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18
Feb

Nokia X teased on MWC landing page


Nokia, getting ready to debut its first Android smartphone, is getting pretty heavy-handed with the teasing. Head to the Finnish hardware maker’s website today and you’ll find a nice big green X made out of four black arrows. The color matches other shades of green we’ve seen as of late and feels very Android-y.

nokia xWith only a few days to go until Mobile World Congress we will be happy to put all of the rumors to bed. Thus far, leaked details point to a low-cost, entry level device with mainstream appeal.

Do you think Nokia will make a breakthrough in the world of Android? Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below.

Source

The post Nokia X teased on MWC landing page appeared first on AndroidGuys.

18
Feb

Get This Look: Nature Evolved UI


We’re huge fans of changing the home screen around a bit and creating a new user experience for our Android. So much so that we present our ongoing series of Get This Look posts. In a nutshell we show you a new layout, app, widget, or icon set for your Android handset and tell you which apps you’ll need to mimic the feel.

Some of these are a little easier to create than others and many of them can be tweaked to no end. The following details are but the ingredients to which you can create your own delicious Android dish; your results will vary. Which is awesome!

If nothing else, this is a great way to discover new apps, widgets, icons, and more!

Click to view slideshow.

Nature Evolved UI by themedynamics

Why we love this look:

Who doesn’t appreciate a background that changes automatically? With sixteen different widgets, four colors, and dynamic settings, this one looks different at various times of the day.

You’ll have some degree of customization to deal with up front but there’s plenty of user-defined stuff to satisfy the masses. Quickly launch into a number of apps and settings, including phone, messages, camera, internet, Google+, search, and more.

What you’ll need:

The post Get This Look: Nature Evolved UI appeared first on AndroidGuys.

18
Feb

Opera Max cutting data usage up to half across multiple Apps


Opera Max Beta Opera Max Beta Data speeds, data usage, data caps and the likes are always a top concern for smartphone users across the globe. While plenty of us pay the extra for unlimited plans, even some of those have limiters at a certain usage point, others still pay smaller fees for smaller packages. There are a number of browsers out there that have gone the extra mile to help cut back on data usage while still keeping your pages loading fast. Google has even implemented it more recently and then there was always Opera.

Opera would take the web page request and render it on a server and effectively deliver you the same web page, but more in a snapshot file size. The page wouldn’t look any different, but it would load faster and use less data. Opera Software ASA has been working on helping to cut down the data usage across the boards and in all apps with a current beta app called Opera Max.

Opera Max Data Savings 2 Opera Max Data Savings
Opera Max has been in a closed beta since late last year and has, apparently, been well received by the lucky few that have been testing it out. The new app will be free for users to install to their respective devices and will help you cut up to 50% of your data usage across multiple apps you use on a regular basis. The screenshots they are currently showcasing offers up a brief look at the ap and its saving potential across apps like Dropbox, Vine, Drive, Chrome and Instagram. Essentially any app that isn’t an encrypted app can benefit from the use of Opera Max.

The final screenshot on the beta in the Play Store does show where the ‘free’ aspect runs out. After the beta period you will have three options to choose from to keep the cloud savings enabled. Eiter watch ads in the app, Watch an ad as soon as you run out of “charge” or pay $1 a month to remove ads entirely. Not exactly sure how you can “run out of saving” or why you would need to “charge” up. I assume you have to set, or given, a maximum amount of data savings per month though.

Opera Max Beat Paying 

Still, a buck a month or watching some ads to cut down your data usage isn’t really all that terrible of a thing really. You can head to the Play Store and install the Opera Max Beta right now, but space is limited and people aren’t being let in on the Opera servers for the service in mass quantities. It is better to be on the waitlist and get in sooner to test it out though. We are 1407th in line to try it out ourselves. Hit up the Play Store badge below to go grab the app. Be sure to open it once so it can register you on the list.


Get it on Google Play

18
Feb

NVIDIA launches two entry-level graphics cards based on its ‘most efficient’ GPU so far


AMD has enjoyed plenty of room on our pages recently, what with all the talk of Mantle-this and HSA-that. We imagine the folks at NVIDIA have found it all quite bemusing, because for them the graphics card business hasn’t changed: it’s still primarily about offering higher frame rates for fewer watts in common DirectX-based PC games. Indeed, that’s exactly what the green corner’s all-new Maxwell architecture is claimed to deliver, starting with the GTX 750 Ti card that should be hitting stores today priced at $150 (or £115 in the UK). At the transistor level, Maxwell is no more efficient than Kepler — we’re still looking at a 28nm fabrication process, which is pretty standard by now. However, NVIDIA says it has figured out much smarter ways of distributing power across its graphics cores, resulting in a doubling of performance-per-watt. What does this mean in practice? Read on and ye shall discover.

