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Logitech Revue: Is $299 realistic?

logitech-revue-google-tvGotta say, I’m more than a little skeptical about the chances of the Logitech Revue wth Google TV package, which was announced today at a niche-looking price of $299.  That price places it squarely in baby-HTPC territory and miles away from the Roku or Apple TV ballpark.  Granted it offers more than the Roku or Apple units (although less than an HTPC).  But will consumers really be willing to shell out close to $300 for something that might not be perceived to offer that much more – especially since Roku is getting Hulu Plus on its $59 impulsebox.  While the world might be ready for that kind of give-it-a-try expenditure, Logitech might have a harder time convincing the mass market to part with a lumpier sum.

Neil Berman

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Oct 6, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Home Theater, Photo & Video | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google TV: Out of control?

GoogleThe announcement of Google TV yesterday is exciting, both for TV addicts and those who want a full living room internet experience without using a dedicated computer.  After following an impressive press conference, the question in my mind is how a regular person will control this thing.

It looks like Google TV seeks to aggregate content from various delivery channels and offers the end user multiple options for viewing said content.  For example during the presentation a portal page for House was shown offering episodes from Fox HD, USA HD, Bravo HD, and online from Fox, Hulu and Amazon.

While this kind of optionality is great from the point of view that the market can choose which delivery mechanism it wants, I’d say that most people want to flop in front of their TV, press a button and watch their favorite show.  The idea of presenting a regular viewer with so many viewing options, might just end up being too much choice for a simple end user decision.  I think the platform will ultimately need to prioritize certain delivery channels, either through configuration by the user or through agreements between Google and its content partners.

Of course we have all of this choice today and power users would probably love what Google TV looks like today by offering these myriad options through one remote control and one interface.  Windows Media Center provides a similar service but without a usable TV interface for browsing the internet, unless you have a wireless keyboard and a large screen for viewing small text at a distance.

So definitely five stars to Google on this one from the likes of me, I just hope that it’s straightforward enough for the average consumer to control when it hits Best Buy on Main Street.

Neil Berman

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May 21, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Home Theater, Photo & Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today in 2015: The Big Three rule the smartphone market

This article is a fictional work of my overactive imagination depicting how the smartphone market might appear in 2015.  Don’t count on it turning out this way…

Ah, how time flies!  It feels like only a few months ago that Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 Series and fans lined around the block for Apple’s iPhone Evolution, yet five whole years have passed since then.  During these telling years the smartphone market has truly evolved.  Vertical platform integration, wider corporate adoption and growth in the tablet market have been kind to Microsoft, Apple and Google at the expense of the RIM, Nokia and Palm.

With the benefit of hindsight it should have seemed obvious that as vertical platform integration improved, the smartphone market would come to resemble what used to be called the desktop computing market.  In the last five years the Microsoft, Google and Apple smartphone platforms developed such successful …continue reading

Mar 15, 2010 Posted by | Analysis | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Android gets Flash

The Apple Flash issue came to the fore recently when  Steve Jobs announced the iPad and today Google dropped a flash bomb on Cupertino by adding Flash to Android.

As we and much of the world noted recently, the iPhone and subsequent Apple devices running its OS such as the iPod Touch and iPad do not support Flash.  This means that they need special apps to access certain internet media content like YouTube videos and many websites just don’t work on those devices.  Windows Phone 7, announced on Monday, will also initially ship without Flash support.  Today however Google announced that Flash 10.1 will be available for Android, setting up the platform to offer a unique feature set in the smartphone market.

We know that Flash can be a resource hog on full power computers, sometimes causing Macs to crash, so I was curious to see how fluid the experience would be.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find this demo of a Motorola Droid running Flash videos on YouTube in a browser perfectly, and even managing to switch from portrait to landscape without missing a beat.  Can iPhone and Windows Phone 7 really afford to sit this one out?

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Feb 17, 2010 Posted by | Mobile, News, Software | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Windows Phone 7 Series analysis vs iPhone, Android & BlackBerry (update: now with video!)

Windows Phone has been struggling in recent years.  Facing an onslaught from Apple, Google and RIM, many would say that the OS formerly known as Windows Mobile has not even been competing in the current marketplace.  Rumors have been flying around about Microsoft starting from scratch with Windows Phone 7 Series and that’s exactly what they’ve done.  And they’ve done it well. Continue reading our in-depth analysis…

Feb 15, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile, Video Features | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teknica episode 4: Windows 8 is going to be mind blowing

In this week’s Teknica we catch up on Mobile World Congress, get a glimpse into the energy around Windows 8 and find out how to check up on your internet speed with YouTube Speed Dashboard.  Plus, we reveal the ultimate Apple fanboy accessory.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Feb 14, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile, News, Software, Teknica, Video Features | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Superbowl XLIV: One great game, many great gadget commercials

Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, who played their hearts out in the second half tonight.  Well done to the Colts as well, who helped to make this Superbowl one of the greats and not only from a sporting point of view…

Superbowls are famous for their commercials, which this year cost up to $3,000,000 (count those zeros) for 30 seconds (just one short zero there).  Apart from various Budweiser spots and a funny Simpsons/Coca-Cola short, this year was notable for concentration of gadget commercials.  As always some were better than others:

Flo TV

This was the first tech commercial and it was a biggie.  It came as a bit of a shock in fact, similar to the effect of the Hulu spot last year.  It was a solid production and clearly conveyed a message of how mobile TV could become embedded in everyday life.

Following that we saw, in no particular order…

Megan Fox playing with the Motorola Devour in a bathtub

A genius of a commercial.  Android, Megan Fox in a bathtub and a comedy plot.  11/10.

