First in a series. My preference is to write about tech that I use -- an attitude shared among BetaNews reporters. We like to get hands-on and write with authority, from experience. That's one reason I write so little about Microsoft now, not being immersed in the company's products. Lately, mine is the Google lifestyle.
But yesterday I started using the original Surface -- the one frequently maligned by critics for so-called limitations associated with Windows RT. This is my first experience with the tab, although I reviewed and frankly loved Surface Pro. Out-of-the-box impressions are great. This is a hugely satisfying tablet, and surely the experience is better with its successor. I was right to ask 5 days ago: "Why not Surface 2?"
I am young enough to never have watched TV on a set with rabbit ear antennas. All of my TV watching has happened by cable or satellite. Believe it or not, many people still watch TV using over-the-air antennas. This is done for a number of reasons, but most recently, cord cutters have made it popular. Proponents of over-the-air TV will be quick to tell you that the HDTV can actually be better because it is uncompressed, unlike cable.
Apparently, OTA TV broadcasts are still very popular in Mexico. Today, Polaroid announces new tablets with integrated telescoping TV antennas for that country. Is this a cool new feature or a relic of the past, being retrofitted on new technology?
Among many third-party Android keyboards, SwiftKey is considered to be one of the best and most popular of the bunch. It has been available in Google Play as a paid app -- I purchased it myself a while back -- but the company behind it just decided to take the freemium route.
This means anyone with a compatible Android device can now take advantage of what SwiftKey has to offer, without having to worry about an expiring trial. Being a freemium app means that, while it may be available for naught, SwiftKey still has to generate revenue. And, it will do just that, through the new SwiftKey Store.
Battery packs may not be the most exciting or sexiest gadgets on the market, but the LUM-008-01 Power Bank from Lumsing has a good stab at changing things. But stabbing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when picking up this battery pack for the first time. Yes, the manufacturers "Harmonica style" description is fairly accurate but this is a unit that is rather weightier than the handheld instrument favored by blues and folk musicians. The mass of 236g (8.3oz) coupled with the way it nestles in the hand brings to mind a form of cudgel; this is a battery pack that could double as a murder weapon. Maybe that's just me... I should probably evaluate it for what it is.
Let's cut to the chase. This is a battery pack. There's a limit to how animated one can get about such a device, but Lumsing's offering gets off to a great start by being so easy on the eye. It's good to look at, and it also feels good in the hand. Style drips from every port. In all there are three ports: one USB input for charging the unit itself, and two outputs for charging other devices such as mobiles and tablets. There's one low powered 1.5 A port and one rated at 2.1 A so there's scope for charging all manner of devices.
Colleague Wayne Williams is right to call out Surface Pro 3 hidden costs necessary to make a reasonable laptop replacement. There is another choice, which geeks often overlook. Surface 2 is a great value for the price, and everyone considering Apple iPad Air as a laptop replacement should look to Microsoft's tab first.
Before explaining, I start a diatribe that will continue to future posts. Geek reviewers hung up on specs and the fanciest features missing what matters more: Benefits -- to whom they are important and in what circumstances. Not everyone needs the fastest, coolest thing, or can afford it. Lower-cost is a benefit, too, and it's one too often ignored by fanboys and tech reviewers. Wayne gets it. So should you.
Porn has always been big business, and online porn accounts for a staggering proportion of web traffic. The availability of always-on internet connections in the home, and near blanket use of internet-enabled mobile phones and tablets, means that it is now easier than ever to get a porn fix if you feel the urge. But have you ever wondered how all of this porn is being accessed? Well… wonder no more! Porn site (you don’t say!) PornHub conducted research after Gizmodo expressed an interest in seeing which browsers were most used by consumers of porn, and the figures make for interesting reading.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that desktop browsers prove the most popular. Some 51 percent of Pornhub's traffic comes from people using desktop computers. But, without wanting to put too many unpleasant images in your head, this leaves 49 percent of porn perusal that is enjoyed on mobile phones and tablets. You know, those devices that are easily transported to a quiet room and are rather easier to hold in one hand than a laptop...
Mobile workforces demand devices that are powerful enough to perform a range of functions but still retain maximum portability.
Convertible PCs that can play the role of laptop and tablet by flipping the screen around are an obvious choice. HP's latest announcement though takes a slightly different approach with a tablet that detaches completely from the keyboard to offer added flexibility.
Yosemite! Woo! iOS 8! Yay! New way of programming! Huzzah! These were the obvious highlights of Apple's WWDC keynote yesterday, but as the dust settles there are some additional interesting tidbits emerging. As this was a developer conference, it should come as no surprise that the announcements and revelations have the most immediate impact on developers -- but things will also filter down to users. One change that was not given any fanfare at the WWDC is an alteration to Apple's App Store Review Guidelines which paves the way for virtual currency support.
The guidelines themselves are surprisingly easy to read -- this document is nothing like an EULA! But if you'd like to cut to the chase, jump to 11.17 in the "Purchasing and currencies" section. Here you'll find the advice that "Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions". There is no reason that this possible virtual currency support should not include Bitcoin, although the currency has not been specifically mentioned.
As the American tech press turns to San Francisco and Apple's developer conference, the real world looks to Taipei and Computex. There you see the Android Army's march against iOS. ASUS announces new Android tabs, HP takes the wraps off a laptop running the operating system, and Samsung serves up a phablet so large it crosses category boundaries. In literature, they would call this foreshadowing. Do you see how this story will unfold -- as Android manufacturers and Apple engage like factions from the Divergent series.
Android accounted for 39.7 percent of device shipments -- hybrids, PCs, phones, and tablets -- during 2013, according to Gartner. Apple's iOS and OS X: 10.4 percent. Forecast for this year puts Android at 47.2 percent and the fruit-logo platforms at 11.5 percent. That's context for today's announcements from the East and West. As I write, Apple's announcements dribble (iOS 8 and OS X 10.10) out of Worldwide Developer Conference 2014, so this post focuses on what the Android news means.
You may not be aware of it, but technology fair Computex kicks off tomorrow, in Taiwan. And, as we have come to expect from companies attending such events, many products are already announced come opening day. Local player ASUS is among the early birds, as today it takes the wraps off a slew of Android slates, among other products like monitors and routers.
Perhaps the biggest news is that ASUS has made the jump to 64-bit processors across the new models, using the Intel Atom Z3745 in the MeMO Pad and Transformer Pad lineups, and the Atom Z3560 in the Fonepad series. Android 4.4 KitKat is the operating system of choice which runs on these slates.
Samsung is pushing the size boundaries of phablets with a new device it unveiled today, called Galaxy W. The handset rivals small tablets, like the Google Nexus 7, in the display department, yet has the necessary hardware to work as a phone. Is it still a phablet though?
Thanks to devices like the Galaxy W, phablets and small tablets are two categories that clearly overlap when it comes to display size, and since there is no clear distinction between the two, other than, perhaps, the ability to make phone calls, it is difficult to define what the Galaxy W exactly is. But, before you go about answering that question, look at the marketing image Samsung provides for the Galaxy W. Next to one's ear it looks almost as big as that person's head. It seems to look far more natural in the hand, as a tablet.
At the cheap end of the laptop market, there isn’t really all that much choice at the moment. Chromebook has the bargain basement side of things covered, but this is not an OS that works for everyone. Android is, by quite some way, the most popular operating system on phones and tablets, so it makes sense that it should also prove popular on a laptop, right? This is what HP is hoping, at least, as it launches its new SlateBook, a 14 inch, touchscreen laptop that runs Android.
Launching July 20, the SlateBook has a price tag of $399 and includes a full-sized keyboard in addition to a 1080p touchscreen. As this is a device running Android, it should perhaps come as no surprise that battery life is fairly high. The quoted nine hours is fairly impressive and this is being touted as an entertainment device. To back up this claim, in addition to the longevity of the battery, four speakers from the Apple-acquired BeatsAudio provide what is described as "the best-sounding, richest audio on a notebook".
Still shopping for the perfect Father's Day bargain? Amazon may have the answer to that, as the online retailer has taken two of its most popular products and combined them into one bargain-basement price that will satisfy any connoisseur of sales.
The Kindle Fire HDX 7, a tablet I previously called my favorite product of 2013, has been bundled together with the new Fire TV. If you aren't familiar (or live under a rock) the Fire TV is a set-top box designed to take on Apple and Roku in an increasingly crowded market. Today, Amazon marries the two together with one discounted price.
Acer is probably not the first company you will think of when you start pondering tablets -- but in fact it has quite a pedigree. It has forayed into Windows-based tablets, with recent examples being the Iconia W4 and the Iconia W700 -- an attempt at an all-in-one/tablet combo. And its Android-based tablets are plentiful with A and B series lines alongside the more recently announced Tab 7 and One 7. ITProPortal actually reviewed the predecessor to this new model, the Iconia A1-810, last summer.
As tablets go the 16GB Acer Iconia A1-830 is a bit of a baby. It has a 7.9-inch screen, just a bit larger than the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7, and the same as the iPad mini. Its price marks it out as a budget buy at £140. For reference, the Nexus 7 16GB and 16GB Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch are both £199. The 16GB iPad mini is over £300.
The more I ponder Apple's Beats acquisition, the less sense it makes. Buying big well-known brands that compete with yours is usually a bad idea -- worse when the acquirer owns no foreign brands. Extinguishing the big name, as Microsoft does with Nokia, is marketing murder. There's no place for the Beats brand in the Apple lexicon. The gun is drawn and ready to fire.
What I do see is another sign that Apple has lost its way. Tim Cook is a very able CEO, but as stated previously he is Star Trek's Spock without Captain Kirk (Steve Jobs). Cook's approach to business logistics, while brilliant, unmakes Apple. Beats is an acquisition that is off-key -- out of tune with the culture that made the fruit-logo company great. As such, on this Thursday in May, comes my confession. I was wrong five years ago in post "Why Apple succeeds, and always will". That company is gone.