Tablets, phablets and rumors at CES


Tablets have already taken the market by storm, essentially killing PC growth while moving into ever increasingly different areas of our lives. A host of new or possible tablets are making the rounds this week at the International CES show in Las Vegas, and here are a few of the more interesting ones.

There are major names involved in some of the news, and some that you may have never heard of before, or never considered in context with tablets, like Audi. Yes Audi has a tablet, although it functions as an extension of a car’s entertainment and directional equipment.

The Audi Smart Display is one of the first fruits of the recently announced Open Auto Alliance and it is a tablet designed to be used with the cars’ in-vehicle infotainment system. The 10-inch tablet will allow passengers to control a car’s connected features including navigation, telephone, audio and other features. Expect this to be the first of many announcements over the next year from car manufacturers in this area.

Among the big names Samsung again stood out, even if you pay no attention to the 105-inch television with a curved screen or director Michael Bay’s melt down at the press conference! The company expanded its tablet lineup with an additional four offerings, and a phablet. They are the 12.2-inch Galaxy TabPro, a 12.2-inch, 10-inch and 8.4-inch TabPro products as well as the latest Galaxy Note phablet, called the Galaxy NotePro and available in a 12.2-inch format..

Count Panasonic in with its Toughpad FZ-M1, a 7-inch format tablet that will be running the Windows Pro 8.1 operating system. Designed to be used in the field in situations a good deal more rugged than more traditional models it has a sealed designed to keep out dust and moisture and has been designed to withstand falls of five feet. It has an Intel i5 Core, a 1280 x 800 resolution display, 128GB SSD that can be upgraded to 256GB supports Wi-Fi up to the ac standard and has a 5MP rear camera. Last year the company used the show to deliver a pair of ToughPads

If you are looking for a tablet that will help keep the kids occupied during a long cross country trip, or when you are watching the first full season of Boardwalk Empire you might want to take a gander at the Kurio 7x 4G LTE tablet unveiled at the show. Designed to be kid friendly the device is part of a pair of announcements from Techno Sources and KD Interactive, the other being a phone targeted at children.

Probably the best rumor from the show is about a possible hybrid iPad that Apple is supposedly working on. Actually the rumor started prior to the show but it has heated up a bit since it first made the rounds. What Apple is purportedly working on is an iPad that uses the iOS operating system in tablet mode and then when docked to a keyboard it would run Apple’s PC operating system OSX.

Another more or less confirmed rumor is a stylus using tablet from Asus, the VivoTab Note 8 that will run on the Windows 9.1 operating system although complete details on the device are still lacking.

I suspect that after the deluge at the show, and probably several major real announcements down the road this year, new tablets will be greeted much the way new PCs were in the past, interesting but hardly worth flying people across the country for. That spot will most likely be filled by the emerging class of wearable computing devices such as Samsung Gear and Google Glass.

Already at the show Sony announced that it was planning on expanding its wearable offerings come spring with several, as yet unnamed, offerings in its SmartWear Experience lineup. They will be based around a component that it calls the Core.

Intel is also fanning the flames with a “Make it Wearable” challenge that will award $1.3 million in cash and prizes to developers that create wearable devices that help advance computing to become even more wearable, I mean connected.

Nvidia Delivers Complete Low Cost Tablet Platform


Nvidia has joined Microsoft, Google, Amazon and a host of others this week as it became the latest company to break from its traditional role in the hi-tech industry and deliver a hardware product designed for the consumer and business market, in this case a 7-inch tablet.

The company teased the market months ago with a brief demo of the product, and discussed its plans for a low cost platform last year but now the Nvidia Tegra Note is a reality, and has a basic structure that the company will then offer to third party customers who can add their own features in order to differentiate their products.

The Tegra Note features Nvidia technology to power the system and its graphics and includes a Tegra 4 with a 72-core GeForce GPU and quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU with a fifth battery-saver core. It has a 7-inch display that has 1280 x 800 resolution.

A key technology that the company is touting is its DirectStylus that it claims is a significant improvement over other stylus technology with faster response time, a finer point and broader stroke control. It calls older stylus technology passive in comparison

It will run the latest version of the Android operating system, feature 16GB of storage with an expansion microSD slot, an HDMI port, a rear 5MP camera with a VGA front facing one and what the company calls HD Audio speakers. All for $199.

