Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rumor Mill: Samsung Galaxy S4 Update

With Mobile World Congress in full swing and dozens of manufacturers rolling out new devices, it's time to update the rumors surounding the most anticipated Android devise of the years, the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Firstly, Samsung has confirmed that it will be unveiling it's new flagship device on March 14 at an event that they are calling "Samsung Unpacked". Formal invitations have already been issued to the press. Samsung will also live stream the event on their Youtube page at 7p.m. EST.

Secondly, Samsung is partnering with Visa to add secure mobile payment technology, called PayWave to it's devices. While neither company named the Galaxy S4 specifically, it would be a fair guess that as the company's flagship and successor to the most popular Android phone of all time the S4 would be the first ship with Visa's new secure payment applet.

Thirdly, CNET reports that Samsung is considering embedding it's new security software package, "KNOX", with the S4. KNOX is part of Samsung's SAFE initiative (Samsung For Enterprise) which ads security features that comply with many corporate IT policies and Government requirements.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Samsung Officially announces Galaxy Note 8 at Mobile World Congress

Samsung officially introduced the world to the Note 8 tablet at MWC. The Note 8 is sized to be direct competition for the iPad Mini. Features so far include 1.6 GHz Quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, SD card slot, 5 megapixel camera, Samsung's S-pen functionality, and an IR port for use ase a TV remote control. At roughly the same size and weight as the iPad Mini, and healthy performance specs to boot, the real question is one of price. Samsung has not given any pricing info on the Note 8 as yet, but as the Note series are concidered Premium devices, don't expect them to try and under-cut Apple's pricing on the Mini (which starts at $349).

So far the, the only hint of disappointment seems to be that the U.S. model will be Wifi only, while the international models will get 3G capabilty (no 4G or LTE capabilty was mentioned). Comments on CNET's original post already have readers complaining about both, but hey, some people just gotta complaint about something. My only hope is that Samsung doesn't price this neat little tablet right out of the market.

HP: back in the tablet business

As news starts to flow in from Mobile World Congress, a surprise to some is the announcement that Hewlett Packard is back in the tablet game. HP's new Slate 7 will be an Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) device with a 3megapixel camera, Dual-core Arm A9 processor and a stainless steel chassis with "Soft touch" backing. All this and a projected price of $169

With the last HP consumer tablet, the TouchPad,  a flop it looks like the giant PC maker is trying a different strategy. With the TouchPad, HP used it's own software and custom OS, which meant it couldn't take advantage of Android's market (now Google Play) and it was hyped as competition for the iPad. The Slate 7 is targeted more at buyers considering the Nexus 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab and uses Android but with a few custom apps, including one that will let user print wirelessly from that Slate 7 to a wifi connected HP printer.

Since current HP Slate tablets are Windows 8 business devices it's been strongly hinted that HP will have Windows 8 consumer tablets and even smartphones coming soon as well. The Slate 7 is due to be released in April 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Smartphone maker HTC debutes it's new Flagship device ahead of the Mobile World Congress to get a jump on the competition. So far experts and reviewers seem to be impressed. With specs including a 4.7 inch 1080p screen, dual speaker Beats Audio sound, a 1.7 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Processor, 2 GB of RAM and either 32 or 64 GB of storage wrapped in a sleek all aluminum unibody chassis this looks like a monster performer.

While first impressions are positive, reviewers are already worried that the HTC One will be immediatly overshadowed by the upcomming announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S4, which is expected shortly after MWC. This wouldn't be the first time HTC has released a world class smartphone, only to have buyers completely overlook it. As an HTC fan, I'll be watching this one closely.

Visit HTC

Cutting Edge: Transparent Smartphone Prototype

Polytron of Taiwan gave Mobile Geeks a rare chance to check out an early prototype for a see-thru smartphone. It's still in the earliest stages, so it can't make calls yet and many of the components will have to be hidden behind an opaqe panel but this could be a real life version of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) Phone/PDA from Iron Man 2.