In essence, Maxwell’s doubling of perf-per-watt should allow you to play top-tier games like Batman: Arkham Origins and Call of Duty: Ghosts at medium settings and 1080p resolution even on the GTX 750 Ti’s very modest 60-watt power draw. NVIDIA matches the card up against AMD’s R7 260X, which now costs $119, but which consumes nearly twice as much electricity and therefore requires more aggressive cooling. By doing away with big fans, the new GeForce should easily and quietly fit into that mini-ITX rig you’ve been secretly planning for your living room.

That said, if the 750 Ti is still too premium for your needs, then you should check out the slightly dumbed down GTX 750, which is also out today. Losing the “Ti” suffix means you sacrifice a few CUDA cores, and you’ll get a max 1GB of GDDR5 memory, but then you only pay $120 (or £90) and you need just 55 watts to power it. You’ll find full tech specs and some official game benchmarks for the cheaper card in the slide deck above.

Oh, and one more thing — these new cards both support NVIDIA’s remarkable G-Sync technology, which our very own eyes have observed making a 40fps game look as silky smooth as a 60fps game, through the clever adjustment of refresh rates. NVIDIA had to do away with SLI support in order to facilitate this feature, but honestly, we think it could be worth it — it’s just a shame that the big screen in your living room may never be able to appreciate the difference, because for the time being it looks like a G-Sync will only be compatible with a few regular-sized PC monitors.

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18
Feb

Engadget laptop buyer’s guide: winter 2014 edition


Engadget laptop buyer's guide: winter 2014 edition

CES has been over for a month now, which means it’s high time we update all our buyer’s guides with some of the new stuff that was just announced. In the coming weeks, we’ll have fresh tablet and phone picks, but today, we’re all about the laptops. Whether you’re in the market for an Ultrabook, convertible, gaming rig or a Chromebook, we’ve got a suggestion that should fit the bill. Read on to see what made the cut — and what’s been dropped from our guide since last fall.

Convertibles

When Windows 8 first came out, PC makers were experimenting with all sorts of inventive designs in an effort to figure out what consumers actually wanted. In those early months, we saw laptops whose screens could rotate, pop out, detach and fold over. Others had a sliding design, and one even attempted two screens. The results were mixed — so mixed, in fact, that our last two laptop buyer’s guides have had just two recommendations in the convertible category. Now that these companies have had a chance to go back to the drawing board, we’re starting to see more form factors we’d actually want to use.

Dell XPS 12

The Dell XPS 12 has always been on this list, so you can bet we have effusive things to say now that it’s been upgraded with Haswell, NFC and a larger battery (50Wh, up from 47Wh). All told, between the beefier battery and new chipset, Dell is promising this thing will last 9.5 hours on a charge — more than three hours longer than the OG model. Otherwise, it’s the same machine it always was, with a 12.5-inch, 1080p screen that flips around in its hinge so that you can show off presentations and stuff to people sitting opposite you. It might not be quite as versatile as the Yoga, but we love it anyway for its solid build quality, attractive design and unusually cushy keyboard. After all, if you can’t enjoy one of these convertibles in regular notebook mode, why even bother?

The bottom line: Even if you rarely use it in tablet mode, the XPS 12 makes an excellent Ultrabook, especially now that Dell’s refreshed it with Haswell and a bigger battery.

Key specs: Up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-4650U CPU, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 5000, 12.5-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,000 and up from Dell

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro

Even back when we included just two convertibles on this list, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 was always one of them. Though lots of companies make missteps with their first-gen products, Lenovo won us over right away with the Yoga, whose screen could fold all the way back into tablet mode. Over time, though, as rival companies began upgrading their wares, the original Yoga started to seem stale. Well, just in the nick of time, Lenovo gave it a makeover. The new version, the Yoga 2 Pro, comes standard with a 3,200 x 1,800 screen, making it one of the crispest you’ll find on a 13-inch Ultrabook. It also comes in a thinner, lighter package, and runs on Haswell processors for faster performance and longer battery life. Best of all: The price is low compared to other premium Ultrabooks.

As a side note, Lenovo also has the ThinkPad Yoga, whose keyboard flattens out as you flip the screen over. Even then, we’d only really recommend it if you want pressure-sensitive pen input, as the machine itself is noticeably thicker and heavier than the Yoga 2 Pro (in large part thanks to that newfangled keyboard!).

The bottom line: The most versatile Windows convertible is back with a slimmer, lighter design, sharper screen and longer battery life.

Key specs: Up to a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 512GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 13.3-inch (3,200 x 1,800) display.

