Apple Enters the 7-inch Space With iPad Mini

The suspense has been gone for some time but now that Apple has officially taken the wraps off of its latest member of the iPad family, the 7-inch iPad Mini we can actually look at the details and see how it compares to its rivals in this space.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook officially unveiled the latest at an event held in San Jose, Calif. today, seven months after its last iPad release. Apple’s iPad Mini is 53% lighter than the last generation iPad at 0.68 pounds, and has a 7.9-inch Retina screen with a 1,024 x 768 resolution, the same resolution as the iPad . Apple said that since the displays are the same resolution there should be no issue using existing iPad apps on the newest tablet. It features a 5MP backward facing camera and is capable of connecting to a 4G LTE network.

The iPad Mini starts at $329 for a 16GB version, $429 for the 32GB model and $529 for the 64GB model and Apple will start taking orders for the tablet on Friday and said that it expects to ship the Wi-Fi version at the end of next week with the cellular version to ship two weeks later.

Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller said that the iPad Mini’s rivals in the 7-inch space were failures. Well Apple will have the chance now to show that it is better since its two top rivals, Amazon and Google, sell their 7-inch tablets at cost with the Google Nexus 7 starting at $199 and the Amazon Kindle at $159, both significantly lower than what Apple is selling the iPad Mini for.

There is no doubt that the company has had tremendous success with the larger iPads since its debut, with over 100 million sold and a dominating, almost 70% market share so far. This might be why Apple had been originally disparaging of the 7-inch market but the success first of Amazon’s Kindle tablet followed closely by Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Google’s Nexus 7 have shown that there was a large demand out there for smaller devices.

Tablet market no longer just Apple vs. Android
It should be noted that while Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google have been getting all of the press for their popular 7-inch offerings, more are expected from additional companies, starting with Acer’s announcement of its Iconia A110. The 7-inch tablet is approximately $30 less than the Nexus 7 at $230 and will have a 1024 x 600 resolution display, but this is another Android-based system.

However the Windows 8 revolution is about to hit us as Microsoft seeks to establish itself as a major player not only in the tablet operating space with its Windows 8 operating system but also as a provider of hardware with its Surface tablets, all of which will be unveiled this week.

Plenty of the Windows 8 hardware OEMs such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus and Lenovo have already taken the wraps off of their devices in advance of the official unveiling and Intel has talked about the features that t will bring to the space with its technology and processors. However, so far none of the OEMs, that I am aware of, have talked about 7-inch tablets, although Samsung has offered one in the past. I suspect that just like Apple they will be visiting the space, and soon.

It would not be an Apple event if there was just one center of attention. The company announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that features its retina display technology, a notebook that weights in almost a pound lighter and 20% thinner than previous versions. Currently available it has a $1,699 starting price tag. Then there is a Mac Mini at $599 and a new iMac with up to a 27-inch display and an interesting new hard drive/flash combo starting at $1299 for the version with a 21.5-inch display.

Friday Grab Bag: YourSport-The Facebook for Sports? Kindle 4G Gets OK

YourSports: The Facebook for sports?
A new online sports publication is coming into being called YourSports and it is a customizable sports page that is designed to enable fans to get the sports news that they want, including local sports that might be missed by the larger rivals.

While currently in beta it is open to all for the first time to take a look, it claims that it will fill in sports that is not currently handled by its rivals such as ESPN, BleacherReport and others by using social media to help fill in what is not available on broadcast sports while also providing news feeds on your favorite teams.

Amazon gets FCC approval for 4G Kindle

While Amazon announced its 4G Kindle Fire HD tablet last week it was only this month that the company obtained permission from the US Federal Communications Commission to actual sell the high end Kindle Fire HD that has the ability to connect to high speed 4G cellular networks.

The FCC approval is required for any device that has wireless communications to ensure that it does not create interference with other wireless devices. The product has been on preorder and is expected to ship Nov. 20.

Microsoft accuses Motorola of map stealing
As if Apple’s map problems are not enough now Microsoft is claiming that the Android phones from Motorola that use Google Maps, infringe on a mapping patent that Microsoft owns. The patent in question covers a method of obtaining the map from one database, resource information such as Starbucks locations from a second database, and overlaying the two sets of data.

The lawsuit is just one of several that Microsoft has filed in Germany regarding patent issues with the Google-owned Motorola Mobility as Microsoft increases the pressure to get Android phone makers to pay it royalties, according to Computerworld.

The Hank Aaron Award

Time to vote for the Hank Aaron award
While League MVP, Cy Young and other awards seem to always dominate the off season, the Hank Aaron award, for each league’s best all around offensive player, is one award that fans can have an impact in by voting.

The fans, along with an all-star panel that includes Aaron, ony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, and Robin Yount will vote on which of a slate of players is the best in each league. Voting closes Oct 16.

Lenovo now top PC maker
Market research firm Gartner has found that Hewlett-Packard has been unseated as top PC seller worldwide by Lenovo. HP, the top gun in this space for the past six years owned a 15.5% share of the market while Lenovo grew to 15.7% of the market.

