New Lumia phones and a new Band

Lumia_950_Marketing_01_DSIM1Microsoft introduced a pandora’s box full of new devices. Among them, the new Surface Pro 4, a new Microsoft Band, new Lumia phones and a new laptop, the Surface Book. They also showed off some XBOX One stuff, which I’m not going to talk about here and a nice demo of the HoloLens, which will be available in January of 2016 in developer form for three thousand dollars.

LUMIA PHONES

Perhaps the most exciting part of the introduction was of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL.  These things are monster phones, with either an Octacore or Hexacore processor. They aLumia_950XL_Black_Front_SSIMre liquid cooled and smoking fast. The 950 sports a 5.2 inch OLED screen, 20MP rear cameras and triple LED Flash, capable of reproducing accurate skin tones and no red eye. The XL has a 5.7 inch OLED screen. Both devices are capable of 4k full time video (unlike the current 11 second limit.)  Both phones also double as desktop computers with full screen, keyboard and mouse ability.  You can use both the full screen HDMI desktop experience along with using the phone directly.  The demo was truly impressive and shows what Windows Mobile 10 is really capable of doing.  Both phones come with 32gb storage and are expandable to a theoretical two TERABYTES.

The 950 will sell for 549 and the XL is 649 and will be available in November.

The Lumia 550, a lower end phone, is no slouch either. It sports a nice 4.7 inch HD display, 4G LTE, 5mp camera with LED Flash and 2mp forward camera for skype.  It also features a quad core processor and, like the 950 series, is expandable via SD cards.

All three phones will ship with Windows Mobile 10, Office Mobile, Cortana integration, Skype and a suite of lifestyle apps.

The 550 will sell for about $150.

MICROSOFT BAND 2

Microsoft-Band-2-image-1A new Band was introduced. This thing has every type of sensor you could possibly want, including heart rate, oxygen, caloric/carb ability, GPS, accelerometer, gyro and more.  It has a Golf mode that can tell you everything you need to know about your game.  It features Cortana integration, touch screen, a multitude of apps (including Uber!?) and full integration with Windows 10. It also works with iOS and Android.  The screen is curved, unlike the previous model, which was flat and a bit awkward.

The Band 2 is the first lifestyle type device I’m actually interested in using.  It will sell for $249. 

There’s much more to talk about, so stay tuned for more on the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book.

Watch the Press Event.

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IFA 2015: ACER and Windows Mobile Phone 10

It seems the death knell for Windows Phone/Mobile has yet to fall.  Indeed, At the IFA2015 conference in Berlin, Germany, Acer announced not one, not two but three Windows Mobile 10 phones. Two are aimed at low to mid range markets while the third is a high end phone called Jade Primo.

acer-jade-primo-docThe Jade Primo sports a 5.5 AMOLED screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, 21megapixel rear camera, 8megapixel front camera, and other high end features. 

So what, you say?

Well, this phone also is capable of Contiuum, the Windows feature that turns the phone into a desktop computer. 

Yes, that’s right, a desktop computer.

Think about that.

Yes, I know, Motorola tried and failed with the Atrix. Those laptop docks are now used, by many, for keyboard and displays for the Raspberry Pi.

So, the Jade Primo can be used as a computer, but, how?  Simple. It ships with a dock, keyboard and mouse.  Plug the phone into the dock and a monitor into the dock and, viola! Instant computer.

The way it works is that the monitor displays something akin to a desktop, with a start button.  The phone’s screen is used separately from the monitor.  The phone can run the Universal apps, so Office Mobile runs, and a whole host of universal apps, all at full resolution, full screen on the monitor.  The mouse and keyboard work just as they would on a ‘real’ computer.  Imagine, just carrying the phone and the small dock and no laptop or even a tablet.  There are a ton of possibilities here, and, since it is Windows, I don’t think it will suffer the same fate as the Atrix—which, in itself, was a worthy effort from Motorola, perhaps a bit ahead of its time.

Of course, Microsoft has yet to present at IFA, so there’s no telling what they will introduce. Rumor is that they are also bringing out Continuum enabled phones, but we will see..

Other companies announcing Windows Mobile devices include Asus and Xiaomi.

2011: the year of the tablet?

Maybe.  I’m not sure that it will be, but there are a slew of new and exciting tablets coming out over the next few months.  Among them, the webOS powered TouchPad from Palm/HP, the Xoom from Motorola, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the RIM/Blackberry Playbook and, of course, the just announced Apple iPad 2 (gee, what a clever name.)

