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According to a report on Paul Thurrott's Blog, Microsoft are currently readying the unveiling of Windows 9 - the success to the, umm, variably received Windows 8 operating system.

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Though no concrete details on the new operating system are yet known, you can bet your life that Redmond are praying that a fresh start will help. Windows 8 has been hugely unpopular with users on desktop computers - with an interface geared more towards use on touchscreen devices like phones and tablets, it has left users baffled and crying when trying to use the OS to complete simple tasks. Or maybe that was just me.

Microsoft have previously released a "blue update" and a "black update" for various versions of Windows 8 - and mercifully it appears that this won't be a "brown update", with speculation that it will see the inclusion of a Windowed mode (imagine that!). It's unlikely though that we'll see the destruction of the reviled "Metro" interface entirely though, given how integral it is to both Windows Phone, Tablets and Xbox (and to be fair, it works okay in these environments).

The reveal is set for Microsoft's own BUILD conference - with final release of the OS previously known as Threshold next year in April 2015. It'll be interesting to see if MS take the bait from Apple and go free, as Mac OS did with it's latest build, Mavericks.

Stay tuned for more when we get it. And let us know what you'd like Windows 9 to do in the comments!

Thumbnail image for JBL Pebbles.pngJBL has announced the distinctive looking Pebbles, a compact USB powered stereo speaker system for the desktop, with digital signal processing and SlipStreamTechnology. 

The JBL Pebbles plug-and-play stereo speakers are designed to connect to a computer in the quickest, most efficient way possible - via USB. The speakers are powered by one single USB cable to reduce desk clutter. 

The rotating volume control syncs up with your computer. Also, because your computer is not the only place you store your music, JBL Pebbles features an AUX-in port for your smartphone or MP3 player.

"The fact that the JBL Pebbles deliver great audio is a given, or we wouldn't put the JBL name on it," said Thomas Schnaudt, Senior Product Marketing Manager MultiMedia EMEA. "With just one single USB cable powering and connecting the speakers to your PC, the Pebbles deliver trademark JBL sound without the clutter of cables."

The JBL Pebbles will be available from September for an approximate retail price of £49.99. For additional information on the JBL Pebbles stereo computer speaker system, or to purchase, visit John Lewis online, Richer Sounds and JBL.

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Key features
Pebbles Stereo Computer Speaker System
Digital signal processing and SlipStream   Technology
USB port connects directly to your computer for digital audio
AUX-in audio port for smartphones and MP3 players Dual 50 mm drivers, 80 Hz to 20 kHz 
Built-in cable management does away with clutter
Powered by your USB port
Available in a range of striking colours




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touchscreen-macbook-patent.jpgApple's MacBook Pro range has already had a fairly recent overhaul with the introduction of the Retina Display equipped models, but a new patent unearthed by Patently Apple suggests an even more radical design evolution may be on the cards.

The patent shows a MacBook computer housing not one, but two touchscreens, described as a "dual-sided trackpad".

Capable of sensing touch from both sides, the panel could potentially be transparent, allowing you to use the laptop even when the trackpad was folded over the screen.

"The track pad device may include a display element and the capacitive array element may be translucent," states the patent. Presumably the panel would display a touch keyboard when set up like a standard laptop.

Essentially merging the iPad and MacBook lines, it's definitely an interesting concept, even if it is one likely quite a way off from ever being produced. With laptop sales declining as tablets rise in popularity, this seems an intuitive way to provide the power of a laptop alongside the flexibility of a tablet.

hp-slate-21-aio-top.jpgWith their bread-and-butter PC market being ripped apart by rising tablet sales, HP's new Slate21 looks to bridge the gap between both product areas. A 21-inch touchscreen computer that can be set up to act like an all-in-one PC, it's running the Android 4.2.2 operating system rather than Windows 8.

Powered by a Nvidia Tegra 4 mobile processor, its got full Google certification, bringing the search giant's raft of top-notch Android apps to the tablet, as well as complete access to the Google Play app store in full 1080p glory.
hp-slate-21-aio-mid.jpgA simple kickstand on the rear of the machine lets you adjust it to your workspace, while a digitiser pen is also included, giving you an extra input option over a mouse and keyboard combo or your trusty old fingertips.

Initially revealed by HP's Chinese arm, we'll have more on the Slate21 once localised specs, pricing and release date is confirmed.

