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PC News and Reviews

Intel 5 Years Behind TSMC According To Analyst

October 1, 2018 — by ThinkComputers.org0

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According to Raymond James analyst Chris Caso, Intel’s 10 nm process development could set the company back at least 5 years behind TSMC. In their most recent financial results call, Intel revisited their 10 nm outlook and said that the first 10 nm processors could only come out by the end of 2019.

“Intel’s biggest strategic problem is their delay on 10nm production – we don’t expect a 10nm server chip from Intel for two years,” analyst Chris Caso said in a note to clients Tuesday. “10nm delays create a window for competitors, and the window may never again close.”

The the time Intel releases their first 10 nm product they would have missed several competitive milestones behind TSMC, which is in its final stages of quantitatively rolling out its 7 nm process. Caso is predicting that by the time Intel gets below 10 nm, TSMC and Samsung could be readying their 5 nm or 3 nm processor roll-outs.

Another reports by Rosenblatt Securities in late August was even more brash, it predicted that foundry delays could set Intel back “5, 6, or even 7” years behind their rivals.

Intel has already enlisted the help of TSMC for some of their 14 nm manufacturing. AMD is also planning to rely 100% on TSMC for its future generations of “Zen” processors.

PC News and Reviews

Samsung Shows Off New Data Center SSD Lineup 860 DCT, 883 DCT, 983 DCT and 983 ZET.

September 21, 2018 — by Wccftech.com0

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Samsung, has recently unveiled the Samsung Data Center solid-state drive lineup to address current and future trends in high performance computing storage in the big data era for small and medium businesses. Samsung’s new family of Data Center SSD solutions, which consists of the 860 DCT, 883 DCT, 983 DCT and the 983 ZET, are engineered to meet the evolving needs of SMBs, including faster, sustained performance, higher capacities and enterprise-class reliability and security.

Samsung Announces New Data Center SSDs 860 DCT, 883 DCT, 983 DCT and the 983 ZET,

Samsung’s Data Center SSD portfolio will raise the bar for efficiency compared to legacy storage systems, requiring fewer servers and reduced power and cooling for a lower total cost of ownership. The new lineup delivers better Quality of Service  for small and medium sized businesses by reducing latency and lowering data delays. The entire line provides enhanced reliability and endurance for 24/7 operation backed by a 5-year limited warranty and impressive Drive Writes Per Day ratings.

galaxy-s10-16Related Samsung Galaxy S10 Lineup’s Model Numbers & Screen Sizes Leaked

“Samsung’s Data Center SSD portfolio provides small and medium businesses with a future-proof lineup to fit their unique business needs in the incredibly diverse market, Samsung leveraged years of memory product engineering expertise to deliver a simple, yet optimized SSD lineup that addresses today’s super computer trends.”

Richard Leonarz – director of product marketing for Samsung Electronics.

Samsung has listed the feature sets of the drives which I will put below.

  • The 860 DCT is designed for servers requiring SSD-levels of sustained performance and is suitable for read-intensive workloads. It allows for a lower TCO compared to hard disk drives (HDDs) and offers high capacities up to 3.84 TB. The 860 DCT is the perfect solution for content delivery network systems and comes with a 0.20 DWPD rating.
  • The 883 DCT is designed for servers used to safeguard critical data, including power loss protection and end-to-end data protection. It offers a high QoS under the SATA interface and will be available in a number of capacities ranging from 240GB up to 3.84TB at a 0.8 DWPD rating.
  • The 983 DCT is a high-performance solution for servers using an NVMe interface, which allows for blazing-fast speeds and high responsiveness. It comes in two form factors – U.2 and M.2 – and will deliver jaw-dropping sequential read/write speeds of up to 3,000/1,900 MB/s (U.2) and 3,000/1,400 MB/s (M.2). The 983 DCT is ideal for real-time big data analytics applications and comes with a 0.8 DWPD rating.
  • The 983 ZET is a powerful cache memory solution that offers a new level of performance with ultra-low latency, high level of QoS, breakthrough speeds and high reliability. It is the perfect storage solution for NoSQL DB such as application workload case, and it comes with a 10 DWPD rating.

