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* Posts by hazydave

127 posts • joined 5 Oct 2011

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Apple iPhone 6 Plus: GORGEOUS FAT pixel density - but it's WASTED

hazydave

Re: I thought...

Android doesn't cater to absolutely every screen resolution. But yeah, you can support different screen classes, based on both resolution and screen size. Different layouts, managed by the OS, for "phone" vs "tablet" mode -- which is based on screen size, primarily.

Thing is, most of an Android application is going to be in vectors. So things are drawn specifically to your screen's resolution. Just like your web browser does, your desktop PC does, or pretty much any 3D game does. Sure, there are bitmaps available in Android, and the closest one may be scaled to your specific screen, but that's only one small part of most application displays.

Apple, on the other hand, has always had just a couple of different resolutions, and at least historically, everything they've done has been in bitmaps. In fact, at least under Jobs, there was no vector rendering built-in to the OS (though some app developers have done this on their own). So it's actually much worse than the Android situation -- there's never a general case in which every screen display on an Android device is being rescaled.

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AMD's 'Revolution' will be televised ... if its CPU-GPU frankenchip Kaveri is a hit

hazydave

Re: Dull and slow

When was the last time I used 100% CPU? Last night... and that was on my i7-3930K. Also ran the i7 at 80% at the same time my AMD HD6970 was reading 50%.

And that sort of illustrates what AMD is onto here, in the long haul. While a GPU these days can certainly help in video rendering, the need for copying data, the loose coupling between CPU and GPU, it's adding dead air... time wasted on communications and architectural overhead.

Now, this example won't come close to replacing my i7... and I have four 64-bit memory channels on that, in parallel with the GPU's own wide bus and the 16 PCIe links. But these aren't always efectively pipelined by software, because that makes for complex software. It appears that AMD is adding hardware to address this, too.

The other obvious thing here is AMD pushing to mainstream OpenCL, by delivering a GPU style compute engine never intended for graphics. So for gaming, you'd use the system GPU for the usual graphics ops, and this for physics, video processing, whatever.

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We're not making this up: Apple trademarks the SHOP

hazydave

Re: Prior art ?

No... not prior art (well, this isn't a patent, but still), but not for the usual reasons. Have you recently been in a Microsoft store. Ok, no one has, but I've seen pictures. They don't look anything like that trademark document's drawings... they look exactly like Apple stores now. Guess it's that whole "tablets and phones" thing, must force one into the same design, can't help it, fact of nature, move along now.

And of course, no, no one bothered with Microsoft's trademark. Again, humans have yet to actually visit Microsoft stores. And their original design was ugly and stupid... a harbinger of Metro, I suppose. Apple's important, so naturally, things they do, good or bad, attract attention.

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Apple rubbishes rumours of iPhone for the masses

hazydave

Leader can be about profit, too

Apple IS the leader on market profit. That's more important than leading on volume, at least to the stockholders.

Apple has had much the same issue in desktop computers... maybe that's a good example. They sell about 5% of the world's PCs (they're called Macintosh, but they're pretty bog standard PCs in nice packaging), but about 90% of the world's PCs over US$1000 retail. You can look at that as being overpriced, or Apple being a luxury brand, but the fact it, the average Mac is about twice as expensive as a similar PC from other companies. As a result, Apple's making 5x as much profit per Macintosh. This is reflected in their corporate profits, too, which run at just over 30% operating margin. At HP, it's about 5.7%.

So let's say Apple decided to increase market share on Mac PCs. Their best bet would be to lower prices. So let's say they matched HP on pricing. That might be very successful, at least to start -- it's like if Leica started selling their cameras at the same price as Panasonic, or BMW selling their cars for prices similar to Ford. But now Apple's only making HP-style profits. They'd not just have to sell, they'd have to sell like crazy, particularly because, once there are cheap Macs, it's going to be much harder to sell expensive ones. So their 5% of the business would have to grow to 20-25% of the business JUST TO BREAK EVEN. That's highly unlikely of any single company in the PC business. They'd not only need lower priced hardware, price-tag competitive with all those other PC companies, they'd need more device diversity than they have now. Apple's selling nearly the same thing on every PC, they're selling iMacs -- effectively laptops for the desktop -- part of making all that profit. Much of that would have to go away.

So, in short, they'll never do that -- they're happy with their 5% of the market, and sure, they'd like to see it increase... but only by more consumers deciding to spend $1000 for a $500 PC in a nice case. That's really what MacOS is for -- to convince people to spend more money on Apple hardware. And they have actually been growing, slighly, or shrinking less, depending on the quarter, versus the rest of the PC industry. Largely due to the iOS "coattails" effect... consumers buy iOS devices, then get lured into Apple's desktop offerings.

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hazydave

There's always a cheaper iPhone -- last year's model.

This is actually the perfect strategy for Apple. If they're looking to save money, that money is better spent cost-reducing the existing models, rather than build a whole new cheap phone.

Think about how well this works. Apple's discounting older models because they're older and something newer is available.. not because they're cheap models. They might completely re-design the iPhone 4 for cost reduction, or not, but it's still the former premium model, just for less. Little risk that owners of older iPhones upgrade to the iPhone 4, it's more likely that upgraders would go for an cheap-new phone. But for folks without iOS devices, the cheap iPhone offers a great entre into the Apple ecosystem, and a valid competitor to the cheaper Android devices. If the cost of the iPhone 4 has already been reduced, they get their entry-level model for free, and already fully debugged -- much less engineering time, once again keeping Apple's bottom line up.

And it's not just the price, but Apple's market position here -- Apple's long term financial health being protected. Apple is the most profitable mobile device company because they have enough people convinced to spend way more than average for their devices, even when technologically superior devices are available for less money. That's the same thing that BWM and Mercedes and Leica have managed to do. Apple has spend billions, since the 1970s, building that image. Releasing a "cheap" iPhone would tarnish that image... same reason BMW doesn't release a Ford Fiesta clone at the same price, or why you pay an extra $1000 or whatever to get that red circle on your Leica, rather than buying essentially the same camera with the Panasonic label on it. So while it may be true, even likely, that the iPhone 4 you buy today is dramatically cost reduced versus the iPhone 4 when it first shipped, it's still a former Apple premium model, being sold for less because its older, rather than the "cheap iPhone". That preserves Apple's cachet, and yet, lets them have a cheaper model.

