HP creates Mobility division for consumer tablet development

According to an exclusive report from The Verge, an internal HP memo detailed the creation of a “Mobility” business unit that’ll be in charge of creating “consumer tablets and [...] additional segments and categories where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers.” The team will be headed up by former Nokia Executive VP Alberto Torres, who oversaw the company’s MeeGo development before Stephen Elop burned the platform from under him.

The memo didn’t detail what consumer tablet offerings HP would be exploring in the future, though Windows 8 seems like a no-brainer. Of course, there’s the recently spun off Gram composed of the Open webOS/Enyo framework that HP could certainly tap, but that remains to be seen.

For a complete look at the memo, follow up at the source link below.

Source: The Verge | Image: mbiebusch (Flickr)

Barnes & Noble cuts Nook tablet pricing

In what appears to either be a response to the seeming success of the Nexus 7 or the potential future threat of a 7″ iPad or revised Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble has cut the prices of their Nook tablets yet again. The budget-friendly Nook Color has dropped to an absolutely impulsive $149, while the 8GB/16GB models of the aptly named Nook Tablet have dropped to $179/$199 respectively. Whether or not those prices will save B&N’s aging lineup is a big question, but there’s no doubt that they’re willing to put up a good fight.

Source: Engadget, Barnes & Noble

Microsoft reveals Windows 8 branding, ARM version dubbed ‘Windows RT’

Windows RT

The release of Windows 8 marches ever closer, and in preparation for retail availability, Microsoft has detailed the different versions that will be available. In typical fashion, there will multiple dekstop releases including Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise. The deviation from standard releases comes in the tablet version of the operating system.

Microsoft announced that the ARM-specific version of Windows 8 will not be branded as Windows 8 at all, instead it will be adorned with the moniker “Windows RT.” Microsoft says that the different branding is important as the ARM version will offer a different, touch-centric experience. Of note, unlike the desktop release, Windows RT will not be sold to consumers directly. The only way to get Windows RT will be pre-installed on an ARM device.

In another turn, Windows RT will not support the installation of classic Windows applications. Microsoft Office will come pre-installed, but all other 3rd-party offerings will have to come in the form of Metro apps.

Hit the source link for a full checklist of the features included in each version of Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Source: Microsoft | Image: AnandTech

Razer baffles with Project Fiona, bolts controls to PC gaming tablet

Razer has long been known for creating premium, well-received PC gaming peripherals including keyboards and mice. In recent years it has started to branch out with more “asperational” products that have left many scratching there  ir heads, and none of them have yet come to market.

Project Fiona, the latest in the line-up of non-traditional offering, was announced at CES 2012, and it comes of the form of a tablet sporting analog sticks and buttons attached to the side (see picture). The tablet features a 10.1 inch 1280 x 800 capcitive touchscreen, third-gen Core i7 processor, undisclosed GPU, and assorted other expected accoutrements.

The tablet gaming concept is being positioned as playing PC games. This means it will run Windows, not the typical Android that most other tablet makers utilize. The used of Intel hardware also puts this gaming tablet into a category other that typical tablet offerings, and indicates that it will likely come it at a premium price.

Although Project Fiona is currently in the concept stage, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan told The Verge that it planned to hit the market, likely with a new design. The on-floor unit was shown playing games via OnLive.

Source: The Verge

Acer announces Aspire S5 ultrabook, Timeline Ultra, and Iconia Tab A700

CES is a big deal for Acer, who just announced a whole new line of consumer laptops and a new tablet. They’re clearly looking to compete on the ultrabook front with the Aspire S5, which they boast to be the thinnest laptop on the market with a thickness of 15mm (and that doesn’t even begin to mention the razor thin edges of the device). It also packs Intel’s new Ivy Bridge architecture (1.7ghz quad-core with HD 4000 graphics) along with an attractive retractable door that reveals the I/O ports.

Along with that halo device, they also announced the Timeline Ultra and AcerCloud service. The former seems to be similarly specced to the Aspire S5 but with an optical drive and 8-hour battery life, all at the expense of extreme thinness. The latter looks to be mimicking Apple’s iCloud service, offering music and photo syncing between Acer-branded Windows PCs and Android smartphone devices.

