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Posts tagged ‘Lenovo’

1
Sep

Lenovo’s Yoga Book is part tablet, part sketch pad


Let’s face it: Tablets are on the brink of death, and it’s difficult to get excited about a new slate these days. And even though tablet-laptop hybrids are taking off, that market is cornered by Surfaces and iPad Pros. So I wasn’t prepared to be as thrilled as I was by Lenovo’s latest offering. The Yoga Book, based on my experience with a preview unit, is not merely a mimicry of Microsoft’s Surface Book; it has impressively innovative features and a well-thought-out interface that make it a solid hybrid in its own right.

The Yoga Book has the same shiny “Watchband hinge” as Lenovo’s Yoga 900 convertible laptops, which makes the book’s spine look like links on a wristwatch. That, together with a metal casing and slim silhouette, lend the book a clean, modern aesthetic. I particularly like the gold version, which is only available for the Android variant that costs $499. A $549 Windows 10 model is also available, but that (disappointingly) only comes in black.

Lenovo Yoga Book: Hands-on

This book’s cover may be pretty, but what really impressed me lies beneath. The Yoga Book’s standout feature is its keyboard, which is essentially a giant touchpad. There are no physical buttons — just a flat surface with the outline of keys.

The absence of physical buttons helps the Yoga Book look and feel more like a regular tablet with a flat back when you unfold it all the way around. Plus, without the uneven surface, you can use the bottom half of the device as a stand, with the keyboard facing down. The hybrid is also a lot lighter (1.52 pounds) than it would have been with a full keyboard, although it’s still heavier than the Surface 3 (1.37 pounds without a keyboard).

But those aren’t the main reasons for doing away with keys. The real pièce de résistance is housed within the flat surface, and Lenovo calls it the “Create Pad.” Tap a button to the top right of the keyboard and the outlines disappear, leaving you with a blank canvas. It’s like a Wacom digitizer tablet that you can draw on with the included stylus.

Lenovo adapted Android 6.0 Marshmallow to automatically start recording your doodles in the company’s default note-taking app (which is the only app in the tablet that stores your input in the background) once you put the stylus to the touchpad. When you start writing, a small window pops up on the bottom right of the screen and captures your scrawls. This happens whether the tablet is awake or asleep, which is super convenient. It’s basically like having a piece of paper ready for you to write on whenever you need, and it worked well in our demo. But because the screen stays off when you’re writing while the Yoga Book is asleep, it’s hard to know what you’re jotting down.

Those who can’t give up their paper addiction, however, will love this next feature. With a little finesse and jiggling of the stylus’ nib with the included pen cap, you can pull out the nib and replace it with an ink cartridge to make a real pen. Oh, and did I mention that “Real Pen” is what Lenovo named this stylus?

With the ink nib, you can write on real paper for a more old-school experience. And if you place the paper on the Create Pad, whatever you scrawl there will also show up in the Yoga Book. I tried placing an inch-thick notebook on top of the surface and wrote on it with the Real Pen, and I was impressed when the system still detected my scribbles.

This won’t work with a regular pen, though; you’ll have to use the one Lenovo provides. It’s designed with Wacom’s “feel IT” tech that responds to the electromagnetic resonance (EMR) film built into the keyboard, which enables the real-time digitization.

All of this adds up to an experience that will delight and win over notetakers, and I’m incredibly stoked by what I’ve seen so far.

But I don’t think the Yoga Book will appeal to road warriors. Sure, the Windows version will run desktop apps and multiple apps simultaneously, making it suitable for productivity. The Android version has Lenovo’s multiwindow support (until it gets updated to Android Nougat, which has that feature baked in), so it can handle multitasking as well. The Yoga Book is powered by an Intel Atom x5 processor and has a generous 8500mAh battery that Lenovo said should last for up to 15 hours of general use. Its 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS display should also be a decent canvas for multimedia.

But for a 2-in-1 to truly facilitate productivity, it needs a real keyboard. Even though Lenovo thoughtfully designed the layout with more generously sized keys and spaces and implemented haptic feedback, predictive text and autocorrect (the latter two are only on the Android model), I still struggled to bang out more than a few words at once without a typo. Lenovo said it would take about two hours to get used to the new keyboard, but I’m not sure I believe that.

The stark change may alienate those who depend heavily on physical keys. For those people, Lenovo still has slightly more traditional hybrids. The company also unveiled a super thin Yoga 910 convertible laptop, which has a full-sized physical keyboard and bends all the way around to become a 14-inch tablet.

Still, Lenovo deserves props for making a bold, innovative move. As a lover of notebooks and real-life writing, I can’t deny that I’m incredibly excited to try out the Yoga Book in the real world. And for those who prefer pen and paper (I imagine that includes artists, designers and students), the Yoga Book is a compelling candidate that could trump the iPad Pro and Surface.

