Tablet Computers Archive

Microsoft brings forth a 2-in-1 that is both a convertible and detachable

Articles

Microsoft Surface Book shown at Windows 10 Devices Event, on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in New York, New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for AP Images for Windows) courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Book shown at Windows 10 Devices Event- detached

Here’s our first look at the Surface Book, Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Pro | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Microsoft

Surface Book

Product Page

Press Release

My Comments

Microsoft Surface Book (detached) press picture courtesy of Microsoft

It can detach ..

Microsoft has just released a 13” 2-in-1 computer that takes this concept further. This class of portable computer was either a convertible notebook that folded over or collapsed in a certain manner to become a tablet; or a detachable tablet where the keyboard was detached from the tablet itself.

With the Surface Book which was just released, the computer is a fold-over convertible like the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro which I previously reviewed. Here, it has that same watchband hinge although in a plastic form. But you can detach the screen like you can with the HP x2 family and have it become a tablet.

Microsoft Surface Book press picture courtesy of Microsoft

…. or can fold over to be a tablet

It also has a stylus so you can effectively write and this technology is augmented with features like “Palm Block” so you can rest your hand on the screen without unwanted activity like you can with a regular notepad.

As for the graphics, there is a dual-mode operation method where it can work with integrated graphics processing when detached or with discrete graphics when with the keyboard.

Of course, Microsoft is pitching this Windows-driven notebook in to the same market as the Apple MacBook Pro and even running publicity shots of it in action with graphics arts and even putting forward the idea that it can be used as a music playout computer by a DJ in a nightclub.  This is also playing out with VAIO and could easily play out with other computer names who are after the premium “status-symbol” end of the market.

This could also see the reality of the “2-in-1” convertible or detachable being a significant computing device class that is gaining traction in the personal-computing marketplace.

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Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015–Part 1–Personal Computing Trends

IFA LogoI am reporting on the Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015 in Berlin which effectively is the show that determines the consumer electronics, personal IT and appliance technology trends that will affect Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australasia. It is also the time to publicly launch technologies that have been ready for prime time by the middle of the year.

Personal Computing

This year has become a year where smartphones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers are seen as one force where hardware and software vendors are working across these devices as of they are simply personal-computing devices.These are primarily based around operating systems which allow people and companies to develop the software that suits different users’ needs.

Desktop, Laptops and Tablets

Intel, Microsoft and others have caused a huge refresh to this class of device thanks to new hardware, software and standards.

Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows 10

Microsoft had just launched Windows 10 while Intel replaced their existing processor silicon with the new Skylake range. These new chipsets are focused on increased performance for the same amount of energy used. This allows for manufacturers to create a granular lineup of products that suit different needs and budgets while assuring “best bang for the buck” in this context. As for peripheral connectivity, the USB 3.1 and Type-C standards along with the Intel Thunderbolt 3 standard had been made firm and more systems honouring these standards were being launched. Acer stands behind the Thunderbolt 3 standard with USB Type-C connectivity because they want to allow users to enhance graphics performance on their computers using an outboard graphics expansion dock of the Alienware Graphics Amplifier or Sony VAIO Z Series Blu-Ray expansion module ilk..

USB Type C plug press image courtesy of USB Implementers Forum

USB Type-C plug – the way to go this year for multipurpose connectivity

Nearly every computer name has catered to the hardcore gamer market by offering high-performance  computers that are tuned to this class of user. Increasingly everyone is offering this kind of performance not just as a desktop or tower form-factor but as a laptop or notebook and some of these manufacturers are offering these products under a “performance” sub-brand like Acer Predator. Acer has even worked on the first Android-driven gaming-grade tablet and smartphone to cater for the mobile gaming community.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900 gaming tower PC - press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo IdeaCentre Y-Series gaming tower PC – the first product Lenovo offers for core gamers

In some ways, this is the late 1960s and early 1970s where GM, Ford and Chrysler fielded to the American and Australian markets a lineup of highly-powerful aggressively-styled “muscle cars” targeted at younger buyers. Examples of these include the Dodge Challenger and  the Chevy Camaro released in the US and the Ford Falcon GT, the Holden Monaro and Valiant Charger released in Australia

It is part of a strategy common amongst this year’s exhibitors where they are offering different ranges of computer products to suit the different user groups in a similar way to how the common vehicle builders like Ford. GM and Toyota pitch vehicle ranges to different kinds of drivers. This factor has been more demonstrated by ASUS, Acer and Lenovo who are effectively “pure-play” personal-IT companies.

