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30Sep/130

Ikea starts selling residential solar panels in the UK

...Because when you think of Britain, you think of sunny skies. Ikea has started selling solar panels for residential rooftops at its stores in the United Kingdom. The furniture outfit's move into home solar systems (as opposed to sun-powered lighting) was apparently made attractive due to the drop in cost of solar panels, and Ikea's initial offering will set you back £5,700 (about $9,300). For your money, you get a 3.36 kW system, in-store consultation, installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service. Ikea's got plans to sell solar panels in other locales, but according to Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, such expansion will be done market by market (so don't expect a worldwide rollout). Hey Steve, might we suggest your next store to start selling solar be someplace with more than two weeks of sunshine per year?

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/ikea-sells-home-solar-panels/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

HTC Butterfly 2 allegedly leaked, takes design cue from 8XT

Just when we thought Chinese tech news has died down ahead of China's National Day on October 1st, a seemingly reliable HTC leak from there just had to ruin the fun. According to Weiphone, these are apparently the screens of the Butterfly 2, a new flagship device that's been rumored to carry a larger 5.2-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC, an UltraPixel camera and BoomSound front-facing stereo speakers. Like the Windows Phone-powered 8XT, this alleged Butterfly 2 disguises its bottom speaker as a short black bar in between the Android soft keys, and it also utilizes a similar two-tone color scheme -- for its front side, at least. ePrice reported earlier that the new phone could be waterproof-certified at IPX7 or above, but we won't find out until January 2014 the earliest. One more shot after the break.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/htc-butterfly-2-leak/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

John McAfee wants to NSA-proof the internet with a device called Decentral

The name McAfee is synonymous with the ubiquitous anti-virus software, but in recent years, John McAfee has kept a relatively low profile in the tech industry, preferring instead to take up leisurely pursuits like yoga and evading Belizean police. Until now. Last Saturday, McAfee took the stage at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center to announce his intention to design and manufacture Decentral, a pocket-sized device priced at around $100 that would, in theory, make it difficult for governmental agencies to snoop on your online activities by creating so-called floating networks. According to the San Jose Mercury News, McAfee told an eclectic crowd of engineers and artists, "There will be no way [for the government] to tell who you are or where you are." A gadget like Decentral does sound like a bit of a timely pipe dream, and McAfee admits that the prototype has yet to be produced. But, hey, if you can dream it, then maybe, just maybe, McAfee can do it.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/john-mcafee-decentral/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Leak hints at iPhone 5c and 5s variants for Boost Mobile

Apple offers iPhones through both large and small US carriers these days, but it has so far given Boost Mobile the cold shoulder. That may soon change, however -- @evleaks has just leaked ads hinting that Boost will get the iPhone 5c and 5s in the near future. While the images don't reveal any launch dates or pricing, they suggest that both smartphones will be eligible for the provider's "shrinking" unlimited rates. The expansion isn't all that crucial given the upcoming 5c and 5s launches through Virgin Mobile, but it doesn't hurt to have another option for low-cost iPhone service.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/leak-hints-at-iphone-5c-and-5s-variants-for-boost-mobile/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Xi3′s Piston modular PC launching November 29th for $1,000

