And as Three only sell 3G phones this is just another clear indicator that his Steve-ness will be announcing the 3G iPhone at Apple's WWDC on June 9th.
Saturday, 31 May 2008
Thursday, 29 May 2008
What used to take generations and decades to happen in days gone by has been reduced to weeks and days in our age of technology.
Changing the game these days is measured in the way that your peer group or competition react to your product.
The iPhone has spawned endless attempts to mimic its look, interface or modus operandi. Whether that be by previously unknown MP3 player fabricators or the software houses who have been pushing out iPhone- alike applications left, right and centre; its clear proof of how Apple rewrote the book with the iPhone.
Now the Asus EeePC has crossed that boundary into legend, as its legions of imitators look to match its combination of ease-of-use, size, price and performance. We've seen some of the smaller players be quick out of the blocks with their own Eee-clones, Everex, MSI and the like.
But the recent launch of the HP Mini-note and subsequent announcements by Dell and Acer shows just how Asus managed to move sub-notes to the front of the agenda right across the board.
Asus' head start won't be enough to see off the big boys in the Corporate marketplace (the education targeted 700 Series' toy-like looks probably killed that) but for consumers, smaller businesses and the semi-independent/self-employed the new, larger screened 900 looks a real winner.
And for their bravery and innovation Asus deserve nothing less.
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Video calling's failure to take off has somewhat perplexed the network operators, they bid big money for the 3G licenses on the basis that we'd all be so taken with the concept that they'd have plenty of opportunity to recoup their investment.
I suspect that the reason that video calling has failed to take is due to the restricted number of handsets available that support video, the huge additonal cost compared to voice calls and the poor quality of early iterations of the technology which put off those who tried it.
The availability of HSPA networks (HSDPA and HSUPA) means the final barrier should be removed. Which leaves two obstacles - a simple enough task for Steve Jobs and the Apple team to overcome.
Monday, 26 May 2008
Here is another.
TamsPPC have recieved specs of the 850W and if we are to believe them then Palm has corporately taken leave of its senses. SDRam is listed at 32mb, not the 64Mb normal on today's devices or the 128Mb that we're beginning to see on high devices.
This is such a crazy decision that I'm going to have to say that the info is flawed. Its the only rational explanation. Either it got misread in the data transfer or Tam's contact was ill-informed.
Whatever the cause, I'm calling it incorrect. No self-respecting company would make that kind of decision in today's competitive market.
It would be commercial suicide.
Saturday, 24 May 2008
The latest one probably passes the likelihood test: GPS. Its hardly guaranteed, but rumours of a geotagging service would point to its presence. Of course those rumours may amount to nothing more than a bit of wishful thinking but whilst we wait until June 9th and the likely launch date they may be the only things we clutch hold of for stories.
Friday, 23 May 2008
Its been a point of dispute for Windows Mobile naysayers for some time, yet as Adam points out its a brilliantly simple way of providing two press access to the Today screen and your most common apps.
With Microsoft supporter Carl Icahn increasing his shareholding and proposing to force through the replacement of the whole board at the AGM, it seems to be a strange decision to delay and allow him to strengthen his position further. Unless of course a deal with Microsoft is now seen as inevitable and the board is looking to get the best proposal on its terms before it has to face the shareholders.
Looks like Steve Ballmer will eventually get his prize, one way or another.
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Given the years of Palm underperformance I'm inclined to take a big pinch of salt with this one. Are we talking about an actual shipping device (unlikely) or a demo of a working system itself?
Palm needs to score big with this, whatever they plan to deliver. Another debacle of Foleo proportions really will bring about the end very quickly indeed.
Aside from OS2008, which is much the same as the version released for the N800, the important thing with the N810 are the hardware changes. Gone are the rotating webcam, from mounted speakers and nav-pad; in comes a keyboard, GPS and built-in flash memory (2GB). The two SD card slots have disappeared too, replaced by the aforementioned flash and a single mini-SD slot which is HC compatible, so should work with cards up to at least 32GB, as they come out.
The screen remains the same, which is a positive thing, as it remains a fantastic and unique feature on Nokia's Internet tablets. When combined with the really rather good Mozilla based web browser you really can get the full internet experience in your pocket. This is because not only have Nokia packed the browser with desktop capability (AJAX, Flash, etc) but they've also made the N810 significantly smaller than its predecessor and quite comfortable to carry in a trouser or shirt pocket.
The keyboard is somewhat disappointing, the top row of keys is far too close to the bottom of the screen when the latter is slid up, meaning that access to those keys is compromised, badly affecting the speed at which you can type. Still much faster than the on-screen keyboard, but something Nokia will have to address ahead of the next generation of tablet. The built-in GPS isn't exactly fast - first fix will take a couple of minutes, but once completed it does a good job of holding on to a signal, even indoors. The Wayfinder software (a £49/three year subscription) works well and in a head to head with a TomTom 710 found a much shorter route, whilst also being a touch quicker at re-routing. A word of caution though, on one occasion the software was unable to find a re-route and just gave up on directions. Re-planning the route from the current location fixed it easily, but still very annoying if you're mid-journey.
