Archive for January, 2010
Yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the company’s highly-anticipated new iPad tablet. How’d it turn out? Well, it’s a good example of “what you see is what you get”– it looks like a giant iPod Touch, and that’s basically what it is. Given the tremendous hype surrounding the tablet, the iPad will probably sell well at launch, but for a number of reasons (detailed below), it’s unlikely to cause any radical shifts in the mobile electronics arena. More >
A few hours ago, Google made a startling announcement that the company has decided to stop filtering search results on Google.cn. Google indicated, through a post on the official Google blog by David Drummond, the firm’s chief legal officer, that the shift came after it discovered a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on its servers that aimed to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
While the carefully-worded post did not directly accuse the Chinese government of orchestrating the attacks, Google said that particularly in light of the country’s attempts over the last year to “further limit free speech on the web,” it would “review the feasibility of our business operations in China.” Drummond wrote that over the next few weeks, the company will discuss with the Chinese government how it “could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all” but recognizes that it may have to shut down Google.cn.
Google’s seemingly bold step has garnered praise from numerous policy groups, though Google’s precise motivations are still somewhat indeterminate. Some believe the firm may have been willing to censor search results as long as it thought the Chinese market could provide growth in advertising revenues, and that this could be motivated by a business decision to close Google.cn. Or maybe Google is actually trying to live up to its ideal of “doing no evil.”
Pocketnow has posted a web browsing comparison between HTC’s two most powerful smartphones, the Android-powered Nexus One and the Windows Mobile-powered HD2. Both run on Qualcomm’s 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and provide fast rendering, but the Nexus One was generally a few seconds faster all around. The Nexus One’s AMOLED display stood out with high contrast and vibrant colors, though the HD2′s screen is larger (4.3″ vs. 3.7″). The HD2 has some advantages, with much easier page zooming through multi-touch support (which the Nexus One oddly lacks, even though its hardware physically supports it) and Opera Mobile’s ability to reshape content to fit the screen.
Looks like the Unhappy Nexus One owners club is about to expand. Turns out that Google is applying its own $350 early termination fee to its latest Android-powered phone, in addition to T-Mobile’s own ETF (which can be up to $200). Worse yet, since Google collects your credit card information upon purchase, the ETF is automatically charged to your card.
So if you decide to cancel after the two-week trial period but before 120 days have passed, you could be hit with a $550 bill. T-Mobile’s ETF makes sense, as it subsidizes the phone’s up-front cost when you buy it on contract, but why does Google have its own “Equipment Recovery Fee”? So much for making smartphone purchases simpler, Google. More details below.
One of the more interesting things to emerge from CES this year was a new generation of projected interface devices. In the past, we’ve seen small contraptions that project a keyboard onto any flat surface, but now a company called evoMouse has taken the technology several steps ahead. The new evoMouse Pet projects a virtual multi-touch touchpad onto any surface, allowing you to move the cursor, pinch to zoom, scroll, and more. The evoMouse Cube adds on a projected keyboard as well. Both devices are quite compact, connect via Bluetooth, and should work with Windows XP/Vista/7 PCs and Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, or Symbian-powered smartphones. More pictures at Pocket-lint. No word on pricing yet.
A UK firm, Light Blue Optics, took the concept even further with its Light Touch, demoing a larger device that projects a 10″ WVGA resolution touchscreen onto any surface. The screen, which connects by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, uses infrared touch sensing and and will support multi-touch with a software update. It comes with 2GB of on-board storage, a microSD slot for expansion, and a battery lasting 2 hours.
Here are the first photos of T-Mobile’s upcoming exclusive (in the U.S.) Windows Mobile smartphone, the HTC HD2. Luckily, there don’t seem to be any major cosmetic changes from the international version besides the small T-Mobile logo at the top.
Looks like Sony Ericsson’s much-delayed Xperia X2 smartphone might actually come to the U.S. after all, as the X2a model featuring AT&T 3G bands. The Windows Mobile 6.5-powered curve-slider is a follow-up to the earlier, HTC-built X1. While the X2 boasts a marginally larger screen (3.2 vs. 3.0″), it still uses the same antiquated 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7200 processor and doesn’t offer anything particularly different as compared to the HTC Touch Pro 2 (which has a much larger, tilting screen), for example.
The X2a will probably arrive in a few months’ time, and likely at an extremely high price (as with the X1a, which sold for $800). We’re not quite sure what Sony Ericsson’s thinking here– by the time this launches, it won’t be even remotely competitive with other high-end smartphones, from the HTC HD2 (which will have launched in the U.S. by then), to the iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid, Palm Pre, etc. Nonetheless, if you’re curious, there’s more info up at SonyStyle.
Some more interesting tidbits on Windows Mobile 7 from Robbie Bach (head of the Microsoft division in charge of Xbox, Zune, and Windows Mobile) at CES yesterday (transcribed here, see the full webcast here):
I think the number one thing we have to do on Windows Mobile going forward is about the experience people have with phones. I don’t think we have a business model problem per-say, I don’t think we have to outstanding challenge outside of the fact that our experience is very skewed towards business users as is not as modern as it needs to be and doesn’t feel straightforward.
So the challenge for us as we come in to 2010, we are going to have new things that we will talk about at Mobile World Congress [...] The first bar people should look at will “Wow the are doing a great job with the product!” and when you look at the product; and I’m quite confident. I have the luxury of having seen it and play with it a little bit. People are going to see something that’s differentiated and something that sets the bar forward. Not in an evolutionary way compared to where we are today but something that feels, look, act and performs completely different.
In the interest of competition, let’s hope Microsoft finally understands what it needs to do to turn Windows Mobile from a stodgy, outdated business OS into a consumer-oriented platform ready to directly take on Android, WebOS, and the iPhone.
Microsoft looks all set to unveil its long-awaited next-generation OS, Windows Mobile 7, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) next month. Responding to a question about WM7 at today’s CES Financial Analyst Briefing, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division said that “things will be talked about at MWC,” echoing CEO Steve Ballmer’s earlier remark that “We will have a lot more to say about phones next month at Mobile World Congress.” More info after the break.
Steve Ballmer just confirmed in his CES keynote that HTC’s HD2 will indeed be coming to the US, as a T-Mobile exclusive. The 1 GHz Snapdragon-powered handset should arrive sometime in late February or early March, according to current information. Customized T-Mobile builds of Windows Mobile 6.5 for the HD2 have been floating around on the XDA-Developers forum, but now we have the first official confirmation of the phone’s stateside arrival. HTC followed up on Ballmer’s announcement with a press release, which we’ve printed below.