Friday Grab Bag: Tablet Rumors Galore

With Apple, Samsung and others either preparing new tablets Amazon is also preparing a new set of releases.

As it does so it needs to rid itself of older inventory and so has cut the prices on existing models with the current generation Kindle Fire HD now starting at $159.

Samsung Smartwatch due next month?

With the changing of the leaves that herald the coming of fall, also so do the increased number of rumors about hi-tech products that are slated for the back to school market. The latest is that Samsung may beat the field to market with its smartwatch, delivered Sept. 4.

The news comes to us from Asia One, who are forwarding a tip from Sammobile, claim that Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch will make its first public appearance at the Samsung Unpacked Episode 2 event that starts on that day. Stay tuned.

LG Tablet in the works
Speaking of third hand rumors here is a report that a new tablet is about to emerge from LG that will be called the LG G Pad. It is expected to be in a 8.3-inch form factor that will feature a 1920 x 1200 display.

Other supposed details include a quad-core microprocessor, 2GB of memory and that is about it so far. Since no ship date was rumored we may see more details prior to a release.

Fox Sports 1 starts tomorrow
We mentioned it last week but it bears repeating that the latest rival to ESPN, Fox Sports 1, will start Saturday. It is expected to be available in 90 million homes on launch.

A piece at Sports on Earth really told the tale. It does not matter if the channel is more or less intellectual than ESPN, what will determine its success will be the number and quality of its live sports offerings.

Archos GamePad spotted via FCC filing
TechRadar is reporting that Archos looks to be refreshing its GamePad dedicated tablet device with a second generation offering ahead of what looks like a deluge this fall in similar products from a host of rivals.

Its first generation offering came out at the start of the year and now will have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support in the latest offering. Expect to see a number of other dedicated pads from the likes of Amazon and others available soon as well.

BlackBerry up for sale?
BlackBerry’s board has formed a special committee that will be tasked with looking at strategic alternatives for the company’s future, including how to boost sales of its flagship Blackberry 10 smartphone.

It will look at the possibility of selling the company or try to enter into strategic partnerships or joint ventures with other companies.

Apple Expands Storage Capacity with Latest iPad Upgrade


Apple has said that it has expanded the storage capacity options on its flagship iPad platform with the addition of models that will now have feature 128GB of storage, doubling what had been previously available.

The 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available starting next Tuesday, Feb. 5, and will be available in both black or white models. The MSRP for the iPad with Wi-Fi model is $799 and will be $929 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

The models will have what is expected of this generation iPads including a 9.7-inch Retina display, Apple’s iOS 6.1 operating system that includes built-in support for LTE networks. It will be powered by the company’s A6X dual core processor and will include the FaceTime HD camera.

The move could be seen as designed to counter Microsoft which is planning to release its Windows Surface 8 Pro tablet on Feb. 9, a tablet that will also have a 128GB capacity. The Surface RT that was released late last year currently supports 64GBs of storage.

At the upcoming World Mobile Congress next month in Barcelona a number of tablets are expected to be shown, including four from Samsung. It will be interesting to see if that company follows along and has its latest offering available with 128GBs as well.

Apple has been under increased pressure from its competitors in the second half of last year and continuing into 2013 as they have started bringing out significantly better developed and built products that they had previously. Samsung and Amazon have been the two most aggressive but Microsoft has also entered the game late last year with its Surface platform, and is expanding that soon with a model that is expected to be much better received that its Surface RT.

While this move is certainly more evolutionary rather than revolutionary it will help it keep its products features at the top of the charts.

Barnes & Noble Unveil High Definition Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble has expanded its tablet offerings with a pair of new offerings including the first high definition models as the company is once again going head to head with rival Amazon and its tablet offerings.

The latest from Barnes & Noble is the Nook HD and the Nook HD+, with the Nook HD seeking to stake out the low cost leader in the 7-inch high definition space and the 9-inch Nook HD+ seeking to do the same in the larger screen space.

The Nook HD features a 1440 x 900 display that is capable of 720p HD video playback, with a standard 8GB of storage that is expandable to 16GB, running a version of Android 4.0 operating system and powered by a dual core 1.3GHz OMAP 4470 processor. It does not feature a front facing camera or NFC capabilities.

