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Lenovo ThinkPad X100e Hands-on Review

There are people out there who swear by affordable enterprise class hardware. I’m one of them. I use lots of gadgets in my everyday life but when it comes to the school of hard knocks I would sooner depend upon the likes of a Lenovo ThinkPad X100e than a consumer laptop. Continue reading about the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e…

Jan 31, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanko charger is for the ultimate gadget lover

Is this 1) a curious Lego Technic accessory, 2) a post-modernist fridge magnet or 3) the answer to the uncharged masses of cellphones in your desk drawer?

To all who answered 1 or 2, you could easily have been right; we’ve never seen anything quite like this before. For people who have more charging needs than 99% of the population, Thanko has announced this eighty port USB charger.

So if you rent out smartphones by the day or just can’t control your wallet each time HTC releases its latest creation, this may well be the charging solution of your dreams.

Neil Berman

Jan 31, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, News, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Teknica episode 3: A closer looks at the Apple iPad

In this week’s Teknica I take a closer look at Apple’s new iPad, talk about Windows 7 sales and there’s some news about Dell’s upcoming Mini 5 Andoid tablet phone.

Neil Berman

Jan 30, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, News, Teknica, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apple iPad: A well-priced compromise, but should you buy one?

Today I found myself following a now familiar pattern for Apple press events.  Full of anticipation at the start, perhaps even fear of how I might feel if the event ends up being a letdown.  Anticipation building further during the introduction and megadownloadfiguresfinancialshyperbole etc.  Product announcement YAY!  Features look great, I’m pretty sure I want one.  Price way better than expected, definitely want one NOW.  Presentation ends. The dust settles and reality starts to kick in; my 100% enthusiasm starts to get tempered.  Seriously if the iPad had been live in the online store immediately after the announcement I would now be waiting for UPS.  After a few hours of thinking it over here’s how I feel about the iPad…

Most importantly the price feels right, given that this is a limited functionality computer.  The iPad is not a fully-featured tablet computer, we are going to see devices from PC manufacturers this year which can do more.  What kind of more?  Multitasking for one thing (pun intended).  Desktop-class application choice for another (no Photoshop right now on the iPad or any other native OSX apps) and better connectivity options (no SD card slot or webcam on the iPad).  Given these limitations the entry price of $499 seems fair.

Although it has a thick screen surround, it looks great and is as super thin as we would expect.  The promised battery life of ten hours is extremely encouraging and suggests an efficient processor design, I wonder how that will be affected by full-on 3G usage…The downside of the energy efficiency is that the graphics did not look particularly impressive, but we need to give developers time over the coming months to learn and exploit the new hardware.

iBooks was nice but I can’t get too excited about ebook software.  While it will definitely grow in popularity it’s not going to take the world by storm in the same way as digital music.  We don’t hear about industry problems of people trying to illegally download books unlike the environment which preceded mass digital music adoption.  With digital music there was a mass market ready and waiting to be tapped by a legal download service, which is what iTunes did so effectively.  With ebooks the mass market needs to be educated and developed further for it to become a cash cow. Also the iPad’s glossy backlit screen may not be so comfortable to focus upon for extended periods compared to the Kindle’s e-ink screen, especially outdoors.  I expect however that most people will overlook this limitation, if they are even aware of it, and be drawn to the wider appeal of the iPad.

The old fashioned 4:3 screen aspect is a peculiar choice given that one of today’s demos was a movie which is best viewed in 16:9 or 16:10 widescreen.  While a clear use-case of the iPad is as a media device, watching modern releases will almost always result in black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

The lack of Flash support is simply stunning.  While Apple describes the iPad as the best way to experience the web, I’m not convinced.  The lack of Flash support on small screens is forgiveable, but on a media-centric large screen device it just seems like a glaring omission.  This means no Hulu on the iPad and many popular sites will have elements which will not work.

Wide on-screen keyboards are pretty difficult to type on because the middle keys are a stretch, so the keyboard dock with screen support makes sense.  I think I was the only person out there who CALLED THIS ONE! I like the idea of iWork on the iPad, but only with an external keyboard.  I do feel that once you get a hardware keyboard going you want a mouse as well so you don’t have to raise your arm every two seconds to manipulate the screen.  Unfortunately the iPad does not support mice, so get ready for some arm exercise if you’re sitting with the iPad mounted on a stand in front of you.