We’re live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

1
Sep

Lenovo’s two new tablets include a lower-cost Surface Pro rival


Lenovo’s hoopla at IFA may be focusing on its creative-minded Yoga Book, but there are two new bread-and-butter tablets that are worth your attention, too. The 12.2-inch Miix 510 is a Surface Pro-alike for people who want a reasonably speedy 2-in-1 Windows tablet, but aren’t willing to pay a premium. It sports a lower-resolution display than the Miix 700 (1,920 x 1,200) and is both heavier (1.9 pounds without the keyboard attached) and thicker (0.39 inches), but it promises to be more powerful. You can have up to a 6th-generation Core i7 processor inside rather than a Core M, and up to a 1TB SSD — if it weren’t for the maximum 8GB of RAM and 7.5 hours of battery life, the new Miix could easily go toe-to-toe with Microsoft’s current flagship slate. There’s even optional LTE data, which has been sorely missing on the Surface Pro line.

As it is, the pricing may make you forget the shortcomings. Lenovo hasn’t outlined the entry-level specs, but the Miix 510 will start at $600 when it ships in October. That’s inexpensive enough that you might just get a higher-end model and still undercut its Microsoft equivalent.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus

Oh, and Android fans? Lenovo hasn’t forgotten about you. It’s also unveiling the Yoga Tab 3 Plus, a 10.1-inch Android Marshmallow slate that slots neatly between the no-frills Yoga Tab 3 and its higher-end Pro counterpart. You get the Pro’s 2,560 x 1,600 display, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front cam and 32GB of expandable storage, and there’s even more RAM (3GB versus 2GB). However, this is otherwise a decidedly mid-range tablet– you’ll find a quad-core Snapdragon 652 processor and a slightly less capable 9,300mAh battery. You should still net an estimated 18 hours of battery life, though, and the Yoga Tab 3 series’ signature rotating stand (complete with a hole for hanging from the wall) remains intact.

Appropriately, you’re getting a middling price. The Plus will arrive in October for $300, or $100 more than the basic Yoga Tab 3 but well below the $500 of the Pro. If you like Lenovo’s take on Android tablet design, this is probably the sweet spot.

Update: We added hands-on pictures of the Miix 510 hybrid. As expected, it is clearly inspired by the Surface Pro, though the device doesn’t feel as premium as Microsoft’s. That said, we’ll see how it holds up once we test it in a more private setting, not on a demo table where dozens of other journalists are trying to pry it away from you. Unfortunately, Lenovo didn’t have the Yoga Tab 3 on display, but we’re told we might get a chance to see it in person later this week.

Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

We’re live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

Source: Lenovo

30
Aug

What to expect at this year’s IFA


IFA, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics trade shows, starts this week in Berlin. It’s not quite as big as CES, but it can be a good insight into what lies ahead in the holiday shopping season. IFA is often the place where companies announce washing machines and kitchen appliances, but there’s usually plenty of phones, wearables, PCs and TVs too. Here’s what we expect to see at IFA this year:

Smartphones and tablets

Samsung used to make IFA the home for its annual Note announcements, but that changed last year. 2016 marks the second year in a row the company opted to launch the newest Note, as well as the latest Gear VR, at their own Unpacked event. That doesn’t mean Samsung won’t have anything to show at IFA, but it likely won’t have any phones on the docket.

Still, IFA won’t be completely bereft of mobile news. Sony has made a habit of revising its Xperia lineup at IFA and we expect to see more of that this time around. We’ve heard tales of an Xperia X Compact, which appears to be a smaller version of the Xperia X Performance. Leaked specs have pointed to a 13-megapixel rear camera, 4GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor as well as 32GB of internal storage. Seeing as it’s a “Compact” model, we also expect a 4.7 inch display with full HD resolution.

Moving on to other mobile events, Huawei’s September 1st event invitation entices us to “Defy Expectations” with what looks like the curved edge of either a phone or a tablet. Though ASUS announced the ZenFone 3 series at Computex, it could unveil a mid-tier offering at IFA. ZTE, which already showed off the Axon 7 and the Zmax Pro earlier this year, could have more to say about Project CSX, its unique crowdsourced handset. Nubia, a ZTE sub-brand, is also holding an event of its very own, which likely means we’ll see one or two new phones there as well.

Plus, just because Samsung has already shown its hand as far as phones go, doesn’t mean that we won’t spy any new tablets. Rumors point to a possible Galaxy Tab S3, the successor to last year’s Galaxy Tab S2. There could also be a new tablet from Lenovo with a “new kind of intuitive keyboard,” if this brief peek at Lenovo’s IFA 2016 event is to be believed.

Wearables and other accessories

Much more than just phones and tablets, IFA is becoming a bit of a wearables show. Samsung already made a not-too-subtle hint that its first event in Berlin will focus on the Gear S3. The invitation has a watch face design on it as well as the words “Talk About 3” and “Gear.” There are also rumors that there’ll be three versions of the S3: The Classic, the Explorer and the Frontier. The latter two will supposedly focus on fitness, with various sensors like an altimeter and a barometer.

We could see other companies refresh their Android Wear offerings too. Huawei hasn’t updated its premium Watch wearable since last year and ASUS’ ZenWatch 2 could use a refresh as well. On the simpler side of the wearable spectrum, Fitbit has already announced the sequels to the Flex and the Charge, which we’ll see at IFA this week. It’ll also be interesting to see if Nokia-owned Withings will have anything to show — an update to the Activite is a long-time coming after all.

