Posted by: Tim | October 10, 2012

The Influence of Media, Social and Otherwise

The first video I’m posting here is an interesting look at the reach and influence of social networking sites. I’ve been wanting to post this video for a while now. It was sent to me by one of the designers and researchers for the video. In fact, it was the first time anyone has requested I review something to put on my blog, so I was flattered and I found it a very interesting and enlightening video. I don’t want to talk about the video too much because I want the video to stand on its own, but I will share one of my favorite parts from the page where the video is located.  It is their use of a quote from Gil-Scott Heron. ‘”The revolution will not be televised” he was right. Instead, it will be youtubed, it will be statused, and it will be retweeted” because it looks more and more like it’s true.

Check it out and leave any opinions in the comments. To read more about it or to see the video on it’s original page, you can visit “Hyper Revolution” on OpenSite

The second video is a look at media’s influence on your life. How it can affect your self image, confidence and opinions. It may focus on how it directly influences girls’ opinions of themselves. However, I believe it also influences guys’ opinions of girls as well. Girls think they should look one way because of magazines. Guys think girls should look one way because of magazines. It’s really not fair and it’s very damaging.

So check out the video below and for more information you can visit MissRepresentation.Org

Posted by: Tim | September 13, 2012

Dragon*Con PSA

This is actually a PSA for guys in general, but it was heavily inspired by my reflections of Dragon*Con and things I observed there…thus the title. It’s also inspired by other stories I’ve heard and read recently, like this one.

I know the following is not meant for most of the people who read my blog (all 3 of you) or most people in general but I’ve recently observed this first hand and it made me angry, so I felt the need to write about it.

Now I’m not completely naïve as to what goes on in a man’s head, I mean I am still a straight man, so I do understand to a point.

I understand the urge to look at and admire girls, especially ones I find attractive or dressed in what I consider revealing or sexy clothing. I look, I admire, but I don’t stare and try not to make it obvious (I’m sure I fail on occasion).

I get that a lot of men don’t have women coming up to us constantly to tell us how attractive or sexy we are or that they want to have sex with us, so we think we’d be flattered if it did happen and therefore a woman should be flattered if we tell them something like that.

However, we are delusional when we think about how flattered we’d be if a woman approached us to tell us she found us attractive. Why? Because we are usually imagining a woman we find attractive. We don’t imagine being bombarded by women we find unattractive telling us how sexy we are. We don’t imagine a gay man approaching us to tell us how attractive we are. I don’t believe a lot of men would be flattered if a gay man approached them like that or if a woman they felt was unattractive approached them like that. This just doesn’t occur to them or maybe they are deluded into thinking everyone must find them attractive, I don’t know. If it’s the former reason, then think about what I just said. If it’s the latter, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news, guy, but not every woman finds you attractive. Deal with it.

Now maybe I have been hanging out with Noisyastronomer, the Skepchicks and my female friends too much, but I believe my mind has been opened and I feel more enlightened by my new knowledge and understanding. My god, I am not perfect and I can still be oblivious, and inappropriate, but I think I am better a person now. And I feel bad for the men I observe who just don’t get it and feel even worse for the women who have to put up with it.

Guys. If you attend a convention or happen to be in a hotel where one is going on, the girls dressed in costumes (whether they are scantily clad or not) are not encouraging you to hit on them, ask them out or be in appropriate. They are dressing as a character they like, identify with or whatever. The costume they are wearing happens to be what the character wears.

You can ask if they’d be willing to pose for a picture or ask to take a picture with them. Many of them are more than willing to show off the hard work they put into their costumes.  Some of these costumes are phenomenal pieces of work that took a lot of time, skill and money to assemble and they are proud of their work, as they should be. BUT you must remember: you are not the reason they are dressed in the costume. They are dressed in the costume for themselves, so it is their prerogative to say no. If you ask and they say no, that’s the answer. Don’t bitch, don’t whine and don’t insult them. Accept their decision and move on.

I witnessed two instances of men being creepy at Dragon*Con. One was an attendee of the event and one was someone who happened to be at the hotel for something else going on.

The one who was not a Dragon*Con attendee kept making comments about the women in tight fitting costumes or the women who were in scantily clad costumes. In fact, it made me a bit uncomfortable to be sitting next to him at the bar because he kept asking me about the girls and some were good friends of mine. In fact, this gentleman hit on at least one friend of mine and she had to just walk away. In fact, I had to get up and walk away from this guy. In hindsight, maybe I should have said something to him but he was drunk, slightly bigger than me (at least in better shape though that’s not difficult) and did not seem to be an educated and understanding fellow. So I just walked away and warned my friends about him.

The Dragon*Con attendee approached a friend of mine and told her that she was beautiful and her boyfriend or husband, if she had one, was a lucky guy.  I was working on something else but heard that clearly. I thought it was a bit weird to say out loud to someone you didn’t know, but figured that would be the end and he’d walk away and I went back to focusing on what I was doing. I caught bits and pieces of conversation (I say conversation but it was really just this guy still talking…so not really a conversation). I figured I must be missing something or not hearing correctly since I was occupied because there is no way that guy could STILL be going on and on to a stranger like this and there was no way that he just told her that he had been staring at her legs during the entire panel and couldn’t keep his eyes off of them. That’s not something people say to strangers, right? I must have heard it wrong. No, no I did not hear it wrong. That’s exactly what he said. Again, I wish I would have called to my friends and asked them to help me with something in order to save them or something, but my mind couldn’t process that this guy was still going on and staying these things. It baffled me.