Pricing And Availability

All of Samsung’s new Data Center SSDs integrate with the advanced Samsung SSD Toolkit, which allows for efficient and simple maintenance, such as firmware updates, data erasure, over-provisioning setup and disk status. The 860 DCT, 883 DCT, and SATA model and 983 DCT are available now and the 983 ZET will be available September 24th. The 860 DCT is also available at Amazon

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Gaming News

Samsung and SK Hynix halt expansion plans to prevent SSD and memory price drop

September 7, 2018 — by PCGamesn.com0

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Samsung and SK Hynix, the first and third biggest semiconductor companies in the world, are both reportedly slimming down their expansion plans for DRAM and NAND chip production. The silicon giants are facing a slump in customer demand, resulting in a global oversupply, and production is being cut to match.

The move comes off the back of a NAND oversupply that has continued throughout Q3 2018, largely expected to be a result of notebook and smartphone markets’ lackadaisical sales. It wasn’t all that long ago that reports of a global oversupply leading up to an inevitable crash in the NAND market were being floated online. This crash was expected to cause a pricing dip all the way down to $0.08/GB. Now wouldn’t that be nice for SSD prices?

But now it seems Samsung and SK Hynix want to combat the slum, and associated price drop, in their lucrative NAND flash market by cutting the supply. Both Samsung and SK Hynix are slimming down 3D NAND production, with the former not putting new fabs online until sometime in the first half of 2019.

But it’s not just NAND flash production that these companies want to keep at bay, reports DigiTimes. Industry sources suggest Samsung is also putting a stop on plans to enhance DRAM fabs in Hwaseong and Pyeongtaek.

Anyone building a PC in this last year is likely well aware of the quite considerable price increases for sticks of system memory, and it looks like, despite an oversupply, the promised price relief incoming during 2019 might be put on hold by these new measures from the market leaders. Samsung’s fab plans, according to industry sources, were originally intended to produce 30,000 extra DRAM wafers in Q3 2018. But that’s no longer to be.

But never fear, there are further shake ups planned for the market next year, too. Micron and Chinese memory fabs are reportedly ramping up production of DRAM memory chips purposely to try and steal market share from market leader Samsung.

The top three DRAM manufacturers, Micron, Samsung, and SK Hynix, are all involved in a price fixing lawsuit regarding DRAM pricing between 2016 and 2017, and China’s government is intent on combating these corporate giants’ market dominance with its own domestic production, which is slowly coming to fruition. Any memory from these fabs is unlikely to make it out of China for the time being, however, but Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron are surely starting to feel the pressure.

Next year is looking to be an interesting time for NAND and DRAM production. Samsung and SK Hynix face an oversupply and increased competition, which, reportedly, should result in a NAND price drop. But, depending on how far Samsung and SK Hynix are prepared to limit production to combat the oversupply, these new measures could keep any price reductions at bay. Boo.

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Tech News

Samsung Launches Broad Range Of Datacenter SSDs

September 4, 2018 — by Anandtech.com0

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Today Samsung is launching a new generation of datacenter SSD models that are intended for small and medium businesses and will be sold through online retailers. Most of the new models are related to existing enterprise SSDs like the PM883 that have only been available to OEMs and the largest customers.

Samsung 860 DCT Specifications
Capacity 960 GB 1.92 TB 3.84 TB
Controller Samsung MJX
Form Factor 2.5″ 7mm SATA
NAND Flash Samsung 3D TLC
DRAM 1 GB LPDDR4 2 GB LPDDR4 4 GB LPDDR4
Sequential Read 550 MB/s
Sequential Write 520 MB/s
Random Read 98k IOPS
Random Write 19k IOPS
Power Consumption Read 1.9 W
Write 2.9 W
Idle 1.05 W
Write Endurance 349 TB
0.2 DWPD
698 TB
0.2 DWPD
1396 TB
0.2 DWPD
Warranty 5 years

Starting at the bottom of the new product stack is the 860 DCT SATA SSD. This drive falls between a typical client/consumer drive and what is usually expected from an enterprise SSD. The 860 DCT ‘s hardware platform is based on the 860 EVO consumer SSD and thus lacks power loss protection, but the firmware is tuned for consistent sustained performance with no SLC write caching. The 860 DCT is intended for cost-sensitive use cases like content distribution networks (CDNs) that have very read-heavy workloads and do not require the extra data integrity guarantees provided by power loss protection. The 860 DCT uses 3D TLC NAND, but this product segment should be taken over by QLC NAND over the next year or two. The 860 DCT’s write endurance rating is 0.2 drive writes per day (DWPD), comparable to entry-level client/consumer SSDs.

