Sunday, February 27, 2011

Xoom Vs. iPad: The Real Tablet Wars Begin

Motorola couldn't have chosen a worse time to start selling the Xoom, the first real Apple iPad competitor. Just as the Xoom went on sale on Verizon, Apple dropped an iBomb in the shape of a press invitation next week to the unveiling of the next generation iPad (let's call it the iPad 2).

But even with the iPad 2 looming, Motorola's Xoom will have to go head to head with the original iPad. If you can't hold on a bit longer without a tablet, here's how the Xoom and iPad stack up against each other.

Impressive Specs
The Motorola Xoom packs some serious specs, making the original iPad look a bit behind the times. It runs on a Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz (iPad has single-core 1GHz), has 1GB of RAM (vs. the iPad's 256MB) and rocks not one, but two, cameras: a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling and a 5-megapixel one at the back, while the iPad has no cameras at all. The Xoom's screen is also slightly larger (10.1-inch vs. 9.7-inch), and the resolution is slightly higher too (1280 by 800 pixels on the Xoom, 1024 by 768 pixels on the iPad). Both tablets are similar in size and weight.
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Dell XPS 17 3D: Speedy, and in Stereo

It seems like only yesterday that a Dell XPS 17 last passed through the PCWorld Labs, yet here we have another one. That always seems to happen when a new CPU generation launches. Toss a capable GPU and 3D stereoscopic capability into the new model, and you have a feature-rich desktop replacement.

The XPS 17 3D reviewed here ships with an Intel Core i7 2820QM clocking in at 2.30GHz but capable of pushing to a full 3.4GHz in Turbo Boost mode. This is one of Intel's latest quad-core processors built on the new Sandy Bridge architecture's 32nm manufacturing process. It's a major improvement over past Intel quad-core mobile CPUs, offering faster clocks, more robust power management, and overall better performance.

The display provides the 120Hz refresh rate and IR emitter necessary for stereoscopic 3D. We used it with an aftermarket set of Nvidia's 3DVision glasses, and everything works quite well. Driving the display is an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M mobile GPU. Dell has beefed up the resolution of the display to true 1080p.

Most of the other features are comparable to those of the earlier XPS 17, including dual hard drives, four USB ports (the two on the rear are USB 3.0 capable), 802.11n, a Blu-ray drive, and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort digital video output connectors.

Our test system's performance in standard desktop apps was stellar, producing one of the highest scores we've seen from a laptop on WorldBench 6, an impressive mark of 151. The new Intel CPU, coupled with a staggering 16GB of main memory, were no doubt major factors. You'll pay for this power, however: The XPS 17 3D starts at $1450, and the configuration we reviewed will run you $2389 (prices as of February 2, 2011).
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Motorola Atrix 4G review

It's finally here -- our Atrix 4G review! We know you've waited and wondered, and we've finally had enough time with the phone, laptop dock, HD / desktop dock, and all the accessories to give you a proper take on this utterly unique smartphone. Did we say smartphone? Really that's not quite right, because the dual-core-CPU-sporting device actually does quadruple duty as a laptop, set top box, desktop computer, and... well, it works as a smartphone too. The Atrix 4G, which sports a 4-inch, 960 x 540 display, HSPA+ data, and a slew of other juicy specs is absolutely the first of its kind -- a multi-use device intended to replace your netbook (and maybe more) via its Webtop environment. But can a phone be powerful enough to become your laptop or hub of your home theater? Is Motorola's new phone set to be the king of the Android heap, or just another face in the crowd? All these questions (and more) will be answered in our full review... which you can read after the break! Read More

Gmail accidentally resetting accounts, years of correspondence vanish into the cloud?

If you've got a working Gmail account, you might want to back it up every so often -- as many as 500,000 Gmail users lost access to their inboxes this morn, and some of them are reporting (via Twitter and support forums) that years worth of messages, attachments and Google Chat logs had vanished by the time they were finally able to log on. While we haven't experienced the issue personally, we're hearing that the bug effectively reset some accounts, treating their owners as new users complete with welcome messages. For its part, Google says that the issue "affects less than .29% of the Google Mail userbase," engineers are working to fix the issue right now, and that missing messages will be restored as soon as possible. We'll soon see if this is a momentary setback... or a lengthy wakeup call.

Source: Gmail Help Forum, Google Mail Status Dashboard

Dell Venue Pro Review: Superb Design, Extra-Large Size

The Dell Venue Pro was an instant standout during the initial Windows Phone 7 launch last year. It's unique form factor, extra large display and portrait slider QWERTY really separated it from the bunch. Does the actual handset live up to the positive knee-jerk expectations, though?
Physically, it’s one solid piece of hardware with a sturdy build and really premium touches. The extra-large size (4.8 inches tall and half an inch thick!) can automatically eliminate it as an option for some, though. Display is a 4.1-inch AMOLED touchscreen (480 x 800 resolution) with rich colors, excellent brightness and plenty of sharpness. Viewing from a variety of angles is no trouble, although it washes out just a bit under sunlight (still plenty usable, though).