ZOTAC ZBOX ID83 Plus Review

January 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Media Center PC, Reviews, Spotlight

I’ve reviewed enough ZOTAC ZBOX devices in my time that I can now pretty much benchmark them in my sleep. ZOTAC certainly likes to push out these mini-PCs as often as possible, gently tweaking the hardware each time to either include a faster processor, more connectivity options, or just to improve up on the overall look. CES 2013 was an opportunity for ZOTAC to feature their latest ZBOX lineups, and this week I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the devices shown, the ZBOX ID83 Plus.

Build quality & Design

As far as looks go, the ZBOX ID83 pretty much keeps up with ZOTAC’s design aesthetic, featuring a slim black plastic case with a familiar blue ring at the top when the unit is powered on. The front of the device features the power button, LED status indicators, memory card reader, and audio ports. At the back you’ll find an optical out port, HDMI and DVI connectors, Ethernet, Wifi, and a host of USB ports, including USB 3.0.


The ZBOX ID83 also follows in the footsteps of other models by making it extremely easy to get under the hood. Simply unscrew the two thumbscrews and you can slide off the base plate, making it easy for you to upgrade the RAM or HDD. You also get the included monitor mount if you want to attach the ID83 to the back of your display to keep it out of sight.

Specifications

What makes the ZBOX ID83 special is that this is the first model I’ve seen with an Intel Core i3 processor and Intel HD 4000 Graphics, making it quite a souped up little thing. While I’ve previously had to deal with AMD architecture, the ID83 is a refreshing change and performed just as well as an entry-level desktop or Ultrabook would. The BIOS also offers power users the option to get deep into the processor to try and squeeze as much performance out of the unit as possible.

Benchmarks & Performance

When it came to performance, the ZBOX ID83 was able to handle pretty much whatever I threw at it. Whether it was scrolling through complex spreadsheets, flipping through large pdfs or even watching HD videos on full screen, the ZBOX ID83 never skipped a beat. I did spot a slight framerate issue when I connected it to my LG TV, but I think this is more down to my TV trying to be a ‘smart TV’ and less to do with the ZBOX. Another great feature of the ID83 is that you can connect two simultaneous displays, which is a bonus for anyone who requires that kind of a setup.

The onboard Intel HD 4000 Graphics allows you to play a few games at lower resolutions – I was able to fire up Guild Wars 2 and run it at the lowest setting. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest sight, but the fact that I would never be able to run this program on previous ZBOX versions is a testament to what a difference this new tweak in hardware can bring.

Heat and Noise levels

Like with most ZBOX units, the ID83 runs fairly quietly even with its internal fans whirring constantly to keep the device cool. Even when I pushed the unit to continue streaming various HD clips, there were no loud noises or excessive heat from the unit.

Conclusion

With the ZBOX ID83, ZOTAC have certainly upped their game in the mini-PC market. The improved Intel processor makes the ID83 a great and compact desktop replacement for most office or home tasks, and even the odd videogame or basic Photoshop. If you’ve got one of the older ZBOX units or are looking for a slightly faster media-based PC, then this is the unit to grab.

Next-gen iPhone components reportedly leaked (yawn)

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Do you own an iPhone 5? Do you love cradling it in your hands as you bask in the envy of all your friends?

Well enjoy the feeling while it lasts, because it’s time for the iPhone rumor-mill to start cranking out leaks for the new iPhone. Two new photos posted today by French blog nowhereelse.fr claims that Apple is already looking at the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6. The photos are of speaker components, and when compared to the current iPhone 5 appear to have changed slightly, indicating that Apple is already looking at revised models of their iPhone.

Several analysts have predicted that Apple will launch a cheaper, no-contract iPhone this year, retailing between $350-$450.

(via nowhereelse.fr)

Twitter launches advertising services in MENA region

January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Twitter Inc yesterday officially launched their partnership with Egypt-based agency Connect Ads to bring advertising opportunities to the MENA region. Under the partnership, Connect Ads will manage all Egypt, UAE, KSA, and Kuwait sales, as well as assisting Twitter with its suite of Promoted Products.

“MENA is one of Twitter’s fastest-growing regions, and we are seeing significant interest from marketers there who want to use our Promoted Products to build their businesses and connect with consumers,” said Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice president of international revenue. “Working with Connect Ads gives Twitter a strong partner with a footprint throughout the region and proven digital capabilities enabling us to scale and educate the markets as we introduce Twitter’s Promoted Products. This is the next step in expanding Twitter’s international presence, building on top of our recent launch in Latin America earlier this year.”

“Together, we will offer advertisers new and relevant opportunities to engage the MENA region audiences and drive value for brands and consumers. The growth of social media in the MENA region is among the highest in the world, and Twitter is one of the most recognized and utilized platforms in our region,” said Mohamed El Mehairy, managing director of Connect Ads. “We are excited to be Twitter’s sales representatives and to consolidate our partnership through bringing our experience in introducing digital companies in the MENA market to our new partner.”