Price: $1,049 and up from Lenovo

Sony VAIO Duo 13

Remember we said some companies made missteps their first time out? We give you Sony. The VAIO Duo 11 didn’t make our original list. In fact, no slider Ultrabooks did. The propped-up display eats up too much of the potential keyboard space, we said, leading to a compromised typing experience. The Duo 11, in particular, also suffered from short battery life and an ugly hinge design that left too many of the mechanical bits exposed.

Fortunately, Sony went back to the drawing board and returned with a much-improved follow-up, the VAIO Duo 13. With its “Surf Slider” hinge, the Duo is now much easier to open with one hand, and the back side has been cleaned up as well. Interestingly, though this rocks a larger 13.3-inch screen, the dimensions are about the same, and the weight is only slightly heavier. The secret? Thinner bezels to maximize screen real estate. But wait, we’re not done yet: There’s now a clip to hold the included pressure-sensitive pen. The keyboard, meanwhile, is more comfortable this time around, even if the touchpad is a bit cramped. And the battery life is much longer too, thanks to a fresh Haswell processor.

The bottom line: Sony got the slider design right on its second try, thanks to a completely revamped hinge, a more spacious keyboard and longer battery life.

Key specs: Up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-4650U CPU, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 512GB of internal storage, up to Intel HD Graphics 5000, 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,400 and up from Sony

High-end notebooks

Just because every PC maker is experimenting with some strange, convertible form factor, doesn’t mean regular, old notebooks are going the way of the dodo. In fact, most of the laptops we’ve seen this season are standard notebooks, many with touchscreens attached (at least in the case of Windows machines). In fact, with the exception of the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, Dell XPS 12 and Sony VAIO Duo 13, all of the high-end systems on our list actually do hew to this design. Find our favorites below.

Acer Aspire S7-392

If there’s one theme coursing through this guide, it’s that Intel’s new Haswell processors have transformed laptops with poor battery life, and turned them into lean, mean, all-day machines. That couldn’t be truer of the Acer Aspire S7, which came out in 2012 to mostly rave reviews. Well, raving about everything except the runtime, which topped out at around four hours. Recently, though, Acer refreshed its 13-inch flagship Ultrabook with Intel’s fourth-generation processors, and is now promising up to seven hours of juice (we got seven and a half). Aside from that very important under-the-hood change, Acer didn’t alter the design much; the keyboard layout is similar, as is that white Gorilla Glass lid. Also, until recently, the only display option in the US was a 1080p IPS panel. This month, Acer finally started offering the choice of a 2,560 x 1,440 screen. About time, we say.

The bottom line: The new S7 addresses all the shortcomings of the previous model, and is now one of our favorite Ultrabooks.

Key specs: Up to a 1.8GHz dual-core Core i7-4500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 256GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080 or 2,560 x 1,440) display.

Price: $1,350 and up from Acer

Apple MacBook Air

Apple’s current MacBook Airs look just like the ones that came out in 2012, but they still bring some meaningful improvements. In particular, they come complete with Haswell processors and the promise of much longer battery life (up to nine hours on the 11-inch model, and up to 12 on the 13-inch version). And remember, Apple has a tendency to make conservative battery life claims — in fact, we got nearly 13 hours on the 13-inch model when we took it for a spin. Meanwhile, Apple also switched to faster PCIe SSDs, which yield much faster I/O speeds. On top of all that, Apple dropped the starting price of the 13-inch model by $100, making it that much easier for us to recommend. The only thing you might want to keep in mind is that the new Retina display MacBook Pro offers similar battery life and doesn’t weigh that much more, so you might be tempted to get that instead if you want a sharper screen and don’t mind a little extra heft.

The bottom line: No, there’s still no super-sharp Retina display, but the unbelievably long battery life more than makes up for it.

Key specs: 11-inch model: up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i7 CPU, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 512GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 5000, 11.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display; 13-inch model: up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i7 CPU, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 512GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 5000, 13.3-inch (1,440 x 900) display.

Price: $999 and up (11-inch)/$1,099 and up (13-inch) from Apple

HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook

HP took its time refreshing its line with new designs and fresh processors, but it looks like the delay may have been worth it. HP recently announced the Spectre 13 Ultrabook, and it’s better than its predecessor in almost every way. In addition to running Haswell Core i5 and i7 processors, it’s available with a 2,560 x 1,440 display for an extra $70 — a first for HP. Additionally, it has an extra-wide touchpad with “Control Zones” on the sides that give you tactile feedback as you’re doing things like exposing the Charms Bar or swiping in from the left to cycle through open apps. As for performance, we’ve already begun testing one, and can attest that it delivers both long battery life and brisk SSD speeds.

The bottom line: The Spectre 13 remains one of the few Ultrabooks available in the US with a screen sharper than 1080p.