This comes at a time when overall PC sales are declining. Gartner reported that in the third quarter of this year sales fell 8%, but it looks like some of that decline is simply buyers waiting for the Windows 8 release later this month. Dell, Acer and Asus make up the top 5 PC makers.

HTC departs US tablet market
While there is a growing rumble about a host of new tablets expected to be announced in conjunction with the Windows 8 rollout by Microsoft later this month, HTC is jumping off the bandwagon just as others are jumping onto it.

The company has announced that it is dropping its HTC Flyer and other tablet products from the US market. It said that the products were at the end of their lifecycle and the company has said it will watch the tablet space but does not want to have an offering that is a “me too” offering.

RoboCup Soccer gets champion robot
Don’t know what RoboCup Soccer is? Well join the club but an interesting piece in Gizmag talks about the state of modern robotics and how a league of five teams competed in the league that uses what it calls TeenSize robots, ones that are three to four feet tall.

They use an open source platform and cost roughly $26,000 apiece. The leagues goal is to develop a team that can beat the human champions, by 2050 that is.

Hewlett-Packard takes wraps off Windows 8 Tablet

Last week we gave a very bare bones comment on the pending Windows 8 tablet that will be coming from Hewlett-Packard but this week the company provided a full outline of what the tablet will feature and when to expect it to arrive.

To answer the last point first don’t look for it this holiday season as its expected ship date will be in 2013. The reason for this is that it is a business-focused product, as the company had previously said about its reentry into the tablet space.

While normally business products are not of much interest here at Mobile Sports Report, a portable device such as a tablet is still a natural for sports viewing as well as using the growing number of fantasy and betting apps emerging. I mean whose NCAA basketball pool is not run out of their office?

The HP ElitePad 900 will be a 1.5 lb tablet that features a 10.1-inch display with 1280×800 resolution with an aluminum case and Gorilla Glass 2. The company is touting its durability and ability to withstand shock.

It will be powered by Intel’s Z2760 Atom processor, formerly known as Clover Trail and will run the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system. HP sees the use of this set of processor and operating system as enabling businesses to run their mainstream productivity applications. It is designed for Windows 8 and supports touch-, pen- or voice-based input.

It will come with 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage that is expandable to 64GB and there is a microSD slot. It has dual cameras with a front facing camera that is capable of 1080p video and an 8MP rear facing camera

It is designed to dock with a keyboard and HP is offering host of accessories for the tablet, most of them business focused including the ElitePad Expansion Jacket that features an integrated keyboard and connectivity ports.

HP expects to ship the tablet in January and will announce the price closer to the release dat. Expect a number of others including Dell and Lenovo to focus a good deal of attention to the business space for their upcoming tablets as well.

Intel and Allies Show Windows 8 Tablets

Intel has been talking since at least CES at the beginning of this year about the huge number of tablets that its OEMs are preparing for later this year and now we have gotten a sneak peak at what they are planning at an event the company held in San

Francisco this week.

The hardware products which included both tablets and hybrid/convertible systems were powered by an Intel processor called the Atom Z2760, formerly codenamed Clover Trail, a processor that the company is positioning against ARM-based processors from rivals such as Broadcom and Texas Instruments.

There are a number of Windows 8 products based on the Atom Z2760 processor that were unveiled and we will just give the names of the announced systems, for full details head over to Intel. Acer’s Iconia W510, Asus VivoTab, Dell Latitude 10, Fujitsu Stylistic Q702, HP Envy x2, Lenovo ThinkPad 2, Samsung Smart PC, and the ZTE V98.

Dell Latitude 10

Some, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad 2 have been talked about a good deal already while this marks the return of Hewlett-Packard and Dell to the tablet space. Since Intel has said that there are 20 tablet designs in the works expect more at the Windows 8 official announcement.

Intel also brings a huge software development effort to the mobile app space, something that is often overlooked by outsiders. It also has a Software Partners program with 7,000 members and along with its Software Network helps developers optimize for Intel platforms.

In addition Intel will be delivering a range of technologies in the chips that are seen in its much higher end offerings including technology designed for servers where security is a major issue. The company sees this as helping provide assurances to corporations looking to purchase tablets but concerned about their ability to provide a robust, secure computing environment.

Included is technology from its Core vPro processors that offers hardware-assisted security, manageability and virtualization capabilities for business computing. Among the features are Enhanced Intel Anti-Theft Technology, Intel Secure Key, Intel OS Guard, Enhanced Intel Identity Protection Technology, and Intel Trusted Execution Technology.

While in the past consumers have been the primary target for tablets the inclusion of the Intel security and other technology coupled with Microsoft’s similar offerings from its end could make the tablets much more appealing to the business space as well. While the BYOD (bring your own device) crowd has had success in allowing users to bring their own devices into work, IT departments dislike this and when the system refresh comes in many offices these technologies should make tablets a much more acceptable alternative to notebooks to the IT department.

Friday Grab Bag: Apple/Samsung Jury Forms, NFL Cutdowns, Kindle Loses Big Sale

Major League Baseball

Now that it has decided to test expanded replay, Major League Baseball is testing a pair of systems to see which will better meet its needs which will now include examining fair/foul calls and trapped balls.