Now to conclude and summarize all of this:

Men, women are human beings ( it’s really sad that I felt like that needed to be pointed out). They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not like objects or something you just want to date or have sex with.  So avoid the pervy pick-up lines, the flirting and the inappropriate comments, even if you are being joking or playful, the woman does not know you, she does not know you’re being playful or joking and it probably isn’t coming off that way.  So just don’t do it.  Try striking up a conversation about something that interests you or her. Talk for a while and get to know her.  But remember, she doesn’t owe you anything, so if she doesn’t want to talk, that’s her right and it should be respected. So just say “Ok” and walk away.

Guys, just please think. Treat women with dignity and respect.

In fact, just treat EVERYONE with dignity and respect.

To quote Wheaton’s Law, “Don’t be a dick.”

Posted by: Tim | September 5, 2012

Who Allowed This?

Recently Local 10 in Miami, FL posted a slideshow of pictures from Star Wars Celebration VI. Now there should be nothing wrong with that because Celebration VI was a large convention held in Orlando, FL, so it makes sense there would be articles written about it and slideshows posted about it. However, the slideshow posted by Local 10 is not good, in my opinion.

The slideshow is called “What the Force???: Most bizarre Star Wars Convention sightings” and first of all, none of the pictures are bizarre for a Star Wars convention or any other science fiction convention for that matter. So the title of the slideshow starts it off wrong and the captions for each picture just make it worse. The captions try to be “funny” but they’re really just mean and playing on the horrible stereotypes about the people who attend conventions like Celebrations.  You can see the slideshow here: “What the Force???: Most bizarre Star Wars Convention sightings

Now I was going to write about all the captions and repost some pictures with new captions, but I don’t have to because The Late Geek was wonderful enough to do it already. You can check out his post and new captions here: “What the Force??? This is Amazing! Outstanding! Just Plain Epic!”  He forgot a picture in his original post, so you can see the one he missed here “An Addition and an Apology

I deal with similar comments from some of my family, friends and people I’ve worked with. That’s fine. I know these people and I can deal with them. I think they’re naive and I know they’re wrong, but I can deal with them. But these captions are posted on a “news” site. That’s just aggravating. So bad form, Local 10 in Miami and congratulations The Late Geek on the improvements you made to the photo captions.

Also check out the HerUniverse post by Ashley Eckstein (the voice of Ashoka Tano), “The Bullying STOPS Here! It’s Time For Star Wars Fans To Unite & Stand Up!

Update 2:
It appears that Local 10 has taken down the page with the slideshow on it and posted the following on their Facebook page (which I will point out is not really an apology):

GOOD NEWS (or BAD NEWS… depending on where you sided). The infamous STAR WARS slideshow has been taken down.
For those offended (and let us know), sorry.
For those who enjoyed it (and let us know), sorry.
Remember… the force will be with you… always.

Posted by: Tim | September 29, 2011

Random Tidbits: Cellphones and Movies

I really have to keep this blog writing going. In order to make up for lost time, I bring you another blog post. Today is just a collection of interesting things I read about this morning.

First we start with some Android news. On October 11th, Samsung will be holding a press event, “Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2011.” The theme for it is “Google Episode”, which leads people to believe that Samsung will be unveiling the much anticipated Ice Cream Sandwich and Nexus Prime. (Source)

Ice Cream Sandwich is Android’s next iteration. Whereas now Android has Honeycomb for tablets and Gingerbread for phones, this is going to combine the two and be a unified Android OS, which means it will be the same for tablets and phones. Google claims it is their “most ambitious release to date” and will include facial recognition features and do a lot to reduce fragmentation.

The Nexus Prime, like the Nexus One and the Nexus S before it, will be a Google Flagship phone. This means Google worked closely with Samsung on this phone and it will be the first released with the new OS. It also means the Nexus Prime will not have any Samsung UI overlay; it will be a pure Android phone. So I’m definitely interested to hear more about all this on October 11th.

On another Samsung / Ice Cream Sandwich note, some lucky shopper ordered Nexus S on EBay. However when it arrived, it turned out his new phone was already running Ice Cream Sandwich. He made a two minute video tour of the OS and posted it online. However, shortly after Engadget posted the video, the lucky shopper lost his luck because his Nexus S was remotely locked and wiped. For more information (and the two minute video tour), you can check out the Engadget post.

Now onto two more pieces of slightly less interesting cellphone news.

1) Disney launched two new Android phones (to join their first Android Offering). Granted they’re only being released (to my knowledge) in Japan. However, here’s the rundown of both phones. One of the phones is a 4-inch 3D capable phone with a 960 x 540 qHD touchscreen. It will also have an 8MP camera and a 1 GHz processor. The other phone will be a waterproof slider phone with a 3.4” touchscreen and an 854 x 480 resolution, but the identical processor and camera as the previous phone. Both phones will be running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and come decorated with Disney’s signature insignia. (Source)

2) Flickr unveiled their free Android app. The app allows users to take, filter and upload their pictures directly to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr right from their phone. It also has a bunch of camera functions like flash, ratio selection, shutter focus and ten high-quality filters. They also announced a new social feature called Photo Session which allows you to browse through images with your friends in real-time. From Flickr’s announcement, “Just create a Photo Session, invite your friends and browse photos together in real-time. When you move to the next photo it moves for everyone else too. While you’re all browsing, have fun chatting and drawing on your photos using the built-in tools.” Photo Session is also available on iPhone and iPad.

