Edison’s Blood Tests May Not Be As Accurate As First Reported

When it comes to tests, they normally come at a cost. Not just when it comes to the money but also the process the tests require, with most requiring something from you. Theranos came to the public light earlier in the year saying that its Edison device could carry out over 200 medical tests with a few drops of blood from a finger prick. Now it would seem that leaked documents raise more than a few concerns with the results of the tests not being as accurate as first reported.

The latest revelation comes as federal regulators release a redacted version of an inspection report that covers 121-pages showing some discrepancies with that the company reported and what they actually had achieved. In 2015, the Edison was used to test for testosterone levels and resulted in failure 87 percent of the time when it came to quality control. A similar test to detect prostate cancer failed 22 percent of the time and tests for the hormone prolactin failed 47 percent of the time.

Even internal standards set by the company failed to be met time and time again, with a test for Vitamin D in any given blood sample requiring to be within 20 percent of the results given by the traditionally used machine. On none different and randomly selected blood samples the difference ranged anywhere from 21 percent to a whopping 130 percent difference in Vitamin D levels.

The report doesn’t just argue with the results, it also argues with how the tests were conducted. With test results differing from standard lab devices and even unqualified employees running some of the tests, people have begun to raise more than a few questions regarding the Edison and even the companies viability, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stating that while Theranos have got a plan in place, they were unsatisfied with the plan and would impose sanctions that include fines and retraction of the companies approval to test human samples.

Gigabyte P35W v5 Gaming Laptop Review

Introduction


Consumers typically purchase gaming laptops over their desktop counterparts due to portability and requiring hefty processing power on the move. Saying that, it’s exceedingly difficult to offer adequate thermal dissipation in a slim form factor which limits the convenience factor of many flagship gaming laptops. These tend to be rather bulky and difficult to carry around on public transportation where space is quite restricted. Thankfully, efficiency improvements on mobile graphics chipsets and CPUs have enabled manufacturers to create a better balance between performance and size. Granted, the top-tier options with dual GPUs still feel heavy but less extreme alternatives can be surprising portable. For example, the Gigabyte P34W v3 provides a superb gaming experience and weighs a mere 1.81Kg. Back when I reviewed this, the performance to size ratio astounded me. Although, the system’s load temperatures were higher than I hoped and felt like a concession too far.

The latest gaming laptop to prioritize a thin design from Gigabyte is the P35W v5 sporting an Intel i7-6700HQ, ultra fast 128GB NVMe boot drive, and GTX 970M. Unlike the P34W v3, Gigabyte has opted for a 6GB variant of this graphics chip but I can’t see the increased video memory making a substantial difference. On the other hand, some games with high memory utilization might fare better with an improved minimum frame-rate. Another key benefit is the inclusion of DDR4 memory, and a greatly improved battery. As always, you can customize the specification to suit your needs and the standard package utilizes a 1920×1080 display. If this seems a little underwhelming, you can select a 4K panel for an additional fee but this has some drawbacks when it comes to performance. Given the P35W v5’s marvellously thin design, I’m interested to see the thermals under stress and determine if the cooling hardware is up to scratch.

Specifications

  • Name: Gigabyte P35W v5
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz base frequency, 3.5GHz turbo)
  • System Memory: 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung NVMe MZVPV128 M.2 128GB SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): HGST 1TB 7200RPM HDD
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 6GB
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Display: 15.6-inch 3840×2160 IPS LCD
  • Optical Drive: MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ8G2
  • Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260
  • Battery: Li-Polymer 11.1V, 75.81Wh
  • Weight: 2.3Kg with Battery
  • Dimensions: 385(W) x 270(D) x 20.9(H) mm
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Warranty: 2 Year
  • Price: £1399

Packing and Accessories

Gigabyte has adopted a fairly understated theme to the packaging which showcases the beautiful display and professional aesthetic design. Furthermore, there’s a brief description about the laptop’s unique selling features but I have to say the translation is confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps, this is because the press sample originates from the factory and I’m sure Gigabyte will update the message for western markets.

The opposite side is almost identical barring another stunning snapshot of the product’s thin profile. This level of uniformity works well and evokes a premium feel. The packaging’s durable cardboard shell and soft inserts protect the item during transit meaning you shouldn’t encounter any cosmetic imperfections.