Xi3 Taps "Black Friday" (Nov. 29, 2013) as General Availability Date for its PISTON Console;
Pre-ordered PISTONs will Arrive Two Weeks Earlier, On or Before November 15
Xi3 Founder, President CEO Jason A. Sullivan claims "the bar has been raised" and
calls PISTON the "first step in what we believe will be a transformative technology
revolution for the Living Room." Xi3 also unveils new PISTON details, such as
doubled storage capacity, optimized gaming traffic and pack-in games.
SALT LAKE CITY - September 30, 2013 - Xi3Corporation today announced that its
PISTON™ Console will be available for purchase beginning on Black Friday: November 29, 2013.
Xi3 customers who pre-ordered a PISTON Console during or before the SXSW 2013 Gaming
Expo will receive their PISTON Consoles on or before November 15, 2013.
"The PISTON Console is just Xi3's first step in what we believe will be a transformative
technology revolution for the Living Room," said Jason A. Sullivan, Xi3's founder, president and
CEO. "Unfortunately, I can't tell you what I know is coming because it's not time to tell you. But I
will say this: the bar has been raised. PISTON is smaller, lighter, and will last longer, provide
more gaming options and be more powerful than any other gaming console on the planet. The
reason I feel confident in saying this is because we started with a clean slate, unlike competing
manufacturers. And that Tabula Rasa approach is what sets PISTON apart from other gaming
systems today and what will set us apart tomorrow.
"That's why I've decided we'll provide the first public preview of production PISTON Consoles at
the Interop New York trade show this week at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Journalists
and Interop attendees are invited to come by booth #401 on either Wednesday or Thursday (Oct.
2-3) to try out PISTON for themselves."
PISTON Storage Capacity Doubled, Optimized Gaming Traffic Pack-in Titles Coming
As part of today's PISTON General Availability announcement, Xi3 also revealed today additional
information about its PISTON Consoles. Specifically, storage capacity for PISTON Consoles has
been doubled; PISTON's Ethernet controller has been optimized for gameplay traffic, and
PISTONs will ship with pre-loaded "Pack-in" titles. Xi3 also released today a separate PISTON
Questions Answers document to address other topics related to PISTON.
Previously, Xi3 announced that PISTON utilizes internal solid-state SSD storage and that PISTON
Consoles will ship standard with 128GB of SSD storage. Xi3 further revealed today that it has
been able to double the potential SSD storage capacity of the PISTON Console by adding a
second SSD connector within its PISTON design, as well as a separate, internal microSD slot.
This second SSD connector gives PISTONs the capability of more than 1TB of super-fast
(6Gbps) solid-state storage.
Xi3 also revealed today that it has designed the PISTON's Ethernet controller to recognize and
prioritize computer gaming data to the top of PISTON's network queue. Such data traffic
prioritization will further speed-up response times for PISTON gameplay. Additional details about
optimized gameplay data traffic will be revealed at a future date.
"With the latest and greatest games-whether played solo, against your buddy, or in online MMO titles-those extra milliseconds provided by PISTON's optimized gaming traffic can mean
the difference between victory or death," Sullivan explained. "PISTON's solid-state drives also
mean you'll be able to load games faster than ever before, making your overall experience even
better. In addition, by adding a second SSD to their PISTONs, users will be able to load a
second operating system onto their machines, including the newly announced SteamOS."
Xi3 also revealed today that the company will ship PISTON Consoles with "pack-in" gaming titles
pre-loaded onto its PISTONs. Details about publisher and developer partnerships, as well as a
list of pack-in titles, will be released before Black Friday.
"Our goal is to set a new standard for the gaming world with the PISTON Console," Sullivan said.
"It's so small and lightweight, it can easily fit in the palm of your hand. The PISTON has also
been designed to be modular from the ground up, which means we've built it so it can be easily
updated and upgraded-no other gaming console manufacturer has ever done that.
"Additionally, PISTON was built for super-fast gaming by utilizing SSD storage and prioritizing
gameplay traffic. PISTON also gives you 3 Ways to Play-at your desk, in your living room, or via
a Virtual Reality setup. And you can still play with a controller or via keyboard and mouse, you
decide. And naturally, we'll ship PISTONs pre-loaded with pack-in games. The bottom line is I
can't wait to get this into the hands of gamers everywhere 'cause I know they're gonna love it."
Built on the modular and patented Xi3 Computer Architecture, the PISTON Console is housed in
a grapefruit-sized, matte black aluminum chassis with chrome trim. The PISTON Console comes
equipped with a quad-core x86-based 64-bit processor integrated with 384 programmable
discrete class graphics cores capable of running the most popular games. PISTON further
supports up to 4K-resolution (4096x2160 pixels) and provides users with the ability to run three
high-definition monitors or displays simultaneously to provide a fully immersive gaming
experience.
PISTON Consoles are available for pre-order today at $999.00 at http://xi3.com/buy_nowpiston.php. Additional PISTON details will be released between now and Nov. 29.
About Xi3 Corporation
Formed in 2010 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Xi3 Corporation utilizes "The Power
of X" to bring its building block approach to the world of computing and computer gaming, an
approach Xi3 applies internally and externally to hardware solutions and software applications.
# # #
The shape of the three-sided single piece casing, the end plate, and the overall shape of the
PISTON Console, as well as Xi3, PISTON, and "The Power of X" are trademarks and unique
trade dress of Xi3 Corporation.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/xi3-piston-november-29/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Google Web Designer launches in beta, available now as a free download