Key specs: Up to a 1.8GHz dual-core Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080 or 2,560 x 1,440) display.

Price: $1,000 and up from HP

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo’s X1 Carbon hasn’t had a spot in our laptop buyer’s guide since last spring. A curious thing, considering it was once our favorite business Ultrabook — heck, one of our favorite Ultrabooks, period. Eventually, however, even the best products grow stale, and indeed, it took Lenovo a while to deliver a refresh. Finally, though, we have a revamped model with a lighter design, sharper screen and up-to-date processors. Without overwhelming you with speeds and feeds, here’s what you need to know: The new X1 weighs just 2.8 pounds (make that three if you add a touchscreen). Either way, it’s shockingly light for a 14-inch system. Also, in keeping with modern-day specs, the X1 now has a 2,560 x 1,440 screen option and a battery rated for nine hours of runtime. Be warned: Lenovo did tweak the keyboard, adding an “adaptive” panel up top, but fortunately, it doesn’t appear to interfere with the typing experience (or the TrackPoint, for that matter).

The bottom line: The refreshed X1 Carbon returns with a sharper screen, improved battery life and an even lighter design.

Key specs: Up to a 2.1GHz dual-core Core i7-4600U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, up to 512GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 14-inch (1,600 x 900 or 2,560 x 1,440) display.

Price: $1,299 and up from Lenovo

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus

Samsung went a long time without refreshing its Series 9 Ultrabook, save for adding a 1080p screen option in 2012. Finally, though, the company announced a proper replacement, the ATIV Book 9 Plus. Though it’s similar in design to the aluminum version that came out in 2012, this steps up to a much sharper screen — a 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 panel with enough pixel density to surpass even the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. On the inside, it makes use of Haswell processors, solid-state storage and a battery rated for 12 hours of runtime (we managed nearly nine hours in our video rundown test). The only unfortunate thing is that thanks to the added touchscreen, the ATIV Book 9 Plus is heavier than it used to be: 3.06 pounds versus 2.55. Make no mistake: It’s still plenty portable, but there are even lighter touchscreen Ultrabooks out there.

The bottom line: One of our favorite Ultrabooks from 2012 gets refreshed with an eye-melting 3,200 x 1,800 display and a more robust battery.

Key specs: Up to a 1.8GHz dual-core Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 13.3-inch (3,200 x 1,800) display.

Price: $1,400 and up from Samsung

Sony VAIO Pro 13

Sony broke a lot of hearts when it discontinued its super-thin, super-light Z series. Fortunately for VAIO fans, though, the company last year came out with the Pro 13, a 2.34-pound, carbon fiber machine that’s the spiritual successor to the ol’ Z. Sony says it’s the lightest touchscreen Ultrabook of this size, which sounds about right to us: This thing feels utterly insubstantial in the hand. In addition to that featherweight design, the Pro 13 offers PCIe SSDs, a 1080p display with wide viewing angles, a backlit keyboard and built-in NFC. Battery life is rated at seven hours (thanks, Haswell!), but you can double that with an external sheet battery (another nice carryover from Sony’s older machines). Most importantly, though, Sony slashed the starting price of the 13 to $1,250, down from around two grand. There’s also a less-expensive 11-inch version, the Pro 11, but the keyboard is a tad cramped, and you won’t get those fast PCIe SSDs (just regular solid-state drives).

The bottom line: Sony’s discontinued Z series laptop gets a new life with the Pro lineup, which offers great battery life, crisp displays and a much more reasonable starting price.

Key specs: Up to a 1.8GHz dual-core Core i7-4500U CPU, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 512GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,150 and up from Sony

Budget and mid-range

Acer M5-583P-6423

Acer’s M5 always makes our list for offering good specs at a decent price, and for being surprisingly lightweight, at that. Be warned that Acer had to cut corners in some areas to make that price point; the build quality is fairly mediocre, and you’ll have to make do with a spinning hard drive. That said, we appreciated the narrow bezels on 2012′s M5, and we have a feeling the battery life will be more impressive this time around too. Of note, this model replaces the M5-583P-6428, which held a spot in our laptop buyer’s guide for two straight seasons running. The main difference is that this has 6GB of RAM instead of 8GB, which allowed Acer to push the price down to $630 from $700. Wanna go even cheaper? The Acer V5-473P-6459 goes for $600 with 4GB of RAM and a smaller 14-inch screen.

The bottom line: Acer’s mid-range laptops were already well-priced, but they’ve lately seen price cuts that have made them even more tempting.

Key specs: 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5-4200U CPU, 6GB of RAM, 500GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 15.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display.