REVIEW: MacBook Air 11-inch (2013)

4 Comments

MacBook-Air-11-inch-2013-01.JPGreview-line.JPGName: MacBook Air (2013 edition)

Type: Notebook

Review Model Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price: From £849

review-line.JPGThe best just got better, as Apple's MacBook Air notebook gets updated with the latest Intel processors, double the storage and double the battery life. But is the low-resolution screen now dragging the package down? Read our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGAt first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the 2013 edition of Apple's 11-inch MacBook Air was identical to its 2012 predecessor. And from an industrial design standpoint, you'd be almost correct. Aside from an additional microphone embedded in the left hand side to aid noise cancellation during Skype and FaceTime video calls, it's the exact same chassis design as last year's.MacBook-Air-11-inch-2013-05.JPGAnd that's no bad thing. The 11-inch MacBook Air remains the pinnacle of portable notebook design, featuring a gorgeous aluminium unibody construction, measuring just 1.7cm thick at its chunkiest point and a startling 0.3cm at its tapered, wedge-like front edge. Weighing just 1.08kg, it's incredible lightweight, making it supremely comfortable for carrying around all day long, and just about the most attractive laptop on the market. Even with the design now a few years old, it's still a staggering achievement.
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The left edge of the laptop houses a USB 3.0 port, a 3.5mm headphone socket, the afore-mentioned dual mic array and the magnetic MagSafe 2 charging connection, which handily detaches harmlessly should you accidentally yank or trip over the cable. The right edge houses a further USB 3.0 port and the super-fast Thunderbolt port. It's not exactly an extensive array of ports (you'll need to jump up to the 13-inch model to get an SD card slot, and neither supports a wired Ethernet internet connection without an adaptor) but it's still remarkable that it can all fit in at all given the slight frame they sit within.MacBook-Air-11-inch-2013-16.JPGFor the real changes then, you're going to have to delve under the hood, where Apple have made a number of significant improvements to the internal components.
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Our review model was an entry-level machine, equipped with a fourth generation (Haswell) 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz), 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM and 128GB of SSD storage space. These specs can be configured at purchase up to a 1.7GHz Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz), 8GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB SSD storage sizes, with pricing rising respectively. Keep in mind that, unlike Apple's MacBook Pro models, the MacBook Air cannot be upgraded after purchase, so make sure that you get exactly what you need right away. For instance, though bigger than last year's paltry 64GB entry-level storage, 128GB still isn't much space at your disposal (even if you do make judicious use of cloud storage services), so definitely consider stumping up the cash for a bigger SSD configuration.

Looking firstly at the processor, you'd again be forgiven for thinking there's been no progression here. In fact, considering last year's entry level Ivy Bridge i5 processor was clocked at 1.8GHz, you'd think it was in fact a step backwards. You'd be wrong; with the same max Turbo Boost clock speeds, our Geekbench 2 benchmark saw the 2013 edition hit a score of 6703, compared to last year's managing 5,801.

If that doesn't sound like a massive jump, it's because the Intel Haswell chipsets' real trump card lies in energy efficiency. Drawing far less power than previous generations, it allows the MacBook Air 2013 model to manage 9 hours of standard usage and 8 hours of constant movie playback by Apple's estimations. And they're not far off the mark it would seem. With a full battery charge, I managed roughly 8 hours away from the mains with brightness settings just below the maximum levels and putting the processor under heavy Photoshop and streaming loads. That's incredible, and depending on your usage, you could easily squeeze a couple more hours out of the battery. That's effectively doubling the battery life over last years model.
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The Haswell chipset also sports the improved Intel HD 5000 integrated graphics, which will offer a slight boost to gamers, though not the 3D graphics performance a dedicated GPU would deliver. You'll need to stump up for a MacBook Pro to get those benefits, though the Intel 5000 HD improvements do mean the MacBook Air can now support 4K external monitors, naturally leading to speculation that Apple have one in the works.

SSD speeds are also improved. Though the average user may not notice the difference, the use of a PCIe connection for the drive instead of last year's SATA connection almost doubles read and write speeds over the 2012 model. You can expect to hit read speeds upwards of 700MBps and write speeds of 453MBps. Those jumping from a HDD equipped laptop will quickly note the benefits, with the machine booting up near instantly and apps loading much faster also.

