Tag Archive | "Report"

Find The Rightsize, Rightformat Mobile PC

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Let’s take a look at what you can do with 8 to 10-inches of hardware and what’s going to give you the most satisfaction. Whether you use it in bed, on the table or in public is important and of course there’s the big question of mixing business with pleasure. I’m talking about small-screen Windows tablets, ultramobile laptops, ultrabooks and the 2-in-1 devices, of course! What’s best for you?

allumpcs

  I’ll start by saying that it’s very unlikely that you’ll find one solution that covers all your needs perfectly but if you value mobility, some trade-offs are worth it. Because prices are dropping, the chances you can buy two, or even three devices within budget are improving too. Because of my job I’ve always had the advantage of choice and being able to choose a device based on the days activities is the best option. Sometimes I just take a smartphone. At other times a 10-inch Atom-based 2-in-1 works perfectly. At other times I need 13.3-inches and a Core i7 CPU with all-day battery life. There was a time during the life of this blog when you could buy handheld clamshell PCs with 4.8-inch screens. They were expensive and very niche but at a time when on-screen keyboards were laughable, they had unique productivity advantages.  Apart from a few Asia-market product and some specialist business devices those days are gone. For while, everything under 10-inches was gone but thanks to a great new mobile-focused mode in Windows, and huge progress in mobile X86 platforms such as Clovertrail, Baytrail and Haswell, a new product range is opening up with 8-inch Windows tablets. At the 10-inch range you can now find full Core-i5 based tablets weighing under 1KG which come with detachable keyboards for under $1000. You can also find a 10-inch tablet with included keyboard dock for $349. Both run Windows 8.

Venue8Pro_family-2 (1)

8-inch touch PCs

Starting with the new category of Windows devices the Windows Small Screen tablets are made possible through Intel Atom processors. Baytrail, the newest, offers what you could call ‘enough’ power for a smooth experience through every part of Windows Modern and Desktop. Intel and Microsoft are promoting these under a new Small Screen Tablets Program which allows prices to go below $300. Expect $250 8-inch tablets by Christmas! Here’s a list of PC solutions with 8-inch screens. In terms of sizing you have some stark trade-offs. The Modern UI, at 800×1280 resolution, should look great. The desktop, with a few tweaks, should also be readable although you might want a digitizer or external mouse and a good pair of eyes to get productive with Office. The desktop mode on these devices isn’t going to be used much by consumers although professionals will obviously have a different take on that. Being able to run a batch of photos through some filters, for example, could help to reduce the preview time for a customer. You can, if you want (and I really like this idea) also think of these 8-inch tablets as 8-inch mini PCs. They’ve got a screen, but you can add screen, keyboard and mouse for the perfect temporary desktop, Powerpoint player or holiday PC.  We haven’t seen any with dedicated docking ports yet but with WiDi (wireless screen, remote USB and audio) and Bluetooth (wireless keyboard and mouse.) you may be able to work completely without cables. 8-inch SSTs are flexible but they’re about Windows Modern first and Desktop second. They’ll be perfect for magazine and book reading, social networking (it’s always nice to have a full browser ready for those desktop URLs that appear on your timeline!) and Modern gaming. Let’s not forget that all Windows 8 PC come with multi-user capabilities so buying one for the family as a Christmas present isn’t a bad idea. With cloud synchronization on Windows services becoming more and more embedded, having a $299 Windows 8 tablet ready to go out of the door with you isn’t a bad addition to your range of computing options. It’s not going to replace a main PC, but it complements it extremely well.

omni-10-hero10-inch touch PCs

This is the old netbook category size; A size where keyboards were a pretty poor and cramped experience. As a screen size for a laptop it may only work optimally for kids but, naturally, those with a mobile computing requirement will have an interest. When you think about tablet or 2-in-1 scenarios, it gets even more interesting, especially when you consider the power that can be packed into the size wth the new X86 processing platforms. Here’s a list of all the PC solutions with 10-inch screens. Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is the perfect example of how much you can fit into a 10-inch tablet. Fast SSD, Core-i5 (ultrabook-style) processor and fast memory with FullHD touchscreen and some impressive battery life, all in a light-weight package that attaches to keyboard cases and other mobile accessories. There’s a dock that will allow you to use the Surface Pro 2 as your only PC. There are a few trade-offs though. Weight is relatively high for casual usage scenarios however, so you can’t use it to read a book for an hour in bed for example. It has a fan too. When you get to working on the desk, a FullHD screen may not be comfortable at this size. Working with the Surface Pro 2 on your lap (some people do it!) isn’t going to be confidence-inspiring either. 10-inch tablets can work in casual scenarios, but only when they weigh much less than the Surface Pro 2.  When they weigh less, they usually have a smaller battery however. The 10-inch category was always the ‘tweener’ category that was hidden by low cost netbook sales but now those have gone it’s exposed a screen size that, although it can do everything, comes with serious trade-offs. It’s no substitute for a grab-and go 8-incher either. It’s important to note that as weights go down in this category, reading and casual usage becomes better. A 10-inch screen can be a really nice reading experience when we reach sub 600 grams / 1.2lb. The problem is that a keyboard will always need to be bigger than one that matches a 10-inch screen. If you’re tablet-focused, watch the 10-inch sector. If you’re keyboard focused, watch the 11.6-inch sector.

