With Microsoft’s next iteration of Windows on the horizon, the company has decided to go head-t0-head with its longtime industry competitor Apple by introducing its very own tablet. Though Microsoft is best known for its software, it has developed hardware over the years including innovative mice and keyboards. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made this case: “Much like Windows 1.0 needed the mouse to complete the experience, we wanted to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovation.” Meet Surface. And no, the company is not referring to its bulky, pricey multitouch Surface table; this is a brand new line of tablets running Windows 8.
Currently the new Surface family consists of two devices and two covers. Surface for Windows RT is powered by an NVIDIA-based ARM chip. It is 9.3mm thick and weighs 676 grams. It packs a 10.6-inch ClearType capacitive multitouch display, front and rear-facing cameras, a 31.5Wh battery,USB 2.0, microSD, and Micro HD Video ports, and 2×2 MIMO antennae for “the best WiFi performance possible” no matter how you hold it.
Surface for Windows Pro is powered by an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor. It is slightly thicker and heavier than the RT model measuring at 13.5mm thick and weighing 903 grams. It too packs a 10.6-inch optically-bonded ClearType capacitive multitouch widescreen 16:9 display, but this one outputs full 1080p HD. Front and rear-facing cameras are present, as is a larger 42Wh battery, speedier USB 3.0, microSDXC, Mini DisplayPort, and 2×2 MIMO antennae. Surface for Windows Pro supports digital inking and comes with a magnetic stylus that sticks to the side of the device when it’s not in use. Built into the display are sensors that detect when you’re using the pen versus your finger on the touch display. The display won’t trip out when you’re drawing with the stylus while your palm rests elsewhere on the screen; Microsoft calls it Palm Blocking.
What the two models share is an extremely durable design Microsoft calls VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag). Surface is the first PC with a full magnesium case. Described as “incredibly strong yet airy,” Surface boasts a permanent search and ware-resistant design and the display has a protective layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2.0. Edges are beveled away at 22 degrees “so the PC itself fades into the background.” The design makes room for a built-in kickstand that morphs the tablet into a functional laptop. And every laptop needs a keyboard and trackpad… (Click here for more…)
At this year’s World Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple spent equal time talking about hardware and software updates. The annual event heated up when the MacBook lineup received a healthy dose of upgraded processors and graphics, among other spec bumps. Also, a brand new “next-generation” MacBook Pro was unveiled. Later, the mobile iOS that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches was significantly enhanced with the introduction of iOS 6. For all the details, read on.
The MacBook Air was refreshed with the following spec bumps. The thin-and-light laptop now packs the 3rd-gen Intel Core processors, also known as Ivy Bridge; these dual-core i7s can reach speeds up to 2.0GHz (or up to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost). Memory reaches 8GB 1600MHz, and graphics can perform up to sixty percent faster. Flash storage has been beefed up to 512 GB and is 2x speedier featuring a 500MBps read speed. The Air also includes a USB 3 port and a FaceTime HD camera (720p). There are two 11-inch and two 13-inch configurations, both shipping today and both starting at $100 cheaper than the previous generation. The 11-inch MacBook Air with 64GB starts at $999 and the 13-inch Air with128GB starts at $1,199.
The MacBook Pro was also refreshed and here are the note-worthy spec bumps. Just like the new Airs, the updated Pros now include the 3rd-gen “Ivy Bridge” Intel Core processors; these dual-core i7 processors reach speeds up to 2.7GHz (or up to 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost). Memory reachers 8GB 1600MHz. Graphics are upgraded to NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M (based on the graphics chip maker’s new Kepler architecture), with up to 1GB video memory that is up to sixty percent faster than before. USB 3 is on board. There are two 13-inch and two 15-inch MacBook Pro configurations, both shipping today and they start at the same price ranges as the previous generation Pros. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.5GHz processor speed starts at $1,199 and the 15-inch Pro with a 2.3GHz speed starts at $1,799.
