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05 Feb

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Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro review (from TheVerge)

February 5, 2014 | By |

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 2040px

It’s Sunday, it’s January, and it’s freezing outside. In other words, it’s the perfect day to spend the morning lying in bed, finally catching up on theFriday Night Lights and Battlestar Galactica seasons I somehow missed a few years ago. Normally this is a job for my iPad mini with Retina display, but ever since I lost its Smart Cover watching shows in bed requires a perfect and precarious leaning of tablet against pillow stack. Plus I have another device here with me, one even better-suited to the task.

 

 

It’s the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, the follow-up to one of the first great Windows 8 ultrabooks. This is a laptop with a twist, a flexible hinge that lets the screen rotate a full 360 degrees. It’s supposedly equal parts laptop and tablet — and this year’s model comes with a massively improved display that ought to make it better in either case. The Yoga 2 Pro is never going to replace the iPad mini for subway rides and mobile gaming, but if it can be both a solid ultrabook and a great in-bed TV, it’ll solidly be worth its $1,049.99 price tag.

 

 

As long as it has good battery life, anyway. My charger’s all the way out in the living room, and I’m not getting out of bed anytime soon. Battlestar is a long show.

 

For the most part, the Yoga 2 Pro feels like any other laptop. The Yoga 13 was actually one of the more restrained, inside-the-box visions for what a Windows 8 device might look like, how it might marry touch with mouse and keyboard. This year’s model is just a hair over 3 pounds, and 0.61 inches thick — imperceptibly both thinner and heavier than the same-size MacBook Air — with a soft, matte gray shell and a textured black palm rest. It’s softly tapered on the sides, with rounded edges that feel comfortable against my wrist. The Yoga isn’t particularly exciting, nor does it feel very high-end, but it’s nice to look at and it’s plenty rugged.

This would be just a normal, thin ultrabook, except when you open the screen nothing stops you from continuing to push. You can open the lid to any angle, including by flipping it all the way around to the underside of the base, so when you hold it the keyboard and screen both face outward. It feels weird the first time, as if you’re about to snap the thing in two, but that hinge is really the story of the Yoga.

THIN, LIGHT, COMFORTABLE — UNEXCITING BUT UNIMPEACHABLE

There are four “modes” in which the Yoga 2 Pro is meant to be used. First and most self-explanatory is “Laptop Mode,” which is how I used the Yoga probably 80 percent of the time and is fundamentally what this device is. It’s a laptop, and a pretty good one at that. The base model has a 1.7GHz Core i3, but it can go as high as a 1.8GHz Core i7; it also has 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and between 128GB and 512GB of solid-state storage. My review unit has a 1.6GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage — I’d rather have more RAM and less processing power, personally, but that mix worked pretty well for me.

It’s an utterly standard set of laptop specs, and the Yoga 2 Pro performs in kind. It’s fast and responsive, Windows 8.1 apps open and swith without so much as a hiccup, but the machine bends under the pressure of anything more strenuous than watching video. Photoshop runs, but not especially well, and anything resembling a high-end game is basically unplayable.

It lasted 6 hours, 18 minutes on the Verge Battery Test, a once-solid score that has been rendered decidedly average by the impressive efficiency of Intel’s Haswell processors. The MacBook Air lasts nearly twice as long, and even Acer’s ultra-thin Aspire S7 lasts longer — the Yoga could at least get me through the evening when I left my charger at work, but I want more from high-end Haswell machines.

Lenovo’s keyboard continues to be one of my favorites, with those well-spaced, backlit, slightly curved “smile” keys that feel a little shallow but work remarkably well and take almost no getting used to. The trackpad’s still a bit of a problem, as it was on last year’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 — it’s mostly smooth and responsive, but it has real problems recognizing gestures and a strange habit of making the cursor disappear. A little manic back-and-forthing always brought it back, but the trackpad isn’t exactly the picture of reliability or usability.

STAND MODE IS A SHOCKINGLY USEFUL WAY TO USE A LAPTOP

More than anything, the still-finicky trackpad is why I found myself often rotating the Yoga 2 Pro’s screen past its laptop angle, and then flipping the device over so its base became a stand, and the screen sat right up next to my face. This is “Stand Mode” — it’s how I used the device when it was on my coffee table as I watched TV, on my kitchen counter as I did dishes, and next to me in bed as I wiled away the weekend watching Netflix.