We could see other companies update their Android Wear offerings too. Huawei hasn’t updated its premium Watch wearable since last year and ASUS’ ZenWatch 2 could use a refresh as well. On the simpler side of the wearable spectrum, Fitbit has already announced the sequels to the Flex and the Charge, which we’ll see at IFA this week. It’ll also be interesting to see if Nokia-owned Withings will have anything to show — an update to the Activite is a long-time coming.

Aside from the Xperia phone, Sony will probably also give us a closer look at the Xperia Eye, a lifelogging camera you wear around your neck, plus the Xperia Ear, a Bluetooth headset that looks a lot like Moto’s Hint.

Everything else

Aside from the usual phones and wearables, we’ll also likely see a bevy of new 4K and 8K televisions from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG. New laptops are also on the horizon; Acer’s press conference invitation shows what looks like a profile of an extremely thin notebook and Lenovo might surprise us with yet another Yoga laptop or two. As with so many trade shows this year, we also expect to see the odd robot or drone on the show floor.

Last but not least, we have to mention virtual reality. 2016 is said to be the year VR goes mainstream, and we could see more evidence of that at IFA. We’ve already seen a sneak peek at what looks like an ASUS VR headset and Huawei has promised that it would be making a Gear VR competitor too.

As always, there will probably be products at IFA that we don’t expect as well. We’ll be liveblogging the Samsung mobile event on August 31st at 12pm ET so stay tuned for that and keep your eyes glued to the site for more news out of Berlin.

27
Aug

Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Yoga will make you want OLED everywhere


The dream of large OLED screens has, for the past few years, seemed perpetually on the horizon. LG has had OLED TVs on the market for a while, but they’re still far more expensive than comparable LCDs. If you’ve wanted to get your OLED fix recently, you’d have to get it on a smaller phone or tablet screen. Now, the technology is finally making its way to laptops from the likes of Dell’s Alienware, HP and Lenovo. So you can bet that I jumped at the opportunity to test out the new OLED-equipped Thinkpad X1 Yoga as soon as review units appeared. For the most part, it’s a pretty typical Thinkpad convertible PC, but its screen is truly a thing of wonder.

Hardware

The Thinkpad X1 Yoga doesn’t offer up many surprises design-wise. It sports a black matte case, clean lines and it’s built out of some sturdy material (a combination of a carbon fiber cover and magnesium alloy elsewhere). Its understated aesthetic befits its purpose: it’s here to do work, not game or be an entertainment powerhouse. That doesn’t mean it’s ugly, it just resembles very traditional PC laptops, much like its sibling the X1 Tablet. Really, the X1 Yoga doesn’t need any design flourishes, as it ensures the 14-inch OLED touchscreen is the real star of the show. (More on that below.)

While it’s built like a workhouse — there’s no flex to the case, and it feels like it could survive some major tumbles — the X1 Yoga is also impressively portable, at 2.8 pounds and 0.67-inches thin. That’s about on-par with most other Ultrabooks (and it’s even 0.2-pounds lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air). It’s not as razor-thin as HP’s stunning new Spectre, but because of that it’s surprisingly versatile, with three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and miniDisplayPort connectors, and a microSD card slot. There’s also a proprietary OneLink+ port for connecting to Lenovo’s docks, as well as a fingerprint sensor to the right of the trackpad.

Being a Yoga device, the X1’s screen can bend a full 360-degrees around the case, effectively turning it into a very large tablet. (In that mode the keyboard also recesses into the case, to prevent stray strokes and key damage.) You can also fold the screen over at an angle in a “tent” formation. That’s ideal for standing it up on a table, or on your lap in bed. Lenovo designed a new double hinge for this device, and it’s one of their smoothest implementations yet. The screen is easy to move around, but it also feels secure once you set it in place.

Lenovo also tucked a stylus into the side of the X1 Yoga, which is useful for drawing or quickly jotting down notes. It’s powered by super capacitor technology, which charges it whenever it’s sitting inside the case.

Display and pen input

The X1 Yoga’s OLED display doesn’t waste any time impressing you. The red border around Lenovo’s logo has an almost electric feel upon boot-up, and that carries over to everything in Windows. OLED displays are known for their bold colors and deep black levels, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Watching videos and perusing photos is a revelatory experience. OLED adds an enormous amount of depth to images that makes them seem almost three-dimensional.

With a resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 (1440p/2K), the X1 Yoga’s OLED screen is significantly sharper than a 1080p display, though it’s not quite 4K. That’s just fine, though, as Windows 10 still isn’t well suited to 4K, and the benefits of such a high resolution are wasted on laptop screens.

The X1 Yoga might not look like an ideal media machine from afar, but it ended up being one of my favorite ways to watch Netflix in bed. Mostly, that was due to sheer immersiveness of the screen. Its speakers sit right below the screen, and as is usual with Lenovo’s gadgets, they were merely adequate. If you really want to get into a movie or TV show, bring along a good pair of headphones.

