You’re probably saying to yourself, “didn’t Skype just get a Windows 8-friendly refresh?” Why yes, yes it did. But Skype 6.0 here isn’t limited to Windows RT slates, instead it’s designed for more traditional Windows systems and even has a similarly numbered OS X counter part. There’s a number of notable changes here, including the ability to sign in directly with your Facebook or Microsoft account. (If you’ve got a Live Messenger, Hotmail or Outlook.com account, then you’ve got a Microsoft account.) The most visible changes, however, will be the “flattened” Don’t-call-it-Metro-friendly UI on Windows and the addition of Retina display support on OS X. There’s a few other minor changes, including some additional localizations, which you can read about at the source. And heck, since you’re already there, might as well download Skype too.
ASUS outs ET2300 all-in-one desktop with articulating, 23-inch touchscreen, optional Thunderbolt (update: eyes-on!)
If you’re a PC maker launching a new lineup of Windows 8 devices, you’re going to look awfully square if you don’t have at least one touch-enabled all-in-one to show off. Clearly, ASUS got the memo. Here at a press event in New York City, the company announced the ET2300, a 23-inch desktop whose display can be pushed down to lie basically flat — a pretty ubiquitous form factor these days. Starting with that IPS screen, it has 1080p resolution and promises horizontal viewing angles of 178 degrees. Under the hood, it runs your choice of Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, with either integrated Intel graphics or NVIDIA’s GT 630M GPU. (Even then, you can choose between one and two gigs of dedicated video memory.) Other specs include up to 8GB of RAM, up to 2TB in HDD storage, a slot-loading DVD drive, Intel Wireless Display and optional Thunderbolt connectivity. Additionally, like ASUS’ other products (even its tablets and phones), it makes use of SonicMaster’s audio technology. We haven’t heard anything regarding pricing or availability just yet, but we’ll update this post if we do.
ASUS TAICHI dual-screen Ultrabook coming in November for $1,300, 13-inch version to follow a month later
Although we’ve now seen many dozens of Windows 8 devices, the ASUS TAICHI remains one of the most memorable — it’s unusual, after all, for a PC maker to make a laptop with displays on both sides of the lid. Even when it was announced, ASUS shared some high-level specs, but now we also know how much it’ll cost, and when it will be available. As leaked the 11-inch version (aka the TAICHI 21) will go on sale next month, starting at $1,299. A lofty price, to be sure, but no one ever said dual 1080p IPS displays would come cheap. At the entry level, you get a Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. For $1,499, it comes with 256GB of storage. Finally, there will be a $1,599 configuration with a 256GB drive and a Core i7 processor. And what of the 13-inch version ASUS showed off earlier this year? An ASUS rep says the TAICHI 31 won’t ship until December.
Across the board, the TAICHI comes with Intel HD 4000 graphics, two USB 3.0 ports, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 720p webcam up front, Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel’s Wireless Display technology. Again, the smaller, 11-inch version will ship in November with the 13-inch model following a month later. In the meantime, we’ll direct you to our hands-on from June if you’re hankering for hands-on photos and video
Microsoft announces Skype for Windows 8: full-screen calls, push notifications and People Hub integration
With Windows 8 going on sale in just four days, Microsoft is doing a sensible thing and releasing a version of Skype optimized for Win 8. As you’d expect, Skype for Windows 8 has the same overarching look and feel as other apps, which is to say you can swipe from left to right to see different categories, such as recent activity, favorites and a complete contacts list. But the integration with Windows 8 goes a little deeper than that. Just as you can pinch your Live Tiles to zoom out and make them easier to navigate, you can use semantic zoom to sift through a long list of contacts. And, because Skype runs in the background, you can set up your Start Screen so that the Skype Live Tile shows notifications for things like missed calls. Additionally, Skype is now baked into the People Hub, so that someone’s Skype handle shows up alongside other forms of contact, like an email address or phone number.
