You can now run Android Lollipop on Windows 10

June 19th, 2015 by Manmohan No comments »

A company better known for producing the BIOS, the precursor to the UEFI, has unveiled a piece of software that brings Android 5.0.1 to the Windows environment, including Windows 10.

AMI’s AMIDUoS allows owners of Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 computers to run Lollipop on their computer, including compatibility with Android’s ART runtime, native support for 64-bit apps and more.

Android 5.0.1 essentially runs within a virtual machine and accesses native PC hardware and drivers. That means that peripherals like the touchscreen, sensors, GPS, the camera and more can be accessed by Google’s OS.

The downside is that it will likely request more resources from the host computer.

What’s more, both OSes integrate tightly; the clipboard is shared as are directories which means that you will be able to save files and open them independently on either OS.

Running Android apps on Windows allow you to access apps that aren’t usually available on a desktop or are not available for free.

The application is currently in beta and costs $10 (about £6, AU$13) and comes with lifetime updates. AMIDuOS faces stiff competition from BlueStacks (which is free), Google’s own ARC Welder Youwave, Genymotion and AndY.


Back to school: HP adds USB Type-C, Toshiba goes for a Cortana button

June 19th, 2015 by Manmohan No comments »

With Windows 10 arriving during the “back to school” buying season, hardware OEMs are starting to show off their new Windows 10 systems.

Toshiba’s embrace of Windows 10 comes in two parts: a Cortana button on the keyboard and dual array microphones. The Cortana button is the F1 key; pressing it brings up a small Cortana window, and you can speak or type to Microsoft’s virtual agent to get things done. Windows 10 has an equivalent shortcut built in—Win-C—so it seems a little superfluous, but the one-button solution may feel a little more comfortable to the many computer users who don’t routinely use multi-key shortcuts.

Dual microphones aren’t new, and Toshiba has used them in the past. The company’s new lineup uses them across the board, from the Satellite C series starting at $394.99 through the Satellite L series starting at $529.99, up to the Satellite S series starting at $719.99, to provide better performance for Cortana’s voice recognition and in Skype and similar applications.

Last year, Toshiba was the first to bring a 4K laptop to market. This year, it has a number of systems with 4K screens, including what it says is the first laptop to include both a 4K screen and a 360 degree hinge. The Satellite Radius, exclusively available in Best Buy, will come in both 14- and 15-inch flavors, starting at $584.99 and $842.99, respectively, with the 15-inch version including a 4K option. This option will add a few hundred bucks to the price, but certainly looks good.

Being designed for Windows 10, both the Radius systems and Toshiba’s other line of 360 degree hinge devices, the Satellite Fusion range, include support for Windows 10′s Continuum feature. Fold the screen around far enough and Windows makes the switch from “desktop mode” (Start menu, resizeable windows) to “tablet mode” (Start screen, full-screen apps). While this is only a small detail, this is one of the ways in which Windows 10-specific hardware differs from Windows 8-generation devices; the integration of these hardware and software features is just that little bit tighter.

The standout in HP’s new offerings is the Pavillion x2 10t Touch. This is a tearable design: a 10-inch tablet with a hinged keyboard attachment. The specs aren’t going to blow anyone away—a Bay Trail Atom processor, 32 or 64GB of eMMC storage, 2GB RAM, and a 1280×800 screen—but it costs $299.99, and the design is very pleasing indeed. We’ve only held it briefly, but it feels surprisingly solid and well-built, and the hinged keyboard attachment is a joy. It connects using magnets, comfortably strong enough that you can shake it around by the keyboard without the screen falling off. The design is thoughtful; many of the first few generations of this style of device would creak or break if the screen was folded back too far. Not so the x2: push too far and the screen pops off.

As well as being a neat design and a nice price, the x2 has one unusual feature: it has a USB Type C port. While USB Type C is a really big deal, it’s still in its infancy, with only a handful of systems and devices supporting it at the moment. The Pavillion x2 joins their number, with a Type C port adjacent to a regular USB 2 type A port. The Type C port takes advantage of one of the port’s many features, as it serves double duty, being used both to charge the tablet and connect to other devices.

HP’s other new machines are all conventional laptops; they’re Envy brand laptops in 14, 15.6, and 17-inch versions, starting at $699.99, $629.99, and $999.99 respectively.

The launch and availability of new hardware and a new operating system used to be straightforward. Microsoft would hit its release to manufacturing (RTM) release, finalizing a build of its software for distribution and pre-installation, and then a few months later there would be an official “launch” signaling retail availability both of boxed copies of the software and new PCs with the new software installed.

