Technologizer posts about HP

Yet Another Take on the Ultrabook: HP’s Spectre 14 Envy

By  |  Posted at 12:22 pm on Monday, January 9, 2012

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Earlier today, Samsung proved that an Ultrabook can have all sorts of standard laptop features, such as a hard disk and an optical drive, and still be an Ultrabook. Now HP has announced its second Ultrabook–after last year’s Folio–and it too is trying carving off a unique niche. The new Envy 14 Spectre, which was just announced here at CES, is an Ultrabook for well-heeled enthusiast types who like lots of features and aren’t obsessive about their thin-and-light notebook being all that thin or all that light.

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Before PCs, There Were Digital Watches

How a short-lived fad of the 1970s foreshadowed the computing revolution to come.

By  |  Posted at 3:34 am on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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This is my new watch. If you ever owned a Commodore 64 or an Amiga, you recognize that insignia below the display: It belongs to Commodore, the company that sold vast quantities of personal computers in the 1980s before petering out in the early 1990s.

My new watch is also an old watch: It’s a Commodore Time Master, manufactured in 1976 or thereabouts. I bought it from a specialist called LED Watch Stop, which has a supply of new-old-stock Time Masters that never got sold back in the 1970s. (It’s selling them for $229 apiece at the moment, although the price was $129 just a few days ago–I guess I lucked into a sale when I impulsively ordered one.)

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From the start, lot of people (me included) loved a lot of things about WebOS, the mobile operating system that debuted on Palm’s Pre smartphone in 2009. We thought it had a shot at being serious competition for Apple–or at least we hoped it might. But my friend Brian X. Chen of The New York Times has a smart piece that makes the case that WebOS was doomed to disappoint, because its technical underpinnings and use of Web technologies made for a slow and generally disappointing experience:

“Palm was ahead of its time in trying to build a phone software platform using Web technology, and we just weren’t able to execute such an ambitious and breakthrough design,” said Paul Mercer, former senior director of software at Palm, who oversaw the interface design of WebOS and recruited crucial members of the team. “Perhaps it never could have been executed because the technology wasn’t there yet.”

Posted by Harry at 2:05 am

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This Dumb Year: The 52 Lamest Moments in Tech 2011

If you like botched products, corporate mishaps, and just plain weirdness, you had a fabulous 2011.

By  |  Posted at 6:17 am on Friday, December 30, 2011

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Americans, as Winston Churchill famously pointed out, can be counted on to do the right thing–after exhausting all other possibilities. It’s the same deal with tech companies. The wonders they bring us are many, varied, and never-ending, but they’ve always been accompanied by an equally rich assortment of misadventures and wrongheaded ideas. The successes and failures feed off each other, propelling the entire industry forward in herky-jerky, unpredictable fashion.

It may just be me, but I can’t remember many years as peculiar as 2o11 turned out to be for this business. Even demonstrably gifted and sensible people like Netflix’s Reed Hastings seemed to fall victim to a fever that made them do strange, ill-advised things. I hope that 2012 is a tad less weird, but 2011 has been fascinating to cover, and never, ever boring.

In hallowed Technologizer tradition, it’s time to recap the year in dumb. Celebrities, corporate intrigue, sex, violence–they’re all here. Gird yourself, people: Things are about to get really stupid.

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At last, we know what’s next for WebOS

HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.

This could turn out to be good news. But even if it does, it might be years before we know for sure. (Mozilla was open-sourced by Netscape in 1998, but wasn’t until 2004–when Firefox was released–that it was clear the platform had a bright future. 
 
TechCrunch’s Leena Rao is reporting that HP says it’ll do a new WebOS tablet–I’m already thinking of it as the TouchPad II–but it may not show up until 2013. I wonder what the tablet market will be like by then?

Posted by Harry at 12:50 pm

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By later today, we should know the fate–at least for now–of WebOS. Think there’s any chance that Meg Whitman will decide there should be a TouchPad II?

Posted by Harry at 5:46 am

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Here We Go Again: $99 HP TouchPads Hit eBay Sunday

By  |  Posted at 2:13 pm on Thursday, December 8, 2011

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Miffed you didn’t get in on the last TouchPad fire sale? Fear not, Technologizer reader: HP will sell off some refurbished 16 and 32GB models on its eBay store beginning at 6:00pm Central Time Sunday, December 11. Originally this was supposed to be an employee sale at first, with a public announcement scheduled at 6:30. Leave it to TechCrunch to mess up HP’s plans.
 