The in-call experience has also been modified to take advantage of certain features in Win 8. For one, you can link your Skype and Microsoft account, so that when you log into your system using your Microsoft ID, you’ll already be logged into Skype. While on a call, you can conduct video chats using the whole screen, at which point chat messages from that person will show up as text bubbles on the side of the screen. At any time, you can swipe to see other recent activity, which could be handy if you’re juggling multiple IM conversations at once.
If you prefer, you can also dock Skype on the side of the screen, as you can with any other program in Win 8. With the Skype chat taking up just a third (or two thirds) of the screen, you can use that remaining real estate for an IM chat within Skype, or maybe a web search. Lastly, if you return to the home screen, there’s a large phone icon up top where you’ll find the dialer, whose number pad allow your fingers plenty of room to hit the right keys. You’ll see your balance listed there, too, in the event you’re not planning on making a free call to another Skype user. That’s our quick summary of what’s new, but if you like you’ll soon be able to experience it for yourself: the app will be available for free in the Windows Store on October 26th.
Windows 8 imminent launch continues to draw out even more devices in almost every permutation imaginable. LG’s up next, with its collection ranging from a familiar-looking V325 all-in-one PC, through to a slider PC with tablet skills. The size of LG’s 11.6-inch H160 hybrid means we’re not certain whether it’ll be running Windows RT or the more power-intensive complete package. LG’s brief explanation below the press shots also suggests we’re only looking at two models for now — despite the three devices on show here; presumably that tablet is just the laptop transformed, given that the company decided to put that particular family of devices on the back burner. The hybrid laptop houses its own auto-slide button, and measures in at 15.9mm thick, despite the built-in keyboard. The 11.6-inch screen is another LG-made IPS panel, promising up to 178 degrees of crisp visibility, while the manufacturer expects the battery to last up to 10 hours. Connectivity encompasses WiFi, HDMI output and a USB port and — according to Google’s translation — a microSD card slot. The device will have to compete for fans against Sony’s similarly-sliding VAIO Duo 11 — not to mention Toshiba’s U925t Ultrabook.
The touchscreen V325 AIO packs all the thinking parts behind a 23-inch display, with up to 10-point touch sensitivity. There’s a (presumably Korea-only) TV tuner built-in, which can be activated without powering up the whole PC, while processing powering is provided by a third-generation Core i5 processor and NVIDIA’s GeForce GT640M. Both devices are currently set to remain on home turf for now, starting from October 26th and will be accompanied by LG’s latest range of Ultrabooks, refreshed with Windows 8 software.
The arrival of Windows 8 is a good excuse for the PC industry to flood the market with so much hardware, consumers will be blinded by so much choice. Acer’s jabbing its digits into your eyes with its new lineup of low-end desktops for the casual user. The ME micro towers will take an Intel Core i5 or I7, 2TB HDDs and up to 16GB of RAM. If you don’t have anywhere else to stash your smartphone, the chassis comes with a recess desk on top with a USB port for easy charging. Those looking for something a little less demanding can pick up an XC desktop, a space-saving unit that will take an Intel Core i3, a 1TB HDD and up to 6GB of RAM. Prices for the ME begin at $700, while the cheaper XCs will set you back a much more modest $400.
The most striking takeaway from a recent meeting I had with Xbox Music GM Jerry Johnson wasn’t the Spotify-like service he was in New York City to show off, but rather what he said about a much larger internal change at Microsoft. Having been relegated to the world of video games for the past decade, Microsoft is opening up its Xbox branding to a larger world of media. “‘Xbox’ is actually going from thinking about gaming in a device to being the entertainment face for all of Microsoft,” Johnson said — a major change from the Xbox name’s place as a stand-in for “the Halo and Gears of War box,” trotted out once or twice annually by lower level execs from the Washington-based software giant. “That’s what the company — all the way up to Steve Ballmer — have gotten behind. That’s why you’re gonna see movies on Windows 8 slates, you’re gonna see music, and it’s gonna be branded as ‘Xbox.’,” he explained. This naming convention carries to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 RT as well — all post-Windows 7 Microsoft devices (and Xbox 360) will refer to music and video libraries as “Xbox Music” and “Xbox Video,” respectively.
