Wednesday, 29 September 2010
There are so many unknowns about the Playbook I find it surprising that they didn't have handfuls of the device for journalists to try yesterday. Instead there was just one unit encased in glass and untouchable. The OS is going to be QNX and as a result this will not be a Blackberry, probably won't be a messaging device and won't have a huge selection of software available at launch.
At the same time Blackberry owners are remarkably loyal - bizarre as their devices seem to be mostly supplied by their employer and is designed to nag at them to do work whether they are being paid to do so or not. Somehow I think these will be the early adopters for the Playbook.
Where RIM has a potential open goal is the corporate market. No-one has delivered a lightweight tablet with enterprise grade features and businesses are crying out for something they can use in a controlled manner. If anybody can meet this criteria it will be RIM.
RIM certainly seems to be suggesting that this is where they see the Playbook going - although the name and the apparent availability of games software would suggest this is just as much a home machine as a corporate slugger.
Can it succeed? Probably, although I'm still not convinced that the market for a tablet is as big as some commentators would have you believe. Especially if its too big to carry about your person.
It will certainly be a good test of RIM's viability in the future, occupying as they do the vulnerable position from which first Palm and then Microsoft fell from grace...
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Mark Webber's collision with Lewis Hamilton was entirely avoidable, almost certainly deliberate and somehow deemed unworthy of punishment by the race stewards.
Hamilton was quite restrained after the race, but it was clear from his body language as he exited from the car that he wasn't happy at all. Webber's explanation didn't really come close to justifying the accident and I'm surprised that Mclaren didn't decide to lodge an appeal post-race.
Hamilton's challenge is left hanging by a thread, especially if the Korean GP gets cancelled, as seems likely, and he'll need to pull off something amazing to regain his title.
Webber is left in a pretty good position as a result of his actions and given the Red Bull's performance advantage at two of the last four races the championship is his to lose... for all that it will be worth...
Thursday, 23 September 2010
Monday, 20 September 2010
Sony have refreshed its own line of readers and the new entry level is the PRS 350 available at £129 until November. That's £30 more than the outgoing PRS 300, for which you get a touchscreen layer on top of an e-ink screen that has improved contrast and a much better refresh time.
The weight and size of the PRS 350 are quite stunning - it weighs significantly less than a newspaper. In fact its light enough and slim enough to drop into your jacket pocket and not even know its there. You certainly wouldn't have any problems with holding it for long reading sessions.
The touch screen is nice and responsive and swiping between pages is slick. It can be used for taking notes too, although unlike the larger PRS 650 there's no handwriting recognition to turn these into text.
All in all I found the PRS 350 to be a fine device and Sony have done enough to make it more than competitive with the Kindle.
For £129 its a bit of a steal, so if a dedicated eBook reader has been something you were planning on purchasing I'd suggest grabbing one before the price jumps back to £159.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
That error has been corrected with the news that Pedro de la Rosa has been replaced for the rest of the season by Heidfeld. The Spaniard having failed to match the performance of his Japanese team mate Kobayashi.
How Mercedes will feel about it is a different matter, having released Nick from his reserve duties to take up a role as Pirelli's tyre tester, they're unlikely to be over the moon to find him lining up against them in Singapore next time out.
I'm not sure how Heidfeld will do, given that drivers coming in mid-season without a chance to test are naturally at a disadvantage. Kobayashi has proved himself to be no slouch which isn't going to make things any easier.
When the Pre arrived as an O2 exclusive I argued that they'd got their marketing wrong a year and eleven sales later they've realised I was right and now decide to offer the Pre sim-free. However having made that decision they've then decided to restrict it to the hopelessly outdated original model...
So trying to sell an old phone on a dying platform with little momentum behind it you can be sure that price will be competitive at least. Sorry, they've done what? Yes you guessed it, the Pre is horribly overpriced, let's just say that the price tag starts with a '2' in the hundreds column... that's all you need to know.
At £149 or even better £99 this phone would make for an ideal loss leader for Palm, allowing people to see the good parts of WebOS without worrying too much about the build quality (or rather lack thereof) and concentrate on enjoying its slick operation. Building some brand loyalty and making potential upgrades out of their customers would offset don't of the mistakes made previously.
And Palm fans hoping for HP to ride out like a white knight to Palm's aid would do well to consider just how good a job it did with the Jornada and iPaq lines that once ruled the roost...