The last notable improvement is the addition of an 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection. Without access to an 802.11ac router during the test I was unable to verify just how fast the new standard is, but positive reports suggest that both download speeds and wireless stability and range are markedly improved.
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Apple's reputation for kitting out their laptops with superb keyboards and trackpads continues here. Well spaced, backlit Chiclet keys are popped in here, with a lovely balance and tension to the bounciness of the keys. You can type at length comfortably with this machine, despite its small size and low profile. Likewise, that trackpad is as good as it gets - smooth and accurate, and registering multi-touch gestures without a stutter.
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If there's one weak spot now in the MacBook Air's otherwise-solid design, it lies with its screen. In many ways, it's a rod that Apple have built for their own back; taken on its own, the 11-inch MacBook Air's screen is fine, offering high brightness levels and accurate colours in spite of its lowly 1366 x 768 resolution. It certainly won't hinder your enjoyment of the laptop. But place the MacBook Air against a Retina Display equipped MacBook Pro or iPad, and there's a marked difference. The MacBook Air just can't compete with the vibrancy or contrast levels of the Retina Macs, let alone their ridiculous sharpness. Of course, popping a Retina Display in the MacBook Air would have a detrimental effect on the laptop's stellar battery life, but with rival Windows ultrabooks of similar size now regularly rolling out Full HD screens, it's the one gap in the MacBook Air's futuristic design. Considering the new MacBook Air is capable of hooking up to 2560 x 1600 resolution external monitors, the power's definitely there to support a Retina Display.

In terms of software, the 2013 MacBook Air comes with OS X Mountain Lion pre-installed. It's set to be superseded by OS X Mavericks a little later this year, but its still a top-notch OS that makes use of incredibly intuitive multi-touch gestures, features Apple's integrated iCloud cloud storage service, has a useful notifications centre for accessing Twitter, Facebook and email updates and plenty of other nifty things. We've written about it extensively in the past and love it, and you can get a great overview of what's on offer by clicking here.
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Mac OS X also comes with a generous suite of pre-installed applications that are all incredibly useful. Standards like Calendar, Contacts and the Reminders programs sit alongside Garageband (a powerful home studio music recording tool), iMovie (an intuitive video editing app), FaceTime (letting you make free video calls to other Apple users - be they on Macs of iOS mobile devices), Messages (for instant messaging fellow OS X and iOS users) and iPhoto (an excellent image editing and photo library management app). You've got everything you need to get going on your machine right out of the box, while the Mac App Store is on hand to grab other applications from, and iTunes ready to manage and purchase music and video files. It's a great package.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

Though there's not enough here to entice a 2012 MacBook Air owner to double-dip for this year's model, the 11-inch 2013 MacBook Air is clearly the superior model, and still more than a match for the best the ultrabook PC market has to offer. Popping in a number of significant upgrades, not least of which is remarkable battery performance, it's still the portable notebook to beat. However, if Apple wants to keep the MacBook Air ahead of the game, it's got to look at equipping the machine with a more striking display; in this age of Retina resolutions and UHD TVs, it's the only weakness in this otherwise-formidable notebook.review-line.JPG

4.5/5

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raspberry-pi-xbmc_top.jpegThe cheap, tiny and versatile Raspberry Pi computer gets perhaps its most consumer-friendly bundle yet today in the shape of the XBMC Solution.

Consisting of a Raspberry Pi computer, Ethernet and HDMI cables, a QWERTY-packing controller with touchpad and a bootable SD card which has the Raspbmc software preloaded on it, it's a steal for those looking to put together an affordable streaming kit in their living room.raspberry-pi-xbmc_web.jpg
The XBMC software (or "Xbox Media Centre" to give it its full name) will allow you to input your Xbox Live ID in order to get recommended content suggestions, you can also use it to stream your personal collection of movies and music over networked storage, or plug a USB stick in to playback media content.

Said to be easy to set up within minutes of opening the box, it's available from Element14, and will set you back a pocket-money £45.99.

hunched over laptop.jpgI've never heard of Hunched-Over-Laptop Syndrome (HOLS), but as I sit here in bed huddled over my laptop as I nurse an injured leg I can quite believe it exists.

Anyway according to a survey by Fellowes (the office equipment people - spot the vested interest here), 79 per cent of UK employees say that using say using work mobile devices, including laptops and tablets is making them ill.

The lack of specialist ergonomic equipment when on the move is the prime cause for the rise in work-related back and joint injuries, claims the survey, brought on by devices that promise to make our lives easier.

One in four report their posture worsens when working 'nomadically' (ie. not at their desk) and one in 10 now say this type of working has caused long-term posture problems when using handhelds, tablets and computers.

More than two thirds of those (65%) are forced to take medication to manage their condition and a staggering one in 20 has been forced to give up their job altogether.