For the most part, Acer blew its Windows 8 load back at IFA and Computex, but as we’re learning now, the company still had a handful of goodies left to announce. The outfit just introduced a pair of touch-friendly, Win 8-ready all-in-one desktops, the 23-inch Aspire 5600U and the 27-inch Aspire 7600U. As you can see in the press shots, the design here is fairly minimal, with an edge-to-edge display, a transparent panel at the bottom of the bezel and a thin frame measuring less than 1.4 inches thick. The machines can also tilt so that they lie at a nearly face-up 80-degree angle.
In either case, you’ll get a 1080p panel, with 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Either machine, too, can be configured with Acer’s InstantOn technology, which promises 1.5-second resume times. The 27-incher has a discrete NVIDIA GT640M GPU with 2GB of video memory, however, while the 23-inch model is stuck with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. Further, while they both have Core i5 CPUs, the 5600U has a 2.4GHz 3110M, while the 7600U has a 3210M, clocked at 2.5GHz (overclockable to 3.1GHz). The 7600U also has two HDMI inputs, whereas the 5600U has one. Finally, the U5600 will be available in touch- and non-touch-enabled configurations, while the 7600U will be touch-only. Both will be available this month, with the 23-incher starting at $1,000 for touch-enabled models, and $1,150 for touchscreen variants. The 7600U will sell for quite a bit more: $1,900.
ASUS TAICHI 21 and VivoBook X202 go up for US pre-orders, spoil the party a bit early (update: VivoTab RT, too)
Just because ASUS has planned a grand October 23rd event to outline its US Windows 8 lineup doesn’t mean we can’t get an advance peek. Pre-orders have officially kicked off for at least two touchscreen PCs that also give us a very good feeling for the hardware we’ll see at our doors. The dual-screened TAICHI 21 is naturally the star of the show, but it will cost you: a base version of the 11.6-inch hybrid with a 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD starts at $1,300, while an uprated model with a 1.9GHz Core i7 and a 256GB SSD will set early adopters back by $1,600. We’d say the VivoBook X202 is more likely to get some purchases sight-unseen at $600 for an entry laptop with an 11.6-inch touchscreen, a 1.8GHz Core i3, 4GB of RAM and a conventional 500GB hard drive. Both of the systems should arrive in tandem with Windows 8′s October 26th launch and compound the traffic jams for couriers and retailers on what could be a very busy day.
We’re almost there. Just a few more days until the big reveal. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few final Windows 8 secrets to be disclosed. Two of those are the price and the packaging, which online retailer Newegg has just let slip. There are four packages listed: Windows 8 Professional Upgrade ($69), Windows 8 Pro Pack ($69, product key card only), Windows 8 OEM ($99) and Windows 8 Professional ($139), with the latter two being available in both 32- and 64-bit versions (for the same price). If you go into the product page, however, we can see that the original price for the upgrade and product key card only versions is listed as “$199” suggesting that this might either be a launch offer, or subject to change. Don’t forget though, there’s still the chance to upgrade for an even lower price, for those who qualify. You can officially reserve your copy of Pro from today for $69.99 at all the main retailers, but if you can hold back on that impulse purchase for just a little longer, you’ll be able to upgrade to Pro online for $39 (until January 31st). Follow the source for details.
Dell gave us a heads up back at IFA that it was planning on offering its high-end XPS 27 all-in-one with an optional touchscreen. Well, that day has come: the company just announced that it will begin accepting pre-orders today, with the touch-enabled models starting at $1,600. As a quick refresher, that 27-inch screen tops out a whopping 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, while the stand tilts to a near-flat angle of 60 degrees. If sixteen hundred bucks is more money than you were planning on spending, Dell will also offer the Inspiron One 23 with an optional touchscreen. At a fraction of the cost ($780 and up) it makes do with lesser specs (a 1080p, not quad HD, display, for instance), but it has been refreshed with Ivy Bridge, so you should at least be future-proofed on the CPU front. Again, you can order these starting today, but don’t expect them to ship until after October 26th.
