Tag Archive | "pmp"

1080p Rocks on the Galaxy Tab! (Video Demo and Review)

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Galaxy Tab plays 1080p

A full video demonstration of video capabilities is embedded further down in this article. Thanks to Techdepot for supporting us with the Galaxy Tab

I admit was a little suspicious of the claims that the Galaxy Tab could play back ‘Full HD’ content but it’s now confirmed. I’ve managed to play back two 1080p H.264 format files. To be honest, 720p is the perfect fit for a device like this, especially as it has no digital video outputs (unconfirmed but ‘settings’ offers only PAL and NTSC as ‘TV-OUT’ options for the docking connector) but if you’re the sort of person that carries around films in 1080p format you’ll be pleased to hear this.

There are caveats though. The first is that I’ve only managed to play back H.264 at 1080p levels. The second is that the Galaxy Tab doesn’t support multi-channel audio. I.e. it can’t mix down to two channels. Finally, I can’t seem to get an MPEG-2 file to play. Those with pure DVD copies (vobs) might want to take note and do some more research on that.

In terms of video file format support I’ve had success with AVI and MKV containers and WMV, H.264, Xvid and Divx encoded video files. AAC and MP3 is supported (2-channel only.) In terms of bitrates, i’ve tested H/264 up to an average 13Mbps which is a very heavy load. The Tab handled it well with no visible dropped frames and no tearing. The screen quality is just amazing!

Imagine this: When sitting on my sofa and holding the Tab about half arms-length from my eyes, it’s the equivalent of a 100cm diagonal screen where my TV is on the other side of the room!

Galaxy Tab Video Playback 1080p

The player software is good and you can adjust screen brightness, (brightness, contrast and saturation is also available in system settings) to suit your preferences. There’s easy access to video size ratio changes, favourites and volume. Fast forwarding and skipping is very quick and there’s a great ‘Mosaic’ preview feature that allows you to preview various parts of a video using snapshots.

The stereo speakers are really good although both are on the base of the device in portrait mode which means that when holding the device in landscape, the speakers are too easy to cover. The supplied headset quality is fine although not super high-quality. Portrait usage doesn’t seem to be supported but you can rotate the device through 180 degrees to put the headset port in a better position.

All in all the experience is excellent and rises way above most Android-based video experiences.

Enjoy the video below and yes, I realise I need to invest in an HD camera ;-)

Archos 43 Hands-On Overview, Videos, Gallery

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I’m nicknaming the Archos 43 the ‘pocket rocket’. Its a great little device that probably shouldn’t be part of the Carrypad product list because its focus is media playback. Sure, it runs Android but thinking of the Archos 43 as an Android device would be the wrong thing to do because it conjures up images of contracts, email, calendars and 3G data. The Archos 43 is a $199 PIMP. That’s a Portable Internet and Media Player!

Check out the fun 3D gaming test we did.

Archos 43 (16) Archos 43 Archos 43 (1) Archos 43 (11) Archos 43 (14)
Full gallery here.

Full specifications, videos, links etc. are shown in our product database.

Android brings a comfortable ui and, if you’re able, access to some ‘sideloaded’ applications such as ebook readers and entertainment programs, it grows well to cover some new ground. If you’re thinking of getting an Archos 43 because you want Android though it’s probably the wrong choice.

What I like about the Archos 43 is that it is priced so that you can ‘gift’ it to yourself easily and that we’ll see a great community spring up around it.

The screen, although resistive, is one of the lightest (touch) I’ve ever used and could be mistaken for a capacitive screen quite easily. The colour and brightness didn’t appear to be as good as the Archos 5 Internet Tablet but it’s not bad either. It’s glossy though. Audio quality from the single speaker is surprisingly good and on par with the Archos 5.

I tested the Archos 43 with Android 2.1 which, due to the lack of Cortex optimizations and the lack of JIT compiler, makes the UI less than smooth (the same applies to the 70 and 101) but having experienced the difference between 2.1 and 2.2 on a Cortex core I expect this problem to go away with the promised upgrade. Timescales for the upgrade range from ‘at launch’ to ‘soon after launch.’ Web page load speeds were reasonable on the tested device but again, this will speed up quite a bit with the 2.2 upgrade. There’s some great potential there with the Ti OMAP 3 processing platform running at 1Ghz.

It’s missing the PVR capability and dock/remote as found on the Archos 5, multi-touch and the complete Google application suite but it includes USB host (we assume for mass storage and perhaps keyboard and mouse) and an HDMI-out port via an adaptor cable (not supplied in retail packaging.) It also promises ‘720p’ video via 2MP cam. This would need a lot of testing to determine what sort of quality and features are available so I’m not commenting on that here.