Back in June, Google's advertising arm put up a blog post, letting us know it was about to release an HTML5 development tool, called Google Web Designer. Well, it's just arrived today, per a post on Google's own G+ account, and it's available in beta as a free download. Throughout, the tool appears to cater to both seasoned coders, as well as amateurs looking to try their hand at web design (or looking to get it done on a budget). For instance, while you could tweak the code by hand, there's also an option to let Google focus on the HTML5 and CSS3 grunt work while you focus on... the easier stuff (whatever that is).

Likewise, you can animate individual elements using layers or, if you don't know what you're doing, you can just animate scene by scene and let Google fill in the blanks. Additionally, you'll find a suite of 3D rendering tools inside, along with illustration features. As for monetizing your site, Google Web Designer naturally integrates with Google's own AdMob and DoubleClick Studio -- no surprise there. At any rate, if you feel like getting your hands dirty with code, you'll want to hit up that second source link below.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/google-web-designer-launches-in-beta-available-now-for-free/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus review

When Samsung first released the Series 9 in 2011, it quickly became one of our favorite laptops of the year. Then, once Intel threw its marketing weight behind Ultrabooks, it became our favorite Ultra. But the Series 9 was born in the Windows 7 era, and it became harder and harder to recommend as touchscreens became the standard. Now, though, we have the ATIV Book 9 Plus, the first truly flagship-level Ultrabook Samsung has released since Windows 8 came out.

As you'd expect, it trades in the Series 9's matte, anti-glare display for a touchscreen. What's more, though, Samsung also cranked up the resolution, retiring that old 1,600 x 900 panel in favor of a 3,200 x 1,800 one. And, of course, it steps up to a newer Haswell processor, which promises not just faster performance, but also longer battery life (not that endurance was a problem on the original). So is it still our favorite Ultrabook? Pretty much.

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus review

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Look and feel

We've met Samsung's laptop design team. It's led by some lovely, humble people, but we suspect that deep down, they know the same thing we know: that last year's Series 9 Ultrabook was a near-perfect product. So, content to let perfect dogs lie, the company more or less kept the same blueprint when it sat down to design this year's ATIV Book 9 Plus. This time around, it measures 0.54 inch thick, making it only a hair thicker than last year's model, which measured 0.5 inch (and which didn't have a touchscreen, we might add).

It also has generally the same shape, with a profile that tapers drastically toward the front, but widens near the hinge to make room for the various ports (two USB 3.0, micro-HDMI, mini-VGA, a headphone jack and a hidden SD slot). In the box, you'll find an Ethernet adapter as well. The machine is also comfortable to hold, and we're not even referring to the weight (more on that in a moment). Though the edges here look sharp, they're actually quite blunt, so it won't hurt to press your palms into them when you're carrying this thing with two hands.

The overall build quality is the same too. Like its predecessor, the ATIV Book 9 Plus is made of smooth aluminum, except the color, billed as "Mineral Ash Black," has a slightly bluish tint in some light, whereas last year's was a plain black affair. Between that and the subtle flourishes (a thin metal band around the trackpad, just one button on the keyboard deck), the entire machine has an understated, but still expensive feel to it. The only problem is -- and we complained about this last year -- is that despite having a matte finish, the aluminum picks up fingerprints quickly. Make sure to have a cloth in your desk drawer so that you can give the machine a rubdown every once in a while.