The last two items I have are movie related.

1) Sony has decided to stop paying movie theaters for 3D glasses starting in May 2012. This means the cost of the glasses will fall onto the theaters, which means it will fall onto the moviegoers. Studios have been covering the cost to help push 3D movies, but Sony’s decision could cause other studios to follow. Who knows how or if this will play out, but it looks like that’s the plan for the moment. If so, what happens then? Do movies go up in price? Will it be up to moviegoers to purchase and keep their 3D glasses? We’ll just have to wait and see. (Source)

2) In 2012, Star Trek: The Next Generation will follow the lead of the original series and be released on Blu-ray. First they will release The Next Level in honor of its 25th Anniversary. It is a single-disc containing the pilot Encounter at Farpoint and the episodes Sins of the Father and The Inner Light. Later in the year, they will release season one and then subsequent seasons after that. All 178 episodes will eventually be remastered and released in 1080p with 7.1 DTS Master Audio sound on Blu-ray. They are returning to the original film negatives and recreating the special effects to accomplish this. (Source)

Posted by: Tim | September 28, 2011

Amazon Kindle/Tablet Event Rundown

I haven’t posted in quite sometime, but Amazon just had a Press Event in NYC for Kindle Announcements.  I followed along live with Engadget and I thought I’d give a brief rundown of the highlights.

1) Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G
– The keyboard has been removed and the buttons on the side have been removed. You tap the screen to turn the page.
– Still an E-Ink display
– New feature called “X-Ray”. Apparently relevant Wikipedia entries are downloaded along with the book, so you can tap on the page and it’ll bring up more information than just a definition. The example from the event, they brought up the Wikipedia page for the Versailles Treaty because that’s what was happening on that page in the book “Remains of the Day”
– Cost…$99 This is what they announced but it’s slightly misleading. $99 with Special Offers but $149 without Special Offers.
– Cost to include 3G…$149. Again, it’s $149 with Special Offers, but $189 without Special Offers.
– Pre-order starts today, shipping on November 21st

2) Kindle 3 (non-touch)
– No touch screen, but the side page turning buttons return. However, the keyboard is still gone.
– Faster page turning
– Does not have the new X-Ray feature
– Price…$79. Like the Kindle Touch, this is what they announced but it’s slightly misleading. $79 with Special Offers but $109 without Special Offers.
– Order today, ships today
– I believe the picture to the right is the Kindle 3, but I am not certain.

3) Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet
– 7″ IPS display (1024 x 600 resolution at 169 ppi), dual-core processor, weighs 14.6 ounces, .45″ thick. It looks like the Blackberry Playbook)
– Apparently will have access to Amazon Movies/TV shows, Amazon Music, Amazon Android App Store, Kindle books, full-color magazines and all stored for free using Amazon Cloud Storage.
– Amazon’s Whispersync that keeps their Kindles synced will be used on this tablet as well to keep your Movies and TV Shows synced.
– Android interface is extremely customized and looks little like Android. In fact, not sure you can actually get to Android market from the tablet.
– Also has Amazon Silk. No idea what this was, so here’s the synopsis
– Amazon Silk they call a “split” browser. It splits content rendering between the tablet and Amazon’s Cloud Computers (Amazon EC2)
– The browser offloads things to give the best performance.
– More info from Amazon’s site: 8GB Internal Storage (but free cloud storage for all Amazon Content). USB 2.0 port.
– Price…$199
– Pre-order today, shipping on November 15th

If you are interested in knowing more, check out Engadget. I am sure they will have more information once they go hands-on with the new Kindles.

And a family portrait:

UPDATE: Engadget and Boy Genius Report (BGR) have gotten closer looks at the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Touch. Neither got to actually use the Kindle Fire, but an Amazon rep gave them a tour of it.  So I compiled a couple things I thought were note worthy.

The Amazon Kindle Fire is pretty much identical to the Blackberry Playbook both externally and internally, which is not a bad thing. However, the Kindle Fire has no cameras or microphone. Also, the Kindle Fire has just a Power Button. There are not volume buttons on the tablet, so if you want to change the volume, you’ll have to go into the status bar. To me this seems like it’s going to be very annoying. Another thing to note is that the tablet only has 8GBs of internal storage which is very little these days. However, since all your content should be synced online in theory you shouldn’t need much storage space. Will that be the case in reality? We’ll just have to see. I am also still concerned about the heavily customized Android OS, though I hear it’s perfect for what Amazon intended, which is a cheap device to watch movies, read books, play music, browse the web and spend money purely on Amazon’s services.  All-in-all, for $199, the tablet is a pretty good deal and delivers exactly what Amazon wants. Is it an iPad killer? Not a chance. It seems like Amazon is trying to compete with the Nook 2, which is supposed to be announced some day soon. Does it give Apple something worry about? I think so. I don’t think they should be very worried, but I think the Kindle Fire shows that Apple should be a little wary of Amazon’s future tablet endeavors.