That’s not happening this time around. The first stable, production build of Windows 10 is expected to be finished this month, and that build will become available to download for people upgrading from Windows 7 or 8 on July 29. This gives OEMs only a few weeks to test, validate, and ship systems with the operating system pre-installed.

As a result of this condensed timeline, we probably won’t see a big bang of new releases all on one day. Instead, many of the machines are being released before July 29 and will come with Windows 8.1. The Toshiba Satellite Fusion range is available now, the Satellite C, 15.6-inch Satellite L, and Satellite Radius versions will be available on June 21, with only the Satellite S and 17-inch Satellite L held back until July 29. Similarly, the Pavillion x2 will be available from HP starting July 21, with the other Envy laptops launching some time in July.

Once Windows 10 becomes available to the OEMs, systems with a Windows 10 preinstall will start to displace those with Windows 8.1, but there won’t be any immediate switch. Toshiba assures us that it will have Windows 10 inventory available to buy in stores on July 29, but there will still be retailers with Windows 8.1 devices in stock on and beyond that date.

All of these systems are, of course, freely upgradable to Windows 10, so as long as buyers are willing to spend a little time to download and install the upgrade, there won’t be any longterm difference. But it all underscores how Windows is starting to work differently; the release of a new version is no longer the event that it once was.


Laptop Keyboards, Trackpads And Input/Output Ports Explained: Working While On The Go

June 19th, 2015 by Manmohan No comments »

After its screen, a computer’s keyboard and mouse and input ports are what you’ll be using the most when you sit down to browse the Web or watch a movie or do some work. Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to choosing the right laptop based on its keyboard and trackpad and the ports you’ll be using day in, day out.

A laptop is not much good if you can’t do very much with it. That means having a good keyboard that stands up to a lot of typing, a trackpad that’s easy to use and input/output ports that keep up with the demands you make of them. For the most part, mainstream laptops are very similar and there are only small differences between them. When you’re spending at least a couple of years with one of these devices though, you have to find the most appropriate peripherals possible.

There’s no substitute for trying these things out yourself at the end of the day. That means heading out to a computer store or department store and getting as much hands-on time as possible with different machines within your price range and requirements. Other research like a PC’s hardware can be done on the ‘net, but for the final step of buying it pays to try stuff out yourself. Especially when you can compare two directly against each other, that’ll allow you to make the best and most informed decision and be happy with your purchase afterwards.

Keyboards: Chiclets, Function Keys, Numpads And More

When you buy a new laptop, the keyboard is the thing you’ll be using most on it apart from the screen itself. Think about it — you spend the majority of your time on a computer either tapping away at the trackpad or typing things — whether they’re emails or Web addresses or little snippets of Facebook chat. For precisely that reason, it pays to get a laptop with a keyboard that feels good to you. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution either, so you’ll just have to get out there and try as many as possible to see what feels right for your fingers and typing style and compare and contrast different laptops against each other.

The most common type of laptop keyboard by far is the chiclet key or some variant thereof. A chiclet or island-style keyboard combines a flat keyboard surface with a set of barely-raised keys that are usually only very slightly concave. These keyboards don’t have a great deal of travel on the keys, so you’ll be able to type very quickly. Have a search around and see what brand suits you best — I’m a big fan of Gigabyte’s laptop keyboards, for example, but both Apple and Lenovo have an amazingly good reputation amongst hardcore typists and laptop-toting travellers.

It’s also worth considering whether you’ll want any special keys. Almost all laptops will have a function key that will activate a second, alternative series of keys when depressed — whether that’s just on the F1-F12 keys on the keyboard, or across the entire set of numbers and letters as well. These will handle media controls — volume and playback — as well as changing your keyboard’s backlighting if it’s available and potentially running any predetermined apps. Similarly, if you’re buying a larger laptop — 15 to 17 inches in screen size — you might be able to find a variant with a dedicated numpad to make number input a little easier.

Trackpads: Clicky, Tappy, Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Here at Gizmodo, I haven’t found anything yet that works quite as perfectly as an Apple trackpad. (As long as you turn off natural scrolling in Mac OS X, that is.) Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad, as used on the new MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, is even more powerful than the original multi-touch pad, because it’ll respond differently when you press down on it harder. I’d strongly recommend — and I know this might be a controversial opinion — that you try out a new MacBook at some point and get a feel for just how refined its keyboard and trackpad are.

For the Windows world, though, you’ll find excellent trackpads from manufacturers like Synaptics and Elan used by brands like Lenovo, Asus, Dell and others. When you’re looking for a trackpad, consider how large it is, whether it’s a standard shape or especially wide or square, and whether it has one or two physical right- and left-click buttons above or below the pad itself. Almost all pads these days will physically depress when you push on them to simulate a click, and most can be adjusted in software to change their responsiveness and the area in which tapping will simulate a secondary right-click rather than a primary left one.