All told, almost everything that feels different about the ATIV Book 9 Plus has to do with the addition of that touchscreen. There's the glossy screen, of course, which used to have a matte, anti-glare finish. And of course, there's the weight. Without a touchscreen, the old Series 9 weighed 2.55 pounds -- an astonishing spec, even for an Ultrabook. Thanks largely to the touchscreen, though, this new model comes in at 3.06 pounds. Now, before we get carried away, even that's pretty respectable for a touchscreen, 13-inch Ultrabook. But it does feel a lot heavier than we remember the Series 9 feeling. And besides, there are plenty of touchscreen ultraportables that manage to be even lighter than this.

There's one other change, and this one we can't blame on the touchscreen. In addition to adding its new SideSync software to Windows 8, Samsung slapped some conspicuous "SideSync" and "HomeSync Lite" branding on the device itself, over on the right side of the palm rest. What's annoying is that it's painted onto the aluminum, so it's there, staring back at you whether you like it or not. We would have much preferred a sticker we could peel off.

Keyboard and trackpad

Just like the rest of the design, the keyboard is basically the same as on the last-gen Series 9. Once again, the buttons are well-spaced, with a pretty aquamarine backlight glowing from underneath. Be warned, though: they're also flat and shallow, with minimal travel. Don't get us wrong; they're still reasonably easy to type on, but we did suffer more dropped letters than on some other Ultrabooks we've tested recently. Type too quickly and you might have to go bak back and re-type a letter that didn't register the first time around.

One of the first things we noticed when we initially unboxed the ATIV Book 9 Plus is that the trackpad is much more reliable than the one we tested on the Series 9. The cursor actually went where it was supposed to, and multi-touch gestures like two-finger scrolls and pinch-to-zoom were also easy to pull off. After a little more time with the machine, we did notice that the pad has a bit more friction than we'd like. To the machine's credit, the cursor never went rogue and ended up on some random, unintended part of the page; we did suffer a bit of drag, though. There were also a few times when the trackpad mistook two-finger scrolls for a swipe in from the left, which caused us to inadvertently switch from one app to another. That was definitely more annoying than the slightly stubborn cursor.

Display and sound

Even if you decided to downgrade the resolution to 1080p, you'd be left with a fantastic screen.

Adding a touchscreen to the Series 9 was clearly something of a compromise for Samsung: not only did it add noticeably to the weight, but it also meant Sammy had to move from a matte, anti-glare screen to a glossy one. Still, if you're under the impression Samsung swapped in a pedestrian display, we'll correct you now. With this generation, the company made 3,200 x 1,800 resolution standard -- a dramatic improvement over last year's model, which topped out at 1,600 x 900. We won't waste your time describing how it's noticeably sharper than the original, but we will add that it looks even sharper than a typical 1080p screen; yes, your eyes can probably tell the difference.

That increased acuity works great for certain desktop apps, like Word, and it also brings out the best in the colorful Windows Start Screen. That said, we'll make the same caveat we make any other time we review a laptop with a super-high-res screen: not all content has been optimized to look good on displays this sharp. With YouTube, for instance, videos look strange at full-screen, with the scrubber and buttons at the bottom all scaled way down. The effect is so terrible, it's funny.

Even if you decided to downgrade to 1080p, though, you'd be left with a fantastic screen. Though it's naturally more reflective than the matte panel that shipped on last year's model, there really are very few light artifacts here. At half-brightness, I could barely see my reflection in the screen while I typed; at full brightness, I couldn't see it at all. Speaking of the sort, the 350-nit brightness rating helps contribute to some great viewing angles from the side -- with the brightness turned all the way up, you should have no problem crowding around the laptop and watching a movie from slightly off to the side. What's nice is that the vertical viewing angles are great even at lower brightness settings. So, even if you're working on an airplane and want to conserve battery life by dimming the backlight, you'll still enjoy good contrast with the lid dipped forward.

We honestly weren't expecting much in terms of sound: most Ultrabooks deliver tolerable quality at best and besides, Samsung hasn't exactly been making a big deal of the ATIV Book 9 Plus' audio chops. That may have been a mistake, though: the sound here is not just surprisingly loud, but surprisingly rich too. Most of the time, we had the volume set well below the median mark -- maybe at level 30 or 40 out of 100. What's more, the volume stays loud even when you place the laptop on a soft surface like a couch or a bed; the speakers' placement on the bottom side doesn't muffle sound as we feared it would. Really, the only reason we avoided the top setting is that it makes for an uncomfortably loud system when it's just you chilling by yourself in the home office. If you do crank the volume all the way up, though, you'll only have to suffer a minimal amount of distortion.

