Microsoft Brings Next Generation Surface Tablets to Market


Microsoft has taken the stage this morning in New York City to introduce its second generation tablets as the company maintains that with this launch they have changed the game in the tablet space with products that can also serve as desktop computers.

It has brought out refreshment offerings in place of its first generation Surface Pro and Surface RT, equipped with faster processors, additional accessories, better battery life and in one case a new branding and naming approach.

Up first was the Surface Pro 2 running an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor it comes with either 64GB or 128GB of storage with 4GB of RAM or in 256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM. The company said that it has improved batter life by 2.5 x over previous generation and it has better speakers and an improved kickstand. It is now available for preorder with the Surface Pro 2 starting at $899.

The new Surface 2 is the second generation in the formerly named RT family. It is powered by an Nvidia Tegra processor and has a 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display as does the Surface Pro 2. Both platforms have been upgraded to support USB 3.0 and the cameras have been improved with a 3.5MP front camera and a 5MP rear camera. The Surface 2 will be available in 32GB and 64GB versions with an entry level price of $449.

Microsoft has reached the 100,000 app level for its tablets and also now ships them with the full Office Suite including Outlook. The company said that the first generation’s sales far exceeded expectations and was one of the best selling devices in the company’s history.

There are new covers for the tablets as well starting with the Touch Cover 2, which is now backlit and has the ability to turn on the lighting as you start to type and off after you are done. It has a $119.99 price tag while the Type 2 Cover is a more ridge device that is also backlit and comes in a range of colors including Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black. It has a $129.99 list.

In its drive to make its tablets ubiquitous in both home and business Microsoft has a new docking station that it said will convert the tablet into a desktop PC. The docking station can connect with an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers and power supply. PC peripherals connect via its one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports.

The Docking Station for Surface Pro will have an estimated retail price of $199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014. Microsoft will start taking orders for the new tablets tomorrow and they are expected to ship Oct 22, 2013.

Friday Grab Bag: NBA STATS, Pac-12 & U-verse

The NBA has expanded a limited partnership with STATS to full time and will be installing motion tracking cameras in every arena this season. This will enable teams to amass a huge amount of data that can be used for in-game decisions as well as for other uses.

First used in 2009 for the NBA Finals, and now used by 15 teams, it allows for the analysis of player movement and a team can see how well or poorly its players fare in head to head matchups, among other uses.

Lenovo Enters the Phablet Phase
Lenovo has taken the wraps off of its 5-inch Vibe X Phablet. The smartphone features a 5-inch display that has 1920 x 1080 resolution and is powered by a 1,5GHz quad core processor. It has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. However it is not clear how wide of a distribution the device will have.

Panasonic teases with 20-inch tablet presentation
It looks like Panasonic is preparing a 20-inch tablet that could be for the mainstream market that is being touted as the thinnest and lightest. The company showed it a in a presentation at a pre-IFA event last week in Berlin.

The Panasonic 4K tablet is expected to have 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution and was shown as a concept offering, but the company has shown in the past that it is building a 20-inch device. Slash Gear reported that it could simply be a scaled down version of a previously shown model.

Pac-12 Networks inks deal with AT&T U-Verse
The Pac-12 now has an official wireless provider for all of its athletic venues in the form of AT&T and its U-Verse service. The deal, signed last week has already resulted in the broadcast of five football games last Saturday.

Going forward AT&T will deliver web and app access to the games but the timing for those was not announced. It will rebroadcast a number of Pac-12 Network broadcasts for the time being in both HD and SD.

NFL Teams with Sporting News for video
If you are always looking for NFL videos and highlights during the offseason then there is good news for you as the NFL has signed a deal with Sporting News Media to just that by bringing the 2013 NFL regular and postseason to the SN ePlayer platform.

Sporting News will have video on demand highlights from the NFL games as well as additional content and will make it available to fans year round so that they can relieve the highlights or lowlghts of the season over and over again.

Microsoft has big event Sept. 23
Press invites are making their way to the appropriate people inviting them to a major event that Microsoft will be hosting on Sept. 23 that will be held in New York City. The event, listed as a Surface event, is expected to bring the company’s second generation tablets to the public.

Intel to develop low cost chip for tablets
The annual Intel Developers Conference was in full swing last week with a huge outpouring of press releases and talking points, and one that is of particular interest is its pledge for a new processor targeted directly at Android tablet makers.

Intel said that it is making an as yet unnamed processor in the Atom family that will enable Android developers to offer tablets at sub-$100 rates. Of course since Apple makes its own processors don’t expect an iPad in this space anytime soon.

Friday Grab Bag: New iPhones Next Week-FIFA Qualifiers this Weekend

The Major League Baseball Advanced Media arm has signed a multiyear deal with baseball sabermetrics research firm Baseball Prospectus that will call for the two of them to share data and analysis that will result in new features from both parties.