The Nook HD+ features a nine inch display that has a 1920 x 1280 pixel resolution and comes with 16GB storage as standard that can be upgraded with a microSD card to 32GB. It is also powered by the TI OMAP 4470 processor, this one running at 1.5GHz.

The arrival of these tablets was not that big of a surprise for two reasons. The first was the simple need to keep up with the Jones, or in this case Amazon and the second was that the company had announced its streaming video service and that almost certainly meant having a HD device to view the video. Both tablets are due in late October and the Nook HD will start at $199 and the Nook HD+ will be available at $269.

Barnes & Noble is touting the wide array of content for the devices including its large catalog of digital books. The Nook Store has been revamped and features 3 million books including nearly 3,500 children’s interactive picture books as well as a growing collection of comic books and graphic novels.

The streaming video service will be called Nook Video and will launch in late October. The service will feature TV shows as well as HD movies that can be downloaded and viewed. Among the studios that they have licensed content from are HBO, STARZ, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers Entertainment.

The latest generation of Nook devices can also be connected to a television so that a user can view the videos in full 1080p. The content can also be viewed on tablets and smartphones via the Nook video app.

Other areas that it has either added new features or support are in its UltraViolet support enabling the integration of physical DVDs and Blu-ray discs that have the UltraViolet logo from Barnes & Noble with the Nook.

The Newsstand has been revised with a new look and allow you to select only specific sections of a paper if so desired. The Magazine 2.0 allows readers to cut out pictures and just read text if they want and has a feature called Nook Scrapbook for clipping pages and saving them. The Nook Apps offers a range of apps for the tablets, with currently around 6,000 available.

The move comes both in time to help maintain its position as a top provider of tablets at a time when the competition, now from Amazon but soon from others as well, is increasing. It still trails rival Amazon in apps available, as well as Amazon having a huge set of additional services that are well established and familiar with its customers, something that will help propel Kindle HD sales.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Nokia Tablet and Kindle Tidbits

Intel has reported that softer than expected demand for PCs along with partners reducing inventory has

led the company to lower its revenue forecast for the third quarter. The company now expects third-quarter revenue to be $13.2 billion, plus or minus $300 million, compared to the previous expectation of $13.8 billion to $14.8 billion.

Google buys security firm Virus Total
Google has added another company to its portfolio with its acquisition of internet security firm Virus Total. Virus Total is a free service that analyzes files and URLs looking for worms, viruses and other types of malware.

The deal, for an undisclosed amount, will provide Google with another tool to help eliminate malware and other unwanted travelers in its Gmail and other programs.

Will iPhone 5 support 4G LTE?
One of the interesting rumors that have been making the rounds over the last few weeks is that if Apple introduces the iPhone 5 with 4G LTE support Samsung will instantly sue Apple. Apparently Samsung owns a great number of important patents in this area and believes it can use them to strike back at Apple.

Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the phones will indeed support LTE, but possibly not in every country. The lack of access to the new high speed networks would have placed Apple at a competitive disadvantage to rivals that already feature support.

Kindle Fire HD to use Bing as default search engine
Chalk one up for Microsoft which has landed its Bing browser on the just announced Kindle Fire HD tablets, replacing rival Google. Users do have the option to change the search engine, according to a piece in ars technical.

Speaking of the Kindle, it looks like there will be permanent ads on both the revamped older Kindle models as well as on the new line of Kindle Fire HD tablets. According to Mashable, Amazon will include its Special Offers and Sponsored Screensavers on the lock screen and lower left hand corner of the home screen.

Well that did not take long. An hour after I wrote the above paragraph I saw that Cnet is reporting that Amazon has backtracked and will now allow users to opt out of the ads, for a $15 fee. Great, maybe I will opt in to a Nexus 7 instead as well.

However all is not well as it looks like Amazon will be tracking Kindle users’ online behavior. According to Tech Crunch, Amazon will update its Silk browser to include a ’trending now’ feature that shows what web pages and issues are hot. For now it looks like there is an opt out ability.

Kickstarter projects have raised $347 million

We have not reported on much from Kickstarter lately, in part because it seems to be increasingly funding video games and projects that just don’t appeal to us. However they are appealing to someone as Forbes has reported that the crowd funding site has raised $347 million for projects. An interesting tidbit is that $274.5 million has been spent on US-based efforts, so there is still a huge growth opportunity internationally.