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Review: HP ENVY x2 Windows 8 convertible

hazydave

Re: Decent idea but lean on spec...

The Nexus 10 CPU cores are also faster. Not sure about the graphics.

The only reason for the Z2760 is Windows -- it's sold at an ARM price, performs a little better than a dual core A9, but runs real Windows.

The chip in here is meant to deliver Intel tablets at ARM prices, with ARM battery life and ARM performance. It's not supposed to be in $800 devices. This is meant to match a Microsoft Surface RT type system on price and battery life, but also run real Windows (and yeah, about as well as any other netbook). HP's overpriced it, but the basic idea is a smart move for Intel, and only applicable to the Windows mobile market.

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hazydave

Nope, not an Ultrabook

Intel's "Ultrabook" concept is, more or less, the Apple MacBook Air. Basically, you start with a mid-range laptop. Toss out a bunch of stuff (optical drive, HDD, most of the ports), make it thin, then double the price.

If you apply that formula to a Netbook, and make the keyboard module detachable, ala Asus Transformer, the HP Envy x2 is exactly what you get. And given that the Atom in this bad-boy is priced aggressively against the various ARM chips, this would actually make a fair Windows RT killer. But HP doesn't seem to believe that people can actually read spec sheets or something, because there's no way anyone would accept such as system as a "convertible" Ultrabook.

For some context, the Atom CPU in here, the Z2760, is fairly close in performance to most other Atoms, and as well, to ARM Cortex A9 systems. Ok, the CPU itself is slightly faster than an A9, less than 10% difference on most benchmarks. It does the hyperthreading thing (which older Atoms didn't), which sometimes boosts performance, and sometimes doesn't -- but you can find either faster ARMs (A15, Krait) in dual core or something close (A9) in quad core for much less. Only, on Windows, x86 has a big advantage... so this still makes sense against the Windows RT machines. Asus and some others are selling Z2760 systems at or below the prices going for RT systems. The one big win here, particularly against the Surface RT and some of the others, is memory speed. Many of the ARM chips out support dual 32-bit bus DDR2 memory systems. The Tegra 3 supports DDR3, but only on a single 32-bit bus. The Z2760 supports dual 64-bit DDR3 memory buses. So when memory is your limiting factor, this doesn't suck.

Bottom line is that these will run Windows Metro as well as the Surface machines will, and when that's the same price, you don't want the RT machine. But they're going to handle full Windows about as well as any other Netbook... some applications will be fine, and some will not run at even close to useful speeds.

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Windows 8: At least it's better than ‘not very good’

hazydave

Re: !!!

Good points.. I see much the same start menu vs screen issues. On my main PC, I have hundreds of applications, sorted by type in the menu. Without recalling the name, I can usually find what I'm looking for in seconds. The start screen doesn't allow nesting or grouping, which could deliver something similar. If you know the name, type it -- fine, back to MS-DOS days. But if you don't, you're playing "Where's Waldo", at least once you have a professional working set of apps. It's probably fine for the beginner or casual user, but I spent a few months as a beginner, decades as something more than that. No one needs a UI optimized for the beginner.

They didn't just not learn from the existing Windows desktop, they haven't learned from other very successful tablet UIs. Apple's Palm-like grid of icons doesn't deliver informational display like MS's tiles, but it was fairly efficient for finding apps, given the small tiles. Android improved upon this by making the program launcher a pop-up, and leaving a home screen for docking of often used apps, drawers full of often used apps for fast access, and informational displays with a great deal more flexibility than those of Windows. Apple added drawers of icons as well. These are things you need when you're using a tablet regularly -- the Asus Transformer I'm typing this on has over 200 apps installed.

How would I fix this. First, allow me to sort the tiles any way I like, and use at drawers of tiles, preferably nested. Allow zoom out, at least providing Android-like information density when fully zoomed. On the desktop, I'd make the Start Screen basically a screen saver -- it can automatically show up when I'm idle for awhile in the desktop, showing me useful informational tiles, etc. When I move the mouse or keyboard, the desktop pops right back. Launch from the Start Screen and the restored Start Menu would do exactly the same things. When that screen saver Start Menu is up, some hot key, screen gesture, or other thing would let me lock it in place, rather than banishing it.

That doesn't address the problem that a very, very few applications ever want to be fullscreen on a desktop PC. It's very inefficient for anything involving productivity, most of the time. The old WIndows method of optional full screen/windowed operation works properly. Most types of content creation involve interactions between dozens of applications, data sources, assets, etc. which need to be the same visual context, at least part of the time. Not needed when I'm watching a video, but creating a video? Sure... lots of things going on: graphic arts, audio mixing/recording, video editing, special effects in other applications, DVD or BD authoring, etc. This is broken if every app is fullscreen. Or even just consider the mentioned case of a calculator pop-up. I use a pop-up, not-fullscreen calculator app in Android, because this sort of thing is precisely needed as a add-on to other things. It never needs it own full screen.... why would I devote 1920x1200 (or whatever YOUR tablet rez is) to a simple calculator? Even back in the early days of single tasking UIs, Apple realized some applications were inherently needed alongside others, even in that year or so before real multitaking arrived in GUIs (AmigaOS).

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Troll sues Apple for daring to plug headphones into iPhone

hazydave

Re: 2008?

That's no really a first-to-invent case... the patent was applied for in 2002, it just took them all this time to have it granted. First to invent lets another guy come along and claim the same patent, even if these guys had already filed. That's going away next year -- in January, we're first-to-file, just like the rest of the world.

That's actually a much better system, for the simple fact that if there are really that many different folks "inventing" the same thing, it must not be that unique. So someone files, and another guy comes along with proof they invented the patent first. That should invalidate the first guy on prior art, but the second guy also doesn't get the patent. Much better for everyone.

And yeah, the USPTO is crazy stupid about a bunch of things. They pretty much only search existing US patents for prior art. They don't mandate that examiners "skilled in the art" -- the specific area of the patent -- thus, they grant all kinds of drek that should fail the test of obviousness. Software patents don't even have to include source code anymore, so the actual implementation of the invention -- the thing that really matters (eg, you can patent a specific implementation of an algorithm, but in theory, you can't patent an algorithm) -- isn't included in the patent anymore.

