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25 Dec 12 Giada announces compact ARM-based Android desktop

A company known for making downsized PCs has announced two ARM-based desktop computers that will be shipping “soon” with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Giada has made its ARM desktops, the Q10 and Q11 very compact. Both measure 7.48-by-5.87-by-1.0 inches and, when mounted in the vertical position don’t take up much more space on a desktop than a typical router.

The pint-sized desktops are built around the Allwins A10 ARM processor, which runs at 1GHz, and have Mali-400 MP4 graphics.

Inputs/Outputs include five USB 2.0 ports (four rear, one front), VGA and HDMI ports, an SD/MMC card reader, RJ45 jack, a fast Ethernet port, and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Both units have 1GB of DDR3 RAM but the Q11 has 8GB of NAND Flash storage, while the Q10 has only 4GB of flash storage.

The Q11 also has a rechargeable battery that lets you disconnect the computer and move it to another location without shutting it down. It would also come in handy during a power outage.

If Android doesn’t strike your fancy, you should be able to get a version of Ubuntu or Bodhi Linux to run on the systems, according to Brad Linder, writing for Lilliputing.

While Giada says at its website that its ARM desktops will be “coming soon,” prognosticators are predicting the units will be showcased at CES next month.

Motorola CloudBB

Giada isn’t the only company interested in Android desktops. Google’s Motorola subsidiary introduced in September a “home entertainment terminal” only for the Chinese market that has an “all in one” PC look.

The Motorola offering, called the CloudBB, runs Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) with a Freescale i.MX53 ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 1GHz. Like the Q10, it has 1GB of Ram and 4GB of NAND flash. However, its guts are located in an 18-inch LCD touchscreen display, which comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Google’s intentions to bring Android to desktops and laptops is no secret. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Search Goliath had filed for a patent in the United States for mapping touchscreen events to a trackpad, which would allow computers without a touchscreen to use Android.

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23 Dec 12 Budget-friendly Acer Iconia B1-A71 to compete with $99 Nexus tablet

New Delhi: It appears that Acer too wants a share of the budget-friendly tablet market; a leak on GLBenchmark has revealed some of the specifications of a tablet known as Acer Iconia B1-A71. This tablet will compete directly with the rumoured budget offering from Asus, which is codenamed ME172V and tipped to be a Nexus tablet.

The Acer Iconia B1-A71 has recently been cleared by the Federal Communications Commission and this tablet is believed to make its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show slated to take place in January 2013.

From the GLBenchmark, a few details of the device have been revealed such as it will run on Android 4.1.2 and will feature a screen size of 1024 x 552 pixels which would translate it to an actual display size of 1024 x 600 pixels with a pixel density of 169 ppi. The processor noted here is 1.2GHz dual-core and the GPU is PowerVR SGX 531.

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The Acer Iconia B1-A71 is believed to make its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show slated to take place in January 2013.

Budget-friendly Acer Iconia B1-A71 to compete with $99 Nexus tablet

According to a post on, this 7-inch offering from Acer will also come equipped with 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a microSD card slot for storage expansion, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0. The thread also features some press shots of the tablet giving us a preview of what it will look like once it gets officially unveiled.

It appears that the budget Nexus from Asus, the ME172V, will face some serious competition from the likes of the Acer Iconia B1-A71.

For those of you who do not know what the Asus Me172V is about, it is a tablet that is believed to be a Nexus branded device with a 7-inch form factor. The tablet will come in black and white colour variants and will be priced between $129 to $149.

This is a bit more expensive than the previously perceived price tag of $99. This low end tablet from Asus will feature a 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels with a TN panel rather than an IPS panel, which means viewing angles will not be as great.

The device now is believed to sport a VIA WM8950 chipset featuring a single Cortex-A9 core and Mali-400 GPU along with 1GB of RAM. The internal memory found here is said to be 16GB and as far as camera optics are concerned, the device will feature a 1.3MP camera.

The last leak surrounding the $99 Nexus tablet came via a photograph on Picasa where a device from Asus, which goes by the codename ME172V, had made an appearance in the EXIF data. The EXIF data revealed that the resolution of the device is 1280 x 720 pixels. Apart from the features mentioned above, nothing else was revealed.

In the benchmark that had appeared earlier this month, the Asus ME172V featured a 1GHz processor and a display with a resolution of 1025 x 600 pixels. The benchmark also revealed that it featured a Mali 400 GPU and runs on Android 4.1.1.

There was no word on the number of cores found on the tablet, but if this device is to be categorised in the sub-$100 price range, we suspect it will be powered by a single-core processor.

It now appears that a trend is slowly building where devices get revealed in benchmarks to create some hype before manufacturers actually take to the stage to announce its wares. However, at next year’s CES, we may see two potential competitors go head to head in the battle of the budget-friendly tablets.

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17 Jun 12 Review: Samsung Galaxy S III

Shiny but feels little cheap
Samsung has (once again) used lots of glossy plastic in its flagship Android phone. Though, the phone is solidly built. Unlike the somewhat industrial design of Galaxy S II that has straight lines, the new Galaxy has a curvier feel to it (Samsung says the design is inspired by a pebble). Pebble or no pebble, the added roundness does make the phone feel better in the hand. That said, SGS III is a big device and unless you have large hands, you will find it little unwieldy if you use it with single hand.

There is faux metal strip that runs around the device. Unlike Galaxy Nexus, which is also made by the Korean company, SGS III has three buttons under its huge 4.8-inch screen. The ‘home’ is a plastic button while the other two — ‘options’ and ‘back’ — are touch sensitive buttons. The curves on SGS III give it understated but premium looks though we are not sure how the device will fare in the future once the gloss and sheen wears off the plastic.