Included with the laptop is a power adapter, user’s guide, warranty card, driver disk, PowerDVD 12 software, swappable storage bay and light stickers. The swappable storage bay is an ingenious extra which allows you to remove the optical drive and fit an internal 9.5mm SSD instead. This is a great idea because many people use flash storage devices instead of optical media and the ability to easily house a traditional SATA SSD greatly enhances the laptop’s flexibility.

The 4K model contains a removable orange sticker near the lid which can be replaced with either a green or turquoise colour. Gigabyte even provides a complimentary pair of tweezers to obtain a neat finish and customize the theme to your own personal taste. Small touches like this creates the perception every customer’s needs have been attended to.

CPU-Z


GPU-Z

A Look At The Steam Survey Results For November 2015

I will only pick out the most noteworthy Steam Survey Hardware and Software results for November 2015; otherwise, I might be here until New Years day 2017.  So, what do we have? Below are the Steam monthly survey stats, starting with the most common type of OS (Operating System) that is being used amongst Steam gamers.

As you can see below, Windows is the most dominant Operating system with 95.26% usage, Windows 7 64 bit is the most popular with 35.63% usage, this is down slightly (-1.04%). Windows 10 64 bit has risen slightly by 2.39% with current usage at 28.81%.  These stats hide an interesting point, with many reports noting that back in August 2015, only 17% of users were running Windows 10, therefore, this is around a 59% increase in the last three months. Of course, there are many factors including the persistent attempts by Microsoft to push at all costs their latest OS onto consumers.

Unsurprisingly, Steam users are not in favour of Mac or Linux’s operating systems considering only 3.64% and 0.98% of users respectively implement these operating systems when utilizing steam to play games.

When it comes to preferred CPUs for all formats, Intel is unsurprisingly the big winner, 76.31% Windows Steam users own an Intel CPU for November 2015, while Windows users of an AMD CPU is at 23.69%, this is down ever so slightly (- 0.28%) compared to October 2015.

Other noteworthy stats for the CPU section include 47.93% of Steam users owning a dual-core CPU, while 45.12% own a quad-core CPU.

Ram stats are quite interesting, and yes I am a geek, the most popular configuration of Ram is 8GB and is being used by 32.06%, this has risen slightly by 0.36%, although 12GB and higher is at a healthy 16.04%.

By all means check out the full in-depth list of stats, it’s certainly revealing and conveys Steam users preferences and also how well manufacturers are placing their products within the market.

Lenovo Reports First Loss in Six Years

Despite being one of the leading PC vendors, Lenovo is experiencing a tough financial period and recorded a $714 million net loss. This is the first loss the company has reported in 6 years and makes for some alarming reading. One root cause is a major restructuring programme resulting in 3,200 job losses. Additionally, the acquisition of Motorola was a costly endeavor, and Lenovo had to accept $300 million worth of unsold handsets.

PC sales also reduced by 17 percent compared to last year, but this is expected given the current market. Furthermore, the 17 percent drop is actually one of the better results when compared to other manufacturers. However, I’m pretty convinced the Superfish malware scandal didn’t do the company any favours and caused a great deal of negative publicity. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if consumers were more hesitant to buy Lenovo products in the future. On the other hand, the amount of people who actually know about this controversy is quite small and the average consumer doesn’t really follow the latest technology news.

Whatever the case, the financial results aren’t as worrying as they first seem due to Lenovo’s current costs. Realistically, there’s no reason why they can’t turn a profit again, but it will be especially difficult in the competitive smartphone sector.

EA Grosses More Than Double From Extra Content Than Full Games

EA, Activision and Ubisoft have implemented a huge array of microtransactions into full priced game releases. Although the anger appears to be targeted towards EA due to the eye-watering price of various digital deluxe pre-order packages. One notable example is Star Wars: Battlefront which retails for £49.99 and already has a season pass to its name. Even more absurd, there is a listing which contains the DLC for an insulting £104.98; for those of you in the USA, this equates to $162.42.

Consumers are sick of major publishers pushing microtransactions and ridiculous pricing. However, the latest financial stats from EA illustrate the financial benefits of “Extra Content”. Rather worryingly, EA grossed more than double from additional content compared to digital games. Clearly, this doesn’t include retail sales but emphasizes how much money people are spending on DLC and microtransactions.

Microtransactions in full priced games have become the norm and the full experience rarely costs £49.99. This is a crying shame, as micro-payments were originally designed to be used on free-to-play titles. Major publishers are a business and they will keep implementing things which increase their profit margins. However, in the long-term, I’m unsure if this anti-consumer policy will come back to haunt them.

Have you ever paid for a microtransaction?