And the health issues worsen with one in 10 complaining of being in constant pain and 17 per cent suffering some pain each day.

Worryingly, younger adults (those aged 18 - 24) are those most seriously affected as the research reveals that two thirds of young workers claim to have a problem caused by mobile working.

General practitioner and health broadcaster, Dr Sarah Jarvis explains: "Permanent desk spaces are the thing of the past with many of us working in a nomadic style. Mobile devices are meant to make consumers' lives easier, but what we aren't being warned about is the health ­dangers associated with working on the move.

"In many cases this so called 'HOL' syndrome is brought on by lack of ergonomic equipment. Job illnesses and ailments associated with poor posture are rising significantly and I am seeing more in my practice year on year."

(Research was conducted by Dynamic Markets in 2013 among 1000 UK adults 18+)

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sony-vaio-red-1op.jpgSony have just revealed a pair of "extremely limited" red editions of the Vaio Duo 13 slider and Vaio Pro ultrabook computers that they first announced a week ago.

As the name suggests, they machines are finished in a ruby red, with Sony telling Tech Digest that they tried numerous techniques to get the premium look the were after. The final result is something similar to a custom car paint job, with a very deep red given to each computer's chassis.

For an idea of what the Sony Vaio Red Edition Duo 13 will feel like, check out our hands-on preview with the standard edition by clicking here.sony-vaio-red-2.jpgSony will also be putting out a Red Edition of its Vaio Pro ultrabook, a slim and light machine that boast an "all-day" battery life.

Set to pack in the top specs available to each system (expect Core i7 Haswell, 12GB memory and 512GB SSD) the Red Edition Sony Vaio models will be available from sony.co.uk and Sony Centres from June 2013.

No precise pricing details available yet, but expect to pay a bit more than the standard editions

mac-pro-2013-top-apple.jpgNot content with new MacBook Air laptops and the unveiling of the OS X Mavericks desktop operating system, Apple offered a sneak-peak at a new line of Mac Pro desktop machines at today's WWDC 2013 keynote.

Cylindrical in shape and far smaller than the current model, the curvy Mac Pro for 2013 will pack in a 12-core Intel Xeon processor, 256-bit processor, ECC memory and 1,866MHz DDR3 memory. 1.25GBps read speeds will be possible thanks to Flash storage and PCIe, making the Mac Pro's storage "10 x faster" than anything that could make its way into a MacPro before, according to Apple reps at the showcase.mac-pro-2013-apple-2.jpgDual GPUs come as standard, with new Mac Pro's equipped with AMD FirePro graphics, while Thunderbolt 2 (with 20GBps throughput) is supported throughout. 4 USB 3.0, 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports will be on offer on the rear, helping to pushing the machine's 4K capabilities.

Though no firm release date or pricing was on offer, Apple say to expect the long-time coming machine to launch "later this year".

macbook-air-2012-banner.jpgAs well as unveiling their new operating system OS X Mavericks for laptops and desktop Macs, Apple took the 2013 WWDC keynote to introduce new MacBook Air models.

Packing in the latest Intel Haswell 4th-generation processors, Apple boast of 2x the graphics performance over last year's models (pictured) and considerably improved battery life.

For the 11-inch model, that translates to 9 hours of battery compared to last year's 5 hours, and 12 hours on the 13-inch model compared to the 7 hours of last year's edition.

802.11ac Wi-Fi is also included for 3x the performance and reliability of wireless signals.

"MacBook Air is the industry leader for thin and light notebooks, and now with longer battery life, we've set the bar even higher," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

"With faster flash, more powerful graphics and up to 12 hours of battery life, the new MacBook Air packs even more performance into the portable and durable design our customers love."

The 11-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.3 GHz processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6 GHz, 4GB of memory and is available with 128GB of flash storage. It starts at £849, while a 256GB of flash storage version jumps up to £1,029.

The 13-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.3 GHz processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6 GHz, backed by 4GB of memory and is also available with 128GB of flash storage, starting at £949. The 256GB version starts at £1,129.

Configure-to-order options will also be available, and will include a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, up to 8GB of memory and up to 512GB flash storage.

os-x-mavericks-banner.jpgRunning out of lions to name their desktop OS after, Apple have used WWDC 2013 to reveal OS X Mavericks, the latest operating system version for their Mac and MacBook computer line-up.

