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- Computex: The Ultrabook according to Intel
- Computex: Hardware’s great gathering, 2011
- 24'' IPS Monitor Duel: Asus vs Dell /DVersus
- PC Mark 7 available
- The Corsair CX out in its second version
- 3D TV Test: Toshiba 55ZL1 Cevo /DVersus
- TV Review: Affordable 3D, Samsung D6500 /DVersus
- New step for PRAM!
- All-In-One Reviews: Apple iMac 27'' / DVersus
- Computex: Asus and inspired innovation
- Monitor Review: LG IPS225 /DVersus
- Monitor Review: LG E2351 /DigitalVersus
- IFA Berlin 2011: news /DVersus
- Monitor Review: Dell U2412M /DVersus
- TV Technology Duel: Plasma vs Full LED /DVersus

 3D TV Test: Toshiba 55ZL1 Cevo /DVersus
  Posted on 18/07/2011 at 10:32 by Vincent
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The spec reads like a checklist of must-have features for a modern TV, including support for 3D, a super-powerful processor and Full LED backlighting ...

The television has some rather interesting origins. It was first called the Cell TV because of the powerful processor that can simultaneously handle eight different HD streams or around forty SD streams. That sort of performance is popular in some of Toshiba's other markets, but it isn't necessarily what European viewers need.

The manufacturer went back to the drawing board and switched the Cell TV processor for the less powerful Cevo Engine. It might only be able to handle a single video stream at once, but it's better suited to everyday viewing.

> Test: Toshiba 55ZL1 Cevo

 TV Review: Affordable 3D, Samsung D6500 /DVersus
  Posted on 12/07/2011 at 00:01 by Vincent
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Today's 3D TV is a more affordable offering from Samsung. Digital Versus tested the 40'' of the firm's D6500 TV, but it's also available in 32'', 46'', 55'' and 60'' versions.

After enjoying success with its D8000 and D7000 televisions, Samsung's latest offering is the new D6500, also available as the white D6510. It's a more affordable 3D TV with Edge LED backlighting, and has most of the same features as its big brothers, including the Smart TV interface giving access to online content including social networks, app downloads, videos and general surfing. It also has some advanced technology that should allow it to produce an exceptionally good picture. Let's take a closer look ...

> Test: Samsung UE40D6500

 New step for PRAM!
  Posted on 30/06/2011 at 11:47 by Marc
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There has just been a new breakthrough with phase-change memory (PCM) or phase-change random access memory (PRAM) with a new prototype from IBM capable of stocking two bits of memory per cell. This is an important step as it means improved density for PCM and therefore lower cost per bit, as is the case for MLC Flash which also stocks two bits per cell.

As things stand however, the prototype is still a long way from coming onto the market – it’s a 64 MB chip engraved at 90nm, compared to 25nm for the latest flash memory. For now IBM is looking at 2016 for server applications and therefore has time to move the technology over to a finer engraving between now and then.

As with Flash NOR or NAND memory, PCM is nonvolatile, meaning it retains data after its power supply has been closed off. Each cell contains chalcogenide materials which can go from an amorphous state (disordered molecules) to a crystalline state (molecules ordered according to a pattern). These two states differ with respect to their electrical resistivity, the level of which allows data to be read, it having been written by a change in state brought about by heat.

IBM’s breakthrough centres around being about to manage intermediary states, giving a total of four states corresponding to 00, 01, 10 or 11 in binary terms. Haris Pozidis, who has been developing the technology at IBM, is working on the theory that it will eventually be possible to stock three bits per cell, or even four by changing the materials used.

One of the problems that needs to be resolved quickly lies in managing how the resistance of cells develops over time. In using intermediary states, such memory is more sensitive to changes in the resistivity of a cell over time which can lead to read errors (reading 00 for example, when 01 has been stored). As a getaround to the problem, IBM has come up with an algorithm which doesn't use absolute resistance to measure the state but rather the relative resistance between cells. This allows IBM to achieve an error margin of around 1 in 100,000 after thirty seven days at room temperature, which should translate to around 10^15 (1 million billion) with “simple, low-redundancy error-correction codes” according to Pozidis, but for the moment the algorithm has only been used on a smaller test chip and on only 200,000 cells.