At this point it’s essentially a big, heavy tablet in a dock, usable with an external mouse and keyboard but designed to be touched. And designed to be looked at, with a gorgeous 13.3-inch, 3200 x 1800 display. It’s a lot like the screen on the Samsung Ativ Book Plus 9, which is to say it’s beautiful: sharp and vibrant, with great viewing angles and colors and enough pixel density to make any text crisp and all movies beautiful. Along with its surprisingly loud and full set of speakers, the Yoga 2 Pro’s screen — and the device’s ability to put that screen much closer to your face – make it a wonderful machine for watching just about anything.

Lenovo benefits from Windows software makers finally catching up to the high-resolution display revolution, too. Apps like Chrome used to be impossibly small on a screen like this, just a tiny sliver of content with oceans of white space all around. Now that Chrome and other apps are starting to account for these high resolutions — on devices including the Acer Aspire S7 and the Sony Vaio Tap 11 — there’s absolutely no reason not to get one. Especially on a device like the Yoga, where everything it does is designed to put the screen closer to your face.

The Yoga’s hinge does have a slight wobble to it, giving beneath my finger as I tap on the screen — that’s apparently why “Tent” mode exists, urging you to prop the laptop up like a teepee and use it that way to keep the screen steady. I have no idea why that’s useful enough to merit the awkward and precarious propping up of my laptop, and I never once used it; I’d rather just have a sturdier hinge.

IT’S NOT A TABLET, BUT IT CAN ACT JUST ENOUGH LIKE ONE TO WORK SOMETIMES

The fourth mode is “Tablet” mode, in which you flip the Yoga 2 Pro’s screen a full 360 degrees and press it back up against the bottom of the device. You’re left with a big, thick, heavy tablet that I used in one and only one situation: sitting on the train, knees propped up against the seat in front of me, tablet laid on my legs. This is not a tablet in any traditional sense: it’s not portable, it’s not easy to hold in one hand or even two, and there’s nothing quite so awkward as holding the device and having the keyboard underneath your fingertips. (The keyboard automatically shuts off in this mode, but it feels really odd.) The Yoga 2 Pro doesn’t really occupy a space between phone and laptop; it’s a laptop. It’s just a little easier to use on the train.

The accelerometer inside the Yoga 2 Pro knows where you’ve set the screen, and pops up a Windows Toast notification suggesting apps that are optimized for certain modes — drawing apps in Stand Mode, Evernote in Laptop Mode, and the like. There are also a few apps installed, standards like eBay and Netflix, along with a couple of Lenovo utilities for sharing stuff between devices. This is mostly overkill: the touchscreen and on-screen keyboard are a good enough approximation of the mouse and keyboard to make the same apps work fine, and moving the screen a foot closer or further away doesn’t fundamentally change how I used the device anyway. That’s really the point: the Yoga 2 Pro is full of nice optimizations, a few things made slightly better with a spin of the hinge, but it’s a laptop through and through.

Wrap-up

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

GOOD STUFF

  • Thin and light
  • Flexible hinge is really useful
  • Gorgeous display

BAD STUFF

  • Only average battery life
  • Hinge tends to wobble
  • Jumpy trackpad
LENOVO SUCCEEDS MOSTLY BY DOING LESS

 

It was true of the IdeaPad Yoga 13, and it’s true of the $1,049 Yoga 2 Pro: it’s mostly successful because it doesn’t try to do too much. Lenovo realized a year ago that though people might want a versatile device that works as well for watching movies in bed as it does for getting work done, the reality is most people spend most of their time getting work done. The Yoga 2 Pro is smartly optimized for its primary task, and then subtly tweaked to work better in other situations too.

There’s really no reason not to recommend the Yoga 2 Pro, as long as you’re okay with a purely functional design. It has solid performance, a good keyboard, a great screen, and a functional-at-worst trackpad. It’s also thin and light enough to go everywhere with me, and versatile enough to be usable everywhere from train seats to coffee shops. It’s a good laptop, and an excellent companion on a cold winter’s morning when there’s a lot of TV to watch and no earthly reason to get out of bed.

Maybe that’s not the four modes Lenovo promises, but they’re the only two I really need.

