Author Archive | Jacqueline Emigh

RIM Counters PlayBook Criticism with Splashy Press Event

In the midst of so-so critical reception to its soon-to-be-launched PlayBook tablet, RIM tried turning on some magic this week. At a lavish New York City press event, the newly-minted tablet maker showed off the PlayBook’s sleek good looks, along with some of the 2,000 to 3,000 apps set for availability when the gadget hits retail stores next Tuesday.

In fact, RIM’s App World will ultimately contain about 100 times that number of apps for PlayBooks, said RIM reps stationed along an “App Wall” that took up around one-eighth the floor space of the event venue.

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Lenovo Launches Intel vPro ThinkPad Tablet PC and Ultraportable Models

Lenovo has rolled out new ThinkPad Tablet PC and ultraportable laptop PC models based on Intel’s new second generation vPro Core processor, hot on the heels of Intel’s announcement on Monday of the speedier and more secure new chipset.

The new 12.5-inch X220T convertible tablet and X220 laptop will be available with second generation Intel Core and vPro Core chips. All i7 models will also offer USB 3.0 for faster data transfer, but the i5 and i3 models will be limited to USB 2.0, said Ross Compton, a Lenovo product manager, in an interview.

Aside from new processors, the new ThinkPads will also feature a revamped design revolving around changes to the display, touchpad, and latch.

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Dell XPS Laptops Add Premium Audio, 3D Video, Sandy Bridge Processors

Dell's new XPS 15

Release dates for Dell’s refreshed XPS laptops have turned into a moving target, and all the specs haven’t been quite clear. Yet Dell on Tuesday suddenly announced immediate US availability for both the 15- and 17-inch models, along with a finalized feature set that now officially includes 3D video.

In a Dell press briefing session I attended during CES in January, Alison Gardner, a Dell product manager, sketched out new features for “AV enthusiasts”–such as JBL speakers and MAXXAudio 3–and for “immersive multimedia.”

Dell asked reporters to hold off on publishing stories about the new notebooks pending a formal announcement then slated for February 20. Yet Dell’s Lionel Menchaca detailed some preliminary specs–for the XPS 17 only–in a blog posted on Dell’s Web site, also during the week of CES.

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HTC's 3 Android 4G Phones for Sprint, AT&T and Verizon


HTC Shift 4G

HTC chose CES as the launchpad for three new Android 2.2-enabled smartphones for 4G networks. One of these phones, the EVO Shift 4G, is a slider that will complement HTC’s original EVO and Samung’s Epic 4G on Sprint’s WiMax network. Rounding out the trio are the Inspire 4G for AT&T and the ThunderBolt, one of 10 new phones and other devices from various vendors now announced for release for Verizon’s 4G network.


At 5.8 ounces, the new Shift is a bit lighter in weight than the original EVO 4G, HTC’s existing Sprint phone. The Shift also adds a slideout keyboard, said HTC officials, speaking with me at the show here in Las Vegas.

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E FUN Readies Android 2.2 Tablet for Young Geeks, Old Newbies

A start-up named E FUN is planning a new Android 2.2 tablet for its already established, unusual hybrid market, which combines twentysomething (and younger) tech geeks with senior citizen tech neophytes.

When E FUN introduced an initial 10-inch Android tablet last year, the device sold out within three days on the Home Shopping Channel, an EFUN employee said, speaking with me during the ShowStoppers press event at CES.

“Interestingly, the tablet turned out to be especially popular with people of Baby Boomer age and older, who’d wanted to start using computers but were afraid,” she noted.

The oldsters liked the 10-inch Next tablet due to its easy-to-use touchscreen, according to the booth rep.

Among the younger tech set, Android was the big draw, along with the unit’s slick engineering. “They wanted to see how far they could push things,” I was told

The follow-on 10.1-inch edition, called the Next4, will feature Android 2.2 with Flash support, a capacitive touch screen with 1024-by-768 resolution, 8 GB of internal memory (as opposed to 4 GB on the earlier 10-incher), Wi-Fi, and built-in access to the Borders eBook Store. Availability is set for Q2 or Q3. MSRP is $349.

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CES 2011: Hands-on with Dell's Venue Android Smartphone

Dell’s fourth smartphone, the newly unveiled Venue, uses the same Android 2.2-based and Dell Stage user interface as the larger Streak 5 phone/tablet. The Venue’s good-looking hardware, however, is similar to that of the Windows Phone 7-driven Venue Pro, although without the Pro’s slide-out keyboard. That’s the start of what I discovered during a hands-on session at a Dell press event this weekend in Las Vegas.

As Dell delves more deeply into smartphones, the veteran PC maker is aiming its Android phones mostly at consumers, said Matt Christiansen, a Dell senior training analyst, in an interview at the event. The Venue Pro, on the other hand, is targeted at businesses, as well as at long-time RIM BlackBerry customers, other major users of texting, and anyone who is brand new to smartphones.