ASUS RoG GX700 water-cooled gaming laptop with radiator dock - press picture courtesy of ASUS

ASUS RoG GX700 water-cooled gaming laptop with radiator dock

ASUS have built out their Zen Republic of Gamers sub-brand. One key example that ASUS had offered is the GX700 gaming laptop which is liquid-cooled when connected to a special dock that has an integrated radiator but is able to perform with less power when independent of this dock. As well, ASUS have fronted up with the Zenpad S 8” tablet which has a USB Type-C connector for power and data.

ASUS Zen AIO S Series all-in-one desktop computers press picture courtesy of ASUS

ASUS Zen AIO S Series all-in-one desktop computers

They also released the Zen AIO S Series of all-in-one desktop computers which are driven by Intel Skylake processors such as the i7-6100T, a 23” 4K screen or a 21” Full HD screen with both having touch as an option, NVIDIA discrete graphics, up to 32Gb RAM and 2Tb hard disk capacity and optional 128Gb SSD. These are endowed with connectivity in the form of 2×2 MIMO 802.11a/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet for your home network along with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready wireless and USB connectivity in the form of 1 x USB 3.1 Type C, USB 3.0 x 4 and USB 2.0 x 1. These shows up a reality that the all-in-one can have the same kind of specification as a regular desktop computer.

They also fielded their VivoStick which is a direct competitor to Intel’s “Compute Stick” when it comes to a “PC-on-a-stick” that plugs in to a TV’s HDMI port. Here, the VIvoStick has two USB ports so you can use a keyboard and mouse without the need for a USB hub. They are still at the “toy” stage by using Intel Atom horsepower, 2Gb RAM and 32Gb storage.

Acer is building out their Predator gaming lineup of performance computing equipment. Here, they had pitched the first performance-grade Android gaming tablet known as the Predator 8 Tablet. This runs on an Intel Atom x7 processor and Intel Generation 8 graphics serving an 8” Full HD screen. It will have 2Gb RAM and 32Gb or 64Gb storage and a microSD expansion slot. It has 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, tactile feedback, an aluminium housing and four front-facing speakers. This is estimated to arrive in North America on November 6 for US$299 and will arrive earlier in the rest of the world in October for EUR€349.

They also are running the Aspire V Nitro Series range of laptops as performance laptops without the aggressive “muscle-car” looks associated with gaming computers. These 15” and 17” laptops, along with the Aspire V 13 ultraportable are driven with the latest technology – Intel Skylake processors under the hood, USB Type-C connectivity, 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi with the Black Edition variants offering Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type C.

Acer also fielded the first Chromebook R11 which is the first Chromebook to come in a 2-in-1 form factor rather than the cheaper “clamshell” style. This is also accompanied by another Yoga-style 360-degree convertible in the form of the 14” Aspire R14. They also demonstrated the Revo Build which is a modular personal computer where functionality is added on simply by one plugging extra modules on to the computer.

This year, Lenovo stepped into the gaming fray by offering the Y series of performance-grade computing equipment. They fielded the IdeaCentre Y900 and Y700 gaming towers which are based on the traditional ATX form factor. This allows for core gamers to improve these systems with the hardware that suits their performance curve, much like the way the “petrolheads” liked to “hot up” the Ford  and GM cars to turn them in to “street machines”. These use quad-core i7 horsepower and discrete graphics under the hood with the Y900 being able to work with 2 display cards. The IdeaPad Y700 range of gaming laptops can be based on Intel or AMD processors  but implements discrete graphics, a 10-point multitouch screen and a RealSense 3D camera. This is augmented with a surround-sound headset, precision mouse, mouse mat, laptop-optimised backpack, mousemat and a mechanical keyboard which is a brush with their former self due to the original IBM PC keyboards.

Lenovo MIIX 700 detachable tablet press pictue courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo MIIX 700 detachable tablet – to snap at the Surface Pro

Lenovo is snapping at Microsoft’s heels by offering the Miix 700 12” detachable tablet which is a spitting image of the Surface Pro lineup. It comes with the keyboard folio and has a 12” touchscreen with 2160×1440 resolution and runs Windows 10 Home.  Lenovo also entered in to the Chromebook game with the 100S Chromebook and fielded the IdeaCentre AIO 700 which is a range of all-in-one desktops that have a 24” or 27” screen with resolution up to 4K and upgradeable discrete graphics. These can come with Intel or AMD processors and a RealSense camera.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 3 press image courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 3 – the latest incarnation of the Yoga Tab lineup

The Yoga Tab series has been refreshed with these Android tablets fitted with features like rotating cameras along with new horsepower. The Yoga Tab 3 Pro still has the projector so you can throw a picture on the wall as big as one of today’s flat-screen TVs. These are being pitched more as entertainment devices rather than as general-purpose iPad-style tablets.

