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Laptops, Tablets, eReaders

Beefing Up Laptop Graphics With Wolfe

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Beefing Up Laptop Graphics With Wolfe

A Kickstarter project proposes a portable means to "supercharge" laptop graphics-- the Wolfe, a portable box packing an Nvidia desktop-class graphics card one can connect to PCs or Macs via Thunderbolt 2 (or Thunderbolt 3, possibly).

The Wolfe comes in two versions. The first is packs an Nvidia GTX 950 GPU for performance reaching 1.57 teraflops, while a Pro version carries a GTX 970 GPU for 3.49 teraflops of performance. The result, the makers claim, can boost laptop performance by up to 500% with the regular box or up to 1000% with the Pro.

Created by a team of Harvard computer science graduates, the Wolfe aims to turn MacBooks into "performance powerhouses," as well as "stop big companies from charging outrageous prices for miniscule upgrades." It carries a 220W PSU, x3 DisplayPort 1.2 connections, x1 HDMI 2.0 and x1 DVI-I port. Thunderbolt connectivity also allows the connection of multiple Wolfe units to a single laptop, allowing users to build a render farm or a multi-monitor setup.

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IDC: Ultraslims, Detachables "Revitalise" PC Market

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IDC: Ultraslims, Detachables

IDC has some good news for the W. European PC market-- Q2 2016 sees ultraslim notebooks and detachable (or hybrid) device shipments grow by 8.6% and 192.3% Y-o-Y respectively, marking at least one opportunity in a declining industry.

Around 1 in 5 PCs shipped in W. Europe in the quarter is an ultraslim notebook, while 1 in 4 tablets shipped is a detachable in both consumer and commercial segments, showing such devices have good traction despite current market challenges. After all, one has to keep in mind combined Q2 2016 PC and tablet shipments in the region are "stable" at 17.2 million units, a -3.4% Y-o-Y decline.

Ultraslims make 28.5% of Q2 2016 notebook volumes, an increase from 27% share last year. Consumer demand drives ultraslim growth, since such portable solutions are more attractive if advantages such as longer battery life are clearly promoted.

"Consumers are increasingly looking at performance, thinness, weight, battery life and display quality when they purchase new devices or replace old ones" the analyst says. "They prefer more frequently thin and light solutions that are high-performing and easy to carry around. Ultraslim notebooks allow for flexibility and address consumer mobile needs well. The results show a great performance for ultraslims and highlight their strong growth potential across W. Europe."

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HP Adds Privacy Screens to Elite Laptops

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HP Adds Privacy Screens to Elite Laptops

HP Elite laptops get a bit more secure with Sure View technology providing an integrated privacy screen, the result of a partnership with 3M to fight "visual hacking" (or people looking over the user's shoulders).

The privacy screen restricts viewing angles to a 70-degree arc directly in front of the display, and cuts 95% of the light directed to the cut off sides. Activating the privacy screen involves a simple press of a keyboard shortcut, and the result should be less cumbersome and less permanent than the stick-on "privacy filters" currently available on the market.

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Nvidia Promises Desktop-Class Graphics on Laptops

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Nvidia Promises Desktop-Class Graphics on Laptops

Nvidia announces mobile versions of the Pascal-based GTX 1000 series GPUs-- graphics cards the company says are near identical to desktop equivalents, allowing for VR-ready laptops.

As a result, the top-of-the-line offering from the series, the 1080, features 2560 CUDA cores, 8GB of 10Gbps GDDR5x RAM and a 1733MHz clock. It also includes all technologies offered by Pascal architecture, such as simultaneous multi-projection, VRWorks and Ansel, among others.

The lesser-specced 1070 runs 2048 CUDA cores at 1645MHz with 8GB GDDR5 memory, while the 1060 offers 1280 CUDA cores, 1670Mhz clock and 6GB GDDR5 memory. The two respectively act as replacements as the previous 980M and 970M cards, and claim performance improvements of up to 150%. As mentioned earlier all cards are VR-ready, although results vary according to the card in use.

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The Next in Apple Rumours: Three iPads for 2017?

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The Next in Apple Rumours: Three iPads for 2017?