The laptop’s ability to flip around in a variety of different orientations also made it very useful. When I needed help in the kitchen, the tent formation was perfect on my countertop for watching videos and references recipes. And when I wanted to dive into the NYT, Comixology or a digital magazine app, the tablet mode was immensely convenient. It also worked well in direct sunlight, but be prepared to deal with some reflectivity depending on how it’s oriented.

While the built-in stylus was convenient for jotting down quick notes, it’s also too light and flimsy to use for a very long time. It doesn’t feel as substantial as Microsoft’s Surface Pen or Apple’s Pencil, instead it’s like trying to write with an incredibly skinny pen. If you’re really looking forward to handwriting on the X1 Yoga, though, you’re probably better off investing in something that won’t cramp your hand after a few minutes. On the plus side, the stylus is pressure sensitive, which could be useful for artists.

Thinkpad+X1+OLED++gallery+3.jpg

Typing and trackpad experience

If there’s one thing you can be guaranteed to find on a Thinkpad, it’s a solid keyboard. That’s been true of the line since IBM debuted it decades ago, and it’s something Lenovo has maintained ever since it took over Big Blue’s computer arm. The X1 Yoga’s backlit chiclet keyboard is one of the most comfortable I’ve used in an Ultrabook. I had no trouble quickly typing up notes and reports from Intel’s Developer Conference, or banging out most of this review. The keys are sloped inward slightly, which feels comfortable as you’re resting your fingers on them, and they have a satisfying amount of depth.

Basically, the X1 Yoga’s keyboard feels like a balance of traditional Thinkpad typing with the modern chiclet style. I wish Lenovo included some media keys among its second functions though. Even the ability to start and stop music would be helpful (and being able to move between tracks would be even better). Lenovo used to offer some media keys on the X1 Carbon’s capacitive touch strip, so hopefully we’ll see those return eventually.

The Thinkpad’s trackpad is incredibly smooth, though it’s not as roomy as the MacBook Air’s or those found on other Ultrabooks. And if you’re a Thinkpad diehard, you’ll be pleased to learn there’s also red Trackpoint nub among the keys, as well as mechanical mouse buttons right below the keyboard. For the most part, I relied on the X1 Yoga’s trackpad, which was accurate for mousing, though it sometimes got confused between left and right clicks. I’m not a huge Trackpoint fan, but it was admittedly helpful while I was cramped in a middle airplane seat. In situations like that, being able to mouse with just your finger, and without moving your elbows, is immensely helpful.

Performance and battery life

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 OLED (2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD 520) 4,892 4,186 E2,609 / P1,419 3,577 2.2 GB/s / 1.3 GB/s
HP Spectre 13 (2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, Intel HD 520) 5,046 3,747 E2,790 / P1,630 / X375 3,810 1.61 GB/s / 307 MB/s
Huawei MateBook (1.1 GHz Core M3, Intel HD 515) 3,592 2,867 E1,490 / P887 2,454 538 MB/s / 268 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (1.2 GHz Core M7-6Y75, Intel HD 515) 4,951 3,433 E1,866 / P1,112 2,462 545 MB/s / 298 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (2.3GHz Core i5-6200U, Intel Graphics 520) 4,954 3,499 E2,610 / P1,531 3,335 1.6GB/s / 307 MB/s
Razer Blade Stealth (2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, Intel HD 520) 5,131 3,445 E2,788 / P1,599 / X426 3,442 1.5 GB/s / 307 MB/s
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (2.4GHz Core i5-6300U, Intel HD 520) 5,403 3,602

E2,697/ P1,556/ X422

3,614 1.6 GB/s / 529 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 900 (2.5GHz Core i7-6500U, Intel HD 520) 5,368 3,448

E2,707 / P1,581

3,161 556 MB/s / 511 MB/s

On the hardware front, the Thinkpad X1 Yoga offers everything you’d expect from an Ultrabook today. It starts with an Intel Core i5-6200U, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 128GB SSD. The model we reviewed is a bit beefier, with a Core i7 6600U, 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.

It tackled just about every productivity task I threw at it: My daily workflow typically consists of having several browsers open with dozens of tabs, Slack, Spotify, and photo editing software running all at once. The Thinkpad handled video streaming from Netflix and Hulu just fine, and it processed dozens of large photos without any issues. It was about as fast as other recent ultraportables, like the new HP Spectre, when it comes to benchmarks. Tough, since it’s sporting Intel HD 520 graphics, it can only tackle basic games.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the Thinkpad X1’s battery life. It lasted only around 4.5 hours during typical usage, and I always had to recharge it in the afternoons. In our battery test, which involves playing an HD video continuously at 50 percent brightness, it lasted 8.5 hours. It’s likely just far more efficient at handling video than a plethora of different programs running at once.

Configuration options and the competition

As always, expect to pay dearly for the privilege of using OLED. This Thinkpad X1 Yoga model starts at $1,682, while the standard LCD version starts at $1,400. Its hardware starts with the specs I’ve mentioned above, but it would cost you $2,168 to upgrade to all of the specs from our review model. Still, the premium is likely worth it if you’ve been hankering for some OLED goodness.