The company has a host of new as well as established partners that plan to deliver tablets based on this basic platform including EVGA and PNY Technologies in North America; EVGA, Oysters and ZOTAC in Europe; Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Technology and ZOTAC in Asia-Pacific; and XOLO in India. They join other partners, including HP, ASUS, Toshiba, Kobo and Xiaomi, which have already announced Tegra 4-based products.

As tablets have seen their popularity soar over the last year it will be interesting to see how this cookie cutter method will work. Will the developers be able to create differentiated products or ones that have specialized and localized features that will make them appealing to the market?

It does seem that time to market could be cut for many of the developers because they have an almost finished product to start with, but then in reality so do a lot of other established players such as Samsung, Google and Apple.

New Tablets from Samsung, Asus and Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition.

As expected a number of new tablets have started to hit the airwaves this week and Samsung, Asus and Google are among the players that have brought new products to see the light of day, with LG already having been covered here. This is just a sampling of the latest announced and we plan to follow up next week with additional coverage.

Leading off is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition. The tablet features a 10-inch 2560 x 1600 pixel display, a choice of either a 1.9GHz Octa Core processor for the LTE version and a 2.3GHz Quad Core for other versions and 3GB of RAM. It has a feature called Multi Window that enables users to run separate instances of the same and use the new enhanced S Pen to drag and drop content from one window to another.

Other features include an 8 MP rear facing camera and a 2MP front facing camera, a choice between 16/32/64 GB of storage with an optional MicroSD card also available. It will come in three connectivity options: Wi-Fi Only, Wi-Fi and 3G, Wi-Fi and LTE and will be available starting from Q3, 2013.

Asus MeMO Pads
If you are looking for budget offerings then Asus might have what yu are looking for, in both 8-inch and 10-inch formats. The company is showing off its MeMO Pad 8 and 10, both touted as budget offerings that it expects to ship my year’s end.

Both feature a 1280 x 800 resolution display, with the MeMO Pad 8 powered by a 1.6GHz quad core processor with a 5MP rear facing camera and 8GB of storage. The MeMO Pad 10 has a 2MP camera and an option for either 8GB or 16GB of storage. They each have an expansion MicroSD slot and a 1.2MP front facing camera. Pricing and availability will be announced at a later time.

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon is not one to be left behind and it has released an upgraded Kindle Paperwhite e-reader that includes new display technology with higher contrast, a faster processor and a host of enhanced features. One that stands out is its Kindle Page Flip that lets a user skim through pages or chapters. Another is the ability to read footnotes without leaving the page with its In-Line Footnotes feature. The Paperwhite is now available for preorder at Amazon.

Friday Grab Bag: Watch NBA Finals on Select Mobile Devices: New Rival to Google Glass

Just a reminder that with the NBA Finals now being fought out on the court you can still watch the games if you are not in front of your television on ABC. Well on most but not all mobile devices. For users of Apple’s iPhone and iPad there is an app at the iTunes store.

There is also an app for users of the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. Viewers using laptops as well as desktop computers can log into Looks like Android users are out in the cold on this for some reason. This is all part of a free access preview running through the end of June.

Asus fights for tablet share with low cost Memo Pad HD7
Asustek’s latest offering is a 7-inch tablet that could create demand for lower cost offerings in the tablet space. The $129 Asus Memo Pad HD7 has a 7-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution and it includes a 1.2 megapixel front facing camera and a 5 MP rear facing camera. Depending on market it will be available with either 8GB or 16GB (at $149) of storage.

The company also delivered a 10-inch tablet this week, the 10-inch Transformer Pad Infinity that has the Android 4.2 operating system and is powered by a quad-core Tegra processor. It also features a 2048 x 1600 resolution display. Pricing is not yet available according to

Intel invests in gesture control technology developer Thalmic Lab
There has been a great deal of talk about the advent of wearable computing devices, from smartwatches to Google Glass and Intel does not want to miss out on the fun. It has joined an investment round to provide $14.5 million in Series A funding to Thalmic Labs.

Thalmic Labs has developed a wearable gesture control device called MYO and said that it will use the funding, which came from a round that was led by Intel Capital and Spark Capital and included Formation 8, First Round Capital and FundersClub, along with the following individual investors: Paul Graham, Marc Benioff, Geoff Ralston, Sam Altman, Garry Tan, Fritz Lanman, Hank Vigil, Tom Wagner, Alex Bard, Michael Litt and Daniel Debow.

