Microsoft announces fiscal third quarter earnings on Thursday -- reason for me to visit the site today in preparation. I saw what you see in the photo. Tagline: "Honestly, my new PC is exactly what I need at half the price I thought I'd pay". I find the company's months-old "Honestly" campaign to be refreshing in overall presentation and emphasized benefits. Value is big among them. (Colleague Wayne Williams disagrees, by the way.)
Honestly, what's missing: More promotion how great a value Surface is. The Windows RT model doesn't get loads of respect, but I increasingly think that it should. Surface 2 offers HD display, like the Pro model, setting the tablet apart from comparably-sized Androids or iPads selling for about the same price: $449, with 32GB of storage. Microsoft Store offers the refurbished original, granted with lower screen resolution, for $199. Bump memory to 64GB and pay $219. Keyboard cover is another $74.01. Honestly, wow.
If Goldilocks visited the bears' home and tried tablets instead of porridge and beds, Google Nexus 7 would be too small. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.1 would be too big. But Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 would be just right. This tweener tab is optimal size, packs bright breathtaking display, and is easily used for many hours with minimal eye, hand, or arm strain. While screen size and design concepts are little changed from the previous model, the HDX is thinner, lighter, higher-resolution, and well-matched to a bizarre-looking but beneficial case cover.
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a nearly perfect Android tablet -- that is for anyone buying into the Amazon lifestyle. If I were asked to recommend any tab, the HDX would be one, and iPad Air the other. Both share similar usability benefits and tightly-integrated content and commerce stores, supporting services, and appealing apps. In late November, I put both tablets on my list of favorite products for 2013.
Nokia is warning owners of the Lumia 2520 tablet that they should stop using the European and UK versions of the AC-300 charger. The warning affects customers in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and UK, with tablets owners being warned to "suspend use of the charger until further notice". At the moment there is no word on whether or not a full recall will be made, but the problem also affects the Lumia 2520 travel charger that was available in those countries and the US.
Unlike other charger problems that have emerged in recent times, Nokia's warning does not relate to an overheating issue, but the risk of electric shock. This time it has been determined that in "certain conditions" -- which Nokia does not specify -- the charger's plastic cover could work loose and come off, exposing internal components that "pose a hazard of an electric shock if touched while the plug remains in a live socket".
With tablets becoming more common in the workplace, the problem with normal models is they're not robust enough to cope with the demands of utility workers and field service operatives.
It seems Amazon is almost continuously holding sales on its Fire line of tablets. Honestly, the price means little to the retailer, as it simply wants you to join the ecosystem. We've seen this most recently with the Fire TV, which aims to control the living room with media and games.
The latest deal sees prices on the tablet lineup getting substantial discounts -- or at least three out of the four, anyway. Both HD and HDX models are included in the deal.
Unlike other mobile device manufacturers, Samsung gets advertising and it also has the money to afford it. Remember the campaigns that pitted flagship Galaxy smartphones against Apple's competing iPhones? Those serve as a prime example of how effective Samsung can be when it comes to comparing its own products against those of the competition.
Well, Samsung is at it once again. This time around the company is showing its Galaxy Pro series slates against Apple's popular iPads and Amazon's Kindle, in four video ads which, once again, focus on major differentiating features. And Samsung is doing a very convincing job here by tackling the right areas, where its slates have a clear advantage.
For many, small tablets are synonymous with low cost. This is thanks to Android tablets like the Nexus 7, which is great. While there is nothing wrong with being inexpensive, many of those Android tablets are also of poor quality -- the market is flooded with no-name variants. This has given small tablets a bad name. Small Windows tablets have been hit or miss. There have been duds such as the Acer Iconia W3 and good ones such as the Lenovo Miix 2 8. What has eluded the market thus far, is a great one.
The ThinkPad name is synonymous with business-class quality and durability. The laptops under this branding are known to be rugged, but elegant too. Leonovo only designates this moniker to computers that meet a certain high standard. So when given the opportunity to review an 8.3 inch ThinkPad tablet, I was excited for a quality product. Is it the great tablet we have been waiting for?
As computers become essential tools for more and more jobs they often need to work in harsh environments that would damage a conventional machine.
Dell is launching two new Latitude Rugged Extreme systems that are purpose-built to withstand hazards such as dust, moisture, drops, vibration, extreme temperatures and other punishing conditions faced by users in fields such as military service, public safety, manufacturing and first response.
Microsoft made Office Mobile available for free since launch, on both Android and iOS. But, in order to take advantage of its features, users had to tie the app to an Office 365 subscription. So it was free, but not void of additional costs.