The Amazon Kindle Touch, like the Nook Touch, is based around an infrared touchscreen in place of physical keyboard. The touchscreen on the device is very responsive and the screen refreshes about once every 6 pages, which is on par with its chief competition. Searching on the device requires a larger screen refresh, but the Kindle Touch still performs quickly for an E-Ink display. The search function on the Kindle Touch allows users to locate instances of things like character names throughout the text. I’m not sure how much I’d actually use this feature, but it’s neat. Actually I might have used it a lot when I started reading “A Game of Thrones”. I had a lot of trouble keeping track of who all the characters were, so it might have been very handy for that. Who am I kidding, I still have trouble keeping everyone straight. Anyway, from the pictures I’ve seen, I think the Kindle Touch is a rather attractive device. It’s silver border and metal back just seem subdued by classy. So I’m a little disappointed I bought my Kindle a few months ago, but oh well, it treats me well. Should the Barnes & Noble be worried? I think so, I think this might give the Nook Touch some serious competition.

Posted by: Tim | February 14, 2011

Before MWC

Mobile World Congress (MWC) started yesterday in Barcelona.  I am following along with that and compiling the information so I can do a recap next week, like I did with Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  However, both CES and MWC got me thinking.

After CES, I was a little upset that I had just gotten a new phone in August.  Why?  Because now I have to wait until April 2012 before I can upgrade again.  However I’ve been following tech blogs and reading about new things on the horizon and I am no longer as upset.  Why?  A few main reasons come to mind:

1) Sure, Verizon has already started rolling out LTE, but the phones coming out this year will be the first ones on the network and there are always kinks to work out.  But the other important reason is that Voice over LTE (VoLTE) on Verizon probably won’t happen until 2012.

2) Hitachi just announced a new 4.5″ screen they plan to start producing in October.  It’s 1280×720 with 329dpi density…that’s full 720p resolution on your phone!

3) This year dual-core smartphones and tablets are being release, which is pretty awesome. I would love to have a dual-core phone, however, NVIDIA isn’t done with just the dual-core Tegra 2.  They plan to announce the Tegra 2 3D.  AND…the Tegra 3, which is quad-core and on tables that will be capable of 1920×1200 displays and playing Blu-ray video. On phones it will be 1366×768 displays.  Now THAT would be awesome.  And according to their timeline the Tegra 3 samples will be available in the 4th Quarter of 2011, which means devices will probably start coming out the first half of 2012!  Just when I’m ready to upgrade!

4) Samsung just released 2 new smartphone camera sensor.  An 8 megapixel one that can capture 1080p video at 30fps and a 12 megapixel one that can capture 1080p video at at 60fps.  Both can capture full-res stills at 30fps.

Not to mention that phones are starting to get dual rear-facing camera to take pictures and video in 3D.  I’m not sure I care about that, but it’s still pretty awesome.  AND there will be even better things coming, I’m sure.  So I may not be able to upgrade to a new phone now, but when I do…my phone will be even more awesome.

Stay tuned…a recap of MWC will be coming up next week.

Posted by: Tim | January 23, 2011

Quick Update: Xoom and Thunderbolt Pricing

Tipsters have found the Motorola Xoom and HTC Thunderbolt’s rumored minimum pricing.

The Motorola Xoom is listed as having a minimum price of $800.  The prices leads to the conclusion that this will be an unsubsidized device.  However, today a tipster released that it will be available for $699.99 at Best Buy starting February 17th.

The HTC Thunderbolt will be priced at a minimum of $250, which is probably the subsidized (2-year contract) price.  It’s $50 higher than most new smartphones, but that may be the premium you pay for that Fourth G.

Still no release date for the HTC Thunderbolt.  There is also no word on pricing for 4G plans.  Note that these prices and the release date are just leaks, so they are not set in stone, however, they are good starting points if you’re considering getting either of them.

And on that note, anyone have $700 they want to give me so I can get the Xoom?  Of course, I am only asking for the purposes of research.  You know, so I can review the item for my blog.  It’s not because I REALLY want a new gadget or anything like that.  No, not at all, this is a completely selfless act on my part. 😉

Source: Android Central and Engadget

UPDATE: Looks like the HTC Thunderbolt my be available at Best Buy starting February 14th (source).

Posted by: Tim | January 19, 2011

Does It Have The 4Gs?

There’s a lot of talk about 4G, 3G, LTE and WiMAX, but what does it all really mean?  Well that’s a very complicated (and debated) topic. I am not an expert in the technical aspects, so I’ll try very hard to give the simplified basics.  Well I’ll at least provide my take on the issue.  If there are any experts out there, please feel free to let me know if I’m messing anything up.

4G vs 3G: What Are They?

Put very simply, the “G” stands for Generation.  So a “4G network” means a wireless network based on fourth-generation technology.  That sounds rather simple, but that’s about where the simplicity ends.  Defining fourth-generation wireless technology is difficult.  There are a few basic stances:

1) The “Official” Definition: The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the UN agency for information and communication technology.  In 2000, the ITU defined what a 3G network would be.  So like it did with 3G, the ITU took ownership of 4G and created specifications for what it means to be a 4G network.  There are about a few specifications, but one of them is the ability to deliver downlink speeds of 1Gbps when stationary (such as pedestrians and stationary units) and 100Mbps when mobile (such as cars and trains).  Those speeds surpass average DSL and cable broadband connections.  According to this definition, no commercially available network is 4G, however, the ITU has no jurisdiction to actually control who calls what 4G.