Samsung 883 DCT Specifications
Capacity 240 GB 480 GB 960 GB 1.92 TB 3.84 TB
Controller Samsung MJX
Form Factor 2.5″ 7mm SATA
NAND Flash Samsung 3D TLC
DRAM 512 MB LPDDR4 1 GB LPDDR4 2 GB LPDDR4 4 GB LPDDR4
Sequential Read 550 MB/s
Sequential Write 520 MB/s
Random Read 98k IOPS
Random Write 14k IOPS 24k IOPS 25k IOPS 25k IOPS 28k IOPS
Power Consumption Read 3.6 W
Write 2.3 W
Idle 1.3 W
Write Endurance 341 TB
0.8 DWPD
683 TB
0.8 DWPD
1366 TB
0.8 DWPD
2733 TB
0.8 DWPD
5466 TB
0.8 DWPD
Warranty 5 years

The higher-end SATA drive Samsung is introducing is the new 883 DCT, based on the PM883 introduced at the beginning of the year. This drive features power loss protection and a more typical write endurance rating of 0.8 DWPD. There’s no MLC-based SATA SSD in the new product family, reflecting the shift to NVMe/PCIe interfaces for drives intended for write-heavy workloads.

Samsung 983 DCT Specifications
Capacity 960 GB 1.92 TB 960 GB 1.92 TB
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Form Factor 2.5″ 7mm U.2 M.2 22110
Interface, Protocol PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2b
NAND Flash Samsung 3D TLC
DRAM 1.5 GB LPDDR4 3 GB LPDDR4 1.5 GB LPDDR4 3 GB LPDDR4
Sequential Read 3000 MB/s
Sequential Write 1050 MB/s 1900 MB/s 1100 MB/s 1400 MB/s
Random Read 400k IOPS 540k IOPS 400k IOPS 480k IOPS
Random Write 40k IOPS 50k IOPS 38k IOPS 42k IOPS
Power Consumption Read 8.7 W 7.6 W
Write 10.6 W 8.0 W
Idle 4.0 W 2,6 W
Write Endurance 1366 TB
0.8 DWPD
2733 TB
0.8 DWPD
1366 TB
0.8 DWPD
2733 TB
0.8 DWPD
Warranty 5 years

The mainstream NVMe product in the new family is the 983 DCT, based on the PM983’s combination of TLC NAND and the Phoenix controller that also powers the 970 PRO and 970 EVO consumer SSDs. The 983 DCT features substantially higher performance than the 883 DCT SATA drive but comes with the same 0.8 DWPD write endurance rating. The 983 DCT will be available in the M.2 22110 form factor or as a 7mm-thick 2.5″ U.2 with slightly higher performance thanks to the higher power and thermal limits of the larger form factor. The PM983 is also manufactured in Samsung’s new NF1 form factor, but there are too few systems with NF1 slots to justify releasing a retail 983 DCT in that form factor.

Samsung 983 ZET Specifications
Capacity 480 GB 960 GB
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Form Factor PCIe HHHL add-in card
Interface, Protocol PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2b
NAND Flash Samsung “Low Latency V-NAND”
DRAM 1.5 GB LPDDR4
Sequential Read 3400 MB/s
Sequential Write 3000 MB/s
Random Read TBD
Random Write TBD
Write Endurance 7440 TB
8.5 DWPD
17520 TB
10 DWPD
Warranty 5 years

Lastly, the new 983 ZET finally brings Samsung’s Z-SSD technology to a broader audience. The 983 ZET is features much higher write performance than the 983 DCT and is rated for up to 10 DWPD. This is still well shy of the 30 DWPD that the Z-SSD SZ985 offers, so we may be looking at the first drive to use Samsung’s second-generation MLC-based Z-NAND rather than the original SLC, however capacities are still relatively low at up to 960 GB. Low latency is still a key selling point, but Samsung has not yet provided random I/O or latency specs for the 983 ZET. The 983 ZET will be available as a PCIe add-in card, though a future M.2 version based on the SZ983 would not be surprising.