At lower volumes, it's even better -- dare I say, the best sound I've heard yet on an Ultrabook. Over an afternoon of listening to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Simon and Garfunkel, Dusty Springfield, The Temptations and others, I often felt as if I were rediscovering my favorite songs; piano notes and drum beats pushed through the dual two-watt speakers more forcefully than I'm used to on other machines. In fact -- and no, I'm not trying to troll here -- I didn't want to go back to my MacBook Air for music-listening after trying out the speakers here.

Performance and battery life

The ATIV Book 9 Plus is available in just one configuration, and it rocks generally the same components as other Ultrabooks we've tested recently: a dual-core, Haswell-series Intel Core i5-4200U processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Accordingly, then, its benchmark scores land in the same ballpark as other machines with the same processor, including the Sony VAIO Pro 13, and the new Acer Aspire S7-392.

The one area where the ATIV Book 9 Plus falls short is in I/O speeds. All told, the Toshiba-made SSD (you read that right) notched average reads of 547 MB/s, with writes hovering around 508 MB/s. To be clear, we're not saying those speeds are slow. It's just that we've recently tested a string of machines that managed to hit or exceed speeds of 1GB per second, even on the write test, which is always harder. (Note: the Acer Aspire S7 has a RAID 0 setup, which has tradeoffs of its own, so we'll concede that's not a totally fair comparison.) At any rate, as we said, these speeds would have once been very impressive, but we can no longer say the Series 9 is a leader in this area. Which is surprising, since Samsung makes some of the fastest SSDs on the market. Maybe the company should have stuck to its own components here?

We will say this: the machine feels plenty fast in real-world use. Not only did I write my review on this laptop, but I wasted plenty of time on it too, keeping open tabs for Gmail, YouTube, Pandora and lots and lots of web searches. Switching from one app to another was easy, as was toggling between all those open tabs in Internet Explorer. At first, we thought the machine was in danger of overheating, as the bottom side and upper keyboard area got warm just six minutes into a YouTube video. The good news is that though it gets warm quickly, it doesn't get any hotter after that. Even after hours of use, complete with non-stop media streaming, the bottom stayed fairly lukewarm -- definitely cool enough to comfortably rest on my lap.

It's a similar story with fan noise. The ATIV Book 9 Plus pipes up quickly -- heck, it sometimes makes noise when it's sitting idle. But that noise never rises above a quiet sigh. In fact, we didn't even notice it until we paused Pandora and started to work without any background noise.

Normally, when a company rates a laptop for a certain amount of battery life, we just assume we'll get a bit less runtime, especially since our tests involve taxing conditions (WiFi on, brightness at 65 percent, video looping off the local disk). In this case, though, Samsung seems to have given a conservative estimate: though it promises up to 7.5 hours of use, we actually managed eight hours and 44 minutes in our video rundown. As you'll see in the table above, that's a respectable showing for a Haswell machine. In fact, the Sony VAIO Pro 13 was only 20 minutes off in the same test.

Software and warranty

For all the apps it loads onto its new Galaxy phones, Samsung actually went easy with the bloatware on the ATIV Book 9 Plus. Here, we've got Bitcasa cloud storage, iHeartRadio, Netflix, a trial of Norton Internet Security and Adobe Photoshop Elements 11. As for Samsung apps, it's just S Player+, SPhotoStudio and Music Hub, all of which are basically exactly what they sound like.

HomeSync Lite lets you download and upload content between your PC and mobile devices. In total, you can add up to five user accounts, with six devices per user. The catch, though, is that you'll need the Samsung Link app installed on your phone and, uh, it's only available on Samsung handsets. So if you're using a Moto X, you can keep on trucking to the next section. Also -- and maybe this goes without saying -- you need to refrain from deleting HomeSync from your computer, even if it looks like bloatware; without the app installed on your PC, you can't use the service on your mobile devices either. SideSync, meanwhile, is for transferring files between your PC and Samsung phone, which you can do using either a cable or over a wireless connection.