2) A Technology Based Definition: WiMAX and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) are the standards that have been generally accepted to succeed the current generation network (CDMA2000 and GSM).  They both use a newer and more efficient technology (OFDMA).  Their speeds are faster than the 3G specifications, but still fall very short of the ITU’s 4G definition.  However, with the new technology and increased speeds, they are different enough from the 3G standards that they warrant being considered a whole new generation of network.  Note, updates to WiMAX and LTE — WiMAX 2 and LTE-Advanced – promise meet the ITU’s 4G specifications, but neither has been finalized yet, which means networks able to use of them are still years away.

3) A Real World Definition: The GSM network uses High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) as their current 3G technology.  A few providers have begun making extensive upgrades to that technology to create Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+).  HSPA+ is not new technology like LTE or WiMAX is, but it is much better than it’s predecessor (HSPA).  This new HSPA+ will eventually be able to reach speeds beyond what LTE is currently achieving.  In fact, there are some markets where a HSPA+ network is faster than a WiMAX network.  Cellular companies have started using the 4G moniker to describe this newly upgraded network.  In their defense HSPA+ is far beyond what was originally defined as 3G.  Comparing today’s HSPA+ to an early 2000 HSPA network, the average cellphone user would tell you that today’s HSPA+ network is leaps and bounds above it’s predecessor.  The two barely resemble one another anymore.  This is the justification for giving it the 4G moniker.  So the marketing departments have taken 4G and run with it.

So what does ALL of that mean?

In my opinion it means, no one should really have the title 4G yet.  However, if anyone has to get a 4G moniker now, it should go to WiMAX and LTE because they are the new technologies and they are what WiMAX2 and LTE-Advanced (the real 4G technologies) will be based on.  I do not believe HSPA+ should not be called 4G.  However, my opinion doesn’t matter.  So what it really means is the carriers and their marketing departments won.  The ITU recently backed down and said the term 4G “may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMAX, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.”  I understand the reasoning behind all of these being called 4G and I’ll begrudgingly accept it, but it just makes me curious: what will they call WiMAX2 and LTE-Advanced when they finally come out?  I doubt they’ll still be called 4G.

And what does all this mean for you?  It probably doesn’t mean all that much at all because regardless of what they’re called networks are continuing to get faster and faster.  But now at least you know what all the debate and discussion is about…and knowing is half the battle.

If you want more background on this and Gs 1 thru 4, check out this article on Engadget.  (I was in the middle of writing this and they beat me to it.  Curses!!)

Posted by: Tim | January 12, 2011

My CES 2011 Round-Up: Part 3

This is Part 3 (the last part) of my round-up of last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which took place in Las Vegas.  Here are Part 1 and Part 2.  And once again, I thank Engadget and Boy Genius Report for their live blogging and coverage of CES without them I would not have been able to follow along so easily.   This final posting takes a look at some of the tablets announced.

7”-10” of Power…and It’s Shiny

What is a Tablet?  Simple answer: a tablet is any personal computer that uses a touch screen as its primary method of input.  Tablets have been around for a while, but it’s only been in the last year or so that they’ve really started to get mainstream attention and the iPad solidified that attention.  This year is already seeing an explosion of tablets.  Let’s take a look at a handful that were announced at CES.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

  • Networks: WiFi Only / (Verizon LTE)
  • Operating system: Android 2.2 + Touchwiz
  • Display: 7” 1024 x 600-resolution LCD screen
  • Camera: 3MP / (5MP) Rear Camera w/ Auto Focus, 1.3MP front facing camera
  • Memory: 512MB ROM + 592MB RAM + 2GB User Memory + 16GB microSD™ card preinstalled, supports up to 32GB microSD card
  • WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0
  • GPS:
  • Battery: 4000 mAh
  • Special features: Accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Luminance, Gyro, USB 2.0, Virtual QWERTY keyboard and SWYPE
  • Chipset: 1Ghz / (1.2GHz) Hummingbird Processor
  • Available: Q1 2011 / (Unknown)

We’ll start with the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  The Galaxy has been out in 3G form on all 4 major carriers for a little while now, but it’s being included here because Samsung announced both a contract-free WiFi only version and a slightly improved Verizon LTE version.  The WiFi only version appears to be the same as the current 3G version, which is still very nice but no longer the top of the line.  It’s a 7” Android tablet with a 1024 x 600-resolution LCD screen contains a 1GHz processor.  There are two cameras, a 3MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front camera.  The Galaxy has 16GB of internal storage and supports up to 32GB extra.  It supports Flash Player 10.1.  The Verizon LTE version is basically the same but it got upgraded to a 1.2GHz Hummingbird processor and it’s rear camera has been upgraded to 5MP.  I’ve actually gotten to play with the 3G version of the Galaxy Tab and it’s really nice.  The screen is clear and vibrant.  The size is excellent.  It didn’t feel awkward holding it with one hand like the iPad did, but maybe I just have small hands.  I didn’t play with it too extensively (no playing videos or anything like that), but it was nice Android Tablet.  I just read while writing up this post that Samsung said they will give a peek at their Galaxy Tab line up next month, so there’s more just around the corner.

