Sony Launching New $199 Google TV Box

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 10:17 AM |
Tagged: sony, smart tv, htpc, google tv, google, Android

Yes, it does appear that Google TV is still a “thing” – though I am only reminded because Sony has not stoppsed releasing new boxes running Android. The NSZ-GS7 is a small box designed to sit between your TV and cable box to add additional smart TV-like functionality. It is running a dual core Marvell ARM processor, and has 8GB of storage space, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radios. Rear IO on the device includes two HDMI ports (for HDMI passthrough of your cable box or other media device), optical audio output, an IR blaster port, Ethernet, two USB ports, and a power input port.

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The interesting thing about these Google TV products has always been the remotes. There have been some strange designs in the past, but the Sony NSZ-GS7’s remote actually looks nice and comfortable. The front of the remote resembles any standard TV remote with a track pad added to it while the back of the remote features a full QWERTY keyboard. It also has an accelerometer and is allegedly capable of detecting which side of the remote you are using – and will turn off the buttons on the underside to avoid accidental key-presses.

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I really like this remote. Image credit goes to Tom's Hardware.

Beyond the hardware itself, the Google TV box is running Android 3.2 Honeycomb. It is able to acts as an enhanced TV guide as well as providing web access and Google App functionality (for the few apps that have been modified to work specifically with Google TVs anyway). One of the cool apps available is one that can control a Parrot AR.Drone on the big screen with the TV remote, which sounds like fun (my dog would go nuts!). It is also capable of doing picture-in-picture where users can browse the web while also watching the TV in a smaller window.

Tom’s Hardware managed to gets a hands-on demo with the new device courtesy of Sony Canada. They managed to snag several good photos of the hardware and interface. They note that the NSZ-GS7 Google TV box will be coming out next month for those in the US and UK – a Canadian launch is following in August – for $199. You can find more photos at the link above.

Especially with the release of the Nexus Q, I have to wonder if Google is even aware that Google TV is still around, because it really feels like they launched it and then walked away from it. Now that they are focusing on “the cloud” for media playback, the Google TV has even less relevance to the company. On the other hand, I could see an perspective where both devices are able to coexist and flesh out total living room media functionality with the Nexus Q handling the social and cloud media playback and Google TV acting as a better cable box for “offline” media. I am curious though, what you think of Google TV. Do you like it, or would you rather have a beefier HTPC running Windows or Linux on x86/64 hardware? Where do you think the Google TV fits into the living room?

Other Google I/O News:

 

Google Selling Nexus 7 At Cost To Promote Its Play Ecosystem

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 06:47 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, jelly bean, google io, google, Android

We first saw an ASUS 7” tablet at CES 2012. That tablet would quickly drop off the radar only to emerge again at this year’s Google I/O developer conference as the Google Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 is a 7” tablet that closely resembles the original ASUS model but tweaks the case and knocks the price down to $199.

Specifications include a quad core Tegra 3 processor with 12-core GPU component, 8GB or 16GB of storage space, and 1GB of RAM. Other features include WiFi, NFC, and Bluetooth. Further, Google announced during its Day 1 keynote that the Nexus 7 weighs in at 340 grams and offers up to 9 hours of video playback time. All that hardware drives Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and an IPS display with resolution of 1280x800 resolution.

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All Things D talked with both ASUS CEO Jonney Shih and Google’s Andy Rubin about the new Google Nexus 7 tablet and how it came to be. Reportedly, ASUS had just four months to come up with a 7” tablet for Google that they could sell at cost for $200. Both of those added up to a tight time schedule with 24-hour development cycle and a tablet that was mostly similar to its CES tablet but at the lower Google price point. Dubbed Project A Team internally, ASUS added a number of new people to the tablet project and moved engineers around the work – including some postings in Silicon Valley so that they could work closely with Google. It also enabled ASUS to work around the clock on the hardware (albeit by different workers). Google has stated that ASUS was one of the few companies that could have pulled off the tablet in the short time frame given. AllThingsD quoted Google’s Andy Rubin as saying “We went from zero to working product in four months.”

On the ASUS side of things, Jonney Shih told the site that “our engineers told me it is like torture” regarding working with Google to develop the tablet. Also, he stated that Google can be a demanding company to work with. “They ask a lot.”

