Apple’s Patent Application for 3D Camera Discovered

Our friends from Patently Apple have discovered an existing patent for an Apple 3D camera, which would definitely maximize the retina displays of new and upcoming devices.


Google Drive To Come With 5GB Of Free Storage?

Earlier in the week we heard a rumor that Google’s cloud based storage offering, Google Drive is expected to launch next month and now it would appear that we have some more details about the service.

According to a leaked screenshot of Google Drive, which you can see below, the cloud based storage service will give users 5GB of storage for free.

Google Drive

Samsung Sells 5 Million Galaxy Notes In 5 Months

Samsung has announced that it has now sold 5 million of its Galaxy note smartphone around the world since the device was launched last October, and it took Samsung just 5 months to reach the milestone.

The Galaxy Note seems to be becoming a popular device, and with its large 5.3 inch display it is more of a cross between a smartphone and a tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Note

Firefox 14 Now Fitted With Built In HTML 5 Based PDF Reader

Mozilla has now started to integrate a native PDF reader into Firefox 14 versions. A new nightly build of Firefox 14 has been released over the weekend, which brings with it a new integrated PDF viewer within Firefox.

When a PDF is now opened in the Firefox 14 a browse tab is created and a toolbar appears at the top enabling you to go to a specific page, change the zoom level, print, download the PDF, or bookmark its current location.

Firefox 14 PDF

Ex-RockStar Employee Leaks GTA 5 Details

If you have been wondering what the new Grand Theft Auto Five (GTA V) game might have in store for you once its launched later this year. An ex-Rockstar employee who recently got sacked from RockStar North for general misconduct, has now revealed plenty of details about the new GTA 5 game and what you can expect.

GTA V Details leaked


GTA V is expected to arrive around June 2012 and might well include the following details supplied by the ex-Rockstar employee.

Here is the info you really want:

1. The protagonist will be one character, and one character alone. His name is (as some rumours said) Albert De Silva. He’s a half hispanic man who was once part of a crime family in Vice City. He decided to settle down and have kids in Los Santos. He has one son called Kevin De Silva who is your stereotypical CoD player. He’s lazy, useless and shouts racial abuse online and is really into FPS games. Kevin does admire his Dad though.

2. Multiplayer will hold 32 people on the Xbox and PS3. I wasn’t told how many were able to be on the PC. Just like in RDR, players will be able to form Gangs. These gangs are not ranked through XP anymore, but via Reputation. Instead of gang hideouts, you can do jobs that range from robbing a launderette to breaking into a military base and stealing state-of-the-art weaponary. The Gang leader has much more control over his or her gang by being able to rank members of their gang and setting more specific objectives to specific members of their gang. Gangs can have their own terratory but this only applies to areas inside the city of Los Santos.

3. The map is about 5x as large as the GTA IV map and the City of Los Santos takes up just under half of this area (so it’s a bit bigger than 2 GTA IV Liberty Cities).

The map is (like most GTAs) seperated into three different sections. 4. Planes are flyable, they range from World War 2 fighter planes to Private Jets.

5. Cars and guns are customisable to an extent, for example, you can cusomise a gun to have a supressor on it and you can install nitrous into cars.

Here’s some stuff you might like:

1. The protagonist is the “rich guy” from the GTA V debut trailer. You get to learn more about this man in the second when he talks about his troubles. You only see the protagonist twice in the trailer. First time is the side of his face and second time is when he is driving a Deceptor (Audi R8). The people robbing the jewellery store are just with the protagonist. He is driving the van ready to get away.

2. Gunfights are more realistic. When you are shooting a gun out of a window of a car, depending on how fast it’s going you will have troubles aiming due to shaking cameras.

3. The game is due in May 2013. A more specific date has not been decided because the game is still needing 6 months to be fully developed. They will have a playable demo at E3.

4. Police chases are now way more than either running or driving. Depending on how wanted you are, police may bring out riot shields and flash bangs. 5. When someone reaches 4 star wanted level, there will be a radio warning on some stations.

6. Radio stations now do traffic reports that are actually correct. So if you don’t know what route to take, you can check the traffic reports on your phone or the radio. 7. The in-game TV now has many more channels

8. The protagonist DOES NOT die unlike in the last two Rockstar games.

9. The underworld actually has a working economy that you can contribute too by buying and selling drugs, weapons and illegal cars in single player.

10. The protagonist can take drugs which will have some effects. But smoking weed on the streetwalk will lead to getting a one star wanted level.

11. Police cars will go after you if you’re obviousely breaking the speed limit. Having high speed crashes will also damage your health.


Wanted levels:

1 star – police follow you on foot and try to make an arrest. No sirens, no car chases (unless you are speeding).

2 star – police will still attempt to make an arrest. If a weapon is drawn then the police will begin opening fire. Police will use stun guns if a weapon is not drawn.

3 star – Chases begin and the police don’t care how they stop you, they just want to do it.

4 star – road traps, radio stations and much more hostile police.Even when you have evaded them, they will still search for 24 in-game hours for someone matching your description.

