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TeamViewer Releases Version 9 Public Beta
About a year ago, I stumbled across TeamViewer, a remote control/remote access utility. The details of the experience are still vividly clear: I had spent the better part of a weekend trying to help my mother get rid of a virus. She lives in another st…
AMD News: A10-6790K, 13.11 Beta6 Drivers, FM2+ Motherboards, Kaveri
AMD held a brief press conference this morning to disclose a new part that should be for sale shortly, the A10-6790K. The performance of the 6790K should be very similar to that of the existing A10-6800K, with the main difference being that the 6790K c…
NVIDIA Updates Shield to Android 4.3, Adds Features, Brings GameStream out of Beta
It’s been a while since our NVIDIA Shield review, a Tegra 4 packing handheld gaming device running Android Jelly Bean. Today, NVIDIA is taking the lid off a big over the air update to Shield which brings the overall platform version to Android 4….
About a year ago, I stumbled across TeamViewer, a remote control/remote access utility. The details of the experience are still vividly clear: I had spent the better part of a weekend trying to help my mother get rid of a virus. She lives in another state, so just visiting wasn’t a possibility, and let me be clear: she is not at all computer savvy – I get that more from my dad, though with him having long since passed retirement age, he’s almost as bad as my mom when it comes to computer problems these days. Anyway, long story short is that after trying to get Windows Remote Access working (and failing repeatedly), I looked for an alternative and found TeamViewer. 15 minutes later, the last remnants of the virus were removed. Huzzah!
It’s now a utility that I use all the time to help friends and family, simply because it’s tons easier to do certain things on my own rather than trying to explain a few “simple” steps over the phone. Now, if someone has a problem, the first step is explaining to them how to install TeamViewer. I know the old saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Well, it’s true of computers as well, but trying to teach some people about computers is like trying to convince your dog that he needs to learn to read and write.
Cutting to the chase, TeamViewer 9 has just entered public beta. The changes from TeamViewer 7 to 8 weren’t particularly massive (it added support for Windows 8’s Charms Menu and a few other items, Apple Retina support, and additional items for commercial users), and the changes from 8 to 9 are likewise incremental updates in most areas. There’s a new tabbed view (so each session can be in a separate tab rather than in a separate window), Wake-on-LAN is now available on supported PCs, and they’ve added two-factor authentication. TeamViewer 9 is also “ready for Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks”, though I’d guess the previous version will work with the new OSes as well. Here’s the quick list of updates from the press release:
- Two-Factor Authentication – adds additional protection of TeamViewer user accounts by allowing users to retrieve an optional secondary code with their mobile device and a standard authenticator app.
- Easy File Sharing – ability to share files of any size without having to start a traditional remote access session. Faster than email and can transfer files cross-platform.
- Universal Clipboard – gives users the ability to copy files from their device and paste directly onto a remote desktop simply by using Copy & Paste (Ctrl+C / Ctrl+V).
- Notifications – a friendly notification pop-up window located in the Computers & Contacts list that gathers all TeamViewer system notifications including ITbrain alerts in one place for easy management.
- Custom Branding – Businesses can customize the TeamViewer modules QuickSupport, QuickJoin and Host one time without the need to repeat after a software update. A unique customizable link guides supported users to the current version of a module stored within the TeamViewer Management Console, where the module can be shared and customized within a support team.
With the announcement of TeamViewer 9 Beta the company is also launching its public API that allows companies to integrate the TeamViewer software even further into their existing infrastructure. This is more for larger institutions with in-house developers who want flexibility for their applications, and it’s available to all users with a TeamViewer 9 license. The TeamViewer API consists of two features:
- Reporting API – a language-neutral and power REST API to retrieve report data from the TeamViewer Management Console, saving time by automating complex reporting tasks and integrating TeamViewer data with existing business data for deeper insights.
- User Management API – allows organizations to minimize disruption by synchronizing user data between the company’s existing user management system and TeamViewer. This allows developers to write applications to manage TeamViewer user accounts in a company profile as well as migrate from and integrate with existing IT infrastructure.
I can’t personally point at any of the new features as things I’ve needed, but for commercial use I can see some as being interesting. The ability to transfer files (without establishing a remote session) in particular looks promising. More important is the ease of use, and that’s one area I’ve noticed over the past year where TeamViewer tends stands out.
