Monday, January 28, 2013

HP Joins Chromebook Bandwagon

Wow, this is an exciting news day for Chromebooks!

The Verge reports that HP will be releasing a Chromebook in its Pavillion line, featuring a 1.1GHz Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB solid-state drive, and a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display.

Acer: Chromebooks 5% to 10% of Sales; Windows 8 Not Successful

Acer President Jim Wong tells Bloomberg News that Chromebooks are 5% to 10% of sales since November and that he believes the ratio to be sustainable in the long term.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Google News



Some really exciting news here, API changes that would make backups more efficient and better yet, third-parties will have a way to make apps that collaborate like Docs and Spreadsheets do: Join the Google Drive SDK Early Access Program

The Street.com discovers chromebooks: Life With Google Chromebook: Mac/Windows Killer

Wow!!! None other than the venerable Windows pundit, Paul Thurrott compliments Google Docs:
Google Inches Ever-Closer to a Usable Office Alternative


Just switched my ARM-based Chromebook to the dev channel so I can help test:
Google Chrome for ARM gets Native Client (Support for Netflix, other apps on the way)
Good speed improvements, reasonable stable (have crashed three times in 3 days, twice hard).

Linux News

Linux tech professionals salaries are growing faster than others: It's a Great Time to Know Linux: "More Linux, More Money"

This OS:
Meet PicUntu, a lightweight Linux designed for tiny PCs | PCWorld
will run on this $48.48 Stick PC (there are other such models available, search for RK3066):
Amazon.com: Android 4.0 HDMI Mini PC Smart internet TV adaptor/dongle - RK3066 Dual Core 1.6Ghz CPU, WiFi N, HD 1080P UG802

First Android, then Tizen and Ubuntu, now we have another Linux-based Mobile Platform: Keon and Peak: First Firefox OS handsets revealed

This is a tiny $145 board containing a full PC's worth of connectors, running that chip that is in Samsung's ARM-based Chromebook and the Nexus 10:
ARMBRIX Zero dev board packs a Samsung Exynos 5 ARM Cortex-A15 CPU

Heard about the Ban on Mobile Phone Unlocking?

If not, you should read this story:

Concerned about mobile unlocking ban? Sign the White House petition


Why Ultrabooks Do Not Sell Well and the Future of Laptops

UPDATE: I've added a related post that contains a video that demos what I am talking about here.

The two top selling laptops last quarter (on Amazon) were the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook which cost $249 and the Macbook Pro which costs $1,199.99. According to NPD, the average selling price of laptops in the last quarter was $429, yet the average selling price for Macs was $1,419.  It is well know that Ultrabooks ($700-$1200) do not sell well.

These facts drive Windows fans nuts. How can Apple get away with charging that much? Who would buy a sub-$500 laptop - they are "junk". Why won't people buy nice touch ultrabooks? Why would anyone buy a laptop that can only web browse?

The answer to these questions and more lies in the following:
  1. How people use a laptop
  2. The quality of Microsoft Windows
  3. How the PC Industry works
  4. The rise of tablets

Friday, January 25, 2013

Windows 8 / Surface - No Real Hope of Acceptance

Below is a series of links talking about problems with Microsoft Windows 8 and/or Microsoft Surface.

To summarize, people do not like Windows 8, or touch on laptops, and the Surface Pro is likely to be as big a flop as the Surface RT is.

Microsoft is in denial and blaming OEMs, even though clearly the problem is the whole concept of Windows 8 along with its poor implementation.

Android - Lots of News

Siri was originally slated to be on Android...
SIRI RISING: The Inside Story Of Siri's Origins -- And Why She Could Overshadow The iPhone

Normally I don't cover phone announcements, but this looks exciting:
Non-Nexus Android 5.0 Kie Lime Pie Motorola X 5-inch smartphone coming at Google I/O?

Wow, there's a thought... should a Windows 8 hybrid actually show promise, an Android version can easily be made that will be cheaper!
IdeaPad Yoga Convertible: Lenovo Prepping Android Version of the Hybrid Tablet PC

Blame for Nexus 4 shortage said to be Google fault, basically not anticipating the huge sales. Shortage will be alleviated in mid-February.
Nexus 4 production issues and ‘sold out’ popularity explained by LG France

Reviews the current state of Stick PCs and related things. The Miniand GK802 is particularly interesting if you want to use it as a real ARM-based computer.
Roundup: dongles and devices that bring Android to your TV

Yet another Android Refrigerator:
Samsung debuts T9000 refrigerator with LCD and Evernote integration

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Smartphone Market Share

Once again Kantar WorldPanel is saying that iPhones outsold Android phones in the US.
iOS Maintains Lead For Last Quarter Of 2012
The findings are based off a survey of more than 250,000 US customers.
They claim that Apple sold 51.2% of smartphones in the US during the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas.