5 star – shoot to kill, arrest only if it’s made very possible. Even when you have evaded them, they will still search for 48 in-game hours for someone matching your description. Few missions become unavailable if you are wanted.

6 star – military vehicles come after you. Even when you have evaded them, they will still search for 72 in-game hours for someone matching your description. Some missions become unavailable if you are wanted.

5 Reasons NOT To Buy A New iPad 3


Are these the hands to which you’d like to trust a $500-$800 new iPad 3?

Has the world gone crazy? What is it with these lemmings, standing on long lines spending so much money – for what? An new iPad 3? What do I need a new iPad 3 for?

And yet, you’re tempted. After all, this is the 21st century, and Apple’s tablet is a uniquely 21st century device.

And you’re even more tempted by the five reasons I gave yesterday for buying a new iPad 3 (hereafter abbreviated iP3).

To help you resist the cultural and technological pull, here are five justifications for responsibly resisting your tablet temptations.

1. iP3 is inappropriate for kids.

For one thing, sharper small text is meaningless for largely large type-size, image-based kid activities, eliminating iP3’s key upgrade benefit. Plus, junior’s finger smudges would mar any of iP3 higher resolution advantages. Kids also aren’t likely to need the sophisticated gaming or productivity apps that require the kind of super-charging iP3’s improved A5X chip provides.

But most of all, do you trust your young’un with such an expensive toy? And speaking of expensive…

2. It’s too expensive.

In a world with a more pocket-friendly $200 Kindle Fire and other lower-priced/lower resolution Android tablets, there’s no need to spend so much money on a new tablet simply to casually surf the Web, answer occasional email or read an e-book.

Plus, if you’ll use your tablet mostly at home or where you know there’ll be Wi-Fi connectivity, you can opt for a cheaper Wi-Fi-only tablet.

3. An iPad 2 is good enough.

There is nothing wrong with an iPad 2 – it’s not as if it’s a 1978 Ford Pinto with 200,000 miles on it. In fact, iPad 2 was state-of-art just a couple of weeks ago.

If you have resisted buying a Blu-ray player because you believe your DVDs look just fine, than either your current iPad 2 or buying a newly $100 discounted or even a refurbished iPad 2 to save $150 will certainly satisfy.

4. I hate Apple’s ecosystem.

Yes, once you buy into the Apple ecosystem there really is no escape. Any music, movies or books you buy in iTunes will play only on Apple hardware, which means you’d lose all your media content if you, at some future date and for whatever reason, decide to switch operating system sides.

Living in the Android or even the Microsoft Windows Phone/Windows 8 world is far more forgiving. You get more media purchase options and device flexibility – all your purchased media bought from any source will play on any Android or Windows Phone device from any manufacturer – and keeps you from being co-opted by the cult of Apple.

Even I sometimes feel a little Apple claustrophobic, but I consider the company a velvet dictator. Or maybe I’m just rationalizing my purchased content trap.

5. Why do I need it?

If you equate “need” with breathing, eating and wearing clothes (at least in public), you don’t need an iP3. Even if you equate “need” with watching TV, social networking, reading or a clock radio – although any tablet combines all these activities into a single portable gadget – you don’t.

Like anything else, you definitely should decide on a specific need before plopping down $499-$829 for a device whose precise personal utility you’re still fuzzy about.

Although, once you buy one you won’t know how you lived without it.

14-inch Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook review (NP530U4B-A01U)


Pop quiz: which of the following is being marketed as an Ultrabook? Behind door number one, we have a 2.5-pound wisp of a laptop with a 13-inch screen, Core i5 CPU and 128GB SSD. Next up there’s contestant number two, a 3.94-pound notebook with a 14-inch display, 500GB hard drive, and DVD burner. If you guessed the latter, well, congrats on reading that headline correctly, though we’d understand if you said that first option sounds like the Ultrabook.

Indeed, Samsung’s Series 5 Ultrabooks are a tad plumper than most, and look especially oversized next to the Series 9, that otherultraportable we’ve been describing. But it’s not just Samsung using loose parameters to decide what counts as an Ultrabook. If Intel’s own forecast is correct, half of the 75-plus models that go on sale this year will have 14- or 15-inch screens, and we’ve already seen a sampling of contenders from HPAcer and Toshiba. The idea, say PC makers, is to lure in a more old-fashioned kind of customer, shoppers who aren’t quite ready to ditch their DVD drive, and who aren’t keen on stepping down to a too-small screen. At the same time, these laptops are thinner and lighter than similarly sized laptops, last longer on a charge and hold the promise of faster performance — three reasons manufacturers can get away with charging more than they would for a plain ‘ol laptop.

In a nutshell, that’s the value proposition behind the 14-inch Series 5, which costs $949 and comes bearing a Core i5 processor, 500GB hybrid hard drive and, of course, a DVD burner. But do the benefits of a bigger Ultrabook outweigh the annoyances? And how does it compare to regular 14-inch laptops that aren’t classified as ultraportables (and that don’t command the Ultrabook tax)? Let’s find out.


