Nokia Set To Introduce New Devices Tomorrow

According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Nokia is set to unveil not one, not two, but up to six new devices tomorrow during an event to be held in Abu Dhabi.

This will be the first devices unveiling from the Nokia devices unit after having been acquired by Microsoft.  Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO, is now in change of running the devices unit as it gets absorbed by Microsoft.  Elop, a former Microsoft executive, will return to the company once the acquisition is fully completed early next year.

The article mostly goes on about the moves between Microsoft and their new Nokia devices business with just a few lines discussing tomorrow’s product unveilings of phones, “phablets,” and a new LTE-enabled tablet.  (We can only assume that the tablet offering(s) will run Windows 8.1 rather than the market flop, Windows RT 8.1.)

The interesting thing for me is the timing of this event.  It’s to be held on Oct. 22.  The same day Apple is set to hold their second fall event.  It always amazes me when tech companies hold media events on the same day.  I can kind of rationalize it during a trade show/conference, sort of, but outside of that environment it just blows my mind.

The Nokia folks have no doubt been working hard on their new products and are probably excited to show them off.  But with Apple coming in with what is rumored to be at least two new iPad announcements, the Nokia stuff is going to get drowned out in the mainstream and tech media.

Not so fast, you might be thinking. It takes months to stage and line up these kinds of events so it will be difficult to plan around Apple’s secretive schedule.  True, but if Holywood studios can move tentpole movies around the calendar to avoid colliding with another tentpole movie opening on the same day from a rival studio, then, surely, Nokia can do the same thing.  If nothing else, it would help ensure that their message gets across clearly to investors, IT technology buyers, and customers.

[Via WSJ.com…]

Outlook RT Will Arrive Later This Year

 The well connected Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley has an update on how the software company is trying to sweeten the appeal of the Windows RT operating system – releasing Outlook RT.  Outlook RT will ship with Windows “Blue” (aka Windows 8.1) which is rumored to ship late this summer (read: September).

“Microsoft will make available as part of its upcoming Windows 8.1 “Blue” release of Windows client the rumored Outlook 2013 RT mail client, company officials confirmed on June 5.”

This information was confirmed by Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer of Windows according to Foley’s ZDNet report.

But here’s the interesting thing about Outlook RT, if the report is accurate, it won’t replace Windows Mail client.  Sounds a bit nuts, no?  Given the opportunity to use Outlook or the basic featured bundled email client, I’d pick Outlook all day long.  But then again, I can’t seem to pick an email client for personal use (web-based or native code on my Mac or PC) that I like and use consistently.

Via ZDNet.com

HP Announces the Slate 7 Consumer Tablet

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 24, 2013 — HP today announced the HP Slate7, an affordable Android Jelly Bean consumer tablet that provides customers with easy access to Google Mobile services.

With a 7-inch diagonal screen and weighing 13 ounces, the HP Slate7 is an ideal trusted personal companion, featuring a stainless-steel frame and soft black paint in gray or red on the back. It also is the industry’s first tablet to offer embedded Beats Audio, for the best-sounding, richest audio experience available on a tablet.

The HP Slate7 delivers the Google experience with services like Google Now, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts for multiperson video chat as well as access to apps and digital content through Google Play.

“To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems,” said Alberto Torres, senior vice president, Mobility Global Business Unit, HP. “Our new HP Slate7 on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumer tablets, while our ground-breaking, business-ready HP ElitePad on Windows® 8 is ideal for enterprises and governments. Both deliver the service and support people expect from HP.”

The HP Slate7 joins the recently introduced HP Chromebook as part of HP’s push to offer access to the Google experience.

For $169 dollars, I’d buy one to play with, but the real question I have is: will it run Open webOS?

Read more on the HP Slate 7 website.

Microsoft Surface Storage Space Disappoints

The Surface, Microsoft’s answer the to the Apple iPad, just went from “Gee, I really want to play with that!” to “Are you friggin’ kidding me?! That sucks!”

Not that long ago I tweeted that I wanted to get a Surface RT tablet – the smaller form factor version of Surface that doesn’t run full blown Windows PC apps.  The device itself looks to be well made and not too heavy.  The battery life is OK, not great when compared to an iPad.  But the lure of the Surface tablet, whether it’s the Surface RT or the Surface Pro, is that it comes with touch enabled, tablet optimized-ish, versions of Microsoft Office.