But they have come strong with more additions to the laptop range. Lenovo had shown 2 Xeon-driven mobile workstations along with their latest ThinkPad Yoga 2-in-1 laptops both driven by Skylake processors and having a silver finish. The ThinkPad Yoga 260 has a 12” Full HD screen, 16Gb RAM and 512Gb solid-state storage while the ThinkPad Yoga 460 comes with a 14” 2560×1440 screen, 8Gb RAM and either a 256Gb SSD or 1Tb hard disk along with discrete graphics.

LG have launched the G Pad II which is a 10.1” Android 5.1 tablet that uses a Full HD screen. This has 2Gb RAM, 16Gb storage, microSD expansion and connects to your home network via 802.11a/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. It is also available with an LTE wireless-broadband modem as an option and comes with that brilliant bronze look.

Toshiba has been big on the 2-in-1 computers this year. They launched the Satellite Radius 12 which is the first 360-degree “Yoga-style” convertible notebook with a 4K screen. This convertible ticks the boxes when it comes to up-to-date requirements like having a USB 3.1 Type-C socket and a capable Intel i7-6500U Skylake processor, 8Gb RAM and 512Gb SSD storage. Some press reports called the 4K resolution a bit of overkill for a portable computer of that 12”-13” “portable-typewriter” form factor especially because of Windows not handling display scaling properly and these machines typically earn their keep as being the smallest size to comfortably type on.

There is the Satellite Radius 14 which is a 14” “Yoga-style” convertible with Full HD resolution and available with either Intel or AMD processors. Toshiba also offers the Satellite Click 10 detachable which is based around an Intel Atom CPU from the Skylake family, 4Gb RAM and 64Gb SSD storage. These 2-in-1 computers exploit Windows 10 to the fullest by working hand in glove with Continuum display switchover, a dedicated button to access Cortana and dual-array microphones to improve speech recognition.

Samsung and Apple have pushed the barriers for mobile-platform tablets with the former offering an 18.4”  Android tablet and the latter heating the rumour furnace with the intent of the 13” iPad Pro family of iOS tablets. Do I see these tablets as something that competes with the 13” 2-in-1 laptops that run Windows 10 as a mobile computing device for group browsing or composing new material?

The tablet you get to do mobile computing activities on doesn’t have to be an iPad anymore.

Handheld devices (smartphones and phablets)

There is a main trend affecting the European smartphone market where more Android devices are appearing from brands other than the usual smartphone market leaders. It is more so with devices that are pitched to the mid-range sector. This is because it is harder to cut in to the high-end sector because Apple and Samsung have cornered the market with the iPhone and Galaxy S / Note phones respectively.

One main trend affecting smartphones this year is the fact that Android 5.1 offers native support for dual-SIM operation and this function is becoming more mainstream in this year’s smartphones. The feature may have relevance for a person who roams between different countries and wants better call value or local mobile-number presence in both these countries or a person who has a “work” or “business” SIM card and a “private” SIM card in the same device. This is typically offered by having two card slots with one that takes the main SIM card and another that can take either a microSD card or a secondary SIM card.

There is also the fact that Microsoft is intending to launch the Windows 10 Mobile operating system very shortly and it is bringing forth an improved third contender for handheld operating systems.

Lenovo Phab Plus phablet press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy Note products in the form of the Phab Plus

Lenovo is pushing in to the European market with its Vibe and Phab phones which are all Android based. An example of this is the Vibe P1 mid-tier phone with a 1.5GHz processor, 5.5” Full HD screen, 5000mAh battery and 16Gb storage. There is also the Phab range which is meant to join the phablet market  One of these is the Phab Plus which is a dual SIM / microSD phone having a 6.8” Full HD screen, Snapdragon 615 chipset. 2Gb RAM and 32Gb storage.

Acer even has pitched an Android gaming-grade smartphone which is the first for a handheld device. This Android smartphone will use a deca-core MediaTek ARM system-on-chip with 4Gb RAM and a 6” Full-HD display.Some questions may be raised about how long it would last on its own battery especially if you play games on this phone or whether it even scales back on performance when you aren’t gaming.

