Archive for November, 2012


Surface

Unlike its competitors, Microsoft has largely stayed out of the hardware business. They have the Xbox and a line of input devices, but coming up with the Surface RT was a big step for them. And the Surface RT is a genuinely different computing experience, one that can be enjoyable in the right circumstances.

Those interested in a laptop replacement may find the Surface RT insufficient, which is why the Surface Pro is being released early next year. Even though the Pro is not yet available, there are some pretty clear areas where I feel the RT version isn’t quite ready for prime time.

Surface

The many keyboards of Surface

I had a lot of hope for the Surface’s keyboard. I’ve noticed that Windows Phone 8 has a fantastic software keyboard — it handles auto-correct well and has excellent logic when it comes to figuring out where your finger is trying to press. The same can not be said for Windows RT, unfortunately. The virtual keyboard has pretty good auto-correct, but the layouts for both docked and split modes leave much to be <a href="http://xphonegadget.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/waterproof-ipod-shuffle-green-4th-gen-2gb-by-underwater-audio-free-and-discounted-waterproof-headphone-promotion/&quot; title="Waterproof iPod Shuffle GREEN (4th Gen 2GB) by Underwater Audio – Free and Discounted Waterproof Headphone Promotion! <>” target=”_blank”>desired. The split keyboard, for example, makes the keys either too small or positions the keys away from the edge of the tablet. As a result, I am not nearly as capable a typist on the Surface’s virtual keyboard as I am on an iPad or Android tablet.

Fortunately, Microsoft released two different very clever keyboards for the Surface. There’s the Touch Cover, a buttonless touchpad with grooves and raised “keys” that allow you to type in much the same way you do on a virtual keyboard. It takes about a day of serious typing to get used to, but once you do adjust the keyboard a very good experience. Then the Type Cover is available for those of us who would prefer to hit press-able keys when typing. The Type keyboard feels about twice as thick as the Touch Cover, which adds a little to the bulk of the tablet when carrying it around, but the keyboard works well and will mean more words per minute for almost all users.

Neither of these keyboards use the same auto-correct as the virtual keyboard, so when you misspell something there’s no pop-up or suggestion to replace. You are left with that menacing red squiggle as though you were using a regular laptop. To make things all the more frustrating, the Touch Cover does offer a basic form of auto-correct where the OS assumes you meant to type a word and corrects it without even warning you. This seems to only happen if the keyboard detects your fingers on more than one key, and then it makes a judgement call for you. While this sounds really helpful, it’s somewhat maddening to see some words change right in front of you without warning or explanation while completely ignoring other words that you have clearly misspelled.

Surface

A barren wasteland of apps

When I first booted up the Surface RT I knew that the app selection wasn’t going to be stellar. I have been using Windows 8 on my desktop since the Developer Preview (in other words, over a year), and have watched as the slow trickle of apps seeped into the corners of the Windows Store. It makes perfect sense — neither iOS nor Android had a bustling ecosystem at launch, and there is a clear chicken-and-egg issue that must be dealt with. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a ton of developers interested in making quality RT apps and Microsoft isn’t making any public cries for help, like Google did in the early days.

This situation is made worse when you see paid apps for things like “meme generation”, basic services that are available on dozens of websites for free. This is not unique to the Windows Store, it also plagues iOS and Android, but when crapware like this show up in the recommended rotation you’ve got a problem. Because Microsoft can’t let the store appear stagnant by promoting the same 30 apps, occasionally you open the Windows Store and see offerings that are clearly not something anyone would recommend.

Surface

The perils of Desktop Mode

Desktop Mode is the place you go to when you want to be productive. It allows you to escape the Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) and go back to the real world with, you know, windowed apps. It works great on my desktop and the Windows 8 laptops I have tested. Sadly Desktop Mode isn’t touch friendly, which puts the Surface RT at a disadvantage.

While the Touch Cover and Type Cover do include trackpad areas, they are quite tiny and not particularly comfortable to use for more than a few minutes. For the most part this is fine because the Surface is a tablet. Because of the touchscreen you would ideally never need a mouse, unless maybe you were on a website that wasn’t formatted for touch. Explorer for Windows 8 includes a lot of functions that make touch use easier. For example, folders include select all functions and when you long press you can get to the right-click pretty quickly. Selecting multiple items out of a folder or trying to use any of the menu options in the top right of a given window are just a few of the things in Desktop Mode that aren’t particularly finger friendly.

Doing anything at all on the taskbar, aside from accessing pinned apps, is just a bad idea. The icons are way too small and you will miss more often than not. This isn’t such a big deal on Surface RT, since not a lot happens in the taskbar. For the Surface Pro, especially if you install a lot of apps that prefer the desktop for use, this is going to become a problem pretty quickly. Since the Surface Pro isn’t out yet, there’s not a lot to say about how Microsoft plans to handle that.