TeamViewer is simply easier to get running than competing solutions (e.g. Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop), and while I haven’t noticed screen updates as being substantially faster/better, the ease of setup factor is critical – especially when dealing with a computer neophyte. Chrome Remote Desktop is a nice free alternative, but the requirement of that I install the browser and Remote Desktop on each PC means a larger download and more time. Once set up, both work reasonably well, but for personal use I still gravitate to TeamViewer. Your mileage may vary.
AMD held a brief press conference this morning to disclose a new part that should be for sale shortly, the A10-6790K. The performance of the 6790K should be very similar to that of the existing A10-6800K, with the main difference being that the 6790K clocks are 100MHz lower on both the base clock and the turbo clock (4.0-4.3GHz). Pricing is also expected to come in around the $130 mark, making the newcomer $10 less than the existing Richland APU. As you might guess from the part number, this is a fully unlocked Richland APU, and being an unlocked processor, you can always (try to) bump the clocks up 100MHz to make up the difference.
Besides the short update on the new Richland APU, AMD discussed a few other items. AMD mentioned the public availability of their latest beta driver, Catalyst 13.11 Beta6, which was posted last Friday. I’m not sure how much Beta6 changes things relative to the earlier 13.11 betas, but Batman: Arkham Origins gets up to a 35% performance increase; other titles get a more modest 5-10% performance boost (Total War: Rome 2, Battlefield 3, GRID 2, DiRT Showdown, Formula 1 2013, DiRT 3, and Sleeping Dogs). Battlefield 4 likewise got a mention, not surprisingly, as it’s a showcase of AMD’s Mantle API.
Perhaps the most interesting news of all was only touched on briefly. FM2+ motherboards are now shipping, with more likely to show up in the coming weeks. The new platform will support existing Trinity/Richland APUs, but more importantly it will also support the upcoming Kaveri APUs. Kaveri is of course what most of us are looking forward to seeing, and along with the Steamroller architecture update (the current Trinity/Richland are Piledriver architecture), it will be the first high-performance APU to feature an iGPU based on AMD’s GCN architecture. (Kabini has a GCN GPU, but it doesn't play in the same league as Richland, let alone Kaveri.)
We’re expecting a healthy increase in graphics performance with Kaveri, but we don’t know just how fast it will be right now. However, AMD stated that Kaveri will be shipping in 2013 (though perhaps only in small quantities), which means we’ll be able to see just how well Kaveri stacks up against Intel’s latest in the next month or two.
Update: AMD sent along an official statement (which they've issued previously) on Kaveri availability: "AMD's ‘Kaveri’ high-performance APU remains on track and will start shipping to customers in Q4 2013, with first public availability in the desktop component channel very early in Q1 2014. ‘Kaveri’ features up to four ‘Steamroller’ x86 cores, major heterogeneous computing enhancements, and a discrete-level Graphics Core Next (GCN) implementation – AMD’s first high-performance APU to offer GCN. ‘Kaveri’ will be initially offered in the FM2+ package for desktop PCs. Mobile ‘Kaveri’ products will be available later in the first half of 2014." If we read "customers" as the large OEMs that make desktops, then we may or may not have actual Kaveri hardware in hand for testing this year, but we'll wait and see.
It’s been a while since our NVIDIA Shield review, a Tegra 4 packing handheld gaming device running Android Jelly Bean. Today, NVIDIA is taking the lid off a big over the air update to Shield which brings the overall platform version to Android 4.3, takes PC streaming out of beta (and gives it a new name), adds a new console mode, and includes better controller support for touchscreen-only games.
The update is rolling out today to Shield owners, and we had a chance to play with the 427 MB OTA update over the weekend and get a look at what’s new and improved. First off, the update as I mentioned brings the platform to Android 4.3, and also adds a handful of other changes to the base software platform. One of the things missing in the initial release was the ability to move large game file APKs and their assets to microSD, even though Shield included a microSD card slot. The update adds the ability to move both APKs and OBB to an SD card if the application opts in. Like you’d expect, this exposes itself properly under the Apps view in Settings. I’ve been primarily using microSD for storing movies and music on Shield for when I travel, but it you’re running out of storage or want to put those microSD cards to good use, this is a welcome improvement.