I don't know if I'd really want a transparent phone that would be almost invisible when you put it down or drop it and the display isn't backlit yet so checking you email/caller ID in a dark room is out, but it is so cool that somebody is working on this. Don't expect to see these at Best Buy any time soon but Polytron is hoping to see limited production by the end of the year.

And the award for the creepiest use of social media goes to...

I usually treat most forms of social media a lot like i treat the huge spider that lives in the corner of my yard, I try to ignore it and hope it goes away, but this was way to wierd to ignore. A service called LivesOn promises to use software artificial intelligence to learn your Twitter feed habits, likes and dislikes, etc. and issue new Tweets for you... after your dead! I don't do Twitter but if I did and I got a Tweet from someone I know is already dead I'd unfriend them, abandon the account, and seek professional help.

 (and if you'd be interested in this creepy-assed service; no offence guys; I suggest you save us all the hassle of hearing about your all-consuming love of Justin Bieber and Team Edward and just get a life now, while you still can...)

Steve Wozniak warns Apple to Stay Cool

Apple Computers Co-Founder and
Computing Legend Steve "The Woz" Wozniak
Steve Wozniak spoke about Apple, the company that he co-founded with the late Steve Jobs, in an interview with Bloomberg that came out Wednesday. Wozniak expressed concerns about the company's image, fearing that Apple is losing it's rep as the coolest company in the computer industry.

"We used to have these ads, 'I'm a Mac and I'm a PC,' and the Mac was always the cool guy," Wozniak said in the interview. "And ouch, it's painful, because we kind of are losing that."

Mr. Wozniak also said that Apple is still "really good at setting a standard with a new device," but went on to note that the company's products can't easily beat devices from Amazon and Google because  they "all have great ideas." He ever suggested that Apple open up it's iTunes store to Android and Windows Phone users. Wozniak, who has been more vocal in recent months even commented on his late former business partner, Steve Jobs, saying that he didn't have "to be as much of a real rugged bastard, put people down, and make them feel demeaned."

Wozniak's concerns over Apple's level of innovation in the past few years, with many technology experts expressing disappointment over the last few iPhones since have been as different or as revolutionary as the original. Let's not forget that Apples biggest recent commercial success, the iPad Mini, can about not because Apple thought you wanted or needed it, but because people wouldn't stop asking for it. Steve Job even vowed that there would be no iPad Mini because no one wanted a 7 inch iPad. (even great visionaries swing for the cheap seats and miss even now and then)

Alot of tech expects, reviewers, bloggers, and geeks are hoping that there predictions of a hum drum next gen iPhone are wrong, because if they're aren't it may spell the end of Apple's dominance in the mobile market for good. Let's hope Apple is listen, or has one hell of a surprise up their sleeves, after all... The Great and Powerful Woz has Spoken!

Sources: Bloomberg, CNET, Woz.org

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Big Picture: Gates says the Direction Microsoft took in Smartphones "Clearly a Mistake"

In an interview on CBS This Morning, Mircosoft Co-Founder and Chairman Bill Gates commented briefly on the state of his company since he stepped down as CEO nearly five years ago. Gates was not overly critical of current CEO, Steve Ballmer, but rather suggested that neither of them were happy with Microsoft's current 2.4 percent stake in the mobile market. Mr. Gates lauded Ballmer for getting "a lot of amazing things done" in his time at the software giant, including Bing, the Surface tablet, Xbox, and Windows 8, which Gates said "is the key to the future".

Gates went on to say that he and Ballmer are "two of the most self critical people (that) you can imagine" and that "We didn't miss cell phones, but the way we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership. So it's clearly a mistake." Hopefully this indicates that Microsoft is working to reform it's somewhat lack-luster image in the mobile market and will strive to be more innovative in the year ahead.

Also in the news today, China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the world's leader consumer of Smart Devices by months end. New date suggest that the Chinese people will be using an estimated 246 million active Android and iOS devices by the end of February to the U.S.'s 230 million. With the vast differances in population (China has approx. 1.3 Billion citizens to the U.S.'s approx 310 million) it is unlikely that the U.S. will overtake China again in mobile use. India (approx. 1.2 Billion citizens) is the only country that may every overtake China in the mobile market.

