Archive for September 29th, 2011
Samsung is looking to set the pace in terms of performance on its mobile handsets with the announcement of a new dual-core processor based on the ARM Cortex A9.
The latest Exynos chip is called the 4212, and will be manufactured using a 32nm process, meaning it’s faster while drawing less power. Samsung is actually boasting a 30% gain in efficiency for this processor, which runs in a dual-core configuration at 1.5GHz. 3D performance also gets a major boost and is set to be 50% better than the existing 4210 chip that relied on ARM’s Mali-400 GPU. It’s not yet known what GPU the 4212 takes advantage of.
If you need some comparison for how fast this chip could potentially be, look no further than the Galaxy S2. That uses Samsun’g previous Exynos 4210 processor which runs at 1.2GHz. If you replaced it with the 4212 chip you’d not only get a big performance gain and power saving, but it too could potentially be overclocked (as could the previous chip) while retaining the same battery life as the existing S2.
We won’t have to wait long to see the Exynos 4212 being used in smartphones and tablet devices. Samsung will have samples ready before the end of the year, so we could see devices on sale using it by the middle of next year.
Samsung promised earlier this year that at some point in 2012 it would have a 2GHz mobile chip. With this 1.5GHz Exynos processor appearing this year, the company looks right on track to deliver on that promise. We may even see them surpass it before 2012 is over.
Today, Windows Division prexy Steven Sinofsky treated Build 2011 attendees to a walkthrough of the various tweaks, subtle or otherwise, Microsoft’s made to Windows 8. Staying true to its roots, the new OS implements the familiar keyboard commands users have become accustomed to over the years — you know, like CMD and Ctrl+F. And as for its update to Internet Explorer, MS has imbued its tenth iteration with the ability to switch between the much-hyped Metro-style UI and plain old desktop view — all according to your whimsy. Of course, Redmond’s instituted other sweeping changes across the platform, and you can check some of the highlights after the break.
- All Windows 7 applications will run natively on Windows 8
- Security update notifications have been minimized to the lower right of the log-in screen
- Refreshed Windows Task Manager suspends apps when they’re not running on-screen
- New “Reset and Refresh PC” functions enable simplified system wipe and restore
- HyperV virtualization software comes pre-loaded on Windows 8
- Multi-monitor support now enables a single background across screens, as well as monitor-specific task bars
- Multi-touch support enabled for Internet Explorer 10
- Magnifier function enhanced for desktop manipulation
- Optional thumb-by-thumb input mode
- SkyDrive storage support integrated into all cloud-based apps
- Metro-style refresh for Mail, Photos, Calendar and People apps with Windows Live ID
- Settings roam allows for preferences to sync across a user’s Windows 8 devices
- Continued update support for Windows 8 Developer Preview Beta
- Even a Lenovo S10 (first-gen Atom + 1GB of RAM) can “run” Windows 8
- There’s “no overlays” with Windows 8; Metro-style goodness is baked into the core
- Both Metro-style and conventional Win32 apps will be sold in the Windows Store
- Windows 8 devices equipped with an NFC chip will be able to use a tap-to-share feature to either send content from one device to another, or simply receive content from something like an NFC-equipped card.
- Logins will use a photo-based system
- Apps will be able to natively connect and understand one another (if written as such)
- Built-in antivirus software will ship in Windows 8
- There will not be a different edition of Windows 8 for tablets, and presumably, not for Media Centers either
- It’s unclear how many “editions” (Home, Professional, Ultimate, etc.) of Windows 8 there will be
- ARM devices will be supported, but not in the developer preview
The Android community may be awaiting its very own Instagram app, but at least Flickr has now stepped up to fill the void. Yesterday, the photo-sharing service unveiled its very first Android app, along with a new social feature known as Photo Session. Available for free on the Android Market, the app allows users to snap, filter and upload their photos directly to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr, all from the comfort of their own handset. It also features an array of camera functions like flash, ratio selection, and shutter focus, along with ten high-quality filters. Photo Session, meanwhile, allows you to browse through images with your friends in real-time. All you have to do is round up your online comrades, start a session and begin flipping through a photostream. Every time you move on to the next image, your friends will, too, effectively turning any browsing affair into a collective, Don Draper-like slide show. For more details, check out the source links below, or trot past the break for a video run-down of Photo Session.