ViewSonic’s TD2220 two-point touch monitor gets priced at $330, will ship to coincide with Windows 8
While we had expected ViewSonic’s TD2220 to arrive earlier this year, we’ll forgive its lackadaisical timekeeping just this once. The two-point touch, 1,920 x 1,080 LED display arrives in North and Latin America in the third week of October — around the same time as the similarly digit-friendly Windows 8. When it does, it’ll reduce the contents of your bank balance by $330, but that’s a small price to pay for the privilege of confusing onlookers unused to seeing such technology in action.
As is all the rage right now, Vizio is upgrading its lineup to support Windows 8′s more touch-centric UI. The company’s 24-inch and 27-inch all-in-one PCs will receive touch panels, resulting in a price bump to $998 for the base 24-incher with Ivy Bridge and Kepler internals, 1920 x 1080 display and 500GB hard drive. Meanwhile, Vizio’s Ultrabooks — both the 14-inch and 15.6-inch models — and its heftier 15.6-inch Full HD notebook will all get “enhanced multi-gesture touchpads” that will allow exactly the same swipes, taps and pinches as a touchscreen. These laptops will start at $849 for the smaller Ultrabook and $1,129 for the notebook. Expect the whole lot to arrive as part of the late October crush.
It’ll be another two weeks before Windows 8 PCs go on sale, but if you like, you can hand pick out your gesture-enabled peripherals now. Logitech just announced two wireless mice and an external trackpad, all optimized to support gestures in Windows 8. Starting with the mice, the Touch Mouse T620 has the same design as the M600 announced earlier this year, except it supports Win 8 gestures out of the box. (The M600 will get a software update allowing it to work the same way.) Similar to its predecessor, the T620′s entire top surface is touch-enabled, which means you can do things like swipe the right side for the Charm Bar, or swipe from the left to rotate through open programs. You can also double tap with one finger to return to the Start Screen, and double tap with two fingers to show the desktop.
Moving on, the Zone Touch Mouse T400 has a touch strip that you can use to move up and down through pages, as well as scroll through the live tiles on the Start Screen. In a brilliant twist, though, the touch strip itself is comprised of two buttons, which you can use to toggle open apps or bring up the Start Screen, depending on which end you press. Finally, the Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650 is a Magic Trackpad-style touchpad with a spacious glass surface, which seemed impeccably responsive during our brief hands-on with it. Unlike the two mice, which run on AAs, the T650 has a rechargeable battery, which you can re-juice over USB.
All of these accessories use proprietary 2.4GHz wireless technology instead of Bluetooth, which means you’ll need a free USB port to accommodate the accompanying transceiver. The dongle can pair with up to six Logitech peripherals at once, but that’s a bummer if you also happen to own gear made by a Microsoft or HP. As you might have guessed, these are compatible with Windows PCs only, though you could use them with Win 7 if you so chose. Look for all three this month, with the Touchpad T650 priced $80, the Touch Mouse at $70 and the T400 at $50.
Back when Lenovo formally announced the ThinkPad Tablet 2, it shared almost everything there was to know about its new Windows 8 slate: specs, an approximate shipping date and details on the optional accessories. The one thing Lenovo didn’t reveal? The price. Well, you can rest easy now because the company just announced the tablet will start at $649, making it slightly more expensive than other Atom-powered slates running Windows 8. (To be fair, it does offer NFC and pen input, so perhaps we can all agree to call it even.) As a quick refresher, other key specs include a 10.1-inch (1,366 x 768) IPS display, a 10-hour battery, dual 2MP / 8MP cameras and optional 3G / 4G connectivity, with AT&T’s LTE network being the spectrum of choice in the US. You’ll also be able to buy it with an optional keyboard and a dock with three USB ports, HDMI-out and an Ethernet jack. That’s all coming soon, so hopefully our full review won’t be too far off either.
