the first big improvements in portable computing were better keyboards. large VGA screens, then integrated WiFi, USB and HDMI connectors and relentless drive to adopt faster processors and provide longer battery life.
the next big thing is one of the most visible aspects of portable computing, brighter screen displays and increased increased resolution.the one time owner of the graphics processing socket, Intel Corp, could be on the way to being dethroned as portable and tablet computer makers respond to the growing use of touchscreens and other technologies that require more graphics horsepower than Intel’s current 4400 graphics chip may be able to supply.
Initially, Acer and Lenovo have tried to boost graphics performance and capabilities by adding graphics processors to a few units in their product line, notably portables with 14-inch screens.
I’ve tested portables from those vendors that use NVidia graphics chips that have been designed to improve graphics capabilities, they can and do make a tremendous difference in making a portable easier to use for extended periods, as long as they don't radically alter battery life.
There is one PC maker that has always understood the difference display technology can make in product adoption and technology leadership. that company is Apple and its Retina display technology and its A8X graphics processor which isUsed on Apple's highend iPAD. Retina has the horsepower for delievering stunning video displays.
All forms of tablet computing--including hybrid laptops, could becom battlegrounds for companies that want to set products apart through the use of display technologies.
To date my favorite tablets and hybrids based on screen technolohgiesinclude Samsung’s Galaxy Note Prob with a 12.2 inch screen, the new Lenovo Yoga Pro3, and Apple’s iPad Air 2 which uses tghe A8X chip
Keep your eyes peeled for new display technologies coming to your favorite portables soon.--Jim Forbes on 11/16/2014
A college friend asked me recently if I had ”noticed iPad owners using their tablets as view cameras?”
The question made me pause and think. When I imagine a view camera two pictures pop into my mind; Civil War photo journalist Mathew Brady and landscape photographer Ansel Adams.
View cameras are bulky things with ground glass backs that recorded images on plate film. Photographers had to carefully position the cameras and themselves to control focus, image composition and squint into the glass back of a camera to make sure they had the picture they wanted. One of the defining accoutrements of view camera photographers was a black cloth drape—used to stop sunlight from glaring into photographers’ eyes as they checked he composition of their photo. Equally important, drapes also helped to insure glass and film plates from being accidentally exposed.
But “no, I had not noticed iPad users dancing around blindly covered in a drape, trying to compose a photo on the screens of on their tablets. But at Demo 2011Fall, I did see a lot of attendees taking pictures using the forward facing cameras on their iPADs. But no one was using a drape.
All of this is prequel to what I think could be the next evolutionary step in tablet computing-- the increased of tablets as digital imaging devices. Most tablets are now shipped with two cameras, one of which generally has a resolution of at least 5 Mpixels. The cost of digital imaging hardware is dropping precipitously and it’s not much of a stretch to imagine third-generation tablets with 12 or 14 MPIxel forward facing cameras and 9MPixel user-facing cameras. Latter-day Ansel Adams may want new features on tablets. Some for examples: threaded sockets to attach tablets to tripods; and software- based delay shutter release software for triggering single or multiple images. Digital imaging also requires memory, and I suspect that any tablet maker who tries to carve a nice in this market will make 32Gigabytes of memory part of any standard configuration that includes a high resolution forward facing camera.
There’s much more to digital imaging than charged couple devices (cameras) that capture high resolution images, self-contained and cloud-based Image editing software also figure into the equation. This is why I expect the further migration of tablets into digital imaging will drive companies like Apple,Google ,Microsoft and sites like Shutterfly into new markets and expand tablet computers more firmly into digital imaging.
Tip of the hat to college buddy and Puget Sound based corporate communications consultant Dale Gluck for the “ have you noticed” tip off.
And while enjoying one of my guilty pleasures today—watching and listening to laden freight trains powering up the Cajon Pass grade adjacent to I-15, I saw a tablet computer user standing on an overwatch drape his head and carefully compose s shot of a four-engine lash-up chugging up the rails. Damn it, I didn’t have a camera, my cell phone or my Sony tablet S to record the moment.
You never really need a digital camera until to you really need one.—Jim Forbes on November 20 ,2011.
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas should be called the 2011 Touch and Tablet Computing extravaganza.
There have been as many as 20 new touch interface-based computers shown by CES vendors, most of whom are rushing to grab small claims in a verdant mother lode that today belongs almost exclusively to Apple.
Apple is a formidable competitor and although it has made marketing mistakes in the past, you can’t argue with the long term success of either its technologies or its core products.
the tablet computer stampede this week the contest could end up like heavy equipment racing up a steep incline to see which earth mover grabs a tiny parking space near the crest of a mountain.
And while the newcomers stake their claims, Apple will just continue to extract high grade from the market.
The key questions for any tablet maker who wants to compete against Apple with an iPad competitor are:
Do they have a reliable supplier of capacitive touch screens
If they’re going to compete, how small a profit are they willing to take on each device.
What innovation can a tablet maker bring to market to outshine Apple’s iPad?
What partnership opportunities are there in the tablet market?
Can Intel’s AppUp software store or Googlwe’s Android Marketplace challenge Apple’s Appstore?
What’s needed in tablet computing that Apple doesn’t provide now and what can be added to a new device without exceeding Apple’s $499 entry price point?
The most important thing about new tablet computers will be their pricing and matching Apple’s feature matrix. To compete against Apple I suspect most companies will come in with retail pricing $100 to $150 below Apple’s $499 entry level iPad. Competing on features could be a much easier task, beginning with adding more USB ports to basic designs and supporting Adobe data types.
What’s really apparent from CES is that most PC makers wont be in the market for months to come but when they do begin shipping Apple will face an all-out challenge from Google and an ever expanding stable of companies hooked to the Android 3.3 (aka “Honeycomb”) operating system. Also in the wings is Microsoft, with its next release of Windows and its decade’s long commitment to touch computing.
Forrester Research this week predicted that over the next several years tablet computer sales will reach 44 million units in 2015—double its predictions made for the form factor last June.
Acer, Hewlett Packard, Toshiba and many others have now announced their plans for tablet computers But few units are expected to reach consumers’ hands before mid-2011.Suych companies, however could face a hard fought battle with Apple, which is rumored to be working on bolstering its iPad lineup in the coming months—Jim Forbes 01/04/2011.
Over at Churbuck.com there’s a thoughtful short post on Chinese-manufactured slate computers that are being selectively shown now and a potential problem Google faces in the tablet market. The point of Mr. Churbuck’s post is that small foot print Google operating systems represent a good choice for content consumption computers—an argument I completely agree with.
What makes the post at Churbuck.com particularly worth recommending is the author’s former position with a Chinese portable maker and his involvement in an ultraportable cloud-centric computer that was shown at CES but which has since been withdrawn.
As I read the piece I realized that this was the first time I’ve critically considered operating systems in portable computers.
I don’t really care if it’s an Apple or a Microsoft product, I just want it to help me get my job done and to run properly and efficiently each and every time I boot up my computer. With its institutional emphasis on cloud computing, I suspect Google, not Microsoft or Apple can be the real winner in any contest for future portables that are designed from the outset for cloud-based SAAP institutional deployment
Mr. Churbuck asks a rhetorical question in his post that’s very important. Can Google attract content providers by providing tools that simplify content delivery for forthcoming ndroid-based tablets?
While I do not yet own a slate computer, I’ll expect to make that leap of faith in the coming nine months.
But go ahead and read Dave Churbuck’s well-reasoned pos. it’sright here.
Rebtel Brings International VOIP to Android phones
Rebtel, a VOIP mobile voice carrier based in Sweden, pioneered a simple concept when it started in2006. They the only VOIP in the mobile space let its users make international calls by dialing a local number, While the technology initially required that people change the way they made phone calls, Rebelhas steadily grown. It now has 4 million users and is growing by 250,000 users a month. What Rebtel launched at Demo is the availability of its service for Android phones. On Android phones with the Rebtel app installed, users just turn the application on, select the international number they want to call and initiate the connection. Market researchers report the international calling market is worth more than $(US)1.6 trillion. Rebtel currently serves 50 countries.
EverLoop Launches branding and Social Media for Tweeners
There’s a big problem in Internet connectednorth American families who have children between the ages of 8 and 13 years old (demographically identified as “tweeners”). The problem such families face is that if their “tweeners” have a Facebook account, it’s illegal.EverLoop is a social networking platform for tweens and brand focused products for those markets. Nationwide, the size of the market is estimated to be about 28 million. At Demo 10 Spring, EverLoop launched its private label business, which allows all tween-facing branding companies. Its social networking site for tweens will go live in June. EverLoop overcomes the classic dichotomy of private branded social networking; closed loop environments. Tweeners are likely to outgrow interest in limited focus sites and will instinctively. EverLoop is a direct outgrowth of its CEO’s interest in tweener online safety and on-line branding. Currently Ever Loop is angel and self-funded.It recently signed a deal with MadScience, the largest kid’s science site.
Democrasoft’s Collaboraize Introduces Robust hosted Community App.
If there’s one type of application that really gets me excited; it’s hosted software that lets me create communities where every member has the opportunity to freely discuss, propose or test ideas. And Collaborize from Democrasoft which was launched companies at Demo 10 Springhad me thinking of its potential uses all the way home from Palm Desert. Collaborize redefines community discussion software. It’s not the first product in this category and my first reaction to it was: GrassRoots.com, (one of my favorite products and start-ups from my career at Demo wold have succeeded wildly if it had all gthe features of Collaborize and had not had a top-down orientation. What really sets Democrasoft Collaborize apart from other hosted apps in this space is the ease of which it can be used to create ad hoc, formal or other groups and features that let group members post and rate ideas or comments. My first reaction to this product is based on a view of working with community-based non-profits, where funds are always an issue. I can easily see where two pricing models could be offered: a discounted version usd by non-profits ( whixh would allow Democrasoft to write off the discount as a charitable contribution, while gaining both community support and brand familiarity; and it’s the posted four-tier commercial pricing model. As someone who’s involved in my local humane society, I’m use to dealing with volunteers,paid staff and board members, each of which has unique collaborative needs. The basic feature set of Collaborize facilitates multipath communication between people who are in different places at different times. This hosted application provides a rock solid solution to problems faced by many non-profits and commercial organization: facilitating communications between people who are infrequently in the same physical location. Another potential market for Collaborize is education, where it’s easy to envision teachers in Internet-connected class rooms using it to create and manage conversations.
Phone Halo, using Bluetooth to Secure, Protect and Locate Valuables.
I sometimes forget where I’ve put my mobile phone, or car keys and get flustered.The longer it takes me to sort through my clothes or the stuff on the top of my desk, the more frustrated I become. Phone Halo Protect, Bluetooth hardware and smart phone application is a solution to this problem. Up front, I have to note that there are already locater fobs that I can use to find my sometimes invisible car keys. Also, I’m not above calling my cell phone to use its ringer to locate that pesky device. But what I really like about Phone Halo is that it uses Bluetooth and has controls that let me control how far my treasured device and I can be separated before a preset alarms goes off. I liked Phone Halo’s application because it works with most bestselling smartphones and because it offers a number of innovative notification strategies. I particularly liked the technology’s ability to send GPS location of any device or person protected by Phone Halo. But most of all, I liked Halo Phone’s demonstration and the fact that this technology resulted from a college student’s senior project. Oh, the blue tooth transceiver used in Phone Halo Protect is innocuous enough to attach to your basic adolescent on trips to amusement parks and other venues. After seeing this product for the first time, I’m convinced we’ll see more of this company’s chief technology officer, Chris Herbert in the years to come. Watching this demonstratin I was immediately reminded of two successful past Demo alums, Palm’s Jeff Hawkins and Kerbango’s James Gabel.
MEDL Technologie—A fast Simple Way to add a Second Monitor to Your Portable
As the price of LED panels and portables computers has dropped, it’s become desirous and practical to attach multiple monitors to the ubiquitous portable computer. MEDL Technologies, 13-inch screen is an inexpensive way to attach a second monitor to a portable through a USB connection. I like the idea of more screen real estate on my notebook, since I often have a word processor and live data stream running simultaneously. The software supplied with MEDL Technologies’ LCD screen makes setting up and running a second screen on your notebook a simple task.
Once a week I get hit with one or two pitches for iPhone applications. Most times, I tune the pitches out. There’s a simple reason for my obstinacy when it comes to iPhone apps: I lived through the Dotcom Gold Rush and came away smarter but wiser.
Having survived the Dotcom era and having accepted that I was one of its whores. I want to see “proof of life” after funding runs out” before I’ll write about any iPhone or Android app. I’ve made my position pretty clear on this matter using acerbic posts on Twitter but I felt it was time to dig a little deeper into the matter. Unless there’s a real revenue stream behind a mobile phone app, any claim about such apps is just hot air. Nevertheless, my phone keeps ringing and the emails continue to pile up in my inbox.
I’m not downplaying the commercial potential of smart phone application. In fact, I believe smartphones applications like those being developed for Apple’s iPhone and Google Android platforms will deliver on the promises of mobile applications that were made throughout the 1990s.
The smart phone app pitches I’ve seen and sat through focus more on the gee whiz nature of bringing an application to a phone than they do: “this is how we’re different and why we can survive.” Moreover, I seldom see real market demographics associated with smart phone application pitches. And that’s a shame because the one way to grab my (or any other reporter’s) attention is to show me an underserved market that’s underutilizing a ubiquitous technology.