Click on any of the images below for a larger view.
Cold Boot-Up—Winner: Opera!
This round of speed tests showed a bigger range of cold boot times, with Opera booting up super fast and Firefox and Chrome adding a few seconds to your wait. Internet Explorer, as usual, got left in the dust, taking almost 11 seconds to start up. However, warm starts were pretty close all-around—enough that we no longer need to give them their own graph.
Tab Loading—Winner: Opera!
Given nine tabs to load—ranging from Google.com to Hulu to Microsoft.com and each of the browser’s home pages—Opera smoked the competition with a mere 3 second load time. Internet Explorer took second place, while Firefox and Chrome lagged behind.
Opera pulled ahead with the CSS tests, with Firefox not too far behind and Internet Explorer at the tail end of the group. Chrome, unfortunately, crashed partway through our CSS testing, even in the beta and dev channels—forcing us to disqualify it from the tests.
Memory Use (No Extensions)—Winners: Opera and Firefox!
Opera’s always aimed to be a low-memory browser, and it still grabs first in our startup tests, but once you add nine tabs to the mix, Firefox surprisingly uses its memory more efficiently than other browsers. Note that these memory tests were a bit interesting—while IE, Chrome, and Opera all held fast to their memory values, Firefox fluctuated a bit more. It started up higher with Chrome and IE, but then backed off after a few seconds for much lower memory usage. So, you might notice a slight lag for a minute or two, but it’s clear that Firefox 7 really is keeping the memory hogging at bay.
Memory Use (Five Extensions)—Winners: Opera and Firefox!
Adding a few extensions the browsers made little difference in the competition for RAM. While each browser used up a good deal more memory with five extensions attached, Opera still used the least when started up and Firefox used the least once we loaded nine tabs. Again, it fluctuated for a few seconds before it got into first place, but it got there nonetheless.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to browser choice than speed—variety of extensions, customizability, and so on—but when it comes to performance, here’s how our favorite browsers. We gave each contender a point value for its placing in each of the above tests, then tallied up the totals and divided them by the total number of points each could have received.
- Opera 11.51: 82%
- Firefox 7: 73%
- Internet Explorer 9: 47.5%
- Chrome 14: 43%
Opera’s still the speed champion, as usual. The other browsers have surprisingly switched places, though: Firefox, so often looked down upon for its sluggish speeds, has jumped up to #2 with version 7, and Chrome has slowly worked it’s way down to last place. Granted, Chrome’s inability to complete the CSS test probably pushed it over the edge from 3rd place into 4th. Still, w have seen Chrome slowly gain bloat with each new version, and boy did it feel slow when we ran these tests. Hopefully they can take a hint from Firefox and make a comeback soon.
Our tests aren’t the most scientific on the planet, but we tried to get readings as accurate as possible to display the kind of experience you’d get from each browser, speed-wise.
Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire today, a 7-inch Android tablet for $199— a good three hundred dollars cheaper than the iPad. Amazon also will be offering regular and touch Kindles at seriously attractive prices, starting at $79. Further sweetening the pot, free 3G will be offered in the Kindle touch 3G.
Amazon’s making it almost impossible not to own a Kindle in one form or another. If you just want an ereader, the $79 Kindle is 30% lighter (5.98 ounces) than previous Kindles. A $99 version will add touch navigation. And the top-of-the-line Kindle touch 3G is $149, with the free 3G access. All three models still sport the e-ink technology.
The Kindle Fire Tablet is the big announcement, today, however. This souped-up Kindle is also an Android tablet with dual-core processor, a multi-touch IPS display, and light 14.6 ounce weight. To get to the inexpensive $199 price point, Amazon left out a camera and microphone, and it will only be available with Wi-Fi, not 3G. Some neat details:
- The Whispersync technology that brings ebooks quickly to Kindles will work to sync movies and TV shows from Amazon’s growing library to the Fire.
- A new Silk browser, which partially resides on Amazon’s cloud servers, pre-loads pages to speed up browsing.
- Starts shipping November 15; you can pre-order today.
What do you think? Will you be buying a Kindle?