Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

HP Slate and MS Courier, The Second Coming of the Tablet PC

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

In the last few weeks new details have emerged about upcoming contenders vying for the market the iPad is expected to create. 

Videos, screenshots, and details of Microsoft’s Courier have  appeared on Engadget, and reveal the device to be a brilliantly innovative book-like digital journal running a form of Windows Mobile 7 and arriving in Q3 or Q4.  But  the information comes not from Microsoft, but from a “trusted source”, so there’s good reason to doubt the final product will match the cleverness shown in these videos; I can’t remember the last time I saw a product from Microsoft which I would call innovative (the word derivitive is the one I expect to use for their products).  One of the most surprising things for me about the Courier as alleged is the focus on the digital journal centric design.  It certainly differentiates the device from the other players in the field which stress no particular application or use (aside from the ubiquitous browsing or reading apps).  This could be key to its success or demise, despite the fact that it will no doubt also run apps of every other description as well; the device wouldn’t be limited by design, only by the limits people read into it.   This journaling direction isn’t completely new to the Tablet PC versions of the Windows OS which have long had a primitive but good journal app, but if this truly does deliver on the features shown, it just may be worthy of being a central feature of the OS and device.

The HP Slate also got some press this week, debuting in some videos released by HP.  In form, the Slate is akin to the iPad, but certainly larger than the foldable Courier, but what sets the Slate apart from both is that it runs a full desktop OS, Windows 7; that is a good and a bad thing.  Included in the good is that every Windows app will run on it, that it will be more easily integrated into (and therefore greeted by) conservative business environments, and that for all users the full web means the full web (every last glorious and icky part of it).  Chief among the negatives of a full OS, it’ll never be as elegant to use (since both OS and apps are not going to be exclusively designed for that form factor), the battery life will never be quite as good, it’ll always run somewhat hotter, and it’ll never squeeze the best performance out of whatever cpu is inside it; my last three points hinging on the fact that a full OS will always be more bloated in ram, disk, and cpu cycles required to support the services, features, and other “stuff” necessary to accommodate an entire back catalog of Windows applications.


If the HP Slate or the Windows Courier (as described) both appeared on the market tomorrow at a sensible price I’d probably buy ‘em both (but not the iPad), perhaps one won’t preclude the other.  The Courier might become the digital journal I carry with me everywhere, which can be my RDP connection to full computers when/where I need them.  And perhaps the Slate would replace my Tablet PC as my mobile ideating and writing computer, for the apps like MindJet’s Mind Manager, MS Visio, MS Word, web for blogging, etc. (with bluetooth keyboard/mouse).

It’s times like these I wish I had a time machine…

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Get Windows 7 Location Support without Buying a GPS Dongle

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

There’s no point in buying a GPS sensor for your desktop or a laptop if you rarely move it or have only rarely need that feature, but for free you can install Geosense, a free driver and app that integrates with the API in Windows 7 to provide GPS data to all the apps which use that API.  They compute your location from wifi, cell tower, and IP information.  Don’t expect to get updating turn by turn directions from your netbook as you cruise along in your car, but very likely perfect for checking directions or doing local searches from a parked car or a cafe.   Download it at Geosense.

Quinxy

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If you like the idea of the iPad but not the iPad…

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The viliv S10 Blade is coming, and for those of you who like the idea of an Apple iPad more than the actual iPad, this just might fit the bill, but expect that bill to be a little larger.

Let’s be clear about this, an iPad is basically a giant iTouch.  An iPad is not a full computer, and it’s lacking a lot of features many people reasonably expect:

  • No Flash support & no browser plugins
  • No true HD (no 720p)
  • No camera for video conferencing
  • No Verizon, hope you like AT&T
  • No USB, no external memory sticks
  • No multitasking!!!
  • Limited format support for audio & video (only what will play natively)

The iPad will do what it does in style, and if that’s enough for you, you’ll be happy as a hipster clam.

But many of us are looking for something more.  We want something akin to a full laptop in the form factor of an iPad, and we want might options, not the constraints Apple imposes.   And the device to best deliver that at the moment is the viliv S10 Blade, a tablet PC running Windows 7.

Here’s a table, with many of the key comparitive points:

viliv S10 Blade Apple iPad Conclusion
OS Windows 7 iTouch OS Windows 7 is probably less stable, and more bloated, but you have more software to pick from, you can use Flash and any browser plugin, and multitask to your heart’s content!
Display 1366×768 1024×768 S10 wins
Battery Life 10 hours (spares allowed) 10 hours (non-replaceable) Even Stephen.
Hard Disk 32-64 GB SSD, 60 GB HD 16, 32, 64 GB SSD Even Stephen.
Multitouch 3 point 2 point? I haven’t tried the viliv or Windows 7 with multitouch, and I can’t find evidence that the iTouch OS detects more than 2 fingers. So, not sure who wins here.
Dimensions 10.23″ x 7.28″ x 0.67 – 1.02″ 9.56″ x 7.47″ x 0.5″ They are roughly the same width and height, but the iPad is half the thickness. You get a regular swivel keyboard as compensation, but for some, that won’t be enough.
Weight 2.67 lb 1.6 lb The iPad clearly wins here, it’s 33% lighter, and I’m sure you will feel that weight the longer you cradle it and carry it about. The weight won’t bother me unduly, but I won’t deny it will some people.
Keyboard Built-In No I’ve used tablet PCs for the last 5 years and I would be miserable without the speed and accuracy of a built-in regular keyboard. Typing on a screen isn’t the same.
Camera Yes, Facing No A stunning omission for the iPad.
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR 2.1+EDR I don’t know enough or care enough about Bluetooth to know how important this is, but the iPad wins.
GPS No Yes (and compass) I am surprised the viliv doesn’t have this, and wonder if perhaps it really does and just isn’t listed in the specs, GPS is ubiquitous these days, and comes on most of the 3G modem cards. If it truly doesn’t have this, then that is unfortunate, but perhaps not such a big deal. I rely on GPS and directions from my phone, and I’m not sure if I would require that from something in a tablet form factor. It could be a drawback, or it may not matter much.
CPU Intel Atom 1.6-2.0 GHz Apple A4 1 GHz The viliv is surely faster, but it’s hard to compare speeds. The iPad won’t multitask, won’t be expected to run the full desktop apps the viliv will, so it will surely be fast enough for the uses it’s put to. Personally, I require a device that can multitask, and has the speed to do it.
Instant On Wakeup from standby in < 4 seconds Nearly instantaneous The iPad certainly wins here, and wins big. Those 4 seconds will feel longer than they are, and I’m sure that will have a subtle effect on how people view this device. It will discourage someone ever so slightly from reaching for the S10 Blade to check a fact on wikipedia, when they could do it more quickly with their phone.
Heat Probably warm Probably not as warm The S10 uses more power and will almost assuredly feel a good bit warmer in your lap, cradled in your arm, etc.
Price $699+ $499+ The full pricing isn’t out for the viliv, so it’s hard to make comparisons. The iPad ranges from $499-899, and I’d guess the S10 Blade will range from $699-1399. So, the viliv is definitely more expensive, but you do end up with a real laptop.

For many, the iPad will surely be another amazing triumph from Apple.  For me, and for many like me, it will stop far short of what we want, and that’s where a device like this tablet PC steps in.  We’ll pay more, it’ll weigh more, and it won’t be quite as instantly handy, but we won’t be constantly frustrated by the many things we cannot do with it.

And read about two other coming iPad alternatives in my post about the HP Slate and MS Courier, The Second Coming of the Tablet PC.

Quinxy

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Windows XP SP3 Preview Surfaces Online

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

“Though Microsoft still won’t confirm that it will release a third service pack for its Windows XP operating system, a preview version of the software update has been made available on the Web.”

Windows XP SP3 Preview Surfaces Online

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Windows Vista Product Editions

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

Paul Thurrott over at WindowsITPro got the skinny on just what flavors of Vista there will be, two days ahead of the general announcement at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2005.

Here are the names and roughly what their current equivalent is, read the article for the full details:
Windows Vista Starter Edition – like XP starter
Windows Vista Home Basic Edition – like XP Home
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition – somewhere between Home and Pro
Windows Vista Professional Edition – like XP Pro
Windows Vista Small Business Edition – like XP Pro, but with more enterprise features
Windows Vista Enterprise Edition – like XP Pro, but with even more enterprise features
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition – hard to describe succinctly, like XP Pro, but more control for gaming, access to premium content (music, video, etc.), and more

So many different versions, seems a bit confusing, but each seems to have a different demographic firmly in mind.

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Vista Itanium Uses Limited

Friday, September 9th, 2005

If you want to use your company’s Itanium server with Windows Vista I sure hope you’re planning on using it as a database, because that’s pretty much all they’ll let you run (well, and “custom and line-of-business applications”). Some of the things you won’t be able to do include: fax server, Windows Media Services, Windows SharePoint Services, and file/print servers. Seems a bit strange to me. Announcing Target Workloads for Windows Server “Longhorn” Itanium-based Systems

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Google’s Customized Microsoft Search Page

Friday, September 9th, 2005

Here’s a slightly strange fact, given Microsoft’s position on Google (and to a lesser degree vice versa). Google has a customized search page which searches only Microsoft content (http://www.google.com/microsoft.html), and that page appears linked to by Microsoft http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?linkid=23818. The fact that Google has the page isn’t really all that strange, it’s that Microsoft is linking to it that is. A relic from years ago? A link created by some naive developer at Microsoft? Who knows, not bad fodder for conspiracy theories, though. Google page searches for Microsoft content.

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Vista Good for Linux?

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

An article on XYZ Computing suggests that Vista will present an opportunity to the Linux on the desktop movement. The lack of compelling features in Vista, the many features already cut from what was supposed to be in Vista, and the high cost of a computer capable of being Vista ready combine to make the next generation Windows operating system less of clear choice for most users. This hesitation to upgrade could provide an opportunity for users to move to Linux, especially if manufacturers wanting to continue selling low-cost PCs increasingly sell pre-installed Linux (such as Walmart with Linspire, etc.). Vista to Open Doors for Desktop Linux

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AMD Challenges Intel to Duel

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) took out full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other papers challenging Intel, and inviting them to a third-party, public processor test-off (of both companies’ 64 bit dual core chips). No word on Intel’s response…

AMD Challenges Intel to a Dual-Core Duel

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Google Desktop 2 Launched, Big Improvements

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

For those of you curious about the possibility (and rumors) of an eventual Google browser the latest incarnation of Desktop 2 is another step in that direction. Besides the desktop search features previous versions provided, it now includes a sidebar. The sidebar displays news (via RSS feeds) which apparently (I’ve not tried it yet) learns what news is of most interest to you by which sites you go to (which have RSS feeds) and automagically includes that news. Also from the sidecar you can launch Windows applications, get weather, stock quotes, and do nearly anything that developers can think of via plugins. See screenshot and Download at Google.

Personally I use Copernic’s free Desktop Search which I preferred to Google first version, but I’ll need to give Google’s Desktop 2 a try.

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