Tablets

Depending upon whom you listen to, a full one-third – and then some – of PC users are moving their computing activities away from PC’s and towards what are termed “Post-PC Devices”. For ordinary folks, that’s the term for things like tablets and smartphones. People are shifting their web browsing and Facebook activities away from desktops and PCs and are now starting to rely on Smart Phones and Tablets for these two all-important tasks. {{1}}

A good bit  – indeed, probably most – of this is, no doubt, due to the fact that a third of PC users probably only ever used their lap/desk-tops for these activities. Toss in games, music and the occasional term paper and you will probably account for the vast majority of their need for a traditional PC. In previous posts, I’ve argued that we will see more a diversification of platforms and less a death knell for the PC so I’m not going to belabour that point here. Instead, I’m presenting a short digest of reviews dealing with Microsoft’s Surface Pro – a somewhat pricey hybrid of tablet and PC. I mention the pricey-ness because if Microsoft’s entry in the mobile computing area is ever going to gain ground and acceptance, the price IS going to have to drop considerably.

If you’re considering – today or at some point in the future – moving to a tablet, here are some things to consider:

ZDNet’s Steve Ranger offers an in-depth comparison between the Surface RT and the iPad for use in a work environment. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is a significant difference between Microsoft’s Surface Pro and the Surface RT. The former can run many of the applications designed for the standard Windows desk/lap-top while the RT cannot. In many respects, the Surface RT is more a consumer device like the iPad. Yes, the iPad has been employed in business applications and no doubt the RT will too . . . if it survives.

In a second article, Steve Ranger puts things in perspective with an article entitled Surface Pro, Windows 8 and the Rebirth of Microsoft.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Tech, Jason Hiner delivers a preview of the Surface Pro and argues that its Triple-Play User Interface is the device’s greatest innovation.

PC Magazine’s Joel Santo Domingo argues that the Surface Pro is  “. . . the Windows 8 slate tablet to beat when you need the performance and convenience of a PC in a compact tablet form factor.” This article is definitely worth a read. By the way, can anyone remember when PC Magazine was at least 3/4 of an inch thick and when rolled up, became an instrument of deadly force?

Joel also has a second article that covers both the Surface Pro and the Surface RT; Microsoft Surface Pro vs. Surface RT: Which One Should You Buy?

Back over on ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley provides answers to why Microsoft chose to deliver the Surface RT before the Surface Pro as well as a few other questions.

Not to be outdone, PC World’s Jon Phillips argues that the Surface Pro is the best Windows tablet in the world but, nonetheless, is still a bit lacking.

Finally, Robin Harris, writing for ZDNet, claims that Microsoft goofed on the Pro’s available storage.

There you have it; eight articles that provide food for thought about the Surface Pro by Microsoft. If you’re interested in buying the Surface Pro, these articles will provide good research material. If not, they’re still good to have up on your browser at work so your boss will think that you’re ahead of the curve . . . for once.

[[1]] One-third of PC users shifting activities to post-PC devices: Report – Adrian Kingsley Hughes, ZDNet.[[1]]

For ages, – or at least it seems that long – the pundits have loudly proclaimed that “The Desktop Is Dead”. As part of their – almost – incessant declamations, they have pointed to sales figures for laptops which have been higher but have hardly been a reason to issue a death notice for desktops. Now, all that is about to change, for in January – or thereabouts – they shalt cry: “The desktop and the laptop are dead”. The reason for the latest obituary will be the 4th quarter sales figures for tablets. For the 1st time, shipments of tablets are expected to overtake shipments of laptops.

The reasons for this surge are smaller tablets like the Nexus 7 and the iPad mini. It’s a matter of size and cost. The sweet spot seems to be around $199 for a 7″ form-factor tablet. The device becomes more affordable and portable at that point. To be sure, 10″ tablets are still going strong but 7 inches seems to be the Everyman device.

Of course, Apple does have to be a bit “different”. The iPad mini is larger than 7 inches and costs considerably more than $199 but Cupertino knows its customer base and what the traffic will bear.

One thing is certain, sales are booming no matter if it’s Apple, Google, Amazon or one of the number of other manufacturers. Fox example, Asus – which manufactures the Nexus 7 for Google – has indicated that they are selling about one million units per month and that is not anything to sneer at, folks.

At some point, market saturation will be reached and sales will therefore slow down as they did for desktops, but for now, it’s full steam ahead.

SOURCE:  c|net.com

Well, it’s Monday again. No matter how hard we try, this things seems to come around about this time every week. So, to start your week, here are a few items of note for those interested in technology:

  • Windows 8 Ho-Hum –The holiday shopping season – which seems to have already kicked off, may change things but a survey conducted by the Associated Press and GfK revealed the following:
    • 52% of  the 1,200 US Adults polled in this survey have never heard of Windows 8
    • Adding insult to injury, 61% had no interest in buying a desktop/laptop with Windows 8
    • And for a coup de grace, only 35% thought that Windows 8 was an improvement over Windows 7
    • It was probably a substantial portion of that 35% who comprised  the 31% of respondents who were actually interested in Microsoft’s Surface tablet.
    • Read the full story on the PC Magazine website.
  • No Help From the Business Sector –While Windows in the workplace has been a mainstay of Microsoft’s revenue stream, it looks like organisations will be slow to hop on the Windows 8 bandwagon. In October, TechRepublic  asked its members to talk about their organisation’s deployment plans. This was a voluntary survey drawn from a pool of people who frequent a particular website so the results are most likely skewed to some degree. Nonetheless, the responses were eye-opening:
    • 49.9 % of organisations have no plans in place to deploy Windows 8 but may do so at some future date.
    • 23.8 % plan to skip Windows 8 entirely
    • 11 % will deploy Windows 8 but have not set a target date
    • 10.7 % plan to deploy Windows 8 sometime in the next 12 months
    • 4.6 % are waiting until Service Pack 1 to deploy Windows 8
    • Hardly a stampede to adopt Windows 8 early on. Read TechRepublic’s complete article.
  • Some Hope for Surface – Opra Winfrey likes the Surface RT tablet saying that it feels like a Mercedes-Benz to her. It is worth noting that Opra gushed over the iPad in 2010 by saying “Words cannot describe what I feel for this magnificent device . . .” Opra – who has her own network, BTW – has added the Surface to her list of favourite things that will be featured in a 2-hour TV special scheduled on for Nov. 18th at 8:00 PM. There is no record of how Opra felt about the Microsoft Zune. Read PC Magazine’s full story on Opra’s endorsement.

That’s it for this morning. Have a good day!

Lost in all the  frantic preparations for Hurricane Sandy was Google’s product announcements on Monday, October 29th. In fact, the event itself was cancelled; it was in New York City after all. It’s an ill wind indeed that doesn’t blow someone some good and Apple seems to be the main beneficiary by having its upstart competitor’s announcement quashed.

Since there are no speeches to analyse and no live demonstrations to recount, here’s what we do know:

  • The Nexus 7 is gaining additional storage. The 8 GB tablet is history. Now, there is a 16 GB tablet for $199 and a 32 GB tablet for $249. Doubling your storage capacity for an extra $50.00 seems like a good idea to Dr. Data.
  • The version of the 32 GB tablet costing $299 can support HSPA+on T-Mobile and AT&T. Google gave 4G LTE a miss as it would drain the battery and increase the cost of the device.
  • Samsung is manufacturing the Nexus 10 for Google. This tablet supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC and offers up to 9 hours of video playback and 500 hours of standby time. This last bit is great if you’re like Dr. Data and hate booting your tablet every hour or two to check your e-mail. The Nexus 10 will be available on November 13th at a price of $399 for 16 GB of storage and $499 for 32 GB or storage.
  • A 4″  smartphone manufactured for Google by LG. T-Mobile will be offering the device for $199 with a two-year contract.

For more details, see the article on PC Magazine.

Now that copies of Windows 8 are flying off the shelves – both physical and virtual – let’s turn our attention to Apple. If you can remember that far back, the boys from Cupertino introduced the iPad mini – among other things – on Tues., Oct. 23rd. Here’s a few articles about the mini and the Company.

  • For some tablets, iPad Mini is a big threat in a little package –  Now that Apple is kinda sorta in the 7″ tablet business, what does that mean for makers of Android tablets? Some have more to worry about than others. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Fact-checking Apple on iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7 – Is apple worried by the success of Android tablets? Apple executive, Phil Schiller, seemed to embody that concern as he devoted more than the usual amount of time bashing the competition. C|net’s Scott Webster did a bit of fact-checking on Phil’s claims. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Is Apple A Religion or A Cult? –  An anthropologist seems to think so. ZDNet’s Charlie Osborne disagrees but Dr. Data is leaning towards the cult theory. Read the full story on ZDNet. Note to Apple Fanboys: Stay away from the grape Kool Aide!
  • Why did Apple Change its Mind? – Saint Steven of Jobs once gave a sermon on why Apple would not launch a smaller iPad. On Tuesday, Oct 23rd, all that changed. Rupert Goodwins gives us a bit of insight. Read all about it on ZDNet.
  • Is Microsoft’s Surface tablet like a flying car? –  Apple CEO, Tim Cook, sure seems to think so. Read what he had to say on c|net.

Microsoft strutted its stuff today beginning at 11:15 AM EDT. On the whole, it was not a bad presentation. There was a healthy dose of self-congratulation but without the competitor bashing that has come to be a hallmark of Apple announcements/launches. Apple’s leadership may know everything – or at least think they do – but, realistically, they know nothing of sportsmanship. Of course, the announcements/launches are meant to rally the faithful and Microsoft does that as much as Apple or Google. The difference is that Apple events have all the religious fervor of a tent revival. But I digress.

Both outside the auditorium and on stage as well, there was a veritable plethora of Windows 8 devices indicating:

  1. That manufacturers have decided that it’s time to start innovating again
  2. That manufacturers really don’t have a clue as to which devices and form factors are going to be a hit with consumers.

PC makers will be doing a lot of experimenting – and holding their collective breath – over the next 15 months because not all of these Windows 8 devices are going to sell well enough to see two holiday seasons. Dr. Data suggests that if you’re just itching to buy a Windows 8 Device, it would probably best to take a conservative approach and buy something in a traditional form factor – like a basic tablet or notebook – rather than bet the farm on some eye-catching device that will be discontinued before you can say “Bob’s your uncle”. Manufacturers may swear on the proverbial stack of bibles that they will offer first class support for this or that discontinued device for the next three to five years but the reality is that often support of orphaned devices winds up at the back of the bus.

Today’s presentation was more about Windows 8 and less about the Surface RT. While Microsoft has suddenly become a competitor in the tablet arena, Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky were nonetheless quite cordial and complimentary to their Windows 8 partners and manufacturers. Microsoft simply wants to sell Windows 8 rather than create a race of zombies.

A lot was said about Windows 8 on tablets and notebooks and rather less about Windows 8 on the traditional desktop PC. There is no getting away from the fact that Windows 8 was made for touch and while it will work just fine on a desktop, it will simply not be the same experience. What tweaks, adjustments and add-on’s – in both software and hardware – are made available over the coming months remain to be seen.

It’s Digest Time!

Here’s a compilation of articles – mostly from c|net – about Windows 8 and the Surface RT:

  • Don’t Hate Windows 8 – The UK’s Matt Baxter-Reynolds explains that Windows 8 may take some getting used to but it may well be the  best OS ever made by anyone.
  • Windows 8 Forces A Steep Learning Curve c|net’s full review of Windows 8.
  • Innovative tablet stranded in an app desert Eric Franklin believes that in addition to the RT having sluggish performance, Windows App Store is a ghost town with tumbleweed rolling down the middle of main street. It has been claimed for weeks now that there are relatively few apps for the RT and most of them are rubbish. While that may be so, Dr. Data has had experience with Apples App Store and he can attest to the fact that a goodly number of those apps are rubbish as well.
  • Dueling bloggers –Ed Bott and Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols square off over the success of the Surface RT.
  • More Microsoft hardware on the way Steve Ballmer has confirmed that Microsoft plans to introduce additional hardware offerings. Do the include a 7″ Surface RT?
  • And finally . . . – Apple’s CEO weighs in on the Surface RT.

I’m sitting here, basking in the glow of a well-received book review, and for some reason I hear the voice of launch control in the back of my mind. Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablet kicks off at 11:15 EDT and while I’m trying to take an impartial, objective view of Win 8 & the RT, it will nonetheless be a bit exciting to see and hear what Steve Ballmer will have to say at the event. Apple has already shown its hand and Google’s hastily arranged event is next week. Microsoft has had dibs on this week for months and now it is their turn in the spotlight.

I plan to have some analysis of all this for you bright and early tomorrow morning.

Cheers!

If you happen to live anywhere on planet earth, you will probably know by now that Apple finally announced the iPad mini – the worst kept secret in tech for many moons – on Tuesday, October 23rd. If you were paying attention, you will also know that the iPad mini has what is, for all intents and purposes, essentially an eight inch screen. Yes, it is a smaller iPad but is it as pocket-able as a 7 inch Google Nexus? Apple also announced a $329 price-point for the low-end model; a mere $170 cheaper than the low-end iPad. $329 is awfully close to a $499 iPad and quite possibly not the price-point that the consumer market was hoping for.

Yes, the iPad mini  is incredibly light and incredibly thin but Dr. Data remembers what happened with the first MacBook Air. Upon the day of annunciation, Saint Steven of Jobs demonstrated the thinness and lightness of the laptop by inserting it into a standard inter-office envelope. A fair number of consumers did similar things with their latest toy and more than one of these laptops were thrown away by mistake. Sometimes thinness and lightness can work against you.

As for a price-point, consumers were hoping for something along the lines of that for the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7; $199. With the iPad mini, you do get a larger screen and a tablet that you can hold in one had – provided you have a fair-sized mitt – but is that really worth the extra $130? The current economic climate have made consumers quite price conscious and they may very well eschew the cachet of owning an iPad for the price practicality of the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus. Women are looking for something that they can easily slide into a purse or handbag while Guys are looking for something that will easily slide into a shirt/coat pocket or shoulder bag. It remains to be seen if that will be as easy to do as with the Nexus 7.

In the run-up to this long-awaited announcement, some market research indicated that the iPad mini might elicit more ho-hums than huzzahs from consumers. The Apple faithful may sing hosannas as they queue  up for the iPad mini but the rest of the market; no so much. The $329 price point seems to help  ensure this prediction coming to fruition.

For a comparison of the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7,  see the article about this on c|net.

Whilst we are on the subject of the 6,000,00o ton gorilla from Cupertino, here are two other items submitted for your consideration:

  • Some Russian Orthodox Christians view Apple’s logo as a symbol of sin that they would like to see outlawed. Read all about it on c|net.
  • Venture capitalist, Robert MacNamee wonders if Apple has become a “dumb monopolist”. Those of you extant and old enough to stay up late and watch Super Bowl commercials in 1984 will surely remember Apples landmark “1984” commercial that ran once and only once. Back in the day, Apple was the iconoclastic rebel striking a blow against Big Brother – read Microsoft. Dr. Data has wondered for quite a while  if Apple is now more like the characters in that other novel by George Orwell; Animal Farm. For those of you who may have forgotten your Civics and Government classes in high school or college, by the end of the story, the Pigs had become indistinguishable from the human masters they once sought to overthrow. Read the full story in the Upstart Business Journal.

The last week of October was supposed to be a pleasant time of the year. Mild days and nights, autumnal glory amongst the trees and Halloween to close out the month. The perfect opportunity for Microsoft to launch not only a new Operating System, but a completely new product – the Surface RT – as well. All this just in time for the holiday shopping season. Then Apple had to get in on the act by announcing – supposedly – the iPad mini and heaven knows what else today, October 23rd. If that wasn’t  bad enough, Google is rumoured to be stealing the spotlight from Microsoft on October 29th.

TheNextWeb.com claims that Google will announce a 10″ Nexus tablet – among other things – on Monday. Google is supposedly working with Samsung to create this addition to the Nexus family. The Nexus 7 was/is manufactured by Asus so Dr. Data is a little unsure as to why Google would switch suppliers. The Nexus 10 is supposed to have a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution which means that it may very well have a higher pixels per inch density than iPad’s Retina display.

The Nexus 10 is not the only thing that Google is supposed to announce next Monday. A 32 GB version of the Nexus 7 is in the offing as well as a second 32 GB model that will offer High Speed Packet Access and 3G connectivity. The Nexus 7 is suddenly becoming very mobile.

Since Microsoft’s Surface tablets will only come in a 10″ model and will only accommodate Wi-Fi connectivity, Microsoft is looking to be an also-ran before the first tablet is delivered to the customer. If Microsoft is indeed serious about joining the fray that is the tablet market today, the boys from Redmond will need to have additional entries waiting in the wings.

To get more on this story, see:

Fasten your seat belts, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy week.

Redmond has announced pricing for Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. The most basic version includes 32 GB of storage and will sell for $499. By contrast, the low-end iPad 3 starts at $499 as well but only carries 16 GB of memory. Moving up the ladder, the 32 and 64 GB versions of the Surface RT tablet will sell for $599 and $699 respectively; the same as the iPad. The real difference is when 3G connectivity is factored in. The Surface RT has Wi-Fi only while the iPad 3 has cellular capability starting at$629 for the 16 GB model and ending at $829 for the 64 GB model.

One question that comes to mind is whether 3G connectivity is really necessary for a 10-inch tablet PC. That size is somewhat awkward to carry and is probably better suited for a stationary environment – like the home or the office – where Wi-Fi is or should be available. The 7-inch tablet market is heating up with Google’s NEXUS 7 and the forthcoming iPad mini. This size is more portable and will easily fit into a coat pocket, a woman’s purse or a man’s shoulder bag. This form-factor is not only less expensive – something the average consumer has been looking for – but is a  more suitable candidates for 3G wireless. In that department, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and – presumably – the iPad mini offer both Wi-Fi and wireless connectivity.

The forthcoming iPad mini is going to put Microsoft’s Surface RT at something of a disadvantage as Redmond has yet to drop any significant hint that there will be a 7-inch RT tablet PC. Since Microsoft is late to the table with a tablet offering, they will have to seriously consider a 7-inch form-factor in order not to be left behind.

Microsoft’s tablet offerings will expand when the Surface Pro is released in early 2013 and though there is no pricing information available, the Pro is expected to come in between $799 and $899. The Surface Pro is going to be more like a PC and its main target market is the business sector while the RT is more consumer oriented. In the final analysis, just who adopts what will depend upon the apps written for each device. Given the right applications, the Surface RT could be adopted by businesses as well as consumers.

If you want to get in line for an RT, Microsoft is now accepting pre-orders. The RT will be available – along with Windows 8 – on October 26th; just three days after Apple announces what is presumably the iPad mini.

Read the complete story on RT pricing and availability at PC Magazine.

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