Commendable, but not recommendable

My time with Microsoft’s first attempt at their own tablet confirmed that a Surface Pro is something I am interested in. The Surface RT hardware is fantastic, combining everything I want out of a 10-inch tablet and everything I want out of a travel laptop. I feel like Windows RT struggles to compete with Chrome OS, and I hope that Microsoft is learning from some of the things that aren’t quire right with this first Surface and makes sure that the release of Surface Pro goes off without a hitch. Otherwise, I’m afraid that the first generation may be the only generation of Surface.

Read more: 5 cool Surface RT features

Australian consumer advocacy group CHOICE is a bit exercised about Windows 8, an not in a good way. Australian John Hollow is alleging that Microsoft is intentionally misleading retail shoppers with its packaging for the Windows 8 Professional upgrade. Specifically, he takes issue with the fact that the actual word “upgrade” doesn’t appear anywhere on the packaging. Compounding the confusion, says CHOICE, is the fact that Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be made available as a “full packed product” and then later backpedaled and said that only the upgrade would be sold in stores.

The Windows 8 Pro upgrade can be used to perform a full installation, but the purchaser needs to have a valid license sticker for a previous Windows version. It’s not really a full version, and that’s something that really should be spelled out right on the box.

Hollow and CHOICE aren’t the only folks who think Microsoft could have done a much better job with its Windows 8 editions. After ditching the maze-like product map of Windows Vista for a more focused Windows 7 SKU line-up, it was hoped that Microsoft would keep a good thing going with Windows 8. Yet the reality doesn’t seem to have changed much. Most folks who head to a retail store or pop onto Newegg or TigerDirect are probably going to be confused as to which copy they should buy. It’s still not as simple as it should be for the average consumer to buy Windows.

And with the recent revelation that Microsoft is going to start offering new Windows versions on an annual basis, this is a problem that the company needs to fix now. With Steven Sinofsky gone and Julie Larsen-Green and Tami Reller now in charge of Windows, hopefully finding a permanent solution to version confusion is a top priority at Microsoft.

More at Sydney Morning Herald

In an interview with BBC, Tony Fadell claims that former Apple senior vice president of iOS Scott Forstall “got what he deserved,” when he was forced to leave Apple.

Fadell is widely known as the godfather of the iPod, and he formerly served as the senior vice president of the iPod division and as a special advisor to Steve Jobs.

After Fadell left Apple in 2008, there were rumors that Forstall and Fadell butted heads on more than one occasion. A 2011 profile of Forstall suggested that he was difficult to work with and had fought with Fadell over the operating system for the iPhone, which eventually led to Fadell’s departure from the company.

The interviewer asked about Forstall’s personality and personal problems that Fadell had with Forstall, but Fadell declined to comment further and simply reiterated his previous statement.

“I think what happened just a few weeks back was deserved and justified.”

When asked about Apple, Fadell said that he thought the company was in a “great place” but mentioned that there had been cheering in Cupertino when Forstall was ousted.

Currently, Tony Fadell is the CEO of Nest, the company that has created the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. Scott Forstall is serving as an advisor to Tim Cook and will be leaving Apple in 2013.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the iPhone 5 has received its final certification from Chinese regulators, opening the door to a launch on Apple’s carrier partners China Unicom and China Telecom.

Vendors in China often start selling new handsets within weeks of approval by China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center. […]

The regulator said in two posts on its website that it had approved licenses for an iPhone supported by China Telecom and one supported by China Unicom.

China Telecom chairman Wang Xiaochu had previously stated that the iPhone 5 would be launching on the carrier by early December, and the carrier has reportedly started taking pre-orders in recent days.

Apple has been placing a strong focus on the Chinese market, which now accounts for 15% of the company’s revenue and and saw revenues rise 78% to $23.8 billion in fiscal 2012.

Still, Apple’s product launches in China have typically lagged behind those in the company’s other major markets, leading to a booming gray market for devices brought in from Hong Kong and elsewhere while also leaving the company more vulnerable to competitors. But with Apple’s goal of bringing the iPhone 5 to at least 100 countries before the end of 2012, the company is clearly working hard on compressing its worldwide rollout timetables.