All in all it’s a great PIMP and a should make an impressive demo when connected to a huge HD screen!

Will I buy? No. It’s too close in functionality to the smartphones I’m using and I’m still a little bruised from the early Archos 5 experience I had. The Archos 70 might be the better gift for someone who already has an Android smartphone.

Update: I’m not sure if it features the tethering feature that was useful on the Archos 5.

Full specifications are shown in our product database.

There are two videos below. The first gives you an overview of the device and the second shows a little detail on the audio player.

I Guess That’s @mikecane Sorted Then? (Archos 5 + Kindle App)

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For those of you that don’t know who Mike Cane is, dont’ worry too much. This post is pretty-much aimed diredtly at him.  He’s a long-time customer, commenter and participant at UMPCPortal and Carrypad and runs a continuous chain of personal blogs (currently he’s at Mike Canes iPad Test) that  focus around the ebook theme. He’s also very opinionated, sometimes rude and one of the biggest procrastinators I know. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that because he’s also happy to hear opinions. I like having him around.

He’s been following the UMPC-MID-Tablet-Kindle-Ipad theme for a while and also knows a bit about ebook publishing, ereading and reading in general. He likes open standards but recognises that if open standards don’t enable content then there needs to be choice until a de-facto solution arrives. He likes being connected, participating in Twitter, being mobile, understands ergonomics and he wants value in his products. JKK and I often take the Mickey out of him for getting excited about devices, finding a roadblock and then never buying anything. Well, Mike, when I installed Amazon’s Kindle application on my Archos 5 this morning (with one foot on the baby rocker,) I had to think of you.

Amazon's Kindle Application on the 5" Archos 5 Tablet

The Archos 5 [details] isn’t a new tablet and is not the most advanced tablet. When it was launched it had a continuous string of software problems which ruined the user experience for many and damaged the reputation of the device. Personally, I enjoyed the device as it had a good, fast browser, processing power, screen clarity, portability, flexibility, ability to support many many video standards and most-of-all, a great price. Over time we’ve seen improvements in the firmware and through applications like Aldiko, FBreaderJ, NewsRob, ACast, Seesmic and a number of ‘hacks’ the device has blossomed into something that makes a perfect handheld gadget and quite possibly one of the nicest and most flexible handled e-readers out there. Many people complain about the lack of a capcative touchscreen or the lack of Google Applications but at $250 (RadioShack looks like a good source in the U.S.), you can complain all you want – it’s a great value, internet connected MID, PMP, PND, Ebook reader, Web tablet and more. (See the full review.) Add another $50 for a 16GB micro-SD card, a case and a docking station with USB host and TV-Out and your’re set-up for  some real gadget fun. For the ebook reader, you’ve got Epub support, Kindle support, PDF support and through the Think-Free application, you can read Microsoft Office Docs and your Google Docs. There are more ebook store solutions too.

Kindle on Archos 5 (4) Kindle on Archos 5 (3) Kindle on Archos 5 (1) IMG_1220

Mike knows about the Archos 5 but this Kindle application  might be the final straw for him. There isn’t much else in terms of hardware on the horizon Mike. Summar is here and it will be quiet for a few months. Maybe we’ll see some new Archos devices later in the summer. The Dell Streak is double the price; The iPad too. The SmartQV7 is not powerful enough. Maybe the WiTS A81 is an option but it needs a lot of testing before it can be recommended. The same goes for the top-of-the-Carrypad-charts Huawei S7.

So, Mike. Does the Kindle application take you over the edge or did you buy something already?

Anyone else having fun with their Archos 5. Would you recommend it to Mike?

Full information, specs, links, images, reviews for the Archos 5 in our product database.

Viliv Working on HD5 Portable HD Media Player

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hd5 cropped In addition to the S10 Blade [Portal page], N5 [Portal page], and the P3, Viliv quietly showed the HD5 PMP at CES 2010. Viliv claims that it will be able to play back 1080p content, even with the .mkv container, which is nice because .mkv supports stuff inline hd5 like multiple audio tracks and subtitles. While the player itself won’t have an HD screen, it does have HDMI output, potentially turning it into a portable home theater library/player, not unlike the SmartQ V7. There isn’t a lot of detail yet about the HD5. It’s looking like Viliv is shooting for more of a PMP than a MID with this device, but maybe they’ll surprise us with some WiFi. It it’s powerful enough to do 1080p video, it would be a shame to not see some MID capabilities. We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, this is what we know about the device:

  • 5 inch capacitive LCD (800×480)
  • Windows CE 6.0
  • 8/16/32GB SSD
  • SDHC slot for up to an additional 32GB of memory
  • Optional DMB tuner
  • Size: 83(W) x 130(H) x 13(T)mm

