DETROIT: Car technology is on the increase with self-driving cars and health-monitoring seats all turning from science fiction to science fact.
As such, when V3's sister site THE INQUIRER headed to the North American and International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit to see some of the latest innovations on show, we were keen to see what they unearthed.
One of the most interesting announcements they came across was from Telsa, which was showing off its Model X SUV featuring an in-built tablet control panel.
The car was actually first unveiled in February 2012, and the Model X SUV is still in the prototype stage. However, with gull-wing doors, a front-mounted boot and seven seats it's clearly no small-scale project. It's also said to have a zero to 60mph time of around five seconds. Speedy.
Based on the four-door Tesla Model S that Tesla also showed off at NAIAS, the Model X features some updates such as all-wheel drive, thanks to an additional electric motor mounted at the front wheels.
The main feature that caught our eye, though, was that the Model X exhibited Tesla's updated in-car control centre that features a 17in capacitive LCD touchscreen, the biggest we've seen in a car yet.
Debuting in the Model S when it ships in the US later this year, the Linux-based technology will allow the driver to manage features such as climate and music control as well as navigation via Google Maps.
Better still, you'll be able to browse the web and program driving settings, such as "ride feel". Such settings allow drivers to optimise the vehicle with sounds to make it feel more like an authentic motor vehicle, because the silent drive on an electric-powered car generally lacks that factor.
The 17in display is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip, meaning it will be powerful enough to run a variety of content without lag. However, one drawback is that you cannot view video on the screen, for safety reasons, even when the engine is turned off.
Tesla said that early customers of the technology won't have to pay a penny for it during the first year of use, although monthly pricing might be introduced later on.
Another feature with Tesla's in-car technology is that you can tether your phone or tablet and use its data plan to stream content from your mobile device to the display. Tesla's control centre also has upgradable firmware, giving the driver peace of mind that it is future-proof too.
The instrument displays including the speedometer and fuel gauge are also based on digital displays, allowing the driver to customise what is shown via buttons on the steering wheel.
Deliveries for the Tesla Model X will begin in 2014, however in-car technology will come as standard on the Tesla Model S, which has already started shipping across in the US and can be expected to reach the UK by early 2014.
19 Jul 2012
ZTE unveiled its first ever Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) powered handset at a London event attended by V3 on Wednesday.
Clearly having high hopes for its first ICS handset, the company claimed the Grand X will be a major milestone in its Mobile World Congress promise to become a top three smartphone provider by the end of the year.
Having gotten our hands on the device, we offer our opening impressions of the Grand X and its chances of fulfilling ZTE's ambitions.
Design and build
The Grand X has looks fairly similar to the company's recently released Tania Windows Phone, featuring the same slightly rounded corners and hardline edges and measuring in at a fairly similar 127x65x9.9mm - the Tania's dimensions by comparison are 129x68x10.5mm.
One factor that helps differentiate the device is its weight, with the Grand X being significantly lighter than the hefty 158g Tania, weighing a much more pocket friendly 110g.
Despite being lighter though, during our hands on we were impressed with the Grand X's build quality. Though it's made of plastic the Grand X felt fairly solidly built, especially when compared to ZTE's previous Skate handset.
This was largely because instead of the Skate's glossy and pliable chassis, the Grand X's case has a thicker backplate and matte finish that help make it feel significantly sturdier.
In hand the device felt fairly nice during our tests, having soft slightly curved sides and a textured backplate that let us get a decent grip on the device.
The Grand X features a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor and boasts the now standard 1GB RAM. We found in general performance was smooth, usually taking around five seconds to load each webpage in our opening tests.
However, we did notice a few glitches navigating the main menu, with it occasionally stalling and taking a few seconds longer than we'd like to recognise our commands. We found this particularly odd considering the fact that the device managed to run the slew of games ZTE pre-installed on the device with little to no trouble.
We're hoping that the glitches in the menu were just a problem with our development demo handset and that they'll be ironed out when the Grand X is released later this August.
When it comes to displays, the Grand X features a 4.3in 960x540 qHD touch screen. Not being true 1920x1080 HD, the unit wasn't as crisp as certain other mid-tier handsets. Still, when compared to other sub-£200 handsets the display definitely held its own.
Additionally, during the event a ZTE spokesman promised us that the handset was designed to be legible even in bright, sunlit conditions - though unfortunately we didn't get to test this during our hands on.
Operating system and software
The Grand X is the first ZTE phone to run using Google's Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. During the demo it looked like ZTE has made few changes to the operating system, with the user interface looking fairly similar to the one seen on Google's own brand Galaxy Nexus handset. We're hoping this will remain true come the release and that ZTE won't overload its new flagship with a load of custom unwanted bloatware.
