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Chrome

Google's Pricey Pixel Gets USB-C and a Lower Price 139

Posted by timothy
from the dang-I-say-dang dept.
The Register reports that Google's high-end Chromebook Pixel has gotten a few spec bumps, and a lower price. It's still a touchscreen with a resolution of 2,560 × 1,700, but now that screen is backed by 8GB RAM (rather than 4) as a base configuration, and the system is equipped with a Broadwell Core i5 chip, rather than the Ivy Bridge in the first rev. The price has dropped, too; it may still be the most expensive Chromebook, but now it's "only" $999 on the low end, which is $300 less than the first Pixels cost. ($1300, though, gets an i7, 64 gigs of SSD instead of 32, and 8GB of RAM. Perhaps most interesting is that it adds USB type C, and (topping Apple's latest entry) it's got two of them.
Businesses

Reactions to the New MacBook and Apple Watch 450

Posted by Soulskill
from the wrist-not-hip-enough dept.
As the dust settles from Apple's press conference yesterday, there have been a broad variety of reactions around the web. Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic says Apple's $10,000 watch demonstrates the company has lost its soul. "The prices grate. And they grate not because they’re so expensive, but because they’re gratuitously expensive. ... To many commentators, this is unsurprising. It’s good business sense, really. Apple has made its world-devouring profits by ratcheting up profit margins on iPhones. There is no better target for these massive margins than the super-rich. But high margins do not a luxury brand make." Others suspect the high-end watches are targeted more at rich people in China.

As for the less expensive watches, perhaps they're around not so much to become a new major sales category for Apple, but rather to drive more iPhone sales. Meanwhile, the redesigned MacBook may signify a bigger change for the laptop industry than people realize: "We don’t need all those other ports, Apple says. We are living in a wireless world now, where we can connect most of our peripherals without cords." The new MacBook has also fueled speculation that Apple could be working on a more powerful tablet, something that could compete with Microsoft's Surface Pro line.
Security

Lenovo Still Shipping Laptops With Superfish 127

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-they-need-some-superbait dept.
Ars Technica reports that weeks after Lenovo said it would stop selling computers with Superfish adware installed, it's still there for many purchasers of the company's laptops. From the article: Based on the experience of Ars readers Chai Trakulthai and Laura Buddine, Lenovo overstated both assurances. The pair recently examined a $550 Lenovo G510 notebook purchased by a neighbor, and their experience wasn't consistent with two of Lenovo's talking points. First, the PC was ordered in early February more than four weeks after Lenovo said it stopped bundling Superfish, and yet when the notebook arrived in late February it came pre-installed with the adware and the secure sockets layer certificate that poses such a threat.

"Lenovo may be saying they haven't installed Superfish since December, but the problem is that they are still shipping out systems with Superfish installed," Buddine said. "The Windows build had a date of December. They apparently aren't sorry enough to re-image the computers they have in stock to remove the problem and they're still shipping new computers with Superfish installed."
Supply chains are long, and hand-work is expensive, so this might not surprise anyone. Less forgivable, though is this finding, of the software provided to purge machines of the adware: "Lenovo's software didn't begin to live up to its promise of removing all Superfish-related data. Based on its own self-generated report, the tool left behind the Superfish application itself. A scan using the Malwarebytes antivirus program found the Superfish remnants VisualDiscovery.exe, SuperfishCert.dll, and a VisualDiscovery registry setting."
Power

Energy-Generating Fabric Set To Power Battery-Free Wearables 40

Posted by timothy
from the static-cling-is-powerful dept.
An anonymous reader writes A team of researchers in Korea and Australia have developed a flexible fabric which generates power from human movement – a breakthrough which could replace batteries in future wearable devices. The effect of the fabric's nanogenerators mirrors static electricity with the two fabrics repeatedly brushing against each other and stealing electrons from the one another – this exchange creates energy from the wearer's activity without the need for an external power source. During testing, the researchers demonstrated the nanogenerator powering a number of devices such as LEDs, a liquid crystal display, as well as a keyless car entry system embedded in a nanogenerator 'power suit'.
Portables