pavilion-x2-hero_tcm_245_148941711-inch Touch PCs

As we move up to 11-inch screen we reach a size where the matching keyboards become much more user friendly and where desktop apps on high-density screens are more useful. 11.6-inches is the smallest screen size I would recommend anyone to have as their only PC screen and even then, only if you need to be extremely mobile or, as could happen in the future, want a very nice lightweight newspaper-style to your tablet. Weights are too high now, but are coming down quickly. Here’s a list of PCs with 11-inch screens. A laptop in the 11.6-inch range, at around 1KG / 2.2 pounds brings together not only a comfortable screen and keyboard but, in a well-designed device, can offer processor power, battery life and quiet operation. Look at the Sony Vaio Pro 11 which is an Ultrabook-style device but also check out some of the netbook+ devices. The Acer Aspire V5-122P has great graphics power for the price and it comes with a touchscreen for a third of the price of a Sony Vaio Pro 11. The most interesting style of device in this size category is undoubtedly the 2-in-1. In early 2013 the 2-in-1’s were a bit underpowered and tablet-heavy but that is changing now. Look at the Dell Venue 11 Pro which runs a Baytrail CPU and weighs 726 grams / 1.6 pounds. That’s 20% lighter than the Surface Pro 2 with its 10-inch screen. The Sony Vaio Tap 11 brings an Intel Core CPU in an 11.6-inch screen in 780 grams. As these tablet weights get towards 600 grams you’ve got an enjoyable tablet experience, a screen that’s good enough for desktop work and the possibility to match a ‘real’ keyboard. In 2014 you won’t see anything that light with a Core CPU inside but you will see Baytrail tablets approaching that. For some people, this could be all the PC you ever need.

Summary

8-inches. For travellers, adventurers, sofa surfers, hotel hoppers and those that love modular flexibility. These are also the ‘gadgets’ of the Windows 8 PC world and as such, quite exciting for many. At $299-$399 it’s a perfect second PC that will integrate and sync with your main PC more and more as time goes on.  Example: Dell Venue 8 Pro 10-inches. Very interesting possibilities as a 2-in-1 for the more tablet-focused user and a perfect replacement for a netbook. As a laptop it will interest hot-deskers if you choose one with enough processing power. As weights get less the tablets get more interesting but the keyboards will remain cramped. Example: Microsoft Surface Pro 2 11-inches. The entry-level for productive laptops or tablets with keyboards. Currently the tablet sections of most 2-in-1s are too heavy for a comfortable sofa, bed, coffee shop experience but that problem will go away over time. A few products are getting close though. Example: Sony Vaio Tap 11.

What am I using?

Please, let us know what you’re using in the comments below. As I mentioned earlier in the article, I have a number of devices I use regularly. The tablet section of the Acer W510 gets a lot of use as it’s a good size and weight for living-room use. I’m using it to edit this post now as I sit in the back of a presentation room. For productivity, however, I use a 13.3-inch Ultrabook. For the future I’m considering a Sony Vaio Tap 11 and one of the 8-inch tablets as a replacement though. I haven’t used a 7-inch Android tablet (my previous favorite form factor) since I was given a Nokia Lumia 925 to test. (7 weeks ago!)

Find out more.

There’s a huge amount of fun to be had looking around the market and imagining usage scenarios. Be honest with yourself though and think about your main usage and consider two devices rather than compromising when buying a 2-in-1. A solutions that does ‘95% of what I need’ is a device that is useless for 5% of what you want to do. Your solution should be able to do over 100%  of what you need to achieve. Have fun in the product database where you can select form-factors and sort by processors and screen sizes, weights and more. The UMPCPortall Product Database is here, for you.