In fact one of the only additions we saw was Nvidia's Tegra Zone, a custom store that grants access to a portfolio of game titles not available on the standard Play store. Adding to this, the device also comes with Dolby sound technology which aims to boost the device's audio quality, though again we didn't get a chance to test the feature during our hands on.
In terms of cameras, the device features a 5MP rear facing camera backed up by a 0.3MP front facing unit. Taking a few brief snaps in the dim, low-lit basement where our demo took place we were reasonably impressed with the photo quality, with the device's flash helping ensure the photos looked reasonable, if a little oversaturated.
Battery and storage
Powering the Grand is a fairly reasonable 1650mAh battery that the company promises should last at least a full day's use. In terms of storage the device packs 4GB of internal storage that can be upgraded via the Grand X's micro-SD card slot.
ZTE already has a fairly solid, albeit understated UK presence with several network carriers, like Orange, having released its products using alternative names and branding them with their own logos - the Skate for example is better known in the UK as the Orange Monte Carlo.
Building on this pre-existing presence while we're not sure the Grand X will markedly improve ZTE's overall market share, we are fairly optimistic at its chances of snapping up a significant share of the budget handset market.
The Grand X is set for release in August via Phones 4 U on Virgin Media with a rough £190 price tag. Check back with V3 closer to the time for a full review of the device.
Fujitsu's latest tablet for the business market is an Android-based device designed to complement the Windows 7 Stylistic Q550 it introduced last year. It offers corporate users a slimmer option with more consumer appeal but with corporate features added for security and management.
The Stylistic M532 has a 10.1in screen, but is thinner and lighter than Fujitsu's older model, at just 8.6mm thick and 560g in weight. In fact, these dimensions make it roughly comparable to Apple's iPad, although slightly thinner and lighter.
Fujitsu's tablet does not have a retina display, however, settling for a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is comparable to other Android tablets such as the Asus Transformer Pad.
The Stylistic M532 is based on a 1.4GHz version of Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core ARM processor, which has an integrated GeForce GPU, and seemed to have no trouble powering the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform in our brief time with the device.
In fact, the Stylistic M532 is a slick device that could easily sway those who might be otherwise tempted by an iPad.
There is only one configuration available at launch which consists of 1GB memory, 32GB Flash storage, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a built-in 3G/HSPA modem with GPS.
The SIM card slot on the Stylistic M532 accepts standard sized SIMs rather than the micro-sized type, and next to it is a microSD slot for extra storage and Micro USB port for recharging and connecting to a computer.
Fujitsu also provides the Stylistic M532 with a HDMI output and a docking connector for use with a desktop cradle.
There is an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash at the rear of the tablet, plus a forward-facing 2-megapixel for video conferencing.
While the Stylistic M532 is based on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Fujitsu said it has deliberately not customised the platform with proprietary extensions such as a GUI overlay, so the tablet will be easy to upgrade when new Android updates are pushed out.
However, Fujitsu has pre-loaded a number of applications aimed at business users, including ThinkFree Mobile office suite, Norton Tablet Security, Nitrodesk TouchDown email client, plus Citrix Receiver and VMware View clients for accessing virtual desktop sessions.
With such features included as standard, the device could certainly find its way into many enterprises and, surprisingly, perhaps an Android tablet will be able to provide the first proper challenge to the iPad's dominance among senior executives.
The Stylistic M532 is set to be available in mid-June for £476, and we expect to have a full review available soon afterwards.
27 Feb 2012
BARCELONA: HTC is very excited about its One Series of smartphones, and after having a play with the flagship One X handset so are we.
The One X has a 4.7in behemoth of a display that may intimidate some users, but the thin design and lightweight nature of the handset makes it very comfortable to hold and the screen size is great for web browsing and multimedia consumption.
HTC has gone with a 1280x720 resolution and the handset will have a pixel-per-inch density of 312ppi, putting it up there with other high-end devices such as the iPhone 4S.
Under the hood is the Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor, which has been clocked at 1.5GHz and is supported by 1GB of RAM. We found the performance of the device to be very smooth, with no latency detected. This was impressive considering that the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system runs the resource hungry HTC Sense overlay on top.
The performance of the camera appears to have been increased greatly and it is good to see that HTC has finally addressed a feature that has let down the performance of previous devices. The 8-megapixel snapper loads up in the blink of an eye and the f2.0 lens and a BSI sensor should make the device a great camera, even in low-light environments.
A number of features that have been added to Sense 4 interface as well. When the applications menu is opened, there are options to search for an app, enter the Android Market or activate the menu. This is particularly useful for users who have dozens of apps over a number of pages.