Motorola Xoom

  • Networks: Verizon 3G (upgradeable to LTE)
  • Operating system: Android 3.0
  • Display: 10.1” 1280 x 800-resolution screen
  • Camera: 5MP Rear Camera w/ dual LED flash, 2MP front facing camera
  • Memory: 32GB on board user memory, SD card support after update, 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • WLAN: 2.4GHz & 5GHz 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR + HID
  • GPS: ??
  • Battery: ??
  • Special features: Micro USB 2.0, 1080p HD support, 720p video capture, HDMI, gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer, adaptive lighting, Flash 10.1 support
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Available: 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled device in Q1 2011, upgradeable to LTE in Q2 2011  Update: Rumor is it will be available on February 17th for $700 (source)

The Motorola Xoom will start as a Verizon 3G tablet in the first quarter of 2011 and then it will be upgradeable to LTE in the second quarter of 2011.  It sounds like you’ll have to make a trip to a Verizon store in order to upgrade from 3G to LTE, but being upgradeable definitely adds to the Xoom’s appeal.  It boasts a battery capable of supporting 10 hours of video play back, it has 720p recording and can play 1080p videos and output them via HDMI.  The front facing camera is a full 2MP, which would be excellent for video chats.  Plus 32GB of onboard memory is a healthy amount of storage.  Motorola claims it will deliver console-like gaming, but that’s something I’ll have to see for myself before I believe it.  I hadn’t heard anything about the Xoom prior to CES, but right now it’s top on my most wanted list.

Acer Iconia Tab A500

  • Networks: Verizon LTE
  • Operating system: Android 3.0 + Acer UI 4.5
  • Display: 10.1” 10-point-multi-touch screen
  • Camera: ??
  • Memory: ??
  • WLAN: ??
  • Bluetooth: ??
  • GPS: ??
  • Battery: ??
  • Special features: HDMI, 1080p output, Flash 10.1 support, gyro meter, HD arcade game & complex online 3D game support, full-sized USB and micro-USB
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Available: April?

Acer announced the Acer Iconia Tab A500 for Verizon LTE.  The unit on hand at CES was just an engineering prototype, but it apparently felt like a good solid tablet.  The screen was very responsive and tracked 10 points of contact.  Since it was just the engineering prototype and only running Android 2.2 (it will run 3.0 at release), many of the specs and features weren’t available for exploring.  However, the guys at Engadget did get to see a little demo of the Iconia Tab in Multiplayer gaming action over LTE.  Two Iconia Tabs were able to play a multiplayer game of Asphalt 6, a racing game, over LTE and they saw one Iconia Tab connect to an Alienware M11x laptop for a game of Dungeon Defenders.  The gaming looked smooth and the games seemed to keep right in sync between the two players.  Verizon also showed off an experimental version of its FiOS DVR manager app on the Iconia over LTE.  Apparently this was a little choppy and took some time to buffer, but it did result in CNN streaming right to the pad.  I wish there would have been more specs released for this tablet, but I’m sure they’ll be released in the coming months.

RIM Blackberry Playbook

  • Networks: WiFi Only & Sprint WiMAX
  • Operating system: QNX
  • Display: 7” 1024×600 display
  • Camera: 5MP rear camera
  • Memory: ??
  • WLAN: ??
  • Bluetooth: ??
  • GPS: ??
  • Battery: ??
  • Special features: 1080p playback, mini-HDMI, micro-USB, Bluetooth tethering with a Blackberry smartphone, Flash 10.1 support
  • Chipset: Dual-core 1GHz processor
  • Available: Q1 2011 (Sprint WiMAX Summer)

Research in Motion (RIM) makes their first foray into the tablet world with the Blackberry Playbook.  The Playbook is apparently blazing fast as well as being a responsive and polished tablet, which is a good sign for RIM since their phones just don’t seem to be quite keeping up with the rest of the smartphone world.  Despite also being a 7” tablet, the Playbook is smaller than the 7” Galaxy Tab.  The screen has bright colors and excellent viewing angles.  The 1024×600 resolution generates 170 pixels per inch which is the same as the Galaxy Tab and better than the iPad.  The Playbook is running an OS called QNX that RIM bought back in April.  QNX seems to be similar to webOS, but that’s not necessarily bad.  Even running a 1080p video, a realtime game of Quake III, a song in the music player and a photo slideshow, the limit of the tablet was not reached.  The multitasking ability of the OS is customizable allowing you to decide when/if you want apps to be paused.  The Playbook seems like an excellent tablet.  It has the speed, size, comfort and ease of use.  It has almost everything you could want in a tablet.  However, it does not have a native calendar or mail client.  In order to do mail and calendar functions, you’ll need to tether your Blackberry smartphone to your Playbook with their BlackBerry Bridge app suite.  Other than that it’ll be up to RIM to see if they can put together an adequate app store, though supposedly QNX is an easy OS to develop for.  I do have a soft spot for RIM and Blackberrys and if I still had one, I’d definitely consider getting the Playbook.  So I’m curious to see if RIM can pull off a successful tablet launch.  I hope they can.