And now we move onto what Apple is branding the “next generation” MacBook Pro. The company says it’s “the best computer we’ve ever made.” In short, what makes this new breed of Pro so special is that it’s made thinner and lighter and it packs a gorgeous Retina Display. You want hard specs, so here they are. This new Pro measures at 0.71 inches thin (a quarter thinner than the standard Pro) and it weighs 4.4 pounds. The 15.4-inch screen is a Retina Display with an impressive resolution of 2880×1800, packing 4x the number of pixels than the previous-gen Pro. With 220 pixels per inch, Apple crowns this “the world’s highest-resolution notebook display.” Lion has been updated to take advantage of the higher resolution; Mac apps like Mail, Safari, iMovie and iPhoto will be compatible, along with others like Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Autocad, and the game Diablo 3. Just like they had to do when the Retina Display came to the iPhone, software developers will have to update their apps to make them Retina-ready. Jumping inside, the Pro runs on Intel’s fastest quad-core processors, that is Core i7s up to 2.7GHz (or up to 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost); memory goes up to 16GB 1600MHz; next-gen NVIDIA Kepler graphics GeForce GT 650M; up to 768GB fast flash storage; up to 7 hours of battery life with 30 days of standby time. Across the left-side of the powerful, noticeably thinner lappy you’ll find an SD card slot, HDMI, and USB 3 ports; along the right side there’s a MagSafe 2 port (the new port has been made thinner to fit the design), two Thunderbolt ports, USB 3, and a headphone jack. That’s right, this Pro has ditched an optical drive, FireWire, and Gigabit Ethernet. Apple sells adapters if you require these. Additionally, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display features a glass multitouch trackpad, backlit keyboard, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, and a new internal fan system that outputs nearly imperceptible sound. Two configurations of the next-gen Pro ship today starting at $2,199. (Click here for more…)
A couple months after updating the MacBook Pros, Apple has gone ahead and reinvigorated their MacBook Air and Mac mini products. The thin-and-light ultraportable notebook now boasts faster Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, the high-speed Thunderbolt I/O port, and a backlit keyboard. The 11-inch model is available in two customizable SKUs. The base $999 model packs a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB of memory, 64GB of flash storage, and Intel HD Graphics 3000. The $1,199 model upgrades the memory to 4GB and the flash storage to 128GB. Moving along to the 13-inch model, two additional SKUs are offered. The $1,299 model features a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB memory,128GB flash storage, and Intel HD Graphics 3000. The $1,599 model upgrades the flash storage to 256GB. Certain models can be customized to feature Intel Core i7 processors (up to 1.8GHz) and upgraded flash memory (up to 256GB). The new incredibly thin MacBook Air measures 0.11-inches at its thinnest point and 0.68-inches at its thickest. Apple claims it is is up to twice as fast as the previous generation thanks to the upgraded Intel processors. The 11-inch model (at 2.38 pounds) provides up to 5 hours of battery life, while the 13-inch model (2.96 pounds) offers up to 7 hours of battery life. It comes with a full size backlit keyboard and an improved glass Multi-Touch trackpad. Ports include MagSafe for power, 2 USB 2.0, headphone jack, Thunderbolt, and an SD Card slot (on the 11-inch model only). WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 are included; the USB Ethernet Adapter ($29) can be purchased separately. Note that the $999 MacBook Air is the base laptop Apple offers today; the white plastic MacBook has been discontinued.
Like the newly enhanced MacBook Air, the Mac mini is speedier and packs Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and the Thunderbolt port. Additionally, graphics can be upgraded to AMD Radeon HD. Three SKUs are offered. The base $599 model comes with 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB memory, 500GB hard drive, and Intel HD Graphics 3000. The $799 model upgrades the processor to 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, the memory to 4GB, and the graphics to AMD Radeon HD 6630M. These two SKUs can be customized to feature upgraded memory (up to 8GB) and hard drive space (up to 750GB); the pricier SKU can be configured with a 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7. The third and final SKU is the Mac mini with Lion Server and its specs include: 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 4GB memory, Dual 500GB 7200-rpm hard drives, and Intel HD Graphics 3000 for $999; memory and hard drive capacities can be upgraded. Ports include Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire 800, HDMI, Thunderbolt, 4 USB 2.0, SDXC card slot, and audio in/out. WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 included. Notice that I haven’t mentioned anything about the Superdrive; that’s because Apple’s decided not to include a CD/DVD drive in the new Mac mini. A bold move if you ask me. BYO keyboard, mouse, and display.
