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Showing posts from November, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

It's time for some new tech, I feel it's my duty to support our collapsing retail sector by investing in something new. But what exactly?

There are three contenders at the moment anyway, significant procrastination could widen the field.

In no particular order they as the Macbook, OQO 02 and Samsung Q1 Ultra.

The Macbook would be the sensible choice as my PowerBook is so old it's getting telegrams from the Queen; the OQO would replace my existing 01+ and I'm sure do away with any annoyances of that device (poor wifi performance mainly) whilst the Samsung would be a bit more usable, though a bit less portable than the OQO.

Decision time tomorrow I think.

Intel Down On Netbooks

Ever since Asus rewrote the rules of portable consumer computing with the then revolutionary EeePC 701, Intel has been riding a crest of the netbook wave, the Atom processor being well on its way to legendary status.

However Intel has been suggesting that netbooks are only suitable for use in one hour periods.

Why?

Keyboards on Netbooks are getting better with each new launch, screens have reached on optimal size and resolution; and battery life is approaching all day computing levels.

Maybe its that Intel has been sidelined in the netbook craze which has also had the side effect of mortally wounding Intel's UMPC platform.

UMPC - Still Looking For The Killer Device

Origami remains something of a failure for Intel, having been bypassed by the netbook craze and still having no really well defined market niche, the thing seems to have gone a bit flat.

Other than Samsung, who were onboard the Origami project from day one, there's not been a huge interest from manufacturers - no HP or Dell player in this market.

There are many reasons why this is the case. Firstly the original pricing target was well missed, then the devices turned out to be bigger, less powerful and more power hungry then the pre-launch hype had suggested. Another issue which affects all the players has been vectoring -where your hand rests on the screen when writing and registers as a line - which plays havoc with handwriting recognition.

New devices from motherboard specialist Gigabyte are on their way and its possible that one of these could be the poster boy that the UMPC sector needs.

Although I'm guessing probably not...

New Blackberry Not Going Down A Storm

As reviews of the Storm start to trickle out its clear that RIM have seriously missed the mark with this one.

Intended as a iPhone competitor the Storm starts badly with its missing Wifi component and then, by virtue of its 'clickable' touchscreen manages to lose the interest of even the most ambitious smartphone addict.

The most appropriate comment appears to be - why did they release this before it was ready?

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Can The Touch HD Restore Windows Mobile's Credibility?

Windows Mobile moves to a new level of competition with the release of the Touch HD, HTC's response to the iPhone and Blackberry Storm. This looks like a real gamechanger and a real challenge to the iPhone's dominance, delivering on the promise originally made by the Touch Diamond around a year ago.

The HD features a WVGA screen of 3.8" diagonal: that's 800x480 against the iPhone's 3.5" 480x320. Paired with HTC's TouchFlo interface this works very well indeed and the extra RAM and CPU horsepower mean that it works without the delays that spoiled the Diamond experience.

One of my first comments on seeing the iPhone was 'they'll never get Windows Mobile to work this well'

First experience of the Touch HD suggests that this is no longer the case.

Evernote - Please Fix These Bugs

I love the concept of Evernote - an application for capturing and storing handwritten notes and making them searchable and available anywhere you have a web connection on pretty much any device.

However the Windows Mobile client suffers from a major bug, one that makes the client practically unusable for note creation. The handwriting is continually interrupted by the contextual menu 'circle' which completely screws up the text on screen. Its present on every Windows Mobile device I've tried to a greater or lesser extent. The HTC Advantage, possibly the best candidate for this type of use, suffers from this terribly, as well as a secondary bug that stops it waking from sleep when Evernote is running.

Finally the most recent update for the Windows version introduces (on my OQO at least) corruption around the pen cursor, which is really distracting in use.

Evernote strikes me as potentially a better note-taking platform than OneNote, Microsoft's competition. But stabilty is…

Internet Explorer Mobile 6 Only For New Devices

Here's a prime example of why Microsoft are well on their way to becoming the next Palm in the smartphone-space. IE Mobile has been cruelly exposed as a bag of garbage alongside alternate mobile web browsers from Apple, Google and Nokia. Microsoft's response is to create a newer, more functional web browser and then make it only available on new devices.

That sucks. A lot.

Microsoft have integrated a perfectly good software update application in WM6 and totally failed to use it. In fact the situation with WM upgrades is just getting worse than ever. Carriers are, at best, slow to release updates, when they bother to release them at all.

The average WM user must be looking over the fence for somewhere else to place their business, because Microsoft keep pulling shifty tricks like this.

Message to Redmond: the game has moved on and you're looking increasingly marginalised. Do the job properly or don't do it a all. The other guys are making you look incompetent.