They also fielded the Liquid Z630 mid-tier Android smartphone which also has MediaTek system-on-chip horsepower, 2Gb RAM, 16Gb storage, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi and 8 megapixel cameras on the front and back. It also has a 4000mAh battery and runs for EUR€199.

They also are fielding entry-level smartphones that can be packaged with Windows 10 Mobile or Android Lollipop like the LIquid Z330 Series. There is also the Jade Primo Windows smartphone which has a USB Type-C connector and is made to take advantage of Windows Continuum display-mode switching courtesy of an accessory dock, keyboard and mouse. This is a 5.5” screen with Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Archos is another company who are offering smartphones that can be specified with Windows 10 Mobile or Android. These dual-SIM phones will have the usual lineup of features like LTE, Wi-FI and Bluetooth Smart connectivity, microSD card slot. But they have 1Gb RAM and 8Gb storage which can be limiting.

Gigaset has risen to the European market with the ME series of smartphones. The ME phone is powerful but doesn’t go too far. having a 5” Full HD screen, USB Type-C connection, Snapdragon 810 processor and Adreno 430 graphics, 32Gb storage, microSD slot and 3000mAh battery. The ME Pure phone is considered a “foot in the door” phone having 16Gb storage and a Snapdragon 615 processor while the ME Pro has the larger 5.5” screen.

Marshall, known for their guitar amps used by many of the famous rock stars, have pitched a music-focused smartphone in the form of the London. This has a similar styling to their amps in that some of the controls have brass accents and the phone has a rubberised housing which has the same texture as these amps. The London 4.7” HD smartphone is one of a few smartphones that implements a discrete sound subsystem and the only app that Marshall furnishes with this phone is a DJ app. It will be sold in the Boxpark retail area in Shoreditch, London for GBP£375 and I would describe this as being a high-quality MP3 player with smartphone functionality attached to it.

The premium end of the market still hasn’t lost its ground despite the imminent arrival of Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S plus phones. They also offered a clip-on keyboard for these phones as an optional accessory. Before the IFA 2015, Samsung had released the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ phones which are pitched on thinness. As well, Sony launched their XPeria Z5 family comprising of the XPeria Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact which is the smaller of the bunch and the Z5 Premium which has a 4K ultra-high-definition screen. They also offered the XPeria G8 which has the same camera abilities as Sony’s standalone digital cameras courtesy of improved focus abilities.

The next article in this series will cover the trends affecting wearable devices, display technology and the home network with subsequent articles covering home entertainment and appliances.

Part 1 – Personal Computing Trends

Part 2 – Wearables and the Home Network

Part 3 – Home Entertainment

Part 4 – Home Automation and the Internet Of Things

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Tablets facing attack from different points

Article

The future of the tablet is the PC | CNET

My Comments

Acer Iconia Tab A500 tablet computer

The 10″ tablet faces stiff competition nowadays

The 8”-10” tablet like the Apple iPad and its peers is facing competition from many different angles.

Firstly, it is considered a venerable portable computing device class that suits most reading tasks including Web browsing, social-network interaction, email management and the like along with casual gaming, video viewing and the like. In a lot of situations, there isn’t much need to upgrade to newer models, except if the idea is to purchase a newer model so someone else can use the existing tablet. This is very similar to the colour television set that was based on solid-state electronics where this device was brought to a point where it can serve most people’s needs effectively and reliably for a long time and manufacturers worked on ways to improve the higher end of the market.

Sports scoreboard app

The phablet-style smartphone becomes the norm – fits in your hand easily

This device is facing competition from the 5”-6” smartphone or “phablet” phone with these phones becoming the norm for a highly-portable reading device. They are displacing highly-compact smartphones like the original iPhones along with the 7” “coat-pocket” tablets like the iPad Mini. This is because their size is very similar to a pocket calculator of the high-end scientific or financial type which had a large surface area with plenty of buttons for direct access to the formulae and functions that mattered.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible notebook at Phamish St Kilda

The 2-in-one like this Lenovo Yoga Pro family offers competition to the tablet

Another device that is causing competition to these tablets is the so-called “2-in-1” which becomes either a laptop computer or a tablet depending on how you fold over the keyboard or whether you attach a detachable keyboard. The 11” variants like the Microsoft Surface family offer a size that suits tablet use but may be too small for intense document-creation activity whereas the 13” variants may be too large to work as a personal tablet but earn their keep for creating documents. This is although some tablet users are using Bluetooth or USB keyboards including the tablet cases that come with integral keyboards with their tablets to speed up text entry.

