Monday, 14 February 2011

No more CES, no more pricy gadgets

I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for presenting outrageously pricy gadgets like Motorola Xoom in my previous article. I heard it will cost 800$ with locked wi-fi, which you can unlock only by subscribing to Verizon for at least a month, while the price stays intact!! I hope they do not get away with something like this in Europe. I am quite aware of how much each part of it really costs, while Honeycomb is freer than air, and what Motorola asks
for this is plain ridiculous.

Also, from now on, I will not present or review any device which I deem is not absolutely necessary or is exorbintantly priced. So no Apple products either (perhaps only in some comparative pros & cons reviews).
I will shift my focus on cheap and practical devices, but mostly on scientific breakthroughs that could soon bring about a better quality of life, on both a personal and a global level.

My "Brain-computer Interfaces" and "Let there be light" articles are the most compatible to the new route I will follow article wise. The reason for this change of heart of mine is this brilliant full feature film I post below. I had seen the first two Zeitgeist films and had been excited by their ideas, but I somehow failed to understand how the solutions to the current global mess Zeitgeist : Addendum proposed could be practically implemented.

The third part of the trilogy gave me these answers I seeked. You should watch this even if you have not seen the first two, it is semi-autonomus. But if you ignore Zeitgeist films let me warn you; this film will turn the way you view the world upside down. You will feel that all these years you were inside a cocoon and all of a sudden you became a butterfly...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

CES 2011 - Tablets, tablets, more tablets!

CES 2011 was completed a few weeks ago, but what was presented there is going to
feed the constantly starving tech and gadget worms of the globe for almost the whole year.
Most of the devices have not even been released yet.
Acer's Picasso was a cute random pick, but nothing really fancy.
Today I will present the one that allegedly was the hottest device of the show.
Motorola's Xoom is the very first tablet to boast the highly anticipated Android 3.0 mobile OS,
aka Honeycomb.
Google made a cute 90" clip to tease us about the upcoming Honeycomb experience.
It is certainly worth giving it a look.

The 10.1" Xoom tablet could signal Motorola's revival from a downward spiral many predicted would never recover. According to the CNET reporter from
the following 2' video as many as fifty tablets were shown off at CES 2011.
Yet only Xoom sported Honeycomb, due to a temporary exclusivity agreement between Google and Motorola.
It is currently unknown how many of those tablets will be able to be upgraded to Honeycomb.
Even for those that are "Honeycomb ready" it is also unknown if they will fully support
all of its features, so currently Xoom is the only safe bet.

Xoom' specs are awesome, easily blowing iPad out of the water.
For starters an amazing 1200x800 resolution, dual core 1 Ghz CPU, 1080p support
through mini HDMI, 4G(LTE) upgradable and a reported 10 hour video playback battery capacity!

Furthermore it is super sexy, congrats to the exterior design team
(yeap, glossy screen again though...) :

image sources : engadget

So how much will it cost and when will it hit the e-tail and retail shelves?
Motorola has not announced any prices yet but I expect it to be around 50 to 100$
cheaper than premium iPads (of course I mean retail, contract-free prices).
The release is expected within the first quarter of  '11 in the States,
possibly a bit later in Europe and Asia.

This fine lady will tell you what else you need to know for now about Xoom.
Notice whenever she swings it towards the light sources how its screen turns into a...mirror.
And she is inside the building, imagine what would happen outside.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

CES 2011 - Acer Picasso with dual core nVidia Tegra 2

Las Vegas annually houses one of the most significant tech shows globally, CES. CES 2011 lasted from 6 to 9 January and not a few new yummy tech stuff were presented by the manufacturers. 

For starters, the very first dual core Android tablets were shown off. This is the spanking new 10" Acer Picasso, sporting nVidia Tegra 2 SoC and Android 2.2 Possibly it can also be updated to the freshest Android 3.0 flavour that is specifically oriented for tablets, Honeycomb, that is still in beta.