Otherwise the hardware is all good. The N810 feels very well built indeed. Sound from the side mounted speakers is impressive and wifi signal performance is second only to its incredible predecessor the N800.
Software wise the same issues around OS2008 are still present. The email client is very poor - although a test of the forth-coming replacement revealed it is much more impressive, the presence of a webcam rather wasted by the fact that Skype doesn't support video calls in this version and the lack of Office viewers rather mitigate against its take up in the enterprise.
On the other hand its strong points more than outweigh those problems. The browser is better even than mobile Safari on the iPhone/iPod Touch; Canola, the music/video/photo/radio player is brilliant; and VPN and remote desktop capabilities beyond that of any other mobile device actually make it a powerful corporate tool.
All in all the N810 has to be deemed a big step forward for Nokia. It matches a lot of the functionality of UMPCs and MIDs without the heat or noise issues. It compares favourably to the iPhone and costs significantly less.
Given the size of the advance between the N800 and this model, I suspect that the N810's replacement will be a breath-taking device. As it stands its still a highly recommended device.
And the obvious answer is over the air downloads of music, video and other content.
It seems a logical strategy, after all users are already locked in to the iTunes music store and spending money freely. Why not take advantage of the extra ability to sell to them whilst they are out and about. Especially as they have already demonstrated a blatant preference for style over value in purchasing the iPhone in the first place...
Its likely that an OTA download will be more expensive than your regular download, the content owners and mobile service providers are likely to want a bite of the profits after all.
Yet I think Apple's involvement will probably make this a viable service. Unlike those which have been unsuccessfully pushed by the operators and manufacturers in the past.
Remember those adverts from a decade ago, 'Surf the net, surf the BT Cellnet' that suggested the mobile web was imminently replacing the fixed one? Maybe Apple are about to take us a step closer to achieving that goal...
I'm afraid when Palm start losing these sorts of people they've reached the end of the road. Palm OS ruled the roost as recently as five years ago, yet now most sane people won't go near it. So far out of date that its laughable, Palm OS can't even handle the simple requirements of a relatively simple smartphone, never mind anything advanced. Palm's best devices run Windows Mobile and even they are some way behind the competition.
Anyone comparing a Treo to an iPhone or a modern Windows Mobile device, would peg the former as a relic of years gone by. And lets be honest, the Treo has barely advanced since Palm's takeover of Handspring.
Palm blew the Lifedrive, which could have conceivably been an iPod competitor, through some seriously stupid penny pinching. The T|5 went the same way. Even today I'd be surprised if the T|X or Centros are completely stupidity free.
Palm's best hope for the future will be to become platform agnostic, throw away the accountants that have bedevilled its products for far too long and return to releasing great devices, whether they be WM, Symbian or Android based. Any other road is littered with traps on the way to financial ruin.
Of all the machines I've used in the last few years the HTC Universal (aka XDA Exec, MDA Pro) has been the one with the form-factor I've been most impressed with. The device itself has some issues, but a lot of these have either been addressed through ROM updates or by the community at XDA-Developers.
So having spent some time with the Advantage has it won me over? Well, more of that later. I like the fast processor, the bigger screen and the built-in Microdrive. And I'm sure that the replacement 7510 will impress me even more.
But it is a flawed device.
You can't really fit it in your pocket. Which means you won't always have it with you, which means more often than not the time you need it most is the one where you decided to leave it behind. The Universal is much more compact and, with its trick flipping and folding screen, can be safely carried without a case.
The Advantage is at times slow when compared to the iPaq 214, which packs very similar specs. The iPaq can play a desktop encoded avi movie and stream the audio over Bluetooth A2DP at the same time. The Advantage can't. Of course against the Universal its much, much faster. Most of the time. Occasionally it will slow to a crawl for no apparent reason, but early builds of the Universal ROM also did this. For most tasks there is little or no benefit in the faster processor or extra RAM, although some of this may be down to the demands of WM6 against WM5. Where you do benefit is in the number of apps you can install into memory (as opposed to on the microdrive/memory card) and the number you can have open at once.
The biggest downer by a long way is its ill-conceived keyboard. Whilst the Universal has a beautiful, backlit, five row keyboard (with separate numbers) the Advantage suffers from a ZX Spectrum-like keyboard that isn't lit, has secondary symbols marked in a shade of blue which is almost impossible to read on the black keys in anything but perfect lighting conditions; and which lacks a numeric key row. Its clever doubling as a screen guard isn't that clever, as the magnets which hold it to the main body aren't very strong in shear, so the keyboard slides over the main unit easily, marking both parts as it goes. The marks aren't permanent - as yet anyway.
Its a nice unit, the Advantage, but it isn't a smartphone, or even really a PDA. Its more of a Windows Mobile powered UMPC. A competitor for the OQO or even the Samsung Q1. In this respect it offers an interesting alternative; are you prepared to forgo the flexibility and compatibility of running Windows in exchange for the better battery life, quieter and cooler running.