Next, the home button has been tweaked around slightly, probably at Google’s request. Holding the home button launches Google Now, double tapping launches the multitasking interface. It seems as if Google wants to standardize on this pattern across whatever devices it can.
Readers will be interested to know that there don’t appear to be any improvements to OpenGL ES 2.0 performance either in this update. I ran the updated Shield through a smattering of our tests and didn’t see any notable performance deltas, which isn’t a bad thing – I still find Tegra 4 very snappy throughout. It’s just worth noting that there aren’t any surprise performance improvements that I could find.
Probably the biggest update is that the PC Streaming feature is officially out of beta and launching with this 4.3 update. With it comes a new name, GameStream. GameStream includes support for a bunch more titles, 109 at the time of this writing based on the supported games list from NVIDIA. The GameStream feature came with an updated version of the GeForce Experience (22.214.171.124) and release 331.65 GeForce drivers. I tested on both the GeForce Titan based system I use as my primary desktop, and the Falcon Northwest Tiki with GTX 760 inside.
The fundamentals are largely unchanged – you can play PC games on Shield streamed across a local network. Games are rendered at 720p on a compatible system (system requirements note GeForce 650 or higher), which are then encoded and streamed in a low-latency format to Shield, which acts like a remote control.
There’s a new feature that goes hand in hand with GameStream, called console mode. The name pretty much gives away NVIDIA’s long term aspirations for Shield as well. In this mode, Shield can be connected to a TV over HDMI and used in conjunction with a bluetooth controller to stream PC games into the living room. You could do this before to some extent, the new feature now is that Shield will prompt you upon plugging in HDMI about whether you want to use console mode, and reboot with a 1080p framebuffer.
This enables native Android games to play at 1080p along with the native Android UI. GameStream over WiFi remains limited to 720p, however a future update will enable 1080p quality streaming if you’re connected to Ethernet with a USB-OTG cable and USB ethernet adapter. Although the Android 4.3 build NVIDIA has supplied works with USB-OTG and USB ethernet adapters (I tried mine), it’s true that streaming at 1080p over that faster rate will have to wait, probably for a newer GeForce Experience release.
NVIDIA sent over a Nyko PlayPad Pro bluetooth controller to try out console mode. It’s easy enough to pair the controller to Shield and then navigate the Android UI using it, since the controls map essentially 1:1 with the native gamepad on Shield.
The bluetooth controller has minimal latency, and the Bluetooth and WiFi combo in Shield seems to time slice fast enough that control using the wireless controller while simultaneously streaming content over WiFi doesn’t cause any additional stuttering or latency. I have to say that I think this is a much more enjoyable PC game streaming scenario, although it does reduce Shield to little more than an HDMI sink and Bluetooth adapter.
Lastly there’s a new feature called gamepad mapper which maps and emulates on screen touches from the controller. This enables Shield control of games which don’t work natively with the Android gamepad input APIs. NVIDIA has built a number of profiles which map their analog sticks and buttons, and users can build their own. Launch one of these apps, and you get a notification that the mapper has started. Long pressing the start key brings up an overlay with the gamepad builder and the current mapping so you can know what buttons map to what on-screen elements or commands.
I tried this with a few games, and initially it’s a little jarring, but the emulated profiles do work and enable more games than before to use Shield controls, which was one of the big prior limitations. Although I would still prefer for more Android games to just get their act together and use the gamepad input APIs, this does sort of bridge the gap and enable NVIDIA to make the case that Shield does support the rest of the Android game library. I suspected something like this was coming when I first saw Shield back at CES 2013.
NVIDIA has pushed out a big update to Shield, and a relatively timely Android 4.3 update to boot, although there’s 4.4 KitKat just around the corner, which I know is in the hands of most SoC vendors participating in the PDK (Platform Development Kit). Console mode makes a ton of sense, GameShield coming out of beta is a great step forward, and gamepad mapper lets Shield work in theory with the remaining Android game library. It's exactly the kind of update that Shield needed to stay fresh.