Bottom line, will the iPad be a popular device?  Probably yes, because I expect people in the market for a high end $300-400 ebook reader like a Kindle DX could be tempted to stretch to $499 for something offering useful internet, media and email functionality.  The price point will also win over some netbook shoppers.  However I think that Apple’s description of the iPad as being “magical and revolutionary” over-compensates hype in place of some of the device’s deficiencies.  Evolutionary sure, insofar as this device is upscaled from the existing iPhone software and hardware paradigm.  At a lower price point netbooks are able to do basic tasks that the iPad can’t; like making video calls, accepting memory cards and handling Flash.  Fortunately for the sales figures most people probably believe the hype and will be happy with a $499 device which can only run one application at once.  It’s in a way ironic that the media criticized PC manufacturers and Microsoft for shipping Windows 7 Starter on some low end netbooks, which is limited to only run three applications simultaneously, yet I’ve seen minimal comment on the iPad’s limitation of only being able to run one app.

The wider question is whether Main Street needs a secondary or tertiary internet device, when many people have already invested in a netbook or iPhone to supplement their everyday computer.  And while I said earlier I believe the entry price of $499 is fair, it’s certainly not an impulse buy.  The range extends to $829 for a 64GB model with 3G capability; AT&T unlimited data connectivity adds another $30 per month on top of that.  This takes the first year cost of an $829 iPad with unlimited data to around $1,189.  Fundamentally though, if you already have an iPhone, how likely are you really to buy an iPad?  I’d say it would be a tough sell because the iPhone already has the core away-from-home functionality in a more convenient size and weight.  Perhaps the basic $499 version might make sense to use at home if you love the iPhone OS, since you can bring your iPhone apps onto the iPad.

Am I going to buy one?  I’ve gone from 100% yes to 60% yes 50% over the course of the five nine hours since the announcement and I’m stabilizing, so I think it’s probable possible.  I wouldn’t need a lot of storage in a device like this so personally I’d go for the 16GB model with 3G and just pray for AT&T to improve its network.  Still three months to go until the 3G model is available though and I have a feeling a lot of tablets will be announced between now and then…

Neil Berman

Jan 27, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Hardware, News, Software | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

McGraw-Hill CEO outs Apple Tablet one day early

Earlier today, McGraw-Hill’s CEO talked about Apple’s tablet in a CNBC interview.  He mentioned that his company’s text books would be available on the tablet and said of Apple “they’ll make their announcement tomorrow“.  He went on to say that his company has “worked with Apple for quite a while” and “the tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system“.  The interviewer ended the conversation saying, “I’m glad I went to school when I did, I like to smell my textbooks.”  If the public at large feels the same way, Apple could have a bumpy ride with this one depending on how they price it.

Neil Berman

Jan 26, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Hardware, News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teknica Episode 2: Apple Hysteria. Tablets, Nokia GPS and Ballmer autographs a MacBook Pro

This week’s Teknica is here for your enjoyment.  In this episode I discuss Apple’s January 27th event, Nokia’s navigation announcement as well as Steve Ballmer’s presumably unplanned signing of a MacBook Pro.

Neil Berman

Jan 24, 2010 Posted by | News, Teknica | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Predictions for Apple’s January 27th event

Several people have asked me what Apple is planning to announce on Wednesday.  Excitement about this event has reached fever pitch to the extent that it even made the sixty second headlines of my local radio station.  While there are a gazillion rumors cruising around the information superhighway, we will as ever only know the truth when Steve delivers the goods on the 27th.  But there’s no harm in making a prediction, so here’s mine:

I expect we will see a new iPhone OS, call it 4.0.  I think it will support multi-tasking and that will segway into a much rumored tablet announcement.  The tablet will use the iPhone 4.0 OS to deliver the iPhone experience on a 9 to 11 inch screen with phone, 3G data and WiFi capability and multitasking computer-like functionality.  I expect the primary interaction with the tablet will be through touch but there will also be a dock accessory providing a keyboard and screen support so that it can be used like a small laptop, much like the Lenovo U1 which we saw at CES.  However unlike the U1 all the computing power of the Apple tablet will be in the tablet itself.

I think this will come together with a finger friendly update to iLife to make the tablet a family-friendly do-all device.  Finally I expect a tie-in with either Verizon or AT&T to provide constant online connectivity for a subsidized purchase price plus a monthly fee.  I also think we will be able to buy the tablet as a one-time purchase without the carrier subscription for use solely as a WiFi device.

We’ll find out later this week whether any of this comes true…

Neil Berman

Jan 23, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Apple | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TEKNICA: Episode 1

Welcome to our new video podcast, TEKNICA (Tech News I Care About).  We’re planning for TEKNICA to be a weekly super-concise roundup of tech news and we want to make it great for you.  Tell us what you think…

Neil Berman

Jan 18, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, News, Teknica, Video Features | , , , , | Leave a comment

CES 2010 BlackBerry coverage

As you can see from my recent posts I had a busy week at CES.  In addition to all the news I covered below I was also on the BlackBerry beat for BerryReporter.  You can see all my BerryReporter CES posts including videos here.

