After the smartphones presented at CES, Sony has a tablet from the Z Xperia product line in preparation. Official information on the specifications is still missing, but unofficial ones indicate a very competitive hardware worthy of the Xperia Z mark.
Four days, I lasted four days before I had to go back to Windows 7 on the EEE Slate. I tried to get Hyper-V running but the Core i5 on the system did not want to work the way it should. In the end I have come away with some interesting observations about the state that Microsoft’s next OS is in and where it could be by launch date. The first thing I have to remind everyone is that this is a developer’s preview. It is intended to allow App developers to push out apps for their Metro UI and also to ensure that software and hardware are ready (drivers mostly). By releasing it to the general public Microsoft has done a very smart thing. They are getting the OS out and on the street. People are actually running this as their main OS right now. Now this is all great if you are using something like a Laptop or even a desktop. There truly is very little that Windows 8 cannot do right now. However, when it comes to a tablet… things begin to fall apart. The problem is not that there is no touch screen support; it is that there seems to be no multi-touch support. On the EEE Slate EP 121 under Windows 7 I have multi-touch gestures and greater control. In Windows 8 that is gone. Instead of a two finger tap to right click my only option is touch and hold.
The matter is further complicated by Microsoft’s very immature Metro UI. It looks decent, but you cannot move things around to suit what you want or the layout you want. I do not like everything bunched up on one side on my tablet. I prefer it along the bottom. The Metro UI bunches the Apps and due to their different sizes breaks up any chance of a good flow. The lack of a Home button inside the individual apps is a big problem as well. Once you strip away the Metro UI you are left with a skinned Windows 7. Now I do like the new sharp corners as I think they make the windows look clean and show off a screen’s ability to reproduce good 2D imagery (well more like 2.5D).
The speed of Windows 8 is also very good. I was more than a little surprised to find this developer preview zipping along like it does. Usually at this stage of the game the OS does not feel very complete at all. There are speed issues, driver issues, and worse you name it you will probably run into it. In many cases (unless I have to) I do not really starting playing around with a new OS until it is at least at Beta 2 stage. Here you have things really ironed out and are looking for the little items. It is usually about this time that Microsoft opens up the Customer Preview Program and allows anyone to download the new OS. This early Developer’s Build really feels and performs much more like a Beta 2 than a dev preview.
So to wrap up my experience with Windows 8 on a tablet, I have to say I am impressed with quite a bit of it, but I do feel that this OS needs a LOT more work if it is going to compete head to head with Apple and Google in the tablet market. Sorry Microsoft, pretty Widgets and a cool keyboard is not enough to make it in this market space. You have to come up with something that no one else has or is doing, and as of right now, Windows 8 just does not have it for the Tablet Market. Let’s hope that by launch time these bugs are ironed out and we see a much improved version of Metro UI around August of next year.
For now we will get back to bringing you the news and our regular reviews..
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Google should unveil Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie at the Google I/O conference which will be around mid-May. At the same time it is expected they will launch a new smartphone, the Motorola X Phone. This is a phone that many rumors have been circulating about for quite some time. The rumors started as far back as the original announcement of the purchase of Motorola by Google and have grown since then.
Who has the most apps? The best apps? Does Apple or Android make more money from their apps? Who has more developers? Which platform offers more free apps? Hardware aside, these are all all important issues to consider when purchasing a new phone. After all, phones are now a versatile mobile computing platform that can hardly be referred to as just a “phone” any longer.
Market analysts are forecasting significant growth in expected shipments of tablets during this year. According to the analysis, this year between 170 and 180 million tablets will be sold worldwide, while supplies last year amounted to about 130 million.
Huawei will welcome a new member of their smartphone family this month; the Ascend G600 comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. So far it is not known in which countries the Ascend G600 will be available first, but according to an official announcement they will start distribution for the German market in December. The initial price for device the device is expected to be €300. Shao Yang, Chief marketing officer said that “We are very excited to introduce the new Huawei Ascend G600, which gives more functionality and power for people who expect more from their technology“.
CES 2012 - Las Vegas Nevada; nVidia had their big press conference for CES 2012 and as has been the trend for the last three years it is all about Tegra. This time we had a look at Tegra 3; As most of you know Tegra 3 is nVidia’s Quad/Quint Core SoC and is hitting the market in the form of Asus’ Transformer Prime Tablet. This new SoC (System on Chip) has been seen as the major competitor for Apple’s A6 SoC (although some still feel that the A6 has better and more elegant caching instructions).