Dell Streak 7

  • Networks: T-Mobile
  • Operating system: Android 2.2 + Dell Stage 1.0
  • Display: 7” 800×480 resolution
  • Camera: 5MP rear camera w/ Auto Focus & Flash, 1.3MP front camera w/ Fixed Focus
  • Memory: 16GB of internal memory, SD Card slot with support up to 32GB
  • WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • GPS: Onboard GPS
  • Battery: 2780 mAh
  • Special features: Flash 10.1 support
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Available: January 2011 UPDATE: Available on T-Mobile starting February 2nd for $200 with a 2-year contract and $450 off contract. (source)

Dell follows up the August release of its Streak smartphone with the Dell Streak 7 tablet (the Dell Streak 10 is on the horizon).  The Streak 7 is basically a larger version of its predecessor minus the earpiece, which is good.  The original Streak was a little too big to be a good phone, but too small to be a useful tablet.  The Streak 7 has the 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, so once the software is optimized it shouldn’t have a problem with speed.  It’s 7” screen isn’t as bright and vivid as other tablets, but it is protected by Gorilla Glass.  Gorilla Glass is a high-strength protective cover glass that offers exception scratch resistance and durability to devices with touchscreens.  However the Streak 7 is unfortunately only running Android 2.2 with no mention of upgrading to 3.0.  But it will come with Dell’s Stage UI which will allow the user to keep their photos, contacts, calendars and other personal content synchronized across their other Dell Stage-equipped devices connected through their home network.  In my opinion, Dell makes good products.  I think this will be a good, small sized tablet once they get some tweaking done to it and if they’d upgrade to Android 3.0.

Honorable Mention

The Honorable Tablet Mention goes to the whole lineup of ASUS tablets.  They showed off 4 tablets (3 Android and 1 Windows 7) which were rather impressive.  They had excellent hardware and screen quality and each had its own uniqueness that veered ever so slightly away from what is becoming the “traditional” tablet.  I didn’t include them above because I wanted to mention them all but didn’t want to add 4 more full reviews especially not 4 from the same company.  They’re all pictured above and I’ll cover them briefly from left to right.

First up is the Eee Pad Transformer.  It runs Android 3.0, it has a 10.1” screen and a Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor.  This is the most traditional of their tablets.  The uniqueness comes with the optional keyboard dock that turns your tablet into an Android laptop.  The keyboard dock is a keyboard, trackpad and has USB peripheral support.  The dock also contains an extra battery which doubles the runtime of your tablet.  It’s not quite as great as the Motorola Atrix I mentioned in Part 1 of my CES Round-Up because the look of the OS doesn’t change when you dock.  It’s supposedly going to have an April 2011 release.

Second we have the Eee Pad MeMO.  The MeMO is another tablet running Android 3.0.  It has a 7” screen, a dual-core Qualcomm processor.  This is a nice small pad and adds a capacitive stylus for input.  The stylus uses a rubberized tip to for pressure sensitive stylus input.  The bezel below the screen was extended slightly to make room to store the stylus.  The tablet is very thin and it’s screen is bright with good viewing angles.  June 2011 is when this is expected to be released.

Third is the Eee Pad Slider.  It’s yet another Android 3.0 tablet with a 10” screen and the Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor.  The Slide, though, has a slide out keyboard.  The keyboard is a chiclet keyboard, probably similar to a lot of netbooks.  The sliding action wasn’t the greatest, but it was just a prototype.  Plus they claim the tablet’s engineers are already reworking the sliding mechanism, so hopefully the kinks will be worked out before it’s May 2011 release.

And last is the Eee Slate EP121.  The Slate is a Windows 7 tablet with a 12.1” screen.  It has an Intel Core i5 processor, which makes it a rather high powered tablet.  Like the MeMO it also uses a stylus for input.  The method used for reading the stylus input is different than on the MeMO, but it is exceptional.  The Slate also comes bundled with a Bluetooth keyboard.  Despite its size it is still light and thin, but probably better for a desk than to be carried around everywhere. It should be released this month.

That’s All She…Well I Wrote

That wraps up my tablet round-up.  The ASUS Slider, though only an honorary mention, could be stellar tablet but the slider needs to be firmed up more and I’d like to see more specs on it.  If I had to choose, I’d say the Motorola Xoom is definitely my top choice at the moment, but it’s a really difficult choice.  There are a lot of other great tablets, if you’d like to see more check out Engadget’s Tablets at CES 2011.  I am definitely looking forward to hearing more about these and seeing what will be announced next.

And that’s it, that’s all of my CES 2011 Round-Up.  If you want more go check out Engadget’s Best of CES 2011.

Also, the Engadget and Boy Genius Report links I’ve posted at the top of the page will take you to all of their CES 2011 coverage and the CES website has a link to videos of all the Keynotes from this year.  There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t and won’t be mentioning like 3D television, 3D cameras & video cameras, portable Blu-ray players, 3D glasses, glasses free 3D, 3D laptops (lots and lots of 3D), appliances and a million and a half other things, so go wade through the vast amounts of information on your own to find what interests you.

Posted by: Tim | January 11, 2011

My CES 2011 Round-Up: Part 2

This is Part 2 of my round-up of last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which took place in Las Vegas.  If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.  Again, I have to thank Engadget and Boy Genius Report for their live blogging and coverage of CES which allowed me to follow along.  Now let’s take a look at some minor but interesting announcements.