Ultrabooks For Deutschland

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One in ten of you reading this article are from Germany, a country that leads the world in Ultrabook availability. How do we know this? We know this because we regularly scan retailers in USA, Germany, UK, Canada, France, Italy and Australia for information on pricing and availability for our database and Germany is always out front.

ultrabook overview

Those of you that think the English-language countries are the place to look for Ultrabook trends, reports, sales numbers need to think again because not only is there a huge availability of Ultrabooks, the cheapest Ultrabook is close to the $600 mark (pre-tax.) 599 Euros buys you the Lenovo U310 today – inclusive of 19% sales tax which most EU businesses will claim back.

Here’s a list of interesting Ultrabooks, including my comments, that you might want to look at if you’re a QWERTZ person. Pass it on to your German friends!

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My Top 3 Ultrabooks

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It’s crunch time. I’ve been without a decent notebook for months and with CES fast approaching, I need to make a decision. I have a short-list of Ultrabooks and because there’s no-one in this room to discuss it with, I’m going to talk to myself.

Why Ultrabook?

I’ve tested three devices on the ultra-low voltage 2nd-gen Core platform so far and I really like what I see. The dynamic range of processing is just what I need; Quick Sync Video is the solution for my on-the-go video crunching and upload tasks, 1080p video playback is going to be great for home use and at around the 1KG mark, it meets my portability requirements spot-on. 5hrs is the battery life target for average use although anything more than that makes a day on the road less stressful! The Ultrabook platform delivers the perfect balance that I need right now.

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The Argument For Ultrabooks

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In this article I put a case forward for the Ultrabook. It follows a similar article in which I put forward an argument against the Ultrabook. You can’t say we’re not assessing all angles on Utrabooknews!

The Ultrabook project, a three-stage plan by Intel to change they way that laptops are designed and manufactured, is now producing its first products and already we’re seeing combinations of weight, price and power that have never been seen in the industry before; Truly ground-breaking notebooks. Early reviews have been very good and despite the expensive changes in design and manufacturing, the price points are competitive.

I’ll talk more about todays Ultrabook products further on in this article but first lets talk about why the Ultrabook project, over 3 years, is advantageous for everyone.

More important than the initial products is the massive change that is being asked of the laptop industry to move to ultra-efficient electronic designs [the battery companies are going to hate this part of the equation. Environmentalists will love it.], sealed unit and single board production by choosing and tightly integrating components and processes. As the change in the laptop continues the result will be advantages for all parts of the industry – a move towards solid state storage, smaller batteries, lower part counts and lower shipping weights. Windows 8 will combine to bring a scenario where the laptop covers a wider range of usage scenarios than ever before. Style included – Dont forget that very important style element for the mature markets.

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Ultrabook Buying Tips

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Buying an Ultrabook isn’t going to be simple. Not only do the products all look similar but the internals are similar too. How do you make a choice between an Lenovo Core i5 Ultrabook that looks the same as a Toshiba Core i5 Ultrabook that costs the same? The devil, unfortunately for the consumer, is in the details so to make the process a little easier I’ve listed some hints and tips here that you might want to think about before buying. I’ll update it as often as I can and will add in important tips from anyone that comments below.

toshiba-portege-z830-ultrabook_11Samsung Series 9 UltrabookASUS-UX21-Series-side-angle

Last update: 25th June 2012

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Windows 8 Metro UI, Tablets and Mobility – Let's talk about the Mis-Match

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IMG_7659_thumb2Many of us have downloaded the Windows 8 Developer Preview to give it a test run and I think it’s fair to say that the most exciting feature to test is the Windows 8 Metro UI. Focused on touch, app-snacking, consumption and entertainment it has been an interesting product to think about in terms of mobile computing; real mobile computing. Getting the balance of UI right for both on-the-go and bum-on-seat activities hasn’t been achieved by anyone yet. Windows 8 is the big hope for that in the future.

Not only does Windows 8 introduce this interesting Metro UI and apps layer, it also approaches quick-startup and efficiency. In testing it over the last few weeks on four mobile devices, I’m not as positive as a was a month ago about the Metro UI although it’s way better than anything I’ve experienced as an overlay on Windows before and ultimately, I’m enjoying its responsiveness, sharing sub-system, full-screen Explore browser and dynamic nature. There are some serious issues to talk about though.

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The first is that while Metro works on low-resolution devices, the apps won’t because they require a minimum of 768 pixels vertically. For the side-by-side snap feature, you need 1366 pixels minimum width. There are also major issues when working in portrait mode – something that isn’t really supported at all. The resolution restriction seems crazy when you consider the cost and size of 1366×768 screens. I don’t see anyone producing that at 7″ and as it’s not compatible with 1024×600, 100 million netbooks users are going to be left out.

