Asrock Z87 Extreme11/ac review: 22 SATA ports, quad GPU support and more

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Although Asrock’s Z87 Extreme9/ac offers all the motherboard we need at $360, we’re happy to see companies catering to enthusiasts who will take things further — like $200 further. LGA2011 is known for such solutions, including Asus’ $500 P9X79-E WAS or Asrock’s own $600 X79 Extreme11. With that platform now a few years old, manufacturers are shifting their focus to LGA1150, which arrived this year alongside Haswell and is accompanied by the Z87 chipset, among other Lynx Point-based parts.

Some of you may question Asrock’s platform choice anyway because Intel’s most powerful desktop CPU (the Core i7-4960X) started shipping a few months ago on LGA2011. While there’s no denying that hexa-core, dozen-threaded processor is an enthusiast’s dream, at $1,000 that’s precisely where it will remain for most. The chip is grossly overpriced and its aging platform doesn’t exactly sweeten the deal. For a third of the cost, most folks are better off with the newer Core i7-4770K and LGA1150.

Sockets aside, Asrock’s new Z87 Extreme11/ac may very well be the most extreme motherboard we’ve handled. It touts four-way GPU support, premium onboard audio that includes a headphone amp, dozens of ports, dual gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and — unsurprisingly — the largest price tag in its class, which includes the $430 Gigabyte Z87X-UD7, $410 MSI Z87 XPower, $400 Asus Maximus IV Extreme, $400 Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 and the $370 ECS L337 Gaming GANK Domination Z87H3-AX.

So, how exactly does a company justify $540 for a motherboard?

The board’s PCI Express configuration seems like as good of a place as any to start and it features an ExpressLane PEX 8747 chip, which is a 48-lane, five-port, PCIe Gen 3 switch. The board has four PCIe x16 slots, though one bypasses the PEX 8747 and lets single-card setups connect directly to the CPU. Meanwhile, 3 and 4-way GPU configurations all receive x8 bandwidth. In addition to the Z87’s six SATA 6Gb/s ports, Asrock has included an additional LSI SAS-3 3008 controller for another eight 12Gb/s ports which are then split and turned into 16 6Gb/s ports using a 3X24R expander

Ford To Showcase Hybrid Solar Energi Concept Car

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Ford has come a long way since it’s creation 110 years ago.  They have revolutionised the automotive industry with many advances in technology and style to ensure that you, the customer, receives the best possible product for your money.  Times may have changed, but peoples outlook on matters haven’t really.  They have always wanted quality products for their hard earned cash, but today people also want to have a product that has less impact on the environment too.  Ford is not one to disregard the future and this shows, with their creation of The Ford C-Max Solar Energi.

The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a collaboration between Ford, SunPower Corp. and the Georgia Institute of Technology.  This hybrid concept car is one that’s recharged by a solar-powered roof panel. At this stage it is just a concept car, but it should be seen around next week at CES.  The eco-friendly driving machine works like a plug-in hybrid model, which charges a battery with a motor as a back up, but this car, however, will not need to be plugged in. Ford wanted to create a car that doesn’t need to attach to the national grid to top up the battery, but rather wanted to create one that runs off solar energy.  Conventional solar panels would not provide the correct energy required for the car, so Ford has upgraded that as well.

The roof of the C-Max Solar Energi Concept uses: “a special solar concentrator lens” which will work like a magnifying glass to increase the sun’s rays before they hit the energy-conversion panels. In effect, this will mean more energy can be harvested from the sun’s rays for a rapid and more efficient charge.

The Ford C-Max Solar Energi will be at CES next week. After the show Ford will then be taking it for further testing to determine if this could be a product that could be mass marketed.

ZTE announces 5 new smartphones for CES 2014

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The popular Chinese mobile phonemaker ZTE announced that they would be unveiling five new smartphones during the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, according to CNET. One such phone is the ZTE Grand S II, a followup from their flagship smartphone released last year.

In addition to the Grand S II, which is purported to feature voice control technology that will allow a user to unlock their device, the company also plans to announces four other phones: Two new Nubia smartphones, the Nubia 5S and Nubia 5S Mini, which will include quad-core Snapdragon processors; the Sonata 4G, a device developed in partnership with AT&T prepaid mobile offshoot Aio Wireless, which will feature a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU and a 5 megapixel camera; and the Iconic Phablet, a dual-core phone with a Gorilla Glass touchscreen and a wireless charging feature.

This announcement comes after an earlier rumor that ZTE could be launching new Windows Phone 8 devices some time in 2014. Earlier in 2013 the company launched the Orbit, a device which ran on Windows Phone 7.5. It also plans to announce a number of other tech products at CES 2014, including a mobile hotspot and its new smartwatch, in competition with other devices such as the Galaxy Gear – though with low sales records and a high return rate for the Samsung smartwatch, ZTE may have an easier time than most entering the market.

Samsung Galaxy S5 rumored to launch at MWC 2014

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Samsung’s next flagship, the Galaxy S5 is expected to launch at the Mobile World Congress 2014 according to an informal Q&A with a company executive.

It was reported earlier that Samsung would launch the Galaxy S5 earlier than its flagship launch time-frame of April-May due to weak sales of the Galaxy S4. Now, Dong-hoon Chang, Vice President and Head of Design at Samsung, has revealed to reporters during a New Year party in Seoul, that the smartphone launch might take place during MWC 2014.

The upcoming flagship from Samsung, which is rumored to feature a 64-bit true octa-core Exynos processor, 2/4GB of LPDDR4 memory and a 16 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization, will be made from a “new material,” according to Chang. Samsung has not yet decided whether to include a flexible screen on the Galaxy S5.

Samsung has not commented on Mr. Chang’s claims and readers should take the rumor with a grain of salt as nothing can be confirmed at the moment. HTC is also expected to launch the successor to HTC One around the same time as MWC making for an interesting few weeks leading to the event. MWC 2014 kicks off on February 24 and hopefully we will hear more about these devices soon enough.

Thumb & Pinky Take Calls With These Bluetooth Gloves

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Throughout the world there are some universal gestures, which no matter the culture or language, will be understood. For example, everyone knows that shaking your head means ‘no’. In a restaurant if you click you fingers in mid-air, usually a waiter or waitress comes running to assist you. Although nobody knows when or where it started, for some reason when we hold our thumb and pinky up to our ear, it means ‘call me’.

Now, thanks to an ingenious design, that universal gesture has been developed into a actual way to communicate on the phone. Built right into a pair of winter gloves, conductive fibers allow you to operate touch-screen smartphones and other devices, all with added Bluetooth capabilities.

Built in to the glove’s thumb is a tiny speaker, allowing you to hear and in the pinky part of the glove is a microphone. By using the universal hand gesture, you can make and receive calls, all with a decent sound quality.

The gloves are compatible with all devices that are Bluetooth enabled, including iOS, Android, Windowsphone and Blackberry. They can be charged in 30 minutes with a micros USB, to give up to 20 hours talk time.

Never again will you have to remove your gloves in the freezing cold to make a call!