LG Records $68 Million Loss in Mobile Division

LG’s G3 and G4 handsets have received widespread positive reviews and characterized by a remarkable image sensor. Additionally, the G4’s superb price, beautiful display and optional leather back make it a fantastic choice around the £350 mark. Sadly, LG’s superb handset range hasn’t resulted in a profitable venture and reported a huge loss of $68 million.

This is dreadful when you consider sales have increased by 12% in North America, although worldwide figures dropped 21% year-over-year. LG‘s report demonstrates the difficulties many manufacturers face in the smartphone market. While the hardware is excellent, LG’s software can be slightly buggy but things have impressed in the last few months. Additionally, the LG Flex 2 hasn’t made a major impact and ended up being a very niche device.

Perhaps, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC deterred some people from purchasing as the chip’s overheating issues are well documented. Also, the European version only contains 2GB of RAM, which lingers behind many other handsets in 2015. The most likely reason is the emergence of ultra-cheap but feature-rich smartphones from Chinese companies like Hauwei.

As a result, it’s such a competitive sector and difficult to attain large sales. LG’s financial position is becoming similar to HTC which is a shame.

Do you currently own an LG handset?

AMD Reports 2015 Third Quarter Results

We recently brought you some amazing news regarding Fujitsu buying 85% of AMD’s shares. This not only means that AMD has money again, but the company’s shares are now less fragmented; is it too little too late as AMD reports 2015 Third Quarter financial Results?

The future still looks bleak as AMD has reported a quarterly loss of $197 million. It’s no secret on how many significant changes AMD has made to the organisation in efforts to reduce costs and increase profits. Despite these changes, that’s an increase loss from last quarter’s $181 million. Whilst AMD is continuing to lose market share to Intel and Nvidia, when you look closer and start to reflect on AMD’s shares over the last five years, it really starts to tell the story of AMD’s ongoing struggles:

Maybe we shouldn’t write AMD off yet because alongside Fujitsu’s major investment the Embedded, and Semi-Custom part of the organisation has increased 13% over last quarter. Operating income for this segment came in at $84 million, up from $27 million in Q2

AMD is doing more corporate restructuring in an attempt to reduce expenses further. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the results is whilst they are attempting to provide the best value for money their gross margin is only 23%, something has to give eventually.

What’s your thoughts on this subject? Will Fujitsu’s major investment provide AMD with the much-needed injection to fix things, or is it money down the creek? Let us know in the comments below.

Uber Reportedly Operating At Huge Losses

San Francisco-based transportation Network Company Uber has been a revelation in terms of market adoption and consumer exposure. But, the key is successful financial management which benefits the long-term viability of a company; this has been placed in a questionable stasis by alleged leaked financial Documents which covey’s a somewhat punishing set of results from Uber’s point of view.

Gawker has purportedly leaked Uber’s financial results which show operating losses of more than $100m (£65m) in the second quarter of 2014, albeit coupled with steady growth in revenue. This is an astonishing figure which is compounded by an astronomical valuation which sets the total value of the company at $50bn; this makes Uber one of the most funded start-ups in the world.

Below is the documents which Gawker have published, now, this slightly confused me too, but eTeknix have clarified the figures. Everything is actually x1000, so when the Net Loss for 2013 is $56,530, this means it is in reality $56 million. The second document lays out quarterly profits and losses in 2012 and part of 2013, this shows healthy revenue coupled with steadily deepening losses. In 2012, Uber’s losses totalled $20.4 million; from the first quarter of 2012 until mid-2013, quarterly losses more than doubled from $3.5 million to $8.1 million.

Uber released a statement which did not deny the existence or the validity of these documents but outlines the following,

“Shock, horror, Uber makes a loss. This is hardly news and old news at that, It’s the case of business 101: you raise money, you invest money, you grow, you make a profit and that generates a return for investors.”  

Which is true, any business has to invest capital in order to grow, the only question centres around the point when it becomes unsustainable. For me it’s reckless to value a perceived wealth of a company at such a high figure, it raises expectations to a level to which assets cannot compete. Revenue has to be maximised while minimizing losses, otherwise shareholders will become nervous and sceptical of projected figures which places Uber in a tricky position.

Image courtesy of abc7

PowerColor Devil 370X Benchmarks Leaked

AMD’s budget-focused 370X is designed to compete with the GTX 950 and could instigate a price war in the lower-end market. The 370X features 1280 stream processors and utilizes the entire Pitcairn architecture. Finally, the raw performance numbers are emerging from custom-cooled models such as the PowerColor Devil 370x. This particular card contains a core of 1180MHz and memory frequency of 5600MHz.