With a couple exceptions, we hadn’t heard much about Lenovo’s Windows 8 plans until now. Okay, it teased the IdeaPad Yoga back at CES, and recently unveiled the business-friendly ThinkPad Tablet 2. But surely the company wasn’t going to stop there, right? Hardly. Lenovo just announced the IdeaTab Lynx, an 11.6-inch laptop / tablet hybrid aimed at mainstream consumers. Like so many other products with this form factor, it runs a dual-core, Clovertrail-based Atom processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and either 32 or 64GB of solid-state storage, depending on the configuration you choose. Unsurprisingly, the detachable keyboard dock has a built-in 6,800mAh battery of its own, which promises to double the tablet’s runtime from eight hours to 16. In this case, though, the machine benefits from Lenovo’s keyboard know-how, so as small as the 1.45-pound dock is, it still offers an AccuType layout similar to what you’d find on Lenovo’s bigger notebooks.
Detach the tablet from its dock and you have a 1.4-pound tablet that measures 9.45mm thick. That 11.6-inch, 400-nit screen is of IPS caliber, so the viewing angles should be decent if you attempt to use it outdoors or watch movies from an odd angle (say, with the screen dipped forward on an airplane tray). Poke around the device and you’ll find micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, along with a microSD slot for external storage. It also has a 2-megapixel webcam up front for video chatting, though interestingly, there’s no camera module on the back side. The dock, meanwhile, adds two full-sized USB 2.0 ports. According to Lenovo, the Lynx will be available in December, starting at $600 for the standalone tablet. (The keyboard dock will be a $150 add-on.) Until then, we’ve got some early hands-on photos below, along with the usual spate of press shots.
All signs point toward the impending general availability of Windows 8, what with the upcoming OS launch event, the Surface RT finally hitting the FCC, and Paul Allen letting the world knows what he thinks of it. In light of this, the Redmond company has announced a final update push to the built-in apps you’ll find in Windows 8. The Bing update will be first out the gate tomorrow — it promises richer search results for local content — with the rest rolling out through October 26th. Also of note is Music, which touts “expanded music services” as an update (Xbox Music, anyone?). If you’re itching to know what built-in apps will be updated, you can get the full and extensive list after the break.
Gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer isn’t backing down on its “Project Fiona” gaming tablet, despite keeping it locked away for the past nine months. The company is, however, assessing interest in the concept — first revealed at CES 2012 — by asking fans to “Like” its Facebook page. If the page exceeds 10,000 likes/shares within a week, CEO Min-Liang Tan says, “we’ll work on making the concept a reality and launch the product.” He also says Razer’s whittled down concepts for the device, though he’s open to “suggestions for specs, form factor, pricing, features,” and even “etc.” It doesn’t sound like it’ll make its previously planned “second half of 2012″ launch window, but Razer says nothing’s changed on that front just yet.
As it stands, the device sports a 10.1-inch multitouch high def screen, an Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, an unknown (but allegedly beefy) GPU, and two nunchuck-esque controllers mounted to either side of the screen. It’s also said to run Windows 8 — make no mistake, this is a PC in the form of a tablet. But you still have the power to change it! Do us a favor and don’t request rear touch capabilities.
Back at Computex, Acer announced the Aspire S7 series — the company’s third line of Ultrabooks, and the first of the bunch to sport touchscreens. At the time, we were told they’d go on sale once Windows 8 started shipping and sure enough, Acer just sent out a press release confirming they’ll be available October 26th, the day Win 8 officially launches. Prices will start at $1,200 for the 11-inch model (the S7-191), but you’ll pay either $1,400 or $1,650 for the 13-inch version (S7-391), depending on which configuration you choose.
For those who missed the initial June reveal, the laptops all have 1080p IPS screens and backlit keyboards. The 13-inch model in particular has a display that can lie completely flat. Another key difference: the 11-inch version has an aluminum lid, while the 13-incher’s is fashioned out of Gorilla Glass. Whichever you choose, the S7 comes with a USB to Ethernet adapter, a micro-HDMI to VGA dongle and a carrying case — a first for Acer. They also make use of Acer’s TwinAir cooling technology and are set up to work with AcerCloud, the company’s free online storage service, which you can use with mobile apps on iOS and Android.