There have been the doubters who thought these devices would flounder during the early years of mobile computing. One of these was Apple’s Tim Cook who described the 2-in-1s as crossbreeding a fridge and toaster in 2012 and another was the Dell Streak which was one of the first 5” phablets that was panned by consumers and critics in 2010. These were made at the time when the market wasn’t really ready for these classes of devices and was grappling with the platform smartphones and tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10" tablet - Press Photo courtesy of Samsung

The AMOLED-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets fit for previewing digital images

Apple and Samsung are looking at exploring other market niches for their mobile-platform tablets while keeping venerable product categories alive. One area they are working on is to launch mobile-platform tablets that have a screen size of 13” or above. This may be seen as a way to snap at the heels of the 13” 2-in-1 of the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro ilk or the regular laptop computer where these computers are based on Windows or MacOS X which are “regular-computer” operating systems rather than mobile operating systems.

Other market niches worth exploring would include use in the business context including high-durability tablets for those doing construction / outdoors work. Similarly,tablets can be purposed to particular user groups like those of us who work in the graphics arts or those who enjoy advanced gaming. An example of this could be the Samsung Galaxy Tab S family with the AMOLED displays that excel on contrast making them fit for previewing photographs.

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VAIO makes a comeback to the US market

Article

VAIO computers to return to the US to woo high-end customers | CNET News

My Comments

Sony VAIO Fit 13a convertible Ultrabook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

The Sony VAIO Fit 13a – VAIO is returning to the USA independently from Sony

Regular readers will have seen the product reviews of some of Sony’s VAIO laptop computers. These were positioned by Sony at the premium end of the market and had specifications and features that were considered “out of he ordinary” as far as Windows-based computers were concerned. An example of this was a Sony VAIO Pro 13 laptop that had a display resolution that was better than the Apple MacBook Air that was issued at the time the VAIO was marketed and various reviews said that this computer could earn its keep as a photographer’s field computer. Similarly, I had seen a DJ in action use a Sony VAIO laptop computer rather than an Apple MacBook as a playout device.

As the bottom was falling out of the “regular-computer” market thanks to the cheaper mobile-platform tablets, Windows 8 and other issues in 2014, Sony sold off their VAIO computer division to an independent investment fund. This fund continued to sell a smaller product range of computers under the VAIO brand which used to be a “sub-brand” of Sony’s for this product class. This range, which was sold in Japan only, was tightly focused around a few premium ultraportable computers. People after this brand tended to “grey-import” the computers from Japan whether online or as part of a foray in to that country.

Sony VAIO Fit 15e on dining table

Sony VAIO Fit 15e

Now VAIO have released these computers in to the US market through an online storefront and the Microsoft Stores in that country. Here, they are selling high-end portable computers that are focused around the “made in Japan” ideal which is similar to the way that some parts of Western Europe like Scandinavia or the Germanic countries (West Germany, Austria or Switzerland) were seen through the 1960s to the 1980s when it came to consumer electronics and photographic equipment – a purveyor of finely-crafted premium equipment.

The first of these is a VAIO Z Canvas which is a 12.3”  2-in-1 with a wireless keyboard. The screen resolution is 2560×1704 and it uses an Intel Core i7 for horsepower and has up to 16Gb RAM and 256Gb SSD storage. This will be offered as a Signature Edition computer that comes out of the box with Microsoft Windows 10 and no bloatware on board. The expected price will be US$2199 which would make you think of it like purchasing a the computer equivalent of a B&O or Loewe TV.

Sony VAIO Tap 20 adaptive all-in-one computer

Sony VAIO Tap 20 – an example of an “Adaptive All-In-One” computer

There are plans for VAIO to issue some more of these computers to the US market, more so in the form of traditional laptops (hear here, VAIO Fit 15e) and some desktops perhaps of the “gaming-rig” or “all-in-one” ilk. Personally, if VAIO were to have their fingers in the traditional “bricks-and-mortar” pie, I would recommend that they follow what Bose and B&O have done where they either run their own stores in upper-class neighbourhoods or work the “store within a store” method where they set up shop in premium department stores.