 

read more: http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/5/5377754/lenovo-yoga-2-pro-review

05 Feb

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Samsung Galaxy Note Pro and Tab Pro series coming to US February 13th (updated) (from Engadget)

February 5, 2014 | By |

Looks like Office Depot wasn’t messing with us when it began offering pre-orders of Samsung’s brand-new 12.2-inch tablet ahead of its official US launch; it just jumped the gun a bit. As it turns out, the entire litany of Samsung’s Galaxy tablets announced at CES — which include the 12.2-inch Note Pro and all three sizes in the Tab Pro series– will be available stateside on February 13th. (Update: it appears that the 12.2-inch Tab Pro won’t actually hit the market until March, but everything else will be available on Feb 13th.) Just in case you’re worried about hordes of people trying to grab one as a last-minute Valentine’s Day present, you can also pre-order any of the products starting right now through one of several online retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Fry’s, Newegg and others. There’s no word on any carrier agreements yet,however, and it appears that all four models are WiFi-only. (Update: Samsung confirms that an LTE edition of the Note Pro 12.2 will come to Verizon Wireless later this quarter.)

Pricing varies wildly depending on which model you’re getting. Starting at the low end of the spectrum, you can grab the 8.4-inch Tab Pro (16GB) for $400; the 10.1-inch Tab Pro (16GB) for $500; and the 12.2-inch Tab Pro (32GB) for $650. Last but not least, the productivity powerhouse itself — the Note Pro — can be yours for $750 (32GB) or $850 (64GB). Additionally, the devices come with 50GB Dropbox space for two years, a $25 Google Play credit, three-month trial Hulu Plus subscription, six months of Cisco WebEx Premium 8 and a year subscription with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Samsung also confirms that the new tablets are still outfitted with Magazine UX, which means these products haven’t been affected by the company’s rumored dealwith Google. According to reports from last week, Samsung agreed to tone down the amount of customization and special features in its Android devices. Naturally, if this does happen, we expect it to be a while before it finally takes effect.

 

read more: http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/04/samsung-galaxy-note-pro-tab-pro/

04 Feb

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Mozilla makes it a lot easier to sync Firefox bookmarks and passwords (from Engadget)

February 4, 2014 | By |

Firefox users keen to keep their browsing data up-to-date across devices will soon have one less headache to worry about. Mozilla, makers of the popular open-source browser, has decided to do away with synchronization keys for its Firefox Sync service, opting instead to utilize a simple email and password combo similar to Google Chrome accounts. The change comes after users were forced to store an auto-generated authorization code, which, if lost, would render their bookmarks, passwords and browsing history inaccessible. While it means Sync accounts are a little more traceable, in that Sync data will be directly linked with a user’s email address, the new process will enable Firefox users to quickly restore their browsing data in the event of a catastrophe like a hard drive failure. Mozilla is currently testing the new version of Firefox Sync in Nightly browser builds, meaning you’ll need to install a beta version of Firefox to try it, but we expect it to make its way to a public release in the not-too-distant future.

 

read more: http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/04/mozilla-firefox-sync-simple-browser-passwords/

04 Feb

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InfoSonics verykool T742 KolorPad tablet unveiled (from AndroidCommunity)

February 4, 2014 | By |

InfoSonics has unveiled their latest budget priced Android tablet, the verykool T742 KolorPad. The tablet is of the 7-inch variety and in this case, it happens to be powered by a dual-core 1.3GHz processor and running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. InfoSonics has this one priced at $149, and even managed to include a few extras and cellular connectivity.

 

The verykool T742 KolorPad ships with the expected, a USB cable for charging. In addition, those looking towards this tablet will find a stereo headset, data cable, travel adapter and case included in the box. As for that cellular connectivity, that means 3G HSDPA (850/1900) and 2G GSM (850/900/1800/1900).

Other specs include a 2500 mAh battery, microSD card slot (with support for cards up to 32GB), a VGA quality front-facing camera and 3 megapixel rear-facing camera. The basics such as GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3.5mm headphone jack and USB port will also be found. On the topic of Bluetooth, the tablet does support the HID profile which means you can connect a keyboard, game controller, and more.

