Sunday, 23 March 2008
Saturday, 22 March 2008
The problem with the MBA is that although its ultrathin its not any more portable than a regular MacBook, which is far more usable and involves far fewer compromises.
So is there room for a true ultraportable in Apple's range? I think so.
For an ultraportable to become a reality doesn't take much work on Apple's part either, as any of the current ultraportable machines out there would make a solid base for a Macbook Mini. Just. find the relevant OEM and add a few Apple design niceties.
Will it happen? Probably not. But Apple have been here before with the Powerbook Duo and 1400 without great success - perhaps its time to follow rather than lead.
Friday, 21 March 2008
As usual your first port of call should be internettablettalk.com for the full SP.
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Which is probably a good idea. The Zune hasn't set the world on fire for a good reason, its a poor product and its one USP (wireless) is so badly implemented no-one actually benefits from its presence.
A good rethink is just what Zune needs, I'm happy to wait until 2009 if it means we get a much better product.
What is interesting is how quickly the price is falling. A month or so ago it would have cost you an eye-watering £550-600. Things are changing quickly though: today an unlocked iPhone will set you back £395 not much were than the £269 that 02 will charge you for a locked one on 18 month contract.
Of course the absence of 3G on the iPhone and EDGE on non-02 networks means you will be stuck at GPRS. Which is going to slow things down somewhat.
Still if you absolutely must have an iPhone...
Not a huge bite out of Toshibas annual numbers, however it'll probably make them think twice before getting involved in the next format war. Whenever that may be.
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
There's a very good reason for this: it is.
The recent plan changes have given iPhone owners more minutes (600) and texts (500) - on top of the unlimited data that the contract brings.
In effect this makes the minimum cost of an iPhone over the 18 month term of the contract £899 (£35×18 months and £269 upfront purchase price)
By comparison the T-Mobile Vario 3 (a phone with equal or better capabilities than the iPhone) works out at £724 (£32.50 x 18 and £139 upfront purchase price) for a similarly generous contract.
That's close to a £200 saving for a device with a better camera, GPS, much faster network speeds, a real keyboard, bluetooth stereo audio, etc., etc.
Better still if you aren't a big spender on your mobile you can get the same phone for £605 (£22.50 x 18 and £199 up front) for an only slightly less generous contract. That's nearly £300 cheaper.
The issue is that Apple and 02 have locked the iphone onto some quite expensive contracts. Its lack of features just doesn't support that level of price premium and that's why its getting a rough ride. If Apples 3G version fixes some of these shortfalls then we might be a little more friendly.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
This is about more than just plugging a 3G modem into your laptop. After all how many people actually have their laptop with them 24/7? However as PCs are getting smaller and more pocketable its becoming more and more likely that we'll have them with us and be able to connect to our networks from more and more remote locations.
Machines like the OQO e2, the WiBrain and Sony UX series are all small enough to fit into a pocket and can use Wifi or 3G (internal or USB) to get online. The ASUS EeePC is only slightly larger and adds a usable keyboard and trackpad to the mix.
What this means is that paired with VPN Connectivity we are approaching a point when we can be available to work from pretty much anywhere and at anytime.
Which doesn't sound particularly appetising.
Except that the alternate is also true. Bring able to work anytime, anywhere means that we no longer have to be available to work nine to five in an office. For knowledge workers this can be liberating. For businesses which have family friendly HR policies its a godsend and more than that can be a potential route for huge savings on accomodation budgets.
As a business its time to start looking at the way your staff work and how you can best manage the how, where and when they work. It you aren't then be aware that your competition probably will be.
Ericsson Chief Marketing Officer Johan Bergendahl has predicted that the increasing availability and performance of mobile broadband will make Wifi hotspots the new telephone box: unused and unloved.
His not wrong. At least with regards to paid for wifi. With the price of unlimited 3G access failing to around £7 per month who in their right mind is going b pay the sort of hourly charges that some of these hotspot providers are making.
On the other hand free wifi hotspots are bound to flourish as well. Whether this is provided as part of a mobile contract (02) or as part of a broadband agreement (Orange); there are times when a mobile connection just doesn't cut the mustard.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
Now if Apple could just get a 3G model out of the door we'd have a viable alternative to Windows Mobile or Symbion S60.