[Ref – Screen size recommendations for Windows 8]

You might argue that we just need much higher resolution screens. I’ve tried Windows 8 on a 1280×800 screen at 5.8″ and yes, Metro apps work. Text might need a little enlargement here and there but it works. Some issues remain though. Touchscreens can’t be recessed otherwise it’s not easy to find the magic swipe that expose the hidden menus on the right and bottom left corner. Forget resistive screens. That’s not such a big deal considering the level of capacitive and digitiser deployment and it’s also not much of an issue for the classic Windows UI either as that’s the one you’ll be using who you’re docked at your desk. The other issue comes with cost and battery drain. High resolution screens are expensive to produce, especially if you want one that’s readable outdoors. There’s also the power cost in terms of the display electronics and the graphics power needed to control it. Given that most people are more than happy with 200ppi, a higher density in a 7″ frame is counter-productive, at least for large-font Metro. People with perfect eyesight may disagree with 200ppi but I regard it as a good trade-off point for screen design.

 

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Windows 8 Metro UI in Portrait Mode

It’s unfortunate that the developer preview is indicating that portrait mode isn’t encouraged. All the apps in the preview fail to work efficiently in portrait mode despite that fact that in portrait mode you get the best split-screen keyboard experience and preservation of screen real estate.

I agree with those that say portrait is useless on a top-heavy device of 2lb or more but what about 2013, 2014 when 10” Windows 8 tablets could be under 1lb and when even the 7” form factor could be possible with a hi-res screen?

To demonstrate what I mean here, I’ve made a video showing the Windows 8 developer preview on an ExoPC in portrait and landcsape modes.

Continued…

Buyers Guide – Ultrabook Alternatives

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We keep an updated list of Ultrabook alternatives here.

Apart from the Apple MacBook Air which is built like an Ultrabook but sold like an Apple product, there are other interesting options that hover just outside the weight and features list of a true Ultrabook. You’ve got options with Core i3 or AMD E450 at way below the Ultrabook price level, options without SSD and even high-end options. If you can handle just 500 gm / 1lb more weight and are flexible on specs you can save hundreds. In this report I list your options for Sept-Oct 2011.

Before you take a look at the Ultrabook alternatives, have a look at these two reference articles to find out exactly what an Ultrabook is.

Backgrounder: What’s an Ultrabook?

Backgrounder: Ultrabook features Guide.

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Marketing, Graphics Options, Compulsory Security Features Revealed in Ultrabook Q&A

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You go to the Intel Developer Forum to learn. You learn about Intel’s heading, new technology and knowledge from other attendees. Unlike trade-shows where you’ll be talking to marketing teams and show-floor assistance, you get to hear from expert engineers, product managers and technologists. Thanks to Intels support at IDF I was able to sit down for a one-to-one with Adam King, senior manager responsible for the Ultrabook sector and get some outstanding questions answered.

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Screen Size Analysis (Sub 12″) August 2011

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This is the seventh report on sizing trends in PCs below 12” screen size (and above 5”) appearing in the German market through the popular price comparison engine, Geizhals.at (*1) The last one was done in Feb 2011. Once again we’ve seen a big jump in overall numbers. The 7″ segment and 10″ segment have grown while the 11″ segment has shrunk. The 10″ market dominates more in this report than it did in the report of Feb 2011 although there is a clear trend occurring in the 7″ space where growth in products has occurred in all of the last 4 reports.

Number of SKUs in the market

The number of choices in the mobile screen space (above smartphones) has grown over 2x from approx 240 SKUs to over 630 SKUs.

 

Screen size distribution

The big jump in numbers is clear to see from the top graph. Total numbers jumped by 115 with most of that growth coming from the tablet form factor and the 10″ netbook/notebook sector. Big increases in the 7″ tablet sector (now the biggest number so far) and a reduction in the numbers of 11″ devices mean that  percentage distribution has changed a lot. The iPad2 introduction caused the growth in the 9″ segment.

In the 10″ netbook space which accounts for 75% of the 10″ category there are now 18 AMD C-Series SKUs and 315 Atom SKUs. 64 of the Atom-based devices (20%) use the high-end N570 version.

In interesting statistic is that 1 in 5 devices on the market in the 5-11″ segment are from ASUS.

Across all categories, ARM-based CPU designs account for  23% of all devices, almost exclusively in the tablet sector. It will be interesting to see how that changes over the next 2 years with the introduction of Windows for the ARM processor.