Finally, Acer teased the Iconia Tab A700 which promises to be one of the most powerful Android tablets on the market in coming months. Aimed directly at Q2 2012, the tablet will wield a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1080p display, and Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. While details like pricing are still under wraps, Acer’s rising ambition is evident in both tablets and laptops.

Source: The Verge (1, 2, 3, 4)

Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet patched, remove root access

In seemingly lockstep fashion, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have both released updates for their new budget-priced tablets this week. Both claim performance updates in some fashion, which have been observed thus far most in the Kindle Fire with faster UI and browser loading. The most notable change common to both of these updates is one that hasn’t really been touted to the public – revoking root access.

While root access may not mean much to the mainstream user of these devices, it might stem the tech savvy audience’s interest because lack of root means that apps like the Android Market can’t be installed. Furthermore, in the Nook Tablet’s case sideloading has also been disabled, meaning you have to be satisfied with B&N’s limited suite of apps or go home. Obviously, both companies clearly don’t want their devices to be known for cheap entry points to Android hacking, so they’re doing all they can to force users to be invested in their ecosystems.

In other news, Archos has recently announced an Android 3.2 tablet with similar specs to both tablets priced at $200, which might be a better option for those hoping for a “full” Android experience.

Source: TechCrunch, The Verge

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus made official

The Kindle Fire be all the rage in the tablet space over the past few days, but Amazon is not the only company with a new 7″ offering. Samsung has announced their Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus official. This is their first 7″ tablet since the original Galaxy Tab, and it looks to be a nice upgrade on the 7″ form factor that they pioneered.

Here’s the quick spec run-down:

  • 1024 x 600 resolution screen
  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB internal storage
  • 3-megapixel (back) and 2-megapixel (front) cameras
  • 21.1Mbps HSPA+ chipset
  • Built on Honeycomb (Android 3.2)
  • TouchWiz (arguably a feature)

Indonesia and Austria are the first countries to get the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus later this month, and there will be a gradual worldwide roll-out from there.

This looks to be a straightforward Android tablet offering from Samsung. In light of the Kindle Fire announcement from a few days ago, this product will likely live or die by it’s price point. It does offer a few features over Amazon’s offering, but anything over $250 is likely to make this one a hard sell.

Source: Samsung Mobile Press | Via: This is My Next

Amazon announces three new Kindle models, including 7″ Kindle Fire tablet

When we posted our story about Amazon’s upcoming press conference on the 24th, there was no way to know the coup d’état that the media giant had planned. The fact that Amazon was launching a tablet of some kind was a known quantity, but few could have guessed that they’d be launching three distinct Kindle products that suitably challenge multiple competitive devices.

The tablet is named the Kindle Fire and was indeed announced to be a 7″ Android-based tablet tightly tied into Amazon services, as was widely rumored. Beyond that, the display is actually an IPS model, which is the same low-power, wide viewing angle technology found in products like the iPhone and iPad. The app delivery system is the Amazon Android App Store, meaning that users will have access to an established library of tested apps with a free app available every day. Amazon has also added their Whispersync functionality to videos, allowing users to stop watching a video at any point on any device and pick it back up on the Fire. Finally, the Fire will integrate “Amazon Silk” into its browser, which harnesses Amazon’s EC2 servers to allow for prefetching of website elements to speed the browsing experience.

Kindle Fire feature list

The tablet will be priced at a competitive $199, which not only challenges the value proposition of higher-priced tablets but also hopes to address users whose primary interest in this class of device is consumption. Not only that, but the Kindle Fire promises to disrupt an Android ecosystem that demands licensing/royalties for the Honeycomb version though still has yet to gain major traction. The Fire isn’t the only disruptive Kindle to be announced at this conference, however, as the latest Kindle iteration and wholly new Kindle Touch offer another tempting aspect of the Amazon experience.

The new Kindle isn’t too different from the Kindle 3 functionally, ditching the physical keyboard for a physical one and consequently shaving the device’s footprint by 18% and weight by 30%. The biggest difference is easily price – $79 for the version with Amazon’s “special offers” and $109 for the version without. No doubt this will make a killer stocking stuffer during the holiday season, as the price easily dips below impulse territory for consumers. The last new Kindle model is the Kindle Touch, which augments the E Ink screen with multitouch and offers a global free 3G model. Both the Wi-Fi and 3G + WiFi versions will have cheaper “special offers” models, whose prices can be found below -

Kindle line-up pricing matrix

Amazon has accomplished no small task with their press conference. Not only will they be offering one of the most compelling tablets on the market in their first attempt, but they’ll surely continue to dominate the E Ink-based e-Reader competition with highly appealing prices. It’ll surely be interesting to see how competitors react, as the price tags of the Apple iPad ($499 base), Barnes & Noble Nook Color ($249), and Sony Reader Touch Edition ($229) sorely need revision.