 

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Granted, ASUS had a good starting point with its 370T tablet that it showed off at CES, but the difficult part was taking that same tablet and making it cost less than $200. Google’s goal with that price point was to attempt to capture the mainstream market – a market that is currently buying into the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet tablets (and accompanying ecosystems). Despite being based on Android, both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have heavily tweaked the interface and heavily tied the hardware into their content ecosystems. Google wants to do the same with its Play Store by releasing a tablet at cost on its Google Play Store that will run the latest – and bloatware-free – version of Android. The company is trying to position the Nexus 7 as the perfect tablet to consumer Play Music, Play Books, and Play Movies on. The hardware inside and out along with the latest Android OS do make it a very compelling option for people wanting a tablet with the form factor of the Kindle Fire but the full (and latest) stock version of Android. Both companies seemed to run into the Nexus 7, but in the end the pressure ASUS was under may have resulted in a "diamond in the (Android tablet) rough."

What do you think of the Nexus 7? Is it the Kindle Fire for the more tech savvy (and/or those not already heavilly invested in a competing media catalog like Itunes, Amazon Kindle, et al)?

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Source: AllThingsD

Google I/O 2012: Day One

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: tablet, google io, google drive, google, developers, conference, chrome, asus, Android

Every June, the tech world lights up with numerous tech conferences that pack dense information into a couple days (and takes weeks to fully decompress). One of the bigger conferences (by a single company, Computex is its own beast) is Google I/O.

The biggest rumor to come out concerning this year’s Google I/O announcements is an ASUS manufactured 7-inch Nexus Tablet. It is allegedly packing some high end hardware with the Tegra 3 Soc, up to 16GB of memory, IPS display, and an extremely attractive price at less than $200. Beyond that, we can expect Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) information, developer talks, software demos, and more talk of Google Wallet, and NFC technology. Heck, Google may even make a second attempt at pushing Android@Home (or maybe not heh).

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Being June 27th, it is the first day of Google I/O and that means it is time for keynotes! On the schedule for today, Google has talks on the new aspects of Android, Google Play, cloud computing, Youtube cloud rendering, Google+ (including Hangouts), and new features of Google Maps. They also have talks scheduled with Google Drive information that should demo some of the things developers can do with the Drive SDK.

We are excited to see if the Nexus tablet rumors are true or not, as well as learning more about the latest version of Android. If you are interested in watching the event, check out the Google I/O schedule where you can tune into the most of the events live. The first event starts soon at 9:30am PST!

Check back later today for updates!

Update: (9:00 PST) A leaked screenshot indicates that the Nexus tablet may be called the Nexus 7.

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Update: (9:30 PST) Vic Gondotra stepped on stage to kick off the Google I/O conference. He stated that there are more than 30,000 people in attendance.

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What are you excited about at Google I/O? Let us know in the comments below!

See more updates after the break.

 

Source: Google I/O

Report: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Kai Platform to Power ASUS-built Nexus Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 27, 2012 - 03:43 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, memo, jelly bean, ics, eeepad, asus, Android

For months, rumors have been flying about Google introducing a "Nexus" tablet platform, reminiscent of what they have done with previous phone releases. With the Google I/O Day 1 Keynote just hours away, we at PC Perspective are throwing our hat into the ring in predicting what Google is likely to announce.

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During meetings with ASUS at CES 2012, representatives from the company introduced us to a series of 3 tablets, including the Eee Pad MeMO 171, and the later to be named Transformer Prime Infinity. While these two tablets have been released or are soon to be released in some retail capacity, there is one product that they were talking about that morning which ASUS has gone completely silent on. 

While ASUS was being a little cagey about the product at the time, we did recieve some initial information for this Eee Pad MeMO 370T. We were told that it was a Tegra 3 product, and that it would come in at around $250. This device however was not particularly accessible to us like the rest of the time as it was locked in a protective case. We could use the screen of the device, but that was about it. In fact, the pictures that we snapped of this device were frankly just by chance, as we were expecting to see this product later down the line and didn't put much focus onto it.

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Moving on to later in the same day, we attended the NVIDIA press conference, which was very Tegra focused. One of the big announcements was an unnamed ASUS $249 Tegra 3 Tablet. NVIDIA was also being pretty silent about this product, but we once again expected news about their low-cost platform for tablet (Kai) in the coming weeks.

 

NVIDIA announces $249 ASUS Tegra 3 Tablet at CES

However we never recieved any more information in the following 6 months from either ASUS or NVIDIA, which brings us to this year's Google I/O. With Google expected to be working with ASUS on a 7" tablet, and the fact that NVIDIA was so hyped about a product that was never heard from again, it becomes a safe assumption to look towards the long forgotten Eee Pad MeMO 370T as the likely platform. While the styling may be altered, any potential Google/ASUS 7" tegra tablet will certainly have had roots in the Eee family.

Samsung Galaxy S III Officially Announced at Samsung Unpacked

Subject: Mobile | May 7, 2012 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, galaxy s3, galaxy s III, Android

Previous rumors of a quad core smartphone from Samsung proved to be true at the 2012 Samsung Unpacked event in London on Thursday. There, they officially unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S III Android 4.0 smartphone.