While there’s plenty of ultraportable competition on the market, there are few alternatives that pack an OLED screens. HP recently revamped its Spectre x360 convertible with the technology, which starts at a more reasonable $1,499. And Alienware’s gaming-ready OLED models come in at $1,800. It might be worth sticking with the Thinkpad if you want OLED with the best productivity build quality, but if you’re a gamer, Alienware’s option is worth a look too.

Wrap-up

It’ll likely be a while before OLED becomes the norm on laptops, but the Thinkpad X1 Yoga is a fine example of why we’d want it in all of our devices. Yes, even in a laptop that looks like it belongs in a boring corporate cubicle. That could also be appealing to some buyers: it looks like a dull Thinkpad on the surface, but it’ll blow your mind when you actually turn it on.

The Thinkpad X1 Yoga is a reminder that OLED isn’t just bright and bold, it’s a transformative display technology. Now if only it weren’t so expensive.

24
Aug

Moto Z’s Hasselblad camera add-on surfaces in fresh photos


When Motorola and Lenovo unveiled the Moto Z, they unveiled a host of MotoMods… except for one. Where was that camera add-on we’d seen in leaks? Apparently, it’s still coming — and it might be more than you were expecting. Moto G3 has come across community photos showing that the camera module is not only Hasselblad-branded as anticipated, but packs a 10X optical zoom lens. There aren’t any clues as to the sensor, alas, but we suspect that this is more likely to be a point-and-shoot quality (maybe mirrorless) sensor given the size, rather than Hasselblad’s signature medium format. You’ll be taking better photos than you would with the stock camera, then, but we wouldn’t count on magazine-quality Instagram shots.

If leaks are accurate, you won’t have to wait long for more details. The Hasselblad MotoMod may be announced at Germany’s IFA show, which officially starts on September 2nd. There aren’t any clues as to the price, but we can’t imagine that Hasselblad camera hardware will come cheap. We’d expect something in the ballpark of a previous photography add-on like Sony’s QX10, which cost about $230 when new.

Hasselblad MotoMod for Moto Z

Via: TechnoBuffalo, PetaPixel

Source: Moto G3

23
Aug

Microsoft inks a patent and software deal with Lenovo


Microsoft is dipping its fingers into the coffers of yet another Android device manufacturer. The company has just announced a partnership with Lenovo, which will put its apps in the Chinese’s manufacturer’s Android phones. It also includes a patent cross-licensing deal that covers Lenovo’s — and Motorola’s — devices’ giving it right to use some of Microsoft’s intellectual properties. According to Redmond, its new partner has agreed to preload Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Android phones. It didn’t specify which models are getting those apps, but company exec Nick Parker mentioned that they’ll be loaded onto the company’s “premium devices.”

Lenovo is the latest addition to the list of Android manufacturers sending money straight to Redmond. Microsoft started negotiating with hardware makers in 2010 after openly accusing Google of infringing on its software patents to make Android. It struck deals with numerous companies since then, including HTC, Samsung and even obscure phonemakers not active in the US.

Source: Microsoft

16
Aug

Lenovo unveils two compact, VR-ready desktop gaming PCs


Desktop PCs are becoming a tough sell, thanks to rival laptops with NVIDIA mobile graphics chips nearly as powerful as desktop graphics cards. That’s perhaps why Lenovo launched a couple of oddball Windows 10 desktop models at Gamescom that emphasize portability and gaming power. The first is the IdeaCenter Y710 Cube, a compact, handle-equipped model that, we can’t help but notice, slightly resembles a killer robot.

The idea is to give gamers high-end desktop power that’s easy to “transport between gaming stations,” as Lenovo puts it. Tucked in the small form factor is up to a sixth-gen Intel i7 CPU, GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB SSD (or 2TB hard disk). You can also equip it with Dolby Audio, high-end WiFi, an Xbox One controller and an Xbox One wireless receiver that supports up to seven additional controllers. With those specs, of course, it’ll easily handle your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

The second model is the IdeaCenter AIO Y910 all-in-one, aimed at gamers who want power but lack space. The entire computer is packed into the 27-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 borderless monitor (with 144Hz refresh and 5ms response), freeing up space that a case would normally take up. Yet, Lenovo has managed to pack in the exact same specs of the Y710 Cube. You’ll get up to a sixth-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, a 2TB HDD or 256 GB SSD and twin 5 watt Harmon Kardon speakers.

Even though they’re trapped in a fairly tight space, you can still swap out parts thanks to a detachable back panel. Naturally, this model also conforms to the virtual reality minimum specs set by HTC and Oculus.

There’s a price for the combination of power, small size and portability. While the basic Y710 Cube model starts at €899 (around $1,000), the VR-ready model with an NVIDIA GTX 1070 runs €1,699 ($1,900), quite a premium over what you could build yourself. The all-in-one Y910 starts at €1,799 ($2,000), with a VR-friendly GTX 1070-equipped model priced at €2,199 ($2,500). The basic Y710 Cube arrives this month, the VR-friendly Y710 and the basic AIO Y910 will be available in September, and the high-end, VR-ready Y910 AIO will hit shelves by October, 2016.

