The Consumer Electronics world is a very interesting one (it is also very entertaining). There is a ton of money and effort put into conveying a message for this or that product and service by people that, often, do not even know the technology they are talking about. On top of that there is a media presence that is made up of everything from the entry level user to the ubergeeks. You have blogs, news sites, review sites, company review sites, Amazon reviews, New Egg Blogs and customer reviews and more. It is almost impossible to get any real information out of what is broadcast on the internet these days. This is even more true when you have all of these sites rushing to get their article out first. This environment has created a situation where information is partially researched, based solely on synthetic tests or (even worse) is more opinion than fact.
After Nokia finished with presenting their new Lumias, everyone was wondering when they would officially come to stores. Preorders will start on October 29th together with the official release of WP8 and 3 days after release of Windows 8. According to new rumors, the Lumia should arrive already officially on November 2nd. It is expected that they will rush Lumia's release as much as they can because new iPhone comes very soon, and here time is literally money. Preorder will be available at official Nokia Store and Microsoft Store Websites.
Many of us are eagerly await the launch of Samsung's next top model from the Galaxy S line, called as expected the Galaxy S IV. Although it is evident that the launch of this device will come soon; the site SamMobile claim to know the exact date; from unofficial sources, of course, familiar with the plans of the company. [The launch of the S IV was talked about last year and many thought that Samsung would shot it off at CES 2013 and not wait until after the Mobile World Congress – Ed]
Remember when we told you that BitTorrent was coming out with their very own chat app called Bleep? No well they are and from the information we have so far it is looking like a pretty cool application. The concept is to take basic chat and run it, encrypted, through Torrent swarms. This move, in theory, should prevent the big guys from being able to store or grab your communications in transit.
When you think of “smart phones” you tend to think of two things. Android and iPhone (at least in the US that is the school of thought) this is despite the fact that there are many other operating systems available. There is Windows Mobile, WebOS, Symbian, and even others that are less common. Still the big battle seems to be between Apple and Google. Of course Google no longer makes a smart phone, so we are really talking about iOS Vs Android. Both sides have fans that would make the most ardent religious zealot look like an indecisive teenager. Because of this you cannot always trust what is written out there about the two.
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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Taking their cues from Apple’s Siri a group of developers came up with a natural speech recognition algorithm similar to Siri in 8 hours. The difference is that this one is for Android. The new app (that is available as an alpha release in the Android Market) is called Iris and for an 8-hout project is very functional. We were rather impressed after we had a few hours to tinker with it.
After we first heard that someone had done this we immediately went to the Market to see if we could get it there. The first thing that we noticed though was that while we could grab this for our phone, there was nothing visible in the Market on our Transformer tablet. In fact a quick run to the Market on our desktop PC shows us that Iris is not compatible with our Transformer. The other thing that we noticed is that you have a grab a dependency application called Speech Synthesis. This is what takes the text based responses and turns them into speech for you to enjoy.
One of the first questions we put to Iris was the big one… What is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything! It took three tries but we got the answer we were looking for. However some of the more mundane ones like “What is the forecast for the weather near Orlando” it had some problems with. I think my favorite answer for that question was “Beyond your Ability to comprehend”.
Now, I know this is nowhere near as polished or complete as Siri is on the iPhone, but what I did like was how accurate the device was at picking up what I was saying. Even when using contractions like what’s or can’t it knew what I was looking for. I was also able to differentiate between declarations and questions.
We are still playing around with this very interesting software, but we have to say what if this is what the group at Dexetra can do in only 8-hours… Apple should be worried when they put some real time and effort into it.
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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.
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).
Ok, we love the Judge in the Google V Oracle trail. This is a judge that has not drunk any of the Kool-Aid that either Google or Oracle has offered him. He has kept things pretty straight and even cautioned both sides on making what appear to be foolish decisions. If you remember Oracle is claiming that Google copied nine lines of code that were used to develop Android. They are claiming that Google benefited from this and also that they did this intentionally due to deadlines.