Pricing and availability info is nowhere to be seen at the moment, but it looks like GeneratoinMP3.com got a short close up of the unit at CES 2010:

[youtube]3IzOPdrBsxU[/youtube]

Things to Consider when Designing or Buying a Tablet-Style Device

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I’m somewhat frustrated by all the Apple tablet talk. Number 1, nobody has a clue what’s going on and 2, there are so many design issues with ‘tablets’ that people need to be very careful about what they get excited about. I wrote these notes a few months ago but it makes sense to post them now so that you can make assessments about WHAT YOU NEED before any wave of marketing hits you. (*1)

In addition to the notes, I’ve added a couple of diagrams that I’ve previously used in posts and presentations and I also want to point out that this article is mainly focused on hardware. Software is a critical part of the equation.

Finally, I’m not saying that this is a set of rules. This is just my perception of what’s going on. I’m excited to hear what you think and ready to learn more from you comments.

Usage Scenarios

Firstly, here’s a diagram of internet-connected usage scenarios that lie between Laptops and Smartphones. There might be a few other niche categories like digital photo frames and video conferencing but the ‘ring’ below covers the primary sectors.

Usage by screen size.

Secondly, here’s a diagram that highlights functions that sit comfortably in certain screen sizes. There are 4 screen size ranges and I’ve positioned tasks in the smallest possible category. Example: Try doing advanced photo editing on a 5 inch screen!

segmentation
Click to enlarge.

Design/Usage Notes.

In no particular order, here’s a brain dump of design and usage considerations for tablet PCs.

  • One handed use: weight needs to be under 400gm for one-handed (finger-touch) use.
  • One-handed use: Width of device needs to rest comfortably in the hand in portrait mode (7 inch max)
  • Two-handed (only) operation not possible unless frame, corner or rear controls are implemented.
  • Current screen backlighting technology will add between 0.5W (for a 5 inch screen) to 2.5W (for a high-brightness 10 inch screen) Idle power drain tends to 200mw for well-designed screen-off, idle networking scenarios.
  • Minimum power envelope for an operating, connected device is about 2W (5 inch) or 3W (10 inch) (Only latest RISC CPU’s on best silicon processes can achieve this – expensive.)
  • Max drain can reach +2W over operating power envelope.
  • Battery capacity required for a 5 inch smart device – 10Wh. For a 10 inch device = 15WhTo achieve 4hrs always-on, dynamic and multitasking environment such as web and internet apps.
  • Battery weighs about 8gm per watt/hour (without control / feedback electronics – add 50gm for that)
  • Min battery (removable) and power electronics weight for a 7 inch smart device = 100gm
  • Screen backlights are ALWAYS needed for low-light operation.
  • Backlight average in-use power ranges from 0.5w (3-5 inch screen) to 2W or more (10 inch screen)
  • Capacitive touchscreens can’t be used with gloves or basic stylus.
  • Capacitive screens can’t be used for natural handwriting input, annotations, graphic creation/painting.
  • Keyboards need to split/position correctly when in portrait and landscape modes.
  • Tethering keyboards / headphones / data modems via Bluetooth is a long-winded process and requires batteries in end devices.
  • Pixel density should be between 180 and 250 pixels per inch for standard web pages unless intelligent reflowing /zooming is used. An 800-wide webpage would require about 4-inch width (about 6 inch diameter screen in portrait mode.)
  • Resistive touchscreens are not rugged.
  • Book reading does not require two-pages per view.
  • Hard drives are not rugged, are noisy and generate heat and vibration. Not to be used in tablets.
  • An integrated folding stand needs to be incorporated for PMP functions.
  • Wifi/Bt/3G/FM/GPS antenna separation is needed.
  • Mouse pointers allow selection with minimal hand movement.
  • Removing buttons helps aesthetics and ruggedness, reduces shortcuts for two-handed operation.
  • Moving buttons to ‘on screen’ reduces physical feedback, reduces usable screen area.
  • Buttons need to be backlit for night=time use
  • Screen brightness needs to be extremely low for night-time use.
  • Indicator lights distract and annoy when reading.
  • Good quality speakers allow for multi-person viewing.
  • Wifi needs to remain connected at all times (standby disconnection results in awkward delays on start-up.)
  • Web pages need to load in a 10-second average time. (with text and scrolling being available in 50-75% of that time)
  • Access to 100% of the internet requires Adobe Flash support (and, to a lesser extent, Silverlight and other run-time apps.)
  • Text selection for web applications is critical. (cut and paste.)
  • Zooming a web-page must re-flow the text to avoid left-right panning.
  • Auto screen rotate from landscape to portrait must not reset previous text selections
  • Using 3G when moving in car / train can drastically increase power drain from 3G components. (3G can take up to 1.5W in these scenarios – huge % of power drain.)
  • Docking stations help to keep a device charged and located.
  • Removable battery gives customer confidence about life-span of product.
  • Glossy screens can be filtered. Matt screens can not be made glossy with third party products.
  • Bigger screens are expected to be faster by the customer (and therefore highlight slow performance)
  • The concept of ‘idle’ is only for the lab.
  • Slider keyboards increase cost and size. decrease style.
  • Nothing over 4 inch screen is truly pocketable for most people.
  • Flash running on multiple tabs can easily take 100% of CPU on a ARM-based device.
  • A frameless device is impossible. 10mm frame is a tough design challenge.
  • For productivity users, a new operating system is a new learning curve.
  • Third party applications decrease stability and security.
  • Multi-tasking decreases battery life.
  • Fingerprint readers can drastically improve security while decreasing key presses.
  • A 7 inch screen device can be too big for a car dashboard.
  • Ebook readers are useless to the average consumer without commercial content being available through the device.
  • Cloud-based usage model is currently a home-zone possibility. (Not mobile) i.e. local storage and sync is still needed.
  • Larger designs permit higher pricing.
  • Larger designs need to deliver a faster experience (to satisfy user expectations.)
  • Notebook / clamshell designs are recognized as computers.
  • Sub 5 inch designs can be mistaken for smartphones.
  • New business models dictate that consumer tablets must be low-cost point of sale devices. (Marketplace for apps, content, accessories)
  • There are undiscovered usage scenarios.
  • There are huge numbers of new technologies and inventions that I don’t know about!