What it is showing is that computer brands are finding that working within certain profitable niches such as performance computers (mobile workstations or gaming-grade laptops) or premium computer ranges is considered a way to survive. This is similar to how a few American and European AV names focused on premium-grade photographic, audio and video equipment when Asian companies took on the mass-market for this class of equipment through the latter part of the 20th century

Who knows if VAIO will return to Europe, Australia or New Zealand?

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Apple have fixed the iPhone message bug once and for all

Article

Apple releases iOS 8.4 with new Music app, fix for crashing bug | ARSTechnica

My Comments

Apple have just rolled out version 8.4 of the iOS mobile operating system and the main headline feature that this came with is the Apple Music streaming-music service which came about due to their takeover of Beats by Dr. Dre.

But this version of iOS also fixes a bug that placed iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches at risk of crashing if a specially-formed message came in via iMessage or other message services. This was due to problems associated with handling standard ASCII and Unicode character combinations. To get their iOS devices back to life after a crash, they had to do things like ask correspondents to send pictures.

Any iOS user can update their devices either over the air by visiting the Settings screen then selecting “General” before clicking on “Software Update”. Or they could use the USB charge/data cable to plug the iDevice in to a regular computer equipped with iTunes and use that software to deliver the update to the device.

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Apple makes it easy for you to switch from Android to iOS

Articles

Opinion: With iOS 9, Apple Is On A Warpath For Google’s Users | Gizmodo

Apple’s other Android app will help you switch to iOS, “recycle” your Android for free | Android Authority

My Comments

Increasingly most operating-system vendors are reaching in to competing platforms either to allow your computing environment to be centred around their platform or simply to shift you over to their platform.

Microsoft was achieving this through supplying apps for Android and iOS to connect your smartphone or tablet to a Windows-10-centric computing environment.

On the other hand, Google and some Android smartphone vendors were developing apps that import data that exists on an iPhone or iPad to your Android device. Now Apple has written an Android app to simplify the process of moving over from Android to iOS.

But what Apple has done is not just export your contacts, messages, photos, music and videos from your Android device. Rather they have used this app to take an inventory of the apps you have installed on your Android phone and purchased from Google Play, correlate them with their iOS equivalents that are in the iTunes App Store and either install the free apps or add the paid apps to your iTunes App Store Wishlist so you can buy them there. Then they make you feel good by inviting you to hand your old Android phone to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store for recycling.

It is part of Apple’s effort to reach to the “opposing” platforms to bring them to their own platforms by using “halo” products and services which convey the positive image about the brand. In this case, it is all of the iOS devices that are Apple’s “halo products” and having these devices work with Windows or Macintosh regular computers courtesy of the iTunes program.  This same practice also ties in with the iTunes Store available on both these platforms along with the iOS platform and is leading to the Apple Music service, seen as an answer to Spotify, with the companion app being ported to Android.

This was also underscored with some Apple fanbois saying that they headed over to the Macintosh platform once they experienced Apple’s iPod, iPhone or iPad products and even them underscoring that people who use iOS devices as their mobile devices should jump over to the Macintosh platform for their regular-computing needs.

What we are seeing here is the existence of a highly-competitive marketplace affecting both the mobile and regular computing platforms with the platform vendors pulling out the stops to get people to switch. In some cases, it could become a reality where multi-platform computing will become the norm for sessile and mobile computing needs both at work and at home.

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Product Review–Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Android tablet

Introduction

I am reviewing the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Android tablet which is styled on the same look as Lenovo’s Yoga lineup of “fold-over” convertible laptops. This 10” tablet is pitched more as a something that would appeal to home users and businesses who want something that can answer the Apple iPad.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 tablet

Price
– reviewed configuration
AUD$249
Screen 10” (1920×1200) LED-backlit LCD
User Memory 16Gb Micro SD card
Operating environment Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (reviewed version)
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n dual-band
Wireless Broadband Optional or standard
Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready
USB MicroUSB OTG
Audio 3.5mm stereo jack

The unit itself

Aesthetics and build quality

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 standing up

How it looks standing up

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 tablet is an example of a tablet that has strong build quality with metal housing. As well, the Lenovo doesn’t exhibit any problems with overheating even if you are watching video content.

The integrated kickstand works properly and smoothly allowing it to be free-standing and could support applications like an electronic display frame. As well, the Yoga Tablet 2’s “hinge-pin” which is part of the kickstand is used effectively for the audio jack and for the on-off button.