A specific example:I believe medical applications could be hugely successful on smart phones;The same holds true for Location- based services Both of the foregoing examples have the potential to pull multiple paid content/ advertising partners into partnerships.
What I don’t see when I get pitched is any evidence of a real revenue stream or any hint that a start-up’s management team can deliver on their promises. One of the dangerous aspects of smart phone applications is a simple but potentially fatal problem: Very few management teams include any person that’s ever successfully dealt with a telco or cell network provider; Or, worse yet, include anyone in direct management that has real experience in selling an application to a cellular services provider/
When I listen to a canned pitch on a smart phone application I experience an eerie feeling—I heard the same thing 10 years ago before the big dot com meltdown. I hope I’m wrong but if I’m not, Sand hill Road and the parking lots of VC firms will be littered with the carcasses of smart phone applications start-ups that just don’t understand fundamental marketing.—Jim Forbes on 02/09/2010.
My child-like sense ofwonder hasn’t been fueled by Apple’s new iPad or any of the other new slate computers introduced or unveiled recently
But that’s not to say I’ve changed my mind about slate computers.
Slate (aka tablet) computers are one of personal computing’s oldest promises. At its heart this concept couples persistent computing and access to rich data (or less complex data types). And, by definition, such machines need to be as portable as they are technically versatile.
I very much believe tablet computers can and will subsume dedicated devices such as e-books. Although I’m personally still bound to conventional books, I can easily understand how the widespread availability of electronic text books could drive me into buying a slate computer, were I still a student.But e-book readers are not full-fledged computers and the student side of the academic computing market is notoriously price sensitive. Does anyone really think students have $500 or more to buy a portable with limited functionality?
Apple has taken its share of grief over the iPad. Much of the criticism is warranted; because IPad—like all slate computers-- is neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat. I suspect preconceived notions such as an inability to visualize a portable computer without a conventional keyboard are responsible for some of the friction iPad and other slate computers face.
The form factor of slate computers also challenges existing conventions. Their shape doesn’t fit in any pocket, except those on the legs of military-style cargo jeans. This means it needs to be toted from one location to another as if it were a book.
What’s most interesting is that slate computers such as Apple’s iPad seem to be invariably demonstrated or described as being used in a casual setting as a means of keeping up with email, reading online periodicals or even text books or enjoying streamed entertainment files.
But I suspect anyone who buys a slate computer will want to do more, much more, with their machines and therein lies the rub. No matter if it’s a conventional portable, a convertible sub compact with a touch screen or a slate computer, keyboards will be key elements of the user experience and determine how satisfied the user is with their device.
Initially, most of the slate computers that have been demonstrated, described or shown as concept drawings have all used virtual keyboards on the device’s LCD screen. And, based on several years’ experience using touch screen computers equipped with virtual keyboards, I’ve learned that latency increases dramatically as the number of processes running on the computer increases. And, there may be no faster way to alienate a user than having a machine slow down and appear to be mired because it simply lacks the horsepower to provide a user experience that’s on a par with user expectations.
I give points to Apple and others –Lenovo and HP to name a couple—for touting long battery life in their slate computers. If this form factor isto succeed transcontinental ( 8 hours or more) battery life is required. This is as important for the electronic book segment of the slate market as it is any other potential market.
What Apple didn’t really address with iPad was persistent 3G (or faster) connectivity. Of course this adds to the total cost of ownership of a slate device, but WAN connectivity is fast becoming a mandatory capability in the compact portable market.
I’ve always enjoyed watching and covering Apple’s new technology but I’ve been around long enough to remember that while Apple always brings great new industrial designs and often revolutionary concepts to market, it’s not necessarily always been the first to do so. I remember Digital Research’s GEM graphical environment and early versions of Windows—all of which preceded the Mac. But what has propelled Apple’s success isn’t necessarily the brilliance of Steve Jobs, but rather an institutional ethos that compels the company to stay in the game and consistently improve its products.
If had been working as a reporter when Apple launched the iPad the place I would have wanted to be wasn’t at Apple’s launch, but rather sitting in a room with Palm’s CEO, Jon Rubenstein, and its founder, Jeff Hawkins. Was it only two years ago that Hawkins proposed and championed a n iPad like slate computer at Palm? I wish I could have seen their reactions to Apple’s iPad launch.
But Apple has opened a flood gate and I suspect we’re about to be deluged with slate computers. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.-Jim Forbes 02/03/2010.
Despite a price tag that keeps it beyond reach of many US consumers, I remain a big fan if wireless broadband networking.