Look and feel



The curious (and absolutely intentional) thing about Intel’s Ultrabook marketing blitz is that it’s forced us to adjust the way we talk about laptop prices. About value. On what planet is a $949 laptop a budgetitem? One where it’s touted as an Ultrabook, and other so-called Ultrabooks run in excess of $1,400, that’s where. But in the real world (one where “Ultrabook” is just a fancy word for a lightweight laptop) $949 is hardly chump change, especially when $550 can buy you a system with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, six-cell battery and a (partly) metal design.

So let’s look at the Series 5 for what it is: an inexpensive Ultrabook, and a mid-range laptop. Though its design is inoffensive and tasteful, the build quality and attention to detail aren’t any better than what other PC makers are offering for the same price (or less, even). With the exception of the plastic bottom, the laptop is fashioned completely out of gray aluminum — a material that does an admirable job of resisting fingerprints, but chips easily around those sharp edges. If you look closely, it has roughly the same tapered shape as the impossibly thin Series 9, but it’s tougher to appreciate on a machine that’s not.58 inches thick. Other than Samsung’s logo and a super thin metal band ringing the trackpad, you won’t find any bold embellishments here, as on the $800 Dell XPS 14z, though depending on your tastes that could be a very good thing indeed.


There’s no getting around this next part: the 14-inch Series 5 is big as far as Ultrabooks go: heavy, and flush with ports. Granted, we’ll soon see many more bigger-screened Ultrabooks, and despite having an optical drive, it manages to weigh less than the DVD-less HP Envy 14 Spectre (3.94 pounds versus 3.97). At least Samsung made room for lots of sockets in that .82-inch-thick (20.8mm) frame. Starting on the right edge, there’s the tray-loading optical drive, along with a USB 2.0 port, Kensington lock slot and 4-in-1 memory card reader. Move around to the left and you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports — something no other Ultrabook save the Spectre can lay claim to. There’s also an HDMI socket, Ethernet jack, combined headphone / mic port and — who saw this coming? — a VGA port! We can actually hear a few sarcastic snores coming from the peanut gallery, but for those of you with an aging projector lying around, well, you’re in luck.

Before we talk about build quality, this might be a good time to offer a quick primer on Samsung’s naming conventions for laptops. In ascending order of niceness, there’s the Series 3, 5, 7 and 9. You don’t have to be a math genius to know that leaves this $949 laptop in the second-to-lowest-end category, suggesting it was intended as a mid-range machine. Accordingly, the build quality is totally fine, though hardly top-notch either. The lid wobbles a bit when you set the machine down, and if you type vigorously enough. We also noticed some flex in the palm rest, but only when we held it with one hand, which wasn’t often. On the plus side, though, Samsung has been prideful about putting its TV know-how to good use, which means even on a humdrum machine like this you’ll enjoy a bright, unexpectedly matte display. (Much more on that later, of course.)

Keyboard and trackpad



Like so many other Ultrabooks, the Series 5 is studded with shallow keys. (Come to think of it, we can’t remember ever seeing a Samsung-made laptop with a cushy keyboard, but that’s neither here nor there.) Fortunately, though, these are fairly easy to type on. The keys have a pleasant, ever-so slightly textured finish, and hold their own even under the pressure of furious typing. You might notice, though, that that wobbly screen starts to jiggle if you really start pounding the keys.

When we first settled in with the Series 5, we worried the shrunken keys (Tab, Caps Lock, etc.) would pose a distraction, but we ultimately typed much of this review on them without fuss. The arrow keys are small, though — smaller than you might expect on a laptop this size. If you’re the kind of person who prefers arrows for highlighting text, you might fumble around at first as your fingers try to find them; with practice, you should be able to tap them without pausing to look.

One thing you may or may not miss is a backlit keyboard. Without any dimly lit overnight flights to work through, we can’t say we missed that glow, and knowing the battery isn’t as robust as we would have liked (spoiler!) we’re happy not to strain it further. Still, similarly priced Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Folio have this, and it would have gone a long way in livening up the Series 5’s otherwise staid design.


Here’s a frequently asked question we get here at Engadget: is there a Windows trackpad you do like? Why yes, actually, but funnily enough, they all combine a pad with good old-fashioned touch buttons. (In other words, we’ve had quite enough of those seamless clickpads with flaky gestures and poor palm rejection.) Maybe that’s why we’re fond of the Series 5’s touchpad, which offers a large, low-friction surface for smooth, precise tracking. Powered by Elan, it capably handles both two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom, allowing you to carefully scale text without jumping from fine print to size 40 font. As you’re poking around, you might notice some stuttering as you magnify web pages, but those transitions should look smoother when you’re examining photos and PDFs.

As for those touch buttons, they’re tactile and generously sized (+2), though the buttons make a rather loud click every time you press them (-.5).