The two SATA drives and the 983 DCT are already shipping and are starting to show up for sale through distributors like Amazon and CDW. The 983 ZET will be available on September 24th. We already have a review sample of the 860 DCT undergoing testing.

Samsung is hosting a press event this afternoon for this product launch, so we will have more details soon.

PC News and Reviews

Samsung Announces Portable SSD X5

August 29, 2018 — by ThinkComputers.org0

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Samsung Electronics today unveiled its first NVMe-based portable solid state drive (SSD) – the Samsung Portable SSD X5 – achieving new levels of performance and reliability for external storage solutions. Based on the cutting-edge Thunderbolt 3 technology, the new X5 features exceptional speeds in a compact and durable form factor, making it an ideal portable storage for content creators and IT professionals on the go.

“As a leader in high-performance and reliable storage solutions, we are thrilled to continue to advance the external SSD market with the introduction of our first Thunderbolt 3 portable SSD,” said Dr. Mike Mang, vice president of Brand Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. “The X5 is yet another testament to Samsung’s commitment to providing innovative portable storage solutions that enable faster transfer of large data files, saving users’ valuable time.”

Whether editing 4K videos, creating real-time 3D rendering images or compiling high-resolution photos, consumers want fast and convenient ways to store and transfer their data. Leveraging synergies between NVMe and Thunderbolt 3 technologies, Samsung’s X5 delivers maximized performance levels for professionals working with heavy multimedia files. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3’s 40Gbps bandwidth – up to four times faster than USB 3.1 – the X5 offers a read speed of up to 2,800 MB/s, which is up to 5.2 times faster than the widely used SATA interface portable SSDs and up to 25.5 times faster than external HDDs. The drive also boasts the fastest maximum write speed of 2,300 MB/s, enabling users to transfer a 20GB-sized 4K UHD video in just 12 seconds. Designed for Macs and PCs with Thunderbolt 3 ports, the X5 allows users to enjoy the speed benefits in a lightweight and portable design, with capacity options up to 2TB.

The X5 features a full-metal body with a glossy finish and non-slip bottom mat. A shock-resistant internal frame and rugged metal housing can withstand accidental drops of up to two meters (6.6 feet). In addition, the Dynamic Thermal Guard technology and a heat sink – a mechanical internal solution – safeguard the X5 from overheating, ensuring reliability while maintaining optimal operating temperatures. The X5 also offers powerful data protection with ‘Samsung Portable SSD Software’, based on the AES 256-bit hardware data encryption, including optional password protection and easy configuration of security settings.

The X5 comes with a three-year limited warranty and will be available globally from Sept. 3, 2018, with a manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $399.99 for the 500GB model, $699.99 for the 1TB model and $1,399.99 for the 2TB model.

PC News and Reviews

Samsung Launches World’s First Thunderbolt 3 QLED Curved Monitor at IFA 2018

August 29, 2018 — by ThinkComputers.org0

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Samsung Electronics has expanded its ground-breaking curved display line-up upon the global launch of the new CJ79 (Model name: C34J791) monitor. The CJ79 34-inch curved monitor is the first of its kind to feature Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

Compatible with Macs and PCs, the CJ79 features two Thunderbolt 3 ports that transmit display, data and power at a superhero processing speed of up to 40 Gigabits per second (Gpbs), eight times faster than USB 3.0, and simultaneously charges devices up to 85 watts(W), all through a single cable.

“Over the years, Samsung has revolutionized the viewing experience for professionals alike,” said Seog-gi Kim, Executive Vice President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “The CJ79 is our latest endeavor in taking curved monitors to the next level that highlights our commitment to innovation. The addition of Thunderbolt 3 connectivity aligns to that vision and connects customers to infinite possibilities.”

“The Thunderbolt 3 ecosystem continues to expand and deliver innovative products with outstanding performance.” said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “It is timely that Samsung, a leading manufacturer, is featuring their CJ79 QLED Monitor with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. This new CJ79 QLED Monitor delivers the performance while enabling a powerful new display with integrated docking capabilities for a simple and easy to use solution.”