This claim of a large increase in Apple's position from earlier quarters deserves close examination.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Microsoft Continues Down Self-Destructive Path

Effective February 1st, Microsoft is raising the price of their $39.99 Windows 8 Pro Upgrade to $199.99. Windows 8 Core upgrade will be $119.99. They had said the $39.99 was temporary all along, but really, a 5X increase? The average selling price of a laptop last quarter was $429, Microsoft apparently does not see how absurd the upgrade pricing is. That's scary.

Paul Thurrott is covering this thoroughly, if a bit irrationally. For some reason, he seems to want to defend Microsoft's behavior. You can see me debate with him in the comments of both articles linked to below. Over on WinSuperSite I am "brians".

Android, Linux, ChromeOS

Android and Linux

Oddly, most of the articles here apply both to Android and to other Linux. (Many of the Stick PC also can run Linux.)

Samsung adding enterprise features to Android, such as: deep Exchange support, broad VPN support, mobile device managment, with a large number of policy settings:
Samsung is building its own Android platform for the enterprise

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Apple's Stock Price

I won't bother with links here, EVERYBODY is talking about Apple's stock price.

One side says.... iPhone sales are going great.  The other side points to iPhone 5 order reductions (specifically iPhone 5 screens) saying sales are poor. There is much screaming and gnashing of teeth.

What amazes me is that I feel the answer is actually quite obvious.

Big ChromeOS News

This news is still something of a rumor, but a lot of places believe it. Lenovo is going to make 4 sizes of Chromebook, starting at $299. This would be the third PC OEM to do so (Samsung and Acer were the early makers of Chromebooks).

The details are here: The Lenovo Chromebook: Another Nail in Microsoft's Coffin

--

Chromeboxes are the ChromeOS equivalent of a Mac Mini or a compact desktop PC. So far only Samsung has made one, they have just lauched a new high-powered model.

How to Live with Windows 8


This article is a recipe for how to make the new "Metro" interface disappear to the greatest extent possible.
At the end you will still be able to run "Metro" apps if you want, but most of the time you'll be using the desktop. In other words, things will work much as they did under Windows 7.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Microsoft's Nightmare; Linux/Android Phone News

Microsoft

Reader's of this blog know of course that this is already coming true:

          The Nightmare That Keeps Microsoft Awake... Android On The Desktop

How to get a new PC without Windows 8

Linux and Android

Android challenges the iPhone in every category

Mobile Linux Rivals Ubuntu And Sailfish Could Share APIs

Top 5 Reasons the Ubuntu Linux phone might make it

ViewSonic's VSD240 24" Android Tablet/Smart Display

I covered this in my first day CES post, but every time I mention this to an Android user their eyes light up and since it was awarded ‘Best of CES’ by Ubergizmo, I thought it worthwhile to highlight it in its own post.

Put simply, this is a 24" tablet that runs Android, it doubles as a smart display, meaning you can hook a legacy PC into it. According to this article its touch capability works with Windows 8, but is not certified because (and I was shocked by this) Microsoft requires 10-point detection for certification. [I think Microsoft really is determined to fail with Windows 8.]

The price for this 24" Android tablet that is also a PC smart display is: $499!

Again, for the price of the entry-level iPad, you get a 24" tablet that is also a PC display!

Ubergizmo has a nice video: ViewSonic VSD240 24” Smart Display With Android 4.1

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Microsoft, Intel Failing; Apple May Disappoint

This benchmark is against Sandy Bridge Xeons, not Ivy Bridge, but it does show that Intel is increasingly vulnerable: First ARM benchmarks: The race is on
(Even against Ivy Bridge they should win on performance per watt, just not as big.)

Synopsis of 2012 PC and Mac sales:
    In the US market, PCs down 4.5%, Apple down 0.2%
    In the Worldwide market: PCs down: 3.2%, Apple ??? (too small a player to be broken out)
    Windows 8 is definitely a drag, world-wide sales of PCs were down 6.4% in 4Q12.