The event was held at Atlantis The Palm, in Dubai and was covered by the hashtag #TwitterMENA but scrolling through the tag reveals the most popular tweets to be revelations such as “Number of active Twitter users in the Middle East has tripled in the last year” and how cute the Twitter logo looked carved into a watermelon.

RIM gearing up for high-profile Super Bowl advert

January 27, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Research In Motion is certainly pulling out the big guns leading up to the official reveal of BlackBerry 10. The company’s latest OS will be globally revealed on Jan 30th, and the buzz is certainly growing.

An internal communications has gone around in the company announcing that a high-profile BlackBerry advert will be screened at the upcoming Super Bowl event in the US. No leaks or clues have been given out yet about what’s going to be revealed in the advert, but it’s clear that the announcement will be geared more towards die-hard fans of the BlackBerry handset.

All eyes are on RIM for the BlackBerry 10 release, with expectations riding high as the launch date draws near. It’s a crucial time for the company, which is trying its best to regain some kind of footing in the mobile handset market, having been firmly pushed aside by the likes of Apple and Android.

Stay tuned to tbreak.com for our full coverage on BlackBerry 10 when it launches.

Belkin in talks to purchase Linksys

January 26, 2013 by  
Filed under News

As reported a few weeks earlier, rumors were circulating that networking giant Cisco were in talks to sell off their home-networking division Linksys, which they acquired in 2003.

Today it has been revealed that fellow networking company Belkin has entered into talks to purchase Linksys, which will include its technologies, employees, and of course the Linksys brand.

In a press statement issued today, Belkin CEO Chet Pipkin said he was ‘very excited’ about the announcement, adding “Our two organizations share many core beliefs – we have similar beginnings and share a passion for meeting the real needs of our customers through the strengths of an entrepreneurial culture. Belkin’s ultimate goal is to be the global leader in the connected home and wireless networking space and this acquisition is an important step to realizing that vision.”

Belkin stated that it will continue to honor the Linksys brand post-acquisition, and will support all previous sold Linksys hardware and warranties.

Read the full press release here.

Nokia poised to cut over 1,000 IT jobs

January 18, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Nokia announced today that it would go ahead with its plan to cut over 1,000 IT jobs as part of a greater plan to streamline its IT organization and reduce costs.

The company announced back in June 2012 that it would be making larger changes to its core functions in order to better align its IT function with its business focus. The move will see around 300 employees being laid off, with up to 820 employees being transferred to IT firms HCL Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services.

Nokia commented “Nokia will offer employees affected by these planned reductions both financial support and a comprehensive Bridge support program. These are the last anticipated reductions as part of Nokia’s focused strategy announcement of June 2012.”

Microsoft Security Essentials fails security testing

January 17, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Microsoft Security Essentials, the free security and antivirus program for Windows, has failed to be certified as an effective program for the second time in a row.

In independent tests conducted by AV-Test.org, the company tested various leading antivirus and security programs to measure just how effective they were against viruses and trojan attacks. MSE and two other antivirus programs failed the tests, with MSE failing for the second time in a row. The tests grade programs out of 18 points, with the passing score being 11; MSE scored 10. In the ‘Protection’ category, MSE scored 1.5 out of 6, for Repair it scored 3 out of 6, and for Usability it scored 5.5 out of 6.

Other Antivirus suites that failed the tests were AhnLab which scored 8.5, and PC Tools Internet Security also scored a 10.

(Source: AV-TEST)

Check out a sneak peek of the BlackBerry Z10

January 16, 2013 by  
Filed under News

There’s still 2 weeks to go before RIM officially reveals BlackBerry 10, but if you’re eagerly awaiting to see what all the fuss is about, a new video has emerged that extensively demos the BlackBerry Z10 handset.

The video, uploaded in German by TelekomPresse, doesn’t show anything that we haven’t seen before in terms of features and the user interface. But it does go through a brief hardware tour of the Z10, mostly showcasing the handset’s sleek design and how thin it is. Check out the video below for the full tour, and stay tuned to tbreak for our full BlackBerry 10 coverage in the weeks to come.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRw32eVaTlo&w=550]

(via TelekomPresse)

BlackBerry 10 nabs 15,000 apps in two days

January 15, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Research In Motion is set to reveal BlackBerry 10 at the end of this month, but that isn’t stopping the company from already building up buzz around their upcoming new OS.

In a tweet posted by Alec Saunders, VP Developer Relations – Research In Motion, nearly 15,000 apps were ported to the BlackBerry 10 platform. The ‘Portathon’ included a session with Android developers, who were encouraged to port their apps to BB10. BlackBerry has previously touted the porting of Android apps when it launched the BlackBerry Playbook, which allowed Android apps to run on the Playbook with a few restrictions.


RIM has previously offered cash prizes and BB10 Alpha devices to keen developers, and it’s putting as much force as it can into the BB10 launch event at the end of this month. Many tech analysts are eagerly waiting to see what BlackBerry 10 can bring to the handset manufacturer, which has suffered greatly in past years from declining sales against the likes of Apple and Android. While RIM may have some catching up to do, it remins to be seen if BlackBerry 10 really can put the company back on the mobile map.