In terms of weight, the tablets mean that the average weight of a device has gone down.  28% of the devices weigh under 1KG.

Meego appears for the first time along with the cheapest and lightest netbook ever launched. The ASUS Eee PC X101.

Chromebooks did not enter the sub 12″ screen space yet. (Acer 700 not available in Germany)

Sandy Bridge (2nd Generation Intel Core CPUs) enters the sector with 14 SKUs from 5 devices.

Total number of tablet form-factor devices:  193 (30% of total)

Cheapest devices:

  • X86/Windows Laptop – Eee PCR101D at 199 Euros. (Was: Samsung N145 at 228 Euro)
  • Non-Windows Laptop (X86-CPU) –  Eee PC X101 (Meego) at 169 Euros
  • ARM Tablet – Debitel One Pad  (Android 1.5) at 59 Euro
  • X86/Windows Tablet – Archos 9 at 370 Euros (was 402 Euros)

In terms of netbook trends, the search and news volumes seem to be steady after their large drop in Q1 (see Google Trends.) Numbers of devices in the market have increased and obviously the introduction of Cedar Trail in Q4 will create news, products and searches in the netbook category. The trend for netbook products, news and search is going to be level-to-rising for Q4 That may, or may not, relate to sales numbers.

In terms of handheld PCs, our focus here at UMPCPortal, it’s a sad story. The online market is now almost totally clear of 5-9″ X86-based Windows devices. It will be interesting to see how the Windows 8 market affects this in 2012.

Warning: Please remember that this is a single data-source analysis of what is happenning today, in the German market. This is not a complete market analysis report. You may use the data and images but please also reference this article which includes this warning.

*1 Based on SKUs, not model families. Data taken from Geizhals  An English language (and UK market) version of Geizhals is available at Skinflint.

Windows 8 Brings More Mobility, but Should You Wait?

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Win8-3I, like many others, believe that Windows 8 will re-enable the pocket productivity market and lift us out of this strange consumer-focused mobile mess we’re in at the moment and get us back to a place where we have ultra mobile PC choices for our mobile, flexible working practices and scenarios. Marketing, social networking, price wars and tablet fever are getting in the way of what many people want – productivity in the pocket.

I love Android and IOS of course but I’m not letting that change my opinion that there is a requirement for a full desktop capability in a handheld form factor. The market is indeed fairly small but it’s in many different niches and sectors. [Raise your hands in the comments if you’re one of those ‘niche’ users.] Android and IOS have done a lot for mobility, sharing and mobile media and have quickened the pace of mobile processor developments so much that we’ll all benefit in the end but when you look at the software, the pace of development of productivity software is just embarrassing. On the whole, It’s a sector that focuses on quick-hit, fast turnaround, short-lifecycle software and it’s vastly different to the full-fat, long lifecycle, productive and flexible software you get on the desktop. Two years after this consumer mobile market started taking off there still isn’t a way to buy an off-the-shelf DVB-T module, extend the screen or even log in with multiple user IDs. There are literally hundreds of features that are missing and each one of them is a potential roadblock for the advanced mobile user.

That’s why Windows 8 is an exciting operating system to look forward to. It will retain probably all of the flexibility of Windows 7 but will introduce important features from the world of consumer mobile devices. Always-on, improved sensor support, touch user interface, quick-hit apps and sharing along with support for ARM-based platforms and new X86 platforms that remove some of the old legacy PC features and introduce new boot and power management subsystems. Between now and, lets say, mid 2012, I doubt we’ll see any of the existing mobile operating systems advance so far that they challenge Windows and none of the new operating systems have much of a chance either. Buying an ultra-mobile PC has never been so hard but 12-24 months is a long time to wait for Windows 8. If you’ve got a requirement, you need a device and it’s as simple as that.

Your first strategy would be to sit tight and do nothing.  That assumes you don’t have a new requirement or your current device(s) can be stretched out until then. If you have a new requirement though, be it speed or scenario, and you don’t have a device you can cover it with you could believe the rumors that Windows 8 will arrive early or you could do one of the following things:

1 – Go netbook

It’s a low-cost solution but requires a table or a lap. That’s not quite ultra mobile computing is it! Having said that, if you want to save money until Windows 8 comes along, searching for a surface or using your lap might not be too much of a problem to put up with. My advise would be to look at some of the Atom N550 or N570-based devices with a focus on Samsung who still seem to lead with better build quality and more efficient electronic engineering and screens than others. The NF310 continues to get good reports. Asus are also worth considering and the Eee PC 1015 with N570, 2GB RAM and Windows 7 Home Premium is a real bargain at under 400 Euro in my opinion. There’s even the updated T101MT with N570 and 2GB, Windows Home Premium and capacitive touchscreen at around 500 Euro in Europe. Drop a fast SSD into that and it should make quite a nice Windows convertible.