The relation starts immediately with Postseason Probabilities, an interactive visualization of each teams’ current standings and their chances of winning the division or wild card, or securing a postseason berth. If you have never heard on Baseball Prospectus before, it is where ESPN analyst Nate Silver got his start.

Apple having press event next week
For those waiting for the official announcement of the next generation iPhone from Apple, it looks like that wait is just about over as the company has sent out press invites for an event that is scheduled to take place Sept. 10, kudos to All Things Digital which was the first to nail the date.

If you are considering buying a new iPhone, traditionally available about two weeks after introduction, Apple and some of its partners are doing a buyback program on older phones. Now about the pending iPads — well the rumors seem to indicate that there will not be a September rollout so don’t hold your breath for one just yet.

Microsoft’s next–gen tablet details leaked
Amid all of the hubbub of new tablets this week was a rumor about the features for the next generation tablets from Microsoft, called the Surface Pro 2. According to Slash Gear it will be powered by a next generation Intel Haswell-based Core i5 processor.

Other details are that it will go from 4GB to 8GB in memory, improved battery life and will have a new kickstand. No pricing or rollout date was mentioned. Meanwhile the current Surface Pro now has a permanent $100 price cut.

Don’t bite this Kit Kat
New versions of Google’s Android operating systems have been named after candy for some time — most reading this are running a version of Jelly Bean right now. Well in the future it looks like you will be Kit Kat.

It looks like Google and Hershey, the candy bar maker, have entered into a financial relationship that allows Google to use the trademarked name.

ESPN to develop RedZone for Soccer?
Fans of the NFL know the program called RedZone, a program in the NFL Network that switches between games as teams enter the Red Zone, or inside the opponents 20 yard line for those of you not on the know, and shows the team scoring, or failing to.

Now it looks like ESPN is taking that successful format and moving it to to its broadcasts of the World Cup qualifiers this weekend. It is launching a program called “FIFA World Cup Whiparound-Quest to Qualify” for 36 matches, mostly of which are only available on ESPN3 that will feature live look-ins and highlights from all of the major matches taking place, according to Awful Announcing.

Friday Grab Bag: Fox Sports 1 around the corner

If you have been waiting for a new 24-hour national sports broadcast network then your dreams have been answered as Fox Sports 1 is set to launch on Aug. 17 as the network once again challenges ESPN for sports supremacy.

The network already has a very full array of content teed up from different sports and leagues such as MLB, NASCAR, FIFA World Cup, UFC as well as college football conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12 and the Pac-12.

Hopefully the fight between the two powers will be a bit more mature than the last time when they would both superimpose their logos over scenes so that if the rival carried the broadcast they had to show the logo.

Samsung to debut next Galaxy Note in September

Samsung has sent out invites to a major announcement that the company will be making on Sept. 4, and the line ’Note the Date” is being taken as a sign that the company will be delivering its Galaxy Note 3 at the event.

It is expected to follow in the footsteps of previous Galaxy Notes and be released at the annual IFA trade show that is held in Berlin, where the two previous generations were also unveiled.

Tablet sales slow, IDC says; no new iPad to blame
Market research firm International Data Corp. has reported that tablet sales slowed in the second quarter of this year, down 9.7% from the preceding quarter. However that number is more than offset by the 60% increase sales have increased compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

IDC expects the market to take off in the upcoming months, helped a great deal by the expected release of Apple’s next generation tablets. Apple has not refreshed the lineup in a year. It said it expects ‘impressive growth’ in the fourth quarter of this year.

One area of positive news for iPad rivals is that Windows Tablet sales on the upswing, with a 527% increase over the same period a year ago, reaching 1.8 million compared to the 300,000 shipped a year ago.

Spartan Race World Championship to be broadcast on NBC
The 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship will be the centerpiece of a collaboration between Spartan Race Inc. and NBC Sorts Group for a television special on the obstacle racing sport.

The special will culminate with coverage of the championship that takes place in central Vermont on Sept. 21-22, 2013. That event is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants vying for the $250,000 in cash and prizes.

Apple’s fused glass patent destined for iPod, iPhone, iPads?
The most recent Apple patent application that has come to light shows that the company is looking to secure the rights to a method of fusing glass that the company describes as being applicable to several different products.

As shown on Slash Gear the next generation products that are built using the fused glass would be entirely enclosed by the material, but don’t get your hopes up for the current generation of Apple products expected within the next month or so, this looks to be a year out at the least.

Android-powered game console?
The game console market is a cutthroat business and minor errors in judgment regarding features and functions can alienate legions of fans. According to rumors from Game Informer, that segment maybe drawing a new player into the fold, Amazon.

The rumor is that not only does the company have a console in development that will use the Android operating system but that fans of midnight shopping may be able to get one by Black Friday.

Friday Grab Bag: March Madness Changes, NBCSN Push

The NFL’s Pro Bowl, seemingly the one property that it has never managed to get fans to watch, is undergoing a major change as the league tries to once again salvage the event, this time by eliminating the traditional AFC vs NFC format.

Instead the league will be take the top two vote getters and make them team captains and they will then select players for their respective teams from the pool of players elected by the fans in a fantasy draft style effort.

Goodbye NBC Sports Network, Hello NBCSN
Branding seems to be all important these days and with the sports network wars heating up prior to the latest entrant of Fox Sports as a national provider and NBC is taken steps to establish its brand, and it looks like the transition is scheduled to be completed by the upcoming Winter Olympics, according to Awful Announcing.

If you are familiar with the NBC Sports Network moniker, wave goodbye as the network has been slowly phasing it out and replacing it with its initials, NBCSN.

Dell is looking to computer on a stick to help reverse its fortunes
Dell has an internal development effort code-named “Project Ophelia” that according to reports is basically a computer that runs the Android operating system and all of it is in the form of a USB stick, according to a report in Quartz.

The basic premise came from a company called Wyse that Dell acquired a year ago. Ophelia is designed to run a large number of operating systems including Windows, Google’s Chrome, and the Mac operating system in a virtual mode running in the cloud. However the fact that this might kill off Dell’s existing PC business may be an issue.

Tablet shipments head to top of the pack
Maybe Dell is onto something about killing its PC business. NPD DisplaySearch is reporting that shipments of PC tablets are expected to reach 364 million next year, a number that more than doubles the estimated 177 million standard notebook and ultra slim PCs.

The company had previously predicted that tablet sales will overtake notebook sales this year and it now looks like that trend will continue going forward, driven by growth in all regions, particularly emerging markets.

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets have quite a price tag
When Microsoft entered the tablet market there is no doubt that the company had some expectations for the platform, however having it cost the company $900 million, which is the amount that it took in a charge in its latest earnings report for the write down on unsold Surface RT tablets.

The RT was the first model to hit the market and it started shipping them last October. In addition the tablet platform has raised $853 million in revenue, according to its annual report.

NCAA makes alterations to March Madness brackets
The NCAA is seeking o keep teams closer to their true seed level with a number of changes in bracketing rules that will take effect with next year’s tournament, primarily relaxing conference and regular season rematching restrictions, according to Sports Illustrated.

Among the moves will be one that could change how the top three seeds from a conference are bracketed and may now be in the same one, as well as changing how early conference rivals can play, now moving up to the round of 32.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN’s Open Coverage, Dell Smartwatch?

The Guardian is reporting that Dell could be the latest to throw its hat into the ring with a smartwatch offering. Dell’s global vice president of personal computing told the paper that it was exploring ideas in the wearable computing space.

With Apple, Samsung, Google and just about every major player in consumer electronics and/or computing it is no surprise. The Kickstarter success story Pebble and its smartwatch has to be something that everybody is watching. The company was oversubscribed as it sought funding with $10 million pledged and an exclusive deal with Best Buy with a preorder of 85,000 watches.

ESPN to broadcast The Open Championship
If you are hoping to catch a few rounds of the 142nd Open Championship, golf’s oldest major, you are in luck as ESPN will be broadcasting all four days next week from July 18-21.

The network will be reaching out to fans not only via live television broadcasts and encore presentations but also live radio, and a range of digital offerings for computers, tablets and other mobile devices. It will also be using digital technology to enhance its broadcasts with technologies such as Flight Tracker.

[Editor’s note: You can also follow via The Open’s own app, online at The Open’s website and on social media like twitter. Go to The Open website for all info.]

Microsoft to slash Surface RT prices?
The Verge is reporting that Microsoft will be cutting the price of its entry level 32GB Surface RT tablet down to $350 with the version with the Touch Cover keyboard will be $450 as will the 64GB Surface RT without the cover and $550 with the cover.

The news comes as reports are also emerging that the company has an additional two more Surface tablets on the drawing board that it will release sometime in 2014. ZDNet reported that a recently seen Microsoft roadmap includes the tablets as well as a host of additional offerings from the company ranging from an Windows Office App Store to enhanced Skype support.

Apple Store hits 5th Anniversary
The Apple App Store, now no longer a pawn in a patent battle, also had other news this week as it celebrated its 5th year in business providing apps and tools, initially for the iPhone but now also includes apps for the iPad as well.

The success for the store can be seen in the fact that the number of apps it offers has grown from 500 at birth to approximately 900,000 now. There has been over 50 billion app downloads in the five years.

Google updates maps app
Most people I know use Google Maps on a regular basis and they will be happy to hear that not only has the company updated the program but made it faster as well, a common complaint. The company has made the Android updates available now with iPhone and iPad updates coming soon.

It has navigation features that include warnings for bad conditio0ns on a trip including accidents, offline map saving and better exploration features according to an early review in The New York Times.