MLB will have one system installed at Yankee Stadium and the other at the Mets' Citi Field in order to conduct tests. The systems are expected to be up and running by the end of this month and will be used in September games, according to Yahoo Sports.

Google Nexus 7 sales to hit 7 million
A report has surfaced from that said it estimates that Google will sell as many as 7 million of its Nexus 7 tablets this year, an amazing feat that would put it in among the leaders in tablet sales.

That number would be more than twice what Google had originally estimated it would sell, but demand has been strong and in the first weeks it sold out of its entry level model that starts at $199.

Look to Awful Announcing for your NFL broadcast news
Now that the NFL season is around the corner its time to look at one important aspect of the games — the announcers. I find most announcers to be pretty grating and often watch games on mute rather than expose myself to their blather.

Some brave souls not only listen, but rate them with the pros. So head over to Awful Announcing and lend a hand. The site also does nice work covering many aspects of sports.

Microsoft to build 3 million Surface tablets in 2012?
Market research firm IDC said that it expects Microsoft to build 3 million Surface tablets in 2012, according to an interview run in C/net. The estimate includes tablets that run Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT.

In the interview with IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell C/net reported that he believed that the entry level price of at least one version of the tablets would be in the $199 range, putting it in a head to head price competition with the smaller 7-inch tablets and making it much less expensive than offerings from Apple and Samsung.

America’s Cup World Series mishaps
One captain at this week’s America’s Cup World Series races predicted carnage due to the sailing conditions on San Francisco Bay. Well the San Francisco Chronicle has done a nice job of providing a photo essay on that topic.

Dell not as enthusiastic on Surface sales
Dell executives said that the company expects that Microsoft’s Surface tablets will represent a very small percent of the overall PC units in the next year. Michael Dell, founder and CEO said that he expects the numbers to be between 1% and 2%.

The company has reported that its PC and mobility sales were down 14% for the most recent quarter and sees tablets as eroding that space. The company will be among the hardware developers expected to deliver Windows 8-based tablets in the fall.sales have been

ESPN bids on BCS playoffs
Now that the BCS has altered its championship format to now feature a playoff, the next step is of course to sell the rights to broadcast those games. ESPN has been broadcasting the BCS Championships the past few years and it has the opportunity to continue.

It has been reported that starting Oct 1, ESPN will have an exclusive 30-day window in which to purchase the playoff rights from the BCS. The BCS is also working on a new revenue-sharing plan to work out how the playoff money will be divided.

BCS Championship

Think you are well informed re Apple vs Samsung — look at Jury form

The form that the jury is using for the case is 20 pages long and looks like a college exam. I really feel sorry for the jury and expect that they will need to constantly have to get refreshers on what all of the varied elements are in the case.

Huge U.S. Government Kindle purchase killed
ITWorld is reporting that the U.S. Department of State has canceled a large order for Amazon’s Kindle Touch tablets along with additional content. The order was valued at $16.5 million over the course of its lifetime.

The department said that it was taking a second look at the requirements of the program and was conducting additional market research. The contract originally called for an initial 2,500 e-readers and 50 titles of content.

NFL roster reductions start Monday
For NFL fans some of the most interesting days, prior to when they actually start playing, will be coming up over the next week as teams will have to reduce rosters from the current 90 player level to 53 by Aug. 31.

Teams will be looking to shore up perceived weak areas as a flood of players hit the market with the first cut down next Monday to 75 and then again later in the week. I wonder how many might find a place in the USFL or other alternative leagues?


New Windows 8 Tablets from Acer and Asus Just the Start

Windows 8 got a boost at the Computex trade show last week in Taipei when it was talked up by a number of hardware developers ranging from tablet developers to microprocessor purveyors, creating some momentum prior to the release of the operating system.

As we noted last week Intel took the bull by the horns and talked about how 20 of its OEMs have tablets in development using its Atom Z2760 processor family as the company seeks to establish itself as a player in the tablet market.

But some of the Windows hardware developers were a good deal more specific about what they had in development, specifically Acer and Asus, both of which have been working hard in the Android spac to establish themselves as tablet developers and now look to Microsoft for a boost.

Acer is developing a pair of tablets for the market, and will use the letter “W” to indicate that the products are for Windows. The two are the Iconia Tab W510 and the Iconia Tab W700. The 10.1-inch W510 is a hybrid design that can be used as a touch screen and docked with a keyboard.

The Iconia Tab W700 has an 11.6-inch display with 1920 x 1080 pixels and will also include a docking station like the W510. It has the ability to display at a 70 degree angle, much greater than is commonly found in tablets. Both will use Intel processors, although the exact one was not revealed. The W510 is expected top be the workhorse while the W700 is the high end offring in the family.

Asustek has also come to the table last week with the Asus Tablet 600, but it will not be sporting Intel, using an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. The 10-inch tablet will be using a version of Windows called Windows RT. The basic specs are that it will have 2GB of RAM, a 32GB storage capacity and Office 15 software.