We’ve been hearing about a certain 5-inch HTC phablet for Verizon since July, but it looks like its Japanese counterpart may actually hit the market first. Unveiled by KDDI as the HTC J Butterfly (HTL21), this Android 4.1 device is the first announced phone to feature a 5-inch, 440ppi full-HD “Super LCD 3″ panel, and it’s fittingly complemented by a 1.5GHz quad-core APQ8064 underneath, making this the latest member in the small family of Snapdragon S4 Pro phones. There’s an eight-megapixel camera that naturally handles 1080p video at the back, accompanied by a 2.1-megapixel front-facing imager. Other details include 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSDHC expansion, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), NFC, LTE and CDMA/GSM/UMTS/GPRS radios — that’s right, it’s a global device. Not bad for a 140g package, and it’s waterproof as well, rated at IPX5. But the question is how well will the 2,020mAh battery last under that super dense LCD and high-end processor? Only time will tell — even KDDI has yet to finalize this part of the specs. Folks on the KDDI network can grab hold of this powerful phone in early December, with a choice of red, white or black.
Today’s no doubt a big day for ASUS: while chairman Jonney Shih is gearing up to introduce the PadFone 2 in Milan later today, we just saw CEO Jerry Shen wowing the crowd with the same phone-in-tablet combo back in Taipei. Just as the recent leaks have shown, ASUS’ surprisingly quick follow-up to the original PadFone is simply bigger and better in many ways, notably with a screen upgrade to 4.7-inch 720p Super IPS+ panel (with up to 550nits brightness thanks to Sharp’s IGZO technology), Qualcomm’s awesome quad-core APQ8064 SoC instead of its dual-core sibling, 13-megapixel f/2.4 BSI sensor from Sony, 1.2-megapixel front camera, and a much slimmer PadFone Station slate — partly because it no longer features a docking bay cover! New owners will be greeted by Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but ASUS promises a Jelly Bean upgrade soon. There’s much more than meets the eyes so read on to find out more.
We’ve been hitting Fujitsu phones for a while, looking in awe at the super-thin gear that remained firmly in the hands of the Japanese. Fortunately the Consumer Electronics Show is the perfect time for the company to further tease us with a product that might just make a trip to the west. Yesterday we got our mitts onto the Arrows Mu and today we’ve got a really special exclusive: a first look at the prototype of the quad-core packing Arrows super-phone. So, what delights are tucked inside and is this going to be the phone of 2012? Head on past the break to find out.
Remember our lovely leak of Lenovo’s Tegra 3 tablet from last November? Well, it showed up here at CES under the LePad K2010 moniker for China, while elsewhere it’ll likely be known as the IdeaTab K2. We won’t comment much on the unfinished software (so no luck with controlling the cursor using the fingerprint scanner on the back), but build quality wise we enjoyed the faux brushed metal cover on the back, and similarly, the sharp 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display between the speakers was very impressive (yes, we double-checked with Lenovo on these numbers).
We also received confirmation that the camera on the back has an eight-megapixel resolution, but obviously we’ll wait and see if the picture quality lives up to expectation. Alas, there’s still no word on availability, but regardless, China will get first dibs on this juicy quad-core slate. On the bright side, this should give ample time for potential buyers to save up — the K2010 is aimed at high-end business users, after all. Hands-on video after the break.
We’ve known about Kal-El — the quad-core mobile processor from NVIDIA — for a fair amount of time, but a lot of the finer details have remained a secret as we’ve anxiously awaited its debut in tablets and smartphones. Fortunately, we have some reading material to bide our time as the company published white papers discussing benefits of the new CPU, and for the most part it’s what you’d expect: NVIDIA touts higher performance, better battery life and improved physics-based gaming when more cores are involved and working together.
What came as a surprise to us was the fact that this quad-core CPU actually utilizes five cores: in addition to the standard four main Cortex A9 high-performance cores, Kal-El throws in a fifth Cortex A9 “companion” core specifically designed to handle less demanding tasks in effort to minimize power consumption caused by active standby processes. How is it done? The Companion core’s max operating frequency gets capped at 500MHz, offering higher performance and greater efficiency per watt when running menial tasks such as push email, Twitter / Facebook sync, widgets, background apps and live wallpapers. This leaves the four main cores free to take care of the stuff it does best — games, web browsing, transcoding / editing audio and video, 3D, physics simulations and image processing, to name a few — allowing performance bumps of up to 50 percent when compared to Tegra 2. We can tell that quad-core devices are going to make us very, very happy. If charts and geeky stats brighten up your day like it does ours, head to the source to read the papers in their entirety.
During a sitdown with reporters yesterday, NVIDIA Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang discussed his company’s near- and long-term financial outlook, while providing some insight into the chipmaker’s quad-core future. According to Huang, NVIDIA expects to rake in between $4.7 and $5 billion in revenue during fiscal year 2013, with revenue from its mobile chip unit projected to mushroom tenfold by 2015, to a whopping $20 billion. Huang acknowledged that these predictions could be affected by external factors, including the ongoing patent wars between tablet and smartphone manufacturers, but didn’t seem too concerned about their immediate impact. “At this point, it looks like it’s much ado about nothing,” he said. In fact, Huang foresees rather robust growth in the mobile processing sector, estimating that there are about 100 million devices that will need chips this year — a figure that could soon rise to one billion, on the strength of more affordable handsets, efficient ARM processors and the rise of ultra-thin notebooks. And, despite his recent disappointment, Huang expects Android tablets to comprise a full 50 percent of the market in the near future, claiming that NVIDIA’s Tegra chips can currently be found in 70 percent of all slates running Google’s OS, and about half of all Android-based smartphones.