Of course, if a trackpad isn’t for you, then look for a laptop with a touchscreen — once you get used to it, you won’t need to use a mouse for 99 per cent of regular computing tasks. Windows 10 will further ease the use of using a touchscreen for everyday work, too. Or buy a Bluetooth mouse as an accessory and keep it in your laptop bag when you’re travelling, for those times you have to do some serious work and a trackpad or touchscreen just won’t cut it. Other less common input methods include Lenovo’s TrackPoint nub, nestled between the G and H keys.

Input/Output Ports: HDMI, Networking, And The Future Of USB

Buying a laptop, it’s crucially important to consider what input and output ports you’ll be using on a daily basis. What happens if you want to output video or audio to a TV or larger secondary monitor? Will you be using it in a place where you don’t have easy access to the Internet via Wi-Fi? Do you need super-fast external storage to transfer files from PC to PC on a regular basis? Before you look at any laptop, it makes sense to drill down exactly what you need so you don’t end up with a laptop that doesn’t suit your requirements in a crucial and inconvenient moment.

By far the most regularly used port on my laptop is its multiple USB 3.0 I/Os. You can use them for external mice or keyboards, for short- or long-term external storage, to charge a smartphone, among a multitude of other uses. For this reason, it makes sense to try and get as many USB ports as possible; two is a minimum unless you’re buying an ultraportable and three or more is better. For video, you’ll almost certainly want a HDMI port, and a full-size HDMI port is most convenient for frequent travellers — you’ll have to carry a micro- or mini-HDMI cable or adapter with you if you buy an ultraportable.


Oracle taps former HP exec Donatelli for key hardware role

June 19th, 2015 by Manmohan No comments »

Confirming rumours dating back to as early as March, Oracle has announced it has appointed former Hewlett-Packard executive David Donatelli as executive vice president for converged infrastructure.

Donatelli will report directly to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd and will be responsible for infrastructure offerings including the company’s engineered systems, server, storage, networking and tape products. He will also help oversee Oracle hardware products designed for hybrid cloud environments.

Donatelli joined HP in 2009 and served as executive vice president and general manager of HP’s Enterprise Group, with responsibility for the enterprise hardware business, including storage, server, networking and converged infrastructure products. He reportedly was considered a contender for HP’s CEO role before the appointment of Meg Whitman.

However, in 2013, Donatelli was replaced by Bill Veghte as head of the Enterprise Group and was reassigned to a position evaluating startup candidates for possible investments.

Before his tenure at HP, Donatelli spent 22 years at EMC, where he held a variety of management, operations, sales and marketing positions, including president of the EMC Storage Division.

“Donatelli’s is a fascinating and ongoing story,” said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT.

His departure from EMC to join HP caused quite a stir, King said, including threats of litigation and an eventual settlement between the companies.

Whitman’s decision to push Donatelli out of his leadership role at HP Enterprise, however, suggests HP won’t retaliate against Oracle for hiring him, King said.

Oracle should be a good place for Donatelli, King said: “The converged systems organization is right in his wheelhouse from a technological and experience perspective.”

It’s also a critically important group for the company, he added. If Donatelli does well there, “it could inspire reasonable questions about HP’s and Whitman’s ability to recognize and gain full advantage from their in-house talent,” King said.


Lian Li announces new line of hybrid computer cases that are also desks

June 19th, 2015 by Manmohan No comments »

Imagine being able to flick a switch on your desk and power up an entire PC. The all-aluminum body desk is clear of any machinery — no boxy chassis taking up space — only a set of monitors, a keyboard, and mouse sit on the table. When you look down through the tempered glass desktop, though, there’s a machine glowing to life. This description is no DIY mod, it’s the Lian Li desktop table.
The company has announced its latest line of hybrid desktop-table chassis — almost a year after they introduced their first line of table-computers. The Lian Li DK-Q2 and DK-Q3 don’t deviate much from the original line. The overall design is still pretty minimalistic. However, Lian Li’s designers did add legs that can be adjusted to add up to 30mm to the height. The depth of the desk has also been reduced to give users a little more legroom.

Both desks have a removable tray that holds all the system components and is removable, allowing for easy machine maintenance without bringing the entire desk along for the ride. This feature will also allow you to rearrange and tuck any cables or wires away from view. Speaking of wires, both systems have their ports well laid-out: easily-accessible USB 3.0 and headphone jacks in the front, and video, power, and a healthy helping of other ports on the back.