CES - Android-fest - Day 3

Microsoft

There are multiple sources saying Ultrabooks all lacking: A Brief Overview of CES' Ultrabooks

Samsung not going to ship Windows RT tablet in US due to low demand

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Comparing Chromebooks

[This is a popular post from one of my blogs that I am discontinuing, it was made on 11/16/2012. I added new material at the end.]

Two Chromebooks were just released in the sub-$250 range. In this price range, Chromebooks make sense for a lot of people that read this blog. If you do much of your work on the web and especially if you use Google Docs, a Chromebook may be for you.

Does the desktop matter any more?

[This is a popular post from one of my blogs that I am discontinuing, it was made on 5/12/2012.]

Recently I experimentally moved my business and personal computing to Windows 7. I had been using MacOS since 2005, but recent moves by Apple made me question continuing to be there. I used the opportunity to sort though a tremendous number of files that had collected during the decade and half my business has existed.  I moved as much as possible to the cloud, translating to Google Docs all current files and using the newly released Google Drive to archive those things not thrown out.  A number of interesting things came out of the exercise.

Intel Behaving Badly

First, Intel is actively using misdirection to hide just how far behind they are in phone and tablet processors.

The first time I noticed it, they were talking about how Clover Trail is faster than the Tegra 3. That is true, but the Tegra 3 is not even close to the fastest ARM chip available. Several (shipping before Clover Trail) ARM chips are significantly faster than Clover Trail. None the less, you routinely hear people talk about how Clover Trail is faster than ARM chips.

Non-CES News Day 2

Lots of Apple News

In Apple's elite market, this could be a serious concern: Is Apple's iPhone No Longer Cool To Teens?

'At Apple, 'they' really are after you': One insider's view of life in Cupertino

I hate reporting Apple rumors, as they often are not true, however, this one is persistent: Apple plans cheaper iPhone, report says

I hope Apple doesn't expect me to thank them: Apple's Thunderbolt cable gets a price drop, shorter version

This article gives a great overview of Phablets, and why they are popular: Apple Refuses to Make the Device That's Taking Over the World

Various

Google Chromebook: 3 months in

At the moment, Firefox might actually be the best browser on Android: Firefox updated for all platforms including Android

FCC chair announces plan to free up airwaves for better WiFi

CES: Android-fest Day 2

Tablets

The best gift for the Apple Fan in your life: ASUS Announces Hybrid Windows 8 PC/Android Tablet

The first MIPS-based Android device I've seen: Hands-on with Ingenic's dual-core MIPS processor

Kid's tablets: Ematic expands FunTab Android tablet line with 4.3 through 9.7 inch models

Coby had several of the best selling tablets on Amazon during the holiday season, these inexpensive tablets are now Google certified, meaning they come with the Google Play Store: Hands-on with Coby's 2013 tablet lineup

I am not sure if this is Android, but one of these tablets is $20 - that is kinda scary, Intel's cheapest CPU chip is $37: Boogie Board expands writing tablet family with new 4.5 inch, 9.7 inch models

Panasonic introduces new Android and Windows Toughpad tablets

New Windows 8 tablets fail to impress

Acer announces Android tablet: Acer President Wong Says Consumers Are Still Confused by Windows 8

Gaming

Valve CEO Confirms Linux-Based Steambox

Chips and Displays

This is the future (which Apple may not get access to): Samsung's Youm flexible-display tech

Samsung introduces Exynos 5 Octa CPU with 8-cores... kinda

Home Automation (Seriously, these actually exist!)

Attention iPhone Users, this comes in both black and white models: Panasonic: Android-operated rice cookers? You got it, and for over $1000!

Android-controlled oven, refrigerator, washer and dryer and a Roomba clone: LG's range of smart home appliances officially unveiled

Not Android (uses Linux and an iPad), but a truly different sort of "home automation": $17,000 Linux-powered rifle brings “auto-aim” to the real world (You can play Angry Birds in a completely different fashion!)

Non-Tablet/Phone Computing

Now, among the Major OEMs, only HP is not yet Using Android: Dell Wyse Project Ophelia Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich dongle only needs a monitor

Giada introduces ARM-based desktop computers

Lenovo's Idea laptops will ship with Bluestacks, run Android apps

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

CES - Really Should Be Called Android-Fest - Day 1

This is just some of the Android news from day one. Unless it is unusual in some way I will not be covering any of the phones. (Android Authority must be exhausted... so much stuff.)

