Vaio Fit May Be the Laptop Windows 8 Has Been Looking For

Sony’s new Vaio Fit laptop line could give Windows 8 a nice lift. It’s not an Ultrabook — but it’s not priced like one, either. “The Vaio Fit looks like a stylish, extremely serviceable laptop that should be an attractive option for numerous consumer and work applications,” said Pund-IT analyst Charles King. “Touch-enabled products like the Vaio Fit could help Microsoft significantly.”

Sony introduced its new line of entry-level laptops on Tuesday. The new Vaio Fit series starts at around US$550 with the Fit E, which offers Intel’s Core processors, discrete Nvidia graphics processors, and hybrid hard drives, as well as a full-sized keyboard and trackpad. The step-up Vaio Fit, at $649, offers an aluminum chassis.


Vaio Fit 14

Sony’s Vaio Fit 14


The Fit models utilize Sony’s Exmor R sensors, which enable a webcam that can capture respectable images even in low light. They have near-field communication capability for quick exchange of Web URLs, as well as the option to enable Bluetooth and WiFi direct connections to compatible NFC devices.

Although large enough to include an optical drive, the Fit notebooks are smaller than most thin and light laptops.

“It’s interesting that Sony [isn’t] classifying these as an ‘Ultrabook,'” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS iSupply.

“Now whether or not Sony just decided not to, or if there are actually specific specs within the new Vaio Fits that don’t meet Intel’s Ultrabook requirement, I don’t know,” he added.

“This could also be a trend that we might start to see more of,” Stice told TechNewsWorld, “meaning, an ultrathin-designed system with powerful features, but maybe misses one of Intel’s Ultrabook specs so they can’t call it as such — but this in turn allows for a lower-priced unit.”


Prices Trending Down

The Fit lineup is available in 14- and 15-inch models in black, silver and pink. The Fit 15 features an HD 1920×1080 display resolution, while the Fit 14 has 1600×9000 resolution. The Fit E provides 1366×768 — enhanced definition level resolution — in both the 14- and 15-inch models.

“Overall, the Vaio Fit looks like a stylish, extremely serviceable laptop that should be an attractive option for numerous consumer and work applications, especially considering its pricing,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

The Fit suggests makers are looking to go ultra small and sleek, even with machines that may not meet Ultrabook specs.

“It does appear to be a nicely packed system with good performance features at a very reasonable price point,” added Stice.

“One might consider this the next wave of the ultrathin class of Mobile PCs — and what I mean by that is the PC OEMs are finding ways to create a strong performing ultrathin PC, with touch, and at price points that aren’t going to turn away heads,” he explained.

“Six months ago, these types of systems were in the $1,000 price range, but seeing these down now in the $650 range as it appears the entry Fit 14 will be, it is a good sign that the trends are going in the right direction,” Stice said.

Lightweight and Light on the Pocketbook

Sony’s new Vaio Fit lineup features the company’s ClearAudio+ technology, along with a virtualized surround sound experience. The step-up Fit models come with ArtRage Studio, a touch-oriented painting program that takes advantage of Windows 8 touch-enabled functionality.

For the price, the Vaio does seem like an affordable alternative to a tablet with a few more productivity options.

“The Sony Fit is one of the first of a new wave of Windows 8 Touch laptops at price points that the market is ready to accept,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“At launch there was a huge separation between high-quality products and the price people were willing to pay for them,” he recalled. “Average prices were in the $1,100 range and the market was far closer to $650. This release brings quality touch products down into the price ranges where people are willing to buy them.”

Sony’s brand has taken some hard knocks in recent years; could products like the Vaio Fit help get the company back into fighting shape?

“These are attractive thin and light products that are surrounded by Sony’s Apple-like build quality — and unlike Sony machines of the past, they aren’t full of crapware destroying the user experience,” Enderle pointed out.

However, “Sony doesn’t have the funding they once had,” he observed, “and that suggests that marketing could be underfunded — and without strong marketing, these won’t sell to their potential.”

Road to PC Tablet?