Speaking of displays, in addition to updating their computers Apple has also given their Cinema Display a minor refresh. The newly branded 27-inch Thunderbolt Display features the 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design, a 2560 x 1440 resolution with IPS technology (that is, an ultra wide 178 degree viewing angle), and it’s the world’s first display to include the Thunderbolt I/O port. The display also includes includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera for video conferencing, a 2.1 speaker system for high quality audio, an integrated MagSafe charger to keep Mac notebooks charged, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and one Gigabit Ethernet port. The cost is $999.
All three products–the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and Thunderbolt Display–are all available today. The new computers come preinstalled with Apple’s latest and greatest operating system Mac OS X Lion. Get a closer look at everything in the galleries below. Official PR sits after the break.
Today Apple announced that their latest and greatest desktop OS will become available tomorrow, July 20. Mac OS X Lion (v10.7) will strictly be available for purchase in the Mac App Store; to reiterate, you will not be able to pick up a physical install disc in stores. The 4GB download costs $29.99. What a steal!
Update: Lion is out now. Offical PR is after the break. Some bits you should know: Lion requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor and 2GB of RAM; Users who do not have broadband access can download Lion at Apple retail stores; and later this August, Lion will be made available on a USB thumb drive through the online Apple Store for $69. Also, Mac OS X Lion Server is now available for $69 through the Mac App Store. (Click here for more…)
This week Apple temporarily shut down their online shop and when it came back it was freshly stocked with the brand new iMac. Just like the last product refresh, things look the same on the outside. On the inside, however, Apple has raised the bar for the all-in-one package. The new iMac features “Sandy Bridge” Intel quad-core processors across the line, next-gen AMD graphics, and it joins the MacBook Pro in sporting the speedy Thunderbolt port. Pricing starts at $1,199 for the base 21.5-incher and $1,699 for the 27-inch model.
Hop on after the break for the full rundown.
It has been close to a year since Apple rejuvenated its MacBook Pro line of laptops with fresh processors and graphics chips. This go around the engineering team decided not to change the lappy’s aesthetics but instead upgrade only the internals. Neatly hidden inside the aluminum unibody MBPs are Intel’s latest Core i5 and Core i7 “Sandy Bridge” dual/quad-core processors, Intel HD Graphics 3000, and AMD’s beefier Radeon HD graphics, depending on the screen size (13, 15, and 17 inches). Take note that Apple has ditched NVIDIA’s mobile graphics cards for AMD’s latest and greatest.
Another new addition to the MacBook Pro lineup is a port called Thunderbolt I/O. Apple teamed up with Intel to invent a rehashed version of the DisplayPort with dual copper wire-based Light Peak technology; it doubles as a video out port and a way to transfer data with speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. For comparison’s sake, Thunderbolt can move data to and from peripherals up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) and more than 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. It also happens to best Intel’s next-gen USB 3.0 which promises to reach speeds of up to 5 Gbps. With existing adapters Thunderbolt can support all kinds of throughput including DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA; Mini DisplayPort support is native. Thunderbolt can daisy-chain up to six peripherals; and speaking of which LaCie and Promise are currently developing Thunderbolt-ready RAID arrays and high capacity external hard drives. Though the MBPs are the first products to include the Thunderbolt port, Intel expects other manufacturers to build it into their computers by early 2012. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple can pioneer the adoption of yet another new display/transfer port. They did it with FireWire way back when, so we’ll see. With Intel on board, they’ve got a fighting chance.
New processors, graphics, Thunderbolt I/O, higher capacity hard drives, and an improved FaceTime 720p HD camera find their way into the refreshed MacBook Pros. Hop after the break to find a full rundown of the new 13, 15, and 17-inchers, including specifications and price. They are all available to customize and purchase today.
Now isn’t this curious news? According to the IDC, a market research and analysis firm, smartphone manufacturers pushed out 100.9 million units during the final quarter of 2010. Compare to this number of PCs sold during that same quarter: 92.1 million. For the first time ever, smartphones outsold traditional computers. Think about that for a second. Pretty crazy, huh? Alarming, no. With innovators like Apple, RIM, and HTC churning out mobile devices left and right, we all knew this day (erm, quarter) would come when the inevitable would strike. And don’t forget–phones are steadily evolving into pocketable computers now aren’t they?
The IDC provides us with more fun facts, if you’re interested. Smartphones shipped during Q4 2010 were up 87.2 percent from the 53.9 million smartphones shipped during the Q4 2009. They say Google’s mobile OS Android “continues to gain by leaps and bounds” and they call Nokia’s Symbian the market leader, interestingly enough. They calculate the top 5 (Q4 2010) smartphone vendors to be Nokia, Apple, RIM, Samsung, and HTC. On the PC front, they name HP, Dell, Toshiba, Acer, and Apple to be the top 5 (Q4 2010) PC vendors. Computer shipments rose by a meager 2.7 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. They say Apple’s iPad managed to stifle demand and competition and thusly constrain PC shipments.
CES 2011 was host to a myriad of upcoming tablets running Android, Windows 7, custom skins, you name it. Samsung’s Sliding PC 7 Series is certainly one of the most innovative and is a stand-out winner in my humble opinion. At first you might look at the slate and think it’s just a thicker iPad. But that thickness is apparent for a reason; hiding underneath the tablet is a slide-out chiclet keyboard with a trackpad. This hybrid machine doubles as a 10.1 inch tablet and a small notebook PC. I’m really impressed with the design factor here, but specs are important too: 1366×768 multitouch display, Intel’s 1.66GHz (Oak Trail) processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, 4-in-1 memory card reader, webcam, 802.11n WiFi, 3G/WiMax & DLNA support, built-in accelerometer, USB, HDMI out, will last up to nine hours on a single charge. Samsung’s Fast Start feature will boot up the machine in as little as 15 seconds, or restore it from Hibernate and Sleep modes in 3 seconds. The hybrid will ship with Windows 7 Home Premium and Samsung’s custom skin called Touch Launch that “comes with preloaded applications that are optimized for the touch screen display.” To launch Sammy’s skin you simply and elegantly swipe a blue strip located on the screen bezel. The Sliding PC 7 Series will drop in March at $699.
I’m really digging the choice hardware manufacturers are giving consumers when it comes to tablet design. Companies like Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung are creating such inventive, sleek hardware designs that give users the option to use a simplified OS in a tablet form factor and a more robust Windows experience with a touchpad/keyboard present. I like the idea of having a tablet that can easily be converted into a more full-fledged computing device when a full-sized keyboard is needed. At just 2.2 pounds, Samsung’s slider isn’t that hefty and I think I can sacrifice a couple pounds in weight and some inches in thickness to know that a reliable physical keyboard is just a hand gesture away from accessibility.
Jump after the break to see the notebook do its transformation thing. Official PR’s there too.
Remember way back when (about one year ago)… Lenovo revealed a funky and intriguing laptop/tablet hybrid design called the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid. Much like the Dell Inspiron Duo, it promised to double as a tablet running Lenovo’s custom Linux OS called Skylight and a standard notebook running Windows 7 when the tablet’s docked as a display. Since then, Lenovo has dumped Skylight for Android and beefed up the processing power. The detachable tablet is now called LePad and it’s powered by a 1.3GHz Snapdragon processor and runs a custom Lenovo skin called LeOS that’s build on top of Android 2.2. The LePad features a 10.1-inch (1280 x 800) capacitive multitouch display and it works in both landscape and portrait modes. An eight hour battery life is promised. Adobe Flash Player 10.1 is expected to play nice when the product ships. The notebook, or U1 Base, packs a 1.2GHz Intel Core and runs Windows 7. Switching from Android to Windows is a snap, literally. Once the tablet is locked into place in the notebook base, a couples seconds later Windows is fully loaded. When you detach the screen the switch to Android is instantaneous.
Unfortunately for those living in the U.S. the LePad and U1 Base will not ship until Google releases Android 3.0 (aka Honeycomb). The first market Lenovo will hit is China this quarter. The IdeaPad U1 with LePad will go for $1300 and the LePad will be available as a standalone product with an asking price of $520.
With a refreshed look and Android integration the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid is leaps and bounds superior to its original incarnation unveiled one year ago. Here’s to hoping that Gingerbread arrives sooner rather than later so that Lenovo can work on an updated tablet skin and ship this puppy Stateside stat! Product images below, PR after the break.
(Click here for more…)
In this unorthodox demonstration video Chrome UX designer Glen Murphy destroys a Cr-48 Chrome OS notebook. Since Chrome OS relies on the cloud to store data, it doesn’t matter what happens to your computer. Get it?
If you couldn’t figure it out by reading the post title, Google’s web browser that could is being upgraded across the board. And when I say across the board, I really mean across platforms. In addition to bringing a slew of updates to the standard Chrome browser in version 8, Google also spilled more details about the Chrome Web Store and its forthcoming operating system based on the browser itself. All of the juicy details were shared at a Chrome-themed press event on Tuesday, just one day after Google dropped the Android 2.3 with Nexus S bomb. To say the G-Men dominated this week in tech would be a nasty understatement. Ready, set, dive…
Chrome Web Store: Everyone knows about Apple’s App Store, and it’s about time word of Google’s Chrome Web Store got around. The concept is simple. The Web Store houses Chrome Extensions, Themes, and most importantly web apps. What are web apps and how do they differ from plain ‘ol apps? Google describes them as “advanced interactive websites”, but essentially they are apps built specifically for use inside a browser. And that comes with perks–the best one being that you never have to worry about updating them. Since they live on the web in your browser, updates can be automatically pushed out from the developer at any time without you ever having to think about it. All web app purchases are tied to your Google Account. Perk alert! Since that’s the case, all your purchases app live in the cloud and not on your computer, meaning they can be accessed from any Internet-connected device with a browser (i.e. another computer, a smartphone, etc.). Google is also making it so that apps can work offline, leaving it up to the developer’s discretion. Many developers are already jumping on board to make web apps. At the press event Amazon showcased Kindle for the Web, an app that allows ebook readers to read their purchased titles inside a browser. And no surprise here; your reading library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights will be saved and seamlessly transported to any device you have the Kindle app installed on (said devices include the iOS lineup, Android phones, and obviously a Kindle reader). The Store also hosts some games, but don’t expect to find anything mindblowing in that genre just yet. It’s up and running today, so head over to the Chrome Web Store and check it out. The layout will be familiar to you; app categories on the left, top paid and free on the right, featured apps in the middle. Go wild. (Click here for more…)
Dell’s Inspiron duo convertible tablet is finally available to order. And a final spec sheet reveals its guts: 10.1-inch HD (1366×768) capacitive multitouch display; Broadcom Crystal HD accelerator; Intel Atom N550 dual core processor (clocked at 1.5GHz); 2GB of RAM; 320GB (7200RPM) HDD; 1.3 megapixel camera with digital microphone; two USB ports and one headphone jack; and it comes preinstalled with Windows 7 Home Premium and Dell’s custom “duo Stage” software. The Stage software comes into view when the laptop is transformed into a tablet form factor. Dell is pimping its ability to “provide quick and easy access to your music, movies and photos” using touch input. The Inspiron duo is on sale now for $549.99 with a preliminary ship date set for December 17. Right now it’s available in “Foggy Night” (black), but Dell promises “Fastback Red” and “Marlin Blue” will be available at additional cost at an unspecified date. For $100 extra Dell is offering the attractive hybrid netbook/tablet with an Audio Dock that features an integrated speaker and subwoofer, two USB ports, a 10/100 Ethernet adapter, and a 7-in-1 card reader. So if you’re planning on hooking this bad boy up to the Internet and want it to double (erm, triple) as a digital photo frame, the splurge is worth it. Full PR after the break.