Introducing Finder Tabs, a set of Finder windows can be grouped together into tabs, with different locations and view modes. It works much the same as tabs within a web browser do. With fullscreen support, Finder Tabs also supports tags, lettings you assign identifiers to files and documents, which then offer an alternative way of searching in the finder sidebar. Tags work across both locally stored files and those housed in iCloud.

Menus can now spread across multiple displays too, bringing the OS X Dock with it, and Spaces can pan independently, allowing an AirPlay connected TV to become a fully-fledged extra display. In other words, wireless displays are in on OS X, and genuinely useful. Each separate display can support fullscreen apps.

Maverick will also compress inactive apps into memory. The technique provides 1.4x performance improvement over Mountain Lion, even with an SSD. Paired with a new "App Nap" feature, system resources will be more readily accessible to your currently active apps.os-x-mavericks-tabs.jpgSafari too gets an update. As well as new sidebar with bookmarks and a scrolling Reading List, there will be a new integrated Shared Links feature, offering up links suggested by pals through LinkedIn and Twitter. No Facebook support here though.

SunSpider benchmarks put the new version of Safari at 1.44x faster than Google's Chrome, and uses one third the resources of Firefox.

iCloud Keychain will also speed up browsing, remembering all website logins, passwords and Wi-Fi networks and their passwords too, synced across all systems and 256-bit AES-encrypted. Credit card details can optionally be stored too, but not 3-digit security codes.

Push notifications jump from iPhone to Mac too. The Notifications centre will now allow you to reply to a Twitter message directly, and you can also delete emails in the notifications sidebar too.

Skeuomorphism in the Calendar app is out, favouring a flat look, as well as offering previews of appointments that will give a preview of location and what weather to expect.
os-x-mavericks-tags.jpgiBooks will also now be available on Mac, offering 1.8 million books to desktop machines, as will the much-maligned Apple Maps service, complete with 3D flyover views.

"The Mac business has out-paced the PC business for several years now," said CEO Tim Cook, revealing that the iMac is the number one desktop computer in the US, with 28 million copies of the Mountain Lion OS shipped.

"For us it's never been about making the most. It's about quality".

Available for developers to test from today, OS X Mavericks will be available to all Mac users from Autumn. We'll bring you more news on the new operating system in the coming days.

Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-06.JPGWe're a fickle bunch us tech heads - first we're dying to throw away our digital stylus pens in favour of finger-sensitive controls, now (somewhat egged on by the success of Samsung's Galaxy Note mobile range) we're all for them again. Toshiba this week revealed new stylus-equipped Android tablets, and now it's Sony turn to show the pen is mightier (or at least as useful as) the finger with the unveiling of their latest Sony Vaio Duo convertible laptop/tablet. We had a brief hands-on play with the 13-inch device at a press preview event yesterday.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-07.JPGA little larger than last year's 11-inch model, the Vaio Duo 13 offers the best of both the tablet and ultrabook worlds, with a sliding hinge mechanism that lets the device's touchscreen sit upright behind a full-size keyboard, or flat across the keys for something akin to a traditional tablet experience.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-10.JPGWeighing in at 1.35kg it's reasonably light, though should be seen as an alternative to carrying both a notebook and tablet around, rather than being on a par in terms of size with the thinnest individual tablets or ultrabooks. 13-inches for a tablet may prove a little unwieldy for some too, though it's great to have it as an optional set up.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-05.JPGRunning Windows 8, the Sony Vaio Duo 13 also comes with a digitiser stylus pen for scribbling down handwritten notes. Updated to include a clip to house the pen when its not in use, removing the stylus from its housing automatically fires up Sony's Note Anytime app, allowing you to start writing straight way without having to first fire up the appropriate app. Paired with a lovely, vibrant 1920 x 1080 display enhanced by Sony's X-Reality, Bravia and Triliminos technologies, the pen proved responsive to our inputs, and also felt comfortably similar to a standard ballpoint.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-01.JPGLikewise, despite being relatively small, the Vaio Duo 13 had a comfortably spaced keyboard with good travel. What seems to have been compromised as a result however is the size of the trackpad, which is just a thin slice below the keys. With both touch and stylus input also supported, and the ability to plug a mouse into the device's USB port, perhaps that's not such a big problem, but may cause difficulties when trying to hammer some work out with the Vaio Duo 13 on your lap.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-02.JPGThose worried about the sturdiness of the supporting slider hinge should be able to rest easy. In our brief test it seemed solidly constructed and moved smoothly from one position to the next. Sony reps at the event also showed us a video of the vigorous stress testing the design has undergone, showing the Vaio Duo 13 hinge withstanding some pretty mean twists and bends. Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-08.JPGMultiple configuration of the Vaio Duo 13 will be available, and can include 4th-gen Intel Haswell Core i7 processors, as much as 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. There's no option for a discrete graphics solution though, with only Intel's HD4400 offered at the top end. Connectivity as standard across the range includes USB 3.0, HDMI output, an SD card slot, NFC, GPS and 4G LTE too. Battery life is quoted as 15 hours, but we weren't able to confirm that during our brief test.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-09.JPGIn a clever feat of engineering, the Vaio Duo 13's battery pack also houses an Ethernet port, which then allows you to turn the charger into a router, acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple other devices.