Vizio internet enabled TV

I was on the receiving end of a demo of Vizio’s internet enabled TVs at CES in January.  Vizio, like most other TV manufacturers, is serious about TV internet apps and this spot certainly got that message across, along with telling us about their 240Hz capability.  Vizio is currently the number one player in the US market by a wide margin and their commercial was as slick as their recent TV designs.  They’ve come a long way baby.

Prince of Persia movie

If you remember 1980s gaming, you probably remember the game.  The movie trailer was pretty good and I know I’ll inevitably the movie out of nostalgia for the game…just like they planned.

Dante’s Inferno

A forthcoming console game, whose commercial looked pretty exciting.

Google search

I admit I saw this a day early, but hoped it would be more exciting live during a break in the game action.  The spot showed screenshots of Google’s search engine being used very very quickly to find lots of information about places and people.  There was cute a New York-Paris plot which ended in marriage and a baby.  I like these practical demo commercials, which have been popularized by the iPhone.  Hopefully we’ll see more from Google with demonstrations of less commonly used features.

Intel Core i-series processors

An short story about friendship and robotic betrayal.  I really want to go to the Intel cafeteria now to see if those robots are wheeling around the floor.

GoDaddy.com

Certainly suggestive; I’m sure they got plenty of hits on their site as a result.

That’s all folks.  Oh and by the way, I wasn’t joking about Megan Fox in the bathtub…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Feb 7, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RIM, Apple winners in 2009; Windows Phone suffers

The recently published ComScore stats give RIM good reason to celebrate the holidays, and tell an interesting story about the US smartphone market overall. These stats show two clear winners this year in the form of RIM and Apple, while the company losing out was Microsoft which experienced a stagnation of Windows Phone users.

RIM’s user population seems to have skyrocketed this year, increasing from just under 10 million in February to almost 15 million by October. Apple also saw a big gain from 5 million to just under 9 million during the same period. Meanwhile Windows Phone tread water throughout the year around the 7 million mark, as it waits long and hard for Windows Mobile 7. It’s also worth noting the Google number, which represents Android. While the numerical increase from around 400,000 to just over 1 million may not seem significant, this platform increased its user community by over 100%, which is a phenomenal growth figure.

What I find most interesting about the RIM figures is that corporate purchasing was probably pretty low this year. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if corporate subscription growth was negative in the first half of 2009 due to companies terminating the BlackBerry accounts of fired employees. So this increase in RIM’s numbers this year tells me that it must be growing its retail consumer population successfully. If my analysis is correct then this is great news for the BlackBerry platform, which has traditionally been perceived as a corporate device. Perhaps the Love What You Do campaign has been more successful than I gave it credit for in a recent podcast!

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Dec 18, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Microsoft, Mobile, News | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chrome OS: Hopes & Fears

News_google-chrome-OSSharing hopes and fears; we’ve been doing this since Google’s vague Chrome OS announcement came out.  Why?  Because there’s so little we actually know, we’ve all resorted to conjecture.  So while we hope for more info soon, here is a summary of hopes and fears

We hope it will disturb the OS market and generate innovation.  We fear it will be just another variant of Linux.

We hope it will be a quick booting platform.  We fear few people will care because Windows 7 and OSX wake from standby in a matter of seconds.

We hope enough useful applications will be available.  We fear the emphasis will be so browser/online-focused that the application base will be severely limited.

We hope mobile broadband prices will fall to support mobile online usage of the apps.  We fear that the status quo will remain and we’ll be relying on Gears.

We hope it will have a more consistent interface than Android.  We fear Google’s minimalist design history will lead to a functional, minimalist but unexciting front end.

We hope device drivers will be readily available.  We fear that it took so long for Mac drivers to appear for some devices that the wait for Chrome OS drivers may literally drive some people away.

We hope netbook consumers will be interested in it.  We fear they won’t; MSI has seen four Linux netbook returns for each Windows return.  Why should the Chrome variant be any different?

We hope other Linux distros will survive.  We fear Google was aiming for Microsoft and will hit the Linux community instead.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jul 28, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Rants, Software | , , | 1 Comment

Apple fortifies home offerings whilst competitors journey to the cloud

Apple’s keynote at Macworld 2009 this morning was surprising.  After rumors suggesting a possible iPhone Nano and much needed new iMacs, we were instead given an in-depth look into feature updates on largely non-web-service software and an updated Macbook whose battery design sounds as problematic for environment as its servicing does for remotely located owners.

On a positive note it’s great to hear that iTunes is going DRM-free and that the new 17″ Macbook Pro will be offered without a glossy screen, albeit for an extra $50.  The celebrity music lessons on GarageBand also sound cute.

For me there were two worrying trends in this keynote:

1.  Apple continues to concentrate on non-web-service productivity software when Microsoft, Google and the IT industry as a whole continues to press on towards online web services such as Microsoft Office Web and Google Docs.  Apple is missing out on extending its application reach to Windows users by doing this.  iWork.com seems to be solely an online document sharing facility for local iWork users.

2.  Apple continues to concentrate on extremely powerful computers in relation to the market as a whole; even its base Macbooks are far more powerful than mid-range Vista laptops (which are cheaper).  This makes me concerned that when (the apparently very fast) Windows 7 gets released the value differential between Windows and Apple laptops will widen further, as Windows 7 will run well on cheap low power computers.

Enhancements like geotagging in iPhoto are nice for the small user-base they serve, but they don’t really extend Apple’s reach into Windows homes compared to say Picasa which is on offer for both Mac and Windows (as well as Linux) platforms.  I can’t help feeling that Apple is moving further towards high power local computing which might not be recession-proof, whilst the market as a whole is gravitating towards a more inclusive low power cloud model which also happens to be more recession-friendly.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 6, 2009 Posted by | Apple, Computing, Hardware, Microsoft | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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