Saturday, 8 March 2008
How slim is it? Well, its quite slim, but to be honest I didn't find it so much thinner than other thin notebooks of yore. In fact the whole experience was hugely underwhelming. To the point where I find it hard to find anything remarkable to say about it. There's the problem with accessibility to the USB port, but then that's easily solved with a USB extender. The multi-touch trackpad is an interesting aside, but most of its features only really compensate for only having a single mouse button.
I'm afraid the whole premise of the MBA is compromised in my eyes, there are more powerful full size machines that take little or no more room in a briefcase and don't require the level of compromise that the MBA demands. Even the MacBook, Apple's own entry-level machine makes a better case for your money.
Nice points? Erm... Sorry didn't really strike me that it had any.
So to sum up, next time you see someone toting a MBA into a meetng, coffee shop or lecture you can safely assume they're fully under the influence of the Steve Jobs reality distortion field.
Friday, 7 March 2008
Instead, other than an unloved appearance in the T-Mobile range (where even their retail stuff are disuading potential buyers) its been something of a non-event. In fact apart from the unit I have here I have yet to see anyone else using one anywhere on my travels.
Which seems strange for or device stuffed to the gills with useful technology.
HTC have now updated the Advantage to include a larger hard drive (like that was ever the problem) and made the attachable keyboard even worse.
So why no replacement for the much-loved Uni? I'm at a loss to explain. It trumps the competition in so many areas that its amazing someone at Microsoft hasn't had a quiet word about an update.
Just to rundown why I think the Universal form factor still has legs here are some of my favourite features:
The keyboard. Large backlit keys, good tactile feel and a seperate numeric row.
The Screen. VGA, 3.5" the perfect resolution and dot-pitch. Flips and rotates to give multiple usage options and is protected when closed so no need for a case.
Size. Fits comfortably into any pocket and is overly heavy. No larger than the standalone PDAs of not many years ago.
Battery life. Runs a whole day off one charge, extra batteries are Cheap and easily curried if you want to go an extended duration away from the mains. Double and triple capacity battene s are also available if you need to make extended trips.
I'd like to think that if HTC were to produce Universal 2 they could fit all of the Advantage's added extras in too: hard disk, faster CPU, more memory and of course an external OLED screen for caller display would be a big bonus too.
Of course the biggest issue is that HTC don't really seem that keen to revive the Universal form factor. Which suggests there are issues I don't know about.
Still one can dream...
Thursday, 6 March 2008
Apple also released details of its App Shop delivery method, with over the air installs and access to the full application catalogue direct from the handheld. The whole package will costs developers 30% of the software price - which they can set themselves. Freeware will be distributed without charge from Apple.
Existing iPhone users will get the new iPhone 2.0 software for free, whilst iPod Touch users will have to make another nominal payment to get the upgrade which includes updated wifi support (WPA2 and 802.1x) and VPN capability too.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
As an enterprise device the iPhone lacks in three main areas. Firstly its has no support for exchange/blackberry push email. Whether you think that this is a good or bad thing it is a pre-requisite for any device hoping to make a mark in the enterprise market.
Secondly there's a need to be able to perform at least basic level edits on Microsoft Office documents and finally there's the need to support central management of devices for security purposes.
Clearly its a little optimistic to hope that Apple will have addressed all three, however I'm fairly confident that if Apple are hinting at enterprise features its because they have at least one exchange/blackberry client push email based solution ready.
Still only another twenty-four hours until we find out for sure.
E-Ten has been responsible for all manner of impressive smartphone devices, combining high specs with impressive industrial design. Not to everyone's taste but good enough to build a hard core of supporters and a decent chunk of market share.
Acer has paid out approximately 6% of its held share capital in a share swap deal which promises some interesting devices to come.
Expect Acer to make a big play for the smartphone market an the imminent arrival of Ferrari badged devices to tempt the badge-impressed.
The Asus feels and looks like a kids toy compared to the very industrial design of the OQO, however in use its pretty impressive, with a good selection of pre-installed software and a nice keyboard and screen.