The systems are cooled by four 120mm fans bring in air and blow it horizontally across the hardware while another set of fans on the other side expels it from the desk. Of course, a vertical venting solution would be best (as we all know hot air rises), but it may not be practical for this design. Also, thumb screws on a set of side access panels will allow users to get to the fans easily without removing the top glass.
The components are where the DK-Q2 and DK-Q3 part ways. The DK-Q2 supports one motherboard, while the DK-03 can support two motherboards, simultaneously. Both support room for two video cards, and up to seven 3.5-inch hard drives in the DK-02 and up to 10 3.5-inch hard drives in the DK-03.
The DK-Q2 and DK-03 will be available in the UK in mid-August for GBP 719.90 (about $1,143.08 US) and GBP 1029.90 (about $1,635.40 US). There’s no word on a North American release date.


Acer knocks Lenovo off $85m Victorian schools deal

May 25th, 2015 by Rahul No comments »

Acer and Apple are sharing in Victorian government education supply deals worth up to $85 million.

The two vendors have both secured ‘Notebooks for Teachers and Principals’ contracts, worth up to $60 million for Acer to supply Windows devices and $25 million for Apple.

It marks the end of a near-15-year wait for Acer, which had held the account until 2001, when it was knocked out by IBM. The contract novated to Lenovo when Big Blue sold its PC business to the Chinese vendor in 2005 for US$1.25 billion.

The Notebooks for Teachers suppliers were picked from the Victorian whole of government end user computing panel announced in November 2014; Lenovo actually lost its direct position on that $65 million-a-year arrangement after being beaten by its own reseller, Southern Cross Computer Systems.

Acer’s contract runs for two years from March 2015 to March 2017, with the potential for three one-year extensions, which would take the value up to $60 million.

A Victorian government spokesperson would not discuss volumes, however, one well-placed source suggested the arrangement catered for roughly 40,000 devices.

It is good news for Acer, which sees education as a key market. Last month, Acer’s Pan Asia Pacific president, Oliver Ahrens, told CRN that education tenders were a “very high focus” for the Australian team.

Acer recently scored a place on the $100 million Western Australian whole-of-government end user computing panel.

However, in New South Wales, Acer lost out to Lenovo and HP, which are sharing in a state education spend worth up to $250 million.

Apple’s Notebook for Teachers contract is worth up to $25 million over an initial five-year term from April 2015 to April 2020. The contract has the potential for two one-year extensions.

Through the Notebooks for Teachers and Principals program, known as eduSTAR.NTP, “the department leases notebooks for 42-month cycles and gives the notebooks to program participants who contribute towards the costs”.

It has been a controversial program, with the Australian Education Union currently suing the Victorian Education department in the Federal Court over the decision to make teachers pay for their own work devices through weekly deductions from their salaries to cover lease repayments.


HP forecasts split-related costs below expectations

May 25th, 2015 by Rahul No comments »

Hewlett-Packard Co, which is in the process of splitting itself, forecast separation-related costs below the expectation of several analysts and reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

The world’s No. 2 personal computer maker, whose shares rose more than 3% in extended trading, kept its profit forecast unchanged for the full year, allaying fears of a strong dollar and weak enterprise demand for its services.

The 75-year-old company said it expects $400 million-$450 million of costs from the planned separation of its computer and printer businesses from its faster-growing corporate hardware and service operations.

“I thought it could be a little higher than that,” FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said. There was some excitement about the costs being less than expected, he said.

The forecast soothed investor concerns about costs for the breakup in the first year, Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross said.

Ongoing cost reductions and HP’s focus on higher-margin sales were driving profit, Cross said. Total costs and expenses fell 5.7 percent to $24 billion in the second quarter ended April 30.

“I think the Street was expecting higher expenses,” Seyrafi said.

In February, HP — which gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue from outside the United States — forecast full-year earnings well below analysts’ estimates, citing a strong dollar.

Up to Thursday’s close, the dollar had risen 19% against a basket of major currencies in the past year.

HP’s net income fell to $1.01 billion, or 55 cents per share, from $1.27 billion, or 66 cents per share a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 87 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a profit of 85 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales across most of HP’s product lines fell, dragging its total revenue down 6.8% to $25.45 billion. Its enterprise services unit, which accounts for about a fifth of total revenue, suffered the most with a 16% drop.

The company forecast an adjusted profit of 83-87 cents per share for the third quarter. Analysts were expecting 87 cents.

HP also said Cathie Lesjak will become the chief financial officer of HP Inc, while Tim Stonesifer will become the CFO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.


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