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Imagine my surprise therefore, whilst strolling along The Strand at the weekend, to come across a couple of, what I presume to have been, tourists trying to use Google Maps on an iPad to navigate their way through London.
That's wrong on so many levels.
First of all you're advertising the presence of an expensive and highly fence-able piece of electronics to anybody willing to take a small risk to acquire it. Apart from the potential damage to the owner in a mugging there's also the very real possibility of the iPad crashing to the ground in the middle of an attempted smash and grab.
The fact that it was one of the summer's brightest days wasn't helping either and whilst I was able to see the screen they were clearly having trouble and, as a result, were trying to shade the it with a magazine so that they could follow the directions.
The weight of the iPad is not insignificant - especially when you consider that just about any smartphone could have replaced the iPad and done as good a job of finding the couple's destination and been a lot more manageable with it.
There's a time and a place to be using a tablet and this definitely wasn't it. Even a plain old paper A to Z would have been a better choice...
Friday, 10 September 2010
In the meantime Israel is using force and its support in the international community to continue treating the Arab community like beasts whilst also abusing aid workers attempt to relieve the suffering of mostly innocent people.
Anybody tell me what is wrong with this picture?
Thursday, 9 September 2010
First off its now possible to examine the criteria that Apple uses to decide whether a marketplace submission should be approved or not. So at least there should be no more surprises in store for developers who submit apps.
Secondly the rules on development are being loosened, just a short time after they were tightened up specifically to block development on Adobe's platform. Now developers can develop anywhere, so long as their completed application doesn't subsequently download code from elsewhere.
Which should be enough for Apple to maintain their control over the application marketplace whilst still satisfying the anti-trust investigation started some months ago by several US bodies.
I'm glad to see this positive move by Apple, whatever the compunction behind it, however I still think that iPhone owners should be free to buy there software from who they choose rather than being forced to go down the iTunes route.
At a time when app downloads have overtaken music downloads I suspect that this move won't be enough to forestall those investigations that probably prompted it in the first place.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
The HDMI Dock is one of those accessories that sounds like a great idea at the time but actually turns out to be a very different product then first expected.
It's a well made, good looking dock, heavy enough to stay in one place on the desk and aesthetically pleasing enough to be allowed to stay there. The dock attaches to your PC via a USB port and power via a dedicated power lead sporting a barrel type connection. Outputs for HDMI and 3.5mm audio are also present.
As a dock it works very well, holding the Streak at a good viewing angle. It would have been nice to have some kind of desk clock software which recognised the dock and fired up automatically though.
Audio out is excellent and the HDMI output works although on my screen the output was barely watchable, although that's possibly the result of the 480p recording limitation of the Streak under 1.6 and will be sorted by the release of 2.1/2.2 in the very near future.
That disappointment aside, the dock does exactly what it sets out to do.
If only Dell wasn't pricing the thing so high I'd have no hesitation in recommending the dock to any Streak owner.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
The announcement of the new ipod touch is going to have an interesting affect on iPad sales too. The Touch is less than half the price, can be carried in your pocket and has access to a much larger selection of apps.
I spent some time today playing with an iPad specifically looking at the applications which have been tailored to run on it. They don't convince me that they would be enough to make me buy. In fact I get the feelings that most of those apps are only bought so that the iPad can be shown off by its proud owner. Once the novelty wears off you'll be unlikely to use them again. Which leaves you with a device that does most of what its smaller stable mate can do, but in a much less portable package.
Steve Jobs made a surprising admission at last week's ipod touch launch: 32% of the 200k iOS devices registered every day are ipods. That's around 64k. The iPhone 4 has been achieving 130k+... which means that there aren't a huge number of iPads reaching owners now that the initial surge has died down. Even at 10k iPads a day that's still over 3.5 million shipped in a year, but with the amounts that Apple has been spending marketing the iPad you'd have to expect Apple to be somewhat disappointed.
Expect iPad 2 sooner rather than later... with the features that the current model lacks, a smaller sibling and even more hyperbole...
Its an interesting decision from HTC because they've dabbled in the arena before, both with the 5" Advantage and 7" Shift, covering at least two of the three segments of the tablet market. In fact I believe that some organisations are still able to get the later iteration of the Advantage, although the form factor and capabilities are looking somewhat aged alongside newer competition.
Its a shame because I would imagine that a device with the Shift's form factor and Android on board would make for a pretty compelling notebook replacement...