Sources: CBS News, CNET

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rumor Mill: More Galaxy S4 rumors, Plus LG and Google...

With the Mobile World Congress about a week away, there are a lot of rumors going around but very few facts to back them up.

Russian analyst Eldar Murtazin speculated on Sammobile that Samsung could officially announce the next Galaxy S phone around March 14. Samsung has already stated that will not be unvieling it's newest flagship phone at Mobile World Congress, prefering instead to host a seperate event to launch the next Galaxy S. So the timing sounds about right.

Murtazin's report also speculates on some of the upcoming devices specs, and if they're right the new S4 will be the new gold standard for Android devices (just like it's predecessor). Rumored specs include a Exynos 5 Octa (8-Core) processor coupled with a Mali-T678 (8-Core) graphics chip, 2GB of RAM, a 13 Mega-pixel camera with 1080p capability, and a  4.99-inch SuperAMOLED screen, and Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2. With specs like that we would also expect the new S4 to be one of the first devices to get Android 5.0 (Key Lime Pie) when it comes out later this year.

In other news, LG has released details for it's upcoming Optimus G Pro. Headlining the spec for this beast are a 1.7Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, a 1,920x1,080 pixel 5.5 inch AMOLED screen, 2 GBs of RAM and a 13 Mega-pixel camera.

On the Google front, Senior VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra, said on Google+ that Google is "committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see." So far, while the Nexus 4 has been a great and affordable option with the amoung the most up to date software, it has not been known for outstanding camera quality. It looks as though Google is planing to change that reputation and maybe take some of the camera spotlight away from makers like Apple and HTC who are famous for the imaging capabilities of their devices.

Sources: Google+, CNET, Sammobile

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How Apple got it's Style...

For those of us who remember the 1980's, here's an interesting peek into the past.

In "Design Foward" with arrives on bookstore shelves this week, Industrial Designer Hartmut Esslinger talks about his design work for Apple Computers during the mid-80's. The book features photos of many odd and interesting design studies done for the young company in it's pre-Macintosh days (and even some concepts that hint at the origins of the Mac). A lot of the more facinating concepts were never used or didn't make it to production, and even a few early tablet designs that were way ahead of there time, but they are still cool pieces of computing history and modern design.

CNET has the scoop (and lots of cool pictures like the Music Mac at right) Here

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Surface Pro for gamers?

Four days ago, the Surface Pro from Microsoft hits stores. So far the reaction has been mostly positive. Microsoft's online store ran out of the 128 Gigabyte version on day one. That's great news for Microsoft, but are they missing something?

According to a post from Jason Evangelho from Forbes.com and a related post on CNET by Brooke Crothers, the Surface Pro can run Valve's Portal 2 as well as Diablo III at near top graphics setting! This is quite a performance acheivement when most laptop and budget desktop PC's are too anemic to manage such a feat. So what's the problem? Microsoft isn't bragging about it!

After months of brazzen advertisements featuring young professionals (and school children with way to much attitude) break dancing in praise of the Surface RT and Surface Pro, not to mention most peoples disappointment with the Surface RT's operating system, Microsoft should be shouting the Pro's powerhouse capabilities from the roof tops! But, instead the Surface Pro is being advertised as a business tool, ignoring a prime set of technological early adopters... Gamers and Tech geeks who would be far more likely to take notice of the Surface Pro if they knew it could be a kick-ass gaming rig.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has been involved in a series of products made for business and ignored the obvious entertainment potential of that product. About a decade ago now (Oh God, I still can't believe I'm over thirty! I wrote and complain about this on my first blog!) Microsoft all but won the war for supremacy in the Person Digital Assistant market with it's Pocket PC OS running in champion level devices from HP, Dell, Casio, Sony and many, many others. The trouble with PDA's including Pocket PC devices was that they where only ever marketed to business professionals.