Yahoo - Yang Bails Out As Shares Tumble

Jerry Yang probably won't view 2008 as one of his finer years. Having fought off a bid from Microsoft that valued Yahoo at around $33 billion he has subsequently seen the company's shares fall so quuickly that it is now worth less than half of that - with no guarantee that the fall is over. He also negotiated a partnership with Google that the latter took the first opportunity to bail out from.

Now he's resigned as CEO of the company he founded and loved - presumably before the lynching mob of angry shareholders arrived.

Yahoo is in a bind - stuck between Google and Microsoft. I don't know who the board have in mind to replace Yang, but he'll need a magic wand to turn around the company's fortunes now.

Now That's What I Call A Battery

One other thing to report from my trip to Germany, the astonishing extended battery on the OQO 01+. This thing kept running through three days of travelling, conference note-taking and keeping my iPhone charged - around 12 hours of actual usage, albeit with hefty power savings enabled - to the point where I didn't need to use the spare battery that I'd packed for the trip. Absolutely phenomenal.

European IT Forum

The recent lack of posts has been down to a trip to Germany for the Fujitsu-Siemens hosted European IT Forum. An intense but interesting few days along with some quite intense merrymaking.

There were a few new products from FSC which looked worthy of further perusal, the new Mac Mini clone Esprimo was one, whilst the new Clinical tablet, though niche, certainly looks to have what it takes to compete with the entrenched Motion MC5. The other big news was confirmation of the buyout by Fujitsu, ending the FSC partnership and providing the company fresh impetus to compete with Dell and HP.

I'm hoping that the change of ownership will mean that we see the new U2010 (5.6" screened convertible mini-tablet PC) and U2010-3.5G in the UK. At least one company is talking to Fujitsu to make sure this happens, I'll let you know when, if this becomes a reality.

Canalys Numbers Look Bad For Nokia, Microsoft & Palm

Canalys latest review of smartphone sales shows beyond all doubt that the mobile space has changed forever. The three big players, up until very recently anyway, were Symbian, Windows Mobile and Palm. All three will view the sales figures for Q3 with some concern.

Microsoft will have very mixed feelings. The company's market share and shipments both improved when compared to last year's figures, yet its position slipped from second to fourth as both RIM and Apple surpassed Microsoft's licensees shipments.

Palm no longer even merit a breakout from the other group, however if we remove Motorola and HTC sales from the Windows Mobile total, and credit Palm with everything in the other column that still leaves the company well shy of its former glories, possibly around 1.4million devices.

Nokia holds the same position as Palm did a few years back - well on top, but under serious pressure. In a market that's booming Symbian shipped fewer devices than this time last year and saw…

UIQ Bows Out?

The little-known (and frankly little used) touchscreen version of Symbian known as UIQ looks to have reached the end of the road, as its only two publishing licensees have both ditched the OS, Sony-Ericsson and Motorola both moving to other platforms for future releases.

UIQ had plenty of potential when it was launched half a decade ago, but the hardware never lived up to the promise, from the original P800 through to the final P990 and P1. There also seemed to be real issues with ironing out the many bugs which plagued the OS, not least the 'white screen of death' as the system ran out of memory. Whilst your computer crashing can be inconvenient, a phone that crashes repeatedly is intolerable and the few that tried UIQ quickly abandoned it for something more stable. The P990, which should have been the platform's crossover into the mainstream, turned out to be a traffic-accident disaster and I'm certain was the final straw which turned Sony-Ericsson's management on…

Palm's Future Looking Bleak

Bad news about Palm and it's recent woes has been all too frequent in recent months and things aren't getting any better either.

The news that Palm's once healthy cash stockpile has been seriously depleted wiped close to a quarter of the value off the company's shares last week. For those hoping for the long-term future of the company there's not significantly better news. At the current rate of burn the company will have just a few million dollars left in the bank by the time it launches it's first Nova device.

I guess they better get it right first time or it may be time to pull the shutters down on the business.

Google Market Already Split

One of the things that seems to raise ire about the iPhone's app store is Apple's complete control over what does and doesn't get listed. Now Google's Android takes a much more open view of the application install process, making it relatively easy to provision applications for the platform.

The downside is that its easy to provision applications for the platform, which means that there are already three different places to go for applications - with different prices and subsets of applications in each.

Whilst this has worked for Palm and Windows Mobile in the past, Apple has moved the game on and being able to handle the full purchase/install/upgrade process seamlessly from the handset for any available iPhone application works too well (200 million downloads so far) to be ignored.

Its the sort of consumer unfriendly behaviour which helped to keep smartphones niche for so long and will, I suspect, force other OEMs to ship their own Android marketplace pre-installed to t…