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The new smartphone runs the latest Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” mobile operating system with an updated version of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface that adds additional functionality on top of the vanilla Android experience. Many sites have mentioned that Samsung really focused in on the software and experience aspects of the phone rather than the underlying hardware specifications and performance characteristics.

The company is introducing a number of new features with the Galaxy S III including voice control with S Voice, “S Beam” wireless file transfer, and a feature called “Pop up Play” that allows users to play videos while checking email and browsing the web. The S Voice feature lets users turn their phone on by saying “Hi, Galaxy” as well as writing emails, sending text messages, hitting “snooze” on the alarm, organizing schedules, and taking photos. Another feature that the Galaxy S III offers is NFC payment.

On the hardware side of things, the smartphone measures 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, and weighs 133g. On the outside, there is a 4.8 inch HD Super AMOLED Pentile display with a resolution of 1280x720. There is a 1.9 megapixel camera on the front and a 8 megapixel camera on the back with backside illumination to improve low light performance. The phone is available in Pebble Blue and Marble White at launch, with additional color options to follow. Powering the software and HD display is a 2,100 mAh battery, 16, 32, or 64 (coming soon) Gigabytes of storage, microSD card slot, 1GB of RAM, and a Exynos 4 quad core processor. It also features 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi (support channel bonding), GPS, GLONASS (radio navigation system), NFC, and Bluetooth 4. As far as cellular technology, it supports EDGE, 3G, and 4G (depending on which model you buy–more on that below).

Matt at Engadget managed to shoot some video of the new Samsung phone at the launch event, seen below.

While some models will run the Exynos 4 quad core processor, the US version will likely have a dual core Qualcomm processor due to incompatibilities between the necessary LTE radio and the Exynos 4 SoC. In the end, the general user experience should not suffer as a result but it is still regrettable that there is not a quad core part from a hardware perspective. Because the Exynos 4 SoC is based on older ARMv7 CPU cores and a Mali 400 GPU core, it will be faster in multithreaded tasks but the newer dual core Qualcomm in the LTE models will be faster in general usage thanks to the newer CPU technology and Android’s notoriously poor multithreaded performance. Users should not write off the dual core Galaxy S III phones on specifications alone.

The phone will be available for purchase in Europe at the end of May, with other countries to follow. No official word on pricing has been given yet.

Are you still excited for the US Galaxy S III now that it is official? Will you be upgrading or waiting on one of the other upcoming Android smatphones?

Source: Samsung

Samsung Teases Exynos 4 Quad Core Mobile Processor

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2012 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, quad core, galaxy s 3, Exynos 4, Android

Samsung has an event scheduled for May 3rd called Mobile Unpacked where it will be unveiling their latest Galaxy series smartphone. It seems as if the company was too excited about the new hardware to wait because they have teased small bits of information on the processor. The new chip has been named the Exynos 4 and is a quad core processor running at 1.4 GHz.

img_4quad_1.png

Based on a 32nm HKMG (High-K Metal Gate) process node, Samsung claims the SoC uses 20% less power than it’s 45nm predecessors. The quad core processor is more power efficient thanks to the lower process node and the ability of the chip to turn individual cores off when not in use. As far as performance, the company claims the new quad core part is twice as fast as the older dual core 45nm chips. The Exynos 4 also has an integrated image signal processor for high quality camera processing and support for multi format codec (MFC) decoding. The MFC engine allows the chip to process a variety of 1080p HD video files.

A few things that are noticeably absent from the Samsung product page include any specific performance numbers, architecture details, and benchmarks. Samsung is keeping a tight lid on that information until the release but once reviewers get their hands on the Galaxy III independent benchmarks are soon to follow. The comparison between the Exynos 4 and NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 should be interesting.

Source: Samsung

Once again, ubiquitous computing spells the end of Wintel

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2012 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, windows, Android, embedded systems

A story at The Register spells out the end of Windows, this time by 2016.  The growth of cellphones with enough processing power to be more than just glorified telephones is going to change the market, of that there can be no doubt.  On the other hand without some serious upgrades to the interface it seems very unlikely that a cellphone will be sitting on a desk with a mouse, keyboard and monitor connected to it.  In fact the very idea that ARM will one day outsell x86 processors is absurd, last year 2.2 billion ARM processors were sold, that number may be higher than all the processors AMD and Intel ever fabbed.  Keep that in mind when someone tells you that ARM may one day outsell CPUs intended for use in Windows machines.  

Android outselling Windows could be a reasonable prediction for the near future, but again it is hard to imagine Android replacing Windows Server or business oriented Linux distros, even if they are running on an ARM processor.  Then again, stranger things have happened.

