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Tablet Or Phone?: Today’s Touchscreen Computing, “The Hobbit” Filmed At 48 Fps And Where

Taking a look at mobile computing, the fine line between phones and the tablets has become faint. Google has a full line-up of Nexus brand devices from a 10″ tablet to the new fourth generation Nexus phone, and we’ll compare them to their competitors. Then, we look at why the upcoming “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is like no movie before.

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Tech This Week: Kindles in HD and Nokia’s final swing

It’s been a huge week for technology already, and enough headlines that it’s hard keeping up. Thankfully, you don’t have to.

We’ll start today with Amazon’s announcements on the Kindle Fire HD tablets. Amazon has been leading the pack of Android tablet vendors with its first generation of Kindle Fire tablets, and now they’re looking to make that gap even wider. The two new tablets are 7.0 and 8.9-inch tablets, both with an impressive 1920 x 1200 resolution display. These displays are high quality screens, beating out most of competing tablets though not quite rivaling the new iPad. Starting at $199 for the 7-inch and $299 for the 8.9-inch, Amazon is offering quite a deal. Also announced was a slightly updated version of the original Kindle, selling soon for only $159. All of these tablets will see the benefits of some of Amazon’s newest software offerings, such as the new Kindle Serials, a way for consumers to subscribe to a text and get all future issues. Aside from those three devices, Amazon announced its next e-reader, the Paperwhite, with a superior screen with sharper-than-ever-text. With all of the above and more, Amazon is offering more than just another reader or tablet. Read more.

 

The next big story is really two: Nokia. Just having unveiled two new devices with surprising new technology, the world was shocked to find Nokia’s stocks drop once again. The company’s stock prices have steadily been spiraling downward, and Wednesday’s new 16% dip in stock value doesn’t look good. Stormy company forecasts aside, one would never expect a company as low as Nokia financially to unveil the kind of devices shown only Wednesday. The Lumias 920 and 820 aspire to be the best camera phones in history, and may very well be. the Lumia 920 features PureView camera technologies previously well-proven by Nokia and many camera specs which beat any other smartphone out there, such as the F/2.0 aperture and large sensor. Finishing off is the “floating lens” technology, acting as mechanical frame stabilization in real-time. While the camera is only 8.7 MP, the BSI sensor allows for high-density oversampling of pixels, which means pictures will be very sharp. The 820 may lack PureView technology, but still has an impressive camera with many improvements. To top it off, both phones feature a new screen technology, more sensitive than conventional capacitive touch screens. Read more.

 

Tune in next week for more weekly news!

Sources: Engadget, The Verge, WPCentral

Can Smartphone Companies Keep Up With the Market?

How can you tell when a market is moving quickly? It’s a sure sign when some companies are falling behind, and worse–they don’t recognize it. Whether it be the hardware, the software, the tablet or phone, the market in cellular and mobile devices is growing at a very fast pace and becoming even more profitable than ever before.

As of early May, we can tell that its likely that about half of everyone in the U.S. who pays regularly for a phone has a smartphone. This is up from about 29% in October 2010. The growth of the smartphone industry has followed, growing significantly as well.

Here’s a severely obvious statement: The entire market in mobile is growing and has grown a lot. Facebook is continuing its unprecedented social network expansion, and Apple is continuing to set precedents with pioneer technology. They’re are growing rapidly, to put it mildly. Maybe a better example is Verizon, which has seen only further growth this quarter, as it has more than the past year. AT&T has exceeded profit expectations with record smartphone sales both 2011’s Q4 (4th Quarter) and Q1 this year. And that’s just in the US.

What’s new, then? Companies in the line of phone making, selling, and supporting are doing great with more smartphones, right? Not necessarily. It seems to be the strategy of many Android OEMs to pump out phones every month or two. But as we saw back in December, HTC was the first to discover that this hit-people-with-everything-you’ve-got method isn’t the most effective. As we go back to Economics 101, the demand, though growing rapidly, isn’t meeting that volume of supply. Without saying anything specifically about HTC’s future, balancing constantly improving and innovating in devices and getting that on shelves and making sure it actually get bought (or that there is sufficient demand) is difficult.

We’ve seen a lot of executive stepping up and stepping down recently anywhere from RIM to Best Buy. HP is reportedly cutting as many as 25,000 jobs as of Thursday. RIM got their new CEO Thornston Heins not too long ago, and is said to be adopting two new executive staff members from Light Squared and Sony. Best Buy has lost its chairman Richard Schulze and CEO Brain Dunn in a scandal, and is in need of a replacement CEO–along with a new strategy. They’re hoping to start this off by cutting 50-some stores, but while already looking at huge losses in revenue. And there are more examples of major rethinking in companies dealing with mobile products, and which are effecting companies’ strategies in the mobile market. The question for these companies and others is ‘Are the changes they’re making to adapt to this market enough?’.

The precedents that have been set recently with fast advancing technology such as quad-core CPU phones and LTE mean that consumers are continuing to expect greater things from manufacturers and developers. Apple could be argued to have largely brought on this age of smartphones, but the personal precedents they set raise the bar for everyone, themselves included. This means consumers expect them to deliver outstanding results as well. Because of these expectations, it’s more than a difficult market. New devices are coming out by the dozen, month-to-month, and companies have to continuously perfect products to keep up, let alone get ahead. If that wasn’t hard enough, companies have to juggle pleasing shareholders, which is far from an easy task. The strategies that companies have directly effect both their end product and end user, and the experience the user gets (UE or UX) can, overt time, come to directly reflect the share values of a company.

But this is like any other market, right? On the contrary, the vicious pace we’re seeing is more than just business competition. The competition for the best smartphone has been speeding forward at a pace which would cause many businesses strain. At this point, its nearly impossible for smaller companies to enter the game unless they have something which can make consumers think twice about their iPhone. We have seen some heads turned with Nokia’s new Windows Phone Lumia line, and considering the company has only reentered the US smartphone game a relative few months ago, the accomplishment is notable. It will be interesting to see if Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, Nokia, Sony, RIM, and others, all keep enough of a trusting and trusted userbase to keep on trucking. Can so many companies really keep up?

The answer, however, is difficult. On one hand, the heavy competition and difficulty in pleasing everyone could be a destructive burden that eventually beats out software and hardware giants alike. Yet at the same time, as the market grows, there should be room for more products.

In terms of shares, Apple currently appears to be greatly leading in its industry, to no one’s surprise, with share prices still climbing. Microsoft has been on a downward trend for years, but has had a small trend upwards very recently, though its shares are far below in value. It’s heyday was right around the turn of the century. Google looks tentatively to be trending upwards, growing rapidly, and though perhaps not at the pace of Apple, its share prices are far closer to Apple’s than Microsoft’s. That all said, Google and Apple have under 1 billion shares, while Microsoft has more than 8 billion, meaning that the company’s value could still be equal or higher. Ultimately, its difficult to tell who’s really on top. At least, right now.

Sources: Google Finance, Bits on NYTimes, Bloomberg Businessweek, BGR, Nielsen Wire, WPCentral, Forbes

The Best and Baddest: MWC

This week has been huge with Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress being earlier this week. We previously covered the first two days of the show, and here we’ll wrap it all up. There’s a lot to talk about in technology today, so we’d better hop to it. Look below for the best and baddest of each category.

Tablets:

  1. The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 makes previous Android tablets look like child’s play with its 10.1″ 1900 x 1200 pixel FHD Super IPS+ display with a wide 178° viewing angle. The new frontrunner tablet from Asus comes in two versions, the first, a WiFi version with a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip clocked to 1.6 Ghz, the other variant with a 1.5 Ghz chip and 4G LTE campatibility.
  2. Another promising tablet is theSamsung Galaxy Tab 2.0, having both the 7″ and 10.1″. The 7-inch offers similar specifications like their dual-core 1Ghz CPUs, but the major difference is that there is no micro-SD slot like the larger tablet. It is also notable that the 10-inch tablet offers an astonishing 7,000 mAh battery, while its counterpart has only 4,000 mAh. Nonetheless, these batteries could be a game-changer combined with Samsung’s new competitive pricing.
  3. Huwai surprised everyone with its new MediaPad 10 FHD, a tablet reportedly headed to the US and Europe and not only Huwai’s home in China. The tablet’s design befits the uninspired black-slab aesthetic, but it’s specifications are impressive.
  4. Samsung also has a somewhat interesting offering using the S-Pen technology from the Galaxy Note smartphone. The Galaxy Note 10.1 ICS tablet offers technology perfect for writing on and with your tablet, along with productivity applications such as Adobe Photoshop Touch. The new Note offers a dual-core 1.4 Ghz chip, and otherwise predictable specifications.

Phones:

  1. The Samsung Galaxy Beam is the first major phone to be released western end of the world that is fully integrated with projector technology. The phone manages a thickness of just under half an inch (12.5mm), and can project a 640 x 360 pixel image about 4ft (about 1.2m). The phone has satisfying specs with its 4″ screen and dual-core 1GHz. The only phenomenal thing is the amazing 6GB of RAM included presumably for the projector.
  2. The only Windows Phone from MWC we haven’t covered is the Nokia Lumia 610. The smartphone isn’t a flagship device, but rather a mid to lower-end competitor with a very impressive design. It has a meager 256 MB of RAM, and could be a sign to fragmentation in Windows Phone, given some apps require a little more power under the hood. Given Nokia’s close work with Microsoft, it is expected that some issues will be addressed in the upcoming two-part Tango update for the platform. Horsepower aside, the device is nice, and could be a strong competitor for lower end markets and third world countries, strengthening the platforms worldwide presence.
  3. The Lava Xolo X900 is a device which is the first to present Android ICS on a Intel Atom Medfield powered device. The 1.6 GHz chip sets it apart, along with its NFC, HDMI, and HD recording and playback. The India-based company Lava has done something currently unprecedented in processor technology with Intel, and it will be interesting to see if it becomes more popular.

Sources: technoholik.com, The Verge, WPCentral, Phone Arena

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