Ok, so far so good.  Ya, Microsoft’s prices are higher than Apple’s, but it’s Windows and Office on a tablet.

And then Microsoft released the Surface Pro storage specs.  Not good.  Not good at all.

“Microsoft is getting ready to ship a version of its Surface tablet, the Surface Pro, which features the full Windows 8 operating system installed on the tablet. The device comes in two models, a 128GB and a 64GB. Microsoft even makes a note on the specs of the Surface Pro that formatted storage capacity will be less but doesn’t mention exactly how much less. Want to know the truth?”

Microsoft has published a storage specifications page over on Microsoft.com detailing how much storage space is left for you to use on your new tablet after the bloated versions of Microsoft Windows and Office are installed.

The snippets below are from Microsoft’s Surface storage page.  I will note, that only the Surface RT is mentioned by name and I am not sure if that is a typo or if there is another page specifically for the Surface Pro.

Surface storage

Important  System software uses significant storage space; your storage capacity will be less. See surface.com/spec.  1 GB = 1 billion bytes

Surface with Windows RT comes in two storage configurations. Users can select between a 32 GB and 64 GB version of Surface. As with all PCs and tablets, the operating system and pre-installed applications take up a certain amount of available storage. With Surface, you can store and enjoy media content, and also get real work done, right out of the box.  Surface comes with these pre-installed apps you’ll need for work and play[.]


How much storage space do I have?

Here’s how much storage you have available out of the box:

The 32 GB Surface with Windows RT has approximately 16 GB storage available for user content
The 64 GB Surface with Windows RT has approximately 45 GB storage available for user content

The one bit of good news is that there is a microsSDXC card slot built into the Surface which allows you to add up to a 64GB of additional storage space.

To me, this all seems kind of disingenuous.  Yes, when you format a storage device, hard drive, flash drive, flash memory, you lose some space.  That’s just accepted in the technology filed.  It’s true for the iPad, the various tablet’s running the Google Android OS, and even my HP/alm TouchPad.  But when you advertise a 32GB device, and there is only 16GB of usable storage space left, well, then you are selling a 16GB device, not a 32GB device in my book.

I might still get a Surface RT, but not before they show up as refurbished devices in Microsoft’s stores or other online retail outlet.

Pricing and Availability

The Surface RT is on sale now starting at $499 for a “32GB” unit without a keyboard cover.  The 32GB Surface RT with a keyboard Touch Cover goes for $599.  A “64GB” edition of Surface RT with Touch Cover sells for $699.  The Surface RT is available at Microsoft retail stores (if you can find one) and online at Microsoft.com.  You can also purchase them at Best Buy and Staples.

The Surface Pro with Windows 8 will go on sale on February 8 and is expected to be around $1,000 with a Touch Cover.

[Via GadgetsOnTheGo.net…]

Amazon Kindle Event Next Week

This coming week, Amazon is expected to host a media event next week at which many have speculated will unveil the next generation Kindle tablet.

Amazon flamed the “Fires”, sorry obligatory pun was necessary, when it published a press release on Thursday (8/30/12) stating that the current model Fire has sold out.

““We’re grateful to the millions of customers who have made Kindle Fire the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “This has been a big year for digital products on Amazon—all of the top 10 sellers on Amazon.com since Kindle Fire launched just less than a year ago are digital products. Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead—we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem.””

So it took Amazon nine months to sell out of their Kindle Fire.  I guess that isn’t too bad.  While boasting “over 10,000 5-star customer reviews” and having “captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S.,” Amazon continues to keep sales numbers to themselves.

Regardless, the Kindle Fire is likely the best selling Google Android-powered tablet on the market today.  But it may not stay that way for long.  Google has recently started shipping their own 7-inch Android tablet, the Nexus 7 to rave reviews.  And Apple, not wanting to lose any sales opportunities, is rumored to be launching a new 7-inch “iPad Mini” in October, just in time to ruin Google’s and Amazon’s holiday sales numbers.