And in that role it succeeds. But really, its only something to supplement a phone and not replace one. You really wouldn't want to be making calls with this thing.
Monday, 19 May 2008
I'm not sure where Microsoft are going with this, after all its not as if they haven't got the cash to buy the whole lot and if that was over-priced then buying in, or buying bits (I'm not sure what MS mean by a smaller chunk of the company yet) is still going to be over-priced.
Yahoo seem to be quite keen to cosy up to Google rather than get involved with Microsoft, which makes me wonder if the board have any idea how to best realise shareholder value, never mind how it makes the company look, taking the begging bowl to its biggest rival.
Microsoft's Live Search leaves a lot to be desired, but could it really cost that much to fix it? I don't think so. If Microsoft walks away from Yahoo again then the company looks doomed. But perhaps Microsoft without Bill Gates at the helm isn't an astute enough operator to make that part of a winning hand in negotiations...
Now I'm not entirely sure what the problem is here. Its clear that the user had broken the law and that the Indian authorities had made a legitimate request for information.
Short of closing up its Indian operations what was Google supposed to do exactly?
Do No Evil may be the company's mantra, but equally true must be 'Stay in business'
Maybe some blogs and bloggers are too far removed from the real world to get this...
More details and a relatively sane view at http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080519-maybe-a-little-evil-google-outs-indian-man-to-authorities.html
Sony's saving grace? Gran Turismo...
Saturday, 17 May 2008
Having spent the last few days getting better aquainted with the Advantage and really starting to see past its weak point (i.e. the keyboard) and enjoy some of its more advanced features I'm looking forward to seeing this newcomer so much more.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
This really removes all but the tiniest shred of doubt that a 3G iPhone will be announced, although some sites are suggesting an Apple Tablet (possible, but unlikely, especially with one major launch already expected) or a games-centric version of the iPod Touch, which seems more likely, although still a long shot.
The all-black iPhone which has appeared in various spy shots on the web looks to be the finished article and with iPhones in short supply I'm expecting a repositioning of the range with old iPhone 16GB at the bottom of the tree, partnered with two models of 3G iPhone.
Anything announced over and above this (can we have a new Newton please Steve?) will be an unexpected bonus.
Sunday, 11 May 2008
Shame then that it will have you throwing it down in disgust after just a few minutes use. Why? The quality of the touchscreen is absolutely abysmal. I can't emphasise how bad it is, requiring screen taps of varying degrees of force to register a click and at times losing whole strokes. Around the screen edges its virtually impossible to click with any kind of consistency. And its not an isolated problem, I have tested seven, from which only one has had a usable screen.
The images show the same grid being drawn on a T-Mobile MDA Pro and a 214, stylus pressure is constant. The results won't make good viewing for the iPaq team at HP.
I was ready to give you a full review of what is otherwise a truly fantastic device. But that wouldn't be fair. All I can say is: avoid the iPaq 214 at any cost.
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
In terms of spec the Diamond has VGA, HSUPA, 3.2mega pixel camera and GPS. Software wise the new Touchflo 3D interface and a Youtube application star.
Some people are calling this an iPhone-killer, primarily because of the addition of an Opera powered HTC web browser. Could it be better than Picsel Browser? We'll see. Better than Safari? I'll wait to be convinced.
Obvious flaws are the new soft keyboard, which appears to mask around 80% of the screen when in use.
Full reviews will probably give us an idea of how good this really is... otherwise an early July launch date will be our first chamce of a hands-on, in an Orange shop near you.
Sunday, 4 May 2008
Google own the search, ads and apps portion of the web; Microsoft owns the desktop; between them they're converging into the middle ground. Which is where Yahoo currently sits...
Thursday, 1 May 2008
Sure no-one has yet built the ultimate smartphone, but all the building blocks are there just waiting for someone to put them together in the right mix for you.
There are three established form factors: touch screen/large display/minimal keyboard; sliding keyboard/medium sized display; and fixed keyboard/small keyboard.
Typically these would be the iPhone, TyTn and Treo.
Once you've selected your form factor its then a choice of picking the elements that are important to you: size, connectivity, camera and OS.
I can't see anyone coming out of left field with any real advances now, the iPhone's interface hoo-ha has died down a bit now and its easy to see that it doesn't really change the game anything other than incrementally. There are really no new phones arriving with a feature set that demands you rush to your nearest online retailer, credit card in hand, demanding the latest and greatest.
Whilst interfaces and device capability will change over the coming years, I suspect the frenzied rush to market of the last three years is over. The jump from 2G to 3G was phenomenal in throughput terms, HSDPA is now extending that; the arrival of Wifi, high res screens and card slots that are all but ubiquitous now; and of course the recent trend for high res cameras and GPS has played out too. Size can't improve much further (until the arrival of roll-up screens of course) as we need to be able to see and interact with our devices and the human range of sizes isn't that diverse.
Maybe this will give Palm a chance to catch up?
Now Virgin have announced that iPlayer will be available through its TV on demand service.
Volte face? About turn? What do you call it?
Whatever name you put to it, its clear that corporate ducks at Virgin Media aren't all corporately aligned...