Working on Multiple Projects Simultaneously
The CJ79 offers a clear and crisp picture quality while providing a seamless dual monitor experience on a single screen. The 3440×1440 ultra-wide curved display with its 21:9 aspect ratio provides all users with the workspace needed to multi-task efficiently and in comfort. With the Picture-by-Picture (PBP) feature, professionals can display two sources and for optimal multi-tasking, the Picture-in-Picture (PIP) feature allows users to resize the second source to up to 25 percent of the screen and position it anywhere for a more readable format.

The industry’s sharpest, 1,500R curved ultra-wide screen, is engineered to follow the natural curve of the eye for a more immersive and comfortable viewing experience. With the height-adjustable stand and tilt functionality, CJ79 lets users customize the positions meeting their most comfortable viewing parameters. Furthermore, the Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, a new level of capability to charge Mac or PC let users connect to additional Thunderbolt 3 or USB devices directly to the monitor.

Supreme Picture Quality and Speed
Samsung’s CJ79 incorporates Quantum Dot technology with brilliant and realistic detail across a 125 percent sRGB color spectrum. The curved VA panel technology produces a 3,000:1 contrast ratio far surpassing conventional monitors and amplifies previously hidden details across the entire screen through pristine shades, deeper blacks and brighter whites.

The AMD FreeSync synchronizes the refresh rate of graphic cards for the CJ79 to reduce image tearing and stutter, providing seamless gameplay and video playback for uninterrupted viewing.

PC News and Reviews

Samsung Launches CJG5 Curved Gaming Monitor

August 23, 2018 — by ThinkComputers.org0

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Samsung Electronics unveiled its new CJG5 curved gaming monitor at Gamescom 2018, held from August 21 to 25. Samsung is exhibiting its advanced gaming monitor line-up equipped with super ultra-wide CHG90 experience zone under the theme, “Wider View. Winning Play.” Held in Cologne, Germany, Gamescom is one of the world’s largest gaming trade shows that attracted more than 350 thousand visitors from more than 50 countries, last year alone.

The newly-developed CJG5 32-inch(C32JG5) and 27-inch(C27JG5) monitors feature key gaming technologies such as WQHD high resolution, curved display, 144Hz refresh rate and a high contrast ratio. Globally available in the third quarter of 2018, the bezel-less, game-optimized CJG5 provides a completely smooth and immersive gaming experience at a reasonable and affordable price backed by Samsung’s technology expertise.

“Due to the rapidly increasing demands of gaming monitors, we sought to offer competitively-priced gaming monitors for more users to benefit from premium technology,” said Seog-gi Kim, Executive Vice President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “With the technological expertise that we have accumulated throughout the years, we are making efforts to accelerate the gaming features such as 144Hz and high WQHD resolution, which will be appreciated by the mass market.”

The CJG5 features WQHD resolution (2,560 x 1,440), which is four times higher than HD, delivering precise and life-like images with deeper blacks, brighter whites, and vibrant colors, as well as a high contrast ratio of 3000:1. Paired with a curved VA panel and three-sided bezel-less design, the CJG5 completes an immersive environment that provides the most engaging gaming experience and minimizes eye fatigue. Furthermore, the 1800R curvature that minimizes eye fatigue by reducing the change in the user’s focal distance. By imitating a real-life view, the CJG5 helps users who swiftly move their focus while playing games, even over prolonged periods.

The 144Hz frame rate enables extremely responsive graphics and a lag-free environment that enriches the gaming experience. The game and cinema modes automatically optimize the black gamma level, contrast, sharpness and saturation for any genre of games and movies. Users can also instantly check and control key settings during the game with ease, using the game-dedicated On Screen Display (OSD) dashboard menu with game style UI.

Gaming News

How to Choose a Laptop for Less Than $500

August 2, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo), Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo), Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

Between the $330 iPad and the $400 Surface Go, it seems like the budget end of the computer spectrum is finally getting some attention. And it’s about damn time. As portable computers like laptops, and some tablets, have become the primary device people turn to to get work done, the price of top machines has stayed fairly high compared to desktop computers. And the devices available for less ask some very serious compromises of their users. But while the landscape of sub-$500 laptops is bleak—with a whole bevy of devices that aren’t worth the money, there are still some good deals out there!

