There's more than one way to make money from Jelly Beans

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2012 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: asus, google, nexus 7, andriod, jelly bean

While many PC and component manufacturers are having a rough time in 2012, ASUS is not one.  Thanks to their wholehearted adoption of Android devices like the Nexus 7 they have seen their income from mobile devices jump from 7% of their revenue to 16%.  That total revenue also had significant growth, their profits are 43% higher than this quarter a year ago.  That growth rate is very impressive in the current economy and seems to refute many analyst's predictions that we are moving into a post PC market.  ASUS also has to thank their Transformer series as the paired tablet and keyboard device is proving quite popular and will be one of the main competitors to Microsoft's new Surface devices.  ASUS told The Register they plan to become the second largest seller of tablets and the largest retailer of touch devices.

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"Asus to you and me - has pulled a surprise jump in profit out of the bag as its tablets make up for slow PC sales.

The Taiwanese firm reported its largest quarterly profit in more than four years, spurred by its partnership with Google on the Nexus 7 and the enduring popularity of its own-brand snap-on keyboard fondletops."

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Source: The Register

Samsung Launches New ARM-Powered XE303C12 Chromebook

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2012 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: xe303c12, Samsung, laptop, google, Exynos 5250, Chromebook, chrome os, arm

While Android gets most of the attention, it is not the only operating system from Google. Chrome OS was released two years ago, and despite the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets, it is still very much alive and kicking on the cloud-connected “Chromebooks.”

In fact, earlier this week Samsung announced a brand new Chromebook powered by its own Exynos 5250 ARM System of a Chip (SoC). The new system is lighter than the company’s previous Chromebook offerings at 2.43 pounds and is less than an inch thick. The specifications are not impressive for a laptop, but in the context of a Chromebook where much of the processing is done on Internet-connected servers the internals should ensure that you get good battery life – up to 6.3 hours – out of the mobile machine.

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The 11.6” Chromebook has a display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, 1.5W stereo speakers, and a full physical keyboard with trackpad.

External I/O options include:

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Headphone/Mic combo jack
  • 1 x SD card slot

The USB 3.0 option is interesting, and should allow you to hook up fast external storage should you need more caching space for offline use.

On the outside, the Chromebook very much resembles a standard laptop, but on the inside it is closer to the specifications of a smartphone or tablet. Interestingly, Samsung has chosen its Exynos 5250 system on a chip to power the XE303C12 Chromebook. That processor is packing two Cortex A15-based ARM CPU cores and an ARM Mali T604 GPU. While the Exynos 15 is capable of clocking up to 2GHz, it is unclear whether or not the Chromebook will feature chips clocked at that speed or not. It is certainly a possibility though, since the laptop form factor would provide ample cooling versus a more constrained smartphone or tablet. Beyond the SoC, Samsung has packed in 2GB of RAM and a 16GB solid state drive (SSD). Additionally, the XE303C12 Chromebook includes a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip – useful for business uses – and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi radio with a 2x2 antenna configuration.

The new Samsung Chromebook is available for pre-order now, and will be officially available for purchase at Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, and other retailers beginning October 22, 2012. It has an MSRP of $249.99.

I’m interested to see how this compared to the Windows RT offerings, and whether the cheaper price will win people over versus those devices. On the other hand, it may be that Android tablets – like the Nexus 7, Nook Tablet, and new Kindle Fire tablets – are the favored devices for all but road warriors needing a decent keyboard. What do you think?