ARM Chips

Short synopsis: Modern Celeron class single CPU speed, quad core, fast GPU.
Tegra 4: the tech specs

Some have said the Qualcomm chips will be faster than the Tegra 4, I really do not know.
Qualcomm Kicks Off CES with Superfast Snapdragon Mobile Processors

Is that a Phablet in your pocket, or are you just deformed?

Huawei Unveils Huge 6.1-Inch Smartphone

Home automation

Belkin adds Android compatibility to the WeMo wireless light switch

Lowe's gets into home automation (Android and iOS): Iris Products

New Samsung T9000 fridge runs Android apps, Evernote - iPad/iPhone - Macworld UK

Wearable Computing

Vuzix shows off M100 Android smart glasses

Television

Google TV set-top box for $129 coming from Netgear | Ars Technica

Google TV-powered Asus Qube to hit stores in Q1 2013 for $150

Cameras

Samsung brings Dropbox to its PCs and smart cameras

Polaroid makes the iM1836 official, anyone want an Android camera?

Gaming

Moga Pro game controller announced, will arrive in the spring

OUYA to start shipping in the UK in March, 3D follow-up in the works

All you need to know about Nvidia Shield: specs, features, and availability

Luggage tracking service (also works with iOS).

Trakdot

Tablets

Want a 24" Android Tablet? It only costs $499... no I'm not kidding.
UPDATE: I change the link to one that had better information:
ViewSonic’s VSD240 Smart Display Awarded ‘Best of CES’

First Tegra 4 tablet:
Vizio Tegra 4 tablet: Android 4.2, 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 resolution display – first Tegra 4 tablet

First decent $199 10-inch tablets:
Velocity Micro intros Cruz D610 and Q610 tablets at CES 2013


Miscellaneous non-CES News

Various

Tablet shipments to outshine notebooks this year, says report | Mobile - CNET News

Yet another large PC gaming house looking at Linux move:

Blizzard rumoured to be working on Linux port of "at least one" of their titles | News | PC Gamer

The Raspberry Pi Education Manual Teaches You Basic Computer Science Principles


Android

Holiday Android tablet sales surge as selling prices plummet

Android dominates Facebook mobile user counts

Consumer Reports: iPhone falls behind Android on all big US carriers

DropSpace Automatically Syncs SD Card Directories to Dropbox

Apple

New 27-inch iMacs won't ship until next month | Apple - CNET News

For unexplained reasons new 21-inch iMacs come with 5400 rpm drives.

One assumes it has something to do with thinness, but that is just awful.

This odd firm claims Apple has the majority of the US market... you will see this making the rounds, especially on Apple-related sites. As best I can tell it is just false. Certainly there are other sources saying otherwise, and Amazon's top 100 shows Samsung and Android in general easily dominating iPhones.
Apple secures majority of US smartphone market, Samsung dominates Europe | ZDNet


Chromebooks

This guy's take on WinRT: Buy a $249 Chromebook, use Office 365 from it, it's cheaper.
Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 11 continues to prove that Windows RT is pointless | ZDNet

A Windows admin takes a shine to Chrome OS | Microsoft Windows - InfoWorld

Amazon's top selling laptop doesn't run Windows or Mac OS, it runs Linux | ZDNet

Strange, Possibly Humorous News

Pope Uses Android to Light Christmas Tree - Android Authority

Report: Thieves steal iPads from Microsoft, leave everything else - GeekWire

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Different Sort of Use for a Chromebook

The author talks about playing MMORPGs on the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook I keep crowing about.

MMObility: The Chromebook 'All In One' project - Introduction | Massively

Android Interesting Stuff

13 of the best Android apps for your new tablet

Archos introduces its TV Connect, turns your HDTV into Android tablet

Facebook continues its mobile focus with quiet launch of Facebook Pages Manager on Android - The Next Web

Phorus Play-Fi Speaker Review

GameStick portable gaming console cruises on Kickstarter | Crave - CNET

WinTel News

During the holiday quarter, NPD reports Windows notebook sales fall 11%, Macbook sales fall 6%.

This article is a really disturbing look at how Microsoft has been treating OEMs creating Windows RT tablets. The article has a lot of depth and some interesting numbers.