But just to be clear…I’m using the word “laptop” here loosely. Tablets have started to become much more work focused than they have in previous years, and companies as big as Apple and Microsoft are insisting that a tablet can be every bit as good as a laptop with a similar price tag. When you factor those “work tablets” in three separate categories take form in the sub-$500 range: Chromebooks, cheap Windows machines, and the iPad. While we haven’t had the chance to test each and every one of these devices we can give you a better idea of just what’s out there in the sub-$500 realm of laptops (and tablets intended to be used as laptops).

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As you’ll notice below, you can expect to spend $400 to $500 (before taxes) on a computing machine that you’ll be happy with. Cheaper devices exist, but the difference between quality, power, and finish once you go below $400 is extreme. I’ve pointed out a few machines below that will fit a sub-$400 budget, but the general rule of thumb is to go to the used market if your budget is that low, or find a way to save up and go with a slightly pricier product. You’ll be much happier in the long term.

The iPad option

The iPad category is the simplest—it’s just the $330 iPad from Apple. If you can handle doing everything on iOS and don’t need a more robust version of Microsoft Office, or a mouse, then the iPad can be decent. But you’ll need to spend money on a separate Bluetooth keyboard.

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Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

This is where the iPad solution gets tricky. There’s now a variety of Bluetooth keyboards that can double as an iPad cover, so you’ll get that more laptop-like experience, but they start at $100. Which means your $330 iPad is really a minimum $430 device.

That’s a lot less appealing when you consider the iPad is the least “productivity” focused of the three. If you’re used to doing your work on a laptop than the iPad will have an unpleasant learning curve, and you’ll feel frustrated at nearly every turn. It’s only got a 3.5mm audio jack and that Lightning port—so you’ll need an expensive dongle if you want to attach an SD card reader. It also won’t work with USB storage devices.

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The Chromebook option

For the last couple of years the only good option when it came to a sub-$500 device was the Chromebook. Chromebooks can be cheap now. For a little more than $300 you can get a device with 4GB of RAM, a decent 11-inch or larger display, and a processor that won’t stutter over the lightweight ChromeOS. When there’s a sale you won’t even have to settle for Intel Celeron or Pentium! Instead you might be able to get an i3 processor.

And Chrome OS has improved over the last couple of years, most notably, with its new ability to run Android apps. That means Photoshop and Microsoft Office apps on the laptop instead of somewhere in the cloud. You can also use USB storage drives with Chrome OS, and some laptops will even include ports beyond USB-C or USB-A.

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Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

The Chrome OS option sounds perfect, but it seems like a bargain because most Chromebooks are really, really cheap. The guts aren’t impressive, the finish is rarely attractive, and the things tend to just feel inexpensive. Take the $330 Acer Chromebook 11. That gets you 4GB of RAM, an Intel Celeron processor, and a tiny 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 resolution display. That’s just barely above 720p and well below 1080p. The viewing angle, from experience, is also not ideal. You’ll need to be staring dead on if you want to see colors as they’re intended.

At .82 inches its also nearly an inch thick, and despite being an 11-inch laptop it weighs 3 pounds!

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The pricier $480 Asus Chromebook Flip and the $500 Samsung Chromebook Plus v2 are a good step up if you can swing the slightly higher price tag. They’re larger machines, with higher quality touch 12-inch 1080p displays and lovely hinges that let you flip the devices around and use them like a tablet (they both run Android apps). They’re also 2.65 and 2.93 pounds respectively, with enormous bezels and a feel to their plastic casings that scream “I really needed to save money.” But if you can somehow hold off to save the extra $150 they’re a major step up from the cheapest Chromebook you should spend your money on, and will be more than enough computer for most people.

The Windows option

I would tell my roommate to buy a $500 Chromebook for her next computer. I would probably tell my brother that too. While my mom, who is rarely doing more than consuming content, might be a decent fit for an iPad.

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Yet a lot of people demand more flexibility than these options afford, and Microsoft seems to be making an effort this year to give people looking to spend $500 or less on a computer some actual damn options with Windows onboard.