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hazydave

Re: Not gonna win that one

Don't even need the Walkie-talkie example.. the patent actually cites the 2.5mm, 4-pin connector in popular use for phone headphones long before 2002 for cellphone use. The point of their invention seems to be incorporating two different jacks, one for regular phone use, one for "other uses", presumably music or other audio.

That's still an obvious way to do it, if pretty stupid. The way everyone else actually does it -- use the same headphone jack for audio or phone calls, is a much more intelligent way of solving the same problem, and should not be an issue with this patent, IMHO. Ok, maybe I want to bring back the walkie-talkie specifically, since it's been very common for walkie-talkies and other wireless "push-to-talk" radios to have a double-plug connector, very much like what they're showing, though one is for the headset, the other for the mic plus PTT button. I would claim that if they read on Apple's single 4-pin connector, then they're not different enough from the traditional radio headset connector to keep the patent.

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Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 handset review

hazydave

This and that

The photos just aren't that good -- there's plenty of noise in there. Yeah, it's a smartphone, and yeah, the blow-up you selected looks better on the Nokia than the iPhone, but no one's going to mistake this as a photo from even a moderate P&S camera.

And there's a bunch of interesting things here not even mentioned. Nokia's gone to great lengths to claim special magic in the display -- very fast performance (for an LCD, still 1/1000th the speed of OLED) capable of full 60fps video or gaming without smearing, and good viewing in the daylight. Trying this out -- and reporting its effect on battery life (both technologies use more power) should be part of a complete review. It's certainly possible.. the IPS+ display on my Asus Transformer is dramatically more viewable outdoors when in "IPS+" mode, but it's also going to eat battery faster. The need for outdoor viewing on a smartphone is at least as critical as a tablet, and many use these for gaming. I think readers want to know how this stacks up against an iPhone IPS or a Samsung OLED on display speed and daylight view. You didn't actually touch on real battery life or the screen issues at all.

And this is at least as much a Windows Phone 8 review as a Nokia review. If you're goal is to review the device, no need to mention much about the generic parts of Windows Phone -- that's fodder for a separate review.

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Surface more profitable than iPad

hazydave

Re: Software?

All Windows RT comes with "Home and School" edition of Office, not for commercial use. This is estimated to cost the OEM $75-$100. But Microsoft of course doesn't pay this... their per unit cost is on par with Apple's and Google's.. just some patent licensing fees.

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hazydave

Re: Microsoft have been clever

Android's doing about 41% of global tablet sales now. That was 70,000 activations per day last month (Apple sold about 188,000 per day), but this only included Android tablets activated through Google. Amazon and others are additional numbers. Naturally, Apple's new products may show that back some, but the Nexus 10 is pretty sweet...

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hazydave

Issues

Its true that Microsoft delivered an overpriced tablet... compare it to the Asus Android tablets, for example. They of course drooled over Apple's profits, but they also have to leave some room for OEMs, who will be paying $75-$100 per unit to Microsoft, or there would be no other Surface RT systems.

But iSupply is never very good at estimating the dramatic lowering of prices in huge volumes. Apple reuses parts across the whole iOS line, and orders of 25-75 million get you better prices, particular after a decade of working with a vendor dependent on your businesses, than 1/10th the volume and you first time out. Negotiations play in there, too, particularly since, if you have chip designers and actually use them will, you will know exactly what a chip costs to make. In the 80s, for example, Commodore was paying $2.50 for a 68000, when Apple paid $8.00.

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'We invented Windows 8 Tiles in the 1990s', says firm suing Microsoft

hazydave

Also, OS/2

In OS/2, icons in PM were SOM objects, capable of displaying dynamic information. Not used as much as in Metro, but they did that.

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hazydave

Re: Really torn

But it was WP7 with this before. Totally credible that they just didn't know enough about WP7 to investigate. Kind of a fail, that one. I don't have much love for most software patents, even having been paid to write a whole mess of them (and mine start out honest and reasonable, though lawyers can fix that for me) and read many more on various technologies being developed. They are still technically based on implementation not idea. But that's been lax in SW patents, which no longer require source code. Worse still in business method and design patents, which don't really answer the important question: why is this even an invention.

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Surface RT: Freedom luvin' app-huggers beware

hazydave

Re: A Step Up from Chromebook?

Now if I could figure out a way to put an ARM Linux distro on the Surface....

Sounds like you really want an Android tablet. Linux is included :-)

I never quite got the Chromebook idea myself. I mean, put a fully functional HTML5 browser (Chrome, for example) on any normal application-hosting computer (an Android device, let's say) and you ought to have pretty much the same functionality. Plus, all this other stuff that's NOT tethered to the net. At the same performance levels, too... the cheaper Chromebooks are using the same ARM SOCs used in ARM tablets. There's perhaps a call for this among people who want the simplest, hand-holding-ist computer possible, in one location (eg, no network issues).

I upgraded my tablet to an Asus Transformer Infinity this year, with keyboard. Together, you have the same basic functionality you'll find in any netbook, only, with applications actually designed for that performance level, or maybe a bit lower. Things go fast, rather than struggling in full Windows on a netbook, or as they will on the cheaper x86 tablets on the way. Plus, you get the full day's runtime... that's 7-9 hours stand-alone, around 14 with the keyboard attached (there's a spare battery there). The display is great, 1920x1200, same as my desktop. Plenty of storage, 64GB inside, 64GB on a flash card... Microsoft gets this, but the Google devices don't have expansion, they believe "the Cloud" should be where you keep your stuff. That is in character for Google.

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hazydave

Re: Java

It's actually worse than you think, right now anyway.

You could probably run an interpreter on WinRT, though whether Microsoft would allow one in the Windows Store remains to be seen. Apple didn't allow these for years, and finally compromised on allowing such things basically for education only ... you can save a program, but you can't download code from the net. Apple really wants to be the only company that can deliver a working application, thus, they maintain their ability to collect their 30%. And this is MS's model here.