The ATIV Book 9 Plus comes with a one-year warranty.

Configuration options and the competition

To reiterate: the ATIV Book 9 Plus is sold in just one configuration: a $1,400 model with a 1.6GHz Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics, a 3,200 x 1,800 screen and a 128GB SSD. So it's not configurable, but even worse, it's also not widely available: as of this writing, you can't buy it outside the US.

As you've probably gathered by now, we're rather fond of the ATIV Book 9 Plus, and would highly recommend it to anyone shopping around for a premium Ultrabook. That said, it's not the only excellent option out there. Below, you'll find a rundown of the competition. There's a lot to cover, so to keep things simple, we'll go in alphabetical order:

  • We've already mentioned the Acer Aspire S7 several times in this review. As the successor to the original S7, which came out last year, this new model steps up to Haswell processors and a larger battery capacity, leading to a serious improvement in runtime. Even then, it doesn't last quite as long as the ATIV Book 9 Plus in our tests, but its endurance (7.5 hours) is still more than acceptable. At 2.87 pounds, it's one of the lightest touchscreen, 13-inch Ultrabooks we know of, and it rivals the ATIV Book 9 Plus in thinness too. Its screen is lower-res, at 1080p, but in terms of overall quality (viewing angles, colors, et cetera) it's one of the best we've seen.
  • Longtime Windows users won't give Apple's MacBook Air a second look, but it's worth calling out for folks who are OS-agnostic. With this year's refresh, Apple mainly just swapped in Haswell processors and PCIe SSDs, with no changes to the exterior. That's not a bad thing, per se -- we still dig the unibody aluminum chassis and comfortable keyboard -- but the resolution is still stuck at 1,440 x 900 on the 13-inch version. The only thing excusing the mediocre screen is the battery life, which topped out at nearly 13 hours in our video rundown, with the next-best performer trailing hours behind.
  • It's not out yet, but ASUS' Zenbook UX301 is worth adding to your shortlist. With a 2,560 x 1,440 screen, it's one of a few Ultrabooks to push the envelope beyond 1080p -- and that list gets even shorter if you include only machines that are based on Haswell. In addition to the stunning IPS screen, the UX301 has a durable (and also beautiful) Gorilla Glass 3 lid. Thanks in part to that glass armor, the machine will weigh almost as much as the ATIV Book 9 Plus (3.04 pounds, to be exact). In exchange for the "heft," though, you at least get some promising performance: a Core i7 CPU, paired with optional discrete NVIDIA graphics.
  • We already liked the Dell XPS 12 for its sturdy build quality, attractive design and comfortable keyboard, and now it's even better: Dell recently refreshed it with Haswell CPUs, a bigger battery and an NFC sensor. The screen resolution is still the same, at 1,920 x 1,080, but then again, so is the price: at $1,200 with a 128GB SSD, it's a tad cheaper than other systems carrying similar specs.
  • Here's another one you might want to wait on. The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is the successor to the original Yoga 13, and in addition to being both thinner and lighter, it brings a much-sharper 3,200 x 1,800, 350-nit screen -- yep, just like on the ATIV Book 9 Plus. And at 3.06 pounds, it weighs the same as Samsung's offering too. And, as with the ASUS UX301, though, it's likely to be more configurable. Most importantly, however, the starting price is $1,100, which is considerably less expensive than what the Samsungs and Acers of the marketplace are selling.
  • Though we only did a full review of the 11-inch Sony VAIO Pro 11, we did spend some time benchmarking the 13-inch version, the Sony VAIO Pro 13 (see its results in the benchmark table in the performance section further up the page). With Haswell processors and PCIe SSDs, it manages to offer long battery life and transfer speeds in excess of 1GB per second. And, in the grand tradition of Sony's earlier Z-series laptops, it has a carbon fiber build that allows it to be remarkably lightweight -- just 2.34 pounds in this case. That's easily the lightest 13-inch touchscreen laptop on the market (maybe even the lightest 13-inch Ultrabook, period).
  • We're mainly including the Toshiba Kirabook on this list so that you know to stay away. With a 2,560 x 1,440 screen, the Kirabook was one of the first Ultrabooks to ship with something better than a 1080p screen. Still, Toshiba made the mistake of releasing it before Haswell came out, and to this day, it's stuck with last-gen Ivy Bridge processors. That's a real shame, given the lofty $1,600 starting price, and you're going to miss out on battery life because of it too. Oh, and adding insult to injury, that starting price doesn't even include a touchscreen. As if!