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"Windows might be on the rise in the world of embedded systems, but if IDC's prognostications are right, then Windows is about to get its kernel handed to it with the rise of Android on what the market researcher dubs "smart connected devices."

By IDC's reckoning, makers of PCs, tablets, and smartphones shipped some 916 million units of machinery in 2012, raking in an astounding $489bn in moolah."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Linux Kernel 3.3 Merges With Android, Now Available

Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2012 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: OS, linux kernel 3.3, linux, kernel, Android

Linux kernel 3.3 has recently been released for public consumption, and it features quite a few new features and improvements. The kernel is the code that developers than build upon to create all the various Linux distributions such as Fedora, Mint, and Arch Linux (among others).

This latest release, version 3.3 includes various improvements to the file system, btrfs, networking, architecture, and EFI BIOS support. In regards to the file system, the Linux 3.3 kernel supports improved balancing and the ability to re-stripe between different RAID (redundant array of independent disks) levels. Further, the kernel will now allow an x86 boot image to be processed by EFI firmware in addition to the traditional BIOS microcode boot that is present in the majority of today's machines. Also, Kernel 3.3 improves the networking aspects by improving the ability to bond multiple NICs to improve networking throughput and/or to provide redundant connections. Support for a new architecture has also emerged such that Linux kernel will work with Texas Instruments C6X based chips. These chips include the "family of C64x single and multicore DSPs."

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The above improvements are just the tip of the iceberg, however. The most talked about new feature is likely going to be the inclusion of Android code from Google's Android OS project. According to the Kernel Newbies website, the disagreements between Linux kernel developers and Google have been "ironed out," and code from the Android project will now start to be rolled back into the Linux kernel. They expect that Android coming home to traditional Linux will make developing code and end user software easier for everyone, and they expect further Android and Linux integration in the future.

More information on the latest Linux kernel release is available here.

Google Rumored To Release $199 Nexus Tablet

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2012 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: nexus tablet, google, Android

The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablets are two low cost Android tablets that are arguably the first Android tablets to be very successful, especially as gifts during this past holiday season. The $500+ iPads are nice, but not everyone is willing to pay that much money for a secondary computing device (the PC isn't dead yet!). There is also the form factor issue in that many consumers prefer the smaller and more portable 7" tablets that Apple has yet to provide.

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Image via techiser

It seems as though Google has taken notice of the success of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet and is ready to throw it's weight around and show manufacturers how to replicate that success with a reference 7" tablet of their very own. Much akin to the Google Nexus smart phones that Google released to act as a base / vanilla platform for manufacturers to base their designs on; Google is planning to release a Google Nexus Tablet. Recent rumors suggest that such an Android tablet is a "done deal" according to sources within Google's supply chain. Further, the Nexus tablet will allegedly feature a 7" form factor and will be powered by a TI OMAP 4 processor to keep costs low (versus using NVIDIA's Tegra 3). In addition, the Nexus Tablet would run an updated version of Android, specifically Android 4.1.

Speaking of costs, the Verge has stated that the new Nexus Tablet will retail for $199 USD, though there may be other varied SKUs that come in at lower/higher price points depending on the amount of RAM and storage.

The Google Nexus smart phones never really caught on with the majority of consumers, but many tech savvy people appreciated the vanilla Android experience that did not involve waiting months for OS updates (I'm looking at you, Samsung). If anyone can create a low cost tablet to replicate the success of the Kindle Fire, it's Google. What are your thoughts on these recent rumors?

Source: The Verge

MWC 12: Android 5.0 this fall? Google drops sweet hints.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 28, 2012 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, Android 5.0, Android

Android Ice Cream Sandwich is currently getting rolled out to compatible devices at a leisurely pace. The OS itself is for the most part well appreciated by both developers and end-users. As the rollout progresses and minor maintenance patches are created: Google is looking forward to the next major version.

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Just get Ice Cream Sandwich and they already talking about the future. U Jelly? : D

ComputerWorld went out to Barcelona to check out Mobile World Congress and of course could not resist reporting on Android. In an interview with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google VP of Engineering for Mobile, we are treated to a few indirect statements about the next major version of Android.

The major release timeframe for Android is said to continue to be an annual endeavor. An annual release schedule would slate Android J (5.0) to an autumn timeframe. During the discussion, Lockheimer noted that there is flexibility with when developers wish to roll out updated. While that personally sounds like Google is allowing OEMs and carriers to take as long as they desire to implement the new Android releases it appears as if ComputerWorld has heard rumors of Android 5-power phones appearing as early as summer.

Despite ComputerWorld’s best effort, Google would not confirm the dessert associated with Android 5. Best guesses point to the name Jelly Bean, which are supported by a glass jar of Jelly Beans on the show floor.