Compilers, I think not. Ignore for a moment the things a compiler might actually need that aren't allowed in WinRT, and say, ok, we have magically put a compiler on WinRT. We know we can't compile directly in RAM, because WinRT won't allow data to become code. So you run your compiler and linker, create a binary on your storage device (flash disc). Now you want to run it... sorry. WinRT will only, ever, run signed binaries, or so they say.

But here's the "even worse" part... you need things in a compiler runtime, like memory allocations, exception handling, etc. that cooperate with the OS. Microsoft's VC++ compiler encapsulates all of these in the VC++ RTL DLL. All of this stuff is ILLEGAL in an Windows RT application. Period. There's a built-in exception for the VC++ RTL DLL, but no one else can currently get this exception (obviously, Microsoft could allow others to get the same exemptions, but I wouldn't hold my breath). A compiler could use the Common Language Runtime to build RT applications (though again, not likely supported on RT itself), but that's not native code.

Android is the only full function tablet OS on the market. There are all sorts of development tools for Android that run on Android, and allow full commercial development.

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hazydave

Re: So what do you call it...

Actually, CAN it run a compiler.

Here's the thing.. it's already established that WinRT doesn't support compilers per se -- you can't convert data to code. This is the main technical reason no one can launch a competitive web browser on WinRT, as there's no way to build a JIT for Javascript (that's before you even ask the question of whether MS would allow this in their store).

So a compiler, of course, can write object to disc storage, link, write out the binary... and then what. WinRT systems won't run non-signed binaries of any kind, supposedly. How to run that newly compiled code?

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hazydave

Re: I guess you can write / download source code and compile it to run.

Can you actually get a compiler? Apple pretty much kept these away from the iPad -- they didn't want any other way for software to enter the device, than via the iTunes store. And that's clearly Microsoft's model -- no idea if they'll be meaner or nicer about these things than Apple, but they clearly want their own "tax" applied to everything sold for WinRT.

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hazydave

Re: Security advantages?

Not just for Office. Microsoft wants every other company to re-write their code for WinRT, but they don't want to have to do that themselves. And they don't want to follow the limits that WinRT is meant to impose on every other apps developer. So they have Win32 as a Microsoft-only API. And if you have Win32, you might as well include Explorer/Desktop, that's not so much extra code -- and some applications from Microsoft may actually require it (though the RT tablets aren't getting the pen interface that's apparently going to be common in full Windows 8 tablets).

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hazydave

Re: Software costs?

It's certainly possible other office suites would be permitted in the Microsoft Store, but that remains to be seen. There's a huge disincentive for any company to do that, since Microsoft isn't allowing Windows RT to be sold alone -- it's always bundled with Office Jr. (or whatever it's called, Home and School). Given that Microsoft has copied Apple on nearly every other thing, it's no shock to imagine they'll reject some applications they feel are overly competitive with things they want to sell you. But again, there's no obvious history on this -- though a few reports, already, of apps being rejected for "no obvious reason", just like Apple.

The other way Microsoft is limiting things is the private API thing -- only Microsoft applications can use Win32 calls in Windows RT. Everyone else is limited to WinRT, and WinRT was designed to be more restrictive ... one might even guess that "RT" means "Restrictive Technology", rather than "RunTime" as suggested by Microsoft (they wouldn't be the first company to play that kind of joke on their customers and developers). So you can't write a full fledged web browser under WinRT -- no way to turn data into code, so no JIT for your Javascript (you can use Microsoft's Javascript engine, but look at how that's handled in iOS -- apps get the older, slower Javascript engine, while only Safari gets the new one... permanent advantage to Apple).

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iPad Mini vs Nexus 7: inch makes all the difference, says Apple CEO

hazydave

Re: apple user replies

The Nexus 7 isn't dramatically more repairable, and certainly not more expandable, than the iPad. But at least it's more powerful and priced accordingly.

Oh, and, a 2.8GHz processor isn't a work-horse. More of a work-pony. But Apple does have an issue with fast, higher clocked CPUs -- on PCs or on tablets. Not sure what their deal is.

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hazydave

Re: Extremely Compelling

I think you're confused. The iPhone and iPad are actually driving the Mac market. Now, sure, the Mac market hasn't been growing by large numbers... it was something like 4.5% of PC sales last year, internationally, and may hit 5.2% this year. Thing is, those are also the most expensive PCs sold, and the Windows PC market has been stagnant or shrinking for quite some time.

This is why Microsoft is worried -- people are buying tablets instead of PCs. But not instead of Mac, instead of Windows PCs. That makes sense. It's not even to suggest that you're buying a tablet and giving up your PC. But PCs are fast enough for most users these days. And tablets have been shown, to some anyway, as an alternative that's reasonably low cost. So I didn't bother with a laptop upgrade, I got a tablet that does most of what the laptop did well. I still keep my desktop, and will still upgrade it. Eventually. If I don't have to run Windows 8 on it.

So they're buying fewer PCs, and in some cases, switching off to Mac. But then, look at the numbers. According to at least one estimate, all versions of Windows are only about 69% of the installed base of user personal computers (eg, desktops, laptops, tablets, etc. ... not servers or embedded). Apple's close to 20%, when you add iOS and MacOS together. Android's most of what's left over. And those have been growing like crazy.

Microsoft has historically got most of their power by being able to push around OEMs and software vendors alike. Software companies didn't really have an alternative to support, hardware companies had to toe the line, support whatever Microsoft told them to support, or they didn't get their "Designed for Windows" logo. And they can't go into an OEM's PC, since Microsoft charges OEMs extra if they ship with any non-WHQL approved devices or drivers.. so they never do (and that's why you have to update drivers for any new device). Dropping global market share directly affects this... maybe that's why Ballmer is calling Microsoft a "Devices and Services" company these days. Go figure.

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hazydave

Yup

I've had two 16:10 tablets, the current one is the Asus Transformer Infinity. This is a far superior format than 4:3... but I think I know why Apple keeps 4:3. It's their skeuomorphic interface.

Take eBooks. There is no reason in the world why you need large margins on an eBook. Sure, leave a place to add a note or something, but this is a computer -- make it an unlimited, pop-up space. Apple, on the other hand, needs to make virtual things seem like real ones, regardless of how horrible an idea that usually is. So eBooks have to waste space for margins. That's going to be kind of an issue on narrower displays.