Wrap-up

Samsung already had the best Ultrabook on the market, and it's managed to stay on top in 2013, even as its competitors have improved battery life and performance on their own models. Like its predecessor, the ATIV Book 9 Plus is impressively thin, with an understated design and sturdy build quality. And thanks to a sharp 3,200 x 1,800, low-glare screen and a current Haswell processor, it rises to the top in terms of both display quality and performance. Even the battery life, which isn't technically best in class, is still very good. It's a solid enough package that we can forgive its few flaws (the painted-on branding and the comparatively slow disk speeds). So, while there are some other excellent, similarly priced options out there, the ATIV Book 9 Plus is a fantastic option in its own right.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/samsung-ativ-book-9-plus-review/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Lenovo intros four IdeaCentre all-in-ones, including a super-wide 29-inch model

Lenovo Aims to Extend Leadership in All-in-Ones with Four New Models

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – September 30, 2013: Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) today announced several new additions to its growing family of all-in-one (AIO) desktop computers. Led by the super-widescreen Lenovo B750, which delivers the world's first 29" 21:9 display, the new devices aim to extend Lenovo's leadership in the competitive AIO segment. According to the latest rankings from IDC, Lenovo is #1 in the worldwide consumer AIO market and the worldwide AIO market overall. There are four models in the new range, all equipped with stunning IPS displays, including three B-series PCs and, the Lenovo A530, a slim, space-saving addition to Lenovo's AIO range.

"AIO desktops have become the first-choice option for many consumers seeking a home PC with power and flexibility," said Jun Ouyang, vice president and general manager, desktop business unit, Lenovo Business Group. "Whether as a home entertainment center, a desktop for productivity or a gaming and multimedia device, we believe an AIO should adapt to our customers' needs quickly and smoothly and offer them a level of performance on par with a traditional desktop."

"The transformation of the home desktop PC continues. Thanks to stylish, space saving, all-in-one desktops like those being introduced by Lenovo and powered by the latest high performance Intel® Core™ processors, are quickly becoming the media, productivity and entertainment centers of the home," said Lisa Graff, Intel Vice President and General Manager, Desktop Client Platform Group.

Product Notes:

A530

The Lenovo A530 AIO desktop is a slim, space-saver that sports a widely adjustable screen, which tilts from -5⁰ to 90⁰ allowing use as a traditional PC or as a flat, table PC using the device's 10-point multi-touch display for games and entertainment. The 23" Full HD (1920x1080) 16:9 IPS, wide-view display measures only 0.8in/21.5mm thin, at its thickest point, and retains its low-profile even when folded flat on top of the 1.3in/32mm base. The entire device is clad in an all-aluminum chassis for strength and style. The combination of wide viewing angles, a fold-flat screen with multi-mode functionality and its slim profile make the A530 an ideal productivity desktop which can morph into a family entertainment and gaming center with a simple push.

The Lenovo A530 is powered by an up to 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor which provides plenty of power to handle multimedia and games. For storage and sharing, users can choose up to 8GB DDR3 memory, up to 1TB HDD or 1TB SSHD storage with integrated 8GB SSD cache and take advantage of the A530's full range of connections including integrated Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 6-in-1 card reader and HDMI in/out ports for connecting to other devices. With an integrated DVD reader-writer or Blu-Ray Disc™ and Dolby® certified speakers, keeping up to date with the latest movies and games is convenient as well. The A530 comes loaded with several thoughtful enhancements including the Lenovo Rescue System for file backup, restoration and recovery and the Lenovo Eye Distance System which helps reduce eye strain.