Display and sound



After spending a week with the HP Spectre and its 1600 x 900 display, the Series 5’s 1366 x 768 pixel count should feel like a step down. And to some extent, it is. Then again, we’re talking about a machine that costs $450 less. Not to mention, pretty much every sub-$1,000 Ultrabook we know of offers the same middle-of-the-road resolution. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, we’ll direct you toward our Spectre,MacBook Air and ASUS Zenbook UX31 reviews with the usual caveat that a crisp display doesn’t totally make up for flaws like a stiff clickpad either.

Resolution aside, it still beats the other 1366 x 768 displays you’ll find on other Ultrabooks, especially ones in this price category. Specifically, it’s one of Samsung’s SuperBright screens, which means it has 300 nits of brightness (not to be confused with the 450-nit SuperBright Plus panel inside the Series 9). As luck would have it, it has a matte finish, too, though somehow the viewing angles are still fairly narrow. The screen still gets washed out when you dip it forward or watch from oblique angles, but at least that matte coating cut down on glare from overhead lights and nearby windows. To wit, it’s nice that you can’t really see the vertical lines in the LCD unless you lean close. That’s more than we can say about that eye-popping Radiance panel on the Spectre.


The speaker strip stretching across the keyboard deck pushes out sound that manages not to be tootinny — at least, for pop and rock songs. The middling audio quality is most obvious with rap and other bass-heavy tracks, where low notes get lost in the shuffle of higher-pitched synthesizers.

Like an increasing number of other laptops, the Series 5 makes use of Intel’s Wireless Display technology, which you can use to mirror your desktop on an HDTV or external monitor. In addition to blowing up your desktop on a bigger screen, you can also stream 1080p movies, a step up from the 720p resolution cap imposed by early WiDi laptops. To get a feel for how it works, we suggest you read thisoldie-but-goodie of a review. Suffice to say, though, the streaming tends to be fluid, and the third-partyadapters are usually a cinch to set up.



PCMark Vantage
14-inch Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 6,908 2,618
HP Envy 14 Spectre (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 9,335 3,468
Dell XPS 14z (2.8GHz Core i7-2640M, Intel HD Graphics 3000 / NVIDIA GeForce GT520M 1GB) 7,982 5,414
Dell Inspiron 14z (2.3 Core i5-2410M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 6,177 4,079
Dell XPS 13 (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) N/A 4,130
HP Folio 13 (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 6,701 3,387
Toshiba Portege Z835 (1.4GHz Core i3-2367M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 5,894 3,601
Lenovo IdeaPad U300s (1.8GHz Core i7-2677M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 9,939 3,651
ASUS Zenbook UX31 (1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 10,508 4,209
Acer Aspire S3 (1.6GHz Core i5-2467M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 5,367 3,221
13-inch, 2011 MacBook Air (1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 9,484 4,223
2011 Samsung Series 9 (1.7GHz Core i5-2537M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) 7,582 2,240
Note: the higher the score the better.

With one important exception, the Series 5 has the same innards as the Dell XPS 13 and otherUltrabooks we’ve tested recently: a 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M CPU, 4GB of RAM and integrated HD 3000 graphics. Wash, rinse, repeat, right? Not exactly. The difference is that this guy runs on a 500GB 5,400RPM drive with 16GB of flash memory — double the 8GB used in Samsung’s higher-end Series 7 Chronos. Though it’s not without drawbacks (more on that in a moment), it does exactly what it promises to do: accelerate the start-up process, cut resume times and launch apps quickly. The machine boots in a brisk 21 seconds, at which point you can immediately start clicking things — no waiting around for Windows to finish loading. It also wakes from sleep in less than two seconds, as any good Ultrabook should. And despite its lack of an SSD, it notched a similar score in PCMark Vantage as the $900 Folio 13, which does have a solid-state drive.

What’s more, the Series 5 does a slightly better job dissipating heat than either the XPS 13 or the Spectre, both of which we’ve tested recently. After five hours of working in Chrome, we could feel some lukewarm air coming through the vents, but it was still cooler than either of those two other machines would have been after some extended web surfing.



Without discrete graphics or an SSD, its performance trails beefier laptops and smaller Ultrabooks.

Still, when it comes to disk performance, it’s clear this hybrid drive is no substitute for an SSD. Using the benchmark ATTO as our guide, we saw peak read and write speeds of 111 MB/s in each category. On the one hand, that’s better than the 80 MB/s reads and 75 MB/s writes you’d get from the hybrid HDD inside of the $800 Acer Aspire S3, but it’s no match for a proper solid-state drive. Even the Folio 13 can hit 232 MB/s reads and 192 MB/s writes, and that’s hardly even the fastest SSD the current crop of Ultrabooks have to offer (that would be the Zenbook UX31’s).

With very few exceptions, the Ultrabooks we test limp along on Intel HD 3000 graphics, so if gaming is a passion of yours, look elsewhere. In this case, the Series 5’s average score on the benchmark 3DMark06 is exceptionally low, though in practice gaming isn’t much smoother on better-scoring machines like the pricey Spectre. In The Sims, it’s a difference between 62 frames per second and 65; in Call of Duty, it means even with 1024 x 768 resolution you’re sputtering along at 10fps, as opposed to 15fps. Either way, Intel’s graphics solution has yet to fail us when it comes to simple things like zooming in on and lightly editing photos.

