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.

Panasonic, LiveU Team Up for Mobile Cellular TV Cams

Panasonic announced Sunday that is is teaming up with cellular-modem camera pioneer LiveU to build a pro TV camera with a cellular connectivity unit bolted to the back of the camera, to make live mobile broadcasting easier and cheaper.

As we said last week we here at MSR think that cellular-equipped broadcast cams are a big thing going forward. For professional broadcasters and networks they theoretically can enable more live broadcasts from more places, even at major events and stadiums. And then there’s also an entirely new segment of broadcasting that they might enable — such as a small school streaming live to the Internet, without the need for a satellite truck or other expensive broadcast gear.

The Panasonic-LiveU deal, announced at the NAB show in Vegas, calls for “an integrated camcorder and live video uplink solution, utilizing the groundbreaking LU40i video uplink device and the new AJ-HPX600 P2 camcorder with planned wireless integration features.” So basically it’s a cellular modem bolted onto the back of a camera. Though this isn’t the finished product this demo version picture gives you an idea of what it might look like, and it’s a big improvement over cellular backpack modems or even the belt-holster thingy that LiveU recently announced.

Anyone else at NAB see any more cellular camera stuff? Let us know in the comments. Would like to get some more granular details about costs for the cell modem connections.

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Proview now sues Apple in US
A week after being dealt a setback in court in Shanghai, Proview International has taken its trademark battle with Apple to US courts. The company is seeking to block Apple from shipping iPads into or out of China.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple purchased the trademark rights to IPAD from the company in 2009 and Proview is now seeking to have that sale canceled and has filed its case in California Superior Court, Santa Clara County.

Smartphone sales determined by age and income report says
Market researcher Nielsen has published a survey it conducted with 20,000 mobile consumers that gives some interesting insight into how the US smartphone market has grown broken down by age and income.

The report shows that overall smartphone penetration has reached 48% in January, but that the age group of 25-34 far outpaced the nation as a whole with 66% penetration. However when income is added into the equation the results start to change. Head over to take a look at the results.

AT&T loses data throttling suit
AT&T’s efforts to throttle, or slow down, data use by the top 5% of its customers has hit a minor bump as a California man has won a small court claim against the company. He was awarded $850 for his effort.

While he has an unlimited account AT&T the telecommunications company has started slowing down data downloads to heavy users, often despite the fact that they are using less that people with capped programs.
The judge ruled that it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone, when it had sold him an “unlimited data” plan. AT&T said it will appeal the ruling.

Motorola forces Apple to disable iPhone Push Email in Germany
As a result of one of the various rulings between Apple and Motorola Mobility, this one pertaining to a Motorola victory Apple will disable the push email function in its iOS devices in Germany. Apple is continuing to appeal the ruling.

The decision will affect users of Apple’s iCloud and MobileMe email. The programs have the ability to automatically send emails to the devices automatically when they are received at the mail servers rather than wait for the user to manually check for new mail.

LG in talks with Google on next generation Nexus device
Seeking to get a leap on its competitors and a prestigious title LG is in preliminary talks with Google that would enable LG to be the next device manufacturer to create a Nexus device. Rivals Samsung with its Galaxy Nexus and HTC with the Nexus One have already partnered with Google.

LG could use the partnership to burnish its faded image in the mobile phone market, whch has seen its once more prominent position fade a bit. According to Cnet which broke the story, the deal would also help assure other handset manufacturers that they would have a level playing field with Google’s Motorola holdings.

Panasonic developing virtual safe house for Android
With the growing concerns that app developers are intentionally stealing user data off of smartphones and other devices it was only a matter of time before someone developed an app to stop other apps. OK, there have been security programs in the past but the latest to join the herd is Panasonic which announced new technology to secure your mobile devices.

The company has teamed with Red Bend Software to develop a technology that prevents loss of data from smartphones both from apps seeking to exploit the phones and from outside users that might find a lost phone.

The core of the technology features a fold that is separate from the Android operating system and in which data, photos, emails and contact information can be stored securely. Panasonic claims that the technology, which utilizes Red Bend’s mobile virtualization software, will still allow Android apps to run normally.