Price: $600 from Best Buy

HP Envy TouchSmart 15t-j100

The Envy TouchSmart 15 (once called the dv6) steps into the modern age with an aluminum chassis, backlit keyboard and a touchscreen with up to 1080p resolution (1,366 x 768 is the standard). Also offered with AMD processors (that’d be the TouchSmart 15-j070us ), it starts at $750 whether you go with a quad-core A10 chip or a dual-core Core i5 processor. As a performance machine, it comes standard with speakers and a subwoofer for your audio needs, and can be configured with up to a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU.

The bottom line: A great pick for mid-range budgets, with enough flexibility that you can turn it into a performance powerhouse.

Key specs: Up to a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4702MQ CPU, 6GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage with a 24GB SSD, up to a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU, 15.6-inch (1,366 x 768 or 1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $750 and up from HP

Samsung Chromebook

It’s taken a while, but we think we can finally start recommending Chromebooks to regular consumers. Not the Chromebook Pixel, necessarily — that’s not a practical purchase for anyone — but the cruder, less expensive variety. Specifically, Samsung’s $249 Chromebook, which got a significant price cut after Sammy moved from an Intel Celeron processor to a homegrown Exynos 5 Dual SoC, based on ARM’s Cortex-A15 chip. To be sure, you may suffer a slight performance hit as a result, but this new, lower-powered chip is still hearty enough to support everything Chromebooks were built for: namely email, web surfing and video streaming. Meanwhile, the comfortable keyboard and trackpad make it a pleasure to use — something we can’t even say about some pricier laptops. As a runner-up, the new Toshiba Chromebook is also a good choice. That model brings longer battery life (nine hours versus six and a half) and boasts a more powerful Haswell processor. Just remember that it costs $300 and is noticeably heavier, so it’s not necessarily a slam dunk, either.

The bottom line: With more bang for your buck than any other Chromebook, Samsung’s offering is great if all you want is a cheap secondary laptop and would have spent all your time in the browser anyway.

Key specs: 1.7GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos 5 Dual (5250), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, integrated graphics, 11-inch (1,366 x 768) display.

Price: $230 from Amazon

Sony VAIO Fit 14 and 15

Sony turned heads when it announced that all of its laptops — even the low-end ones — would boast some fairly cutting-edge specs. In particular, the company promised that nearly all its new notebooks would rock 1080p touchscreens with NFC, backlit keyboards and webcams making use of Sony’s own Exmor R sensors. It all sounded swell, but there was one problem: Some of these laptops shipped with Ivy Bridge processors, and at a time when Haswell was coming out, no less. Finally, though, Sony’s upgraded its entry-level Fit line with the latest Intel Core chips, which means we can finally recommend them here in our buyer’s guide. Whether you buy the 14- or 15-inch model, both start at $580, with the lowest-end Haswell model starting at $630. Even when we tested the Fit 15 with Ivy Bridge, we enjoyed solid performance and fast-boot up times, and we suspect that with Haswell, you’ll also get longer battery life.

The bottom line: You’ll be hard-pressed to find an entry-level laptop with better specs than Sony’s recently refreshed Fit series.

Key specs: Up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-4650U CPU, 4GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, up to a 2GB NVIDIA GT 740M GPU, 14- or 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $580 and up from Sony

Toshiba Satellite P50

All told, Toshiba sells several laptop lines, starting with the “L” and “C” series at the bottom, moving up to the “S” (for “speed”) and the “P” (for “premium”) lines. Because even the P series is fairly affordable, though, there’s no reason not to just focus your search there. In particular, we recommend the 15-inch P50, which offers a nice mix of higher-end design elements and robust performance. With the latest models, Toshiba’s made the aluminum chassis up to 25 percent thinner. It’s also added features like an optional touchscreen and an HDMI 1.4 port for 4K output (should you actually have some compatible content). Rounding out the list, Toshiba included Sleep and Charge/Sleep and Music ports as well as Harman Kardon speakers with DTS sound — pretty much what we’ve already come to expect from Toshiba’s high-end machines.

The bottom line: Toshiba’s P series is as feature-rich as ever, except now it’s significantly thinner.

Key specs: Up to a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU, 6GB to 12GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage with an 8GB SSD, up to a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M GPU, 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $650 and up from Toshiba

Performance powerhouses

Sometimes an Ultrabook just isn’t good enough. Maybe you want discrete graphics for editing photos or chopping HD video. Maybe you’re looking for a little more processing power, better speakers or — gasp! — an optical drive for burning the occasional Blu-ray. Whatever it is, we’ve got the selection narrowed down to three. (No promises on the BD-RW drive, though.)