2 – Buy a Menlow UMPC

Given the age of Menlow and the lack of choices around it’s not something I would recommend to everyone but if the pocket is the destination and Windows is the requirement, what option do you have than to buy a Viliv N5 or a UMID Mbook SE? Both companies appear to have disappeared from the radar though so be very aware that major failures may not be fixable.

3 – Wait for an Oaktrail UMPC

ECS and Viliv have both talked about building a 7” Oaktrail-based Windows tablet but unless a major customer or market is found, neither of those solutions are going to hit the market. By all means, wait and see but I personally think it could be a very long wait.

4 – Buy an Oaktrail-based tablet

Early review of Oaktrail-based devices aren’t singing the praises about performance and with the CPU inside being basically the same as before, it’s no surprise. The RAM will need to be 2GB, the SSD will need to be fast, Aero will need to be turned off and I dare say there’s some GPU driver improvements to be made but despite the claims of speed issues, you’ll still be able to render full flash and javascript-enabled web pages with 100% accuracy and faster than any ARM-based tablet out there. Battery life reports are showing marked improvements too so if running a PC in a 5W power envelope is your aim, take a close look at Oaktrail. The Samsung PC7 (TX100, Gloria) slider is one to watch out for and although my recent queries to Samsung don’t return any new information, they certainly don’t indicate that the project has been scrapped. I’ll keep you updated on that one.

5 – Go IOS or Android, adapt your requirements and track the developments

You may want to plug in your DSLR and run the remote capture software but there are alternatives. In this case, check out the Eye-Fi card. For those wanting full Microsoft Office support, look at the Asus Transformer and think about a remote desktop solution. For full-internet-experience browsing, look at whether IOS or Honeycomb will satisfy your needs. On smaller Android tablets, the Dolphin HD and Opera Mobile browsers are coming along nicely. Firefox is progressing too.  Think about a Dell Streak (only 299 Euros here in Germany right now) or a Galaxy Tab (350 Euros) along with a low-cost netbook. Look at PC keyboard sharing solutions for Android. Think about the Google suite too. Android also offers a lot that you can’t get in a PC yet. Location, Sharing, always-on and a large amount of fun!

If you’ve read this far, you’re into ultra mobile computing which is a good thing. It’s fun, flexible and productive but you will also have very individual requirements. The private pilot. The dentist. The courtroom assistant. The musician. The world-tourer. Take a close look at your requirements and see what would want and compare it with what you, realistically, will need. If possible, take a risk or two and ignore that extreme scenario that you’ve got on your list. One thing I would advise all of you to do though is to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab. I’m not joking when I say it changed my mobile computing world. I no longer have a netbook. I no longer have a high-end smartphone and there are very few scenarios that I can’t cover with it now. I’ve heard people say the same about the Dell Streak (5”) too. If you really can’t swallow that, the iPhone 4 has to be high on the list, the netbooks I mentioned above and even some older devices like the Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium.

Oh, and don’t forget to look at the Toshiba Libretto W100/W105!

Screen Size Analysis (Sub 12″) Feb 2011

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This is the sixth report on sizing trends in PCs below 12” screen size (and above 5”) appearing in the German market through the popular price comparison engine, Geizhals.at (*1)  The last one was done in August 2010 In this report you’ll see  a big jump in overall numbers, a reversing of the decline in 7” devices and a turnaround in the 10” segment.

total_number_of_sub_12_pcs_germany

Number of SKUs in the market.

sub_12_screen_size_distribution

Screen size distribution

The big jump in numbers is clear to see from the top graph. Total numbers jumped by 83 and this is likely to be due to the Christmas season and introduction of new model ranges following IFA 2010. Surprisingly, the 10” segment has grown in numbers and %. A lot of this is attributable to dual-core Atom N550 devices.