PCM potentially has many advantages over flash, with IBM announcing write speeds improved by a factor of 100 with write latency of just 10 microseconds and a lifespan of at least ten million cycles. It remains to be seen if this promise will be fulfilled in practice between now and 2016!

To recap, Samsung has been making PRAM since 2009, but for now with specs that limit it to use in mobile products. Hynix and Micron are also working on this type of memory.

 All-In-One Reviews: Apple iMac 27'' / DVersus
  Posted on 22/06/2011 at 00:00 by Vincent
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This week we're going right up to the top end of Apple's all-in-one range. Brace yourselves and hold on to your wallets!

After the iMac 21.5 inch 2011 test, we're moving on to the 27 inch version. Apart from coming in that bit bigger and heavier, this model has more powerful components, a higher definition screen and slightly modified connectivity.

> Review: Apple iMac 27 inch 2011

 Computex: Asus and inspired innovation
  Posted on 14/06/2011 at 00:00 by Damien
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To conclude our coverage of Computex, which was held at the beginning of June, we have decided to go back over some of the Asus announcements which marked the opening of the show. These announcements are a good illustration of the current state of the Taiwanese industry which, after years of OEM subcontracting, has managed, without calling a halt to this subcontracting, to develop several brands such as Acer, Asus and HTC.

Coming out of the shadows in this way does not of course happen by accident and this change is as much the fruit of political will as a commercial decision on the part of the biggest manufacturers who wanted to put to good use the experience gained over years spent as subcontractors. This added value is also necessary for the survival of Taiwanese industry and local employment, given the lower production costs in continental China.

Let’s take Asus, who has now separated off its OEM activity under the name Pegatron, as an example. Asus’ agenda for Computex 2011 featured the word “innovation” very heavily. Asus thus intends to show that it’s capable of more than just jumping on any bandwagon that’s passing and was showing three products, among others, that particularly caught our attention.

The Asus UX is an ultra-portable which is part of Intel’s ultrabook strategy and which allies compactness (thickness from 3 to 17mm), lightness (1.1 Kg), an excellent aluminium finish and good performance. Of course you won’t be able to use such a machine to do your gaming on, but they are equipped with a Sandy Bridge Core i5 or i7 and latest generation SSD. At first Asus is planning the UX 21 (11.6") and UX 31 (13.3") with pricing of around €1000.

The Padfone is a smartphone/tablet pairing which consists in using the phone to power the tablet. There’s a space at the back of the tablet to connect the smartphone to and you can obviously then enjoy a larger screen as well as an additional battery.

The Wavi Xtion is a peripheral designed to recognise movement, either for multimedia interfaces or video games.

While there seems to be an obvious link between the Wavi Xtion and the Microsoft Kinect - indeed they were developed with the same partner (PrimeSense) – the same goes for the UX and the Apple MacBook Air as well as the Padfone and the Atrix and its Lapdock from Motorola. Rather than innovating, Asus has obviously been inspired by interesting products or concepts developed by the competition.

Will Asus always be reduced to producing less expensive clones of products developed by American companies? Thankfully for Asus, the situation is a little more comples than that. The UX is for example a rather high end product and is far from being a cut-price MacBook Air, though Apple’s design was no doubt a source of inspiration for the Taiwanese manufacturer. While the Padfone adopts the Atrix combination idea, it does offer a different, more flexible format (the Atrix only functions in tablet mode). Asus therefore hasn’t made do with copying the competition but has adopted good ideas with worthwhile development potential.

We imagine that Asus, just like many other Taiwanese manufacturers, is somewhere midway between being an OEM subcontractor and the source of innovation that manages to pull the market in a new direction. This is probably the result of a minimum risk culture and a still timid marketing/communications arm in comparison to the American or even Japanese and Korean competition.

Since first covering Computex in 2003, we have seen slow but constant progress on this score, with some companies making an impact and imposing their brand on the public conciousness, while others, such as VIA, missing the boat entirely and going from being stars of the show to smaller, hardly noticeable players. Where will it all end? Will we see a strong brand, such as Apple, emerge from Taiwan one day? This would require significant investment to develop the whole software side, particularly user interfaces, as well as marketing and this is by no means a given. New high-end orientated brands or sub-brands are probably required first... Unless we see a battle over access to certain key components, which changes the dynamics of the market… No doubt the rumours spreading of significant investment by Apple to secure supply of certain key components are a sign of the way things are going!

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