The update comes just in time for the holiday shopping season, and NVIDIA was also quick to note that it’s giving $100 off of Shield and three games with the purchase of a GeForce GTX 770, 780, or Titan, or $50 off of Shield and two games with the purchase of a GTX 660, 660 Ti, 670, 680, or 760.
After last month’s release of their 331.40 beta drivers, NVIDIA’s R331 driver branch has finally reached WHQL certification with today's release of driver version 331.58.
For those of you on a beta upgrade cadence, these drivers should be similar to the last beta, going by NVIDIA’s release notes. Otherwise for those of you on a WHQL upgrade cadence, then these are the first drivers with all of the R331 branch enhancements. This includes the usual mix of performance enhancements – up to 10% in several games versus R325 – new SLI profiles, driver-based HBAO+ support, official Ivy Bridge-E support, and OpenGL 4.4 support. Furthermore NVIDIA is labeling these as a “game ready” release for Battlefield 4 and Batman: Arkham Origins (both coming out at the end of this month), so these will be the preferred drivers for those games.
As usual, you can grab the drivers for all current desktop and mobile NVIDIA GPUs over at NVIDIA’s driver download page.
NVIDIA is pretty good about staying on top of the latest releases with updated drivers, and today is no different. Building from the current 326.41 Beta release, today’s 326.80 release works with GeForce-to-SHIELD streaming and is also the recommended driver for the Windows 8.1 Preview. The only other noteworthy change mentioned in the release notes is that this is a Game Ready driver designed to offer the best gaming experience for Splinter Cell: Blacklist, which hits retail and online stores in North America today as well.
Reviews of the new title (at least on consoles) have been generally favorable, and it’s available for all the major platforms—PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U, along with PC. Obviously you don’t need the new drivers for any of the consoles, and if it’s like other recent Ubisoft titles you’ll need to play it through Ubisoft’s Uplay service. (Cue the groaning.)
As usual, the drivers are available for all the modern platforms: Windows 7/8/8.1 for desktops and laptops, and desktops also get XP and Vista drivers. I won’t bother linking the XP desktop drivers, since I don’t personally know anyone running NVIDIA Kepler GPUs with XP these days, but if you happen to fall into that camp you can find them at the usual place.
Bloggers rejoice: WordPress 3.6 has been released, sporting the name "Oscar" and including a number of major new features to excite users. The open-source CMS system gains new features for both users and developers, including built-in HTML5 media player and new audio/video API.
The new release is joined by a brand new theme -- Twenty Thirteen -- that provides a modern-art inspired, single-column layout that’s designed to work across mobile and desktop platforms. Sidebars and widgets have been moved into the footer, and it comes with support for Genericon font-based icons.
User improvements include Revamped Revisions, which now store every single change to a post, allowing users to scroll through changes via a timeline slider to easily revert back to a previous version if required.
The feature -- accessed by clicking the new Revisions hyperlink under the save button -- also lets users compare two different versions side-by-side, plus records which user made which revision.
Other multi-user improvements see a new pop-up dialog appear when one user attempts to edit a post currently being worked on by another. The user can leave the post alone, preview what changes have been made or take control of the post depending on their access levels.
Each author also gains their own autosave stream, which is stored locally as well as online, to reduce the risk of data further.
The new built-in HTML5 media player means video and audio can now be embedded natively into posts simply by copying and pasting the media’s URL, and media can be previewed on the Media Edit screen too.
One final improvement for users comes in the form of an improved Menu Editor, which WordPress says is "much easier to understand and use".
Developers gain a new video/audio API that supports access to the media’s metadata, including ID3 tags. They can also opt for improved HTML5 markup for comment and search forms as well as comment lists. There are also better filters for how revisions work, so developers maintain control of how much history is stored for different types of posts.
WordPress 3.6 is available now as a free download for servers supporting PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0 or later. The changes are also found on websites hosted by WordPress.com, while existing users should be able to upgrade to the latest version through their CMS front-end.
Two months ago, Microsoft released a version of Office for iPhone. While it was eagerly anticipated by many wishful Apple users, Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers was met with some dissatisfaction due to apparent limitations. Despite these shortcomings, many Android users were still saddened to be left out of the party. Today they can finally try it for themselves as Microsoft announces Office Mobile for Android phones.