Source: Samsung

Microsoft desires it's name on hardware so much it is willing to compete with its self

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, win8, surface, google, Android, nexus 7, Samsung, Pegatron

Two companies which for the most part sold software only are making a name for themselves in the hardware sector, in two very different ways.  Google's Android has become quite a player and the upcoming release of the Nexus 7 platform is anticipated by many mobile players because Google has no intentions of making its own phones.  Instead they will make their money licensing the platform to a variety of established cellphone and tablet manufacturers, as they have in the past.  According to what DigiTimes has heard, Microsoft is going in the exact opposite direction with Surface and will be continuing with the same plan as their tablet, which has already caused negative backlash from many of the major player in the market such as Acer.  Designers of Microsoft Win8 based phones are required to use the same platform and interface in order to meet the requirements of Microsoft's licensing agreement which will make phones difficult to differentiate as competitors are very limited in the customization they can offer, at least on the software side.  To make the market even more confusing, Microsoft is reaching out to Pegatron to manufacture their own branded Surface phone, which will find its self in direct competition with the phones from established players, the ones Microsoft is count on to license the portable version of Win8.  It would be hard to come up with another way that Microsoft could make licensing their new OS even less attractive for OEMs and ODMs.

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"Google and Microsoft both reportedly plan to extend the Nexus 7 and Surface tablet lineups to include smartphones as a means to further increase the penetration of their own platforms, but the two companies will implement the strategies in a different tune, according to industry sources.

Google aims to launch smartphones based on its Nexus 7 platform in cooperation with a number of smartphone branded vendors with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and HTC likely to be potential partners, said the sources.

On the other hand, Microsoft is reportedly tapping ODM maker Pegatron for the production of WP8-based smartphones slated for launch in the first half of 2013, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction and Design

 

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Samsung played a little trick on me when I reviewed the Samsung Series 5 earlier this year. You see, I barely finished my review of it when – surprise! – Samsung announced the new Series 5 550.
 
With that said, I can forgive them. They sent me the new model to review as well. It is a complete redesign both inside and out. The updated exterior is built with better quality materials and is only available in silver instead of your choice of white or black. 
 
Inside, Samsung has thrown Atom aside and replaced it with an Intel Celeron 867. This part uses the Sandy Bridge architecture and offers two cores clocked at 1.3 GHz. It, of course, lacks the Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features found in some Core series products.
 
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The rest of the laptop is similar to the previous model. The display size is the same and the hard drive is still a 16GB SSD instead of a standard mechanical hard drive. Going with a Sandy Bridge part has also upgraded the graphics, so the pathetic GMA 3150 found in the previous Chromebooks has been replaced with Intel HD, albeit a low-power version with a base clock of 350 MHz and a maximum clock of 1 GHz.
 
These improvements have resulted in a price adjustment that brings the new Series 5 back in line with the debut price of the original. You can expect to pay $450 for the Wi-Fi model or $550 for the 3G version. Consumers who opt for the 3G version receive 2 years of free service from Verizon, but the data cap is a strict 100MB per month. That’s enough for occasional web browsing but not enough for serious use. 
 
Increasing the price puts the Samsung Series 5 back in competition with budget ultraportables like the ASUS 1225B and the Lenovo X130e. Can the Chromebook and Chrome OS hold up against such competitors? Let’s find out.
 

More on Google's $200 Jellybean

Subject: Mobile | August 1, 2012 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: google, nexus 7, andriod, jellybean, tablet, tegra 3

By now you may be familiar with the Tegra 3 powered, 1280x800 IPS display Nexus 7, but if you've been away then The Tech Report can fill you in on what you have missed.  At 7.8" x 4.7" the resolution is a respectable 216 pixels per inch as well as being of a nice size for both portability and usability.  The mini USB port can come in handy in several ways but the one thing it cannot do is offer you external storage for your Nexus 7 which is a bit of a pain considering there is a $50 premium on the 16GB model over the 8GB base.  There are some flaws but considering that at $200 it is significantly less expensive than its competitors, there is a lot of good things to say about Google's new tablet.

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"For just $199, Google's Nexus 7 tablet serves up a 1280x800 display, a Tegra 3 SoC, and the very latest version of Android. We take a closer look at the budget wonder and break out our high-speed camera to capture Jelly Bean's responsiveness improvements in action."

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Google Nexus Q Delayed, But Free For Those That Pre-ordered

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 02:42 AM |
Tagged: streaming media, nexus q, google io, google

Google’s Nexus Q was launched at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. The US-assembled streaming media box sphere was given out to developers and journalists attending the event to play around with, with general consumer availability set for mid-July. The device is quite the feat of engineering, and packs some high-end hardware. Aside from being built in the US, a good portion of the $299 cost comes from the inclusion of a 25 watt amplifier that is reportedly of “audiophile quality.”