HTC has chosen to keep three capacitive buttons below the screen as they found that users would still like these to compliment the onscreen controls on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The buttons are users to go ‘back', ‘home' or bring up most recent apps.
The recent apps feature has been given the Sense treatment and is displayed differently when contrasted with stock Android handsets. Instead of appearing in a list form in the left hand column, active applications are given a large icon and users move between them horizontally as opposed to vertically. A flick upwards on an app will also shut it down.
The only area where we are slightly disappointed is the storage. There is no micro SD support and although HTC will ship the device with 32GB of internal memory, this is likely to make it expensive. Users may be attracted by the 25GB of free storage from Dropbox for two years, though.
The One X will come with NFC capabilities, so it will be ready to make use of the infrastructure being slowly rolled out in locations in the UK and beyond. DLNA is also included as standard, so that images and video can be mirrored to larger HD displays.
From the looks of it, the One X is shaping up to be HTC's best device to date, and could be a serious challenger to other high-end devices on the market.
11 Jan 2012
LAS VEGAS: The Transformer Prime is set to drop in the UK on 12 January and will be packing Nvidia's quad-core 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor.
The sequel to the critically acclaimed Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the Prime has all the making of being another excellent hybrid tablet.
Asus has stuck with the 10.1in screen size, but has upgraded the display to so it is now has Super IPS+ technology. The display is crisp and colours are vibrant even in low light settings. The device has an outdoor setting that aims to make it easier to view content outdoors, and we look forward to testing this.
In terms of design, the Prime is stunning. The 8.3mm chassis is wafer thin and the tablet feels much lighter than the 586g. Asus seems to have hit the jackpot with weight distribution as we found it very easy to hold the device in one hand.
Nvidia has been bigging up its quad-core Tegra 3 processor, so expectations about the performance of the device were high. The chip designer wasn't over-egging its claims as the Prime is one of the fastest and smoothest devices we have handled.
Transition between applications is instantaneously and the device is able to playback HD video effortlessly. The Tegra 3 processor is also going to improve battery life, with the firm claiming 12 hours for the tablet, and 18 hours when it is docked.
Asus has included most of the major ports that you would expect in laptop. The tablet chassis includes HDMI output and a micro SD card slot. The dock features a USB 2.0 port and SD card reader.
The only real disappointing feature was the dock - as we found that the trackpad to be a big flimsy and the letters on the keyboard didn't have as much flex as we would like. On the plus side we do love the way the tablet clips into the dock and it can be carried as a netbook.
With Asus confirming that the 7in Nvidia Tegra 3 tablet will not be made available in the UK, the 10in hybrid could prove to be a popular alternative. The Prime is set to launch in the UK on the 12 January priced at around £400. V3 will post a video demo and full review soon.
Nvidia has released a new graphics demo that the firm believes showcases the capabilities of its upcoming quad-core Tegra chip codenamed Kal-el.
The quad-core chip was first demonstrated at Mobile World Congress (MWC) back in February as a showcase for Nvidia's next-generation technology. At that time Nvidia did not allow journalists to play with the tablet that housed the Kal-el chip, but the firm was looping a game demo to show off its impressive power.
Now Nvidia has shown off a new demo named Glowball running on Android Honeycomb that it says highlights the dynamic lighting capabilities of Kal-el. While the demo may lack the cut and thrust action of a game scene, dynamic lighting is a significant draw on chip resources. Something that was apparent when Nvidia showed how the demo would falter if running on a dual-core Tegra chip.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Nvidia's Glowball demonstration is that the four Kal-el cores were not maxed out at any point in the demo. It bodes well for games developers who are looking at tablets based on Apple's IOS and Google's Android operating system as the next big gaming consoles.
Back at MWC, Matt Wuebbling, senior product manager for Nvidia's notebook products, told V3.co.uk that "tablets are an interesting avenue for high-end technology". At the time, Wuebbling said that Kal-el was still a "technology preview" but added that developer devices were expected by August 2011.
Wuebbling said Nvidia's Kal-el chip will feature 12 GPU cores, adding that it is likely the firm will use TSMC to fabricate Kal-el chips, but that no final decision had been made.
The Glowball demo showcases just how far gaming has come on portable devices. Nvidia, by using its considerable history in producing gaming oriented graphics chips, has shown that consumers can expect tablets to become fully fledged portable gaming consoles when kitted out with multi-core chips.
What's more, Wuebbling told V3.co.uk that Kal-el can support numerous operating systems aside from Google's Android, including Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.
Nvidia's Kal-el chip should give Nintendo and Sony cause for concern as it tries to fight against casual gamers who prefer smartphones and tablets to dedicated games consoles.