Set to launch in black and white colour options, Sony have yet to reveal pricing for the Vaio Duo 13. Early impressions however are positive, making Sony's latest slider one to watch.

mac-pro-2012.jpgA loose-lipped Apple product manager has said to expect "something really different" from a rumoured forthcoming Mac Pro refresh for 2013.

Speaking to David Baird of the RedUser.net forums, Apple's Douglas Brooks hinted that Apple was currently preparing a significant overhaul for the cold-shouldered Mac Pro desktop tower line.

Whether that means a significant industrial design change or simply a thorough reworking of the internal components remains to be seen, but the Mac Pro is certainly well overdue some attention from Apple, who have focussed solely on laptop and mobile devices when it comes to hardware over recent times.

Interestingly, when quizzed by Baird about expandability options for memory and graphics, Brooks replied:

"You are going to be really glad that you waited [to buy a new tower]. We are doing something really different here and I think you're going to be very excited when you see what we've been up to. I can't wait to show this off".

With the conversation between the pair taking place a few months back, there's the potential for Apple to be lining up the Mac Pro refresh for WWDC next week. If true, it'd potentially sit alongside new MacBook Air models, making it a significant event for fans of Apple's computers.

macbook-air-2012-banner.jpgAs well as the near-certain launch of iOS7 at next week's annual WWDC bash from Apple, the Cupertino company are now being tipped to reveal new hardware at the event. Set to take top billing is a new line up of MacBook Air products for 2013.

So what's set for inclusion in the slimline new notebooks? For starters, Intel's latest Haswell 4th-gen Core processors looks a dead-cert, offering improved battery efficiency and double the integrated graphics capabilities of last year's Ivy Bridge generation.

A dual-microphone system, similar to that seen in the Retina MacBook Pro line-up is also set for inclusion according to 9to5Mac, alongside faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips.

What's looking very unlikely to feature however is Intel's Thunderbolt 2 technology. Though rumoured for inclusion, Intel revealed today that their new data transfer protocol (capable of 20Gbps speeds) won't hit mass production until much later this year in time for a 2014 roll-out.

Apple's 2013 WWDC keynote kicks off on Monday. We'll bring you all the latest official announcements as they're delivered then.

Apple-Thunderbolt-MacBook-Pro.pngIntel have revealed Thunderbolt 2, the latest version of their super-speedy data transfer protocol.

Codenamed Falcon Ridge, Thunderbolt 2 makes use of a new controller chip that pops two of the 10Gbps uni-directional channels from the first iteration of Thunderbolt into a single 20Gbps bi-directional channel, effectively doubling the speeds of what was already a blisteringly-fast data transfer system.

It's introduction seems purpose built for video editors looking to put together high-quality 4K video productions at speed, allowing the simultaneous display and transfer of 4K content.

Thunderbolt 2 will also support DisplayPort 1.2, offering video streaming to a single 4K monitor or a pair of QHD monitors, without needing any fresh cables or add-ons.

Fully backwards compatible with first-generation Thunderbolt products, Thunderbolt 2 will begin production by the end of 2013 and will hit full speed at the start of 2014. That rules the technology out of any launches at Apple's WWDC next week, though next year's models could well feature it.

sony-vaio-duo-13-slider.jpgSony have today announced a new and improved Vaio slider, the Sony Vaio Duo 13.

Doubling up as both ultrabook and tablet, the device features a sliding screen that can lay flat while facing upwards over the keys to act like a traditional slate device.

Measuring 13.3-inches and packing in a Full HD Triluminous touchscreen display with X-Reality picture processing technology, the Vaio Duo 13 can be configured to include Intel's latest Haswell 4th generation processors, as much as 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Running Windows 8, the 4G-enabled slider also comes with a digitiser stylus for handwritten note taking, with the device's Note Anytime software allowing you to scribble whenever you like rather than hunting for an associated app.

