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Archive for August, 2012

Everyone who purchased one of Hewlett-Packard’s TouchPad tablets last year during the company’s infamous fire sale can finally feel vindicated in doing so. That’s because the first beta release of Open webOS ships today, HP announced in a blog post. It’s been a long eight months since HP first announced it would contribute the webOS software to the open source community, essentially handing the reins over to third-party developers.

The beta release contains 54 webOS components, all available as open source code. It represents more than 450,000 lines of code released under the Apache 2.0 license, “which is one of the most liberal and accepted in the open source community,” HP stated in a blog post.

There are two environments developers can tap into with today’s release. One is a desktop build, and the second is an OpenEmbedded build, which HP says “provides the ideal environment for porting webOS to new and exciting devices.” The latter includes an ARM emulator, and HP said it’s actively converging on an OE Core image, which boots to System Manager and the full webOS experience.

HP said more updates are forthcoming, along with a final release in September.

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When money’s no object, a $300 computer case is totally reasonable. But if you’re on a budget, a cheaper enclosure frees up funds that can be better spent on other parts of the build, like a beefier graphics card, faster processor, more RAM, a solid state drive, or whatever. With that in mind, Thermaltake is positioning its new Armor Revo Gene as a “mainstream gaming chassis.”

Though it’s being pimped as a mainstream box, there are some higher end features on the spec sheet. It has SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, for example, along with a top-mounted HDD docking station, a really neat feature that’s only on a relatively small number of cases. The Armor Revo Gene is “liquid cooling ready,” it has lots of cooling potential, and it supports VGA cards up to 315mm long.

So, what’s the cost? Thermaltake didn’t mention it in the press release, but a quick glance around the Web reveals the company plans on selling it for less than £99 (~US$157) in the U.K. in October. We suspect it will go for a little less in the States.

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Google TV

IFA used to be a home entertainment show but this year it’s been dominated by mobile products, Windows 8 ones in particular.

It seems if it doesn’t run Windows 8 and come with a keyboard dock, it’s not worth having at this year’s show. The confusing part though has been working out exactly ‘what’ some of the products actually are.

We’ve seen ultrabooks that detach from keyboards to become tablets and we’ve seen tablets that attach to keyboards to become notebooks. What’s the difference?

We’ll try and work that out when we get more of them in for the full TechRadar review treatment but in the meantime, here are the best and most exciting reviews and hands-ons we’ve written this past week.

Sony NSZ-GS7 review

Google TV is potentially compelling, but even in the world of regular firmware updates and new apps, is that enough? It’s should fetch video from disparate websites and present it in a source-neutral way. Chrome doesn’t do that, and nor does a motley collection of mostly smartphone-centric Google Play apps help in that mission. So is it better than the cheaper options, Apple TV or an Xbox 360? Hardware-wise, absolutely not – and the software is not as impressive, either – though with a friendlier, far more streamlined remote and a growing list of apps on Google Play there could be a future.

A great browser it might have, but even a clever Chrome can’t locate enough compelling answers to the key question about Google TV; what’s it for?

Asus Vivo Tab

Hands on: Asus Vivo Tab review

Asus has fired its off its opening salvo of Windows 8 tablets with a new range of ‘Transformer’ style devices dubbed the Asus Vivo Tab. Like the Asus Transformer Pad range, the Vivo is a tablet-cum-laptop hybrid where a tablet device docks into a keyboard base-station to become a netbook-sized laptop. Those who are as concerned with etymology as we are will be interested to know that Vivo comes from the Latin verb meaning ‘to live’, so it’s just as well Asus is touting this as a device for both work and play.

Build quality is exceptional, and we prefer the solid keyboard dock to that of the Asus Transformer Prime. It felt solid, and our impression was that the keys had a tad more cushioning and refinement than its Android cousin.

Samsung introduces Galaxy Camera packing Android

Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Camera review

It’s about time we saw a camera from a leading brand running Android and we like the look of the Samsung Galaxy Camera a lot. With the popularity of uploading pictures to Facebook and Twitter using apps like Instagram, it makes a lot of sense to release an Android device that can both take brilliant 16MP snaps and upload them straight to your social networking profiles.