While this is great news, the app has inevitable limitations. According to Microsoft, "...you will not be able to download and install Office Mobile for Android phones on an Android tablet from the Google Play store. If you have an Android tablet, we recommend using the Office Web Apps which provide the best Office experience on a tablet". In other words, Office for Android will not run on larger screen devices -- just like Office for iPhone is not available for iPad. However, unlike iOS, Android can side-load applications. If someone was to leak the .apk file, there is a good chance it could be made to run on a tablet.
Unfortunately, the same major complaint about Office for iPhone applies here -- an Office 365 subscription is required. While I personally like this business model to combat piracy, subscription-based software is not a popular subject in the technology community. This excludes many paying non-365 Office users from using the app that they so desperately desire.
Negatives aside, the app should be a good experience for Android users. According to Microsoft, "...this app shows that we're committed to keep providing additional value for Office 365 subscribers. Office 365 subscribers will now be able to access, view, and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with Windows Phone, iPhone and Android phones". While Android already has a plethora of third party office suites, having the ability to use an official Office app is a huge win for BYOD corporate users.
My colleague Joe Wilcox recently declared that Microsoft shouldn't do Office for Android. In his article, Joe says "combined iOS and Windows Phone will be mobile platform second to Android in coming years. Microsoft should foster a united front against a common enemy". Many would agree with Joe and say that Office for Android is Microsoft waiving the white flag and signaling Windows Phone's defeat. However, Microsoft is quick to point out that Office on Windows Phone 8 is superior to the Android version in the following ways:
- Office Mobile comes preinstalled
- Office Mobile is pre-activated, so it will function without an Office 365 subscription
- Office 365 setup combines the setup of email, Office Mobile and Lync, with a single entry of credentials
- Office documents received as attachments in email will open directly with the Office Mobile app, not with viewers that may not render the documents correctly
- Office Mobile has support for saving documents locally on the phone
- Office Mobile includes searching and filtering for documents
- Office Mobile supports opening IRM-protected email and documents
Do you have an Office 365 subscription and Android phone? Tell me how you are liking the new app in the comments.
Office Mobile for Android is available to download from Google Play now.
Enterprise application and data security company Mobile Helix has announced the results of an independent survey of CIOs. It shows a large percentage of businesses delaying the roll out of enterprise apps on mobile devices thanks to concerns over security, costs and complexity.
Highlights of the survey, conducted among 300 CIOs in the US and UK, are that companies on average had over 400 applications within their organization but that only 22 percent of them could be accessed from mobile devices despite clear demand from employees for mobile access. Major barriers to adoption are development and support costs along with security.
Matt Bancroft, Co-Founder and COO for Mobile Helix says, "Users expect critical data and applications to be available on any device and in any context, both in mobile and fixed environments, in the way that is most familiar and convenient to them. CIOs understand the obvious benefits of empowering employees and making them more productive, yet only a small proportion of enterprise apps and critical data are currently mobilized".
A high proportion, 81 percent, of respondents to the survey say they believe the cost of developing apps for mobile use is too high because of the fragmented nature of the mobile market. Only a third of respondents felt they had the necessary skills to develop native mobile apps. Of companies that had developed a native app, 47 percent said they would have reservations about doing so again because of the cost and complexity involved.
"The current approach to mobility is limiting the market -- enterprises are now looking for solutions which will allow them to develop and deliver apps to their employees simply and cost effectively," Bancroft adds. "Every device platform on the market today has a high performance, HTLM5-compliant engine. By taking this HTML5 browser-based approach, corporate IT can build a unified applications platform that extends across devices of all shapes and sizes, without compromise in functionality, performance, or security".
A couple of weeks ago I attended a press event for the Intel Experience tour in London, hosted by Intel UK. Aside from the usual array of Ivy Bridge mobile parts were a couple of Haswell laptops – the Sony Vaio Pro, featuring the i5-4200U (GT2. HD4400), and the Clevo W740SU, the first laptop to market featuring Iris Pro HD 5200, aka Crystal Well/GT3e. I asked for an opportunity to get my hands on the machine, and hopefully benchmark it. Our good friends at Intel UK organized a tour of their facility in Swindon, an interview with the site manager Rod O'Shea, and some 90 minutes of testing with the Clevo – here are my results with the i7-4750HQ CPU contained within.