In checking out the Venue, Streak 5, and Venue Pro side-by-side, I found that the Venue is meaningfully lighter to hold and carry than either of the existing phones. Indeed, the lack of a keyboard subtracts extra baggage of around 30 grams, leaving the Venue with a total weight of around 160 grams, or about 5.6 ounces, Christiansen estimated. In contrast, the Streak 5 tips the scales at about 220 grams, or 7.8 ounces. Dell’s display at the event didn’t include the company’s first phone, the Android-driven Aero.

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Ocosmos Intros Tiny Windows 7 Computer for Gaming and Work

In the ever-expanding world of unconventional computers, Ocosmos has just rolled out new five- and seven-inch Windows 7-based tablets geared to folks who want to combine serious gaming for fun with their day jobs.

The Tiny Computer (TC) OCS1 is targeted at “heavy-duty gamers,” and the larger OCS9 tablet at “lighter gamers,” Ocosmos staffers said during the ShowStoppers press event at CES.

Despite their small sizes, both gadgets are  full-featured PCs, amenable to running a built-in office suite and other work apps along with games. For gaming control, though, they also feature Ocosmos’ Omos interface.

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CES 2011: T-Mobile's Tablets and Network Upgrade


Dell Streak 7


T-Mobile USA has rolled out new tablets from Dell and LG, a new USB stick for upping end users’ access times, and intends to double the speed of its underlying network, all in the face of intensifying 4G wireless competition from Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

In announcing the availability of the Android 2.2-based Dell Streak 7 tablet over the next few weeks during a CES news conference, T-Mobile also gave quick sneak peeks at a second tablet, dubbed the G Slate, and the new speed stick from ZTE.

At a press reception afterward on Thursday night, I did a bit of hands-on with the Streak 7, while getting perspectives from a couple of T-Mobile engineers about how T-Mobile’s network stacks up against the rivals.

The G Slate and new 42 Mbps USB speed stick were both absent at the reception, however. A spokesperson told me that T-Mobile is keeping both devices away from close-up scrutiny for the moment, since the gear is still under development. The G Slate is T-Mobile’s emerging version of LG’s Honeycomb tablet.

As you might expect, the Streak 7 looks like a jumbo edition of Dell’s Streak 5 phone-tablet. If you like a larger screen, you’ll obviously get that in the Streak 7, but the Streak 7 lacks the Streak 5’s voice calling capabilities.

The Streak 7 sports a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, Swype navigation, and rear- and front-facing cameras. The front-facing camera supports Qik video conferencing.

The Android-based tablet also supports Android Market, of course, although T-Mobile only loaded the Streak with a few applications for the press demos, including Angry Birds and a T-Mobile user access test app.

The touch screen seemed admirably responsive when I used it to play around with Android Market and the test app. In test results, I came up with 3103 Kbps on the downlink and 1143 Kbps on the uplink over T-Mobile’s existing network.

Brian Olsen, a senior technology engineer at T-Mobile, told me that test results had been better earlier in the day, but that latency seemed to be increasing with the convergence of more and more techies upon Las Vegas.

Notably, though, elsewhere in and around CES, people keep complaining that the wireless networks of Verizon, Sprint and AT&T are getting bogged down, too.

T-Mobile already offers a USB speed stick, but the current stick supports network speeds of only 21 Mbps.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile plans to double the speed of its underlying network by bonding new HSPA+ cell towers with existing ones. T-Mobile is dubbing its new network HSPA+ 42, said Mark McDiarmid, T-Mobile’s senior director of engineering and operations, in an interview at the press reception.

The carrier expects to start the network upgrade in its top 25 US markets, later expanding to the remaining top 100 markets, all of which now have 3G in place.

T-Mobile’s network upgrade strategy is quicker and more cost effective than the approaches Verizon is taking with LTE and Sprint is following with WiMax, because unlike the others, T-Mobile doesn’t need to install new types of cell towers, McDiarmid said.

Speeds on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network will be comparable to those of Verizon’s LTE 4G network, according to the engineer.

Also, since T-Mobile isn’t building a whole new network architecture, its sped up network will be backward compatible with older tablets and phones, meaning that end users won’t need to buy new devices, he told me.


Sony to Fight Off 3D Skepticism

The skeptics are wrong about 3D technology, said Sony CEO Howard Stringer, as he unveiled a far-reaching Sony roadmap for 3D “without or without glasses” across TVs, PlayStations, Blu-ray players, displays, movies, camcorders, and more.

Consumers will start to really buy into 3D technology whenever their favorite TV shows start showing up in 3D, he predicted, during a CES press conference.

Stringer contended that if anyone can convert the 3D naysayers, it’s Sony, with the company’s huge presence in the entertainment, hardware, and software industries.

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ViewSonic's 4-inch Android Device: Is It a Phone or a Tablet?

At CES today, ViewSonic will launch a four-inch, Android 2.2-based tablet/phone dubbed the ViewPad 4, a ViewSonic exec said on Wednesday night, confirming earlier rumors around an until now nameless gadget in the same general category as Dell’s five-inch Streak.

The ViewPad 4 will have phone calling features, and it will sell for $549 unlocked upon its eventual release, said Josephine Chiu, a ViewSonic product manager, speakng with me at a pre-show Pepcom press event in Las Vegas.

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