Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Microsoft's New Courier Tablet

Microsoft CourierWhatever concept you had of what was cool in the tech world just got pushed to another level thanks to a new tablet from Microsoft codenamed Courier. This new double-screen tablet works as a day planner only way cooler.

Speculations about whether or not you will be able to run down to your local tech store and pick this thing up is still unsure considering this is only one of many different tablet prototypes currently in development from Microsoft. However, with the Apple tablet rumors being thrown around and the similarity Courier has to the upcoming E-reader/netbook from Asus, the tablet concept seems to be gaining more and more interest from consumers.

Courier appears like it could completely revolutionize personal business devices. There aren't a lot of details about what Courier can do. What is known is that, unlike Apple's tablet, it comes in a book shape with two 7inch screens with a built in camera and Wi-Fi. Information input is varied going between multi-touch gestures like pinching and flicking to using a stylus for handwriting and drawing.

It is unsure how Courier will handle things like e-mail or if it comes equipped with a microphone or webcam for things like video conferences or VoIP. But Courier does look like an outstanding replacement to the traditional pen and paper way of planning. Courier appears to fuse the best of paper planning with the two pages and large writing space with the best of a computer's planning capabilities to manipulate and index data.

What may come as a surprise to some is that the Courier tablet is almost a complete opposite to what people expect from Apple's tablet. People expect the Apple tablet to be an expanded iPod Touch having a 9 to 10 inch multi-touch display, iSight camera, microphone, Wi-Fi and 3G capability and run with either another version of Mac OS X or the iPod OS.

People and analysts have been talking about the Apple tablet for over a year now and yet there is still no information leak that even compares to the size of the Courier leak telling us what the device is going to be able to do. All info in this post have come from different rumors floating around and not hard evidence. This could mean that Apple's product doesn't even exist. However, if it doesn't it, one will exist shortly now that Microsoft has thrown their hat in the ring and given some decent details about Courier.

One question many people will be asking Apple is "Why is this device even necessary? Why is it a better option than a laptop/smartphone combo?" Apple's tablet doesn't appear like it can replace either device and doesn't appear to be the same as a netbook either. So by now you may be asking yourself "What the heck is this Apple Tablet thing?" Well the answer is that it is an entertainment device used to watch video, surf the web and play games.

Courier, alternately, can be recognized almost instantly as a device that would be useful to someone. It takes your average, everyday two page paper planner and digitizes it for the first time ever. Courier takes advantage of data mash-ups by allowing you to flick your contacts on a map and find their location. You can also take notes easily with the reasonable screen size and you also have web access right at your fingertips. It also appears that Courier will have nothing to do with the Windows Mobile or Windows 7 Operating Systems. Instead it will have a completely new operating system designed specifically for the Courier.

But these details do not mean that the tablet market is going to be completely dominated by Courier or that Apple's tablet can not catch up. It simply means that the two devices are completely different. If you are looking into Courier then you are more likely looking for a smartly designed day planner which will more than likely be able to do things like play videos and other entertainment apps similar to a smartphone. If you want something more geared towards having fun then you are going to want to look more into Apple's tablet. Apple's tablet looks to have more entertainment value and a weaker enterprise value. These factors, business and fun, are going to be the deciding factors in which one you decide to buy when, and if, either one of these tablets comes out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

ASUS Launches Standalone Videophone

ASUS Launches Standalone Videophone
Today, ASUS announces the launch of its Skype certified, touchscreen videophone which allows for unlimited video calling over the internet. The ASUS Videophone Touch AiGuru SV1T is the first to feature a high-resolution, 7 inch touchscreen which speeds up character input and makes for an easier calling experience. The phone features a built-in webcam, speaker, microphone, and Wi-fi capabilities and allows users to make unlimited free calls to any Skype users without needing a computer.

The touchscreen is icon-based and easy to use, making it simple for anyone to make or receive Skype-to-Skype calls. Simply connect to a broadband connection - either wirelessly or via an Ethernet cable, sign-in with your Skype account and start calling! Calls are free and unlimited. It also allows users to participate in conference calls from anywhere, which is a great solution for small business.