The most impressive thing was its Wifi performance though, maintaining 100% signal strength across the length of a 60m office. Nothing I've tried has achieved that kind of signal strength that far from our (admittedly very impressive) Aruba access points.
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Silverlight is Microsoft's prospective competitor to Flash, its big because it supports DRM and will ultimately force Adobe to do the same. Of course to start selling it as a content creation platform Microsoft has to get plenty of clients out there. Therefore a deal to supply Silverlight mobile to the huge majority of 'smartphones' in the market (i.e. those that run Symbian) is a big deal for Microsoft, even if the upshot for Windows Mobile is a missed opportunity to score a point over its big competitor.
I imagine that Adobe will now pull its corporate fingers out and release updated versions of the, somewhat outdated, Flash Mobile that are available. Even so, I suspect Adobe has a long hard struggle ahead to keep Flash's market share from evaporating in the Microsoft onslaught.
If Google really wanted to own the market this sounds like the sort of stuff they'd be keeping to themselves, obviously there's more potential around the supply of services to Windows Mobile users than anyone would have thought.
Monday, 3 March 2008
As you've probably guessed from previous posts I'm nota big fan of ultrathin devices with huge footprints. I want something which is portable by virtue of fitting into a pocket.
That's not to say I claim the high ground in any argument, there are valid arguments for wanting the ultrathin machines too. What is key though, is the spread of the market. Some want thin some want pocket sized and still others want tablets.
What is clear though is that ultraportable as a concept really demands that pocketable is the way to go. After all, next time you're in the check-in queue toting your laptop and a few essentials stuffed into a laptop bag, check out the guy carrying no bag at all. Fo all you know he's carrying enough computing power in his pocket to down your operation - especially if he's a competitor
The how seems pretty obvious, installation will almost certainly be via iTunes, suggesting a new release of that software is also due. But will it be centrally controlled via Apple or will you be able to install applications locally via the iTunes install on your PC/Mac? The difference will be vital to small software companies and the hobbyist. If everything goes via the iTunes Music Store it means handing over marketing and distribution to Apple. In itself not a bad thing, certainly not likely to be a worse deal than that currently available through other software distribution points. It puts Apple into a position where they could concievably control what is and isn't made available to the market.
I suspect the model that most vendors would prefer would be one where installation is performed through a local iTunes install (in much the same way you add your CDs to your iPod) and purchased through the vendors website. In that way there is no possibility of Apple dictating what is made available and when.
Of course Apple have secondary issue to deal with: reliability. Whereas Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm have had reputations for instability almost certainly founded in dubious third party programs (or in some cases compatibility issues between otherwise well behaved ones) Apple has been able to foster an image of rock solid reliability for the iPhone based around complete control over available software. That's about to change, unless Apple decides that all installations have to performed through the iTunes Music Store. Which isn't going to be great for small scale software houses who could potentially be faced with a lengthy, complex and expensive certification process.
It will be interesting to see how Apple intends to mould together such diverse requirements into a single software delivery policy. Given recent Apple performance you'd have to expect them to pull it off - with gusto!
Saturday, 1 March 2008
In fact I'd say its quite simple to achieve what James has without carrying a bag at all. This boils down to how much weight you want to shave off and how you intend to do it. I could say that my HTC Universal hits most of the targets that James uses on the road, but we're really talking about 100% like for like, so let me offer up my heavyweight traveling light package.
For starters I'll base my kit around the OQO model 01+ for size reasons. This is a fully fledged XP PC which, even with 6 hour extended battery fitted, still fits into a trouser pocket. In my other pocket resides the T-Mobile Vario II - aka HTC Tytn. This covers both the phone and push email aspects of the jk solution and, as a bonus provides a super-quick HSDPA network connection via Bluetooth or USB connection. The final thing in my pocket is the OQO's VGA adapter, which is about the size of a small lighter, but which adds video-out to the 01+ for presentations.
Lastly I'll generally wear a pair of Motorola HT820s Bluetooth headphones, which pair with both devices for audio or video.
An iGo Bluetooth keyboard is the only other potential device for me to carry and that too fits into a pocket (just!) This only gets added for those times I know I'll be heavily involved in text input, otherwise I'll just use the built-in keyboard or handwirting recognition for text entry.
The ultimate gadget bag is no bag at all you see.