New Android bug found?
It looks like there is a flaw in the Android operating system that could enable a hacker to take control of devices, according to a report from Reuters. The flaw was discovered by startup security firm CrowdStrike and they say that using the flaw they have found a way to take control of users Android devices

CrowdStrike said that it will be displaying its finding at RSA Conference in San Francisco later this week but said that the gist of matter is that by sending an email or text message that appears to be from a trusted source that urges the recipient to click on a link, which if done infects the device. I get emails like that from Nigerian princes all of the time- are they fake?

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Social Games Developer gets $12.5 million investment
SNS Plus, a 3-year-old developer of games that run on social media sites has just received an influx of funding amounting to $12.5 million from WI Harper, a Chinese VC, and Matrix Partners. SNS focuses on developing for Facebook with 60 games already available on that platform and an additional 15 games on a variety of others including Friendster, Zingme and Apple’s iOS. The company currently focuses on the Asian market and has offices in China, Taiwan and Thailand.

Android apps revenue trails iOS- Wait until next year!
Last week we noted that a study be market research firm Piper Jaffray said that Apple iOS app developers were racking in the funds while their counterparts in the Android space were just getting crumbs.

Now Inside Mobile Apps has refuted the estimate claiming that it is flawed. In particular it notes that free apps have a strong revenue generating potential by in-app sales. While we don’t track this thing, it seemed at the time that Piper Jaffray’s estimates were too low. It will be interesting to follow this space as the analysts start to develop real tools that can provide developers with the information they need to profitably allocate their resources.

Panasonic’s US Android plans: Someday?
It looks like Panasonic Mobile Communications Co. will be bringing a lineup of smartphones to Europe as it seeks to establish itself as a player in the Android-powered smartphone space. According to a report from the Nikkei that was forwarded by Reuters the company seeks to sell 7.5 million phones in that market, half of its output, but not until 2015.

It will look at further expansion down the road into the US and additional Asian markets. The company dropped out of all but its own domestic mobile phone space in 2005 due to a variety of issues including tough price competition.

Apple dumping Samsung LCDs?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is moving to a new partner for the displays in its forthcoming next generation iPads. The company will be moving from Samsung Electronics, a company it has partnered with in the display space for some time.

The report, well actually more of a rumor, claims that the LCDs will come from Sharp and that Apple is also investing an undisclosed sum in Sharp’s panel manufacturing facilities in Japan.

This seems to be a trend by Apple and you have to wonder if it has issues with Samsung? It was reported in September that it was moving away from using Samsung memory components. Earlier this year it moved away from using Samsung’s manufacturing for its processors that power its devices. Think that the patent disputes between the two have any impact on these decisions?

Did Apple products really account for 10 percent of Black Friday online sales?
A story coming out from electronista, citing a report from Coremetrics, an IBM company, claims that Apple mobile products accounted for approximately 10.2 percent of all online sales on Black Friday this year, while rival Android products only accounted for 4.1 percent.

At first look I took this to mean that Apple had a huge surge in sales of its products, which did have a number of sales last week, but what the piece means is that customers using those platforms made 10.2 percent of all purchases.

With Android phones extending their market share lead over Apple’s on a daily basis I found this to be a bit odd. Also the linked to report, while listed for 2011 was actually from 2010. Maybe I just could not get the latest report?

Are Android phones the breeding ground for viruses?
An interesting take on the reason that suddenly we seem to be inundated with alerts that your phone OS, especially Android, is rife with viruses and that you need the latest and greatest anti-virus software to ensure that your every Tweet, text and e-mail is safe.

According to ITWire it is all a conspiracy plot between Intel, its wholly owned subsidiary McAfee and Microsoft. Ok that may be an exaggeration but the piece does throw it out there. Of course as we noted in an earlier brief Google says all of the news of the rise of a new generation of malware is all garbage.

Apple rumor of the week.
Apple is working on a television that understands when you yell at it. Great, mine will explode every football and baseball season, who needs to buy two sets a year. It will also understand gestures. Still don’t see this as a positive. Now if it could cut out the ads I would be a happy camper.

Have a product that will be on display at the upcoming CES show and think we should know about it? Drop us a line and let us know.