HCL launches ME Tablets in MEA region

January 15, 2013 by  
Filed under News

At a press conference yesterday, HCL Infosystems Ltd. announced that they would be releasing a new lineup of Android tablets in the Middle East and Africa regions. The three new tablets are all powered by Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and start retailing at about AED 399. The market is already rife with low-cost Android tablets geared towards consumers who are keen to jump onto the tablet bandwagon, but aren’t yet willing to splurge on higher end tablets from makers such as Samsung and Apple. While these cheaper tablets are of course affordable, many of them don’t always pack enough power under the hood to allow for a decent tablet experience. It will be interesting to see how the HCL tablets fare in our tests, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for our in-depth look.

Press Release: HCL Infosystems Ltd. India’s premier Services and ICT Systems Integration, Distribution and Hardware Company has today announced the launch of a new range of ME tablets in the Middle East and Africa. As part of HCL’s continuous commitment to the market and their customers, HCL has launched three new ME tablets, namely U2, V1 and Y3. HCL has emerged as the leaders in value tablets in the Middle East and the new series aims to enhance user experience and create absolute value for customers across categories in the region. HCL has tied up with Axiom Telecom, the leading telecom solutions provider in the region, as its service partner for the region.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Srinath Nagarajan, Business Head-MEA, Mobility Business Unit, HCL Infosystems MEA, said, “We are very excited to launch our new range of ME tablets in the region. The launch comes as part of our commitment to offer the best in technology and continue our innovation and leadership in the value category of tablets in the region. This region has a highly competitive tablet market with the demand for innovative technologies growing at a rapid pace. We have made huge investments in research to develop innovations that would enable us to deliver devices to a larger customer base, making technology more accessible. Understanding the need to cater to individual preferences of our customers and resonating the brand message – Change Begins with ME, we wish to meet and exceed their expectations in technology by delivering an amazing user experience.”

The ME tablets have been innovated to offer various unique and specialized features. The U2 Tab offers a fast processor and Google Play, the V1 Tab has a facility for 2G calling and the Y3 Tab has 3G calling facility and a Dual Sim.

The U2 has an integrated HDMI connectivity Port, which connects the tablet to external display devices for gaming, video playback or emails. It has a powerful CPU, being powered by a 1 GHz Cortex A9 CPU which enables U2 to deliver high performance with low power consumption. The Tab has an integrated front camera for video chat. The tablet also carries a powerful GPU and 1GB DDR3 RAM which enables one to enjoy smooth 2D/3D graphics gaming. The tablet has an 8GB internal memory where one can store all their favourite movies, photos, games and also which is externally expandable through a 32GB micro SD card. It also comes pre loaded with Thinkfree Office which enables users to create and edit office documents on the go.

The key features & specifications of the ME U2 are:
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- 7 inch Multi – touch Capacitive Screen
- Next Generation Processor
- ARM Mali-400GPU
- Front camera for Video Chat
- HDMI Port
- Priced at $109 USD (399 AED).

The HCL ME V1 tablet has a sleek and slim Metal ID, combining fashion and sturdiness in an elegant form. It has a built-in voice calling, having the integrated phone functions of voice calling and integrated SIM slots. The V1 Tab even beats its similar competitors in the android tablet and phone category with its powerful features such as 1 GHz processor, Android 4.0, dual camera with LED flash, 1 GB DDR3 RAM and 8GB internal memory. It also has an integrated voice receiver, proximity sensor, and loud speakerphone enabling the tab to be used as a full fledged android smartphone. It has integrated Graphics enabling smooth graphics and gaming.

The key features and specifications of the ME V1 are:
- Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- Next Generation 1GHz Cortex A8 Processor
- 7″ inch multi touch capacitive screen
- Enhanced Graphics
- 1GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB Internal storage expandable up to 32GB
- Dual camera with LED Flash
- Priced at $136 USD (499 AED)

The new ME Y3 tablet has a built in 3G high speed connectivity (HSUPA) through which one can surf the net, stream videos and play online games. The Y3 tab supports dual card SIM function, and both can be used for data or voice. The tab has a built-in GPS/A-GPS and it gives access to geo-position applications and mapping applications. It also has an integrated phone function, which enables one to get connected with friends and family through integrated voice call function, also enabling SMS, emails and chats on the go. The tab has a WIFI hotspot, where one can share their 3G connection with friends and other devices, with built-in WIFI hotspot feature. It has a powerful GPU and 1GB DDR3 RAM. It has HDMI connectivity, where the tab connects to external display with the built in Mini HDMI Port. The tab has huge memory, where one can keep and share videos, photos, games, through a built-in 8GB internal flash and externally expandable to 32GB MicroSD card.

The key features and specifications of the ME Y3 are:
- Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- 7 inch high resolution (1024 x 600) Multi – touch Capacitive Screen
- 1GB DDR3 RAM, External Expandable to 32GB
- Dual camera
- HDMI connectivity
- 8GB internal memory
- Priced at $204 USD (749 AED)

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