Nokia hints at a tablet in its future
During its Windows Phone 8 smartphone rollout last week it appears that the company’s executives hinted at the possibility that the company would enter the tablet business, according Fast Company. The company’s CEO, Stephen Elop said that with Nokia’s strength in the mobile space other aspects of that market present a real opportunity for it.

Friday Grab Bag: Kindle Rumors, Odd Olympic Facts

Every Olympics you see some piece about the sports that have come and gone for the games, baseball and shooting live pigeons being two that readily come to mind. However there is something much more fundamental about the games that has changed a great deal as well, mainly how you get your information.

Everybody on the Internet must know by now that this is the most social media Olympics in history (also the 1st?), but think about past games and how you got the news and how they were broadcast. A nice piece in Mashable and accompanying infographic lays it out quite well.

The first modern Olympics, in 1896 had carrier pigeons, first radio broadcasts in 1924, first live telecasts in 1936 but worldwide broadcasts had to wait until 1960. The Internet hit way back in 1996! In my opinion one of the best things is that you can now get all of the games not just the ones that the studios decide I want to see, and no tape delays!

Speaking of Pigeons — get a load of these Guinea Pigs
Ok, this rates as the dumb post of the week but it just cracked me up. It is just a series of six photos that show a set of guinea pigs competing in a number of Olympic events in London. So let the real games begin!

Record iPad sales not enough for Apple to meet expectations
Apple’s revenue for the past quarter and forecast for the current one did not meet with analysts’ expectations despite selling 17 million iPads during the quarter, up 84% compared to the same quarter a year ago and up 44% from the previous quarter. It sold 26 million iPhones, down 26% from the previous quarter.

The company did manage to have $35 billion in revenue for the quarter, up 22% from a year ago and had $8.8 billion in net profit, up 22% from the previous year. Apple plans to update its MacBook line this quarter, release a new Mac operating system and a new iOS later this fall.

Bucs bailing on iPads
The NFL seemed like the next conquest for Apple’s iPad but now a report from, as relayed by ProFootballTalk, makes it look like one team is backing away from the tablets. Tampa Bay is reportedly discontinuing the use of the tablets to its players according to the blog.

It seems that players were forgetting to charge them, did not update them automatically and the team could not be sure that players were using them. I wonder how they can be sure that the players are reading the 500+ page binders they issue each week?

Elemental streams Olympics
If you are watching the Summer Olympics in London on line, you can give thanks, at least in part, to Elemental Technologies. A product from the company, Elemental Alive, is the backbone to the live streams that will be seen worldwide.

While we have mentioned that NBC will be live streaming all of the events from the Olympics live in the US, it should be noted that the BBC will also be streaming the games to much of the rest of the world, and both rely on Element’s technology to send the video to computers, phones and tablets. That is quite an accomplishment for a company still in startup stage.

Apple, Motorola Mobility both appeal dismissal of patent infringement case
Well here is one thing that the two companies can agree on; both have appealed (separately) the decision from last month by a U.S. federal judge to dismiss their patent infringement case. The case was thrown out ‘with prejudice’ by Judge Richard Posner, who ruled that they could not resubmit the lawsuit.

The case has been ongoing for some time and had increasingly been drawing the ire of the judge, along with the overall US patent system. He has dismissed expert testimony and honed down the number of issues involved in previous ruling prior to his dismissal of the case.

Seattle pushing for new NBA team
After losing the Supersonics, its NBA team a few years ago, Seattle looks to be trying to be back in the mix for a team. The King County Council is about to vote on a proposal that is now in front of it regarding building a new arena, the lack of which was a core cause in losing its last team.

The proposal, from investor Chris Hansen would call for a $490 million new facility with private equity paying $290 million and the rest from bonds by the city and county that would be paid for by arena generated taxes and fees. The issue must also be passed by the Seattle City Council. No word on where the team is going to come from.

Kindle rumors galore
It seems with Google’s entrant into the 7-inch tablet space with its well received Nexus 7 and the possibility of an Apple product in the same space has cause a rise in the rumor mill about future Amazon Kindles to combat the new rivals.

Tom’s Hardware is reporting that the current Kindle’s may see a 15% drop in price, to around $150 as it prepares its new ones for market. The new ones may be here as soon as next week, according to SiliconAngle, which reports that a pair of tablets, a new 7-inch as well as its first 10-inch may be released as early as the 31st of July.