I discovered this with my own "book". I have a PDF file with hundreds of songs + chords for guitar. Back when I printed this out, I needed margins -- a place for a 3-holes punched for the binder, some white space on the outside to keep fingerprints off the text, etc. But moving this to my first Android tablet, I basically nixed large margins, and the same text fit perfectly.

Same with the video... Apple's emulating your old analog TV when they play a video. So it's got to have those same gigantic letterbox bars that your old TV had. Why not impersonate an HDTV? Not analog enough for the people at Apple. Same reason their iCal looks so goofy. I mean, they could have made the calendar look like any old established professional looking Day-Timer. But NOOOOO... they had to have wild west looking faux leather, complete with stitching. Honestly, I've never seen a real calendar that looks that hideous, but it's nice to know that, somewhere in Cupertino, there's a manager or designer in love with that sort of thing.

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Apple iPod Touch 5G review

hazydave

Re: Why upgrade? - all about the storage

The cost of flash is the main reason -- Apple knows the price points that sell. Of course, they could offer an SD slot like most smartphones do... an extra 64GB of memory on micro-SD isn't all that expensive. But that would also be an issue on the smaller memory versions: why pay for the 64GB version when a 32GB model with a 64GB flash card costs less? Just not the Apple way to allow expansion like this.

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hazydave

Re: popular with kids

iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch have most of their components in common. There's no additional expense in making things smaller -- it would be more expensive to change components and lose the benefit of the volume manufacturing on the iPad. The screen on the iPad, particularly the iPad 3, is a big source of additional cost. It's also got way more battery (also one of the more expensive components) to light that high density display.

The iPod Touch is a PDA -- we just don't say "PDA" anymore, but that's precisely what you get when you subtract a phone modem from a "smartphone". Which itself isn't so much a phone as a pocket computer/PDA/whatever with a phone modem peripheral.

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hazydave

Re: popular with kids

Yeah, I think that's it. Kids want smartphones. My kids get a phone to make phone calls, I'm not paying the extra data charges for a smartphone. So they get the iPod Touch for Christmas, and that's nearly as good. And that's just why Apple still has the iPod Touch. Ok, they sell some, but fewer every year. But they also get a first crack at your kids brains -- get them into the Apple Cult today, and there's a much better chance that, when they do get a smartphone, it's an iPhone.

Here in the US, the Playstation Vita runs $250-$299; the Touch is comparable (ok, only half the performance: 4 CPU/GPU cores on the Vita vs. two on the Touch, and exactly the same CPU and GPU) in initial cost. But per-game, the Vita is crazy expensive compared to the Touch -- this is one reason iOS is the largest portable gaming platform on the planet right now. And another thing kids like.

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hazydave

Re: when you can get a 7in tablet for £160

Forget about "can't you make it for less"... Apple's prices always reflect what they think they can sell the thing for, not that closely related to the cost of manufacture. Particularly given that at least some of their items start out life production limited -- they can sell all the make, at least for awhile.

Plus, Apple gets huge financial benefits being seen as a luxury brand, and in fact, perhaps the world's only luxury brand that's still very popular among regular folks. Apple can't lower the price of anything they sell too much, or they risk erroding the meme that it's "okay" to pay more, because it's Apple. They're giving you a -- don't know -- something more for that price, beyond what's in the specs. Membership in a not-so-exclusive exclusive club, etc. The right to look upon the owners of "lesser" devices as if there's something wrong with them. The right to sit drinking $5.00 coffee drinks at a Starbucks (or the local version) and not feel out of place.

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Microsoft Surface priced up for Blighty

hazydave

Do the math...

Why would throwing in an x86 chip cost an extra £400?

They're using an i5, plus the chipset that does with an i5, since that's not an SOC. Versus a $15 nVidia Tegra T30. It's a laptop version, which isn't usually for sale and usually does cost more. I can buy a desktop version of the i5 Ivy Bridge for about $215 here. Some difference.

They're also going to need about twice the battery. The display is better on the Pro, 1920x1080 or so. The minimum flash memory is 64GB, they also have a 128GB version. And I'm sure other issues... not to mention markups.

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hazydave

Re: The real issue is Internet Explorer

You can get Chrome (it's actually in some of the Microsoft promo shots) and maybe Firefox eventually.

What they're not telling you is that these are not going to be full implementations. WinRT will not, for example, allow data to turn into code. Thus, a browser can't implement a modern Javascript, because they all use JITs (Just-in-time compilers) that mandate data becoming code in an application. So you'll either have very poor Javascript performance, or they'll be using Microsoft's Javascript engine. Maybe not a big deal, but this is very much like Apple... Microsoft has special powers in Windows RT machines (eg, the power to use the Win32 APIs) that everyone else lacks.

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hazydave

Re: Not surprising

What I'd be interested is how many of these "Windows" tablets get returned when it transpires that it's not actually Windows but Windows RT and is therefore incompatible with pretty much everything.

That's a real issue, I think, and something not all that often postulated these days in the blogosphere. I mean, we're all nerds here -- kind of a precondition to our being here -- and thus, we know this (if you don't, hang your head in shame, then go read up on the fact that Windows RT is Windows only because "Windows" is Microsoft's brand name for any OS they create, and it implies nothing about compatibility).

So some people will buy these entirely based on the Windows/Microsoft branding. And they'll be flooding Microsoft and the support blogs about "How do I install X" on my shiny new Windows RT tablet. Can I hook up a CD drive? Just wait. Sure, this won't be everyone, but I'll bet it's more than just a fringe. This may be epic confusion. All hail Discordia!

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hazydave

Re: Magnetic power supply...

Apple and Microsoft do have fairly extensive patent cross licensing. Part of that deal was Microsoft's promising not to "clone" Apple in any way. But obviously, that makes Apple's basic components available for MS to incorporate without fear of reprisals.

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hazydave

Re: Didnt Pre-ordered mine last night

Hopefully that's typical of the bloat of WinRT applications.

I just checked my Transformer tablet here... I have 53GB free out of 64GB internally, 48GB free out of 64GB on the SD card (music, mostly). But that's also with a couple dozen books and 182 apps installed. That includes Firefox, Chrome, Emacs, g++, Terminal, Adobe Reader, and two office productivity packages. And yeah, some games.

