LG has announced the release of its Optimus G Pro superphone in South Korea. The outsized handset will be on show at the Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona at the end of February, and is lined up to rival Samsung's Galaxy Note 2.
Following several weeks of swelling rumours—plus a 5" version announced for Japan—LG has outed a set of official photos of an even bigger Optimus G Pro handset, which features a 5.5" curved Full HD screen for a "2.5D" effect.
The 5.5" Optimus G Pro boasts 4G support and a power-packed spec sheet. Under its monster screen, the G Pro runs on a 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Sanpdragon S2 processor and 2 GB of RAM. It has 32 GB of onboard memory that can be expanded via the microSD card slot, as well as a 13-Megapixel camera and a 3140 mAh battery that should ensure excellent battery life.
The Optimus G Pro is initially scheduled to launch in South Korea. LG hasn't yet confirmed any release dates for other countries. We'll no doubt find out more at the MWC in just over two weeks' time!
> Smartphone Reviews
Today we're reviewing a low-cost 9.7" tablet made by Memup that runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: the SlidePad NG 9708.
Lately we've been seeing more and more Android tablets sprouting up that ape the iPad's form factor and display. Only, Memup hasn't made it to the "Retina" stage yet, as Archos has with the Titanium and Platinum. Instead it recently launched a budget tablet modelled after the iPad 2: IPS display, 9.7" diagonal, 4:3 aspect ratio and 1024 x 768 resolution.
> Read the full review: Memup SlidePad NG 9708
> More touchscreen tablet reviews
Lately we've been seeing more and more Android tablets sprouting up that ape the iPad's form factor and display. Only, Memup hasn't made it to the "Retina" stage yet, as Archos has with the Titanium and Platinum. Instead it recently launched a budget tablet modelled after the iPad 2: IPS..
Memup SlidePad NG 9708
Intel first mentioned the project last December. The company has been struggling to establish itself on the smartphone and tablet market, and is hoping to make up for it on the smart TV market with cable content, VOD and possibly video games on its very own set-top box.
The set-top box will have a built-in camera, which Intel says will provide facial recognition for better advertising—a feature that's likely to attract advertisers as much as it repulses defenders of privacy rights. Erik Huggers of Intel Media explains: "When my family uses Netflix, we have a household account. My kids may watch programming geared towards them, and I’ll watch programming geared towards me. If there’s a way to distinguish who is watching what, advertisers can then target ads at the proper parties."
The launch is set to start in the US. But will it be able to find its place on a fickle and competitive European market? Only time will tell.
Sony and Microsoft have a track record for delivering power-packed consoles, so all eyes are on the hardware planned for these new-gen models. That no doubt explains why we've been seeing so many "scoops" about onboard components in both devices, some of which are more credible than others. Among all the obvious and improbable technologies reported, however, it does seem clear that the architecture of both devices should be similar to what you'd find in a PC.
Rumours widely report the presence of eight-core AMD processors with 4 GB of RAM for the PS4 and 8 GB for the XBOX. AMD GPUs are mentioned too. The CPU will apparently use AMD's new low-power-use "Jaguar" architecture. This is said to have been further optimised for the occasion, as it was originally designed for budget smartphones and tablets. In any case, the sight of AMD CPUs and GPUs in both consoles would give AMD some serious one-upmanship over its rivals Intel and NVIDIA!
More Info About Sony's PS4 Than Microsoft's New XBOXAn interesting analysis piece on Eurogamer.net points out that a GPU derived from the Radeon 7970M is a feasible possibility for the PS4. This chip would give very good performances here, as it would be much easier to get the best out of this GPU in a fixed architecture set-up like a console (which isn't the case with PCs). On top of that, Sony is rumoured to be using a second GPU in the PS4 to relieve the CPU of some of its processing tasks.
All of these chips could be built into one single processor in order to reduce power use, limit the risk of breakdowns and keep overall costs down. This could help Sony limit any losses incurred by its upcoming console—you may remember that the PS3 was sold at a loss for a relatively long time.
Less seems to be known about the XBOX, and especially its GPU. Again according to Eurogamer (although based on a document that seems a bit too opportunistic to be entirely credible), the Microsoft console could have 8 GB of DDR3 RAM with 32 MB of super-fast ESRAM to make up for the relative slowness of this type of memory (compared with the faster GDDR5 RAM used in the PS4). Of those 8 GB, 3 GB of RAM are apparently reserved for the system. Similarly, two CPU cores could be set aside for tasks not related to games themselves. Indeed, with a voice recognition system and Kinect 2 to manage (some rumours say the Kinect 2 will be bundled with the console), the new XBOX will no doubt require a certain amount of processing power to keep things running smoothly. Ring-fencing this power the CPU would ensure users get the same experience with these functions no matter what game they're playing.
New ControllersWhile the XBOX 360 controller was largely a hit among gamers, the DualShock 3 hasn't evolved a whole lot compared with earlier versions shipped with the PS1 and PS2. The PS4 could therefore see Sony introduce a new, improved and redesigned controller with enhanced ergonomics. It could feature some kind of touchpad, as seen in the PS Vita. Sony could even go as far as to include a built-in screen, like in the Wii U Gamepad. Who knows! We're not expecting to see massive changes in Microsoft's controller, but there'll no doubt be a few tweaks here and there.
Second-Hand GamesWhile the move away from physical games cartridges/discs has already hampered the market for second hand games (most games bought via online platforms are linked to a user account), the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony could restrict things further. A recent patent registered by Sony suggest that the PS4 may not support used video games. Other rumours suggest that an Internet connection will be necessary to use the next XBOX. That's clearly a good way for games publishers to keep control over their games. However, it may not necessarily lead to increased sales, as gamers won't be able to buy, sell, swap or borrow games second hand, and may not be able to afford to buy brand news ones regularly.
Expected By End Of 2013The first console to arrive in stores should be the Sony PS4. In fact, a PlayStation Meeting is already scheduled to be held in New York on 20 February, where pretty much everyone expects to see the PlayStation 4 unveiled (even if Sony hasn't officially confirmed this). Then again, the firm could just be calling a meeting to outline its new console and gaming roadmap, notably since buying Gaïkaï last year.
It'll certainly be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts if the PS4 is presented next week—almost four months ahead of the E3 2013 gaming trade show! Stay tuned to DigitalVersus to find out more.
> Games Console Reviews