It’s worth noting, though, that these performance comparisons are artificial in a way: so far, we’ve only been pitting the Series 5 against other so-called Ultrabooks, with low-voltage processors and integrated graphics. But this laptop is large enough that it might also make sense to stack it up against a “full-fledged” 14-inch laptop — you know, one that’s a little too muscular to be called an Ultrabook. Do that and you’ll see something like the XPS 14z comes out ahead (so does the lower-end Inspiron 14z, by some metrics). Of course, this isn’t a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, since the XPS 14z we reviewed is worth hundreds of dollars more. The point is, you could buy a machine like that and pay to add discrete graphics and extra RAM if fine-tuning the performance was that important to you. The 14-inch Series 5 Ultrabook comes in just one configuration, though intrepid types can replace the RAM and drive (but not the battery) on their own.

Battery life


Battery Life
14-inch Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook 5:06
Dell Inspiron 14z 6:37
HP Folio 13 6:08
Toshiba Portege Z835 5:49
ASUS Zenbook UX31 5:41
13-inch, 2011 MacBook Air 5:32 (Mac OS X) / 4:12 (Windows)
HP Envy 14 Spectre 5:30
Lenovo IdeaPad U300s 5:08
Dell XPS 13 4:58
Dell XPS 14z 4:54
Samsung Series 9 (2011) 4:20
Acer Aspire S3 4:11

You’d think that a relatively hefty Ultrabook would yield more robust battery life, right? In fact, that goes for phones and tablets, too: most of us can handle a few extra ounces (or pounds, as it were), but there ought to be some sort of benefit, like a larger battery, or maybe an extra helping of ports. In this case, the 14-inch Series 5 brings an optical drive, but nothing in the way of extended longevity. In our standard battery test (WiFi on, movie looping off the disk, brightness fixed at 65 percent), it managed just a hair over five hours. Sure, that’s longer than you’d get with the even-heavier Dell XPS 14z, but it falls short of most every other Ultrabook we’ve tested. Give up the optical drive and you should enjoy an extra hour of runtime with the HP Folio 13. Even if you do need a DVD burner, the Dell Inspiron 14z ($550 and up) and up lasts more than six and a half hours with a six-cell battery.

On the plus side, we noticed the laptop sips very little power while asleep, so you could theoretically go days without charging it if you only needed to respond to emails in short bursts.


The apps pre-installed here are a mostly benign bunch, including CyberLink Media Suite, MediaShow, Power2Go, PowerDirector and the YouCam webcam app; Skype 4.2; Norton Online Backup; Microsoft Starter 2010 (natch); and Windows Live Essentials 2011.

The machine also comes loaded with a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2012. If anything, we’d normally complain about annoying pop-ups and dialog boxes entreating us to purchase the product, but in this case we also ran afoul of the FileInsight feature, which wouldn’t let us download a .exe file from that we’ve successfully installed on every PC and Mac we’ve tested.

Configuration options and warranty



None! The 14-inch Series 5 Ultrabook is available in one configuration, the $949 number we’ve been describing in detail. If you can do without the optical drive, Sammy’s also selling a 13-inch model, available in two flavors. Both have the same 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M processor as the 14-inch version, along with 4GB of RAM, a 300-nit, 1366 x 768 display and integrated Intel graphics. The lower-end $900 version also has the same 500GB hybrid drive as the 14-incher, though the $1,100 model steps up to a 128GB SSD, putting it in line with similarly priced competitors. At 3.24 pounds, it’s heavier than most 13-inch Ultrabooks, though it’s still a shade lighter than the 3.3-pound Folio 13.

The competition




With the 14-inch Series 5 the line between Intel-sanctioned Ultrabooks and regular laptops is blurrier.

So Samsung’s marketing this 14-inch laptop with an optical drive as an Ultrabook. Given that positioning, then, we’ll kick off your comparison shopping with a brief nod to other Ultrabooks. To recap this review thus far, its display is better than most machines you’ll find in this price range, though the performance isn’t necessarily faster, and the battery life is markedly shorter. The selection of ports is unrivaled, save for the Spectre, which has two USB 3.0 ports (but no VGA socket or optical drive, neither of which you’ll necessarily miss). As for design, we tend to think the Dell XPS 13 and arguably even the Folio 13 are better looking than this, though the Series 5 still wins when it comes to having both a comfortable keyboard and trackpad. All told, the HP Folio 13 is still our favorite of the lower-cost Ultrabooks — it’s not perfect, but it still offers the best combination of performance, battery life, ergonomics and tasteful design.

Typically with Ultrabook reviews, we only mention other ultraportables in this comparison shopping section because, well, most machines in that size and weight class are Ultrabooks. With the 14-inch Series 5, though, the line between Intel-sanctioned Ultrabooks and regular laptops is blurrier. Given the larger screen size, its relative heft and that optical drive, why not compare it to thin-and-light notebooks that are just a smidge too heavy to be called Ultrabooks?