The hardware is all well and good, but the software component of the Nexus Q currently leaves a lot to be desired. It is heavily dependent on Google’s Play services. In fact, without hacking the device it can only play media streamed from Google Play’s cloud server.

As a result, many speculated (as did I) that, while an interesting bit of hardware, the lack of support for playing your other media would severely detract from its desirability. The multi-room functionality, group playlists, and amplifier are neat, but the Nexus Q would be worth much more if it could play back media from other sources–especially with a $299 asking price.

According to Wired, Google has taken the feedback to heart. It has announced that it is delaying the launch in order to add new functionality to the device. In an email to those that pre-ordered, the company stated that:

“In response, we have decided to postpone the consumer launch of Nexus Q while we work on making it even better.”

The company has pulled the pre-order option from the Google Play page, but those that have existing pre-orders will still be getting the device. Within the next few weeks, people that pre-ordered will be getting a Nexus Q–and here’s the best part–at no cost (I really wish I would have gone through with that pre-order now hehe). Google has decided to extend the Google Preview program to everyone that pre-ordered the device. As such, people will be getting free Nexus Q devices to play around with.

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Unfortunately, Google has not stated exactly what new functionality they will be adding to the final Nexus Q devices. Also, there is no word on exactly when they will start to go on sale again.

As it is packing similar hardware to the Galaxy Nexus, it is capable of running the full Android OS and its related applications. It does seem likely that Google is working on adding the ability to run other Android applications besides the existing Play Music and Play Movies & TV apps. Considering Android already supports VLC, Spotify, Netflix, Remote Potato and other media applications, they would add considerable value to the Nexus Q should Google allow such apps to be installed.

Source: Wired
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design and Connectivity

 

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All of my past tablet reviews have come to a similar conclusion – buy the iPad. Unless you have a particular, specific use for your tablet which Apple’s walled garden does not support there is little reason to go with anything else. The problem is a combination of both hardware and software. Cupertino’s closed approach, which develops both in-house, has provided better products so far.
 
If you can’t beat them, you can always sell to a somewhat different market. And so we have the Google Nexus 7. There are three things about this tablet that has made many geeks very interested – it has a Tegra 3 processor, it runs Android 4.1 and it starts at $200 for the 8GB version.
 
This is, in fact, the production version of the $249 Tegra 3 tablet that we all ooo-ed and ahh-ed over during CES 2012. Google hasn’t paid much lip-service to ASUS, but the company’s logo is on the back of the tablet. I have no complaints about this partnership. ASUS has made the best Android tablets for some time, so going with them is an obvious choice.
 

Google, what happened to all the other Nexus models?

Subject: Mobile | July 13, 2012 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: google, Nexus, jellybean

Google's first tablet, the Nexus 7, is running the new Android OS called JellyBean and has inside a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, with the $200 model sporting 8GB of storage and the $250 doubling that to 16GB.  Apart from the storage the models are the same, with a 1280 x 800 screen and a single micro-USB plug, no SD card slot at all.  It also only has a single 1.2MP camera which will only let you send video, there is no camera app to allow you to snap pictures.  Check out the usability of the new device over at TechSpot.

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"Google has released a number of Nexus branded "hero" smartphones in the past, but the new Google Nexus 7 is the first ever tablet to bear the Google Nexus name. Built by Asus, the Nexus 7 also has the distinction of being the first device to run the Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system.

While the Nexus 7 offers nothing to consumers that can't be found elsewhere - save for Jelly Bean - it offers a number of refinements to the Android tablet experience in terms of both software and hardware. And it does it all at a sub-$200 price point that is meant to dethrone Amazon's Kindle Fire as the reigning Android tablet of choice for consumers. With specs like a quad-core processor and a 1280 x 800 pixel display, that seems possible and likely."