Anand has already had the opportunity to cover the i7-4950HQ, the top mobile SKU with GT3e graphics, in his comprehensive testing of the Intel CRB system. The first machine we believe to enter the market with anything similar is the Clevo W740SU, featuring the i7-4750HQ, which is a small departure from the Clevo norm. The basic Clevo system is typically modular, where everything is able to be changed in and out depending on the customer requirements. Moving to Iris Pro results in a BGA CPU, and thus the CPU is locked into the build from the beginning. This has a couple of positive effects, such as designing the chassis for a specific CPU allows the design to be refined, although it still takes away from that modular feel.
Intel Core i7-4750HQ (Quad Core w/HT)
14.1" 1080p Full High Definition LED Backlit IPS Display
Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 with 128 MB eDRAM
Up to 16 GB 204 pin Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MHz
1 x mSATA, 1 x 2.5" 9mm Removable SATA II/III
Multitouch Clickpad with two finger scrolling
Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000), WiFi
Intel Centrino, or optional Killer™ Atheros 802.11n
HDMI, Display Port, Ethernet, 3 x USB 3.0, Headphone Jack, Microphone Jack, SD Reader
Built-In 1.0 MP High Definition Webcam
53.28 Wh 6 Cell Smart Lithium-Ion
13.26" x 9.90" x 0.75" (WxDxH)
3.80 lbs. (1.72 kg.)
At 1.72kg it is not the lightest laptop by comparison, but 1080p at 14” does hit that mid-point between a 13” super-portable and 15” desktop replacement. With a HD 5200 it should cover a lot of integrated graphics performance as Anand alluded to, especially with the eDRAM in tow. For reference, in Cloud Gate IGP, we scored the same graphics score with a 4750HQ at 1350 MHz graphics core as an i7-4770K (GT2) at 6 GHz and 1850 MHz graphics core (under liquid nitrogen). The 52.38WH battery has me a little concerned – it will be interesting to see how much real-world battery life this affords.
The unit I had to test featured an Intel 525 240 GB SSD and 2 x 4GB DDR3L-1600 memory, and in my 90 minutes of testing I managed to go through most of my normal CPU benchmarking suite. For a comparison point, I also tested an i7-4770K at the same speed as the 4750HQ, with similar memory settings. This is the nearest we could get to a desktop comparison processor – the quad core mobile Haswell parts have 6 MB L3 cache, compared to the 8 MB L3 cache of the 4770K. This means that in memory accesses, if the benchmark needs 8 MB L3, the 4770K will be faster even through the 4750HQ is moving out to the eDRAM because the eDRAM is slower than L3.
In terms of performance, none of my real world benchmarks seem to touch the eDRAM in any serious way to discern performance against a standard desktop part. If we take WinRAR for example, the ball is in the 4770K court due to the larger L3 cache - perhaps the program detects the level of L3 and changes accordingly, meaning that program developers might now have to cater for the presence of L4. The biggest difference we would is in IGP tests, although this is the difference between GT2 and GT3e. This could result in a big plus for C++ AMP developers who want a mobile system that can push through some compute while on the move.
As a result of my testing, I come away with a slightly different attitude towards Iris Pro in terms of day-to-day benefits. From what I could test, none of my CPU compute saw any benefit, landing the positives on that eDRAM squarely at the feet of IGP, gaming, or if you can program for it, GPU Compute.
As a device, the Clevo W740SU unit (which I believe is still beta but near final) had trackpad issues at times, and the weight could pull it away from being a true ultraportable. It hits the right screen size what I want in a laptop, with 1080p being a minimum in my book. I still want to see what that battery can do – at 1.3 kg the Sony Vaio Pro with the low powered CPU and extra battery slice does 15+ hours, which would still be a big draw if you just want longevity from a Haswell device, along with a PCIe SSD. But the Sony has a locked memory setup, whereas the Clevo is upgradable.
Prices for the Clevo W740SU seem to start around $1000/€1100, with the tray price of the i7-4750HQ listed on the Intel website being $440 of that. Should there be an i7-4950HQ version, the tray price of the CPU goes up to $657.
Many thanks to Intel UK for allowing me time with the system and the opportunity to tour their UK base.