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display

We’ve always liked Apple’s Retina display MacBook Pros, but we could never recommend them without a caveat: They were good (really good), but only if you could afford them. Recently, it’s become a little easier to suggest them — especially the 13-inch model, which has seen a $400 price drop (the 15-incher is cheaper too, but only by $200). The 13-incher in particular is now closer than ever to the 13-inch MacBook Air in both weight and thickness, with just half a pound between them. And thanks to a new Haswell processor too, the battery life is also fairly similar; we got over 11 hours of runtime in our battery rundown test, compared with nearly 13 for the Air. All told, you’ll be faced with a difficult choice: Buy the MacBook Pro for its stronger graphics or get the Air for its lighter weight and slightly longer battery life? It all depends on your priorities.

The bottom line: Apple’s Retina display MacBook Pros are easier to recommend now that the prices have dropped, and now that the battery life has improved.

Key specs: 13-inch: Up to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7 processor, 4GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, Intel Iris graphics, 13.3-inch (2,560 x 1,600) display; 15-inch: Up to a 2.6GHz quad-core Core i7 CPU, 8GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, Intel Iris Pro graphics or a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU, 15.4-inch (2,880 x 1,800) display.

Price: $1,299 and up (13-inch)/$1,999 and up (15-inch) from Apple

Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 fell off our shortlist for the summer buyer’s guide just because it was getting long in the tooth and hadn’t yet been updated with Haswell. Since, then, though Dell has come out with a redesigned model, complete with fourth-generation Intel processors and a 3,200 x 1,800 screen option. So with that, it’s returned to our laptop buyer’s guide with a vengeance. If you check out Dell’s site, you’ll see it’s available in two configurations, with the higher-end $1,999 model matching the 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro spec-for-spec in nearly every case (weight, screen quality, graphics, et cetera).

The bottom line: Windows users who always wanted a machine as light and powerful as the Retina display MacBook Pro with just as sharp a screen now have a solid option in the new Dell XPS 15.

Key specs: Up to a 2.2GHz quad-core Core i7-4702HQ CPU, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage with a 32GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4400 or a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU, 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080 or 3,200 x 1,800) display.

Price: $1,500 and up from Dell

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p

When the IdeaPad Y510p came out, Lenovo was quick to clarify it’s not a gaming laptop, per se. Instead, the company would rather you think of it as more of an all-around multimedia machine, the sort of thing you’d use to edit full HD video or batch-edit lots of photos. And while we would indeed recommend this to anyone planning on doing serious editing, we’d also suggest gamers take a look: The system comes standard with a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU, and almost every configuration sold has a 1080p display to match. Even design-wise, it straddles the line: The red backlit keyboard suggests this is a gamer’s machine, regardless of what Lenovo says, but thanks to an otherwise simple chassis, it’s still restrained enough that you can use it in public. Obviously, we still recommend it, even after all this time, but if you can wait until March, Lenovo will be releasing the similar IdeaPad Y50, which will have a 3,840 x 2,160 screen option.

The bottom line: Powerful enough for a gamer, but discreet-looking enough for everybody else.

Key specs: Up to a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU, 8GB to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage with an optional 24GB SSD, up to a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M GPU or 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU with optional Ultrabay SLI graphics, 15.6-inch (1,366 x 768 or 1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,169 and up from Lenovo

Gaming systems

We know what you’re going to say, dear readers: Gaming laptops are overpriced, and it’s better to just build your own desktop anyway. We don’t necessarily disagree. If, however, you don’t mind paying a premium, they’re a good way to enjoy still-playable frame rates, even while on the go.

Razer Blade

After wowing us with its 17-inch, absurdly thin Razer Blade laptop, Razer is back with a 14-inch model (yep, also called the Razer Blade). Like its big brother, now called the Razer Blade Pro, it costs a pretty penny, with a starting price of $1,800. As before, then, you’re not getting the best bang for your buck, but if you insist on a lightweight form factor and strong performance and can only really compromise on price, this could be the thing for you. What’s interesting is that Razer got rid of its Switchblade UI — that secondary LCD that doubled as a touchpad — a move that allowed the company to achieve the smaller, thinner laptop we have here. All told, rock-solid build quality, fast performance and surprisingly long battery life make it a good pick for on-the-go gamers, but for the money, we wish it had a higher-res screen.

The bottom line: Razer expanded its gaming lineup to include a smaller, 14-inch model. It’s as thin and powerful as you’d expect, but it’s about as expensive too.

Key specs: 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4702HQ CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 512GB of internal storage, Intel HD Graphics 4600/2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M GPU, 14-inch (1,600 x 900) display.