Display

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 tablet

Sharp display

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 comes across with a bright sharp display that is very responsive but it is very glossy which is something common with a lot of consumer tablets. It has performed well for video material and also for games.

Audio

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 implements Dolby audio tuning in conjunction with the two inbuilt speakers that are positioned far apart thus allowing for improved stereo separation when you are watching video material. But, like with a lot of tablets, they come across with sound that has very little bass response.

Connectivity and Expandability

Hinge pin detail on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

The headphone jack is positioned in the centre of the hinge pin

The only data port that the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 has is the microUSB charge / data port like what is expected on most Android phones. Here, this one also supports USB On-The-Go connectivity which provides for extra storage connectivity with USB flash-drives and memory-card adaptors at least. The omission here would be that it doesn’t support connectivity to external displays via MHL technology.

As for storage beyond the 16Gb flash memory, there is the ability to install a microSD card in a cavity behind the kickstand for this extra storage. There is also a 3.5mm stereo headset jack in the “hinge pin” so you can connect your headphones to the Yoga Tablet 2.

As for wireless networking, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 works to 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi networking along with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready connectivity.

Performance

A friend of mine has a soft spot for Plants vs Zombies 2  on the iOS platform, so I downloaded the Android port of this game and gave him a chance to play a few rounds of this game on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2. Here, his experience with device performance was very similar to what he experienced on an iPad 3 Retina which he was regularly playing the game on. There was still the same level of responsiveness that was required for that game.

As for video play, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 worked properly for YouTube playback and wasn’t draining the batteries even after a three-hour Microsoft video presentation about WIndows 10.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Lenovo could offer an increased number of model variations of its Yoga Tablet 2. This could be in the form of a model that has increased storage capacity, a high-performance “gamer-grade” model that suits the new wave of mobile gaming along with one or more models that are equipped with integrated wireless broadband. This means that people can choose the model that suits their needs rather than being stuck with one model.

As well, to be considered up-to-date, Lenovo could implement 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless technology and deliver the Yoga Tablet 2 with Android 5 Lollipop.

Conclusion

Android-based lifestyle tablet

I would position the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 as a viable Android-based alternative to the iPad, especially if you want something that can be freestanding especially for showing pictures or engaging in videocalls. Here, I would best describe it as an Android-based lifestyle tablet.

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Microsoft answers the reality with your computing environment using Windows 10

Article

How Microsoft Is Bringing Windows 10 Features, Including Cortana, To Android And iOS | Lifehacker

Microsoft furthers Android, iOS integration push in Win10 | ITNews

From the horse’s mouth

Microsoft Windows

Blog Post

Video

My Comments

Windows 10 and your smartphone platform work together-1

They now can work together

Manufacturers and platform vendors live in a dream world where customers will have their phone, computer and tablet all on the same or related platforms.

But the reality is that most people will have a personal computing environment based on two or three different operating systems. Typically this is an iPhone or Android smartphone working alongside a regular computer running Windows or MacOS X and, most likely, an iPad or an Android or Windows tablet.

It leads to problems associated with data interchange between the various devices and may require you to use cloud services or folders on a NAS, along with software import / export abilities to exchange the data. Even keeping your phone book or contact list in sync amongst devices of the various platforms can be very difficult.

But Microsoft has taken off from where they have built developer tools to allow you to quickly have apps ready-to-deploy for iOS, Android and Windows. They have taken this further by providing iOS, Android and Windows 10 apps that interlink and share data between your computer, tablet and smartphone. It may go against the dream held by Apple and their fanbois that once you have an iPhone, you progressively move towards an all-Apple computing environment with your regular computer being a Macintosh.

The first of these is the Phone Companion. This determines the corresponding apps you need to download from the iTunes App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) to interlink your phone with our Windows 10 computer on an application level.

These apps make use of Microsoft’s Windows OneDrive as a transfer point between your smartphone and your Windows 10 computer. For example, one of the apps provides a “hook” for your phone platform’s camera app to transfer photos to OneDrive so they show up on your computer.

There is also the XBox Music app which allows you to store your music on OneDrive and stream it to your iOS or Android smartphone while notes you create with OneNote on either your computer or smartphone show up on the other device. Microsoft is even making sure that if you modify a document on its Office mobile applications, the changes are reflected on your Office desktop applications.