While we don’t know if Amazon will be unveiling one or two new Kindles next week, what does seem pretty clear at this point is that the online mega retailer won’t be releasing a 10-inch iPad competitor.  AppleInsider.com writes:

“While a larger Kindle Fire may still be in the works, the source says Amazon is sticking with the 7-inch form factor and will announce two new models next week, including a slightly reworked version of the existing tablet. The decision is thought to be a defensive move in response to a growing small form factor tablet market, with new devices like Google’s Nexus 7 offering stiff competition to Amazon’s device.”

We’ll have an update on Amazon’s new Kindle offerings next week.

What Do You Call a Pre-Beta Beta? Silly Rabbit, It’s an Alpha Release

Is Microsoft looking to repeat their Windows Vista mistakes with Windows 8?

WinRumors writes:

“Microsoft’s 2012 CES will be full of Windows 8 according to company insiders. Microsoft is expected to deliver a beta copy of the next-generation operating system at its BUILD developer conference in September this year. Microsoft should be ready to deliver a second test copy of Windows 8 to the public at CES 2012. Ballmer will likely demo a number of ARM and Intel based Windows 8 tablets that will hit the market later in 2012 when Windows 8 is generally available.”

No, that doesn’t sound like they are rushing things at all.  Question: What do you call a September beta release before a January 2012 beta release?  Answer: An alpha release.

In an unrelated note, Microsoft has hired a “content coach” for Mr. Ballmer’s 2012 CES keynote address.  Is Microsoft suffering from “Steve envy?”

[Via WinRumors…]

BlackBerry Bridge Now Available to AT&T PlayBook Owners

After a long string of bad news, a dramatic decline in stock prices, departures of senior management, and calls from investors and alleged employees to restructure how the CEO and President of the Board roles work, there was finally some good news for BlackBerry fans on AT&T who plan on purchasing a BlackBerry PlayBook.

Yesterday, AT&T allowed the BlackBerry Bridge software for AT&T branded BlackBerry phones to be released into the BlackBerry App World.

“BlackBerry Bridge is an app you can download to your smartphone to get access to your email, calendar, contacts, memo pad and tasks—all on the large tablet display. Depending on your wireless service provider you can even browse the web using your existing BlackBerry smartphone’s data plan.”

That last item, browsing the web using your BlackBerry’s data plan will run you an extra $20/month for the privilege AT&T has announced.

You can download BlackBerry Bridge from the BlackBerry App World (link).

What Would Change on the Apple iPad

On Feb 24, The Daily, the iPad daily newspaper, asked readers what feature would they change for iPad 2 and whether or not they would upgrade or defect to another tablet platform.  The responses where interesting.

39% of the people who responded by the time I got around to reading the article had stated that the feature they are most interested in is a front facing FaceTime camera.  And with rumors of the iPad 3 possibly shipping in September along side new iPod touch models, 55% of the people who responded, again at the time I had voted, said that they would wait until the third generation Apple tablet to upgrade.

[Via The Daily…]

RIM Unveils the BlackBerry PlayBook

New Professional-Grade Tablet Delivers Unmatched Power and Web Performance

San Francisco, CA – BlackBerry DEVCON 2010 – Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today redefined the possibilities for mobile computing with the unveiling of its new professional-grade BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet and BlackBerry® Tablet OS.
Perfect for either large organizations or an “army of one”, the BlackBerry PlayBook is designed to give users what they want, including uncompromised web browsing, true multitasking and high performance multimedia, while also providing advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a breakthrough development platform for IT departments and developers. The incredibly powerful and innovative BlackBerry PlayBook is truly a game-changing product in the growing tablet marketplace.

“RIM set out to engineer the best professional-grade tablet in the industry with cutting-edge hardware features and one of the world’s most robust and flexible operating systems,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion. “The BlackBerry PlayBook solidly hits the mark with industry leading power, true multitasking, uncompromised web browsing and high performance multimedia.”

Availability

The BlackBerry PlayBook is expected to be available in retail outlets and other channels in the United States in early 2011 with rollouts in other international markets beginning in (calendar) Q2.
RIM will begin working with developers and select corporate customers next month to begin development and early testing efforts.

For more information, visit www.blackberry.com/playbook.