After releasing a new version for Android smartphones and tablets, Google has released a new version of their Gmail application for iPhone and iPad. Beside the new design, the biggest news is the ability to use up to five different Gmail accounts on one device. In the older versions user were able to use only one. Integration with other Google applications has been improved, for example, if you receive an invitation to an event from Google Calendar to you Gmail inbox, you no longer need to open another application to confirm the attendance because you can do it directly from Gmail now.
One of the issues in the modern consumer electronics market is of course competition, but it is not the biggest issue. No, believe it or not the biggest issue in the world of consumer electronics is the throw-away mentality for most consumers. Back in the 1950s this problem was visited on the car industry. The automobile makers (in the US) were pushing people to replace their car every two years (yea that is true). This caused many cars to become quickly outdated (in many cases long before their time was really up). By the mid to late 60s the trend had changed because people did not have the money for this and the banks were starting to tighten up on their lending practices. The automotive industry had to change tactics and started pushing longer last vehicles (with better trade in and resale values).
Apple has been having a blast dropping patents for vague concepts and even an entire device type (with their pending Pico Projector patent) regardless of prior art and at times regardless of if the patent is actual technology or not (the look and feel of something). Then they take these patents and wave them in the face of judges that have no real idea of what the patent is (or is not) covering asking for injunctions and outright bans on products from companies that are relatively underfunded in the legal department. If you ask Apple about this they will stand and say that they are protecting their Intellectual Property (which in many cases was “borrowed” from another company that cannot afford a legal fight with Apple like S3). This abuse of the patent and copyright system is detestable, but is an article for another day.
The question I am wondering is, why has Apple not gone after Microsoft? Windows 7 on a tablet has Pinch to Zoom, finger gestures and even the same “look and feel” when you scroll with your finger. Now, I could be wrong, but if Apple is trying to protect their IP you would think they would be going after Microsoft in a big way. I am also pretty sure they would be adding Asus (who has one of the best-selling Windows Based Tablets on the market right now) to their legal wish list as well. So, why do they leave these two obvious copy cats out of the litigation arena?
Well, here are a few reasons that we were able to come up with based on research. Microsoft is safe simply because they have bailed out Apple multiple times in the past and also have several patents and items that Apple needs to survive (Office for Mac is still a huge seller). Whether the Apple faithful and Steve Jobs want to admit it or not Apple owes it very existence to their rival; without Bill Gates and Microsoft we would be talking about Apple in the past tense. Right now Adobe is wishing they had dropped money into that bailout instead of just spending time and money making their products work on Apple’s RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) based systems (the PowerPC days). If they had, they perhaps they would have some leverage in the whole HTML5 Vs. Flash competition. This also applies to Microsoft’s net generation operating system Windows 8. In fact is applies even more as Microsoft is writing it to work on ARM based CPUs. The previews that we have seen also make it very tablet friendly and an obvious threat to Apple’s weakening hold on the tablet market. Yet, we have heard no call to arms from the Apple legal team over this.
So, what about Asus and their tablets? Asus is also untouchable right now because they also have something that Apple wants; A manufacturing facility. Apple has been looking for alternatives to Foxconn due to the bad press surrounding the company’s many suicides. The world now knows that the iPhone, iPod and many other Apple products are assembled there and with the many deaths over working conditions at these plants the eyes are turning to look at Apple. The question has already been raised by many humanitarian groups “why has Apple done nothing about this?” You would think that a company that claims to be so “Green” and Earth Friendly would be appalled by what is happening over there. However, other than a few press releases (which usually tame the faithful) Apple has done nothing. At least on the surface, we have heard rumors that Apple is courting Pegatron as an alternative manufacturing site for the next generation of iToys. If this is true (and as of now we have no evidence to the contrary) then Apple would not want to get Asus upset. After all Asus owns Pegatron. It is their manufacturing company.
So then next time you hear an Apple press representative standing on the soapbox and loudly declaiming how they are protecting their Intellectual Property from the masses of thieves and copy-cats out there, just remember that they are only throwing this around at the companies they feel they can bully into submission. In the end no one likes a bully, and bullies usually reap what they sow in the long run.