The release of Sony’s Vaio also comes as Microsoft’s Bill Gates predicted that the iPad and Android tablet users might make a move to PC tablets, as the latter offers better productivity options. Windows 8, which has not exactly been a smash hit, nevertheless has passed the 100-million-license mark — and devices such as the Vaio Fit could help further convince people to give the touchscreen-enabled OS another look.

“Touch-enabled products like the Vaio Fit could help Microsoft significantly,” Pund-IT’s King told TechNewsWorld. “In fact, though Sony is certainly ahead of some PC competitors, I expect to see numerous notebooks similar to the Vaio Fit as the year progresses.”

Given that Microsoft is giving Windows 8 a makeover with Windows 8.1, aka Windows Blue, users could find fewer problems with it and more to like.

“These products (such as the Vaio) will be followed by offerings from other vendors who don’t have this marketing shortcomings, suggesting the hardware for Windows 8 is getting sorted,” said Enderle. “While much of the market may still wait for Windows Blue expected later this year, these moves should significantly improve Windows 8 adoption rates.”




Skype Rival Viber Joins the Desktop Phone, Video Chat Party

It’s starting to get a little crowded on computer desktops for phone and video calling services. Viber, a mobile messaging app that has quickly gained 200 million users worldwide, announced this week its availability for PCs and Macs. Those taking bets on a Skype-Viber showdown, however, should consider the latter’s technology and what it can — and can’t — enable for users.

Viber, a proprietary cross-platform instant messaging VoIP app for smartphones, is now available for Windows and Mac OS X desktops, Viber Media announced on Tuesday.

Viber's Desktop Calling Service for PCs

The mobile version of Viber runs on Android, iOS, Symbian and some versions of the BlackBerry and Windows Phone OSes.

Viber works on both 3G and WiFi networks. The app is currently free to download, although the company reportedly plans to begin monetizing its service later this year.

The application has been viewed by some as a competitor to Skype. It claims to have more than 200 million users worldwide.

What Viber Brings to the Desktop

Activating the Viber Desktop app requires the user to have a cell phone since the service is tied to cell phone numbers. Users key in their mobile number, get a confirmation code on their phones, and the desktop is ready to go.

Viber immediately syncs a user’s mobile phone contacts to the desktop and will do so continuously.

Users can transfer calls seamlessly between desktops and their mobile devices running Viber with a click or tap. Received and sent messages are shown on all devices, but only the device currently being used will beep. All messages and conversations are synced among all devices, so deleting them from one device deletes them from all.

Viber Desktop offers video calls so users can make desktop-to-desktop calls to friends just as they would with Skype and Google+. This feature is still in beta and is not yet available to mobile users.

Viber supports several languages.

Analyzing the Viber Experience

Viber claims users get to make free messaging and HD-quality free phone calls, but calls made to people who don’t have the Viber app may incur carrier network charges. International roaming rates might apply for calls between Viber app users in different countries.

“You could go on WiFi, but WiFi isn’t available everywhere,” said Julien Blin, a directing analyst at Infonetics. “Or, if you have a data plan then you will be using those data minutes.”

As for the HD-quality phone calls, “I’ve tried Viber myself and the quality is not that great,” Blin told TechNewsWorld. “Like Skype, it uses VoIP, and VoIP connections often drop calls.” Further, “to expect that quality would be as good on VoIP over wireless as it would on VoIP over landlines doesn’t make sense to me.”

Viber can’t answer questions about its new desktop version until Wednesday, company spokesperson Jonah Balfour told TechNewsWorld.

Security and Privacy

Viber has had security and privacy issues. Attackers could apparently lock the homescreen of a user’s Android device because the Viber mobile app’s permissions include a clause that lets the app do so.

The mobile Viber app also accesses the address book of the device it is installed on, and stores the names and phone numbers gleaned in Viber Media’s servers on a live database that does not have a historical backup, according to Viber’s privacy policy. If a user deletes the address book from the company’s servers, that deletion will be instant and permanent.