Price: $1,800 and up from Razer

Alienware 17

After years of just simple CPU refreshes, Dell finally unveiled an entirely redesigned line of gaming notebooks, with screen sizes ranging from 14 to 18 inches. For the purposes of this guide, we’re focusing on the in-between-sized one, the Alienware 17, but really, we’d recommend any of them, with the caveat that the specs (especially screen quality) improve as you go up in size. Whichever you choose, Dell has retired the old plastic chassis and switched to a metal one, replete with a magnesium lid and aluminum body. These new systems also have even more customizable LED lights than before: Not only are there multiple keyboard zones, but the touchpad also fully lights up, and you can change the color of that glowing alien head on the lid. Rounding out the design changes, Dell gave the keyboard more depth, moved the vents to the back edge where they’re not in the way and introduced Klipsch speakers across the board.

The bottom line: The biggest name in gaming laptops recently came out with a line of brand-new models. If you trust the Alienware brand, this couldn’t be a better time to take a look.

Key specs: Up to a 3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4930MX CPU, 8GB to 32GB of RAM, up to 2TB of internal storage with an 80GB SSD, up to a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M GPU, 17.3-inch (1,600 x 900 or 1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,499 and up from Dell

MSI GT70

The 17-inch MSI GT70 excels where you’d expect it to (graphics performance), and also in some areas you wouldn’t — namely, battery life. Even with 2012′s chips, it lasts nearly three hours on a charge, but with a new Haswell processor, you can expect runtime in the four-and-a-half-hour range. Performance aside, it also has an exceptional keyboard: sturdy, tactile and loaded up with customizable backlights. The one thing you should keep in mind is that the benefit of having a 1,920 x 1,080 display is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the viewing angles are so narrow. Oh, and if you want something smaller, MSI is now selling the 14-inch GE40; it’s reasonably priced, starting at $1,300, but it’s not as configurable as, say, the Alienware 14.

The bottom line: Strong performance, a great keyboard and long battery life (for a gaming machine, anyway) make this worth considering.

Key specs: 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU, 8GB to 32GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage and up to three 128GB SSDs, up to a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M GPU, 17.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,500 and up from MSI

ASUS G750

If you’re looking for a Haswell-powered gaming notebook, we’d advise you not to count out ASUS and its Republic of Gamers line. Its refreshed 17-inch G750 laptop, available in three configurations, packs a 2.4GHz quad-core processor similar to what you’ll find on competing models, like the MSI GT70 detailed above. For the money, though, it starts with more RAM, and has a lovely design defined by brushed-metal surfaces. Additionally, ASUS has added an amplifier inside the headphone socket, so you should expect better in-game audio with this generation.

The bottom line: ASUS’ 17-inch gaming machine is back with a new processor, fresh graphics and improved audio quality — something the notebook wasn’t known for in previous generations.

Key specs: 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, 12GB to 32GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage with an optional 256GB SSD, up to a 4GB NVIDIA GTX 780M GPU, 17.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.

Price: $1,283 and up from Amazon

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18
Feb

The studio behind BioShock Infinite is no more


The studio responsible for both BioShock and BioShock Infinite is breaking up, according to a note from creative lead Ken Levine on the company’s website. Following the final content release this past month for Irrational Games’ latest work, BioShock Infinite, the company’s head (Levine) and a group of “about fifteen members of the Irrational team” formed a new, dramatically smaller venture within the parent company that owns Irrational (Take-Two Interactive — the same folks who own Grand Theft Auto-developer Rockstar Games, among others). That’s from a crew of nearly 200 at the peak of Infinite‘s development in Summer 2012. It’s not clear if Irrational will still be the name of the studio; either way, Levine said, “I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it.”

Levine and his new splinter crew will focus on one goal: “To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable.” In that vein, he’s “handing over the reins” of BioShock to Take-Two and going head down on his new, digital-only project(s). It’s also likely that Levine needs extra time for his non-gaming work, such as helping pen the remake to Logan’s Run.

Though BioShock 2 was developed by another Take-Two studio (2K Marin), both the original BioShock and BioShock Infinite were crafted in-house at Irrational Games; it’s unclear if the franchise will continue, but we’ve reached out to Take-Two for comment.

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Source: Irrational Games

18
Feb

HTC Sends Out Invites for March 25th Event


htc-event-htc-m8

HTC is trying to steal any kind of spotlight today, by announcing several things this morning. First we have invites that were sent out for a March 25th event that is most likely where they plan on unveiling the HTC M8. The event will not only be in New York City, but there will be an event in London at the same time is the NYC event. Not the first time something like that has happened, but yes, we will finally see the beautiful successor to the HTC One. Let us know how excited you are.

Source: Droid-Life

18
Feb

New HTC Advantage Initiative Unveiled for the HTC One Family of Devices


HTC Advantage HTC has unveiled a new program this morning that is aimed at reaffirming HTC’s commitment to quick Android OS updates and additional storage, along with keeping the owners of the HTC One family of devices even more ecstatic to own and purchase one.