Fasttrak toll road stock 1024

There has to be a better way than pulling your wallet out and shoving over a fistful of cash or handing over a credit card, but mobile payment systems from Google Wallet to ISIS face a major problem: getting hardware into consumers’ hands. What if, instead of forcing new equipment to make transactions happen, we used something that already has a large userbase — say, electronic tollboth payment systems.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds; in fact, a recent Fast Company article points out how the idea has been gaining steam. EZ-Pass, an electronic toll collection system used with 22 million active tags through 14 states, ran a trial at a few McDonalds locations in New York to facilitate drive-through transactions back in the 2000s….

i.am+

For those with an iPhone, zero taste, and entirely too much money on their hands, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas has you covered with his new line of i.am+ foto.sosho camera cases for the iPhone 4 and 4S. These insane accessories sprang from the mind of Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation, with the former CEO of Fusion Garage Chandra Rathakrishnan now serving as the CEO behind Will.i.am’s new venture. Rathakrishnan’s time at Fusion Garage was tumultuous, to say the least, but with Will.i.am behind the wheel, how can the i.am+ foto.sosho be anything but a success?

As for the accessories themselves, all three cases add an incredible amount of bulk to the iPhone, with styling vaguely reminiscent of a real-life camera. The standard…

Pink and White Zebra Animal Skin Design Snap-On Cover Hard Case Cell Phone Protector for Motorola Hint QA30

  • SNAP-ON HARD COVER PROTECTOR CASE
  • JUST SNAPS RIGHT OVER YOUR PHONE FOR A NEW LOOK AND PROTECTION
  • PERFECT FIT; DESIGNED TO FIT YOUR PHONE PERFECTLY
  • OPENINGS FOR PHONE FUNCITONALITY
  • OPERATE YOUR PHONE LIKE NORMAL BUT WITH A NEW LOOK AND PROTECTED

Cosmos Replacement Eye-piece cap/Eyecup for Canon EOS 600D/550D/500D/450D/400D/350D/300D + Cosmos Cable Tie

  • Repalcement eyecup for canon
  • Campatible camera:Cannon EOS 1000D/500D/400D/350D/300D
  • Easy to install and remove

This replacement eyecup compatible with Cannon 1000D/500D/400D/350D/300D?It’s easy to install.

Cyber Monday is known as the second biggest shopping day of the year. It is also way more convenient than venturing out into the jungle that is Black Friday. This year, holiday shoppers are more tech savvy than every. This year, according to tech giant IBM, online sales were 30 percent higher than they were on Cyber Monday last year and the iPad dominated the mobile shopping market.

IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark report showed that mobile traffic increased by more than 70 percent from 2011 with 18 percent of consumers using a mobile device to visit retailer sites. Purchases made from mobile devices increased to 13 percent this year, which is a 96 percent increase over last year.

IBM notes that the iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, driving 7 percent of online shopping. The iPad dominated tablet shopping with 90.5 percent of mobile shoppers.

The iPhone was also high on the mobile shopper’s list with 6.9 percent of shoppers using Apple’s smartphone to browse and buy on Cyber Monday. Android-based phones came in second with 4.5 percent followed by Amazon’s Kindle at 2.6 percent and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab at 2 percent.

Thanks to the ease and convenience of online shopping, Cyber Monday overtook Black Friday with 36 percent more sales. “Cyber Monday was not only the pinnacle of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend but when the cash register closed it officially became the biggest online shopping day ever,” said Jay Henderson, Strategy Director, IBM Smarter Commerce.

Image Courtesy of Mac Observer

Thanks to a very public tumultuous relationship between Apple and Samsung, the tech world is regularly bombarded by rumors that the two Frienemies are jabbing at each other in some way. The newest rumor out of China Business News is that Apple is looking for a new battery supplier. Apparently, Samsung has stopped selling iPad and MacBook batteries to the tech giant.

Apple and Samsung have been wrestling like stubborn brothers over various patents since early 2011. Recently, two major rulings took place that led to speculation that the companies are not playing nice with each other anymore.

First, Apple won a huge chunk of money in the U.S. when the courts determined that the Galaxy Tab infringed on certain design patents based on the iPad. Then, Samsung won big when the UK determined the exact opposite and forced Apple to make a public apology for accusing the former of stealing the design.

Ever since then, rumors have abound that either Apple has dropped Samsung or Samsung has dropped Apple. Recently, it was reported that Apple was actively looking for a new chipmaker and that Samsung was to be relegated to simply manufacturing the A6 chipset. Then, we heard that Samsung increased the price of manufacturing processors for the iPhone and iPad, forcing Apple to accept the new cost because no one else can produce the product as fast.

Now, the news from China Business News (via: Yicai) is that Apple has turned to Amperex Technology Limited and Tainjin Lishen Battery for MacBook and iPad battery needs because “The original manufacturer Samsung SDI has stopped supplying Apple.”

There is no evidence to back this claim up. Apple CEO Time Cook told investors in a quarterly earnings report that its relationship with Samsung has not changed. The claim that Apple and Samsung are fighting behind closed doors is still just a rumor.

[Via: Mac Observer]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers

%d bloggers like this: