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All posts tagged "software"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best Tablet User Experience (UX)? HP TouchPad

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 09:00 PM

"If you asked me last week which tablet user experience was the best, I wouldn't have had a solid answer for you. They all have good points and bad. Whether one is "best" depends greatly on the user. Well, I'm chucking some of that out the window because I have seen the light and it is the HP TouchPad."

Interesting that many tech writers suddenly seem to have a new top challenger to the iPad's dominance: HP's new TouchPad. The author opines that HP's User Experience (UX) is best: the card metaphor (anyone remember Apple's hypercard?); interoperability between the tablet and its siblings in the phone world; portrait or landscape doesn't matter; WebOS, lean and mean, and not like a desktop OS. That being said, some of its best features require a companion WebOS phone, and it lacks the ecosystem that iOS and Android tablets have (or will have). The conclusion is that this will be a tablet for average users, and not for power users. And it has that undeniable Wow factor. But, again we see a lack of a support ecosystem - show me the apps!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HP TouchPad Lives ... This Summer

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 04:00 PM

"HP webOS goes big. Our breakthrough interface features a spacious workspace and activity cards that provide an easy way to visualize and organize what you're working on. Easily move back and forth between cards.1 And group related cards in stacks-or have them stacked automatically."

Just announced by HP, with planned availability for summer of 2010. Specs include: HP WebOS; 9.7-inch 1024x768 capacitive multi-touch screen; Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU APQ8060 1.2GHz; Microsoft Exchange support with Direct Push Technology; GPS in 3G models; Front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera; 802.11 b/g/n with WPA; Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR; 16/32GB; 6300 mAh battery; 3.5mm stereo headset/headphone/microphone jack; dimensions 240mm x 190mm x 13.7mm (9.45 x 7.48 x .54 inches) and a weight of 740g (1.6 pounds). Details on 3G were not available, and pricing was not listed. Pretty impressive, but pretty late to the party.

( UPDATE: After a little digging around, it appears that the initial version will be wi-fi only, with 3G/4G to follow. )

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Comparing the PlayBook, Streak 7, iPad and Xoom

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:30 PM

"Now that we've seen whats coming for Android tablets, the battle is on-we even think they're better than the iPad in many ways. For a more detailed breakdown, here's a comparison between the iPad, Xoom, Streak, and Playbook tablets."

A very visual comparison of the pretenders to the throne, with the iPad being again in the bullseye. A very telling stat not shown here, but in the linked article, is that the Blackberry Tablet OS has about 4,000 available apps, Android 2.2 about 200,000, and the iOS about 300,000. To me, the ecosystem is still amongst the most important features, and one commenter makes a good point that we should be counting "quality" apps, and not just raw numbers of apps. User experience (implementation of features) is not measured here, a very subjective experience that can make or break a device. Finally, one commenter makes a good point that only two of the four of these products compared are "real." The PlayBook and the Xoom are still yet to be released, so the comparison is really between shipping products (iPad and Streak 7) versus what may (or may not) be in the final released products. But still an informative read.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jolicloud Reviewed

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Laptop Thoughts Software" @ 05:30 AM

"Jolicloud's newest operating system release can be summed up in one word: “accessible”. To sum it up in fourteen words: “accessible, and yes it's Linux underneath, but please don't run away screaming quite yet.” Anyone trying this relative newcomer might call it accessible because it has an extremely easy-to-use interface. Or, it could be called accessible in the sense that it's free and will run on minimal hardware. Or, it may be accessible because it integrates concepts familiar to social networking users directly into the main interface."

If you have some old computer hardware and are comfortable with an app centric interface like you'd find on most modern smartphones, this might be something for you to take a look at. Anyone given this a go?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let The Tablet Wars Begin!

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:30 PM

"Welcome to the tablet era. Thanks to a revolution started by the iPad, tablet sales are expected to nearly triple this year. Why all the fuss? Tablets power on instantly, provide access to the full web, and last nearly all day on a charge. Plus, you can run all sorts of apps that entertain and boost productivity."

I really enjoy LAPTOP's head-to-head reviews, and this article is no exception. It includes tablets from some "lesser" manufacturers, and also from Samsung (Galaxy Tab), Viewsonic (G Tablet and ViewPad 7) and, perhaps most interesting, Dell's (Inspiron Duo) Netvertible. This is a good summary review, with links to full reviews, and quite a few videos of the tablets in action. For those of you wanting a Windows tablet, check out the ExoPC Slate. Dell's Duo is intriguing, but may not be ready for primetime in this first iteration. I'm still waiting for a Galaxy Tab wifi-only, unbundled version, as it seems to be "the benchmark for everything else."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Here come the E FUN Nextbooks: Next4, Next5, Next6

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 06:30 PM

"E FUN, a consumer electronics designer and marketer of fun, easy-to-use lifestyle products, has integrated its patented APEN Digital pen with the new Nextbook Next5 Android tablet for a truly versatile communications duo!"

"E FUN, a consumer electronics designer and marketer of fun, easy-to-use lifestyle products, is pleased to announce the addition of two capacitive touch-screen models to its Nextbook Android tablets--the Next4 - 10.1" and Next6 - 7."

The NEXT5 tablet sports a 7-inch (non-capacitive?) screen, Wi-fi, Android 2.1, 2GB of memory, SD/SDHC card slot, an MP3 player, built-in speakers, photo viewer, and 25 pre-loaded e-books, as well a Borders' store app on-board. Availability is listed as April, 2011, with an MSRP of $279.99.

Also announced in a separate press release, two new capacitive screen models, the NEXT4 with a 10.1-inch screen and Android 2.2, and the NEXT6 with a 7-inch screen and Android 2.1. Specs mentioned for these two are similar to the NEXT5, with the intriguing addition of G-Sensor technology. Availability for both is listed simply as Q2 2011, and prices (MSRP) are $349.99 for the 10-inch NEXT4, and $269.99 for the NEXT6.

Interesting that the NEXT5 and the NEXT6 appear similar in configuration, with the NEXT5 offering the APEN digital pen for $10 more, but the NEXT6 offers G-Sensor technology. Also, the NEXT5 makes no mention of screen type, but the NEXT4 and NEXT6 press release explicitly mentions capacitive screens. It's a bit disappointing to read that Android 2.1 and 2.2 are the OSes of choice for these upcoming models.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hey Developers, Get Your Hands Off My Documents Folder!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

See that screenshot above? That's an incredible 10.1 GB worth of file bloat that I had no idea was there. The culprit? Cyberlink PowerDirector 9, a video editing application that I've been using quite a bit over the last month. I've developed a real love/hate relationship with this software; when it works, man, does it ever work well! It leverage's my Core i7 CPU and NVIDIA 460 GTX GPU in ways I've never seen any other app's SHREDS HD video, both exporting and editing it. What's not so good is the stability and corrupt output problems I've been seeing. More on that later though; back on topic... Read more...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chrome OS: From the Cloud to the Desktop

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 01:00 AM

"What does Chrome OS -- or any cloud OS -- need to do to go mainstream? I was a little surprised when a Cr-48 -- that new Chrome OS laptop Google has been sending people to test -- showed up on my doorstep last week. I honestly wasn't expecting to get one -- Ryan got gdgt's review unit -- I just applied for one online like everyone else and kept my fingers crossed. I've spent a decent amount of time with it over the past few days (I'm writing this newsletter on it), and so far have some things I like (how easy it is to get setup, how quickly it boots up) and few things I don't like (the horrible trackpad and how awful fonts look)."

An interesting perspective on where Google may be going with this whole Chrome OS (CR-48) thing. Is it really intended for enterprises, or are consumers the target audience? With 60,000 or more CR-48s heading to various places and people, we should soon start seeing more and more reviews. The gdgt article lists some of the things that will be needed for the platform to succeed: price (lower than a netbook); battery life (eight hours would be nice); speed (faster than a netbook); simplicity (easier); support (less hassle please!); connectivity (cheap and ubiquitous). For me personally it won't replace the 'big iron' (or rather, 'big aluminum'), but it'll be a great in-between device for light duty.  Imagine one of these in each room ... I can.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Windows to get an ARM and (maybe) Some Legs

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"It looks like Microsoft may finally be taking the tablet market seriously: next month at CES the company will announce a version of Windows for the ARM processors used in most smartphones and tablets, according to a report today from Bloomberg."

It must be difficult for the management at Microsoft to watch the global landscape for technology changing so radically that Windows, while still dominant and in many people's homes, losing marketshare in almost every way possible. Windows Phone 7 is off to a good start, but that is only after many, many years of Windows Mobile losing ground to the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices. The Xbox can also be considered a success though it still battles out against Sony and Nintendo for sales. Everywhere you look, Microsoft is being assaulted by new and different devices and form factors.

One major problem for the Windows platform in recent years has been only being able to run on x86 based CPUs. While fast and powerful, x86 CPUs are hardly frugal electronics. This is why phones and tablets have largely avoided them in favor of the much more battery conscious ARM CPUs. If Windows has been ported to ARM, it is big news indeed and opens up whole new possibilities for Microsoft. Of course, the CPU is only part of the equation, and there needs to be an interface that properly suits the different form factors. Will that come as part of the "revised" Windows package? I guess we will find out at CES.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Motorola Tablet Teaser

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

What do you think? I like it and am looking forward to seeing Motorola's tablet. Are you waiting for a next-generation Android Tablet? What's one feature you would love to see in a new tablet with Honeycomb?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Windows Gets Some Touch Friendly Love With FrontFace

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 10:00 AM

"The interface is more widget or app like with four main areas. The menu along the left handles much used items and folders of links to useful sites based on type with recently used applications below that. The right hand toolbar is buttons for navigating around the interface. The top toolbar shows things like battery levels, Wi-Fi connection strength, and a volume icon as well as the title of the open window. And the main screen contains icons or buttons for all the applications on the computer."

Microsoft has had a really hard time trying to get Windows to work on the tablet interface. It could be argued that the company has been trying for close to a decade to figure it out. While Apple has had considerable success with iOS and Google has its Android platform, not much has come out of Redmond (unless you count Windows Phone 7, which may be the solution they are looking for) and manufacturers have been struggling to make Windows XP/Vista/7 be more tablet, and in particular, touch friendly. FrontFace looks to be one solution and it reminds me a lot of Ubuntu's Netbook Remix with a few more thoughtful touches. Sadly, as nice as it looks, right now, there are few Windows based notebooks or tablets that can take advantage of the interface FrontFace offers. I can only hope that the company gets the software licensed by a manufacturer for use in a whole line of tablets.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dropbox Hits the Big 1 Dot 0

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:00 PM

"We're super excited to announce the new hotness that we've been cooking up for the past few months: Dropbox 1.0! In addition to hundreds (yep, hundreds) of bug fixes, vastly reduced resource usage (think of it as the Prius model of Dropbox), Dropbox 1.0 ("Rainbow Shell") also offers support for extended attributes, selective sync, and a shiny new installation wizard. Those are just the CliffsNotes though - here's the true story behind Dropbox 1.0..."

If you need to keep files in sync, Dropbox is a great tool to do it - they've reached the big 1.0 milestone, and added a few new features. The most important of which is likely selective sync; if you're synching 30 GB worth of files between your PCs and you have a netbook with 32 GB of storage, you might want to trim that down a bit - now you can.

Don't have a Dropbox account yet? Sign up for free using this link and you'll get a bonus 250 MB of storage (and so will I).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chrome and Nothing but Chrome ...

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 11:30 PM

"For the last six days, I've used a Chrome OS netbook as my primary computer, and it's been a blast. Using a "just enough", basically Chrome-only system provides a rare chance to reexamine what it is you really need to be productive."

Interesting review on how to potentially minimize the various distractions that plague users (me, specifically) throughout the day, by "getting things done in Chrome." Many of the distractions simply are not there. One would think that the Chrome environment would (or will) be severely limited, but this article goes a long way toward proving otherwise - for what one would assume will be true for the majority of today's users. The browser is the computer. Extensions are the browser. When I stop to think about what I need to do during a typical day in front of a computer, probably 90% can be done right now in Chrome, without even thinking hard about it. Files out of Dropbox, do something with them, files back to Dropbox. Mostly word processing files, PDFs, and spreadsheets. Convert 'em to Google Docs. Simple image editing? Can be done in Chrome. Writing an article like this? Ditto. Access work applications through Citrix? Probably. Give me enough battery life, a good keyboard and screen, some web access through 3G/4G, and I'm in for at least one Chrome OS netbook ...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Samsung Gloria: 10-inch Tablet Running Windows 7?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 12:30 AM

"According to rumors originally posted on Blogeee, Samsung is set to launch a 10-inch tablet in March or April, 2011. The device, called Gloria, is said to boast a full slide-out keyboard."

As Blogeee asks, Fini les Galaxy Tab? Is a replacement already lined up? All rumors to this point, but Samsung has had a tablet with a keyboard back in 2007, the split-keyboard Q1 Ultra, so it isn't beyond the realm of possibility. Another rumor speculates that Samsung is also developing a custom UI to make Windows more touch-friendly. No additional details are available, but a guesstimate of availability is March/April 2011.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Deep Dive on the Concept of Chrome OS

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Software" @ 05:39 PM

"Microsoft needed to provide a lightweight OS optimized for the netbook experience a couple of years ago. It didn't. So Google is. The selling point behind a netbook is that it's small, cheap and fast enough for browsing the web. The problem is a netbook isn't fast enough for running the OS that you need to run in order to get access to the web. Microsoft refused to revamp the OS, so Google decided to put forth an OS based around a web browser. It's called the Chrome OS and it's built off of Intel's Moblin distribution of Linux. There's no conventional desktop, you turn on your Chrome notebook and meet a login window followed by an instance of the Chrome web browser."

If you're living your computing life in the cloud, then a device like this may be exactly what you've been waiting for. The speed, security, and stability may be the ticket for blissful computing - but only if you can put up with the limitations of course. What do you say Laptop Thoughts readers: is a Chrome notebook in your future? Personally, I'd be more interested in a Chrome tablet...

Welcome to the Chrome Cr-48 Laptop

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 12:00 AM

"We've had plenty of pre-knowledge on this, but surprisingly this is our first actual glimpse of Google's new unbranded "Cr-48," the very first Chrome OS laptop. Google will distribute the laptop through its Chrome OS Pilot Program, in a sort of public beta. You actually have to apply to join the program, and there are going to be a limited number of the laptops available -- retail Chrome OS models from Acer and Samsung will be available in the middle of 2011 for the masses."

With a name and looks resembling a no frills cold war-era laptop knockoff from East Germany, the Cr-48 (named after an isotope of chromium) will be available soon in limited quantities to developers and testers. Pretty generic specifications: 12.1-inch screen; full-sized (slightly odd) keyboard; large clickpad; 3G chip; Dual-band WiFi; Webcam; 8 hours or more of use; 8 days or more standby; and flash storage only (bye bye spinning hard drive). I also read that the plan right now is to give 100MB/month of free Verizon (other carriers elsewhere) data transfer for 24 months as part of the package, to ensure that data in the cloud is always available even when disconnected from WiFi. Why 24 months? Is this the average time that a typical user keeps a computer? I like the concept, and the plan to provide persistent connectivity outside of WiFi is a great idea! Anyone have any predictions of what a device like this will cost, if it arrives as anticipated in mid-2011?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Technology: Buy Now or Wait?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 12:30 AM

""Should I wait or buy now?" I get asked this question constantly, because everyone wants to know whether there's some better, faster, or cheaper gadget coming around the bend that will make the device they covet today seem dated."