Sent from my Dell Streak.
The Galaxy Tab sits strangely in the market place. Unlike the smaller Dell Streak its not going to fit in your pocket. Which means you're probably going to be carrying it in a case or a bag. Yet the iPad's bigger screen and much wider choice of tablet focused applications mean that its a far superior choice of device for leaving in your living room or toting to the coffee shop. As a result Samsung needed to be hitting a price below both its competitors to have a real chance of success. Instead they've stuck it so far out on a pricing limb its never going to be clawed back in again.
A premium price is only sustainable for a premium product and I'm not convinced that Samsung have completely hit the mark on that one... At £400 the Tab had a bright future ahead of it. At £600 I fear its going to be swamped by the competition, both existing and forthcoming, and that's a shame...
Sunday, 5 September 2010
So what if you fancy a nice set of speakers or want to connect your non-Apple device into a car with only an iPod connection? Up until now you've been out of luck.
Enter Anycom with the FIPO, a small Bluetooth A2DP device with an iPod connector. Plug it into an iPod dock, pair with your phone and bingo!
It's sounds rather too easy but the truth is it really is that easy. Any device which powers the iPod should work with the FIPO and in my tests every iPod dock did indeed work. The only failure I've had so far has been with the iPod connection in a Mk 6 VW Golf and I suspect that's because it uses a multiconnector with different heads for different inputs.
What's the sound quality like? Actually its pretty good... not as good as a native iPod plugged into the dock but close enough for most people I'd guess. It's also remarkably small - about the size of two fifty pence pieces stacked upon each other, so you could conceivably carry it around and take over other people's iPod docks if you felt the need.
At £25 its very good value for money especially if you're moving from an iPhone and already have an investment in peripherals you'd like to continue using. The ultimate audiophile will probably not find the music quality acceptable but for the rest of us the FIPO turns out to be a bit of a breakthrough device....
Part of the reason for that lack of success surely results from Marcello Lippi's refusal to include Serie A's form player in his squads. Antonio Cassano has something of a reputation as an enfant-terrible but in the last couple of years he had been in stunning form at Sampdoria.
With Lippi stepping down from the coaching post of the national team the door was opened for 'Fantantonio' to make his return. The result? A world class performance, a goal and a victory which would never have happened without Cassano's guile.
Point very clearly made I think...
How successful? Well it looks like SE are second only to HTC in terms of Android shipments, with 17% of the Android market. That's pretty remarkable from a standing start around six months ago when the first X10 started shipping.
SE have their eyes set on a bigger prize too, with the X8 entry level phone about to ship they've set themselves the target of being number one Android manufacturer. It's much more achievable than you would think, with SE currently holding 17% of the market against HTC's 23%.
They'll have to work harder on keeping their devices closer to the cutting edge though... all X10 phones ship on Android 1.6, with 2.1 due to arrive in the next couple of weeks... leaving them still behind the curve.
Does go some way to proving my supposition that most phone buyers don't really care about what version of Android is on the phone when they buy it, either because they're technical enough to know the upgrade path or not technical enough to know or care about OS revisions.
Apple's iOS has three resolutions and three platforms to support, Android has five resolutions and four platforms. There's also four currently shipping releases of Android. Sounds like things could get messy for a new buyer right? Well not really no. The Market will only show users the software that will run on their Android handset and as a result a new user is never going to see things they can't use. I'd imagine the same to be true for the App store, if not now then very shortly.
What will be interesting will be how those new users react as they become more experienced or see other users with software they can't have... That two year contract will become very limiting very quickly for anyone in that particular boat.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
How on earth did Apple miss this one? The newly announced iPod Nano looks pretty impressive and packs a rather nice multi-touch capacitive screen. But given its size and shape its just begging to have a strap added ready for duty as a watch.
Sure some third party add-on manufacturer will come up with exactly this product but it would have been so much nicer had Apple built in the option... even if they'd charge an arm and a leg for the privilege...
Archos, Hanspree and Viewpad have already released details of their offerings, but starting with Samsung this week and Toshiba later in the month, the big guns will start arriving on the scene. Acer and LG will also be joining the party, if they haven't already by the time you read this...
A word of warning though. Once a device becomes too big to carry its utility is seriously compromised. Just about every one of my friends who has purchased the iPad has found that after the initial honeymoon period they've struggled to find a use for it and as a result they languish mostly unused in a darkened room somewhere...