Yesterday, Microsoft launched Office for iPad and announced a subscription is now no longer necessary to get the best out of Office Mobile, which was just updated on both platforms to reflect this decision. While this only applies to home users -- which means a subscription is still needed for non-personal (commercial) use -- it is certainly a welcome change. But, it also means Windows Phone just lost one of its most important advantages over its main rivals.
Last week in the UK, the announcement of the new budget for the country was closely watched as citizens kept an eye on whether they'll be paying more for beer and whether taxes are going up or down. There's a lot to talk about in George Osborne's 2014 budget, but this is not the place to discuss most of what it involves. One thing is of interest for technology enthusiasts, though. The cost of digital downloads -- meaning ebooks, music and apps -- could be set to rise as the chancellor (the guy holding the purse strings) closes a tax loophole.
At the moment, companies offering digital downloads are able to avoid paying taxes in the UK by routing them through another country where taxes are lower. This is not a new technique, and there is nothing illegal about it. It is a loophole that has been exploited for many years, but now plans are afoot to close it off. What is this likely to mean? Well, it should come as no surprise that, ultimately, it's probably going to lead to higher prices for people in the UK.
Most Android smartphones and tablets do not run the latest-available version of Android, as vendors choose older iterations, even for their flagship products. As a result, it can take many months -- or it may never even happen -- for a software upgrade to finally close the gap.
One of the vendors that finds itself in this situation quite often is Japanese maker Sony, which cannot seem to release a high-end device, like the Xperia Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra or Xperia Z Compact, without shipping it with a dated version of Android. Luckily, KitKat commences its much-awaited roll-out for the company's most-recent flagship smartphones and tablets.
Catalog this post in the "Stories I meant to Write Dept." On February 1, when rumors circulated about Amazon price increases, I conveyed to colleague Alan Buckingham in chat: "If I were Amazon, Prime would stay same for Fire users but go up for everyone else. Reward customers and drive sales". Today's price increase announcement is reason to formally suggest what I should have six weeks ago.
Amazon tablet shipments dipped during fourth quarter -- from 5.9 million to 5.8 million units -- year over year, according to IDC. Global market share fell to 7.6 percent from 9.9 percent. The other top-5 manufacturers all posted healthy growth gains, although Apple also lost market share. Amazon should use lower Prime pricing to encourage new Kindle Fire sales and to reward existing owners. Keep the price $79 for these customers and hike the rest to $99. To be clear: Referring to Kindle Fire means all models, including HD and HDX.
Market intelligence specialist IDC has released the latest results from its quarterly tablet tracker. It predicts that the sales growth of tablets (including 2-in-1 devices) will be 19.4 percent in 2014, down from 51.6 percent last year.
There are a number of reasons for this predicted reduction, partly the number of new releases has slowed, and in mature markets the sales pattern will switch to replacement of older devices rather than first time buys.
This is a personal account of the way I have noticed the technology markets changing over the years. It is not gospel, and you are welcome (encouraged, if you like) to disagree… It's not all that long ago that brand loyalty was a given; it was almost the default setting for many people. If you got into computing -- and it was something you "got into" rather than just having as part of your life -- you stuck loyally to whatever brand you chose at the start. We could go back to the 70s and look at the birth of personal computing, but as this is my personal account, we'll have to start in the 80s.
I did just manage to sneak into the 70s -- being born in 1979 puts me in the difficult-to-comprehend position of being 34 years old but having seen five decades -- but an interest in computing didn't emerge until some time in the late 80s. I remember there being several computing camps: BBC, Amstrad, Spectrum, Vic and Commodore to name a few. My decision was made for me at an early age when my dad decided to invest in a Commodore 16 Plus 4 (the Plus 4 referring to the fact that the OS featured four built-in applications including a spreadsheet tool, the absurd simplicity of which was not lost on me even at a young age).
There are few people who like ads. Sure, they can be works of art -- certainly there are some advertisements that are infinitely better than a lot of the dirge pumped out by television networks -- but while advertisements on television can be fairly easily avoided (thank you TiVo -- other PVRs are available!) it is a different matter on a computer or mobile device. "Opting" to watch a mindblowing ad for Apple, Guinness or Honda is one thing, but to have unavoidable -- and usually crappy -- advertisements forced upon you whilst browsing the web or using an application is an entirely different matter.
There are groups of people who are happy to endure these adverts because they fund apps, and make it possible for developers to provide their hard work free of charge -- you may fall into this group and have perhaps been able to configure an automatic ad filter for your eyes. But there are larger legions for whom ads are just plain, damned irritating. In some instances it is possible to pay to avoid them, but this is not always the case. If BlackBerry and Yahoo get their way, advertisements are going to become rather more noticeable.