In the short-term, meanwhile, NVIDIA is busy developing its quad-core mobile processors — which, according to the exec, should appear in tablets during the third or fourth quarter of this year (quad-core smartphones, however, may be further down the road). Huang also sees room to develop wireless-enabled, Snapdragon-like processors, thanks to NVIDIA’s recent acquisition of Icera, but he hasn’t given up on GPUs, either, predicting that demand for graphics performance will remain stable. The loquacious CEO went on to divine that Windows 8 will support apps designed for Windows 7 (implying, perhaps, that Microsoft’s Silverlight platform will play a major role in future cloud-based developments), while contending that smaller, “clamshell devices” with keyboards will ultimately win out of over the Ultrabook strategy that Intel has been pursuing. For the moment, though, Huang seems pretty comfortable with NVIDIA’s position in the mobile processing market, citing only Qualcommas primary competition. “We’re the only people seriously on the dance floor with Qualcomm,” he argued, adding that companies without a solid mobile strategy are “in deep turd.” You can find more of Huang’s insights at the source links below.
AMD’s Llano platform might not satisfy everyone’s power-lust when housed in a desktop, but stick one of these all-in-one beauties in a laptop and you’re good to go. The new HP Pavilion dv6z Quad notebook — one of 11 new Fusion-powered modelsfrom HP — is a case in point, having just arrived at the company’s online store. The base model promises battery life of up to almost six hours, “discrete-class” integrated Radeon graphics with 512MB of video memory, and a 1.4GHz quad-core processor that can be clocked up to 2.3GHz using AMD’s Turbo technology. Oh yeah, and there’s the real benefit of switching to AMD: that base configuration costs just $650, versus a minimum of $999 for the Intel-equipped dv6t. For the money, you’ll also get 6GB of DDR3 memory, a 640GB 5400rpm HDD, a 1366 x 768 display (yes, a glossy one), HDMI output, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports in addition to two of the USB 2.0 variety. We ought to clarify that the sexy steel gray version on the left will cost you $25 extra, but hey, who wants to be “umber gray?”
As if showing up in two of the first four reference devices for Windows on ARM wasn’t enough of an achievement for NVIDIA’s quad-core Kal-El superchip, it decided to visit us in person here at Computex to demonstrate its splendid graphical prowess. Running Android 3.1 on a 10-inch WVGA screen, it gave us a first-hand look at the Glow Ball demo that wowed us in video form just a couple of days ago. What we saw on the dev tablet before us was no less impressive; lighting was being rendered in real time and scattering all over a multiplicity of surfaces, while the cloth simulation was, to use a terrible pun, silky smooth. NVIDIA also ran us through a sightseeing tour of the Unreal Development Kit and Lost Planet 2, noting that the PC game took only a couple of months to port over to work on the Kal-El architecture. Unfortunately, no new details were forthcoming about when Kal-El devices might be coming or what developers we should expect to see coding games and other content to exploit the platform’s evidently mighty capabilities. For now, we’ll just have to sate ourselves with the video after the break.
We’ve already heard rumors that chip designer ARM has been trying to get its wares into the Macbook Air. While we can’t add anything to that particular story, we do have further evidence that ARM is going beyond smartphones and tablets in order to target bigger form factors. The company’s president, Tudor Brown, has just appeared at Computex to declare that ARM wants to conquer the “mobile PC market”, where the company currently only has a 10 percent share. He’s aiming for 15 percent by the end of this year, and an Intel-provoking 50 percent by 2015. “Mobile PC” is a pretty ambiguous category, but we think it’s safe to assume the focus is on low- and mid-power netbooks and ultraportables. Such devices could potentially run off ARM’s forthcoming multi-core chips — like perhaps the quad-core beast inside NVIDIA’s mind-blowing Kal-El processor, or the more distant Cortex-A15. It’s hard to imagine these tablet-centric chips ever competing with Intel’s top performers, but four years is a mighty long time in this business.
You might think yourself too grown-up to be wowed by shiny, glittery things, but we doubt many will be able to watch NVIDIA’s new Glow Ball tech demo without a smidgen of childlike glee. Built to run on the company’s quad-core Kal-El processor, it shows us the first example of true dynamic lighting on mobile devices and also throws in some impressive physics calculations like fully modeled cloth motion. Instead of the pre-canned, static lights that we see on mobile games today, NVIDIA’s new hardware will make it possible to create lighting that moves, fluctuates in intensity, and responds realistically to its environment — all rendered in real time. The titular glow ball can be skinned with different textures, each one allowing a different amount and hue of illumination to escape to surrounding objects, and is directed around the screen using the accelerometer in your tablet or smartphone.
NVIDIA demoed the new goodness on a Honeycomb slate with 1280 x 800 resolution and the frame rates remained smooth throughout. In order to emphasize the generational leap that we can expect with Kal-El, the company switched off two of the four cores momentarily, which plunged performance down to less than 10fps. That means the simulations we’re watching require a full quartet of processing cores on top of the 12-core GPU NVIDIA has in Kal-El. Mind-boggling stuff. Glow Ball will be available as a game on Android tablets once this crazy new chip makes its way into retail devices — which are still expected in the latter half of this year, August if everything goes perfectly to plan. One final note if you’re still feeling jaded: NVIDIA promises the production chip will be 25 to 30 percent faster than the one on display today. Full video demo follows after the break.