Much of the other stipulations are similar to those of Google, Facebook and other Web-based companies.

Viber has apparently fixed the homescreen lock problem.

Taking On Skype

Although Viber is seen by some as being a competitor to Skype, it might not quite fit that description.

Skype users can make international calls at a discounted rate, but Viber users can’t. Also, Skype does not automatically grab the contents of a user’s address book.

“Skype’s got the brand and a very large installed base,” Blin said, “and it’s going to be very hard to compete against.”



Huawei Founder Speaks

Today in international tech news: Huawei’s founder speaks to reporters for the first time; Sony finally turns a profit; Facebook is in talks over another $1 billion acquisition; and Nokia releases new software to bolster cheaper devices and increase sales in emerging markets.

Ren Zhengfei, the founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies, spoke to the media for the first time on Thursday.

Ren, formerly a member of the Chinese military, has been the focal point of Western skepticism toward Huawei — which resulted in the company being barred from a broadband project in Australia, as well as being labeled as untrustworthy in a U.S. House Intelligence report, along with fellow Chinese telecom ZTE.

Ren’s military connection has long been viewed as suspicious, even before a February reportfrom U.S. security firm Mandiant labeled the Chinese military a serial hacker.

Ren’s presser was in New Zealand, where Huawei won contracts to built ultrafast broadband networks and 4G LTE.

Though he claimed that Huawei is not at all connected to the cybersecurity issues plaguing the U.S., Ren didn’t offer anything particularly startling or revealing.

Despite some problems in certain Western markets, Huawei is not hurting at the moment. It is the second-largest telecom in the world — behind Ericsson — and is also the No. 5 handset maker.

[Source: Reuters]


For 1st Time in Years, Sony Announces Profit

Sony on Thursday announced that it took home an annual profit, the first time in five years that the Japanese company has been in the black.

The net profit of US$458 million, for the financial year that ended in March, is being attributed to a) the company’s frugality; and b) a plunge in the value of the yen. The company logged about $70 billion in sales.

Last year, the company reportedly lost more than $4 billion.

Some of Sony’s belt-tightening came in the form of phasing out flat-panel TV manufacturing ventures with Sharp and Samsung; doing away with its chemical products business; and selling office buildings, including its $1.1 billion headquarters in New York City.

Having shed that dead weight, Sony has reason to be optimistic. Its Xperia Z smartphone was released in February to favorable reviews, and the PlayStation 4 videogame console is expected out this year.

[Source: The New York Times]

Facebook’s Next $1 billion Acquisition?

Facebook is in “advanced talks” that could result in the purchase of Israeli mobile satellite navigation outfit Waze for between $800 and $1 billion.

Facebook purchased Instagram last year for roughly $1 billion, so such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented for the social media giant. What’s more, Facebook has been busy in Israel, having acquired Snaptu for $70 million in 2011, and for $60 in 2012.

Waze uses satellite signals from users’ devices to create maps and traffic data, and then shares that data with others to create real-time traffic information.

Waze’s leverage may have gone up in the time since talks began six months ago: Its user base tripled to 45 million in March alone.

[Source: Reuters]

Nokia Releases New Software

Finland-based Nokia has unveiled new software to run its Asha devices.

The software, which is an upgrade on the S40 program that powered 300 million phones sold in 2012, will allow users to “swipe” from screen to screen while doing more than one thing at once.

Nokia’s first quarter mobile phone sales were 11 million short of projections; basic handset sales were down 21 percent.

The new software, which will be available on the yet-to-be-released Asha 501, will give Nokia’s cheaper handsets some new flare, which the company is hoping will bolster sales in emerging markets. The software will bring the Asha more in line with the more expensive Lumia line.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Lumia 928 Steps Out of the ShadowsNokia is continuing its onslaught against the iPhone and Galaxy models with a new video that depicts the Lumia in a much better light — literally — than the competition. Up to now, cameras haven’t been the first thing smartphone customers consider when shopping for a new phone, but that could change as people increasingly abandon standalone cameras for the one they’re always carrying.