Indeed, the field of 14-inchers is large, and we haven’t tested each and every one, but we do want to share a few highlights. For starters, the Dell XPS 14z we’ve been name-dropping throughout this review now starts at $800 with a more polished (if somewhat gaudier) all-metal design, a comfortable keyboard-and-trackpad combo and an optional discrete GPU (not that the graphics performance is thatimpressive). Keep in mind, though, that it’s not as compact as the Series 5, at 4.36 pounds and .9 inches thick. The little brother to that, the Inspiron 14z ($550 and up) offers solid performance and exceptionally long battery life, though we weren’t as fond of the trackpad.


Aside from the Spectre, HP doesn’t offer many 14-inch laptops, and the one it does — the g4t — is decidedly low-end, starting at $480 with a Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Not bad specs for everyday computing, but you’d also have to walk away from all the speed, longevity and portability that Ultrabooks are promising. Here, you’d have to make do with a 4.68-pound system and battery life rated for a little over four hours, which doesn’t bode well for real-world use. This go-round, we suggest leapfrogging HP and focusing on what other manufacturers have to offer.

Like Acer, whose lineup includes the recently announced Timeline Ultra series, which caters to precisely the same person who might be considering the Series 5: someone who can’t bear to part with that optical drive, but still craves something relatively thin, light and affordable. (No word on US pricing, though we’ve been told in the past prices would fall in line with the company’s current TimelineX offerings.) What we do know is that the 15-inch Timeline Ultra M3 is set to ship this month with NVIDIA’s new 28nm Kepler graphics, making it the first Ultra to hit the market with a discrete GPU.

As for Sony, even the lightest of its 14-inch laptops, the E series, is on the heavy side, at 5.08 pounds, but if you’re flexible on screen size, we’d also recommend the 13-inch SA / SB series (now $650 and up), which has a clean, timeless design, lightweight build, switchable graphics, healthy battery life and an optical drive, putting it in the same class as the 14-inch Series 5. Since we reviewed it last year, we’ve been recommending it left and right as a solid all-purpose laptop.




If you’re in the market for a mid-sized laptop with a DVD burner for occasional backups, we can see why you’d look twice at the Series 5: it’s thinner and lighter than most 14-inchers. It also has a pleasant keyboard-and-trackpad combo — something we can’t say about all Ultrabooks. The problem is, without discrete graphics or an SSD, its performance trails both beefier laptops and smaller Ultrabooks. If you can live without the optical drive, most of the 13-inch Ultras we’ve tested are faster and yield longer battery life. And though traditional 14-inch laptops are heavier, their performance tends to be more robust, and their runtime is only marginally worse than the Series 5’s (there are even exceptional machines like the $550 Dell Inspiron 14z that endures almost two hours longer).

If you’re going to spend $900 on a so-called Ultrabook, you may as well choose something like the HP Folio 13, which weighs less, performs better, lasts longer on a charge and has a healthy selection of ports (just not a high-quality display). Or, you know, you could shrug your shoulders at the Ultrabook fad and choose to spend hundreds of dollars less on something decently performing, but a little less portable.

Wacom Intuos5 touch review

It’s no secret Wacom has a firm grasp on what it takes to make great graphic input devices. Fresh off of its introduction of the Inkling last fall, the outfit recently unveiled the latest member of its high-end pen tablet line, the Intous5 touch. Essentially, Wacom took what made the Intuos4 a great addition to any designer or illustrator’s workflow and refined it, with this latest iteration sporting a new rubber-coated shell. It also implements touch gestures — much like those on the fresh Bamboo models — which can be customized to speed up tasks you need to complete on the regular, preferably without the aid of a mouse.

Sure, a new matte black suit and the ability to navigate Adobe Creative Suite without a pen seem impressive at first glance, but is the new model worth investing northward of $229? Are you better off sticking with the Intuos4 you splurged on a while back? Let’s see.




We’re going to go ahead and get this out of the way early: the Intuos5 touch is a mighty dapper device. Seriously, it looks amazing. The outer frame is coated in a rubberized matte black finish with no text indicators or printed markings interfering with the paint job. The medium-sized version we tested is crowned with an 8.8 x 5.5-inch (224 x 140mm) active area that offers a whopping 48.4-square-inch work surface. Backlit bracket indicators delineate the boundaries of the input area to keep you from swiping a tad too far while working on Illustrator files. The input portion of the topside is coated in a semi-gloss finish, which allowed our hand and fingers to glide along with a bit more ease.

We’re going to go ahead and get this out of the way early: the Intuos5 touch is a mighty dapper device. Seriously, it looks amazing.