Interesting dilemma. There is new technology arriving on the scene all the time, but when does one decide that the time is right for that purchase? This article notes some upcoming technologies with notebook computers, smartphones and tablets. The author's recommendations are to go for that new notebook now if you need one, since low prices currently outweigh near-term technology improvements. As for smartphones, some compelling new products are on the horizon, including some sporting dual core CPUs and/or much better resolution screens, so waiting may be a good idea. Tablets? Wait a few months. Expect prices to drop (the author guesses under $300), with more competition to the iPad. As Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" arrives, expect a glut of new tablets, as well as RIM's PlayBook, and that some of the crappy rush-to-market products will fall by the wayside.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

US Laptop Data Plans: A Clear Winner? Confused?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 01:00 AM

"Now that Verizon's gone official with its LTE pricing for an initial launch in some 38 markets this Sunday, we wanted to take a quick look at how it compares to the other players in the laptop data market -- after all, how much you're paying month to month can be just as big of a determining factor (if not a bigger one) in choosing a carrier than the speeds you're seeing. So how do Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Clear, and Rover stack up? Let's break it down."

A clear winner? The answer is that nobody is really sure, and yes, I am confused. Downstream speeds (in theory) up to 21 Mbps, winner T-Mobile. Best price for unlimited data, $39.99 per month from T-Mobile. Coverage? Nobody is really sure, as the carriers are providing apples vs. oranges numbers, for example 282 launched markets vs. 250 million people covered. Huh? Some use speed throttling. Some provide/create mobile hotspots (MiFi), but not T-Mobile. Verizon does not have USB devices that work with Macs, and doesn't offer an unlimited usage plan. Sprint (EV-DO) charges $59.99 per month for 5GB, and 1GB of overage usage will cost you another $50 while the maximum price per GB with TMo (HSPA+) is a whopping $124.95. If I had to pick a plan, it'd be T-Mobile's contract-free unlimited plan for $39.99 per month. Anything less than an unlimited plan, beware those overage costs - a 200MB plan can be used up VERY quickly at the speeds offered.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Splashtop Goes Free

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 01:00 PM

"As of this morning, Splashtop is making available a free, downloadable version of Splashtop called Splashtop OS that anyone can install. By heading to and downloading the install file to your Windows notebook and then running it, you can install the new operating system."

Many, many years ago, I had a routine at work. I would come into the office, turn on my computer, and then do a few morning chores to get settled in. By the time I had my coffee in hand, my computer would be just about ready to do some work. Things are much faster now, and often, I will leave my computer on, if only to enable remote access to it. But once in a while, I will need to reboot my computer and wait, and wait, and wait. For a while now, there have been a new generation of OSes, mostly Linux distributions, that offer fast boot times into an environment Some were free, but some cost money or could only be had when bought with specific computers. One of the more famous ones, Splashtop, is now open and free to all who desire a faster environment and do not need the heavy lifting that a "full" operating system offers. As tempting as it is however, with what I normally do with my laptops, which tends to be work, I find it necessary to have all my programs at my disposal. Anyone out there find that one of these Instant-on setups enough for their day to day needs?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Acer's 4.8-inch "Nameless" Smartphone (Tablet)

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Android News" @ 12:00 AM

"Acer may be calling this "100 percent smartphone. 100 percent tablet," but something just doesn't add up there. That being said, we have to agree that a 1024x480 screen resolution on a 4.8-inch smartphone is downright drool-worthy. Clocking in at just a smidgen smaller than Dell's Streak, this here phone (no finalized name has been bestowed quite yet) was just revealed at Acer's Global press event in New York City."

Slightly smaller than the Dell Streak, Acer's newest curved-back Android offering sports a full metal body, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 2mp front-facing camera, 8mp rear camera with LED flash, 720p video recording, and an odd 21:9 aspect ratio. No information on phone capabilities, and no pricing information, but availability is listed at April 2011 - everywhere. Interested?

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