The PowerColor Devil 370X opts for a rather understated matte black backplate which prevents unwanted drooping and implements a more premium feel.

This GPU is powered by 2 6-pin PCI-E connectors which should help with overclocking potential.

In terms of connectivity, the PowerColor Devil includes 2 mini DisplayPorts 1.2, 1 HDMI (most probably 1.4) and 2 DVI-I connectors. There is also a vent to help with airflow and push heat outside the case.

The cooler itself is based on a copper 4-heatpipe design with ample room for two extremely large heatsinks.

The shroud is constructed from metal and painted in a gorgeous black and red finish. While this colour scheme is overdone, it looks fantastic and oozes build quality. Additionally, a 3 fan setup allows for reasonable temperatures at a low decibel level.

A closer look at the PCB shows the card’s power circuitry, core and VRAM layout.

Moving onto the actual results, we can see the PowerColor Devil 370x reaches a 3DMARK 11 X-score of 2761. To put this into perspective, a reference GTX 960 usually manages around X3350.

The GPU was also tested in Fire Strike Extreme and achieved a Graphics score of 3035. This easily outperforms many overclocked 270X cards which attain a figure around 2700-2800.

Perhaps the most important results revolve around gaming benchmarks at the mainstream 1920×1080 standard. The chart below records the lowest and average frame rate from a wide array of demanding games. In descending order, the benched titles are Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Dragon Age Inquisition, Lords of the Fallen, Project Cars, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, Zombie Army Trilogy, Moonlight Blade and World of Tanks.

Judging from the benchmarks and gaming scores, it seems the PowerColor Devil 370X will be a stonking card for customers on a tight budget.

Microsoft Reveals How Their Bing Algorithm Determines ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Websites

Microsoft first revealed their interest in mobile-friendly web pages and finding a way to figure out some guidelines for them last year. It seems that the company has been busy since then and finally revealed how they plan on determining which page is good or bad for a mobile device.

If you saw the ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag in the brief website description result of pages found by Bing, then you might already know that Microsoft has rolled out its new mobile-friendly detection algorithm. For those of you who do not know, then a web page which is mobile-friendly in Bing’s eyes is marked with a ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag like in the picture below.

So how are the websites marked for their mobile-friendliness? Well, Microsoft looks to have focused its interest into four major areas. The first one is Navigation, where the algorithm checks the size of buttons, links and menus. Nobody likes it when they try to tap on something and accidentally hit a link or button next to it, no?

The second and third marking criteria are Readability and Scrolling, which are assessed by checking the website’s font size and viewport settings. A mobile-friendly website, like all websites, should have its contents clearly visible without having the user to manually zoom and scroll horizontally on the web page to view its contents.

Last, but not least, the fourth requirement is Compatibility. From my point of view, this is the main decisive criteria to take into account. Web developers should try to make an effort to drop all external or third-party dependencies such as flash content and plug-ins and look into fully exploiting HTML5 that not only has a variety of support, but is also cross-platform compatible.

While the criteria mentioned above shaped the algorithm, some polishing was needed as well. Thanks to a lot of feedback received from users, it was determined that they prefer to use mobile-friendly websites in contrast to non-mobile-friendly ones. With this in mind, Microsoft has made a few changes to the website rankings, shifting mobile-friendly websites towards the top as much as possible. However, this does not mean you will be fed a lot of mobile-friendly websites that have no business with what you are looking for.

Microsoft noted that sites which are “highly relevant to the given query that are not yet mobile-friendly will not get penalized”, which essentially means you will still be getting websites with the most relevant information for your search at the top. But if there’s a mobile-friendly page among them, you will have that given to you first.

More information about Bing’s new mobile-friendly algorithm can be found over at Bing Blogs. So how likely are you to switch to Bing as your default search engine?

Image courtesy of Bing Blogs

It’s Going Great for Independent UK Retailers According to New Study

It is going great for independent UK retailers according to a new study performed by ShopTalk, and there are also a couple of surprises in it. ShopTalk is a not-for-profit service operated by IT distributor Target Components to provide free impartial business advice to IT resellers.

The most surprising find was that independent retailers that have heavily discounted prices do not enjoy better sales than those charging the highest prices. The ones selling the most are the ones placed in the middle of the field, most likely as a result of people not wanting to pay too much but in return also don’t trust a product sold too cheap.