The so-called ExpressKeys and Touch Ring are just to the left of the work surface (if you’re right handed, of course) but can be easily configured to work from the right side too. Four of these programmable buttons lie above the ring, with another four just beneath it. Here, too, Wacom has done away with any printed text, leaving only some backlit indicators around the Touch Ring to show which of the four commands you’ve selected. We think the absence of text is a nice touch, and the choice to keep everything on-screen a wise one. Take a closer look at the ExpressKeys and you’ll notice the middle two in each set of four have a raised dot and raised bar, respectively. These allow you to navigate the controls by feel, so that you don’t constantly have to look away from your PC toward the device.


It’s not surprising that most of the action takes place on the device’s front face, but there’s still more to see as we tour the hardware. Hopping around to the side opposite the ExpressKeys, there’s a mini-USB socket for plugging into your work machine. To the left of said port is the resting spot for half of the wireless kit. After removing two small covers on the bottom of the device you’ll gain access to both the wireless components and battery slots, both of which allow the kit to be used sans cable (up to nine hours on the medium-sized unit, according to Wacom). Also worth a mention here is the clip attached to the miniature end of the included USB cable. It’s a small, but nice touch to keep the excess cable length from getting in your way.


And then there’s the pen. That piece of the kit that you’ll be touching day in and day out is as comfortable to hold as ever. We didn’t notice any change here, as the grip, click buttons and eraser features have all carried over from the previous generation. Another feature Wacom’s chosen to bring back this go ’round: 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The included desktop stand houses ten different nibs (also brought back from the previous model), which the company recommends you switch out regularly in order to protect your tablet from unnecessary wear. As we noted in our hands-on, both the Intuos4 and Cintiq pens work just fine with the new tablet. You know, just in case you’ve broken in that pen just how you like it over the past year or so.




About 15 to 20 minutes passed from the moment we inserted the installation CD until we were ready to fire up Creative Suite. Of course, this depends on how fast your internet connection can download the latest drivers from Wacom’s site. We were then able to use the software to program the ExpressKeys, Touch Ring and touch gestures just how we like ’em. Also, we went ahead and set up mapping so that our dual-display workstation would play nice with the active area of the tablet.




Using a series of menus, much like what you’d encounter in the preferences window of other applications, we were able to set up custom commands and gestures in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t hard to find exactly what we needed and to lay our tools out on the workbench, so to speak. The second ExpressKey from the top brings up the Settings display, and from there we were easily able to navigate to both critical and touch-centric settings without having to open a separate program.

Worried about the absence of OLED indicators on the tablet’s surface? Don’t be. Sure, there was a bit of an adjustment period for us, but once we got used to the on-screen heads-up display, things progressed nicely. If you forget which ExpressKey did what, resting your finger on top of one will bring up an on-screen reminder for the entire set. When clicking through the Touch Ring’s four programmable tools, you’ll also see an indicator pop up letting you know which option you’re currently using. Honestly, this is a great improvement, and it sped up our workflow nicely once we got the hang of things.


Another nifty feature is the Radial Menu. Access to this HUD can be attached to an ExpressKey for quick and easy task selection. The Radial Menu can house up to eight tasks that you would normally grab from a menu or toolbar with sub-menus for each as an added perk. You can also adjust the pen’s sensitivity to your particular workflow. Doing so will ensure that those swipes across the active areas do exactly what you want them to and with the intended pressure for the task at hand.


Touch gestures and general use


Overall, the Intuos5 performs just as well, if not better than its older siblings. The active surface / pen combo is incredibly sensitive and responds nimbly, and accurately, even to quick motions. And throughout our testing, we never suffered a bit of lag either.

Here’s where one of our lone issues with the pen tablet lies: the touch gestures. Don’t get us wrong, the ability to use our fingers on the active surface is a welcome addition and works quite well in some instances. Pinch to zoom, scrolling and simple navigation work great using multitouch. It was wonderful to carry out some tasks with our non-pen hand to keep things snappy. We were also happy that we never ran into a situation where the tablet got confused between our fingers and the pen. Touch capabilities are automatically disabled when the device senses its native pen is ready to jump in the driver’s seat.

However, things like selecting text to be copied or modified and more precise selections / movements left a bit to be desired. This is most likely due to the surface of the tablet being not quite as touch friendly as what you’d encounter on a tablet PC or a Magic Trackpad. The surface isn’t quite as slick as those aforementioned devices either, so our swipes were met with some slight resistance. It’s clear that Wacom chose to add touch to the active area instead of forgoing a proven technology some other touch-friendly surface. And we can’t dock it too much for that.

The ability to program these multi-touch gestures almost made up for their shortcomings.

That said, the ability to program these multitouch gesturesalmost made up for their shortcomings. Not only could we customize the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring, but we also made programs like Corel Draw carry out tasks with just a three-finger swipe. By default, the gestures correspond to stock OS X or Windows functions — again, similar to Apple’s Trackpad. Currently, the software only supports five simultaneous points of contact, but the tablet itself is ready for up to sixteen — should you need to use both hands (and some toes) at some point in the future.