The Vaio Duo 13 also features an 8MP rear-facing camera that is capable of character recognition alongside built-in software, making the device also a sort of on-the-go document scanner too. There's also a Wi-Fi router included, allowing the ultrabook to act as a hotspot for 5 other devices.

15 hours is the stated battery life, one that, if true, would put it in the upper echelons of laptop power packs.

No word on pricing yet, but expect a June release.

Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-7.JPGAlongside all-in-one PCs and high-spec Android tablets, Toshiba also had a premium gaming laptop on show today. Packing in the latest Nvidia notebook GPU and Haswell Intel processor, the Toshiba Qosmio X70 is a (relatively) portable gaming beast. We went hands-on earlier in a hotel playing host to Toshiba's press event and share our thoughts here.Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-6.JPG"Relatively portable, you say?" That's right - though billed as a gaming laptop, there's some serious heft to the Toshiba Qosmio X70. Exact measurements haven't been made available yet (and we didn't attend today's press event with weighing scales and a tape measure in our rucksack), but you're looking at a laptop at the very least an inch thick at it's chunkiest point, and weighty enough to make you think twice about carrying it over to a mate's house. This is as much a desktop replacement as a laptop.Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-1.JPGIn its defence, there's some incredible power tucked under the hood though, and that space is needed to house it all and keep air flowing over all the hot-running components. The Qosmio X70 can be configured to include a Haswell Quad-Core i7 CPU, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 770M, a whopping 32GB of RAM over 4 slots and a 3TB HDD paired with a 256GB SSD. Though it'd push your bank balance into the red, that's a formidable configuration.Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-8.JPGIt's certainly enough power to see many games shine on the machine's 17.3 inch 1080p display. With an 8ms response time and LED backlighting it's both responsive enough for hardcore gamers and vibrant enough for enjoyable Blu-ray playback from the included high-def disc drive, if a little reflective.

The Qosmio also continues the line's in-your-face design sensibilities, with matte and gloss black plastics sitting alongside brushed aluminium elements and red accents. The keyboard too features red-glowing backlighting.Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-3.JPGWe had a brief play through the introductory chapter of recent PC release Metro: Last Light on the laptop. The performance was incredibly impressive, given how demanding a title the game is. Running at the display's native full HD resolution and all graphical settings set to their highest value (tessellation and anti-aliasing effects maxed out, and texture settings cranked up too), the game ran incredibly smoothly. Though we didn't have the means to run a proper framerate test, to the naked eye it looked as though the game was hovering around a consistent 30fps mark - not a buttery smooth 60fps, but very playable indeed nonetheless. The machine obviously has some mean gaming chops, and should have no problem playing the current generation of top-tier, demanding PC games.Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-5.JPGWe did make two slightly concerning observations however during the brief testing session. Firstly, the Qosmio X70 was running hot. Like really hot; we stood to the side of the machine to take a few photos (next to where its ventilation system is placed), and we thought for a moment that someone had turned the hotel's radiators on, despite it being a summers day. Of course, gaming laptops always run hot, what with the powerful components crammed into such a tight space, but this seemed worryingly toasty.Toshiba-Qosmio-X70-2.JPGOur second issue came with the trackpad. Though comfortably sized and responsive, it wouldn't allow us to move our Metro: Last Light character forward while also turning. Having not played the game on another computer, this could potentially be a quirk with the title as opposed to the machine (please do chime in in the comments section below if that's the case), or maybe a problem with the pre-production model we were testing, or even an elusive setting having been activated. It's probably nothing, but worth pointing out at this stage if it's a system-wide problem that rears its head again upon release. We'll keep an eye out.

Despite the concerns, the Qosmio X70, like last year's model, again has the potential to be a winner. It's certainly powerful enough to tempt pro gamers, who will wan't to keep an eye out for it's launch come Q3 2013. You'll need to start saving now though if you're interested, with prices starting at a high £1,499.

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REVIEW: Toshiba Qosmio X870-11Q gaming laptop

Qosmio-PX30t-10.JPGToshiba have today unwrapped their 2013 laptop, tablet and PC lines at a preview event in London, and Tech Digest went hands-on with a number of forthcoming products from Tosh. First up, the Qosmio PX30t 23-inch touchscreen all-in-one PC, set to challenge Apple's iMac for self-contained desktop dominance.Qosmio-PX30t-08.JPGRunning the touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system, runs at a full HD 1920 x 1080p resolution, with 10-point multitouch input accepted.