Both the main smartphone platforms have their own integrated voice-driven personal assistant software in the form of Siri for iOS and Google Now for Android. But Microsoft has written a gateway app for each of these platforms so you can use Cortana as your voice-driven personal assistant. They are pushing the idea that, with Windows 10, Cortana will work across your smartphone and your regular computer in a platform-agnostic manner instead of just working with your smartphone or tablet..

A situation that can arise with any interoperability solution is that the solution can be engineered to be the hub of your computing life and not work tightly with the other platforms. For example, you may not be able to link your iOS or Android contacts function tightly with Windows nor would you be able to exchange photos between your device’s native photo storage and your computer’s photo collection smoothly. This can be of concern for, say, iOS users who make the Camera Roll serve as their handheld “brag-book” even though they have a PC or Mac having its own photo store or a cloud service like Dropbox being a photo exchange.

It is a step in the right direction to ensure data interoperability across the different mobile and desktop platforms when sharing data between devices along with satisfying the multiple-platform computing reality that affects most people.

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Acer to launch a gaming tablet

Articles

Acer Makes Bold Move With Predator Gaming Tablet … But Is It A Wise One? | Tech Times

Acer Attacks Gaming Market With Predator Series Desktop, Laptops, Tablet, And G-Sync Monitor | Tom’s Hardware

Tablette gamer Predator chez Acer | Ere Numérique.fr (France – French language / Langue Française)

From the horse’s mouth

Acer

next@Acer global consumer press release (North America)

My Comments

Acer is trying to get their claws in to the gaming-computer market by announcing the release of more game-focused computer products. One product that drew press attention was their Predator gaming tablet which is intended to be a mobile gaming answer to the NVIDIA Shield mobile-gaming platform.

This is part of building out the Predator game-focused computer product line from desktops to notebooks and tablets. The Predator gaming tablet is also in response to mobile devices being seen as part of the core gaming scene rather than something to play casual games on.

This will have the specifications for premium 8” Android tablet but even have four speakers up front as an attempt to convey the effects to the player. It will also implement haptic feedback to simulate gaming environments. Of course, for a gaming product, it will convey the Predator “rough-and-ready” design language including a rubberised back with the Predator logo on it. As well the display will exploit IPS technology along with 178-degree viewing angles to exploit the ability to swivel the device through gameplay.

The question to raise is whether Acer would offer the tablet that has the real performance that a core mobile gamer would value especially if it is to displace the handheld games consoles of the PlayStation Vita ilk or to displace the NVIDIA-Shield-based gaming platform. Similarly, could this be a chance to bring “enthusiast-grade” gaming to the mobile devices and have this go for gaming while travelling?

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Samsung releases an Android tablet for business and trades

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8" business tablet press picture courtesy of Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8″ business tablet

Article

First business-specific Samsung Galaxy tablet goes on sale | PC World

Samsung launches the Galaxy Tab Active for business and enterprise | AusDroid

Samsung means business with new tablet for work | Geelong Advertiser

From the horse’s mouth

Samsung

Galaxy Tab Active (Product Page)

My Comments

Samsung have released an Android tablet that has for the first time been pitched at business users including tradesmen. This tablet, known as the Galaxy Tab Active has been designed from knowledge Samsung gleaned from their interaction with the US’s Fortune-500 companies about the kind of tablets they require.

Personally, I see this as a small-form 8” tablet that could answer Apple’s iPad as a workplace tablet that is based on a mobile operating system. It is designed to IP67 rugged-use specifications which would make it even useful for outdoor work including as a workhorse for tradespeople who are effectively working out of the back of their vans.

The Android 4.4 KitKat tablet is security-hardened courtesy of Samsung’s KNOX security platform for business Android devices. It can link to an 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi network and mobile-broadband variants can work with the 4G LTE mobile-broadband services. It has 16Gb memory on board and the ability to work with “infinitely swappable” microSD cards like most other Android devices.

Of course the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active is pitched for business users and may not be easily available through the big-box consumer-technology stores, but would be available through some carrier outlets and business-technology specialists including independent computer / technology stores. The durability aspect could also appeal to those of us who want an Android tablet that “bridges” between the smaller coat-pocket personal tablets and the 10” tablets of the iPad ilk.

There is also the billion-dollar question about whether Android 5.1 Lollipop will be offered to this tablet rather than it being stuck with the Android 4.4 Kitkat software.

Personally I would like to see Samsung offer a 10” variant of this model to the business community for applications where such a screen size can play in handy. As well, if a unit has done its business tour of duty, it could earn its keep as a cost-effective alternative to equipment like the iPad.

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