Neil Berman

Jan 17, 2010 Posted by | CES, Hardware, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Asus adds new Republic of Gamers gear

Asus is getting serious about gaming.  Really serious.  To save you reading about just how serious they are, watch this video where Asus’s Product Manager for Republic of Gamers talks me through what’s new for CES 2010.

Neil Berman

Jan 10, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, News, Video Features | , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Samsung’s incredible booth show

Samsung and LG have incredible setups at CES this year, but Samsung really steals the limelight with its amazing booth entry show.  Check out the video for a front row seat, which also includes some ridiculously thin TVs and of course lots of other juicy tech stuff.  Video above, gallery below.

Neil Berman

Jan 10, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile, Video Features | , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: MSI introduces new X-Slim and Netbook models

MSI has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and while its initial X-Slim range was judged to be a little flaky the company is hoping to change that with its updated 2010 models.  MSI has also been showing new netbooks here at CES and you can catch their latest X-series and netbook models in the video above, including the new X350, X420 and X6xx laptops.

Neil Berman

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: LG booth walkthrough

LG and Samsung both have colossal booths at CES this year, each of which feels like being in a mini-village of technology.  Here’s a walkthrough of LG’s floor space.

Neil Berman

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: SonyEricsson Xperia X10 hands-on

Hmmm…SonyEricsson smartphones.  Products with so much promise which just sometimes don’t quite hit the bullseye.  The company has been trying to make its mark once more in the smartphone market with the Xperia X1 and now with its latest release, the X10.  In moving from the X1 to the X10 SonyEricsson has also switched from Windows Phone to Android.  I spent some hands-on time with the X10 this week and it certainly looks and feels great.  The spec sheet is also good, with an 8.1 megapixel camera, screen resolution of 854×480 and geo-tagging.  There’s only 1GB of onboard memory but the X10 does support Micro SD cards so you can get another 32GB in there.  Will this be the one to reignite SonyEricsson’s market share?  Video above and gallery below…

Neil Berman

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: enTourage eDGe eBook & internet dual screen tablet

Of the many, many eBook readers at CES the enTourage eDGe is a genuinely innovative design.  Employing a two screen design like several OEM concepts, the eDGe is a production device powered by a Marvel CPU running Android.  The left screen is an e-ink eBook reader and the right screen is an internet browser and Android application interface.  There’s USB connectivity, onboard sound and memory card support.  The current version of the eDGe does not support flash video, which would surely make it a killer media platform, however this is in the works for future releases.  Enjoy the hands-on video demo above and gallery below.

Neil Berman

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: The CES 2010 gallery part 2

Here are some more of our best shots from Vegas to feast your eyes upon…

Neil Berman

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | Audio, CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile | , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Viliv N5 ultra-mini mobile PC

It seems that Viliv thought the existing UMPC acronym wasn’t descriptive enough for the N5, so they’ve added the word ‘mini’ to make, I guess,  UMMPC.  Curious names aside, the Viliv N5 is an amazing looking device and packs a fully featured PC into a clamshell design weighing under one pound.  The Viliv N5 features an Atom Z520 processor, Windows 7 and a 4.8″ screen.  It’s headed our way this year and I want one!

Neil Berman

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Video Features | , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Intel shows off Core i7 3D gaming

3D is everywhere at CES and Intel was busy showing off a Core i7 3D gaming rig earlier today.  They think this is going to be big, and frankly if there’s a good use-case for 3D in the home then gaming may well be it.  I caught up with Intel to find out how it all works, check out the video above for the discussion and demo…

Neil Berman

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, News, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: The CES 2010 gallery part 1

Start salivating now, here are the the shots from the show floor so far…

Neil Berman

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | Audio, CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile | , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Ceton Quad Tuner discussion with Microsoft

The new Ceton quad HD CableCARD tuner for your HTPC is here, and to prove how real it really is I spent time with Microsoft talking about it today.  As a reminder this PCI Express beast offers four CableCARD HD tuners for simultaneous quad channel recording in an HTPC using Windows 7 Media Center.   All the gory details are in the video below, and yes, this thing really is as great as it sounds.  HTPC enthusiasts rejoice!  So check out the video and then order the largest, fastest hard drive you can find.

Neil Berman

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft, Video Features | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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