Friday, February 8, 2013

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

WikiPad Gaming Tablet Coming This Spring For $249

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 05:07 PM PST

Gaming on Android has been a hot topic lately. Purpose built consoles and handhelds have been rolling out along with plenty of excellent games. The WikiPad, announced in 10-inch form previously, takes a middle ground. A 7-inch Tegra 3-powered tablet is paired with a handheld dock that features two analog sticks, directional pad, a quartet of front buttons, two shoulder buttons and two trigger buttons, along with a pair of speakers and a grippy, contoured design. The software side brings Jelly Bean along with NVIDIA's Tegra Zone, MadFinger's Dead Trigger and Shadowgun: Dead Zone and Distinctive Games' Hockey Nations Tournament. The WikiPad is also PlayStation Mobile Certified, giving it access to the handful of Sony's library of games that have been ported to the platform. 

The tablet's specs bear a striking resemblance to Google's 7" tablet, and priced at $249 for the 16GB model it competes directly with the 32GB Nexus 7 or a 16GB Nexus 7 and a decent Bluetooth gamepad. No firm date for release was announced, and the 10-inch model is still in the works. That larger product had some manufacturing issues that presented a lengthy delay, and with the market moving smaller and cheaper the opportunity to bring out a smaller was too good to pass up. We'll see how thing work out come this Spring. 

Tablet Specification Comparison
  Apple iPad mini ASUS MeMO Pad (ME172V) Google Nexus 7 WikiPad
Dimensions 200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm 196.2 x 119.2 x 11.2mm 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm 195.6 x 125.7 x 10.6mm (tablet)
286 x 145 x 65.3mm (tablet + dock)
Display 7.85-inch 1024 x 768 IPS 7-inch 1024 x 600 7-inch 1280 x 800 IPS 7-inch 1280 x 800 IPS
Weight 308g (WiFi) 370g 340g (WiFi) 320g (tablet), 760g (tablet + dock)
Processor 1GHz Apple A5 (2 x Cortex A9, PowerVR SGX543MP2)

VIA WM8950 (1GHz Cortex A9 + Mali-400)

1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L - 4 x Cortex A9)

1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L - 4 x Cortex A9)

Connectivity WiFi , Optional 4G LTE WiFi WiFi, Optional 3G WiFi
Memory 512MB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Storage 16GB—64GB 8GB, 16GB + microSD slot 16GB, 32GB 16GB + microSD slot up to 32GB
Battery 16.3Wh 16Wh 16Wh 15Wh
Starting Price $329 $149 $199 - 249 $249


QNAP Introduces XBMC App for TS-x69 Pro / L Series NAS Units

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 03:11 PM PST

The Atom D2700 series CPUs have proved quite popular in the SMB / SOHO NAS market. We saw vendors introduce models with HDMI outputs as early as December 2011. In fact, we covered QNAP's HDMI-equipped NAS models at CES 2012. Intel's GPU libraries for video playback and acceleration were not stable at that time and so, vendors were unable to show the true multimedia capabilities then.

Since CES 2012, we have seen a number of vendors trying to pitch a media center running on the NAS as a value add. I have personally tested XBMC on the Thecus N4800 and came away distinctly unimpressed (a though SmallNetBuilder also seems to echo). At CES 2013, I saw an implementation of the Boxee UI on the Asustor 6-series.

QNAP is the latest to join this trend with the TS-x69 Pro and L series, both of which are based on the Atom D2700 2.13 GHz CPU and come with HDMI ports. With the XBMC app, users to directly connect the NAS unit to a TV for media playback through HDMI. As most HTPC enthusiasts already know, XBMC also allows users to also manage their video library, music playlists and create photo slideshows. We will be evaluating one of the supported units in a couple of months, and hopefully, my experience will be better than what I had with the Thecus N4800.

Pricing and Availability

The TS-x69 Pro and L series come in 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 bay models with prices ranging from $479 for the 2-bay models to $1,099 for the 8 bay models. The XBMC Media Center feature can be downloaded in the QNAP QPKG Center.

Micron and TE Connectivity Offer New Ultrathin DRAM Solutions

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST

The push for smaller and thinner laptops, Ultrabooks, and tablets of late has come with some potentially undesirable side effects, namely the loss of flexibility. Of the Ultrabooks we’ve reviewed, I’m not sure any supported more than a single SO-DIMM slot for memory expansion, and many of them have all the DRAM components mounted directly onto the motherboard, all in the pursuit of reducing the z-height of the systems. In an effort to provide something of a middle ground, both Micron and TE Connectivity are offering alternatives that provide some reduction in z-height compared to standard SO-DIMMs while still maintaining the flexibility of an SO-DIMM slot.

The solution is quite simple and maintains full backwards compatibility with standard SO-DIMM slots, but to fully realize the z-height savings a modified SO-DIMM socket is required. In short, Micron is offering single-sided SO-DIMMs (with a standard 4GB capacity); since there are no components on one side of the SO-DIMM, it can lie flat against the motherboard. This is where the new SO-DIMM socket comes into play: it would have the module sit nearly flush against the motherboard so the connector would be the same but the housing would be slightly different.

To put things in perspective, a standard SO-DIMM is around 4mm thick; the new single-sided SO-DIMMs are able to reduce the z-height to 2.6mm. That’s not to say that they’re able to match surface mounted DRAM (around 1.2mm), but users and manufacturers would be able to choose between several memory configurations (generally speaking, 4GB or 8GB) and still maintain a thin profile. With surface mounted DRAM, you get the thinnest profile but completely lose out on upgradeability and if a company wants to offer two SKUs (e.g. 4GB and 8GB) it requires more effort in the manufacturing and assembly process. There’s also the potential for DRAM failures, which are simple to fix if you have a module but require a new board if you have surface mounted components.

From a high level, I’d just as soon see all modern laptops ship with 8GB standard, particularly the Ultrabooks with surface mounted DRAM, but manufacturers are always looking for ways to reduce cost and that has led to the existing crop of 4GB non-upgradeable Ultrabooks (ASUS UX21A/UX31A, Acer S7, etc.) One other item of note is that all of the reduced z-height modules from Micron will be reduced standby (1.35V DDR3L-RS). At least initially, the modules will only be shipping in 4GB capacities (currently, 8GB SO-DIMMs require dual-sided modules). Future higher density modules with monolithic devices (8x8Gb) should show up eventually, and of course all of the design elements are applicable to DDR4 when we see a shift to that some time likely next year.

This particular approach is only one of several that are apparently being tossed around in the industry, but thanks to the backwards compatibility with existing SO-DIMM slots it appears to have a better chance of succeeding. Other approaches that are being looked at right now include non-standard modules, which would require new connectors and modules and likely limited production compared to existing solutions. It’s expected other companies will also support the new connector, and availability of the new package (connector and single-sided SO-DIMMs) is expected this spring.

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