ShopTalk didn’t just compare the figures of independent shops, they also took in large chains into the comparison. The Study found that independent retailers are offering both lower pricing and a wider range of products and services than their larger rivals. Independent retailers offer prices that are 9% lower on average, that’s £9 of every £100 marker and that’s not insignificant. The only bigger company that beat the independent retailers on an average scale of products offered was PC World, they offered 50 of the 65 items surveyed. But over half of the independent retailers also offered more than the 50, and that’s a double-up from last year’s survey.

“Under-pricing for indies simply doesn’t work – our research shows it depresses sales and stifles profits – so it’s encouraging to see signs that support what we hear anecdotally, that indies are taking a more considered approach to pricing.” said Shoptalk’s John Coulter on the report

Despite a drop in the price margin over last year’s result, independent shops continue to improve their sales for a more sustained business model. The number of lines selling ‘ok’ or better have improved from 71% to 75% over the last year.

HP Finish off their Fiscal Year with Interesting Q4 Results

Hewlett-Packard have just their fourth quarter earnings this past Tuesday, posting some interesting results to round out their 2014 fiscal year.

Here’s a quick summary of the report:

  • Net income of $2 billion, rated at 70 cents per share
  • Non-GAAP earnings at $1.06 per share on a revenue of $28.4 billion – dropping 2% year-on-year
  • Wall street was reportedly looking for earnings of $1.06 per share on revenue of $28.76 billion
  • HP shared have fallen by roughly 2.6% in the after-hours trading due to the above fact
  • Fiscal 2014 saw HP bring in earnings of $3.74 per share and a revenue of $111.5 billions, falling 1% compared to 2013’s results

HP’s CEO Meg Whitman commented on these results, stating that her companies “turnaround” is back on track and running as expected:

“In FY14, we stabilized our revenue trajectory, strengthened our operations, showed strong financial discipline, and once again made innovation the cornerstone of our company. Our product roadmaps are the best they’ve been in years and our partners and customers believe in us. There’s still a lot left to do, but our efforts to date, combined with the separation we announced in October, sets the stage for accelerated progress in FY15 and beyond.”

As we said in the beginning, this information provides interesting results. Their non-GAAP earnings are down 2% year-on-year alongside their fiscal 2013 revenue falling 1% year-on-year, but they certainly aren’t generating a loss and seem to be traveling much better than Sony at the moment. who have been reporting major issues amongst the eastern mobile market, alongside their picture studio being taken over by hackers in the past few days.

HP are in the middle of their plan to splinter their PC and printer businesses from their enterprise unit, we’re interested to see what the end result will being after 2015 is through. In the mean time, we’re going to have to see what this whole “five year turnaround” will bring to us, day by day.

Image courtesy of Open IT Strategies

Apple’s iPhone 6 TLC and MLC Put to the Test

We recently reported on Apple disabling TLC Memory in their iPhone 6 Plus models due to a high failure rate in their devices – further slowing down people’s phones and causing major outrage within clued up users. In further developments, we’ve gotten our hands on some testing and results looking into exactly how these changes will affect you. Is there a real difference betweel TLC and MLC flash in the iPhone 6 and will it make major differences to performance?

Experienced Hong Kong hardware testers HKEPC have just completed a detailed review and have found that a number of iPhone 6 64GB samples, including space gray, silver and gold colors may contain either HYNIX MLC, TOSHIBA MLC or SanDisk TLC flash memory. Put simply, it’s not obvious to know (simply by looking at the model) whether your iPhone 6 will have TLC or MLC memory at all – it seems to be almost random across the board and very hard to trace.

Without further adieu, here’s the first batch of results, showing a Zero Fill test comparison between MLC and TLC memory on the iPhone 6, 64GB model.

At first glance, these results are fairly obvious and there is no real need for explanation. However, HKEPC’s tests discovered that TLC utilization in the iPhone is optimized for fast access for processes like quickly opening applications. Its performance ranks above double MLC’s for the most part, drops off majorly toward the end of testing. This shows that if you’ve got multiple applications all fighting for a share of TLC memory, it might slow down to crawling pace. As the quote goes – “slow and steady wins the race”. However, if you’re using TLC for simple applications and not loading up your phone – it’s a far superior alternative.

We haven’t seen reports as to if Apple will be replacing iPhone’s under warranty that have had their memory randomly shut off without warning – we will continue to report as the story develops.

Images courtesy of Chiphell and eTeknix