16
Aug

NVIDIA brings desktop-class graphics to laptops


With the GeForce GTX 1080, NVIDIA pushed the boundaries of what a $600 graphics card can do. That flagship card was joined by the GTX 1070 and GTX 1060, two lower-power cards based on the same 16nm Pascal architecture at a much more affordable price. Now, it’s bringing mobile versions of those cards that match their desktop counterparts in almost every area — including being VR ready.

That’s not hyperbole. The top-of-the-line 1080M has 2,560 CUDA cores and 8GB of 10Gbps GDDR5x memory. The desktop chip has the same. The only difference is clock speed: it’s set at 1,556MHz, while the desktop version is 1,607MHz. The two do share the same boost clock (1,733MHz) though, and both have access to all the new technology introduced for the Pascal architecture. That means simultaneous multi-projection, VRWorks, Ansel and the rest.

If you want an idea what those specs translate to in real-world performance, how’s this: when paired with an i7-6700HQ (a quad-core 2.6GHz chip with 3.5GHz turbo), Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, 126; Overwatch, 147; Doom, 145; Metro Last Light, 130; Rise of the Tomb Raider, 125. Those are the 1080M’s FPS figures when playing at 1080p with “ultra” settings at 120Hz. NVIDIA is really pushing 120Hz gaming, and many of the first crop of Pascal laptops will have 120Hz G-Sync displays.

4K gaming, too, is more than possible. At 4K with “high” settings the same setup can push 89FPS on Overwatch, 70FPS with Doom, and 62FPS with Metro Last Light (according to NVIDIA). Only Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Rise of the Tomb Raider fall short of 60FPS, both clocking in at a very playable 52FPS. At the chip’s UK unveil, NVIDIA showed the new Gears of War playing in 4K in real-time, and there were absolutely no visible frame drops. With figures like that, it goes without saying that VR will be no problem for the 1080M. The desktop GTX 980 is the benchmark for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and the 1080M blows it away. If you’re looking for more performance, the 1080M supports overclocking of course — NVIDIA suggests as high as 300MHz — and you can expect laptops sporting two in an SLI configuration soon.

The major drawback for the 1080M is power. We don’t know its exact TDP yet, but given the near-identical desktop version runs at 180W, you’d imagine it’s got to be at least 150W. NVIDIA has tech that counters that heavy power load when you’re not plugged in, of course. Chief among these is BatteryBoost, which allows you to set a framerate (i.e. 30FPS), and downclocks the GPU appropriately to save power — if your card is capable of pushing 147FPS plugged in, that’s going to be a fair amount of power saved. Whatever the battery savings possible, though, it won’t change the fact that the 1080M is only going to slide into big laptops.

That’s fine for those already used to carrying around behemoths on the go, but plenty of gamers prefer something more portable. Enter the 1070M. NVIDIA says this chip will fit into any chassis that currently handles the 980M, which covers a lot of laptops.

Just like the 1080M, the 1070M matches its desktop sibling in many ways. You’ve actually got slightly more in the way of CUDA cores — 2,048 vs. the desktop’s 1,920, but again they’re clocked slower (1,442MHz vs. 1,506MHz). Memory is the same — 8GB 8Gbps GDDR5 — and it too benefits from both the Pascal architecture itself and the new software features that come with it.

CUDA cores 2,560 2,560 1,920 2,048
Base clock 1,607MHz 1,556MHz 1,506MHz 1,442MHz
Boost clock 1,733MHz 1,733MHz 1,683MHz 1,645MHz
Memory 8GB GDDR5X 8GB GDDR5X 8GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5
Memory speed 10Gbps 10Gbps 8Gbps 8Gbps
Memory Bandwidth 320GB/sec 320GB/sec 256GB/sec 256GB/sec

When faced off against the desktop 1070, the 1070M holds its own. In nearly every test we saw, it got within a couple of percentiles of the desktop card. We’re talking 77FPS in The Witcher 3 (1080p maxed settings, no HairWorks) vs. 79.7FPS on the 1070; 76.2FPS in The Division (1080p ultra) vs. 76.6FPS; and 64.4FPS in Crysis 3 (1080p very high) vs. 66.4FPS. The one outlier was Grand Theft Auto V, which dropped down to 65.3FPS vs. 73.7FPS on the desktop 1070. 4K gaming is a stretch on the desktop 1070, and that carries over here, but this card is more-than VR ready. NVIDIA says that it’ll support factory overclocking on the 1070M soon, so you may see laptops offering a little more grunt “in a couple of months.”

Rounding off the lineup is the 1060M, the mobile version of NVIDIA’s $249 “budget” VR-ready card. It’s something of the exception to the rule here. Yes, it offers 1,280 CUDA cores and 6GB 8Gbps GDDR5 memory, which is equal to the desktop 1060. But at the lower end of the range the fact that they’re clocked lower (1,404MHz vs. 1,506MHz) hurts performance quite a bit more. In side-by-side comparisons, NVIDIA’s benchmarks suggest you’ll get within ten percent or so of the desktop card. That’s not to say that the 1060M is a slouch. For traditional gaming, you’re not going to hit 60FPS at 1080P in every game without thinking about settings, but if you can play it on a desktop GTX 980, it’s probably a safe bet that the 1060M can handle it. That’s insanely impressive when you consider that the 1060M will fit into the same chassis as the 970M — think “ultra portable” gaming laptops.