For only $79 more, HP will send you an accessory bundle that includes a case, charging dock, and wireless keyboard. It is unknown how many units will be made available, but if the past is any indication you better have your fingers at the ready to get in on this.
 
Keeping out the profiteers, eBay will require a PayPal account and will limit sales to two per eBay ID. If you’re trying to make a quick buck on the popularity of these things, remember that first off they’re not new, and you better create quite a few user IDs in order to make it worthwhile. There’s also one more caveat: instead of the standard one year warranty, you will only have a 90-day guarantee on these bad boys.
 
I have a few friends that participated in the initial frenzy. As for me? No thanks — my iPad 2 is doing fine — and with HP still undecided on the fate of WebOS I’m not going to spend my money on a potential brick. Did that once already, and that’s why my HD DVD player is sitting in my entertainment center gathering dust.



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HP’s Ultrabook Isn’t a MacBook Air Clone

By  |  Posted at 1:10 am on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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I’ve been thinking of the “Ultrabook” category of laptops–devised and named by Intel–as being pretty much synonymous with “MacBook Air  lookalikes that run Windows.” But HP’s new Folio (no relation to the Foleo) is an Ultrabook that isn’t that Air-like. It aspires to be practical and portable, not super-sleek and sexy.

The Foleo 13 is a 13″ system with an Intel Core i5 processor. It’s pretty thin (.71″) and pretty light (3.3 pounds) but thicker and heavier than the Air and Toshiba’s Portege Z830. It has, however, a fuller complement of ports than the Air, including Ethernet, HDMI, and USB 3.0, with no dongles required. HP claims up to 9 hours of battery life vs. Apple’s 7 hours; that’s impressive if independent testing backs it up. And the price–$899.99 for a machine with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage–undercuts the most comparable MacBook Air by $400.

Buyers of Windows laptops have historically had a limited appetite for systems that emphasize portability rather that offering as many specs as possible at a low price. I don’t think it’s a given that Ultrabooks will catch on–HP’s press release for the Folio quotes IDC saying that it expects sales of 95 million Ultrabooks a year by 2015–but I like the compact form factor and am happy to see PCs with solid-state disks getting affordable, so I hope the category thrives.

 

 



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HP’s Meg Whitman called an all-hands meeting about the future of WebOS. The big news is…there is no big news.

Josh Topolsky of The Verge reports:

HP CEO Meg Whitman just told a room full of Palm and HP employees that the company doesn’t yet know what to do with webOS. “It’s really important to me to make the right decision, not the fast decision,” she told those gathered with her on the HP campus, adding that a decision would come in the next three to four weeks. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as reports recently swirled that the computer-maker has been in discussions to sell of the troubled mobile platform to the highest bidder. “If HP decides [to keep webOS], we’re going to do it in a very significant way over a multi-year period,” she said, adding that “it’s a very expensive proposition, but HP can make that bet.”

You can’t fault Whitman for being flummoxed here. The combined actions of her two predecessors, Mark Hurd and Léo Apotheker, conspired to leave WebOS in the worst possible situation. Unless some brilliant white knight we don’t know about arrives on the scene, the only happy outcome involves Whitman reversing Apotheker’s decision to get out of the WebOS hardware business–and HP then somehow designing and marketing one or more tablets that are so good that everyone agrees the company is giving the iPad serious competition.

What do you think the chances are that’ll happen?

Posted by Harry at 6:11 pm

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HP 3D: Passive vs. Active

By  |  Posted at 9:27 am on Monday, November 7, 2011

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HP announced a 3D PC display and a 3D PC today. To me, at least, the most interesting thing about them is that the company chose a different flavor of 3D for each device.

First the display. Its official moniker is the HP 2311gt 3D monitor, and it’s a 23″ LED-backlit display. Like most 3D movies you see in theaters, the 3D is passive, which means that its uses polarized glasses that don’t have any embedded electronics and don’t cost a lot of money. In fact, the display and two set of glasses go for $299.99, or about what you might pay for two pair of active-shutter glasses alone.



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Sad but not surprising: The Guardian’s Charles Arthur is reporting that HP, having failed to find anyone who wants to buy WebOS, is giving up:

Despite HP’s attempts to find a potential buyer or licencee for webOS – which ran on the short-lived TouchPad – there has been no apparent interest outside the company. Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony, told the Guardian on Thursday that he had no immediate interest in buying or licensing it after completing the acquisition of the rest of the Sony Ericsson business. And early suggestions that HTC might purchase it have also fallen away.

