory and a 256 GB SSD, though smaller and larger options will be available for both storage and memory. There's a microSD slot available for further storage expansion, too. Panasonic didn't talk about battery life, but the CF-33 packs a pair of hot-swappable battery bays, so in-the-field battery life is presumably limited only by the number of charged batteries taken along for the ride.

Microsoft's Windows Blog says the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 will be available in May starting at a substantial $3500 for the tablet alone, or $4100 with the keyboard.

8 comments — Last by NovusBogus at 9:27 PM on 02/27/17

Lenovo Yoga 720 and 520 convertibles check all the right boxes
— 11:30 AM on February 27, 2017

Over at the 2017 Mobile World Congress, Lenovo is showing off three new fold-over convertible laptops. The Yoga 720 comes in 13" and 15" varieties, while the Yoga 520 comes in a 14" size. Lenovo says the new laptops were primarily designed around user feedback. Perhaps as a result of that design philosophy, these machines' spec sheets read like a fantasy laptop feature wish list.

The larger of the two Yoga 720 models offers a Kaby Lake Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of memory, and most unusually, a GeForce GTX 1050. That's a lot of graphics horsepower for a machine that's only three-quarters of an inch thick when closed. It's a good thing that Lenovo offers that GeForce, too, because this convertible can also be configured with a 3840x2160 IPS touchscreen display. Storage comes exclusively by way of a PCIe SSD that can range up to 1TB in capacity.

Those are pretty solid specs to start with, but the list of desirable features doesn't stop there. The Yoga 720 includes a USB Type-C port that does triple duty as a Thunderbolt 3 connector, a DisplayPort output, or a USB 3.1 port. The display has active pen support (although the pen itself is not included), and a slim-bezel design that Lenovo says makes the machine closer to a typical 12" laptop in size. The Yoga 720 includes a fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication, and the keyboard is backlit. Neither of those are unusual on nice laptops, but it's nice to see those boxes checked regardless.

The Yoga 720's 13" edition has nearly the same specs as the 15" model, although sadly it forgoes the GeForce card. That's only to be expected, though, given that Lenovo shaved another quarter-inch of thickness to make this machine only 0.56" thick. However, you do get just about the same options for hardware, including the 3840x2160 display. Unusually, the 13" Yoga 720 actually has two Thunderbolt jacks over the 15" model's single connector, so it's possible to hook up an external GPU without losing USB 3.1 connectivity.

Compared to the other two machines, the Yoga 520 appears to be a bit more of a budget model. It comes with a 14" display that can optionally be a 1920x1080 IPS touchscreen. It also offers discrete graphics card options, but only up to a GeForce 940MX. The Yoga 520 can still take in up to 16GB of DDR4 memory, and unlike the ultra-thin 720 models, it can have a dual-storage arrangement with an SSD and an HDD. The active pen support and fingerprint reader of its Yoga 720 cousins are still present here, but there's no Thunderbolt 3 connector.

Lenovo only offered European availability and pricing info, but says the 15" Yoga 720 will start at 1099€ (about $1167), while the 13" model will start at 999€ (or $1061). Those two models will be available in April of this year. Meanwhile, the 14" Yoga 520 will begin selling in July for just 599€ (or $636).

18 comments — Last by Kretschmer at 8:32 AM on 02/28/17

Huawei P10 phones mash more data together for better pictures
— 10:00 AM on February 27, 2017

Last year, Huawei brought its P9 and P9 Plus dual-camera phones to market. Those phones packed a pair of Leica photosensors—one for colors and one for black-and-white—in order to deliver more detailed photos. The company has now released its updated P10 and P10 Plus handsets with a new in-house Kirin 960 SoC, a higher-resolution black-and-white photosensor, and a repositioned fingerprint reader.

The P10 and P10 Plus' back camera sensors also got an upgrade. The monochromatic sensor is now a 20MP unit, while the color sensor is a 12MP offering. The black-and-white sensor doesn't have the Bayer filter required for capturing color images, and Huawei claims it can capture more light than the corresponding color sensor in a given situation. The P10's rear camera has an f/2.2 aperture, while the one on the primo P10 Plus sports a wider f/1.8 aperture. The new phones' cameras also offer a Portrait mode like the one in Apple's latest-and-greatest smartphones. The single front-facing camera is an 8-MP affair.

The most obvious difference between the P10 and its big brother is the screen. The P10 has a 5.1" 1920x1080 display, while the Plus sports a 2560x1440 5.5" unit. Both phones have a feature that shrinks the contents of the screen away from one corner to make the phone easier to use with one hand. The bigger phone also packs a bigger 3750 mAH battery, compared to the 3200 mAH unit in the plain P10.

Both P10s are powered by Huawei's Kirin 960 SoC. Buyers get four ARM Cortex-A73 cores churning at 2.4Ghz, and four lower-power Cortex-A53 cores running a more leisurely 1.8GHz. A Mali-G71 GPU is along for the ride with double the graphics core count of the unit inside the P9. Stepping up to the P10 Plus expands system memory from 4GB to 6GB. Storage options include 64GB and 128GB models, with additional storage via microSD card.

The P10 and the Plus model are both powered by Android Nougat with Huawei's usual EMUI skin over the top of it all. The fingerprint scanner has been moved to the face of the phone, where gestures on the sensor stand in for the usual three Android buttons.

Sam Rutherford over at Yahoo says not to look for these phones in the United States, as Huawei reportedly will not bring them here. European gerbils will be able to get their claws on the P10 for 650€ (about $690) or the P10 Plus for 700€ (around $745) when the phones are released in March.

5 comments — Last by willmore at 11:22 AM on 02/28/17

LG goes long with its upcoming G6 smartphone
— 9:00 AM on February 27, 2017

LG is making the rounds at this year's MWC with its flagship G6 smartphone. The South Korean manufacturer dropped the modular design from last year's G5, and is now looking to offer a durable device with an unusual display.

The LG G6's screen alone will make it stand out in the smartphone crowd, as it has an unusual 18:9 ratio (or 2:1), coupled with slim bezels and an 80% screen-to-body ratio. The 5.7" display has a resolution of 2880x1440, a modest bump over the "QHD" displays that became common in phones this last year. The G6 also employs Dolby Vision technology, reportedly allowing for increased contrast and brightness without loss of detail or colors.

Contrary to some rumors, LG powers the LG G6 with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821, rather than the recently-announced Snapdragon 835. The device has 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a microSD slot. A 3300 mAh battery keeps all those pixels glowing, and can be recharged quickly with Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 tech. The smartphone connects to the charger and other devices with a USB Type-C port.

All this hardware fits into a slim aluminum unibody that LG says is drop- and dust-proof. The handset is also IP68-certified for water resistance, meaning it can be immersed in one meter of water for 30 minutes. The volume buttons are located on the left side of the device, while the fingerprint sensor rests on the back panel, close to the dual 13MP wide-angle rear cameras. The 5MP front camera can also provides wide-angle shots, and LG's software can be set so the phone automatically snaps a picture when a face is in the frame.

LG hasn't released pricing information on the G6 yet, but plans to release it before summer. It'll be available in three extravagantly-named colors: Ice Platinum, Mystic White, or Astro Black.

32 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 7:07 AM on 02/28/17