Skype's director of business development and product management for consumer electronics, Manrique Brenes, had this to say about the device, "Skype goes beyond traditional voice calling and brings people closer through rich, real-time video communication. The device's touchscreen makes video calling an even easier and more accessible way for people to communicate. It offers the benefits of Skype video calling and exceptional audio quality—allowing friends, families, and small businesses to share their worlds face-to-face without being tied to a computer."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

iPhone on Other Networks Within a Year?

iPhone on Other Networks Within a Year
Everyone who owns an iPhone knows that having the phone means being stuck with AT&T as your carrier. As a matter of fact, many iPhone owners, while thrilled with their actual phone, often list having to use AT&T as one of their main issues. But in a new report, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst Gene Munster takes on the issue and even suggests that by summer 2010, Apple will add new carriers in the United States.

The report, a note to investors, took on fourteen "unanswered questions." In it, Munster talked about how Apple went from a single carrier to a multi-carrier model in France, suggesting it had a direct relationship with an increase in market shares,

"For various reasons the company moved from an exclusive relationship with French wireless carrier Orange to a multi-carrier model. In France, the company now enjoys dramatically higher market share (in the 40 percent range vs. about 15 percent in ROW) than in countries with exclusive carrier agreements (such as AT&T in the U.S. where the iPhone has market share in the mid-teens). We believe Apple is seeing the increased unit sell-through more than offset the slightly (- 10 percent) deteriorated economics per unit involved in non-exclusive agreements."

There have been many rumors about where Apple will turn, should it abandon its exclusivity with AT&T. Verizon president Denny Strigle has been speaking favorably of the iPhone and rumor has it Verizon is working to launch a new 4G network by early 2010. AT&T is also supposedly trying to negotiate with Apple, hoping the company will keep them as the exclusive iPhone carrier until 2011.

In the report, Munster also mentioned how unhappy Apple is with video and the iTunes store and suggests the company will eventually offer a monthly subscription of about $30-40 that allows users to have unlimited access to cable and network television content.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Sharp PC-Z1

New Sharp PC-Z1

Sharp has launched a new PDA: the PC-Z1. Tech experts say it's very similar to Sharp's now defunct Zaurus. The PC-Z1 is a five inch, 1024 x600 TFT LCD touchscreen NetWalker smartbook. It features an 800MHz Freescale i.MX515 CPU built around the ARM Cortex-A8 architecture, 4GB of on-board flash storage (and is compatible with miscroSDHC expansion for an extra 16GB), 512MB of memory, 802.11b/g Wifi, 2x USB, and QWERTY keyboard going 68 percent of full-size. The PC-Z1 also has a quick three-second quick launch and a non-removable 10-hour battery.

Reviews haven't been all positive. There is no 3G data and some say that the "not a laptop but not a smartphone" category will make it a hard sell. The device will debut in Japan on September 25 for what equals to about $479 American dollars and there is no word when it will be available in the United States.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

D3o for iPhone Protection

When I bought my iPhone, I was so afraid that I was going to break it by dropping it. So I also paid around $40 for a cheap plastic third party case, thinking that it would offer at least the slightest protection for my new handheld baby. A couple months later, I dropped my iPhone and the screen cracked, along with the case I bought to protect the phone. The bottom right corner of the phone looks like it got ran over by a car, and the crack goes all the way to the middle of my phone. Those days are over. Tech21 has released a new sleek protective case called the iBand for the iPhone and iTouch that is made from a material called d3o. D3o is a non-Newtonian substance, which means the squishy soft case will become rock solid when impact is applied, protecting the contents inside.

Normally, d3o is found in protective gear and apparel for biking, motorcycles, and other high impact protection wear. Tech21 is one of the first companies to bring the d3o material to the “tech world”. The iBand fits around the rim of the iPhone, protecting it from even face down landings. In the demonstration video from Tech21, they drop am iTouch with the iBand on it, from a two-story balcony and the phone survives a face-down landing! This is a great new product for clumsy people like me, because I drop my iPhone on almost a daily basis, and I know if it can survive a drop from 20 feet, I know it can survive from me dropping it getting out of my car because it was sitting on my lap. I have my iPhone 3GS on the way, and this will probably be the best investment I am going to make for only $25, considering I will be protecting a $700 piece of equipment.

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