The general public was scarcely aware that such devices even existed. The Smartphone trend inproved awareness a bit with devices like the Tilt, but the main marketing focus remained on the business person. The irony of all this is that sites like Handango (the Appstore of it's day) consistantly reported the No 1 category of sales was always either Games or Entertainment! Eidos Int. even made a version of Tomb Raider just for Pocket PC, thats how popular gaming was with PDA owners and how capable the devices where!

But Microsoft never capitalized on this hidden talent by marketing these multifunction marvels to the masses. All this just became a missed opportunity of epic scale because when the iPhone and iPod touch hit the market, they essentially killed Pocket PC's (which by then had been rebranded as Windows Mobile) market share. Windows 8 Phone edition is slowly gaining a following but this may be proof that Microsoft has still not learned it's lesson (either that or there is a massive 2nd phase to the ad campain that we haven't seen yet).

With so many gaming products due out this year that center around the Android OS, let's hope Microsoft has trick up it's sleave or starts paying attention soon, before the Surface Pro becomes another example of missed opportunity for the aging software giant.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Charge you Smartphone on the go... With a Fuel Cell?

It's been in the making for a while now, but Lilliputian Systems has come out with a portable charger for mobile devices that runs on fuel cell technology. The Nectar charger uses butane to generate electrical current. It's estimated that a single butane cartidge could charge your cell phone one a day for 2 weeks. The Nectar is even TSA approved so you can take on long trip involving airtravel, not sure if you can use it on the plane though. The Nectar charger will run you about $299 with extra butane cartidges running about $10 each.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Epiphany One Puck may be the worlds coolest coaster...I mean Phone Charger

A Kickstarter project called the Epiphany One Puck maybe the coolest way to charge your phone ever, plus it keeps those unsightly ring off you coffee table. The gadget, which is still raising funds on Kickstarter (so there's still a chance to get in on the ground floor) uses difference in temperature to generate power to charge a mobile device (though no word yet on how it actually takes) so a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee or tea could charge your device while you relax. The basic technology behind this gadget is a 100 year old concept called the Stirling Engine, nice to see someone put it to good use finally! LOL.

(I could see a great secondary market selling these to bars and restraunts so patrons can top off there phones while they enjoy their favorite beverages)

CNET has more info, but I thought this idea was too clever (and funny) to pass up.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wikipad 7inch gaming tablet set for Spring 2013 launch

With all the news about gaming tablets in the last few months, I don't know how I missed this. The Wikipad is a 7 inch Android tablet built with gamers in mind. Specs will include a Nvidia Tigra 3 Quad+1 processor with a 12 core graphics chip, a 5 point multi-touch 16:10 IPS screen, 16 Gb of built in storage with Micro SD expansion, and best of all, a sled style dock with D pads, analog Joy Sticks and triggers for serious gaming. With a price tag of around $249.99 and more then enough muscle for both game and business use, I'll be keeping my eye on this on!

(A few more bonus factoids: The Wikipad will be on the first device enabled with Sony's Playstation Mobile service, allowing user to download versions of some popular PS titles. The divice is also supposed to boast 7 hours of continuous battery life (while playing video) for all day gaming and feature HDMI out via cable or wireless for gaming in full 1080p on a big screen.)

For more info check out Wikipad site

Samsung's Galaxy S4 may blow away the competition on Processing power (Rumor Mill)

Rumors are starting to circulate that the new Galaxy S4 (S IV, S IIII, whatever), which may debute as early as this months Mobile World Congress, may feature the first production model 8 core processor!

According to some rumors, Samsung has expanded on the companion core technology already in use in Nvidia's Tegra series (Quad+1) by sandwiching four ARM A7 processors to four ARM A15 chips. The idea is that the A7s do all the boring everyday task that don't and shouldn't use much battery power, while the A15s handle the computational heavy lifting.

If this pans out to be true, Samsung will have a major jump on it's competitors when the S4 hits stores (not that Samsung needs it, they already dominate the Android phone market).

One glitch in this rumor so far is that Samsung isn't really expected to reveil the new S4 at the Mobile World Congress since they are planning a seperate event for the official product launch (like they did last year with the S3).