Nokia has created a video that shows off the PureView camera in its upcoming Lumia 928 handset and more importantly show how it compares to two of its rivals. The video highlights how the new Lumia 928’s 8.7 megapixel camera fares better in low light, and how the optical image stabilization can handle fast movements.



In this latest effort to build Lumia buzz, Nokia compares the video quality of the Lumia 928 with that of the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III using footage of a roller-coaster at night. In the video, the Lumia clearly delivers better color saturation than the iPhone and less video noise than the Galaxy S III.

Nokia is expected to officially debut the Lumia 928 at a launch event next week in London.

Nokia declined to provide further details.


Going Negative

It is noteworthy that Nokia is showing off the phone’s camera capabilities in a video that could go viral, considering its embarrassment last September, when teasers for the Lumia 920 PureView smartphone were found to be using “simulated video.” The company apologized for the mistake, but in light of that debacle, it seems particularly bold for Nokia to be going negative with its current Lumia ad campaign.

“Going negative makes the people who bought the attacked products go into defensive mode — and even if the criticism is correct, leads the buyers of the other products to justify their choice and reject the attacker,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“Negative advertising is also not going to help much. Just remember how great Nokia’s last negative campaign went,” he said.

It’s also questionable how big a factor camera quality is in a phone buyer’s decision making. Nokia is not exactly the first company that comes to mind when one thinks of quality photography.

“People are buying smartphones because of the app ecosphere. Having a great camera is not a top reason to pick a smartphone,” Entner told TechNewsWorld. “The Lumia camera is very good, and with its special Carl Zeiss lenses superior to the competition — but the consumer doesn’t get it.”

Snapping a Picture

While consumers may not buy a handset for its camera today, Nokia could be aiming to change that behavior. Considering the Lumia’s 8.7 megapixels and optical image stabilization, it’s apparent Nokia want to make camera functionality a differentiator.

That strategy may be consistent with changing lifestyles. It used to be that cameras were something taken out for birthday parties, vacations and other special occasions. Now everyone who has a mobile phone is walking around with a camera, and many of the latest handsets offer superior resolution to that of a high-end digital SLR camera just a few years ago.

“I’m a Lumia 920 user myself, and I love the camera,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at theEnderle Group.

“It is so much better than my wife’s iPhone — and rubbing that in gives me no end of pleasure,” he quipped.

“It arguably has the best lens — Carl Zeiss — and image stabilization on the planet,” Enderle added, “and this actually does make a huge difference.”

The upcoming Lumia 928 will also have Zeon flash, and it will be the first smartphone to bring it to the mainstream. This could make the new handset as much a solid camera as it is a solid smartphone, bolstering the video’s favorable comparison to Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy series.

“The 900 line is in line with the best from Apple and Samsung, a bit more refined and often with differentiating features like inductive charging and enhanced sound to differentiate it from the pack,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

“It is a Lexus to Apple’s Porsche and Samsung’s Cadillac Galaxy line,” he commented.

“People are increasingly living off the cameras on their phones to capture their kids growing up and their pet’s antics,” Enderle pointed out. “Coupled with SkyDrive, Nokia has the best solution in this area currently in market. For me, that was the difference. I can’t wait to get the new phone.”



A DUTCHMAN arrested in Spain last month in connection with an unprecedented cyberattack that reportedly slowed down the Internet, has been extradited to the Netherlands where he appeared before a judge on Wednesday, Dutch prosecutors said.

internet binary code online hacker

Sven Olaf Kamphuis, 35, was transferred to the Netherlands on Monday night following his arrest last month in Barcelona by the Spanish police.

“He appeared today before a Rotterdam judge,” the Public Prosecutor’s office said in a statement with Dutch national news agency ANP reporting he was remanded behind bars for another two weeks.

Prosecutors only identified the suspect by his initials “S.K.” but a source close to the investigation said it was Kamphuis, who acted as a spokesman for the Dutch web-hosting service Cyberbunker at the time of the attack.