Every major laptop maker currently has something that costs $500 or less. There are a lot of choices, many as decent (if cheap feeling) as the Chrome offerings. The good ones will have a Pentium processor from the last year or better, 4GB of RAM and, if you’re lucky a 1080p 11-inch or wider display that won’t make your eyes scream in horror.

Some devices just aren’t worth the trip to the store though. We’ve loved the HP Stream in the past for being so cheap you could forgive its flaws. The current version still has an eye catching blue case and a $200 starting price. But it also has a Celeron CPU that’s three years old. Which means it will be sluggish out of the gate and only get slower over time. It’s a cheap buy, but you’ll be feeling the thriftiness as long as you own it and should only pick it up as a last resort.

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The Surface Go is actually pretty great.Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

The HP Stream is emblematic of many of the $300-and-below Windows 10 machines. Yes it’s the cheapest laptop you can buy, but with hardware already a couple of years old, you might be better off buying a more powerful device used or relying on your phone until you’ve saved up enough to get something nice.

Hopping into the $400 to $500 range immediately presents some laptops that aren’t so bad. Instead of ancient Celeron CPUs from 2016 or earlier there are Pentium and i3 processors from 2017, or even AMD’s new Ryzen 3 APU. The laptops are going to be bigger, with 14-inch to 15-inch 1080p displays that have acceptable (but not great) viewing angles. They’ll actually resemble the Chromebooks in the same price range. The closer to $500 the thinner and lighter they’ll be. But you’ll be hard pressed to find anything below half an inch or weighing less than 3 pounds.

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They’ll even physically look the same. As with chromebooks, it’s an Asus Flip—this time the Asus VivoBook Flip 14—that does the best job of balancing price and form. It’s still more than half an inch thick and over three pounds, but absolutely nothing else can match it for finish. With its vibrant touch display, 360 hinge, and narrow (for a budget laptop) bezels, it feels like a pricier laptop. It starts at $350 for a laptop with a Celeron processor from 2017, and can go all the way up to $850 for an 8th Gen i7 processor. Anywhere across the range it’s an absolute steal.

But Microsoft mixed things up with the Surface Go. For $500 you’ll get a Windows 10 tablet (and case) with 4GB of RAM, a Pentium 4415Y processor, and the hands down prettiest display on a device this cheap, even if it’s just 10-inches.

That small size also means it weighs 1.15 pounds and is only .32 inches thick. That means its currently the thinnest and lightest Windows 10 device you can get in this price range.

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Should it be your next laptop? I’m inclined to say yes, for a lot of people it should. There’s simply no other device at this price that feels as grown up or nice as the Surface Go. It won’t necessarily be as fast as the Asus Vivobook Flip 14, or the better spec’d versions of the  Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 ($500) and HP Pavilion x360 ($440), but it’s fast enough for most people need an inexpensive mobile device. If you need a device that just handles video streaming, web browsing, emails, and some word processing the Surface Go might be the strongest contender.

Gaming News

Samsung’s Latest Tablet Is Trying to Out Pro the iPad

August 1, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

Tablets are in a tough spot nowadays. Do you go cheap and just push out something that’s essentially a big phone, or do you up the price and go for extra functionality like stylus and keyboard support? Over the past few years, Samsung has tried to make the most of Android by making tablets that were closer to convertible laptops than standard slates. And for 2018, Samsung is going even bigger with the upcoming Galaxy Tab S4.

Thanks to a new 10.5-inch AMOLED display, the Tab S4 is not only physically larger than its predecessor—its battery has been upsized by 20 percent to 7,300 mAh, so its longevity should improve as well. However, the biggest change for the Galaxy Tab S4 is the inclusion of Samsug’s Dex software to provide something close to a true desktop working experience no matter where you are.

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Previously, Dex was designed to enable phones like the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8 to perform traditional laptop duties by letting you hook up a mouse, keyboard, and monitor with a propriety external dock. But now, on the Galaxy Tab S4, Dex has morphed into a simpler solution that enables you to switch between a standard tablet mode running pure Android and a Dex-powered desktop mode that functions like a blend between Chrome OS and Windows 10.