Available in both 3rd generation Ivy Bridge and brand-spanking-new 4th generation Haswell processor configurations, we tested a model packing a Core i7-4900MQ processor clocked at 2.8GHz, backed by 16GB of RAM. As well as Intel HD 4000 graphics being offered, optional Nvidia GeForce GT 740M discrete graphics options can also be configured.Qosmio-PX30t-12.JPGAs well as offering as much as 3TB of storage space, the Qosmio PX30t also boasts a side-mounted Blu-ray drive, 2x USB 2.0 ports, 4x USB 3.0 ports, wireless connectivity (including Intel WiDi and Miracast) and HDMI input. That HDMI port can be used to carry 4K content to an external compatible display, while the Qosmio PX30t display itself can also double up as a standalone monitor.Qosmio-PX30t-04.JPGAll is housed within a reasonably compact black plastic chassis with chrome trim, sitting on an attractive aluminium stand. Each will also come with a wireless mouse and keyboard, the mouse having an angular yet comfortable design. HarmonKardon supply the audio tech, with the screen housing built-in 20W stereo speakers, tuned with DTS Studio Sound.Qosmio-PX30t-11.JPGThough our time with the Qosmio PX30t was limited, it felt a snappy and responsive AIO. Even over the din of a busy showroom the speakers seemed very capable, lining the machine up as (at the very least) a competent media player, while the screen itself reacted well to touch input and was richly colourful thanks to LED backlighting. It was fairly reflective, though again the bright lights of the showroom may not be the best place to judge it in this respect.Qosmio-PX30t-05.JPGLove it or loathe it, jumping about the Windows "Modern" or "Metro" UI was snappy too, and though we couldn't put the graphics chip through its paces with something a little more demanding like Crysis 3, the Qosmio PX30t handled racing title Drift Mania Championship 2 without a stutter, suggesting that some casual gaming wont tax the system, nor will some older 3D titles.

Available from Q3 2013, entry level configurations of the Qosmio PX30t will start at £799. We'll have more from today's Toshiba press conference a little later.

Ballistix High Res.jpgCrucial has announced the immediate availability of the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT memory.

Designed for gamers and enthusiasts looking for fast and responsive performance, Ballistix Sport XT modules offer XMP profiles for advanced speeds and timings as well as easy BIOS configuration in supported systems.

"The Crucial Ballistix Sport series is designed to provide mainstream users and performance enthusiasts with a reliable, no-hassle gaming experience," says Jeremy Mortenson, senior product manager, Crucial.

"The new Sport XT memory offers an attractive new heat spreader styling for gamers who are looking for enhanced thermal performance, and a new colour that complements popular motherboards."

Available in 4GB and 8GB modules and up to 32GB quad channel kits (8GBx4), Sport XT memory offers DDR3 speeds up to 1866MHz. Crucial Ballistix Sport XT memory modules are available now at ebuyer, and dabs, or directly at www.crucial.com/uk.

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Haswell-intel-top.jpgIntel have officially launched its fourth generation of processors, Haswell and Bay Trail, looking to focus on getting the chips in ultrabooks, tablets and hybrid devices.

Revealed during the company's Computex 2013 press event in Taipei after many months of snippets of info being released, Intel claim their Core Haswell processors are the most power efficient they've ever made, delivering "the biggest power savings" in Intel's history, squeezing as much as 9 hours of battery life out of laptops while doubling the graphics performance of the Ivy Bridge generation of Intel chips.

Likewise, the new Bay Trail-T Atom chipset is billed as the " most powerful Intel Atom system on chip yet for tablets."

A 22nm quad-core Atom system on chip based on Silvermount microarchitecture, it'll support both Windows 8.1 and Android machines, and is expected to be found in plenty of tablets before the end of the year. The Bay Trail-T can offer as much as 8 hours or more battery life, and weeks on standby, and integrates Intel's newly announced 4G LTE multimode for high-speed mobile data transfers/

"Today we deliver on the vision set forth 2 years ago to reinvent the laptop with the introduction of our 4th generation Intel Core processors that were designed from the ground up for the Ultrabook and serve as the foundation for a new era of 2-in-1 computing," said Executive Vice President Tom Kilroy.

"We made one of the most seismic changes to our roadmap ever to build these new Core processors that deliver the stunning performance of the PC and the mobility of a tablet in one device. The new processors power the most exciting 2-in-1 designs to-date."

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