Part of the deal, I suspect, is that Android (and iOS) devices have a fairly big chunk of NAND flash, which holds much of the operating system proper. Microsoft seems to be building these PC style, where the NAND flash is just a BIOS loader, and they get all of the OS from NOR flash (your flash drive). So the Windows device's 32GB really is 32GB, the Android device's 32GB might actually be more like 36-40GB.

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hazydave

Re: Didnt Pre-ordered mine last night

Not sure there's any actual desktop... Office runs on this as a Metro application. Yes, it's still using Win32 (the usual Windows API) not stuck with WinRT only. But that's a trick only Microsoft can do.. no one else gets to use Win32 on Windows RT.

And as far as Windows RT being a "full blown desktop OS"... new to mobile, are we? They all run designed-for-mobile middleware/app frameworks, Windows RT included... Microsoft's tablet/phone OS is the WinRT API over top of the Windows NT kernel. Apple's got the usual Darwin OS (BSD UNIX, Mach kernel) on iOS, and in fact, a good bit of the OS itself comes from MacOS. Android is running over top of Linux, not just for desktops, but the choice of most server, data warehouse, and supercomputers.

What makes the OS are the applications. RIght now, you can do all kinds of desktop things on Linux... I have g++ and Emacs on my ASUS tablet, for example. And two different office suites. WinRT will have MS-Office, and that's about it... nothing else is going to be an easy port, since it's exactly like moving your application to a whole new operating system. One reason the early Windows 7 Phone and Windows 8 Metro apps are written in HTML, CSS and Javascript... but that's no way to write desktop-class stuff.

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hazydave

Re: Didnt Pre-ordered mine last night

We pay about $15 on this side of the pond for a 16GB memory card. Sure, it's nice to have it built-in, but that's not a terribly huge win for Microsoft.

As others have mentioned, Apple is established as THE luxury brand in this market. Most other companies who've gone head-to-head with Apple on price have lost... who wants a Fiat for the price of a Mercedes?

ASUS is another to look at. But look at the specs -- Microsoft isn't selling a top-of-the-line device here, but a mass market device. They're using a lower resolution screen, versus the TF700's 1920x1200. The Surface is based on the T30 Tegra 3, rather than the faster T33 in the TF700... and DDR2 memory, supposedly. The TF700 uses DDR3-1600 DRAM. Sure, the iPad 3 is only based on DDR2, but they have a dual-channel memory controller, versus the Tegra's single channel. Yes, the Surface RT comes with twice the RAM, at 2GB. But it's not like any version of Windows to be easy on RAM. The Surface sports dual 1Mpixel cameras, versus 2/8Mpixel for the TF700... the old iPad had lower rez cameras, too, but the new one's photo-quality.

So Microsoft's less competitive here than I expected.

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Just how good is Nokia's PureView 41Mp camera tech?

hazydave

Re: iOS based on Linux? Really?!

All mobile OSs have extensive work on their power management. That's not where the power is going.

If you look at a typical modern smartphone (Android, iOS, and certainly the forthcoming Windows 8 phone), you'll find as much as 50% of your power going to the screens. That's what higher quality displays (IPS, OLED, 720p or nearly so) can do for you. Nokia's not going to be any different... in fact, their PureMotion screens incorporate two innovations that will eat even more power. One is the trick they use to get the LCD switching time up.. they hit the LCD with a voltage spike on the incident of the switching signal. This gets them about 3x the speed of other (read: iPhone) LCDs, but it's taking more power. The other is a claim of better daylight readability, which is exactly what Asus does in their IPS+ display mode: big fat backlight. Anytime there's light, heat, or a strong radio signal, that's power going out of the battery.

They "fix" this in the 808 by just not playing the game. The 808 runs a 640x360 OLED display, 1/4 the resolution of most 2011-2012 smartphones.

Some Nokia phones, like the 808, achieve better power characteristics simply by going retro. The CPU in the 808 is based on ARM11. The successor to ARM11 was ARM Cortex A8, which was replaced by the A9, and over the next year is likely to be replaced by the A15 (and similar cores: Qualcom has the Scorpion, comparable to the A8, and the Krait, same class as the A15... Apple's new iPhone 5 has a core similar in performance to an A15). In short, they have a CPU from 2006 or so, just run a bit faster... yeah, you're going to save a little power there.

And yet, the N9 claims about 70% more talk time than the 808, even with the same battery size (or close enough)... so what's the deal there?

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hazydave

Re: Pureview on Microsoft phones.... don't hold your breath it is NOT the same!

The OS use on a modern smartphone is so small, it's not really relevant. The main point of designing custom OSs for mobile or even just for smartphones was that, simply put, early smartphones were not capable of running a PC-class operating system. The same issues were true for PDAs of the day, which is of course why so many early smartphones were based on PDA operating systems (and in fact, the Windows 7 Phones still are... they're running WinCE, not WinNT).

Back when you had a monochrome, transflective LCD screen, a CPU, a tiny bit of memory, and a phone modem as pretty much the whole phone, the OS could well have been a significant part of the power consumption. Not anymore, and not for a long time. The main impact from the OS on battery life isn't even the OS itself, it's the hardware's ability to manage power (clock speed control, shutting off unused resources, etc) and the OS's power management support for that, too. When it comes to power hogs, it's primarily the screen, if you have a good signal, or the radio (3G, 4G, doesn't much matter) when you don't have a good signal.

In the case of Android, yeah, that's Linux. UNIX began as an OS for minicomputers in fact, not microcomputers. But that was the 1960s, and nothing particularly relevant to today. Linux is fully capable of function on modern low power microprocessors, and under the Android project, modern power management was brought in as well (that was part of the original Linux fork Android took, which was merged back earlier this year). Linux is also one of the most popular embedded operating systems today -- it's seen plenty of use in low power applications, even before Android.

iOS is derived from MacOS, of course, which is based on CMU's Mach kernel and BSD UNIX -- no Linux in there. On MacOS, Apple has delivered some of the best power management on any OS... MacOS PCs typically run longer than most similar Windows PCs, even these days given identical hardware... most of that's due to MacOS's well tuned power management. Which is also on the iPhone.