The Samsung and Motorola devices are already out and the Blackberry and HP devices should be out sometime in the middle of the year-possibly too late to make any kind of difference outside of the business world (for the Blackberry device.)  Apple is bringing the iPad 2 to market on March 11.

Of all of the devices-and they all have some really nice features-the HP and Apple devices look the best in terms of features and usability.  HP’s acquisition of Palm gave it, perhaps, one of the best mobile platforms ever: webOS.  webOS is perfect for a tablet device. It was, like iOS in the iPad, designed from the ground up to be a finger friendly operating system.  Unlike Windows, which is keyboard and mouse centric, both iOS and webOS can be used strictly with your fingers and be productive. 

Other tablets, like the Xoom and Galaxy, use Android as the operating system but, unlike iOS and webOS, it was not designed to scale properly for tablet use and is not overly finger friendly. Still, devices using Android are compelling enough that they can be worthy competitors to Apple and iPad.

iPad 2 has enough new features to warrant its purchase even if you already own the original iPad.  While I am not as enamored by the forward and rear facing cameras as others, I can see the forward facing camera being useful for video conferencing when used with a stand (who would want to hold the bloody thing that long?)  The thinner and lighter device also features a gyroscope for better orientation detection, a dual core processor for faster and smoother operation, improved graphics performance and, shockingly, new accessories such as the ‘smart cover’ and new video cables that feature HDMI output that will mirror what ever is on the iPad 2 screen on your big screen television or monitor.  (This feature, part of the new iOS 4.3, will also work on the original iPad, once upgraded.)

touchpad1The TouchPad, from HP, is a 9.7 inch tablet running the webOS.  This nice looking device features a 1.2 gigahertz, dual core processor that is fast. At first glance, the device resembles an iPad.  The operating system, however, really shows the very different approaches that Apple and Palm took when developing the user interface layer.  webOS performs true multitasking, that is, you can start multiple apps and each app will continue to function, even when you are doing something else. With iPad, you are really just switching from one task to another with the task you leave simply stopping until you get back to it.  Some apps, like Pandora, are allowed to do certain things in the background, like play music. TouchPad also features a compass, gyroscope and accelerometer so it knows just where it is, relatively speaking. Resolution is 1024 by 768, same as the iPad and other similar devices. Audio is stereo out and stereo speakers are included.  Wireless charging is standard and uses the Touchstone charging system that the Pre uses.  Initially, only the Wi-Fi version will be available, but a 3g and 4g version will be available after release.  As nice as this seems, HP really needs to be aggressive with pricing.  It cannot cost more than the iPad and, really, needs to be cheaper. 

You can read more about TouchPad here.

I’m torn as to which device I would purchase. I already have an iPad and the Pandigital eReader, so I don’t need another but…the HP and iPad 2 are very tempting and the RIM Playbook looks awfully nice as well.  I would lean toward the TouchPad, but would have to see what the pricing is going to be before ruling out iPad 2.  (And don’t forget iPad 1, it is now $100(US) cheaper until inventory runs out.)

Oh, and where is Microsoft? They have a nice operating system in Windows Phone 7 but they have said that they will not be using that in a tablet device. Instead, they want to cram Windows 8 into phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, the Hadron Collider and anything else they can adapt it for, which is, in my opinion, a mistake. Looks like they have just ceded the market that they helped create. They really want to become a niche company it seems.

I’m off to play Angry Birds now.  Cheers.

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No Peeking in my future

So, after upgrading my Peek Classic to the new Peek 9 software, I was left with an unstable and nearly useless device. When the plug was pulled, I did take them up on the one dollar device offer. Well, my new Peek 9 finally arrived. So, how is it?
Well, I wish I could tell you. See, I have a device that, while it is SUPPOSED to work out of the box, it does not. I have emailed them about the problem, even asking how to cancel and, surprise, I have yet get any kind of response. A generic message came from them stating a few ‘common’ things, but since my device is not connecting, none it helps.
I have tried to give them the benefit of the doubt here, but, enough is enough. The device is nearly pointless unless you do not have a cell phone. Ten bucks (or twenty, depending on the plan) a month is a bit much for such a hobbled device.
I guess you can add another win to the technology column in the tech versus George battle. Sigh.