Intel will provide access to manufacturing and technology to Thalmic to help it both scale production of its existing devices as well as develop future generations.

Rivals to Google Glass starting to emerge
At the annual Computex trade show a developer called Oculon Optoelectronics surface, that has a rival product to Google Glass that Oculon calls Oculon Smart Glasses. It claims that they will have better battery life, a better display and will cost less, around $500. Well that is settled.

Google Glass is not the first time a developer has created a wearable computer in the form of glasses, although Google’s effort is by far the largest and best financed effort. I wonder if developers that once sneered at the idea of a tablet now want to try and be in front of the acceptance curve rather than behind it and so are working to have products out simultaneously with Google so as to not initially surrender the market?

7-inch Asus Fonepad With 3G Slated for March Release


Asus is the latest to get into the multifunction 7-inch tablet space with its Fonepad, a device that functions as both a tablet and a smartphone, something that will go head to head with other devices in this emerging category such as the recently released Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

The handheld is powered by an Intel Atom Z2420 processor running at 1.2GHz and will feature 1GB of RAM, and will be available with either 8GB or 16GB of storage while a microSD slot enables users to add additional storage up to a total of 32GBs.

The 7-inch display has 1280 x 800 HD resolution and it features a 1.2MP front facing camera while an optional rear facing 3 MP camera with 720p HD video recording capabilities is also available. It uses the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

The Fonepad has an expected nine hour battery life and comes with built-in 3G with HSPA+ mobile data so that users can browse and download data and apps as well as use it as a telephone. The company has included a set of Asus exclusive apps including Floating App for easy app management and simpler multi-tasking; SuperNote lite for handwritten notes; and WebStorage Office Online for Microsoft Office-compatible document editing on the move. Fonepad users also get 5GB of free lifetime ASUS WebStorage.

It is expected to ship next month and will have an entry price point of $249. It seems that the smaller form factor is heating up as the new place to be, with an increasing number of companies entering the space. I suspect we will see a number of additional offerings in this space over the next few months as handset developers as well as tablet companies seek to carve out some of the market for themselves.

Friday Grab Bag: New Tablets, Hybrids ahead of WMC

Rumor has it that Google may be taking a page from Apple’s playbook and plans to open a real brick and mortar line of retail outlets to sell Nexus and Chrome products in a manner that enables the buying public to touch and try the devices prior to purchase.

Currently it is already possible to test drive some of Google’s products at retail but as its lineup of tablets and notebooks grows, and with the possible inclusion of smartphones as well, the company has reportedly been planning a retail move for some time, according to 9to5Google, as relayed by Intomobile.

Instagram coming to BlackBerry 10 OS, indirectly

It looks like users of the spanking new BlackBerry 10 will get a shot at using Instagram on their new devices, however it also appears that it will not be an app that is written from the ground up to run on that platform.

All Things D is reporting that the app will simply be a port of the Android version rather than a native creation. Still the appearance of the popular app will be welcome on the platform as it continues to fight for a bigger share of the market.

LG expected to show a hybrid Tablet/Ultrabook next week
LG has said that it will be displaying its hybrid tablet/ultrabook next week at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. The Tab-Book Ultra Z160 operates with the Windows 8 operating system and is powered by Intel Core processors, according to Gizmag.

The device, first talked about last month at CES is expected to have two different processor configurations. One will have a 1.8GHz Core i5 chip while the other will be running a 1.8GHz Core i3 chip.

Asus debuts low cost tablet
A new player in the 10-inch tablet space comes from Asus with its Memo Pad Smart ME30, which has apparently already been released in some countries, according Android Authority. The tablet is expected to have an official unveiling next week in Barcelona.

Among the details that have been made available is that it is running a quad-core 1.2GHz Tegra 3 processor and will have 1GB RAM and 16GB on board storage with a microSD slot for additional storage. It is expected to have a 5MP rear camera and a 1.2MP front-facing camera.

Google’s Chromebook Pixel now available
Google is moving its Chromebook upscale, at least in price with a $1,300 offering that comes in a Wi-Fi only model as well as an LTE equipped model that will be a about $150 more. It is equipped with a 12.85-inch 2560 x 1700 resolution display.

It will be powered by a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 chip and will feature 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Other features include an SD card reader, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 3.0.