  • Over 20 Intel Atom N550 devices appeared exclusively in the 10” category.
  • 62% of the devices are running on Intel Atom. One year ago, this figure was 78%  Remember that the segment includes some devices running laptop-grade CPUs and there’s an influx of AMD and ARM devices in the top and bottom end of the 5-11” range.  This is not just an analysis of ‘netbooks.’
  • The 7% segment had the biggest percentage growth (over 300%, from a very low starting point) and the 10% segment had the biggest numeric growth (63)
  • Including Android, over 14% of the segment runs a Linux kernel. One year ago this figure was 5%.  Almost all of this growth is within the ‘tablet’ style of devices.
  • Only 13% of the devices weigh 1KG or less. (up from 10% one year ago – again, growth is in the tablet segment)
  • 18 devices now include Nvidia ION2.  All of these are from a single manufacturer – ASUS.
  • Total number of tablet form-factor devices – 60 (not including 4.8”) which is about 10% of the total sub 12% screen size market.

The cheapest devices (based on lowest price offered) are:

  • X86/Windows Laptop – Samsung N145 at 228 Euro
  • ARM Tablet – Nexoc Pad 7 (Android 1.5) at 99 Euro
  • X86/Windows Tablet – Archos 9 at 402 Euros.

Also of note is the larger spread of GPU technologies, the increased us of SSDs (even in the X86/Windows segments) and a large number of dual-core CPUs. Dual core CPUs make up a 30% of the 10-11.6” bracket now.

In the last report I talked about a netbook freeze.  Certainly the trends for search and news seem to be heading south (see below for ‘netbook’ trend)  but the increase in numbers of 10” devices indicates that there is still interest from manufacturers. The increase in SKU’s, however, could be misleading as we’re seeing an increase in the number of colour options, CPU options, GPU options and screen options that use the same chassis. Acer and ASUS each have over 90 different model types in the German market in the 10-11.6” category.

image

I think most people in the netbook field would agree we’re seeing a levelling of interest and manufacturers are using offers and personalisation to attract sales in this mainstream part of the segment lifecycle.

For mobility fans though the message is clear. There are more options than ever and competition is increasing which will drive improvements in software and hardware very quickly. Certainly we will see the tablet segment grow and it will be interesting to see how the 5-9” segments move when we do the next analysis in about 3 months time.

Warning: Please remember that this is a single data-source analysis of what is happenning today, in the German market. This is not a complete market analysis report. You may use the data and images but please also reference this article which includes this warning.

*1 Based on SKUs, not model families. Note that Geizhals have now moved all tablets to a new category called ‘tablets.’ This category was included in the analysis. An English language (and UK market) version of Geizhals is available at Skinflint.

50 Ways to Improve the Galaxy Tab (and other Tablets)

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Last year I wrote two report about tablet design. The first was written a year ago and discusses things to consider when designing or buying a tablet-style device. The second was a checkist for a quality handheld internet tablet.

Galaxy Tab and iPad _10_

The iPad and Galaxy Tab are currently the best examples of consumer tablets in the market today and for me the quality and mobility of the Galaxy Tab means it has been working well in my family of devices. I’ve had it for over 3 months now and during that time I’ve been compiling a list of issues and improvements I either think are possible now or in future versions of the Galaxy Tab. The list applies to other tablets too so if you’re designing or buying tablets for the market in 2011, this is the sort of list you should already have on your whiteboard. If not, take this one and make it better. (A donation is appreciated if this list does make it to your company whiteboard!)

The list is over 50 items long and is split into three sections. Changes that could be made to the current Galaxy Tab are listed first and this is a good place to scan through if you’re looking to buy a Galaxy Tab. The second section includes what I would call reasonable hardware expectations for second-gen or late 2011 high-quality tablet. I don’t expect all of these features to be included but it’s a list of possible improvements. The third section is a little way-out there and includes hardware changes that may not be possible this year or could be too niche. I did have a section including third party software but that list got very long indeed and is not really relevant here.

IMPORTANT: There’s more to be added to this list and a great discussion about tablets to be had here. Chip in with your thoughts too. You’ll have ideas that no-one has through of yet so don’t be afraid to dump them in the comments below. If it’s not too wild (lets keep it within a 2-year timeframe) i’ll add it to the list and credit you.