TV Where You Want It, When You Want It

Verizon called it “TV Everywhere”, but they were not the only ones discussing it.  Samsung had the CEO of Comcast and the CEO of Time Warner (two people who rarely take the stage together) at their press conference to discuss this idea.  The basic idea is: if you pay for content, you should be able to access the content on demand from any device at no extra cost.  Samsung went a little more in depth than Verizon did, in my opinion.  Samsung, ideally, wants to see able to pause on one device and resume on a different devices.  Samsung also showed off the X-Finity TV app for their Galaxy Tab which turns the tablet into a guide, video player and remote.  You can find content (On Demand) and then watch it on the TV or on your tablet (eventually adding live television).   Time Warner’s app will allow you to access live TV directly on your tablet and will eventually give access to your entire channel lineup on your tablet.  This is huge and I would love to see this happen, especially the “no extra cost” part. 

Big Red Love

Verizon spent a lot of time talking about their shiny new LTE network and its expansion.  First what is LTE?  LTE stands for Long Term Evolution.  There’s an extremely complex answer, but simply it is the next generation mobile telecommunication network for Verizon, AT&T and several other carriers.  It is the next step after 3G.  Verizon said they are expecting speedbumps along the way while they roll out LTE, which is obviously a little preemptive damage control.  Their roll out is going well and is on or a little further than schedule with LTE coverage in 38 major markets.  They promise to have America blanketed in LTE in 36 months and to have 2/3 of the population in range by 2012.  Now this is a bit of PR talk.  I mean, really what is blanketed?  Also, to the best of my knowledge, 2/3 of the population can be found focused in specific areas.  You can reach that number without touching a good portion of the wide open land in the middle of the country.  However from what I understand, Verizon tends to be good with coverage.  All I know is LTE is in Philadelphia, so I’m covered.  We’ll just have to see how this roll out goes.

Verizon also discussed their plans to “deeply integrate” Skype into all their future 4G phones.  Their intent is to keep Skype always running so you can have solid video calls without needing to make extensive plans before hand.  I think this could be cool, but I also see it as an issue with LTE data caps.  I honestly don’t know how much data a Skype video call uses, but it could be an issue.  However, Verizon is still a little tight lipped about phone LTE plans and pricing.   So it’s something to keep an eye on.  The video calling future I dreamed of as a kid is well on its way.

The final Verizon note I have is their joint effort with Panasonic at CES.  They joined together to show off Full HD 3D Video (that’s 1080p for each eyes) streamed over Verizon’s FiOS Network.  They streamed it to a Panasonic Blu-ray 3D player at bit rates up to 18Mbps, which is about double the rate currently used by most cable providers.  It was apparently really impressive, but it probably won’t amount to much for consumers.  To me it seems to be more of a “look we love 3D” and “look what we can do” kind of posturing.  It does show their interest and intent to promote 3D, which is good but I don’t expect Full HD 3D video being streamed to my home any time soon.

Two Last Items

Samsung talked up the idea of “the cloud”.  First, what is the cloud?  Simply the cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet.   In this instance it is specifically relating to cloud computing and cloud storage.  It is a set of services and technologies that enable users to access computing services over the Internet in real-time, which allows the user instant access to data and applications from any device with Internet access.  It frees you from being restricted to one computer.   Google Documents can be used as example.  You don’t just have access to the file; you also have the ability to create, edit, view and link to documents from any Internet connected device without having to worry about having the correct piece of software on your device.  The cloud has been a big thing recently and Samsung wants to make sure everyone knows they’re on board too.  They said they are dedicated to making their devices the best gateway to storing, sharing, and playing content from the cloud.  Personally, I love this whole cloud idea and look forward to the future of it.  I have my concerns about it as well, but I like the idea of being able to access my files wherever I am and on whatever device I want.

Finally, we have more Skype news.  Skype had been running a free group video calling beta.  You could group video call up to 10 people.  However, the most recently Windows version has ended the beta and, unfortunately, ended the no cost.  You can get a day pass to make group video calls for $4.99 for all your impromptu group video needs.  You can also get a monthly subscription for $8.99 w/ a 33% discount available if you sign up for 3 or 12 months over the next 30 days.  Regular two-way video calling is still free.

Once Again We End Our Broadcast Period

As I said, these are minor announcements but interesting.  Verizon’s LTE rollout, integrated Skype for video calls on 4G phones, the continued expansion of the cloud and streaming full HD 3D video.  It’s very interesting and cool even if it is a lot of talk and posturing.  Technology is moving so fast that it’s hard to keep up with.  It seems to work in cycles like this.  Everything will be moving extremely fast for a while, then it will plateau for a bit, then some new technology will be discovered/invented/whatever and we’ll be moving extremely fast again.  It’s the way it seems to work.  I know it’s extremely cliché but the future is now and it’s exciting!

One part left in my CES 2011 Round-Up where I’ll look at some of the tablets announced.  But before I get to that, I just finished following Engadget’s Live Blog of Verizon’s Big Announcement.  It’s officially official this time: a Verizon iPhone 4 exists.

The Engadget and Boy Genius Report links I’ve posted above will take you to all of their CES 2011 coverage and the CES website has a link to videos of all the Keynotes from this year.  There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t and won’t be mentioning like 3D television, 3D cameras & video cameras, portable Blu-ray players, 3D glasses, glasses free 3D, 3D laptops (lots and lots of 3D), appliances and a million and a half other things, so go wade through the vast amounts of information on your own to find what interests you and stay tuned for my next post: Part 3

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