Source: Amazon, This is my next | Image: Matt Braga

Amazon announces September 28th press conference, tablet reveal likely

Things just got real — well, more real at least. After TechCrunch’s scoop on the Amazon tablet last month it seemed like only a matter of time before the AmTab (yep, that’s what we’re calling it) veil was lifted, and it’s looking like Wednesday, September 28th is the day for it.

There isn’t much to go on here, but Amazon has only held press conferences in recent times when they had hardware to show, so it’s pretty clear that this is going to be something substantial. The only way this might not be a tablet event is if Amazon has a fairly radical Kindle re-design in the wings, and that isn’t likely.

Here’s a quick rundown of what is expected from an Amazon tablet:

  • $250
  • 7″ screen
  • Highly modified for of Android
  • Tight Amazon services integration

The event is set for 10 am on Wednesday, September 28th in New York City.

Source: Engadget | Image: Engadget

Samsung to manufacture Intel-powered Windows 8 tablet

When Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would have full support for ARM SoC (system-on-a-chip) processors early this year, analysts and the press weren’t very surprised. The smartphone and tablet revolution brought these types of compact, power-efficient computers into the limelight, making truly portable devices with comparable performance to more conventional PCs in basic functions. It seemed quite natural for Microsoft to adopt this technology for their iconic desktop operating system, as ARM processors might make tablets running Windows a possibility not plagued by poor battery life and poor heat management.

ARM processors power all of the most popular smartphones and tablets, including the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Tab

Most “perfect” ideas aren’t nearly as good as they appear, as it was later announced that ARM-powered Windows would lack support for legacy x86 programs. In layman’s terms, familiar programs from the desktop Windows experience would be out of the picture for devices running these low-power mobile processors. While this makes sense on a technical level, it also brings some stark realities into the picture; namely, a separate suite of applications would have to be developed for these specific devices.

Fortunately, this process might have been necessary whether or not this limitation exists as Windows 8 devices running with ARM processors would likely be tablets, meaning touch-specific UIs would need to be implemented. Delivery of such apps could land squarely on the OS’s app store we reported on about a month ago, which could enable Microsoft to create separate channels for content attributed to each version of the OS. Furthermore, there have recently been rumblings of Windows 8 supporting Windows Phone 7 apps, making use of their cross-compatible Silverlight programming language to bolster early numbers of available apps.

There might have been a few bumps along the way, but at this point in the news cycle Microsoft looks to be in a fair position to address the needs of the two audiences its trying to service with Windows 8 – conventional PC users who seek rich computing experiences and the rising mainstream who seek web-based experiences with simple touch interfaces. To throw a large wrench in this tenuous balance, CNET has reported that Samsung is looking to bring a Windows 8 tablet to market equipped with an Intel CPU.

nVidia's Tegra 3 will likely power future Windows 8 tablet devices, delivering more comparable performance to conventional PC processors

What’s the problem with this proposal? Beyond the mobility-related advantages to running ARM architecture under the hood of Windows 8 tablets, price comes into play considerably when Intel comes around. The way ARM Holdings deals with manufacturers is they create a reference design that companies can license to make their own silicon. Some of these implementations that might be familiar are nVidia’s Tegra 2 (present in Samsung’s own Galaxy Tab tablet and Galaxy S II smartphones) and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon (in many recent Android phones from Sony and HTC). This model gives room for manufacturers to compete on both price and performance. In the end, an Intel-equipped Windows 8 tablet might look something like a keyboard-less ultrabook/MacBook Air in both size and price (around $1000).

Such a device would also be lacking in the presumed touch-friendly apps in the W8 ARM-specific app store, breaking the convenient coincidence that might make the lack of legacy apps excusable. If Samsung’s supposed device is any indication of manufacturer’s approach to Windows 8 in the future, consumers might end of seeing products that look much like the tablets of yesteryear – expensive, lacking proper touch-support, and sorely unpopular.

Source: CNET news