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.

New Tablets from Lenovo and Vizio Hit Market


Last week Lenovo released Miix, its hybrid 10-inch tablet that can also serve as a laptop while Vizio has started shipping its 11.8-inch tablet that it first showed at the beginning of the year at the CES show in Las Vegas.
It seemed just a year ago that tablet releases were something that could be planned easily on a calendar, one company would announce a product release date and one of the few other major players would then announce products the day before.

The Lenovo Miix features a 10.1-inch display that has 1366 x 768 resolution, runs Microsoft Windows 8 operating system and is powered by a dual core Intel Atom processor. It will feature 64GB of storage on board with an additional expansion capability of 32GB via a microSD card.

The key feature for the device is what the company calls a “quick-flip” detachable folio case with an integrated AccuType keyboard that enables users to switch between PC mode and tablet mode as their needs require.

It also includes integrated Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and/or optional3G-GPS connectivity and up to 10 hours of battery life. The tablet is expected to ship later this summer and will have an estimated entry price of $550.

The Vizio 11.6” Windows 8 Tablet PC has an 11.6-inch 1080p display, runs Windows 8 and is powered by an Advanced Micro Device Z-60 processor with 2GB of RAM. It also features 64GB of storage, a five hour battery life and has a price tag of $600.

Now tablets are announced at major shows such as World Mobile Congress, CES and E3 as well as just when they are ready to ship, a sign that the market is maturing, and that is good news for users and future buyers.

As an increasing number of tablets are released, and all across the pricing spectrum, it seems pretty obvious that not only will they become ubiquitous in peoples’ lives, but that many users will have multiple devices.

This represents a huge opportunity for developers as apps that are focused specifically for tablets will become increasingly important. I can foresee when I have a tablet dedicated for work and one by the television that I use for sports and other purposes that are more entertainment based.

HP Enters the 7-inch Tablet Space with Slate 7


Hewlett-Packard, a company that may have experienced the most notorious crash and burn in the tablet space with the TouchPad has returned with a low cost Android device, the HP Slate 7, which it has introduced at the Mobile World Congress.

Unlike the last time when it used technology it had acquired from Palm as the operating system HP has gone mainstream and will be using the Android Jelly Bean operating system. In fact the company goes out of its way to tout the devices relationship with Google, talking about how it is the ideal platform for what it calls the Google Experience in its press release.

The $169 Slate 7 is the first of what appears to be a family of different products HP will be delivering that will target different market segments, according to a company executive. The company’s emphasis on its alliance with Google and promoting Google products and services also indicates a trend for the future, and one that might be a bad sign for Microsoft, which also has a partnership with HP. HP recently introduced a Chromebook, a notebook that run’s Google’s Chrome OS.

The Slate 7 is powered by an ARM dual core Cortex-A9 1.6GHz processor and will feature a 3 MP backward facing camera and a VGA front facing camera. The 7-inch display has a 1024 x 600 resolution and the tablet will feature 8GB of storage that is expandable via a microSD card.

HP already has a high end tablet which competes with the other 10-inch offerings from everybody from Microsoft, Samsung and Apple. Now it is seeking to establish itself against the iPad Minis, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fires. Hopefully HP can establish itself in this space, making the market more competitive.

Friday Grab Bag: Dolphins with iPads, New NFL Game Times

The Miami Dolphins are the latest NFL team to jump on the iPad train as the team has adopted the tablets as an alternative to the huge binders that had been the traditional form of NFL playbooks. The team joins a growing number of NFL teams that have taken this approach including the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Bucs and the Green Bay Packers.

However the Dolphins are also apparently taking a hard line on players’ usage of the tablets. While they can surf the Internet to some degree, they will be fined as much as $10,000 for access unauthorized sites such as YouTube and Twitter, according to ProFootballTalk.

Microsoft buys Yammer for $1.2 billion
Microsoft has added corporate social networking developer Yammer Inc. into its corporate embrace with its $1.2 billion purchase of the startup. The company said that it intends to incorporate the tools, which have a Facebook quality, into its Microsoft Office group.

Yammer has seen strong acceptance to its technology and has 200,000 companies using its tools including major players such as Ford Motor Co.

Mobile users increasingly access Internet

The Pew Internet & American Life project has published an interesting study on the use of mobile phone use for Internet browsing and purchases. It found that 17% of cell phone owners use the phone as their primary device for cruising the Internet, and often their only tool used for accessing it.

The study found that 88% of US adults have a cell phone and that of these 55% of them use the phone to go online, a notable increase from the 31% Pew found when it last did a similar study in 2009.

NFL moves late kickoffs back 10 minutes
The NFL has moved the opening kickoffs for the late afternoon games from 4:15 ET start to 4:25. The move will help eliminate the overlap that occasionally occurs when the early game runs long, something that often seems to happen if the second game is the one that you have been waiting all day to watch.

This should also help now that the new overtime rules are in effect that could also lead to more overtime games as it will now make more sense for a coach to go for a tie in the waning moments of the game knowing that he has a shot at getting the ball and scoring in OT.

RIM delays smartphone after bad quarter
Beleaguered smartphone developer Research in Motion has reported that it had a worse than expected quarter with revenue at $2.8 billion with a loss of $518 million, its shipment of its flagship BlackBerry phones was only 7.8 million, down 41% from the same period a year ago.

The company plans to slash 5,000 jobs but still expects to have another bad quarter, predicting a loss for the current one as well. It has delayed the delivery of its next generation phone, the BlackBerry 10, until the first quarter of next year.

Judge halts Samsung Galaxy Sales in US
Apple won its latest round against rival Samsung when US District Judge Lucy Koh reversed her previous position and granted Apple’s request to prohibit Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the United States.

She said in the ruling that Samsung does not have the right to flood the market with products that infringe (presumably on Apple patents). Apple needs to post a $2.6 million bond in case the injunction is later to be found to be incorrect and so pay for damages inflicted on Samsung.

Samsung has not taken the ruling lying down and has already appealed. It has asked that the US District Court of Northern California suspend the order pending an appeal.

iPhone hits 5th anniversary
In June 2007 Apple launched its iPhone and has not had a need to look back as it has helped propel Apple to the powerful position it holds today as a company. In the five years of its life the phone has generated an estimated $150 billion in revenue, just from hardware sales, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Then of course there is the sale of peripherals, apps, software and services. Strategy Analytics estimates that Apple has shipped 250 million iPhones globally in that time.

Tablets usage as second TV continues to grow
NPD DisplaySearch’s latest Global TV Replacement Study has found that the use of tablets as a platform for viewing television and video has doubled over the last year, in part the usage has been driven by the overall growth of tablet sales, according to the survey.

While tablet usage as a second screen has edged to over 10% of consumers using one for viewing, it still has a ways to go to reach the level of laptops or desktop computers, which over 40% of consumers say they use for viewing purposes.

The All-Star Selection show is this weekend
For baseball fans the results of their ballet box stuffing will be found this Sunday when TBS hosts the section show at 1 pm ET. Still the show will not have the final rosters as MLB will then have five players from each league that fans can vote for to put one last person on the each team. The winner of the Final Ballot will be announced on next Thursday, July 5.