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Mobile

Source: TechSpot

Galaxy Nexus Ban Suspended Pending Response From Apple

Subject: Mobile | July 7, 2012 - 07:44 AM |
Tagged: universal search, patents, injunction, google, galaxy nexus, apple, Android

Over the past couple of weeks, Apple and Samsung have been battling it out in court as Apple tries to get US sales of the Galaxy Nexus banned over an Apple universal search patent. We are not much for patent news here, but this has been one case that everyone seems to be following. Samsung has managed to get a stay on the injunction against its Galaxy Nexus smartphone – at least until Apple formally responds to Samsung. From there, a judge will need to make the final call on whether the injunction will remain in effect during the trial or not. That should give the company a few days, at least.

Interestingly, Samsung also seems to be planning for the worst with an Over the Air (OTA) update planned that will prevent the search bar in Android from searching for files stored on the phone itself – you will still be able to search the Internet from it however. I’m rather surprised that Apple is going after Samsung so aggressively to begin with since it is one of the company’s major hardware partners (ie for iPad components). At this point, it’s a toss up as to who will win out in court, but I’m hoping that the user experience for mobile Android users will not have to suffer as a result of this bickering over a search box.

What do you think about the court battle? Who do you think is in the right? For reference, the Apple patent that the case centers around seems to be US 8,086,604.

Check out our Google I/O coverage for more photos of the new Nexus branded hardware!

Source: The Verge

ESR Labs Crafts Cheap Nexus Q Competitor With Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 11:39 PM |
Tagged: streaming, Raspberry Pi, nexus q, media, google, android transporter, Android

Last week at Google I/O 2012, the company announced a new high-end media streaming device that taps into the Google Play cloud to bring music, movies, and TV shows to your living room television. Launched as the Nexus Q, the Android-powered sphere connects to the internet and multiple Android phones to bring a social media sharing aspect to the big screen, for a hefty $299 price tag (available from the Google Play Store).

Granted, it does contain a high end built-in amplifier for connecting to bookshelf speakers – at 12.5 watts per channel – and is made in the United States. Even so, that’s a high price to pay for a media streaming box, and especially one that can only play media from Google Play and not any locally stored content.

Enter the Raspberry Pi, the small Linux-powered $35 computer that is still not easy to get a hold of (at least not with my luck!). Coupled with a piece of new software developed by E.S.R. Labs called Android Transporter, the Raspberry Pi can wirelessly stream media and more from your Android devices to your TV screen for a much lower price.

There are some caveats, however if you are just after the wireless streaming aspects the Raspberry Pi has you covered. The Nexus Q, on the other hand, further brings in a social interface that allows friends to pool their Google Play content and build a playlist. It also has a very nice case with touchscreen controls and LEDs. The Nexus Q also offers an analog amplifier for speakers and optical audio outputs as well as regular HDMI. The Raspberry Pi only has HDMI for high-quality digital audio. Neither device supports HDMI pass through for connecting it between your audio kit and/or HDMI switcher and the TV though.

The Android Transporter software also has a noticeable bit of lag, which isn't really a problem for watching movies or streaming music but may make using the phone as a gaming controller as E.S.R proposed difficult. According to Bit-Tech, the developers are working on reducing latency from the current 150ms to less than 100ms.

To me, this seems like a good compromise between the cool wireless streaming technology (I can never find that darn MHL adapter when I need it!) and the $299 Nexus Q hardware. For the cost of a Raspberry Pi, you can get wireless streaming and screen sharing as well as the ability to stream local content as well as streamed-from-the-internet media. That gets you most of the way to the Nexus Q (while adding local content!) for about an eighth of the cost! I will concede that the Nexus Q's hardware is a lot sleeker looking that that of the Raspberry Pi!

As soon as I get my Pi, I'm definitely going to try this out! Have you gotten your hands on a Raspberry Pi yet? Are you using it as a cheap HTPC/streaming box?

You can find all of our Raspberry Pi coverage on the site by searching for the "Raspberry Pi" tag.

Source: Bit-Tech