Some have suggested that Amazon might buy webOS, seeing the presence on the Amazon board of ex-Palm chief executive and HP executive Jon Rubinstein, who previously worked for Apple. But there is no indication that Amazon is interested in acquiring another operating system; it is using its own version of Google’s Android software for its new Kindle Fire device.

 

Posted by Harry at 8:59 am

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HP Decides It’s a PC Company After All

By  |  Posted at 2:29 pm on Thursday, October 27, 2011

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Back in August, HP announced that it felt its PC division, the world’s largest, might be better off if it wasn’t part of HP. It said it was going to review its options and that it might take twelve to eighteen months to come to any conclusions.

A month later, the company fired its CEO, Léo Apotheker, and replaced him with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. She didn’t take a year and a half to make a decision–and the decision is that HP will stay in the PC business.

“HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger.”

(Sadly, the reversal doesn’t seem to have any impact on Apotheker’s other big PC-related decision: Killing the TouchPad tablet after six weeks.)

I always found the breakup plausible–if for no other reason than that it’s an idea that’s been around for a least a decade–but I’m glad it’s not happening. And it always suffered from a fundamental flaw: How could it make sense for HP to want to be an enterprise software and services company that also happened to be heavily dependent on profits from ink cartridges sold to consumers?

The next few years of the PC industry are going to be some of the most interesting ones since the beginning of the PC business, since it’s so very unclear what’s going to happen to the PC we’ve known for all these decades. I hope that HP takes that as an opportunity, not an existential threat to its PC business–and that it builds some cool machines in the years to come.



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According to AppleInsider’s Daniel Eran Dilger, the fate of HP’s WebOS may be decided this week:

While webOS is now largely finished and its hardware was ready to sell, HP’s cancellation of the hardware side of the equation, motivated by dismal sales, means that a spinoff of Palm would result in a return to square one for the group, forcing it to formulate a new licensing business in a market where even Microsoft has had a very difficult time assembling a viable ecosystem of mobile licensees.

I hope it lives, even though I’m afraid it’ll break my heart again.

Posted by Harry at 10:06 am

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VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar is reporting that Amazon.com is seriously interested in buying WebOS from HP, the company that bought Palm for $1.2 billion and then killed the TouchPad after six weeks.

The Kindle Fire is powered by Android, but it’s been heavily customized by Amazon to the point where you can barely tell. By purchasing the remnants of Palm, Amazon would have free rein to redesign webOS to its own liking, and it would be able to further differentiate its Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets in the market.

It would be swell if the WebOS saga ended happily, and I can’t think of a better candidate than Amazon to figure out how to do well by the software. Then again, I once thought that HP could be a good home for it, too…

Posted by Harry at 8:32 am

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Looks like David Churbuck didn’t know that Meg Whitman would replace Leo Apotheker as president and CEO of HP when he wrote about the company’s future–but his assessment and advice, while super-bleak and perhaps a bit ahead of the game as it stands (he says the iPad has already beat the PC), is smart and worth your time.

One fascinating tidbit:

Printers are the last mechanical appendage. Think about it. Once hard disks stopped spinning and went solid state, the last thing with a motor is the printer. Printers are a means to an end, not a future.

Posted by Harry at 2:29 pm

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James Stewart of the New York Times has a fascinating, depressing story on why HP is apparently about to terminate yet another outsider CEO:

Interviews with several current and former directors and people close to them involved in the search that resulted in the hiring of Mr. Apotheker reveal a board that, while composed of many accomplished individuals, as a group was rife with animosities, suspicion, distrust, personal ambitions and jockeying for power that rendered it nearly dysfunctional.

Among their revelations: when the search committee of four directors narrowed the candidates to three finalists, no one else on the board was willing to interview them. And when the committee finally chose Mr. Apotheker and again suggested that other directors meet him, no one did. Remarkably, when the 12-member board voted to name Mr. Apotheker as the successor to the recently ousted chief executive, Mark Hurd, most board members had never met Mr. Apotheker.

“I admit it was highly unusual,” one board member who hadn’t met Mr. Apotheker told me. “But we were just too exhausted from all the infighting.” During Mr. Apotheker’s brief tenure, once-proud H.P. has become a laughingstock in Silicon Valley. Its results have weakened, its stock has plummeted and his strategy shifts have puzzled people inside and outside the company. Hewlett did not respond to an email seeking comment.

You gotta think there’s a decent chance that Meg Whitman or any other new chief will reconsider Apotheker’s desire to get rid of HP’s PC business. But I don’t dare dream that the bizarrely rapid termination of the TouchPad might also be subject to revisiting.

Posted by Harry at 4:29 am

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