My ardor for this form of connectivity has grown appreciably as close friends and even I have migrated out of dense population centers to rural America—where high speed cable or DSL Internet connectivity isn’t available or financially feasible for many households.
High speed connectivity is assumed by most PC manufacturers and virtually all entrepreneurs working to bring new products to market. But their product planning is often essentially flawed: they assume that every member of their target market has access to high speed, persistent, Internet connectivity.
I’ve seen little evidence to suggest that high speed internet broadband connectivity is inexpensive enough for the mass market
I was without consistent Internet connectivity here in CO my first three weeks on the cold earth of the Rocky’s Front Range. Most of my neighbors all have secure WiFI networks so I became a public library WiFi user. Anecdotally, I noticed a lot of other people who rely on the Brighton, Colorado’s, public library robust and ultra reliable WiFi network. A surprising number of them are like myself—retired professionals who live outside the subscriber areas for cable or DSL service.
But all is not lost and I’ve found a reliable solution that works for me in rural Denver, Cricket’s wireless network.
In case you didn’t know it, Cricket Communications is a Qualcomm wireless venture. They provide voice/ texting for a flat monthly rate and have very good coverage here in the west. But more importantly, they are also building out a substantial broadband network and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg per month.
Cricket’s broadband network isn’t the fastest in the world and as of now—although they advertise 3G speeds --and there are gaping holes in its geographic coverage.
But, they have taken their products to a nationwide outlet that has the depth to drive broadband networking. That outlet is WalMart. Imagine my surprise at 8:30 one Pre-Thanksgiving night as I was picking up towels for my spare bathroom as well as 12-foot length of USB 2.0 cable, and discovered a Cricket USB broadband modem in the electronics’ department display case. I was even more surprised when the clerk satisfactoriliy explained, pricing and usage.
The price-- $40 a month-- was appropriate for a consumer market device and Cricket’s network signup couldn’t be easier. Cricket’s decision to use WalMart as a retail partner is very smart. Whatever your feelings about WalMart, its success and product pull, plus consumer exposure are the stuff of business success case studies.
The Cricket/WalMart distribution strategy is bound to be closely followed in the coming months.
And less you instantly dismiss it’s potential, it‘s useful to remember that the personal computer revolution got its start in an Albuquerque, NM, strip mall.
I think a humble partnership between WalMart and Cricket could be a force that galvanizes broadband networking. All that’s needed now is a domestic success story for Intel’s WiMax long range wireless networking.
Dominance in the emerging netbook category could be subject to an old, overlooked play by manufacturers:software bundling. Bundling is as old as the computer market but an adverse reaction to so-called shovel-ware has cast a pall over the practice. Despite this, well thought out bundles designed for persistently connected netbooks could be a determining factor in the long term success or failure of this category.
Let’s look at where netbooks are today. Superficially, most of the news driving netbook coverage has been entirely too predictable and based on the mundane: manufacturers releasing machines with the latest processor and core logic; incremental enhancements such as larger keyboards and screens, the addition of discrete graphics, or support of WAN cellular modems and deals with national cell networks.
What’s been overlooked; however, is usability and suitability, areas where netbooks designed around one or more cloud-based software suites can assume leadership positions.
Today, netbooks are not pitched at corporate IT except to the extent that corporate IT has deployed individual test systems or in limited evaluations of web based applications. The market netbook manufacturers miss right now are medium sized organizations using Software as application-based solutions (SAAS) such as those provided by entities like SalesForce.com. And there’s a lot of light space in Sales Force.com’s cloud, because it’s never tried to be an office automation software supplier.
This is where Google or (a mightily revamped Microsoft) can shine through. Both have stakes in office automation software. And Google’s cloud-based word processing, spreadsheet and presentation graphics have been evaluated by most major corporations (which represents the figurative pot of gold at the end of the cloud-based SAAS and netbook rainbows).
Google may be the most obvious supplier of such a suite, but even that company has patchy holes in its cloud cover when it comes to software as an application. While Google has a strong SAAS suite, there’s enough wiggle room in its strategy for other companies to squeeze in and grab Google while profiting from the net book phenomena. Specifically the opportunity for Google is sales automation software that includes rugged contact management with rock solid synchronization.
Another part of the equation belongs to the cell networks. By definition, persistent connectivity is the backbone of mobile workforces equipped with netbooks. Any hardware maker that wants to succeed in netbooks will need a cell network partner. And it’s those partners who can assemble the alliances needed for an effective cloud-based strategy to large, medium-sized or other businesses.—Jim Forbes 09/13/2009