Ultralight Convertibles Approaching Desktop Performance 161

Posted by timothy
from the lots-of-moving-parts-to-break dept.
MojoKid writes Laptops with fully articulating hinges are starting to show up from more vendors than just Lenovo, though the company certainly got some mileage out of their Yoga brand of machines. Now it appears HP is getting in on the action as well, with the new HP Spectre X360 that's powered by Intel's new Core i5-5200U Broadwell-based processor with integrated Intel HD 5500 series graphics, along with 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, a 256GB Solid State Drive (a Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD), 802.11ac WiFi, and a 13.3" Full HD (1920x1080) multi-touch screen. The Spectre X360 has a geared and spring-assisted hinges. The hinges swing open easily, and then offer more resistance as the screen is moved into an upright position, or swung around into tent, stand, or tablet modes. What's also interesting about this new breed of convertibles, beyond just its ability to contort into tablet mode and various other angles, is that performance for these ultralight platforms is scaling up nicely, with faster, low-power processors and M.2 PCIe Solid State Drives offering up a very responsive experience and under 10 second boot times. It has gotten to the point that 3 pound and under notebooks feel every bit as nimble as desktop machines, at least for mainstream productivity and media consumption usage models.
Portables

Lenovo Saying Goodbye To Bloatware 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-start-demanding-other-vendors-follow-suit dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Lenovo today announced that it has had enough of bloatware. The world's largest PC vendor says that by the time Windows 10 comes out, it will get rid of bloatware from its computer lineups. The announcement comes a week after the company was caught for shipping Superfish adware with its computers. The Chinese PC manufacturer has since released a public apology, Superfish removal tool, and instructions to help out users. At the sidelines, the company also announced that it is giving away 6-month free subscription to McAfee LiveSafe for all Superfish-affected users.
Power

Intel Core M Enables Lower Cost Ultrabooks; Asus UX305 Tested 70

Posted by timothy
from the can-never-be-too-cheap-or-too-thin dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes Asus announced their super-slim Zenbook UX305 during the IFA trade show in Berlin in September. The machine will be available in two models, one with a 1920x1080 IPS display and one with a QHD+ display that boasts a native resolution of 3200x1800. They're both built around Intel's more power-efficient Core M processor, which was designed for ultra-thin and "fanless" form factors. Intel's Core M does seem to offer significant advances both in terms of power consumption and performance, which enables many of the design features found on the 12.3mm thin UX305. The Core M 5Y10 in the Asus Zenbook UX305 is complemented by 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and this is one of the few ultrabooks to feature a matte display. All told, the machine put up some decent numbers in the benchmarks and battery life was excellent, but what's perhaps most interesting is that this is an "ultrabook" class machine that weighs in at a much more palatable $700 price tag.
Education

L.A. School Superintendent Folds on Laptops-For-Kids Program 139

Posted by timothy
from the but-they-were-only-tax-dollars dept.
In an announcement yesterday reported on by Ars Technica, [Los Angeles school superintendent] Ramon C. Cortines said that the city can't afford to buy a computer for every student. The statement comes after intense controversy over a $1.3 billion initiative launched by Cortines' predecessor, former superintendent John Deasy, in which every student was supposed to be given an iPad loaded with content from educational publisher Pearson. (That controversy is worth reading about, and sparked an FBI investigation as well.)
Security

Lenovo To Wipe Superfish Off PCs 266

Posted by Soulskill
from the cleaning-up-a-mess dept.
An anonymous reader send news from the Wall Street Journal, where Lenovo CTO Peter Hortensius said in an interview that the company will roll out a software update to remove the Superfish adware from its laptops. "As soon as the programmer is finished, we will provide a tool that removes all traces of the app from people’s laptops; this goes further than simply uninstalling the app. Once the app-wiping software is finished tonight or tomorrow, we’ll issue a press release with information on how to get it." When asked whether his company vets the software they pre-install on their machines, he said, "Yes, we do. Obviously in this case we didn't do enough. The intent of loading this tool was to help enhance our users’ shopping experience. The feedback from users was that it wasn’t useful, and that’s why we turned it off. Our reputation is everything and our products are ultimately how we have our reputation."
Handhelds

Dell Venue 8 7000, "World's Thinnest Tablet" With Intel Moorefield Atom Reviewed 120