Your battery life depends quite a bit on what you're making those batteries do. Certainly, if your OS is doing more things, it's going to use more battery power. If it's running on higher class processors, it may (though not always) use more power. Larger and higher definition screens also suck down much more power... an example: the current 9.7" iPad screen takes 2.5x as much power as last year's identically sized iPad screen. The only differences are due to pixel density. SymbianOS phones have typically had much lower resolution screens than their iOS or Android counterparts, which is a significant contributer to battery life. They also tend to have slower CPUs and fewer hardware features. That's not a SymbianOS limit, that's just the reality of Nokia not focusing on SymbianOS phones for the last several years, as they try to kill the market.

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Apple: Blue-shirts can fix iOS Maps in their spare time

hazydave

It still is... kinda

They did say "it just works"... that's the Free Dictionary's definition #6 for just (adv): simply, certainly. But at the new Apple, they're trying hard to keep to tradition. So you can still use "it just works" in all honesty. They're just shifting up to definition #3: by a narrow margin, barely.

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hazydave
Stop

Something's not right

There used to be two major SatNav turn-by-turn database companies: TeleAtlas and NavTeq. If you used a dedicated SatNav device, like a Garmin or a TomTom, you used one of these databases. Still do. If you used Google Maps, same thing... at some point in time, Google had worked with either company.

Then stuff happened. Nokia decided that SatNav would become a standard feature of smartphones. Makes sense... various government mandate the GPS chip anyway... the rest is just "a simple matter of software", eh? So Nokia tried to buy TeleAtlas. TomTom got wind of that, and bought them first. So Nokia grabbed NavTeq. This upset Google, already concerned over the limits imposed on their license mapping data -- they had big plans. So Google stats driving these mapping vans around, building their own database.

There are a few others... crowdsourced databases like those of Open StreetMaps and Waze. These, of course, are build by drivers using related mapping applications, submitting corrections, POIs, etc.

Now, according to one of the Waze founders, Google currently has the best maps. While I'm happy to defer to his judgement, I have used other SatNavs for years, dedicated units, and only occasionally hit the sort of errors being demonstrated on Apple Maps. And here's the mystery: Apple claims to be using data from TeleAtlas/TomTom and OSM. If so, what's the deal? Does TomTom have a special priced" Maps for Schmucks" database? Or is this intentional.. Apple just abusing customers to stay at the top of the tech news cycle for a couple of extra weeks. Sure, fire away Apple Fanbois ... Apple does put you all through their new product release madness twice a year... entirely orchestrated, entirely avoidable.

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WTF is... VoLTE

hazydave

Works today, no delay

In the US on Verizon, the only voice protocol on CDMA2000 is 2G. So there's no switching... on fact, many devices have separate 2G/3G and 4G radios. A 2G voice connection disables a 3G data connection just as it always has on CDMA, while the 2G and 4G run in parallel, unaffected by one anothet. OK, if you have a new iPhone, you drop 4G for voice.

LTE itself is not all that power hungry. It can be worse than 3G per minute, but never per byte. It can also be better than 3G, due to the superior radio bands here in the states

Verizon at least is already laying some of the groundwork for an all IP network. Recently, their preferred plans have made voice and texts unlimited, but jacked the price of data way up. That would make it very easy for them to simply drop voice/MMS as separate things and make it all just data.

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Nokia lops UK Lumia prices ahead of Win 8 phones

hazydave

Re: FRAGMENTATION!!!

It's not so much the OS releases people complain about. But when Ubuntu does an upgrade, the update manager offers to install it for you, free and automatically. The biggest complaint about Android has been that, given the arbitrary support from the various OEMs, there's no way to know when/if you're getting the new OS. But at least it's pretty easy to write apps that run under just about any version of the OS.. most Android apps work all the way back to Android 1.6.

Worse still is Microsoft's Windows Phone policies -- the apps for the new OS don't run, period, on the old OS. They cut off Windows Mobile when Window 7 Phone was released (no app compatibility). Now, while W7P apps run on Windows 8 Phones, if you're writing for Windows 8, nothing works on Windows 7 Phone. So people tapping this cost cut are going to have limited apps support going forward.

Not that W7P has done that well, anyway. Lots of the W7P applications were paid development by Microsoft, and they're not getting great upgrades. Won't be a problem for W8P buyers if W8P actually sells -- a better chance, anyway, now that OEMs are allowed to make competitive hardware.

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Intel outs initial Windows 8 Atom tablet line-up

hazydave

Re: Funny, I did a bit of googling to get the specs of Dell's offering.

1366 x 768 seems to be Microsoft's minimum spec for this kind of tablet. Not horrible, but given I've got 1920x1200 on my new Android tablet, it would be a step backwards.

They're probably under some price pressure, particularly after Microsoft announced their own "Surface" tablets. Microsoft will hit the street with a $50-$100 price advantage over any OEM, and since these are being pushed into the iPad market, they're also competing against Apple and all those Android devices head-to-head.

The Atom has typically been about as fast per clock cycle as the ARM Cortex A9, but usually run much faster. They may have tweaked the Atom a little for the Cloverview SOC, but most of the Android tablets are running much faster these days, as well. And since they're running full blown Windows on this, they're not going to be as efficient as Android or iOS. In particular, while they can run desktop SW, that's going to run about as well as it has always run on a netbook. The Windows 7 Phone apps should very fast, but they're Windows 7 Phone apps.. not very evolved. And the Windows 8 Metro things are still fairly scarce.

With this year's Android tablets going quad core or dual core Krait, this isn't likely to be faster. But it's likely to be on the pricey side, even with all the cost cutting. Power-wise, the new Intel stuff looks better for tablets than phones, but we'll see... all-day runtimes are not negotiable on a tablet. And where's the DDR3? That's both a performance boost and a battery savings over DDR2.

It's also interesting that, while these chips do support x86-64, the full power management runs only on 32-bit Windows for some reason. So all of these tablets are launching as 32-bit products.

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Tablet and laptop sales neck and neck

hazydave

Re: @Black Plague

I've been using an Android tablet as a laptop replacement for about two years now. My original tablet got knocked off the couch a few weeks ago, and has since been replaced with a Transformer Infinity.