B-series:

B750

The Lenovo B750 looks distinctive right out of the box, with a 29" Wide Full HD (2560x1080), 21:9 super-widescreen, frameless display supporting IPS wide-view technology, perfect for viewing movies and videos. The viewing experience is further enhanced by the inclusion of a JBL® designed 2.1 speaker system with built-in 20W subwoofer and Dolby® Home Theater®. Lenovo includes other enhancements to optimize the super-widescreen display including Lenovo Split Screen, allowing users to view and work with multiple windows simultaneously and Lenovo Eye Distance. The Lenovo B750 packs up to a speedy 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor and powerful NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX760A 1GB graphics as standard.

The Lenovo B750 is highly adaptable and expandable, and functions equally well as either a powerful PC or multimedia center. With an integrated DVD reader/writer or Blu-Ray Disc™ drive, a wide range of connection options including integrated Bluetooth 4.0 (optional) and Wi-Fi, a 6in1 card reader and optional HDMI out/in (optional) ports, the system makes it easy to manage and access photos, videos, music and more with the added convenience of Lenovo Motion Control which simplifies common tasks using instinctive hand gestures. The space-saving system is unobtrusive at just 11.73 in/298mm thin, while slide open rear panels make expanding memory and storage simple.

B550 / B350

As the latest mainstream additions to the B-series AIOs, the Lenovo B550 and Lenovo B350 pack high performance desktop components into an all-in-one form factor. They also offer a number of features to suit customer demands for devices that can serve readily for entertainment and productivity as well as gaming. They both sport Full HD (1920x1080) IPS, 16:9 widescreen displays with the B550's 23" frameless display slightly larger than the 21.5" display on the B350. Both devices couple their displays with integrated stereo sound and Dolby® certification, while the B550 adds Dolby Home® Theater® to its JBL®-designed speakers for outstanding audio performance. For gamers and enthusiasts alike, both devices are easily expandable using the sliding back covers for access. The devices are both powered by up to 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors and have 16GB DDR3L memory and up to 2TB HDD storage or SSHD hybrid storage. Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, optical drives and a wide range of connectors including HDMI out round out the package ensuring that the B550/B350 perform well for most entertainment and productivity needs.

Pricing and Availability

Lenovo A530 will be available starting October at Best Buy, priced from $1,099
Lenovo B750 will be available starting October on Lenovo.com and at retail stores starting January 2014, priced from $1,199
Lenovo B550 is available now on Lenovo.com and will be available at select retail stores starting October, priced from $799
Lenovo B530 will be available starting October on Lenovo.com, pricing is TBD.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/lenovo-intros-four-ideacentre-all-in-ones/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Google’s first batch of BufferBox delivery lockers arrives in San Francisco

There may be a few less places to find an Amazon delivery locker after Staples and Radio Shack announced they were removing them from their stores, but Google's competing offering is now getting a boost with its biggest expansion to date. The company announced today that it's bringing its BufferBox lockers to San Francisco, marking the first expansion of the delivery service into the US since Google acquired the Canadian company late last year. Much like Amazon's lockers, the BufferBox service simply lets you direct deliveries to a locker instead of your own address if you don't expect to be at home -- a service that remains completely free for the time being. This latest expansion also brings integration with Google's recently announced Shopping Express service and mobile apps, which can now be used to direct same-day deliveries to a BufferBox locker. Those in SF can find a full list of locker locations at the source link below.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/google-bufferbox-lockers-san-francisco/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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30Sep/130

Facebook expands Graph Search to include status updates and posts

Today, Facebook is giving Graph Search something of a power-up by adding status updates and posts to the list of content it can access. Previously, the revamped search engine could only scan four types of information -- people, photos, places and interests -- when presented with queries like "who are my friends in New York City?" Now, if someone types in "posts about bacon from the last month," your recent public complaint about the wilted lettuce in your B.L.T. will pop up. Also included in the expansion are check-ins, comments and photo captions. As it has at every step of the Graph Search rollout, Facebook is quick to assure its users that the feature respects your privacy settings, so only content that's been shared with you or is otherwise publicly accessible will show up in search results. For more information, head on over to the source link below.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/30/facebook-graph-search-status-updates-posts/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget&ncid=rss_semi

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