Friday Grab Bag: Big Kindle Sale, Kentucky Derby Point System

Looking for a sports watch that can track your every move but dislike the bland sameness that seems to pervade the industry? Well Nike has teamed with TomTom to break that boredom with a set of Nike+ Sports watches that come in day-glo colors so that you can match your jogging outfit.

The upgraded GPS watch, which runs around $149, will support NikeFuel and provide users with a wealth of information including position, speed, and the ever popular calories burned. It also can be programmed with reminders and motivational messages.

Apple to kill Ping in next OS release?
Apple has been hinting for some time that Ping, its attempt at social networking, was on a short leash and now it sounds as if it is at the end of its short product life as the company decides not to spend good money after bad.

All Things Digital reports that the technology will be absent in future operating system releases. Of course in hindsight that seems quite obvious considering all of the Facebook integration there will be in the next release.

ESPN loses Premier League broadcast rights
Sports Illustrated has reported that ESPN was shut out of the latest round of broadcast rights for the English Premier League. The winning bid of $4.49 billion was submitted by BSkyB and BT for the domestic TV rights in a 3-year deal. The previous deal, which was split between ESPN and BSkyB was for $1.95 billion.

ITC throws out Google patents in Apple/HTC dispute
The International Trade Commission delivered some bad news to Google when it threw out five of its patents that it had assigned to HTC. HTC needed the patents in its legal battles with Apple where it is trying to bar the import of select Apple products into Taiwan.

According to Foss Patents the court rejected an investigation into the assigned patents and said that it cannot sue Apple over violating patents that it does not own, and which it appears is just renting from Google for the trial. HTC said that it will appeal. Both Apple and HTC/Google have a series of patent lawsuits against each other ongoing around the globe.

HTC buys some patents
So if you can’t rent them, buy them. HTC has confirmed that it is buying once high flying graphics processor developer S3 Graphics, and that a driving reason behind the deal is to get its hands on the company’s patent portfolio.

While not the largest in the industry S3 does own approximately 270 patents, some of which are licensed to other third party developers. HTC is one of the major companies that has been fighting it out with Apple over patents used in mobile devices such as smartphones.

Kentucky Derby Follows NASCAR’s Lead
Ever wonder how a horse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby? Well wonder no more because the races organizers are taking steps to spell out how and why horses manage to gain entry to one of the premier racing events in the world.

Churchill Downs
has developed what it calls the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” and will use a point system much like NASCAR’s that will assign points to horses that run select races, based on how they finish. The program will start this fall for the current crop of two year olds and will be used to determine next years crop of horses for the race.

Android growth still strong
Google’s Andy Rubin, who is the head of the smartphone operating system, said that the daily activation of devices running the Android operating system is now averaging 900,000 devices a day. Last year at the same time it was 500,000.

Asus confirms Google Tablet-off the record of course

Android Authority said that it sat down with an executive from Asus at the recent Computex show who confirmed that his company was building a Google-labeled tablet that will enter the 7-inch form factor fray.

Expected to be powered by Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor the device is expected to be priced in the $150-$250 range. Look for Google’s big Google I/O conference at the end of the month as the launching pad for the device.

Want to make your pillow a touchscreen? With MaKey MaKey you just might be able to
MaKey MaKey is the latest startup to catch my limited attention span has appeared at Kickstarter, a project that seeks to turn everyday items into functioning touchscreens with the ability to interact with the Internet.

Sound too good to be true, well it is not reality yet but there is a some interesting demos over at Kickstarter. It is simply a board, some alligator clips and an Internet connection via a PC and in no time you to could be using bananas as a keyboard.

Its funding effort, which ends today, has been a tremendous success. Seeking a $25,000 goal it went over the top and at the time of this post had already received pledges worth $533,313 with close to 11,000 backers. Nice bit of overkill.

Kindle scores big with State Department
While Apple gets most of the publicity due to its tremendous success with the iPad the Kindle just scored a major deal with the US State Department. According to a piece from The Atlantic Wire, the State Department will be purchasing thousands of Kindles.

The total value of the deal has been reported at $16.5 million and will call for the tablets to come with a teaching program. The initial buy for the project is 2,500 devices and they will be sent to libraries and other education around the world.