Like any tool or toy, it's all about how you use it. The Transformer pretty much covers the few things my old tablet didn't do. It works with external HDDs, not just flash dongles. It works in NTFS, and takes a full SD card in the base, so I can unload flash media from digital cameras, preview JPGs, upload to the net, etc. It's certainly possible to write code on it, though I haven't installed a shell yet (but I'll get around to it -- had shell, C/C++, etc. on the old tablet).

One of mandatory features of a tablet is long battery life -- otherwise, you just have a slower laptop. I also use my tablet as a music book -- I have thousands of lead sheets for songs I play and sing. I left Friday night with the Infinity charged, drove to a jam Friday night, a gig Saturday, and when I got home last night, plenty of juice left to read email and play a few games.

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hazydave

Software?

You really don't need all that meaty a processor for software development -- that's precisely why laptops are so popular amoung software engineers.

Heavy lifting is usually done on desktops, anyway, not laptops. Electronics CAD pretty much requires dual monitors, a fast CPU for autorouting (PCB, FPGA) and simulation. Mechanical CAD needs even more horsepower, including a pro-quality GPU rarely if ever found on a laptop, much less a tablet. Video editing likewise... video editors need as much horsepower as possible for realtime preview and fast rendering, particularly since projects are often multi-targeted (eg, DVD, Blu-ray, online). All modern video editors also use a fast GPU when available. Even fairly mundane photo editing needs a big machine, particular a 64-bit OS and 16GB or more RAM, needed for compositing HDR or panoramic shots at modern DSLR resolutions.

Programmers need keyboards, and benefit from larger screens, but you actually could develop code on a tablet. In fact, if you have an Android tablet, you can download CLI shells, compilers, text editors (even Emacs) from the Google Play store.

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Eric Schmidt: Ha ha, NO Google maps app for iPhone 5

hazydave

Re: Bing Maps are Nokia/Navteq Maps

With Google tied to Android, and NAVTEQ tied to Nokia/ Windows, TomTom/TeleAtlas was the only major SatNav not already tied to a smartphone platform. Thing I wonder... TomTom is pretty good ... how did Apple core up so short?

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hazydave

Re: Smart move by Google.

Google's probably not doing that. But if they wanted to, it's a simple matter of an HTML5 app that detects the Safari mobile browser, and acts accordingly.

Maps alone aren't the problem. Apple dumped Google Maps largely because they got maps, but not Google Navigation, the SatNav app. Every Android device gets that, and it's very high quality in most places. And thanks to Nokia, Microsoft Phone users are getting NAVTEC SatNav. So this is now a mandatory smartphone function, and Apple's in trouble without it. Sure, they take heat for awhile, and they will probably never be as good as Google. But close enough, someday, and with the required features to seem competitive.

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Toshiba AT300 10in Android tablet review

hazydave

Re: Any theories...

For the 3G tablet, they're adding an HSPA modem chip... about $15 in volume, plus a few additional components. The pretty standard thing is to add $100 for every new feature (like another 16GB of Flash memory, which costs about $5.00 in volume), etc. Then, when the UK pricing is done, they sometimes jump straight from USD to GPB, or maybe actually drop it a little for a more fair conversion.

Either way, it's priced at what they market's shown they'll pay, not necessarily related to what it actually costs. You might do a little better on a Toshiba or Asus or other non-Apple tablet. I paid $100 additional for an extra 32GB on my new Transformer Infinity.. and another $50 to buy a 64GB microSDHC card for it. Imagine that, smart and stupid in the same purchase... as are we all, sometimes.

Holding the tab is like holding a book. Yeah, it's more than a paperback, but [snigger] less than an iPad. My recently demised Notion Ink Adam tablet was 1.6lbs, but didn't seem quite so heavy, and had a fairly handy cylindrical bump at the top (they used off-the-shelf cylindrical batteries, none of these custom molded prisims) which kind of helped in book mode. The Asus is much lighter, but being less than half the thickness, it seems heavy because its denser... just can't win. Not sure I'd want to hold it out at arm's length all day long, but it's fine for reading, supportable in the same way one might handle a full size hardcover... and way lighter than anything by Steven King, that's for sure.

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Apple weekend iPhone 5 sales miss forecasts

hazydave

Sellout?

Apple tries to have sellouts. They prep their fanbase for weeks, first with leaks, then teasers, then an Actual Lauch Event -- a week before you can buy online. Which is a week before you can buy in-store. They launch with a limited supply, intentionally so, and when the demand is higher than the supply, and they sell out, that's news. In other words, free publicity. But more than that, this doesn't happen with other devices, right? So when it happens with the iPhone, that's telling the public that there's something special about Apple products.

What it should say, rather, is that other companies launch with ample supply of product, with online and in-store on the same day, with little danger of selling out even for a very successful product. Apple's oddly a little braver than the other guys -- Samsung wants you to get an SIII or a Galaxy Note as soon as you're ready to hand over the cash... before you maybe consider another phone or tablet. Apple's confident enough in their dominance to let their customers wait in line, wait for a week or so for the device even after the launch, put up with huge crowds, etc. in order to make a newsworthy event about what otherwise be just another product launch.

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Apple's brilliant plan to fix iOS Maps: Get YOU to do it

hazydave

Re: Why do

Depends on where you live. For most places, Google Maps data are actually the best.. even other mapping companies like Waze acknowledge this. I had always heard that, before Google did their own turn-by-turn database, TeleAtlas had the best data for Europe, in general, and NAVTEQ had the best in North America (they powered Garmin, which was generally better in the US than TomTom, which used TeleAtlas).

Nokia did start this all, and in a weird way, they pushed the creation of Google Maps. They decided that turn-by-turn maps would become a standard feature of smartphones, and set out to buy a mapping company. There were two serious contenders. Nokia tried to buy TeleAtlas, but TomTom beat them out. So Nokia got NAVTEQ, the other guys. And that's the basis upon which the Lumia and, in fact, all the Windows 8 Phone mapping is done.

Google had been licensing data from both of these guys at some point. Once two mobile device companies bought the mapping companies, it was clear that mobile map data might not be so available in the future -- thus, Google gets into the mapping biz.

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