CUDA cores 1,280 1,280 2,048
Base clock 1,404MHz 1,506MHz 1,126MHz
Boost clock 1,670MHz 1,708MHz 1,216MHz
Memory 6GB GDDR5* 6GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5
Memory speed 8Gbps 8Gbps 7Gbps
Memory Bandwidth 192GB/sec 192GB/sec 224GB/sec

*Up to

In reality, the 10-percent gap between the 1060 and the 1060M probably makes it slightly slower than the GTX 980, but the difference is almost negligible. I wasn’t able to push the 1060M too hard on the “VR ready” promise — you can read about the demo and why the 1060M matters in a separate article — but the demo I had was solid. And really, being able to plug an Oculus into something as slim as a Razer Blade was unthinkable a few months ago, so it’s probably best not to complain.

Acer, Alienware, Asus, Clevo, EVGA, HP, Gigabyte, Lenovo, MSI, Origin, Razer, Sager and XMG are just some of the OEMs signed up to make laptops with the new Pascal chips. Many will announce updated and all-new models today, while some might hold off a while. But expect lots of super-powerful, VR-ready gaming laptops very soon.

10
Aug

Moto G4 Review: No longer a game-changer (Video)


Before Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014, the company created a few very interesting lines of phones under the Moto brand that sought to change the way we buy phones. One of these is the Moto G line, that was introduced a few years ago and offered an very reliable and speedy phone for less than $200 unlocked. The Moto G eventually became Motorola’s highest selling phone of all time.

Fast-forward to today, Lenovo hopes to carry on the legacy of the Moto G, and offer a quality, affordable successor in a world where most other smartphone companies are offering their new phones for lower prices. The Moto G4 is here, and literally bigger than ever.

Build

The Moto G4’s build quality hasn’t improved from the previous years iterations, but it feels solid for a $200 plastic phone. At 155 grams, it has the perfect amount of heft for me. I really like the plastic back of the phone which has a slightly textured feel to it and feels almost like rubber, although the oil from your hands will visibly show up on it after just a little usage. Wash your hands at all times.
IMG_7960IMG_7962

The front of the device brings the classic minimalistic style I’ve loved since the Nexus S came out a long time ago. In fact, the design of this phone reminds me so much of a bigger Galaxy Nexus – front and back. There’s nothing on the front except the secondary camera and a single front-facing speaker right above the screen. No Lenovo logo, no Moto logo. That’s a +1 right there. While I’m bummed they didn’t include dual speakers like last year’s Moto G, I can’t complain for the price. Plus, the single speaker does get very loud, and almost competes with speaker quality on flagship phones using single speakers on the bottom.

As for the power and volume buttons, someone at Lenovo should’ve spoke up about these. They feel cheap, and barely provide any feedback when pressing them. It takes more effort to press the volume buttons than any other phone I’ve used. The power button at least has a horizontal line texture on it to distinguish it from the volume.

Screen

Easily the highlight of this phone. I’ve seen quite a few cheap LCD displays on phones before, even on more expensive phones, but the 1080p LCD display on the Moto G4 rocks.

I was disappointed with Lenovo’s decision to put a 5.5 display on the Moto G, but after using it for a week, it doesn’t feel like a big phone at all. 71% of the front of this device is covered with screen, so it doesn’t feel bulky to me.

Aside from the size, the quality of this screen seriously impresses me for what it’s worth. If any of you still own the OnePlus One or OnePlus 2, the display quality is right with those. I will say, the viewing angles are not great, as the brightness decreases and colors go yellow as soon as the device is slightly shifted away from your eyes. However this isn’t a problem for me, as my phone is directly facing me 98% of the time I use it.

Comparing the screen to other LCD displays like the Nexus 5X and Nexus 5, I immediately prefer the display on the Moto G4. The colors look very washed out on the LCD Nexus devices compared to the Moto G4, which is able to produce colors almost as vivid as an AMOLED display.

The 1080p resolution is perfect for this device. I started using this phone right after using the OnePlus 3, and believe it or not, I prefer this screen. These phones both have 5.5 inch 1080p displays, but the pentile AMOLED screen on the OnePlus 3 holds it back in comparison in terms of image sharpness. Images are sharper, more accurate, and the whites on the G4 look much better. I still much prefer the deep blacks on the OnePlus 3’s AMOLED screen though.

Performance

In 2016, it’s hard to find a phone running Android 6.0 that doesn’t perform well. The Moto G4 runs on a Snapdragon 617 processor which was unveiled by Qualcomm in September of 2015. I was expecting a sluggish experience, and to this day I’m waiting for the inevitable crashes or hair-pulling slowdowns to happen. But so far, this phone runs well! If I were to compare the everyday speed of the Moto G4 to something else, I would say it’s neck and neck with the Nexus 5 from 2013 – which still runs like a champ on Marshmallow with its Snapdragon 800 chip.

After using the phone for a couple hours on AT&T LTE while browsing on Chrome, the phone didn’t get as warm as other phones have, and quick-charging it with the Motorola Turbo-Charger doesn’t make the phone as hot as previous Motorola phones, specifically the hot-plate that is the Droid Turbo.