It’s official: Dell’s netbook/tablet hybrid is coming to market in the first week of December. Underneath that conventional, super cool swivel design lies a dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor, 2GB of RAM, a Broadcom Crystal HD accelerator, and 250GB of storage. In standard laptop mode, Windows 7 Home Premium is your OS. Transform it into a tablet and you’ll be introduced to Dell’s Duo Stage UI made for fingers. The 10.1-inch, 1366×768-resolution display can be backed with a coat of blue, black, or red. The Inspiron Duo is priced at $549. A JBL speaker dock will ship alongside it; you can get it bundled with the Duo and bring the grand total to $649. Antsy to get your paws on this slick lookin’ lappy? This teaser should hold you over ’til it’s sweet release.
Pranav Mistry of MIT Media Lab has invented an invisible mouse he calls “Mouseless.” By combining an infrared (IR) laser beam and an IR camera inside the side of a laptop, software can detect and track your hand movement atop of a flat surface and convert it into on-screen mouse movement, left/right clicks, and pinch/scroll gestures. Want to get a bit more technical?
The laser beam module is modified with a line cap and placed such that it creates a plane of IR laser just above the surface the computer sits on. The user cups their hand, as if a physical mouse was present underneath, and the laser beam lights up the hand which is in contact with the surface. The IR camera detects those bright IR blobs using computer vision. The change in the position and arrangements of these blobs are interpreted as mouse cursor movement and mouse clicks. As the user moves their hand the cursor on screen moves accordingly. When the user taps their index finger, the size of the blob changes and the camera recognizes the intended mouse click.
It’s pretty incredible. The protoype costs a mere $20, so if this technology were to be picked up by a major manufacturer I’m sure it would be a simple addition. See it in action in the video above. And check out some relevant stills in the gallery below.
Let’s travel back in time, shall we? The year is 1984 and the Macintosh Classic is all the rage. 9” (512×342) display, 8 MHz Motorola 68000 processor, 1MB of memory, no HDD, $999. Flash forward to 2010 and you’ve got the $499 iPad. Leave it to a mac enthusiast and do-it-yourself guru to gut the Mac Classic and shove an iPad inside it. Which happens to fit almost perfectly where the original display would sit.
And let’s do it one last time. The year is 1999 and the iBook classic reinvents the laptop scene with a clamshell design. 12” (800×600) display, 300 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 32 MB of memory, 3.2GB HDD, $1599. Now it’s 2010, so why not remove the display and place a brand new iPad inside. And while you’re at it, take out the janky old keyboard and install a current Apple keyboard in its place.
Ah, the awesome-ness that results when retro and modern unite. Hit up the source links for more images and peek after the break for a video tour of the Mac Classic + iPad.
About a month ago actor Justin Long (aka Mac) hinted that Apple was done with the “Get a Mac” TV commercial series that started way backin 2006. The latest “Get a Mac” ad was released in October 2009. So it comes at no surprise that Apple has officially decided to pull the plug on it. Watch the compilation video above to reminisce the good ‘ol days of PC (the hilarious John Hodgeman) and Mac. In addition to removing the commercials from the airwaves, Apple has replaced the “Get a Mac” website (which allowed you to watch the ads on demand) with a “Why You’ll Love a Mac” page. Head over to AdFreak where you’ll find a listing of every ad made over the years (there’s 66 in total). Look after the break to watch my two favorite spots.
Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords fame (he played Bret & Jemaine’s boss Murray) stars in HP’s latest ad campaign. The $40 million “Let’s Do Amazing” ad campaign includes a series of commercials that appear to reintroduce the HP brand to consumers in a new, different, and quite humorous way. Dr. Dre lends a helping hand, making sure to promote his Dre Beats line of headphones and HP laptops. Look after the break for a second commercial.
UPDATED: You’ll find all the current HP “Let’s Do Amazing” commercials featuring Rhys Darby, plus an interview with the FOTC alum and the “Internal Launch” video, after the break!
