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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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New Microsoft “Surfaces”, iPad Mini and 4th Gen

Apple wrote the story of the tablet, didn’t they? This week, we’ve seen a lot of new heat brewing in the tablet space. Apple unveiled two new iPads: a Mini and 4th Generation iPad.  But with the recent Nexus 7 and the new Kindle Fires, it already looked Apple may have been given a run for its money. In only a couple days, Microsoft will be selling Windows 8 RT, the tablet version of Windows 8, along with the x86 desktop versions of the new Windows. With Windows 8 RT, Microsoft is bringing not only its own Surface tablets, but other Windows PC makers are jumping on board. Apple just announced its iPad 4th generation, along with the 7.9″ iPad Mini, which while cheaper than the regular iPad is also slightly larger than competitors in the size range.

Can a new logo, public image, marketing campaign, and entirely rethought strategy change the Microsoft we thought we knew? Microsoft is doing a lot to change who they are as a public company. As BGR editor Zach Epstein points out, Windows for the longest time has been an operating system that people used, but not one that necessarily inspired the advocacy of passionate followers. Things start to look different with Surface RT, starting at $399. Add $99 for the touch-sensitive keyboard-case, another $10 if you want the thicker cover with press-able keys, and you have a premium device. A 10.6″ ClearBlack screen, the thickness of an iPad 3rd gen, XDXC switchable ports, USB, and the Magsafe dock make it one-of-a-kind. The Surface is a device the likes of which we’ve never seen from Microsoft, and we’ve never seen anything like this for advertising from them, either. First airing after a new Dancing with the Stars episode, this commercial gives Microsoft some jazz that Ninja Tuna and Bob Acri never could. Read more on Surface, on Windows.

You really didn’t think you would be shocked this time, did you? But, nonetheless, you are as Apple unveils an entirely new generation of iPad, instead of a refresh. Starting at $499 (WiFi) and $629 (LTE), the 4th gen iPad has many similarities to the iPad 3, but it has a few new specifications, including a 720p HD camera, faster WiFi, and the Apple A6X processor. What most people did expect is the iPad Mini, a device to compete with smaller tablet counterparts running Android. It will run you $329 (WiFi) for the lowest memory, but it gives you your premium Apple product with access to the vast wonders of the App Store and other services. Read more.

Sources: BGR, WPCentral

Microsoft’s New Surface Tablets

Today in Los Angeles, Microsoft revealed their all-new line of Windows 8 tablets. The new Windows 8 tablets come with extremely thin case/keyboard combinations, along with a slick stand. They look to be  more portable than laptops and more functional than any tablets we’ve seen yet. Running Windows 8 and with all the bright cases, the 10.9″ tablets look great. Microsoft if making its own hardware, and the news-world drama which ensued was reminiscent of an Apple announcement.

The style is more than eye-catching!

Two devices were announced: a Windows RT version and a Windows 8 Pro version. This means that the RT version is running on ARM, so will be lighter, thinner, and cheaper, while the Windows 8 Pro version is traditional x86 architecture. This also means that some capabilities are limited, such as all features of Microsoft Office “2013”. The Windows RT version will come in 32 GB and 64 GB versions, while the x86 version will be 64 GB and 128 GB. The breakdown of the differences is in the chart below.

Here’s a promotional video which is pretty sweet, but not terribly informative:

We haven’t heard anything on prices yet, but we’re told they will compete with today’s ARM tablets and Ultrabooks accordingly. My guess on pricing is that Microsoft will be extremely competitive, but I would still expect to pay at least $299 for the Windows RT version, and a couple hundred more for the 8 Pro, but we don’t know until Microsoft discloses it. Plus, we can look forward to other devices coming from third-party OEMs like Samsung. All this and more is set to come Q4 this year.

Source: Microsoft

E3: The Tech

Though the yearly E3 convention is intended for video games, often times companies stretch the definition a bit and unveil new software and technology enabling new ways to play. Microsoft and Nintendo took the stage in this regard, though we did see a few other pieces of technology rear their heads. In all honesty, the concept of Xbox Smartglass looked an awful lot like the new features of the Wii U, given the tablet-console communication will enrich the gaming experience. The Wii U’s tablet integration has been awaited for a while now, but this does raise questions. That said, Microsoft has been keeping us on our toes in awaiting the “Three Screens Vision”, connecting the console, tablet or phone, and PC. It’s also important to note that both have their advantages. Xbox Smartglass will be available for Windows 8 tablets, Windows Phone, Android, and iOS as far as we know. In the keynote,  Marc Whitten mentions the use of the app on Android, so we can assume iOS as well. The Xbox website’s Smartglass page says that there will be an Xbox Smartglass app for Windows and Windows Phone, and that the “Xbox SmartGlass technology is available on other major platforms in the My Xbox app”. There is already an Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone and a beta for Windows 8 (since Windows 8 is in beta–download the latest iteration, Release Preview here). We also assume that there will be something along those lines for Android and iOS, perhaps with some limited features, though we have no details as of yet. The real deal here is that Xbox Smartglass is connecting “the devices you already own” for an enhanced experience not just gaming, but viewing movies or videos, and for browsing the web. All these features are briefly described in Xbox video below.

As far as the Wii U goes, I’m convinced that Nintendo has this technology pretty much in the bag. The integration that they demoed does look more refined than that of Smartglass, and, as of late, superior. That said, Nintendo has the advantage working with only one “tablet”, if the so-called “gamepad” could be described as such. As far as we know, the gamepad will have some abilities we associate with a tablet, like video-chatting, but the apps and services which will be available are uncertain. We can’t hardly blame Nintendo for this though, because so far as we’ve “heard” the gamepad should be in the $100 price range, limiting the hardware. Then again, if Amazon can do it, why can’t Nintendo? It’s important to note that the gamepad isn’t a tablet. And unlike the devices meant for Smartglass, the gamepad is not really a device outside of gaming purposes. Outside of gaming, we know the gamepad may have features like the 3DS currently has. Both devices will feature integration with the new MiiVerse “social network”, for which smartphone apps will also be available. Nintendo seems to be really going out of their comfort zone in order to try and bring customers what they want most, so kudos to them there.

We’ll admit there was some other technology that was there, but we’ll save you the trouble of it because it wasn’t all that special. If you’re interested on the “virtual reality” Doom 3 goggle gizmo, we recommend the article at the Road to VR blog.

Sources: Xbox.com, KCCI.com,

Windows 8 Gallery

The Verdict on Windows 8

It’s official. We are the 1,000,000th blog to talk about our ideas concerning Windows 8. The difference? We’ll bring you the very best bits of glorious geeky PC goodness that you want to know about the OS update. Where to begin? Metro is a hot topic  in the computer world today–if not the hot topic. The ideas about its success and shortcomings have come in quite the variety, too. Some of my own friends are not alone in saying that Windows 8 is the next Vista (in computer guru terms: an utter failure), and others say it will be as revolutionary to the computer industry as Windows 95. The GUI (graphical user interface) has been redone, but that’s not all. The internals have been given the same minimalist philosophy as the UI and revised for serious performance. This means we should see a little more bang for your processor, if you know what I mean. With Windows 8, your average junky netbook might not be limited to Windows 7 Starter anymore. Truth is, I’m using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to right this post, and aside from one or two glitches to be expected in a beta, I’m impressed. But my opinion isn’t what counts, so let me get you up to speed. Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8 will come in four SKUs (or versions):

  • Windows 8, the package for the common consumer and their PC.
  • Windows 8 Pro, for those who want those extra features like file encryption, and the ability to host with the new Remote Desktop feature.
  • Windows 8 Enterprise, yes, only available to enterprises, is Windows 8 Pro with a few extra IT security and network management features.
  • Windows RT, short for Windows Runtime, refers to the new ability to, in short, run all your Windows 8, non-x86 apps, with a tablet-friendly, though still feature-rich, version of Windows.

The most significant difference between these versions is the architecture difference. Windows 8, 8 Pro, and 8 Enterprise are all based on the traditional x86 software architecture, while Windows RT is made for ARM, so it will be better for tablets. (Many call Windows RT “WOA”, short for Windows on ARM.)

What does this mean for the consumer? Microsoft’s goal is to make the answer to that question “not much”. The idea is that the experience of Windows 8 is constant between all the different devices and places which the new interface is seen and used. Problem is, this interface is completely new in the PC world, and to most people, the new Metro design is foreign. Aside from those using Windows Phone 7, Metro is a whole new design language to learn. Nonetheless, the world will learn all this fast if it gets in the hands as many people as have Windows 7 now. As for the SKU titles, the average Joe doesn’t need to know the difference, and Windows RT will likely be marketed as simply as Windows on a tablet.

One of the main concerns is the customizability of the OS. (No, I don’t think that’s a word.) While the traditional “Desktop” may be customized traditionally, the main Start screen is limited to a few designs and 9 colors. Three combinations are shown below.

Does this look customizable to you?

Another burning question is what Windows 8 means for enterprise. With a specialized SKU of the OS, Windows 8 Enterprise, Microsoft is obviously serving to the needs of the businesses of the world. Jeffrey Sutherland for the Building Windows 8 MSDN blog recently described plans for allowing non-company computers (buy-your-own, or BYO) to easily access a company’s programs and resources via a WOA management client (check it out at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/04/19/managing-quot-byo-quot-pcs-in-the-enterprise-including-woa.aspx). This means a company could allow employees to connect securely to an infrastructure of tools to work cooperatively, or a hospital could allow patients to log in and access apps or resources, such as a survey. (Yes, that was all you, Lowdermilks on the Metro Developer Show.) It’s features like these that could really make tablets on Windows 8 beneficial to business.

The revamp of the OS is significant, and it’s going to take a while for many to familiarize themselves and adapt, but in the end, I personally believe that the new graphics-focused UI, and the effort Microsoft is making to make Windows modern, will pay off. That’s my verdict.

 

via MSDN, the Metro Developer Show

You’ll probably also want to see our Windows 8 gallery.

Download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

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