“We recognize that people spend good money to buy smartphones. Creating premium products that offer customers the best and latest has always been the HTC way, and now we’re carrying that commitment beyond the handset purchase to ensure customers remain satisfied beyond day one,” said Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC Americas. “In line with our history of firsts, we want to be the first to protect the investment customers make in our premium devices, and have created a new position of vice president of customer experience to oversee this commitment as well as the launch and evolution of HTC Advantage.”

The new HTC Advantage Initiative offers a few pretty cool things.

  • Free Cracked-Screen Replacements – If your shiny new HTC One happens to have a cracked screen in the first six months of ownership, HTC will take care of you and replace it. This only applies to U.S. owners and you can only have ONE cracked screen replaced. If you have a habit of breaking your screen every month, you will be out of luck.
  • Additional Google Drive Storage – The HTC One Max is eligible for 50GB of Google Drive storage for 2-years. When the HTC Sense 5+ becomes available on certain 2013 HTC devices, you will gain 25GBs of Google Drive storage also for 2-years. There is an exception though, HTC One developer editions are not eligible for any extra Drive storage due to the unlocked bootloader. (That’s some garbage right there.) Full details at Google Drive Support.

Along with the obviously amazing perks, HTC also recommits to timely Android OS updates on their U.S. models of devices.

 HTC Americas is rectifying the issue and aspires to lead the industry in Android update delivery for the HTC One smartphone, evident by the speedy delivery of the latest version of Android (KitKat 4.4.2) and HTC’s latest innovation in HTC Sense 5.5 across numerous carriers in North America.  HTC was the first in the United States and Canada, outside of Google-owned companies and Google Play editions of devices, to begin delivering KitKat to its customers.

HTC is also making great strides in keeping the public and consumers in the know about the status of updates. This is pretty apparent from the various tweets we have seen over the last month or so from HTC specifying where the update was in terms of its approval and expected deployment. You can also always go to the HTC Software Updates page to see where various devices are at in the update process.

HTC Software Updates
HTC is doing some pretty big things lately. They were the first, besides the Google Play edition devices and Nexus line, manufacturer to start KitKat updates on devices in the states. Adding in the addition cloud storage for 2-year, the free screen replacement in the first six months and keeping updates and their timelines as transparent as possible is a great move in my opinion. None of us like to wait for an update to be launched, but what I know I hate more, is not knowing if one is ever even going to come.

More details can be be found at the HTC Advantage webpage. Be sure to check into it if you have purchased an HTC One, HTC One Max or HTC One mini in the last six months.

 

 

18
Feb

An HTC M8 Render with a Case Gets Posted by Evleaks


htc-m8-case

Its not stopping today when it comes to HTC and its new baby the HTC M8. Leak king, evleaks, just posted the image you see above showing us an HTC M8 with a case on it. It is not bad looking actually. I like the color scheme of the case. There is an interesting amount of space missing above the volume buttons. Not sure what is going on there, but overall the phone and its case are looking pretty spiffy. The HTC M8 will be unveiled on March 25th in New York, so let us know your thoughts about the image above.

Source: G+ Page

18
Feb

Samsung Galaxy S5 to Include Home Button with Integrated Fingerprint Sensor


Samsung’s upcoming flagship device, the Galaxy S5, will indeed ship with a fingerprint sensor, reports Samsung-focused blog SamMobile. Contrary to earlier reports which hinted at a fingerprint sensor embedded into the display, however, this latest report claims the Galaxy S5 will adopt Apple’s model by integrating the sensor into the home button.

galaxy-s5-render

Samsung Galaxy S5 render with Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 from Move Player

Samsung’s fingerprint sensor reportedly is activated using a swiping motion that scans the finger from base to tip, which differs from Apple’s motionless scan.

The sensor itself works in a swipe manner, which means that you would need to swipe the entire pad of your finger, from base to tip, across the home key to register your fingerprint properly. Also, you would need to keep your finger flat against the home key and swipe at a moderate speed or else it won’t recognise your fingerprint. The fingerprint sensor is sensitive to moisture, as well.

Samsung supposedly has added support for the scanning technology to various parts of the operating system, enabling users to secure files, widgets and apps using the scanning technology. Similar to iOS 7, Samsung will allow users to store multiple fingerprint scans on a phone or tablet and use them to unlock the device.

The Galaxy S5 is rumored to include a 5.2-inch display with a higher resolution screen than the current Galaxy S4, which is equipped with a 5-inch, 1080 x 1920 pixel display. The S5 also will feature an improved camera, better battery life and a lower price point. It likely will be unveiled alongside a new Galaxy Gear smart watch at Samsung’s Unpacked 2014 event, which will be held during Mobile World Congress 2014 later this month.

    



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