Watch out, iPad. Google Chrome OS-inspired tablets are on the way and they are (conceptually) looking real good. On Monday Glenn Murphy, Google Chrome’s designer, posted this UI concept video and a handful of stills on Google’s Chromium site. Though it’s only a mockup of sorts, it proves the Google is working hard to make Google Chrome OS (and devices they will eventually run on) a fully functional, multi-tasking beast of an experience. Since Chrome OS is at least one year away from deployment, this is essentially Google showing us how they are experimenting with several different UI manipulation techniques and appearences.
Today Apple announced its latest technological advancement, the Apple iPad. Before I jump to my initial reactions let’s break down all the announcements from the keynote event led by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The specs: The iPad features a 9.7 inch (1024×768 VGA) LED-backlit glossy fully capacitive multi-touch display with ISP technology (allowing for a wide 178° viewing angle); it’s powered by Apple’s custom-designed 1GHz Apple A4 chip (it’s a system-on-a-chip, packing the processor, graphics, I/O, and memory controller); it also includes a built-in accelerometer and ambient light sensor, AGPS, a digital compass, WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1, and 3G (more on that later). It will ship with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB solid state drives. Input and output includes a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, a 30-pin dock connector, a microphone, built-in speakers, and a SIM card tray. It supports the usual video, mail attachment, language, and accessibility extensions. It packs a built-in rechargable lithium-polymer battery that lasts up to ten hours with usage and supports over a month of standby life. It’s also environmentally friendly. It has a very minimalist design; the external controls include the on/off (or sleep/wake) button at the top, mute and volume up/down switches to the right, and the home button at the bottom of the face. It’s dimensions are 9.56×7.47, 0.5 inches thin, and it weighs 1.5 pounds.
The software: Although it was not specified, the iPad runs an updated and iPad-optimized version of the iPhone OS software, presumably version 3.2. When you press the home button you enter an all-touch experience that is extremely similar to what you find on an iPhone or iPod touch today. After you get passed the lock screen, you are brought to your customizable home screen. Jobs noted that users will have the option to change their background images with preloaded screens or their pictures. The iPad will ship with the following apps: mobile Safari, Mail, Photos, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, YouTube, iPod, Video, and Maps (powered by Google). All of these apps are similar to their iPhone/iPod touch counterparts; they have simply been modified and enhanced by Apple to perform on a larger touch-based device. Two noteworthy enhancements include menu popovers and split-view workspaces that really take advantage of the larger display. And thanks to the built-in accelerometer, all apps support landscape and portrait modes. Side note: If you own a Mac and use iPhoto, the iPad will recognize this and further organize your photos into events, faces, and places categories. Most apps support an “almost life-size” virtual QWERTY keyboard that pops up when it’s needed.
The iPad comes with modified but familiar iTunes and Apps Stores. It will run “almost all” of the current 400,000 apps that exist in the App Store today. It runs the apps unmodified in two ways: you have the option to use them in a tiny format (so you don’t lose pixel quality) or you can tap a “x2″ button that expands and scales the app full screen by automatically doubling the amount of pixels. Apple was quick to note that an updated version of the iPhone SDK (available today) will give developers the tools to modify and enhance their apps for the iPad. This will allow devs to take advantage of the larger screen and more powerful internals the same way Apple did with their apps. The keynote featured modified apps from Gameloft (Nova), EA (Need for Speed: Shift), MLB.com At Bat, The New York Times, and a paint app with Photoshop-like capabilities called Brushes.
Apple introduced a few new apps themselves. iBooks is Apple’s new e-reader app that serves as a place to read your collection of books and a portal to Apple’s brand new iBookstore. Here you can browse, preview, and purchase books from HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillian, and Hachette Book Group. Apples notes that they welcome all book and textbook publishers to join this new outlet for readers. Pricing details were not enclosed, but a demo revealed a number of books costing $12.99 and $14.99. The eBooks support the popular ePub format and are a visual treat. Once you purchase a book it is placed on your Bookshelf. Simply tap a book’s cover to start reading. You can change the font, font size, and search the text for keywords. The sleek UI includes tap or swipe gestures for page turning. Apple also intro’d a new version of iWork, built from the ground up for the iPad. iWork’s Keynote, Pages, and Numbers can be used to create slideshows, documents, and spreadsheets, respectively, right on the iPad. They will be sold separately at $9.99 each in the App Store.