You will hear a couple chatting close to the one filming this video but they are talking about another tablet from Dell, not this one. This is my first introductory post on CES 2011. I will follow up with more on it, along with some reviews of the most exciting products.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Please excuse my..

..long absence but I have been quite busy lately and have not found time to write anything.
Don't worry though, I am not leaving this blog orphan, I will be back soon with even more interesting stuff!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Will e-books swallow printed media? Part II

Click here to read the first part

Part Two : Tablets

The second approach to e-books was more conventional. Tablets are simply personal computers with often normal LCDs in a, well... tablet form. In the past there have been similar attempts from companies like Intel and Archos to introduce the so-called MIDs (mobile internet devices), but they have failed to effectively penetrate the market. MIDs are larger than smartphones yet smaller than UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs), which in turn are smaller than netbooks, so it was never made clear who exactly were the target buyers of these devices.
Here comes Apple and their iPad :

Source : Apple 

The iPad still sells like hot cakes, many months after its introduction. Although it
is essentially a larger iPhone 4, and its screen has much lower pixel density (it has roughly the same resolution while measuring 10.1 vs 3.5 diag. inches), it succeeded where the others failed. Why? I guess because it is touted as... supercool. Most of iPad or iPhone buyers do not even look at the speccs, which are quite limited actually. They want them real bad simply because they are a cool and fashionable gadget and they can brag about them to their friends or in their work. But I could analyse the Apple fan-boy psychology in a separate article, let's get back to e-books.

Tablets were naturally not designed or intended exclusively for e-media. It's just that their format makes them suitable for this use as well. But suitable would possibly be an exaggeration. The iPad has a shiny glossy screen that makes it virtually impossible to read under moderately strong ambient light (id est it is sunlight incompatible). e-book exlusive devices have matte screens for exactly that reason.

Furthermore, e-books like Kindle are much closer to the natural feel of paper books.
Most tablets have IPS LCDs but they are still LCDs, with all of the drawbacks I mentioned before. But like I said the iPad sells insanely, and very few of those who buy it would likely intend it primarily for reading e-media.  So, much like what has happened with smartphones, the market has already started to be inundated with Android based tablets from competitors who also want a piece of the tablet pie. Let's have a quick look at a couple of them.

This is iPad's main competitor right now, the Galaxy Tab from Samsung :


It runs Android 2.2 and is smaller than the iPad, with a 7" screen. As a result it is also lighter and more portable, fitting in most bags. So it is closer to a pocket book page than a full book, and if the e-media has small fonts you will have to zoom in to read without killing what's left of your eyes; but as we all know that forces us to constantly scroll the page left and right.
Unfortunately it also has a glossy screen.

The other one comes from an old timer in the field :


This very sexy device is the ARCHOS 101 internet tablet As the name suggests it sports a 10.1" screen and is much more sturdily built than both iPad and Galaxy, since it boasts a metal chassis.
Its screen counts 1024 x 600 pixels and unfortunately, you guessed it, it is glossy too.
It costs quite less than iPad or Galaxy, has roughly the same screen speccs and will
not break apart if you drop it from a reasonable height.

                                                                   Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

e-media of all possible forms will eventually replace physical media like books, magazines and newspapers. They may not totally replace them -I still can't see how it could be done with comics for instance- at first but they will stop being the dominant form, as Mr. Negroponte predicted. Costs of printed media will continue to rise and this will be a decisive factor for the transition to e-media. Eventually all major and middle-weight publishers will switch to e-formats. Printed media will likely be produced in minimal volumes to address the wants and needs of some old-fashioned individuals "who love touching, feeling and even smelling paper"*, including myself.

e-books and tablets still cost a lot because it is a niche technology and their R&D has not yet been depreciated. Soon the prices of these devices will drop dramatically and their flaws will be fixed. This will most likely lead to a large scale adoption. And then, I suppose that we should guard our existing books much like we guard our own eyes, because their collectible value and price will rise considerably.

*many thanks to Kiriko and her owner for this line!

© 2010 Nikolaos D. Skordilis

Daniweb and some of the links cited above

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