Accessories and size options


One of our biggest gripes with the Intuos5 is that the Wireless Accessory Kit is sold separately. Sure, we get that the ability to go wireless usually comes with some added cost ($40 in this case), but we’d at least like to see a bundle so that we don’t have to make two separate purchases. We’re also well aware that unless you can keep your workdays under eight hours, you won’t go far without a USB cable. And for yours truly, at least, those are few and far between. However, if you’ve already sprung for the wireless kit for your Bamboo tablet, it should work with the Intuos5 as well.

Worried the stock pen just won’t get the job done for every project? Three additional ones (Art, Classic and Airbrush) are on offer too. The Classic offers a slimmer profile than the stock pen and will set you back $70. Art and Airbrush offer the feel of felt markers and a digital airbrush, respectively, complete with ink / spray simulation. Those cost $100 apiece. If you’re looking to stay mobile, Wacom offers cases for each tablet size, with accessory pockets for cables and such.

Honestly, we’re not so sure the non-touch version would be worth the investment

As we mentioned before, we tested the medium-sized Intuos5, which costs $349. If you’re in the market for something a little more petite (or expansive, even), small and large options are also available. The littler pen tablet offers an active area measuring 6.2 x 3.9 inches (157 x 98 mm) and will set you back $229. Looking to give yourself plenty of room while working in CS5? You can opt for the large Intuos5 with a 12.8 x 8.0-inch (325 x 203mm) pen pad and an 11.8 x 7.5-inch (299 x 190mm) multitouch area. You’ll pay $469 for the privilege of such spacious real estate. All told, that’s comparable to what Wacom charged for the last-gen Intuous4. There’s also a fourth option reportedly on the way: a medium offering without multitouch gestures. Honestly, we’re not so sure that would be worth the investment; however, we expect it to be the least expensive of the bunch.

Not that it’s our place to guess your preferences, but after spending a week with this thing, we suggest you think twice about grabbing the smallest tablet if you’re running a dual-screen system, especially if you’re mapping the tablet to both displays. The medium size worked great for us, but we can’t imagine being comfortable with fewer square inches.




Overall, we’re quite pleased with the improvements that Wacom has made between the Intuos4 and the new Intuos5. Its dashing good looks are just the tip of the iceberg, er, pen. The feel of the tablet is much more inviting than the plastic finish of yore. This outer shell makes you want to touch the slim device, which is something you’ll be doing plenty of, thanks to those multitouch gestures. Moving the ExpressKey labels to the on-screen HUD was also a solid move. It’ll take some getting used to, but we realized it ultimately cured our habit of constantly looking down to find our bearings.

Sure, we have some gripes concerning the need to purchase a wireless kit separately and its imperfect response to touch input. For us, though, those two demerits are hardly deal-breakers. The multitouch features aren’t flawless, but they add great functionality to the workflow for Photoshop and other design software, and can be used to access tools that without digging through menus. If you’re still clinging to an older Wacom model or feel the Intuos4 hasn’t run its course, we don’t think you’ll regret splurging on a new model, especially if you already have the wireless kit lying around. Well, at least you won’t mind the expense after you get your hands on one, that’s for sure.

iPhone 5 will reportedly launch this Fall

iPhone 5 will reportedly launch this Fall

Feb. 20, 2012 (3:53 pm) By: 

After Apple broke from its typical summer cycle and released the iPhone 4S in October, many wondered whether the company was making an exception, or establishing a new rule. Would the next iPhone go back to the standard June/July slot, or would new iPhones arrive every fall?

According to Japanese blog Macotakara, we have an answer. A story cites a “reliable source” as saying that the iPhone 5 will arrive this Fall, and that the Fall slot will now be the iPhone’s standard release slot.

This would make sense for several reasons. For starters, if Apple were to return to the old summer schedule, this would give iPhone 4S buyers less than a year before a new model arrives. Many would buy it anyway, but it could lead to some frustration with Apple. Additionally, the Fall slot was, for years, devoted to the iPod. The iPod line, however, is an endangered species which no longer warrants such a prime time (pre-holiday) slot.

Perhaps the biggest reason that it would make sense relates to sales. The iPhone 4S has been a monumental success, breaking iPhone sales records for Apple. Part of that was due to the pent-up anticipation for the next iPhone (it landed 16 months after the iPhone 4), but the 4S also benefited from the holiday shopping season. This would be a smart slot for Apple to keep the iPhone in.

With that said, previous rumors have suggested that the iPhone 5 would return to the summer slot. One advantage of doing this would be to snatch early iPhone 4 buyers who are up for a new two-year contract.

Which will it be? Only those who are sworn to secrecy know for sure, but we can promise you that there will be plenty more rumors about this for at least the next four months.

Nintendo 3DS hits 5 million units faster than DS, the world goes ‘huh?’

While it had a rocky moment in the middle, some heavy price-cutting and top-drawer games helped the system sell five million within a year in its native homeland. According to Nintendo, these are legitimate sell-through figures and as predicted, make the 3D-capable console Nintendo’s fastest selling console to date. You can take a look at some (translated) self-congratulatory backslapping from Nintendo below.