Example scenarios and solutions.

Ebook reading. 200 PPI screen with 300gm or less. Daylight (ambient light support) and backlight support needed. Content must be easy to access. Color screens important for education market (and advertising.)  See also this article.

PMP. 5 inch screen gives a comfortable 60-80cm experience. HD playback on small-screens is required because that’s what many users create and many websites deliver. You have no choice! 7 inch give HD (720p) experience and 1 meter. 5-7 inch screen in 300gm allows for only a 10-15wh battery. 5hrs online use. 7hrs video use.

Newspapers. Large screen format 9-12 inch format is impressive and permits newspaper layout ‘standards.’ Requires significantly more battery power. Advertisers want color and animated advertising. Difficult to design for one-handed use. 12 inch awkward for mobile situations. 9-12 inch also required for one-page per view A4/Letter sizing. (PDFs)

Web. Minimum resolution 800×480 although 1024×600 more comfortable and allows better portrait mode. 1024×600 at standard web (readable at 100% zoom) font sizes requires 7 inch screen. Multi-tab Flash enabled web pages can kill battery life and hog CPU if uncontrolled.

Mail, IM, social networking.Two handed thumb keyboard can only be built around max 5 inch (landscape)  or 7 inch (portrait) screen dimensions without separate keyboard. Requires always-on scenario. See also: Perfect Microblogging Device article.

An example multi-use tablet: 7 inch 300gm with 12wh battery, Cortex A8 CPU (high-end), 3D GPU, Video decoder hardware. (Intel Moorestown also a contender here.) Stand. Highly advanced on-screen keyboard with haptic feedback. 3mb HQ camera. 1.3mp LQ camera. Capacitive touchscreen. GPS, accelerometers, ambient light sensor, 3G, Wifi, docking port, 3.5mm headphone jack, array mic, stereo speakers.

The ideal tablet hardware is worth nothing without the correct software, services and content.

(*1) over the last 3.5  years I’ve learnt a lot about tablets and mobile computing devices including a lot about what doesn’t work for the masses through our pro-mobility-focused  sister website, UMPCPortal.

50 Photos of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet

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Some of you know that I’m working on a full review of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet. It’s turning into a huge project and is taking me way longer than I had planned. The Archos 5 has so many angles that I don’t want to miss anything. PMP, PND, Web Tablet, Ereader, gadget, microblogging, set top box etc etc.

To keep you going while you wait, I’ve uploaded a nice set of photos of the Archos 5. The full set is in the gallery over at UMPCPortal. Click on any of the images below to hop over there.

Archos 5 Internet Tablet - backlight

Archos 5 Internet Tablet (28) Archos 5 Internet Tablet (34) Archos 5 Internet Tablet (33)

Archos 5 Internet Tablet (13) Archos 5 Internet Tablet (1) Archos 5 Internet Tablet (8)

Archos 5 Internet Tablet (22)
The new set is available here.
Other photos including press photos and random Archos 5 images in the gallery.

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