The late March attack targeted Spamhaus, a Geneva-based volunteer group that publishes spam blacklists used by networks to filter out unwanted email, and lead to cyberspace congestion.

Spamhaus blamed Cyberbunker for the attack.

Kamphuis describes himself on his Facebook page as Minister of Telecommunications and Foreign Affairs for the Cyberbunker Republic.

Computers, storage devices and mobile phones were seized during the Barcelona raid and prosecutors said Wednesday the investigation was continuing.

“The Dutch investigation into the DDoS attacks on Spamhaus is still going ahead full-steam, being led by police’s Team High Tech Crime unit,” the statement said.

So-called distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) essentially bombard sites with traffic from various sources in order to disrupt or seize servers.

The attack was described as the most powerful ever seen and slowed web traffic.

The attacks began, according to Spamhaus, after it placed Cyberbunker, a web hosting firm that “offers anonymous hosting of anything except child porn and anything related to terrorism”, on its blacklist.

Cyberbunker said it had been unfairly labelled as a haven for cybercrime and spam.

Spamhaus, which also has offices in London, essentially patrols the Internet to root out spammers and provides updated lists of likely perpetrators to network operators around the world.

Experts said the attacks flooded Spamhaus servers with 300 billion bits per second (300 gigabytes) of data.

Prior DDoS attacks have been measured at 50 gigabytes per second.

Because of the way Internet traffic flows, these DDoS attacks create congestion and ripple effects around the web.



Intel’s Haswell processors are just around the corner, expected to be here within the next month, and as a result the professional overclockers are ramping up efforts to break those world records before the Core i7 4770K is even released. Samples of the Core i7 4770K have been in circulation for quite some time now and overclocker “rtiueuiurei” has managed to take an Engineering Sample (ES) version of the Intel Core i7 4770K to 7GHz – an impressive feat as we didn’t really see Ivy Bridge go much higher than that after overclockers had been playing with it for over a year.

According to the CPU-Z validation this 7012.65 MHz was achieved with a base clock of 91.07MHz, multiplier of 77 and a huge 2.56v core voltage. It is quite possible that 2.56 volts is a misread by CPU-Z as overclockers have already pushed Haswell to 6.2GHz with 1.216v. Either way with such a high clock speed and voltage it is no doubt that liquid nitrogen cooling was used to achieved this. Windows XP, an Nvidia 8400 GS and 2GB of G Skill DDR3 RAM finish off the rest of the test system.

An impressive achievement indeed, expect results to emerge on HWBot when the NDA for Haswell lifts in the first week of June. What are your thoughts on the Core i7 4770K reaching 7GHz?


GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
Announced 2013, February
Status Available. Released 2013, April
BODY Dimensions 127.9 x 67.5 x 9 mm, 78 cc (5.04 x 2.66 x 0.35 in)
Weight 128 g (4.52 oz)
DISPLAY Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 4.3 inches (~217 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 2
– ClearBlack display
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
– Dolby headphone sound enhancement
MEMORY Card slot microSD, up to 64 GB
Internal 8 GB, 512 MB RAM
EDGE Up to 236.8 kbps
Speed HSDPA, 21.1 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band
Bluetooth Yes, v3.0 with A2DP
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 6.1 MP, 2848 x 2144 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, LED flash, check quality
Features 1/3.6” sensor size, geo-tagging
Video Yes, 720p@30fps, check quality
Secondary Yes, 1.3 MP, 720p@30fps
FEATURES OS Microsoft Windows Phone 8
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8227
CPU Dual-core 1 GHz
GPU Adreno 305
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio No
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS
Java No
Colors White, Red, Yellow, Cyan/Black
– SNS integration
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– 7GB free SkyDrive storage
– Document viewer
– Video/photo editor
– Voice memo/dial/commands
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery (BP-4GW)
Stand-by (2G) / Up to 520 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 23 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 13 h 20 min (3G)
Music play Up to 79 h
MISC SAR US 1.24 W/kg (head)
SAR EU 0.76 W/kg (head)
Price group