I would say this next article is good news from Intel, however they are talking about 2014, and recently, Intel hasn't been all that good at delivering things in a timely fashion.
Next-gen Intel Atom chips to offer 2x the speed, 3x the graphics performance - Liliputing

Apple Fan Boy Discovers Android

I often find the people caught in the iCult amusing, they actually believe that iPhones are somehow better. The truth is that Apple has been lagging Android on phones for quite some time and in tablets the same thing is beginning to happen.

This article, by a self-confessed Apple Fan Boy [everything else he uses is Apple] should be read by all iPhone users, especially if you are a "power user", to borrow the PC-world term.

An iPhone Lover’s Confession: I Switched To the Nexus 4. Completely.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Netbooks, Chromebooks and Bad Journalism

This week, journalists finally woke up to the fact that the Samsung ARM-based Chromebook is a best selling item. Readers of this blog know I've been say this for quite some time (indeed some of you got e-mails from me before I started this blog talking about this). How could they take so long to notice?

They also seem to not understand what the problem was with netbooks. Really, it was simple. Microsoft and Intel did not want to give up their profit margins and forced the use of substandard parts and software at high prices, intentionally making netbooks undesirable and unprofitable. Ultrabooks and Hybrids simply cost too much for what they deliver. Why do journalists not understand that $400 notebooks, good enough for 70% or more of users (consumer and business), are entirely possible?

The most important thing about the Samsung ARM-based Chromebook is that it proves a decent laptop can be made cheaply.

The articles below are only a small sample of the noise and nonsense.

What happened to netbooks? Apple’s iPad and Macbook Air killed the $400 former future of computing. - Slate Magazine

The Frustrating Truth About Google's Chromebook | PCMag.com

Samsung Chromebook sales: Amazon’s best-selling laptop is a Chromebook | BGR

Poll: Would You Choose A Chromebook?

Samsung Chromebook Now Top Selling Laptop on Amazon - HotHardware

Windows 8 Hybrids: Netbooks That Just Aren’t Worth It | Gizmodo Australia

The Netbook Is Dead, Long Live The Netbook - Forbes

The Netbook Isn't Dead, It's Just Evolved | Maximum PC

Asus, Acer kill off netbooks as Chromebook tops popularity chart on Amazon - TechSpot

Was It Really Apple That Killed The Netbook? - Forbes

A little bit of everything...

Microsoft

The trade press is finally admitting that Microsoft is failing and that Windows 8 is a flop. There were many, many more, but here's a few:

Microsoft Is Fast Turning Into A Sideshow - Forbes

Windows 8 Low Christmas Uptake: Troubling Signs for Microsoft's Future - Legit Reviews

Microsoft's aching Windows 8 hangover | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

Linux

The best of the new year's Linux articles: Five Linux predictions for 2013 | PCWorld

A good candidate if you need a small distribution: Precise Puppy Ubuntu Based Light-weight Linux OS Launches | Geeky Gadgets

Android

This article talks about app developers moving from iOS to Android. It incorrectly states that iOS leads in the US, that is no longer true.

Apple

Samsung loses Apple A6X production to TSMC. I think this is bad news for Apple. One, it frees up Samsung fabs so that Samsung will have plenty of room to make its own devices, currently things like the ARM-based Chromebook struggled to find enough fab time. Two, TSMC is said to be not as good a fab as Samsung, I predict yet another source of Apple manufacturing difficulties.

People are increasingly frustrated with Apple's default iOS Apps.

Humor

Microsoft patents its own augmented-reality glasses, following Windows 8 design the "glasses" consist of a "legacy" monocle duct-taped to half-a-pair of "Metro" eyeglasses. For unknown reasons, only the "glasses" with the monocle on the left are able to run "legacy" applications.

Non-Android Linux Goes Mobile

Two important announcements about mobile Linux.

First, Tizen, an offshoot of the abandoned Intel/Nokia Meego project is about to become used.

Samsung to sell first Tizen smartphone next year, report says | Mobile - CNET News

Second, not supposed to be shipping in a phone until 2014, Ubuntu announced an interesting initiative whereby your phone will be you desktop computer (you plug it into a monitor, etc). They have different UIs for the phone and for the desktop. Presumably there will be tablets eventually. Lots of confusing articles about this one, but I think this one (oddly from Android Authority) is both concise and correct.

Ubuntu smartphone – what you need to know about the new Android competitor in town

These platforms are potentially important because like Android they are free. More important, they are more open than Android. At the very least, they will help make sure Google doesn't abuse its position as Apple and Microsoft's closed platforms continue to lose Market Share to Android.