Samsung’s flagship Android phones are known to pack in hefty hardware. SGS III is powered by Exynos 4412, a quad-core processor built by Samsung using technology from ARM. The CPU runs at 1.4Ghz and its four cores can ramp up or down their speed independently. This helps save the battery. The graphics duty is handled by four chips of Mali 400. It is the same graphics processor that is found in Galaxy S II but in SGS III it runs at a faster speed. The phone has 1GB RAM, 16GB storage with support for a microSD card upto 64GB. The primary camera captures images in 8 mega pixels and videos in up to 1080P resolution. This camera has backlit- illuminated sensor that helps it in low-light photography. The secondary camera sports a tag of 1.9MP.

At least on paper, SGS III is a device that leads every other Android out in the market. But does this hardware make it the best phone?

Smooth performer
Let’s start with the screen. Similar to other Galaxy flagship phones, SGS III uses a Super AMOLED screen. It has a resolution of 1280×720 pixels (720P) and is very sharp. But the best feature about the screen is somewhat saturated colours it shows. While for photographer they may seem inaccurate, mainstream users will find colours on SGS III vibrant and pleasing. Brightness, however, is an issue.

At least subjectively we did not find the screen on SGS III as bright as the one on SGS II. The problem was also compounded by the way auto-brightness is handled by the phone. It seems too aggressive. Though a software update should fix it. Still in the grand scheme of things, these are minor issues. The SGS III screen is one of the best we have ever seen on a phone. It is just that it could have been better.

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16 Jun 12 ARM Preps Mali GPU for Low-cost Android Tablets

ARM has developed a new, entry-level version of its Mali graphics processor that could help expand the market for low-cost Android tablets.

The GPU, called the Mali-450, is designed to help manufacturers build tablets that cost less than market-leading products like Apple’s iPad, which starts at $399, but provide good enough graphics performance to keep most users satisfied.

With touchscreens and high-definition video now fairly mainstream, the GPUs in tablets and smartphones account for a bigger share of the cost, and take up more space on the CPU on which they’re integrated.

Some manufacturers want cheaper parts, however, that offer reasonable graphics performance and occupy less die space. That’s where the 450 is targeted, said Ian Smythe, director of marketing in ARM’s Media Processing Division.

The new GPU is offered with up to eight cores and offers double the performance of its predecessor, the Mali-400, which has up to four cores, Smythe said. The Mali-450 is expected to appear in tablets in the first half of next year, he said.

Tablet makers are demanding a wide range of price and performance characteristics, so ARM is essentially bifurcating its GPU road map. It will offer the Mali-T600 family for higher-end devices, and the Mali-400 family, including the 450, for the low end.

Both can do gaming and video playback, but only the higher-end parts do “computational graphics,” Smythe said. That includes tasks like matching points on two images to do facial recognition, or stitching photographs together into a panorama.

ARM supplies the CPU designs used in most tablets and smartphones but it’s a relative newcomer to graphics. ARM entered the GPU market in 2006 when it bought Norwegian chip maker Falanx. It’s since built the team in Norway from 20 to about 80 people, Smythe said.

The GPUs in Apple’s iOS devices are based on a design by ARM’s U.K. rival Imagination Technologies. ARM does better in Android-based devices, supplying GPUs for about 20 percent of the smartphones and more than half of Android tablets, Smythe said.

ARM expects its licensees to sell about 100 million Mali GPUs this year, up from 48 million in 2011. “We’ve not quite caught up to our CPU colleagues who are shipping several billion units per year, but we’re making progress,” he said.

The best-known smartphone with an ARM GPU is the Samsung Galaxy SII, which uses the Mali-400. The Galaxy SIII, expected later this year, will use the higher-end T604. The Mali-T658, announced in November, should start appearing in phones and tablets in the first half of next year.

Further out, ARM is developing a high-end part code-named Skrymir, named after a giant in Norse mythology, which is due in 2014.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James’s e-mail address is

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18 May 12 $74 MK802 Android micro-PC beats Cotton Candy to the punch

A pair of inexpensive micro-PCs have generated quite a bit of buzz this year. The dirt-cheap Raspberry Pi started shipping in mid-April, but the FXI Cotton Candy has yet to make it out the door. The $200 Android PC-on-a-stick will also have some competition once it finally arrives: a very similar $74 AllWinner A10-based system has already popped up on online shopping sites.

Meet the MK802, which (like the Cotton Candy) features an ARM processor, Android 4.0, and WiFi connectivity. It’s not quite as powerful, with a single-core 1.5GHz AllWinner A10 processor and 512MB memory compared to a dual-core 1.2GHz Exynos chip and 1GB. The MK802 does offer two USB ports — one full-sized and one micro — and it utilizes the same Mali 400 GPU as the Cotton Candy.

One other difference is that the MK802 sports an HDMI port, not an HDMI plug. That means, of course, that you’ll still need a cable or a male-to-male plug to hook up to your HDTV or monitor. Really, though, that’s a reasonable trade-off when you consider that you can buy almost three MK802s for the same price as a single Cotton Candy.

If you do decide to pick up the MK802, remember that you’ll have to rely on your own stash of APKs or a third-party marketplace like the Amazon Appstore, at least initially. With the ridiculously low price tag on this device, it’s a good bet that the Android developer community will jump on this solid little stick computer and hack in support for Google Play in the very near future.

CNX Software, via Liliputing

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