Microsoft Surface Pro hits stores today

The full Windows 8 version of the Surface hits retail outlets today. If you've been intregued by the commercials and media attention, this is the version of the surface to get. Early adopters who shelled out for the already released Surface RT have been disappointed by the RT's inability to run full Windows applications and the somewhat limited selection of software titles on Microsoft's RT site, but the Pro shouldn't have these issues.

Reviewers have pointed out that some buyers may be dissappointed, however, by the Pro's short battery life compared to other tablet style devices and the fact that the snap on Touch or Type covers made famous by the commercials are not included with either version of the Surface (in fact, it's a $120 to $130 option on top of the Pro's $899 to $999 price tag).

While many casual observers may fear that Microsoft has priced themselves right out of the competition, it is important to remember one thing. That the Surface Pro isn't really a tablet, it's a touch screen ultra book in a 10 inch tablet format. That fact alone ups the price tag and puts the Surface in a category all it's own...for now.

The general option from most reviewers so far is that, while the Surface Pro is a fine device (and better, in many ways, then it's little brother, the Surface RT) it still needs work to be the big deal Microsoft wants it to be.

Sources: CNET, Wired

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dell goes private in a 24 Billion dollar bid to turn the company around

Michael Dell, founder of the famous but recently flagging PC manufacturer, has rounded up a group of investors to buy out all of the stock in the publicly traded company. While the PC market has been hit hard in recent years with the growing popularity of smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks, Dell's market share has suffered more then most. Dell hopes that, by privatizing the company he can cast off the current board and reform the company before the former PC giant becomes totally irrelevent.

I can't help but remember that 10 years ago, when I ran my last blog (PDA-Media.net), Dell briefly made some of the best Windows Mobile based PDA's on the market, but when the Smartphone trend killed the PDA market, Dell jumped ship. Dell made a few notable attempts (like the Dell Streak, which was an Android powered tweener device that was way too big to be a cell phone and too small to compete with the likes of the iPad) then bailed out of mobile tech all together (or so it seems).

My opinion is that Dell Computers has the chops to make a excellent product, now what they need is the stones to jump back into the mobile market and remind consumers why Dell used to be a big deal, and should be again!

Sources: Wired.com

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Update: Twitter Hack may have targeted influential people

Data from the cyber attack on Twitter's servers this past week suggests that the hacker may have targeted elected officials, journalists, and influential tech figures. Twitter suggests caution as notable people tend to recycle their online credentials on multiple sites.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Congratulations Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore ravens have won the Super Bowl! Congratulations to the team and city of Baltimore. And Congratulations to the 49ers on a game well played!

Power surge knocks out lights at Super Bowl

A power surge has knocked out about half the lights at the Super Dome in New Orleans, causing a game delay after the Half Time show. While the NFL will not comment on the cause of the surge, they estimate the delay with last about 15 minutes.

Just to add some tech news to the post, it has been stated that in preparation for the Super Bowl, the NFL added Wifi capacity for around 30,000 independant connections. This would make the Super Dome possibly the largest Wifi Hotspot in the world!

Smartphones for Better Health Care?

Dr. Eric Topol, a pioneer in the emerging field of "Wireless Medicine", has said that iPhones and other smartphones may be the key to better individual health care in the future. Wireless monitors on patients, and linked to apps in there smartphones can monitor vital signs and even detect heartattacks. Dr. Topol says, "The smartphone will be the hub of the future of medicine."

sources: Apple Hot News, NBC News

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Twitter hacked! Up to 250,000 accounts may be affected

Yesterday Twitter sent out emails to many users warning that they will have to reset there passwords. A cyber attack earlier in the day may have compromised as many as a quarter million user accounts. The affected accounts don't seem to have anything in common (like political affiliations or social agenda) except that they all seem to be older accounts (mostly dating back to 2006 and 2007). Twitter is reminding all users to practice what they call  "good password hygiene", meaning unique password of at least 10 characters with a mix of lower and uppercase letter and numbers. Keep an eye on this, as it is believed that the same person/persons are responsible for other attacks on online services.