On top of full support for all your favorite Android apps, you also get a task bar and notification drawer at the bottom while in Dex mode. You’ll even see icons on the desktop for frequently used programs. As you’d expect from a regular laptop, you can run multiple things in the background (up to 20), with easily re-sizable windows and the freedom to drag-and-drop files where you please. When you want to switch back to tablet mode, just hit a button in the S4’s notification panel, or set it to revert back whenever you disconnect its keyboard.

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Included in the box is the Tab S4’s stylus, which Samsung says draws power from the screen and doesn’t need to be charged. Like we’ve saw on last year’s Tab S3 and previous Galaxy Note phones, the S4’s stylus can handle a number of tricks such as screen-off memos—letting you jot down notes without needing to unlock the device—Air Command for all your screenshot and on-the-fly gif making needs, and even live translation.

Unfortunately, the Tab S4’s keyboard does not come bundled. Instead, it’s an extra that costs another $150. That’s a real shame because the optional keyboard actually feels pretty good. It’s got more key travel and bounce than what you get from one of Apple’s Smart Keyboards for the iPad Pro, though Samsung also made the mistake of not including a built-in touchpad. Sure, you can always bring your own keyboard into the mix, but to truly maximize the Tab S4’s mobile productivity, a keyboard kind of feels like a necessity. For people who really want to go for a full desktop-like experience, you can connect the Tab S4 to an external monitor using a USB-C to HDMI dongle (which is another optional extra) to get a big-screen view in front while the Tab S4’s display functions as a secondary screen.

As for the rest of the Tab S4’s specs, it’s got a somewhat underwhelming mix: an older Snapdragon 835 chip, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 13-MP rear camera, and micro-expandability. That’s essentially the same components as what you got on last year’s Galaxy Note 8, but with 2GB less RAM. There also isn’t a built-in fingerprint reader, which means you’ll have to rely on the iris reader or stick with an old-fashioned PIN or password.

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Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

But why didn’t Samsung just go with something like Chrome OS? You’d still have the same support for Android apps and a UI built for productivity, but without all that complicated Dex-ness. A Samsung representative told me that, as a tablet, Android made more sense for the Tab S4 and that Samsung is “committed” to Android. As for me, I’m not quite as convinced. At this point, it’s clear that outside of Apple, tablets are moving towards Chrome OS.

My main concern is the Tab S4’s price. Starting at $650 without the keyboard cover and monitor dongle, the Tab S4 is considerably more expensive than a Surface Go and about the same price as a 9.7-inch iPad Pro. In my short time with the Tab S4, it felt like a totally competent device, and with the addition of Dex to make performing certain productivity-minded tasks a little smoother, it’s definitely a more well-rounded device than the Tab S3. But I still feel like Samsung could do better. Either way, stay tuned for more in-depth impressions. The device should hit stores on August 10.

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Tech News

Samsung patches multiple SmartThings Hub security flaws

July 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Samsung

Samsung’s SmartThings hub suffered from 20 vulnerabilities that could have allowed attackers to control the internet-of-things devices connected to it. Thankfully, security intelligence firm Cisco Talos discovered the flaws and worked with the Korean company to resolve the issues, allowing Samsung to release a firmware update that patches them for all affected customers. Talos admits in its report that some of the vulnerabilities would’ve been difficult to exploit, but attackers can combine several at once to launch a “significant attack on the device.”

While the hub may not have access to credit card and bank account numbers, hackers could have taken advantage of the flaws to disable smart locks and gain physical entry to people’s homes, for instance, or to take command of nanny cams and CCTVs to monitor a house’s occupants or an establishment’s activities. They could’ve used the flaws to disable motion and alarm systems or even to damage appliances connected to the hub.

Despite the multiple vulnerabilities, Talos praised the company for working to resolve the situation after being informed. Craig Williams, Director of Cisco Talos Outreach, told ZDNet that Samsung “did a lot of things right and should be commended for the way [it] designed [its] devices to be easily updated.” He added “Every piece of software from every vendor has bugs if you look closely enough.” A Samsung spokesperson also told the publication that it had already released an automatic update to fix all the flaws Talos found and “all active SmartThings Hub V2 devices in the market are updated to date.”