BlackBerry PlayBook pictures and specs after the break…

The Tablet You’ll Want to Take Everywhere

This beautifully designed and incredibly powerful tablet is ultra portable, ultra thin and super convenient for both work and play. Measuring less than half an inch thick and weighing less than a pound, the BlackBerry PlayBook features a vivid 7” high resolution display that looks and feels great in your hand. With such a unique mix of utility, performance and portability, you’ll want to take it everywhere.

The New Benchmark in Tablet Performance

At its heart, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a multitasking powerhouse. Its groundbreaking performance is jointly fueled by a 1 GHz dual-core processor and the new BlackBerry Tablet OS which supports true symmetric multiprocessing. Together, the abundant processing power and highly sophisticated OS enable the BlackBerry PlayBook to provide users with true multitasking and a highly-responsive and fluid touch screen experience for apps and content services.

Uncompromised Web Browsing

With support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, Adobe® Mobile AIR® and HTML-5, the BlackBerry PlayBook provides customers with an uncompromised, high-fidelity web experience and offers them the ability to enjoy all of the sites, games and media on the web. For more than a decade, the mobile industry has worked to bridge the gap between the “real web” and mobile devices through various apps and technologies and, in fact, a significant number of mobile apps today still simply serve as a proxy for web content that already exists on the web. The BlackBerry PlayBook closes that gap and brings the real, full web experience to mobile users while also opening new and more exciting opportunities for developers and content publishers.

High Performance Multimedia

The BlackBerry PlayBook features premium multimedia features to support high-quality mobile experiences. It includes dual HD cameras for video capture and video conferencing that can both record HD video at the same time, and an HDMI-out port for presenting one’s creations on external displays. The BlackBerry PlayBook also offers rich stereo sound and a media player that rivals the best in the industry.

BlackBerry Integration

For those BlackBerry PlayBook users who carry a BlackBerry smartphone*, it will also be possible to pair their tablet and smartphone using a secure Bluetooth® connection. This means they can opt to use the larger tablet display to seamlessly and securely view any of the email, BBM™, calendar, tasks, documents and other content that resides on (or is accessible through) their smartphone. They can also use their tablet and smartphone interchangeably without worrying about syncing or duplicating data. This secure integration of BlackBerry tablets and smartphones is a particularly useful feature for those business users who want to leave their laptop behind.

Enterprise Ready

Thanks to the seamless and secure Bluetooth pairing experience and the highly secure underlying OS architecture, the BlackBerry PlayBook is enterprise ready and compatible (out-of-the-box) with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server. When connected over Bluetooth, the smartphone content is viewable on the tablet, but the content actually remains stored on the BlackBerry smartphone and is only temporarily cached on the tablet (and subject to IT policy controls). With this approach to information security, IT departments can deploy the BlackBerry PlayBook to employees out-of-the-box without worrying about all the security and manageability issues that arise when corporate data is stored on yet another device.

QNX Neutrino Reliability

The BlackBerry Tablet OS is built upon the QNX® Neutrino® microkernel architecture, one of the most reliable, secure and robust operating system architectures in the world. Neutrino has been field hardened for years and is being used to support mission-critical applications in everything from planes, trains and automobiles to medical equipment and the largest core routers that run the Internet.  The new BlackBerry Tablet OS leverages and builds upon the many proven strengths of this QNX Neutrino architecture to support a professional grade tablet experience and to redefine the possibilities for mobile computing.

Key features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook include:

  • 7” LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor 
  • 1 GB RAM 
  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording 
  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA 
  • HDMI video output
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n 
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, charging contacts
  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
  • Ultra thin and portable
    • Measures 5.1”x7.6”x0.4” (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
    • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g) 
  • Additional features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook will be shared on or before the date this product is launched in retail outlets.
  • RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.

* This feature will require a Bluetooth connection, obviously, between your BlackBerry smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

BlackBerry Tablet Coming In November

Digitimes is reporting that Quanta has won the bid to manufacture RIM’s tablet, the BlackPad.

“The tablet (BlackPad) will support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as 3G through connection to a Blackberry smartphone. The device will be priced at US$499 and Quanta will start shipping orders in September with volumes to reach two million units in 2010 and eight million units in 2011, the paper added.”

[Via GadgetsOnTheGo.net…]