Syncing the iPad to iTunes with a PC or Mac is done just like an iPhone or iPod does it. You can sync photos, music, movies, TV shows, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, and apps to it via the included 30-pin connector to USB cable.
Internet access: Apple is giving the user two options here. You can buy the iPad with built-in WiFi or you can opt to purchase an iPad that packs both WiFi and 3G service. The 3G service will be provided by AT&T with two different plans: (1) up to 250MB of data per month for $14.99; (2) unlimited data for $29.99. AT&T also throws in free use of designated WiFi hotspots. The AT&T plans are prepaid with no contract, so you are free to cancel a plan at any time. You also have the leisure of activating the 3G service on the iPad without going to a store or calling a company. It was noted that international deals should be sorted out by June, all iPad 3G models will come unlocked, and they use “new GSM micro SIM cards.”
Pricing and availability: There will be a total of eight different iPad models on the market. The first group of three are WiFi only and include 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities priced at $499, $599, and $699, respectively. The second group of three are WiFi +3G and include the same capacities, each with a $129 price increase (so $629, $729, $829). The WiFi models will be available for purchase in about 60 days (late March) and the WiFi + 3G models will come soon after in about 90 days (sometime in April).
Accessories: Apple unveiled four accessories for the iPad. The first is a standard charging dock that doubles as a digital picture frame. The second is a keyboard dock ($69); it charges the device and also includes a full-sized physical QWERTY keyboard that attaches to the iPad via the 30-pin connector. The third is an Apple designed black case ($39) that can also be used as a stand for watching video. The fourth is a camera connection kit ($29) that allows you to import photos to the iPad via your camera’s USB cable or directly from an SD card.
What’s missing: Multitasking, camera(s), Flash video support, and HDMI out, for starters. We’ve come to accept that the iPhone and iPod touch cannot do multitasking, but there is no reason that the iPad cannot support at least two applications running at the same time. The powerful 1GHz chip can beautifully render HD video, load up and present pictures extremely quickly, and run graphics and power intensive games. For a processor that’s described as “a screamer,” the lack of multitasking capabilities is a real shame. How about a camera? Though rumors pointed to front-facing and standard webcam implementation, there should at least be one backfacing camera installed for video chat. And don’t tell me the the processor can’t handle that. The lack of Flash video support in mobile Safari is a real bummer; forget about watching Hulu videos on it. (This is Apple’s decision; Adobe is able and willing to share Flash software.) The inclusion of HDMI out would have made perfect sense. The device can play HD videos downloaded from iTunes; why not give the user the ability to extend their viewing experience to the TV? What of the newspaper/magazine digital revolution? I expected Apple to make a big push with partnerships with Time and The Wall Street Journal, formulate subscription-based models, and so forth. I guess things will start small with the intro of updated apps and this will eventually lead to more significant changes. Lastly there’s the decision to go with AT&T for data, again. The latest round of rumors were really pushing for an Apple-Verizon Wireless partnership for the iPhone and the tablet. Guess we’ll have to wait on that, too.
And that brings me to my initial reactions. Rumors of an Apple tablet have been swirling for years, nearly for a decade, in fact. All of us highly anticipated and theorized its pending existence as the never-ending rumors continued to pile up over the years. I imagined the mysterious Apple tablet to revolutionize the portable computer industry just as Apple forever changed the landscape of the mobile phone arena with the iPhone. Having watched today’s keynote in its entirety I was left surprisingly underwhelmed by the announcement of the iPad, though I do see a bright future for it. (Click here for more…)
Remember that mysterious tablet from HP that was breifly handled at the Microsoft keynote at this year’s CES? Well HP CTO Phil McKinney is here to go into a bit more detail about the origins of the HP Slate. At its core it’s a multitouch tablet that runs Window 7; it’s the “rich media experience” that promises to set it apart from the rest of the pack. It’s set to release sometime this year.