Posted by timothy
from the straight-outta-round-rock dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Dell recently launched their Android-based Venue 8 7000 slate, claiming it's the "world's thinnest" tablet. It measures a mere 6 millimeters thick, or 0.24 inches and change. That's 0.1mm slimmer than Apple's iPad Air 2 and 1.5mm flatter than the iPad mini 3, giving Dell full bragging rights, even if by a hair. Dell also opted for an Intel Atom Z3580 processor under the hood, clocked at up to 2.3GHz. This quad-core part is built on Intel's 22nm Moorefield microarchitecture. Compared to its Bay Trail predecessor, Moorefield comes in a smaller package with superior thermal attributes, as well as better graphics performance, courtesy of its PowerVR G6430 graphics core. The Venue 8 7000 also features one of the best 8-inch OLED displays on the market, with edge-to-edge glass and a 2560x1600 resolution. Finally, the Venue 8 7000 is also the first to integrate Intel's RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera, which offers interesting re-focusing and stereoscopic effects, with potentially other, more interesting use cases down the road. Performance-wise, the Venue 8 7000 is solid enough though not a speedster, putting out metrics in the benchmarks that place it in the middle of the pack of premium tablets on the market currently."
Displays

Mobile G-SYNC Confirmed and Tested With Leaked Driver 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the spilling-the-beans dept.
jones_supa writes: A few weeks ago, an ASUS Nordic support representative inadvertently made available an interim build of the NVIDIA graphics driver. This was a mobile driver build (version 346.87) focused at ASUS G751 line of laptops. The driver was pulled shortly, but PC Perspective managed to get their hands on a copy of it, and installed it on a ASUS G751 review unit. To everyone's surprise, a 'G-SYNC display connected' system tray notification appeared. It turned out to actually be a functional NVIDIA G-SYNC setup on a laptop. PC Perspective found a 100Hz LCD panel inside, ran some tests, and also noted that G-SYNC is picky about the Tcon implementation of the LCD, which can lead to some glitches if not implemented minutely. NVIDIA confirmed that G-SYNC on mobile is coming in the near future, but the company wasn't able to yet discuss an official arrival date or technology specifics.
Displays

Dell 2015 XPS 13: Smallest 13" Notebook With Broadwell-U, QHD+ Display Reviewed 118

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can-defy-them-they're-only-guidelines-of-physics dept.
MojoKid writes Dell's 2015 XPS 13 notebook made a splash out at CES this year with its near bezel-less 13-inch QHD+ (3200X1800) display and Intel's new 5th Gen Core series Broadwell-U processor. At 2.8 pounds, the 2015 XPS 13 isn't the absolute lightest 13-inch ultrabook book out there but it's lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air and only a few ounces heavier than Lenovo's Core M-powered Yoga 3 Pro. The machine's Z dimensions are thin, at .33" up front to .6" at its back edge. However, its 11.98" width almost defies the laws of physics, squeezing a 13.3" (diagonal) display into an 11.98-inch frame making it what is essentially the smallest 13-inch ultrabook to hit the market yet. Performance-wise, this review shows its benchmarks numbers are strong and Intel's Broadwell-U seems to be an appreciable upgrade versus the previous generation architecture, along with lower power consumption.
Handhelds

The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One 307

Posted by Soulskill
from the interactive-chopping-boards dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and insisted that it would do many things better than either a laptop or a smartphone. Will Oremus writes at Future Tense that by most standards, the iPad has been a success, and the tablet has indeed emerged as a third category of computing device. But there's another way of looking at the iPad. According to Oremus, Jobs was right to leave out the productivity features and go big on the simple tactile pleasure of holding the Internet in your hands.

But for all its popularity and appeal, the iPad never has quite cleared the bar Jobs set for it, which was to be "far better" at some key tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. The iPad may have been "far better" when it was first released, but smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there's no need to carry around a tablet as well. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone. "The iPad remains an impressive machine. But it also remains a luxury item rather than a necessity," concludes Oremus. "Again, by most standards, it is a major success. Just not by the high standards that Jobs himself set for it five years ago."
Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the slip-me-some-of-that-juice-Bruce dept.
First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)
GNU is Not Unix

Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software 229

Posted by timothy
from the asymptotic-development dept.
Bunnie Huang's Novena laptop re-invents the laptop with open source (and Free software) in mind, but the hackability that it's built for requires a fair amount of tolerance on a user's part for funky design and visible guts. New submitter dopeghost writes with word of the nearly-funded (via Crowd Supply) Librem laptop, a different kind of Free-software machine using components "specifically selected so that no binary blobs are needed in the Linux kernel that ships with the laptop." Made from high quality components and featuring a MacBook-like design including a choice of HiDPI screen, the Librem might just be the first laptop to ship with a modern Intel CPU that is not locked down to require proprietary firmware.

Richard M. Stallman, president of the FSF, said, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."
Unlike some crowdfunding projects, this one is far from pie-in-the-sky, relying mostly on off-the-shelf components, with a planned shipping date in Spring of this year: "Purism is manufacturing the motherboard, and screen printing the keyboard. Purism is sourcing the case, daughter cards, memory, drives, battery, camera, and screen."
Businesses

PC Shipments Are Slowly Recovering 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the tablets-not-magic-panacea,-film-at-11 dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from TechCrunch: Over the past two years, the growing popularity of mobile devices has eaten into PC sales. A new report by Gartner, however, shows that shipments may continue to enjoy a very slow but steady uptick this year as tablet sales hit a peak. The research firm found that worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 grew one percent year-over-year, the first increase since 2012. In the U.S., PC shipments increased 13.1 percent year-over-year, the fastest increase in four years, thanks to holiday purchases. Inexpensive laptops (about $200 to $300), thin and light notebooks, and laptops with a detachable screen helped drive growth. Lenovo continued to be the number one PC maker in terms of shipment volume, with a 19.4 percent marketshare.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: High-Performance Laptop That Doesn't Overheat? 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the chestnut-roasters dept.
AqD writes: Last year we started to replace business/multimedia-grade laptops with gaming laptops at work, after several years of frustration with overheating and throttling issues that plagued our laptops from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, and basically every brand you can find on market, making it impossible to write code and run db/test environment all on the same laptop.

The first new batch comes from Clevo because their gaming laptops don't look like gaming laptops, and they offer 3-6 disk slots which we badly need. The result is acceptable, however, not quite as good as I had expected. Mine has i7-4700mq CPU which is more or less equivalent to an older i7 on the desktop, but its temperature is raised to 70-80C while turbo boost is on, even with the best thermal paste. My friend's i7-4801mq is worse — it could never stay at the advertised 3.6GHz for more than a few seconds before it burns up over 90 and starts to throttle. Its benchmark result is nearly identical to the 4700mq because of heat problems. And it's only 3.6GHz! The best i7 CPU on a desktop could easily run closer to 5GHz with 6 cores / 12 threads running!

So what should we choose next time? We're not looking for something cool or slim or light. We need real laptops which can at least run prime calculation at advertised turbo boost speed, full cores/threads for an entire day. A nice bonus would be manual fan control plus easy access to the fan for cleaning.
Handhelds

Is the Tablet Market In Outright Collapse? Data Suggests Yes 328

Posted by timothy
from the then-give-me-a-cheap-nexus-9 dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Is the tablet market rapidly collapsing? Mobile-analytics firm Flurry doesn't come to quite that stark a conclusion, but things aren't looking too good for touch-screens that don't qualify as "phablets." According to Flurry's numbers, full-sized tablets accounted for only 11 percent of new devices in 2014, a decline from 2013, when that form-factor totaled 17 percent of the new-device market; small tablets experienced a smaller decline, falling from 12 percent to 11 percent of new devices between 2013 and 2014. (Meanwhile, phablets expanded from 4 percent of new devices in 2013 to 13 percent this year.) Boy Genius Report, for its part, looked at those numbers and decided that the tablet market is doomed: "Consumers happy with compact smartphones are not switching to larger iPhones for now, but former tablet buyers are." That's not to say people will stop using tablets, but the onetime theory that they would one day cannibalize all PCs looks increasingly nebulous.
Portables

Study: Light-Emitting Screens Before Bedtime Disrupt Sleep 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-you're-tired-all-the-time dept.
jfruh writes: Tablets and e-readers are more convenient in many ways than paper books, but many people have complained that the physical experience of using them isn't as good. And now we have some specific quantification of this fact: a study has shown that people who read text on a tablet before bed don't sleep as well as those who read a traditional book (abstract).
Portables

Intel Core M Notebooks Arrive, Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Tested 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the confluence-of-awful-product-names dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel's 14nm Core M Broadwell architecture was announced a few months ago but to date, 2-in-1 hybrid devices and laptops have only trickled out to the market. Lenovo recently took the wraps off their Yoga 3 Pro 13-inch ultralight notebook and it's one of the few devices on the market right now that offers a glimpse of what Intel's Core M processor is capable of in performance and battery life testing. The 4.5 Watt TDP Core M 5Y70 actually keeps pace with 15-Watt previous generation Core i5 mobile chips in testing, but with significantly better battery life. It also enables very thin and light designs like the 2.6 pound Yoga 3 Pro, which is an interesting machine. Its watchband hinge allows it to contort into various positions for tablet, tent, stand and standard modes. The hinge is a "you love it or hate it" kind of thing, but does come with a 3200x1800 IPS display.