If you’re into mobile gaming, you might want to look the other way. The Adreno 405 GPU here does not handle most games very well, and loading times are pretty terrible. I primarily play Fallout Shelter, and while I had zero hiccups and quick loading times playing it on a phone with a Snapdragon 820 chip, the loading time to get into my game on average took a staggering 72 seconds on the Moto G4. This was if the game didn’t freeze or crash mid-load, which happened 20% of the time. I experienced similar results with other 3D games.

Camera

Don’t expect miracles here, people. But also don’t expect a bad camera. The Moto G4’s 13-megapixel with f/2.0 aperture provides pictures more than deserved for a $200 phone. Pictures in daylight look a little more dim than they should be.

IMG_20160721_115653606_HDRIMG_20160726_130935205

Low-light pictures lose a lot of detail, but having HDR mode on really helps balance out the bright parts of the photos and the darks. Notice the overexposure of the Subway sign and interior in normal capture mode.

HDR off

HDR off

HDR on

HDR on

Daylight HDR on

Daylight HDR on

Daylight HDR off

Daylight HDR off

The camera app takes a couple seconds to open, which is annoying when trying to grab a quick shot. The app comes with some useful features such as professional mode that allows for manual tweaks, slow motion mode (although the 540p resolution for this is kind of a joke) and auto-HDR.

Software

I was a little nervous Lenovo would take Motorola’s near-stock Android skin and mess it up, but things have barely changed since previous Moto phones.

This is basically stock Android with the addition of a few useful features. First, we have Moto Gestures, which includes four ways of interacting with the phone. When it’s off, you can make a chopping motion with the phone to turn on the flashlight. Keeping the phone face down immediately mutes the phone and keeps it silent. When someone calls, picking the phone off the table cuts the noise of the ringer. Finally, whether the phone is on or off, twisting it will launch the camera.

IMG_7963IMG_7964IMG_7965

On top of this, Moto Display is back, showing your notifications when the phone is sleeping, however it;s nowhere near as useful as it is on the Moto Z, or previous Moto X phones that have sensor on the front for hand waving gestures, or the AMOLED screens that actually save battery when using the Moto Display. On this phones LCD display, you can totally tell the entire screen is on, and it just doesn’t look great.

Battery

A 3000mAh battery is becoming common for a high-end phone, so the decision to put one in the $200 Moto G4 was a great move from Lenovo. This phone lasts until the very end of the day for me with 10-15% left. To be exact, I unplug the device at 6:45 AM, stream Play Music for 30 minutes to work, browse reddit and Chrome for about an hour a day, text my imaginary friends using Textra, send between 20-30 snaps with Snapchat, and use a lot of GroupMe until I’m tuckered out at 10:30 PM. That’s 16 hours of “moderate” usage.

I haven’t felt concerned with running out of battery in a day yet, but if I do, this phone comes with a Turbo-Charger that supports Qualcomm Quickcharge. I remember when I had to pay extra for a Turbo-Charger when I bought a Moto X 2014… so I’m very pleased with this.

Conclusion

I’m satisfied with the Moto G4. I’m not blown away by it, and I’m not disappointed with it. Lenovo didn’t take risks with this device, and they didn’t push any boundaries. The build quality lives on from previous Moto G generations, and the display quality is something I never expected to see on a $200 smartphone. But is a bigger, better display worth the removal of dual front-facing speakers and a waterproof exterior? If I were to give an answer, I would say the screen is more important to me than speakers I rarely use, or having the ability to pour champagne on my smartphone.

At $199 for the 16GB model, the Moto G4 is less impressive than it was in its earlier generations, and faces serious competition from smartphones in similar price ranges, such as the all-metal, fingerprint scanner included Honor 5X. For $199, I would recommend the Honor 5X over this phone, but you won’t be disappointed with a purchase of the Moto G4, especially with the experience of customizing it through the innovative Moto Maker website.

You can purchase the Moto G4 here

 

1
Aug

Mini review video: Our quick verdict on the new Moto Z phones


For years, Motorola put out a flagship phone called the X, and for years it won positive reviews, thanks to its customizable design, clean software build and generally good value. This year, there’s no X. Instead, we have two new Moto phones, the Z and Z Force. And it makes sense that Motorola chose a different naming scheme, because these are indeed very different devices from what the company has put out in years past. The design is no longer customizable, and with prices reaching $624 for the Z and $720 for the Z Force, they’re not exactly what we’d call affordably priced either. Instead of being colorful and cheap, they have a modular design that allows you to snap in optional “Moto Mods” accessories, including a speaker, projector and battery pack. Another risk? Neither phone has a headphone jack. Oh, and they’re exclusive to Verizon.

While we’re not too pleased about those last two caveats, the Moto Mods make the Z line the best modular phones we’ve seen yet. The Z in particular is exceptionally thin and charges quickly, while the slightly chunkier Z Force adds longer battery life, a shatter-proof screen and a more robust 21-megapixel camera. For that reason, we gave the Z Force the higher score. But hey, if a thin phone floats your boat, you’ll be happy with the Z too.

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