KGI's Ming-Chi Kuo returns with more claims on future Apple products-- the well-connected analyst says Apple has three iPads prepared for 2017 launch before it reveals a "revolutionary" upgrade on 2018.

A note to investors from the analyst says the 3 upcoming iPads will be largely similar to current models. These are a 12.9-inch "iPad Pro 2," a 10.5-inch iPad Pro aimed at the enterprise and education markets, and a low-cost 9.7-inch iPad. The 12.9- and 10.5-inch tablets are to be powered with the upcoming A10X system-on-chip (reportedly built by TSMC using a 10nm process), while the 9.7-inch model should stick with the current A9X processor.

However, despite such hardware refreshes Kuo predicts iPad sales will remain down at least until 2018, when Apple presents a revamp of the tablet lineup. This should involve a "new selling points through radical form factor design and user behavior changes," perhaps through a redesigned metal chassis and a flexible AMOLED display.

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HP Refreshes Stream Laptops

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HP Refreshes Stream Laptops

HP announces an update of the colourful Stream laptop family-- one featuring internal improvements for current models and the addition of a 14-inch option, the Stream 14.

The Stream 14 replaces the earlier 13-inch Stream model. It offers a 1366x768 resolution display, faster 2x2 802.11ac wifi, 2016-era Celeron processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB flash storage and a battery claiming up to 10 hours 45 minutes of use on a single charge.

Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, the other members of the laptop family get upgrades-- the Stream 11 features the same faster wifi and processor as the Stream 14. The Stream x360 laptop/tablet hybrid also gets the same upgrade treatment. Customers wanting more storage with their 11.6-inch laptop can get the Stream 11 Pro, an option offering up to 64GB of storage.

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IDC: Tablets Continue to Slide

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IDC: Tablets Continue to Slide

The tablet market remains on the slump, IDC reports-- global shipments (combining both regular and hybrid tablets) are down by -12.3% Y-o-Y in Q2 2016, reaching 38.7 million units.

The decline comes as vendors "begin to refocus" product lines while customers hold off purchases. Predictably, the vast majority (65%) of tablets sold is Android-powered, followed by iOS (26%), but Windows appears to be slowly taking further hold of the market as vendors hedge their bets against declining Android volumes with the Microsoft alternative. How come? It all boils down to productivity.

"The market has spoken as consumers and enterprises seek more productive form factors and operating systems-- it's the reason we're seeing continued growth in detachables," the analyst says. "At present, it's difficult for Android to compete with iOS or Windows detachable products. However, the next 12 to 18 months will be very interesting as Google launches the next version of Android with better multi-tasking support and as they begin to bring together their two operating systems."

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Xiaomi Enters Laptops With Mi Notebook Air

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Xiaomi Enters Laptops With Mi Notebook Air

So the rumours were correct after all-- Xiaomi is indeed set to further rival Apple with the Mi Notebook Air, a slim premium Windows notebook with an aluminium body similar to the MacBook Air.

The Mi Notebook Air comes in 2 sizes, 13.3- and 12.5-inch. The larger version is, predictably, the more powerful, featuring an Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX mobile graphics card that Xiaomi says runs Dota 2 at 85fps at HD resolution. Making the notebook even more similar to the latest MacBooks is the USB port of choice, Type-C.

Meanwhile the smaller 12.5-inch version carries an Intel Core M3 CPU, integrated graphics and a 128GB SSD, but can beat its larger sibling at battery life-- its battery has enough power for 11-and-a-half hours of use on a single charge, unlike the 9-and-a-half hours of use provided by the battery inside the 13.3-inch notebook.

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Asus ROG Intros G701 Gaming Laptop

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Asus ROG Intros G701 Gaming Laptop

Asus ROG announces a sibling to the GX700 gaming laptop-- the G701, a 17-inch number offering similar graphical power if without the perhaps cumbersome cooling desk dock.

As such, the G701 lacks the cooling required for overclocking duties, but still offers some tweaking options through ROG Gaming Centre software. It is also described as a VR-ready machine, as it carries an Intel i7 6820HK CPU, GeForce GTX 980 GPU, 8 to 64GB of DDR4 RAM and either dual-512 or 256GB SSDs in RAID 0 configuration (no ODD).

Connectivity comes through x1 USB-C, x3 Thunderbolt and x3 USB 3.0 ports.

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