The 16-million pixel CMOS sensor inside the camera is a 1/2.3 inch device, the same size as in many compact cameras and considerably bigger than those in the average phone. This should mean that the Galaxy Camera is capable of recording a respectable level of detail with reasonably well controlled noise.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

The speed of the Note 2 is phenomenal. This is, hands down, the best media and internet browsing portable machine we’ve seen in ages. It’s still a bit big to be used as a normal phone – people will still think you’re more than slightly odd holding it to your face – but for texting, browsing, emailing, watching movies and more, we haven’t seen much better than this. We’ll reserve proper judgement obviously until the price emerges – if it’s anything like the first Note, we’re in for a high-priced shock.

However, get this to the £30 mark and, coupled with some serious marketing again from Samsung, we should have a winner on our hands.

HTC Desire X review

Hands on: HTC Desire X review

This phone is set to sit above the Desire C, but below the HTC One V, in the range of products from the Taiwanese manufacturer. And while we predictably couldn’t get HTC to confirm it, the Desire X could come in for just £15-£20 a month on contract, or £180-£200 on pay as you go deals. This would be a real howitzer of a handset to throw at that segment, as while the HTC name doesn’t command the same level of fervour among smartphone users, those wanting to stick with the Desire name will love the idea of halving their bills.

The HTC Desire X release date is set for mid-September in the UK, so it won’t be long before we get to update this hands on with a full, in-depth review of a possible mid-range marvel.

Laptops

Hands on: Asus Taichi review

Hands on: Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

Hands on: HP ENVY x2 review

Hands on: HP SpectreXT TouchSmart Ultrabook review

Hands on: Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review

Mobile phones

Hands on: Sony Xperia T review

Xperia T

Hands on: Sony Xperia J review

Hands on: Sony Xperia V review

Monitors

BenQ GW2750HM review

ViewSonic VX2460h-LED review

Network adaptors

Netgear Powerline Nano 500 review

Routers

AVM FRITZ!Box 7330 review

Storage

Corsair Force GS 240GB review

Western Digital Red 2TB review

Tablets

Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review

Hands on: Archos 101 XS review

Hands on: Sony Xperia Tablet S review

Hands on: Asus Vivo Tab RT review

Hands on: Samsung Ativ Tab review

Hands on: Lenovo Ideatab S2110A review

Hands on: Samsung Ativ Smart PC review

Televisions

Hands on: Panasonic 20 inch 4K television review

104 inch TV

Hands on: Panasonic 104 inch glassless 3D television review

Hands on: Panasonic 145-inch 8K Super Hi Vision television review


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For those of you wondering what Xbox Live titles Microsoft will have ready for Windows 8 when it ships to the general public on October 26, 2012, you can stop guessing. The Redmond software giant today unveiled the first wave of titles that will ship for the platform, a total of 40 games, 29 of which are from Microsoft Studios. If you’re expecting heavy-hitting titles like Halo, you’re going to be disappointed, but if you’re more into Angry Birds these days, you’ll like what the company has on tap.

Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space are among the 40 titles, as are similar casual games like Cut the Rope. Microsoft said a number of studios are committed to bringing Xbox Live games to Windows 8, including Rovio, Miniclip, Gameloft, ZeptoLab, Glu Mobile, and Halfbrick studios.

“Xbox games will be super easy to discover through the Games app that comes with Windows 8 and available through the Windows Store,” Microsoft said. “Xbox games for Windows 8 will have Xbox Achievements as well as the ability to take advantage of certain Xbox features such as leaderboards, multiplayer modes, and connecting with friends.”

You can view a full list of titles on Microsoft’s Windows Team blog.

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If you spend your days dreaming of taking to the skies, Razer’s new BlackShark headphones may be the peripheral to keep your head above ground, even if you aren’t. The stereo gaming headset was designed to look and feel like the ones worn by attack helicopter pilots, Razer says, and if they look familiar, it’s because the gaming peripheral maker already sells a branded pair for Battlefield 3 junkies.

This new pair sports the same design, only without the BF3 branding. It has full circumaural ear cups, memory foam ear cushions that are supposed to mold to the shape of your head, and a detachable boom microphone.

“Soldiers in intense combat situations need to be fully focused with minimal distractions to take the objectives successfully and come out alive. The same goes for gamers seeking the win – and that’s what the Razer BlackShark gaming headset was built to deliver,” said Robert Krakoff, president of Razer USA. “When you stop gaming to get out and about, detach the boom microphone and you’ve got the perfect sound-isolating headphones for your audio on-the-go.”

The Razer BlackShark will be available to purchase in September for $120 MSRP.

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