There was a fairly detailed set of specs for the tablet, however a few key pieces were missing. InfoSonics didn’t specify the display resolution, and instead simply referred to it as a 7-inch capacitive LCD. There also wasn’t anything in terms of the internal storage. All that having been said, if you happen to be looking for a lower-priced tablet with cellular connectivity, the T742 KolorPad may be one to consider.

 

read more: http://androidcommunity.com/infosonics-verykool-t742-kolorpad-tablet-unveiled-20140203/

04 Feb

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Samsung Galaxy NotePRO and TabPRO series confirmed to launch February 13 (from AndroidCommunity)

February 4, 2014 | By |

In what some fans might call an early Valentines gift,Samsung has officially announced the upcoming availability of its brand new line of “pro tablets” starting February 13. This announcement comes rather quickly after an earlier leak disclosed that very same date.

 

The highlights of this new generation of Samsung tablets are the Galaxy NotePRO and Galaxy TabPRO 12.2, two of the largest consumer Android tablets in the market. Or rather prosumer, a new breed of users that Samsung is envisioning to take the tablet market by storm. People from this breed are characterized by the desire to employ tablets not just for casual use or content consumption but also for creating content and more serious work. As such, these tablets are endowed by a more than spacious 12.2-inch screens with a pixel resolution of 2560×1600. The 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 3 GB of RAM also touts serious business.

On the software side, the tablets also boast of features andapps that promote productive, like a four-window Multi Window. The 12.2-inch screen also has enough room for a modified on-screen keyboard that now sports additional keys that make it resemble a conventional keyboard. There has been speculation that Samsung’s recent patent cross-licensing deal with Google would, among other things, lead to the removal of the new Magazine UX. But given how close the tablets are to launch, that seems quite unlikely now.

Pre-orders for the tablets will start on February 4 midnight ET and will be available from Samsung.com, Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, and more. The Galaxy NotePRO 32 GB will sell for $749.99 while the 64 GB has a $849.99 price tag. The Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 sells for $499.99 and the TabPRO 8.9 for $399.99. These three will be available on February 13. The Galaxy TabPRO 12.2, which is priced at $649.99, won’t be available until March. A 4G LTE variant of the Galaxy NotePRO will be available from Verizon sometime later this quarter.

 

read more: http://androidcommunity.com/samsung-galaxy-notepro-and-tabpro-series-confirmed-to-launch-february-13-20140204/

04 Feb

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Grand Theft Auto 5 is the best-selling game of 2013 (from Engadget)

February 4, 2014 | By |

Between a $1 billion debut and rave reviews, it’s probably not a huge shock to you that Grand Theft Auto 5 was the best-selling game of 2013. Regardless, Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive confirmed suspicions today in the company’s financial earnings release. “Grand Theft Auto V finished as the best-selling video game of 2013,” the release states, attributing that claim to NPD. “To date, Grand Theft Auto V has sold-in more than 32.5 million units.”

Even with the game’s mass popularity and somewhat staid approach to world-building, we can’t help but commend Rockstar Games on the achievement — we loved our time in GTA5‘s single-player and (occasionally troubled) online worlds. Now all we can do is hope for an even prettier version on these new game consoles (or PC, for that matter) in 2014, though we don’t expect a repeat performance in the “best-selling game” category. Let’s not get too crazy.

read more: http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/03/gta-5-best-selling-2013/

03 Feb

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Google Now comes to the desktop in Chrome and Chrome OS betas (from Engadget)

February 3, 2014 | By |

Rumblings of Google Now on the desktop first started surfacing back in December of 2012, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that it actually broke cover. If you were a user of the Canary build of the Chrome browser you could enable the card alerts by ticking an option buried deep within the recesses of chrome://flags. This week though, Google will bring the desktop version of its virtual assistant to the betas of Chrome on Windows and OS X, as well as Chrome OS. You wont need to dig through any advanced options, you’ll just need to sign in with the same account you use on your handset — so long as you have Now enabled on your phone. Unfortunately, it sounds like Linux users are left out in the cold for now. Presumably that has something to do with how Now ties into existing notification systems on those other platforms (we’ve asked Google to clarify). With Now hitting the beta channel, enabled by default, it’s only a matter of time before Mountain View brings the feature to the masses. But if you’re anything like us, you’re already using the beta build and are maniacally hitting the update button hoping to be among the first customers it rolls out to.

 

read more: http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/03/google-now-desktop/

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