Software and experience changes

  1. Web browser.  Faster, mouse/finger over. Higher quality. Plugins. Password sync. Common gestures.
  2. Better protection of UI experience under load. (Run UI in separate core? Possible hardware change required for that.)
  3. Improve UI physics. Response rate needs to be 20ms or less. (I believe from my audio work in the past that 20ms is where delays become noticeable. I could be wrong but you know what I’m getting at right?) Try a drum-machine programme, It’s impossible. (Android 2.3 bring in features that can improve this through the use of the NDK)
  4. DLNA improvements. (Receivers and senders need to improve compatibility.)
  5. Protect the audio playback from stutters in multitasking scenarios. Critical. (How about a ‘dedicated’ mode where the application is brought to ‘realtime’ status – in effect, like iOS does.
  6. Vastly improved audio library features. playlist import/export, cross-fading, id3 tag editing, jukebox mode, cover retrieval, radio streams, integration with Last.fm amd similar services. Much quicker media scanning.
  7. Easier way to auto-organise applications list. Sort-by: most used, alphabetical, recently added, categorise (based on market categorisation) Apps list is as important as an audio catalogue. Genres, personal ratings on client should feed back to Market.There are a ton of improvements that can be made here.
  8. Samsung apps style improvements. Lose the wood-grain effect or allow theming! Some feature improvements are also possible.
  9. More video content to buy / stream. Major issue outside the U.S.
  10. Full BT 3.0 (wifi TX support, near-field pairing)
  11. Longer battery life (of course!) Important – battery save mode that schedules network usage. Significant improvements will require hardware changes.
  12. More tablet / pro apps to be included via the Samsung catalogue
  13. Better gallery with sort, date search, rename, tagging, face detection etc. Stock Gallery is very limited.
  14. Better printing support. Google Cloud Print service should fix this.
  15. Apt-x codec support over BT A2DP. (Or some other HQ wireless audio transmission capability)
  16. SMS remote kill feature
  17. Compatibility with camera applications
  18. Timed profiles, turn to silence.
  19. Improve speed of re-scanning Wifi access points. Can be extremely slow in some situations.
  20. Occasionally boot-up time can run into 2 minutes or more. This needs to be improved
  21. Hot-swap SIM cards (where applicable)
  22. Slippery when dry. The smooth, easy wipe finish needs a couple of high-friction areas for book-reading
  23. AC3 and DTS soundtrack handling. (Down-sampling to 2-channel and pass-through for HDMI)
  24. Lower the lowest screen brightness (for in-bed, next-to-partner usage.)

Essential Hardware changes:

  1. Longer charger cable (and micro-usb port)
  2. Camera Quality: Glass lens, better sensor, continuous AF when recording video. Lens cover.  Flash options.  HD recording.
  3. Camera shutter release button
  4. Fm receiver + transmitter
  5. USB OTG support for external storage, keyboard, mouse, other peripherals (midi, dvb-t, external cam)
  6. Better GPS.  Sensitivity, speed.
  7. Analogue video out built-in. Is that old-school? E.G. VGA, S-Video, Composite
  8. HDMI-out port.
  9. Storage improvements. Speed of core storage needs improving. 32GB, 64GB option.
  10. Indicator lamps – multiple for use with different applications. Programmable colour.
  11. indicators and alerts need to feed to paired Android phones.
  12. Replaceable battery
  13. Kick-stand
  14. SDXC card compatibility
  15. Higher quality screen (at same or lower power utilisation.)

For the ultimate tablet:

  1. Digital radio reception.  DAB (Update: and other standards)
  2. Digital TV reception. DVB (Update: and other standards)
  3. Digitiser for graphics and handwriting input.
  4. HQ audio recording. External mic over BT? Array mics.
  5. Near field payments support (Probably best on a phone tho)
  6. Daylight readable screen (transflective)
  7. Quick Fingerprint reader for security.
  8. Midi support (be a midi sequencer/controller)
  9. HQ Audio synthesiser and audio effect support in hardware. (for use as effects unit)
  10. Built-in mini projector
  11. Remote mini handset accessory for using tablet as a phone. (Over BT with address book, dialing, voice dialing, CLI
  12. Screen extension (slideable, removable)
  13. PVR facility and dock. (hardware video encoding – 720p)
  14. Wi-Di and wireless audio over Wifi
  15. Rear panel controls and gestures area.
  16. Glasses-free 3D (plus content)

…and lastly. Lets have a penta-boot system with Windows, Android, MeeGo, Ubuntu and WebOS!

Update: Reader contributions

  • Better device security including encryption of sensitive information (BryanB – via comment below)
  • Good design and implementation of user interface frameworks and the design/implementation of the applications. Really poorly coded application user interfaces can use all the CPU available. [Chippy: I think that’s really part of the Android framework though.] (Sam – via comment)
  • Samsung Keyboard Editor – (Max – via comment)
  • A hinged back cover with a kick-stand that would allow easy battery replacement, SSD upgrades, and safe storage of extra SDHC cards. (jjsjjsva via comment) [Chippy: I love that SDHC storage area idea. That’s a winner!]