As it comes to market with new Android-based tablets boasting impressive pixel density (but not as impressive as other devices), Barnes & Noble has teamed with its joint venture partner Microsoft to roll out Nook for Windows 8. Other than the relatively early adoption of a new platform, there’s not much remarkable about the announcement of support per se. However, it doesn’t indicate an intermediate step toward a Windows-based Nook. You can use Nook for Windows 8 or Windows RT from any manufacturer that has jumped in, including the Surface, However, Barnes & Noble has invested a lot in the Android platform (coincidentally, its New York office is surrounded by floors occupied by Google). And now that Microsoft has called off the legal dogs, it sees little incentive to change. That said, the larger average sizes of Windows tablets should make for a stronger magazine reading experience for those willing to carry that weight.
HTC and Verizon made a credible claim of recaptuing the high-end of Android smartphones today with the announcement of the Droid DNA, which revitalizes the testosterone-engorged subbrand with a best-in-class resolution 5″ display. Along with the Lumia 920 at AT&T, the DNA harkens back to the golden era of carrier smartphone exclusives before Apple and Samsung went cross-carrier with their flagships.
Design elements such as he perforated edges were magnified many times in the press conference presentations but are barely perceptible when looking at the device. However, along with the the “spillover” effect on the device’s edge, it makes for a distinctive, gradually revealing design.
Other standout elements include relative comfort for such a large handset, wireless charging, and a widescreen front-facing camera. As impressive as the display was, though, particularly on video, the Internet icon on the home screen looked blotchy. Perhaps it is being scaled poorly to the new ultra-high resolution. The side volume buttons were also nearly flush with the device’s edge, an aesthetic advantage outweighed by an ergonomic disadvantage.
There are many shared drive alternatives out there from startups with momentum (Dropbox, Box) to operating system players (SkyDrive, Google Drive) to little-known but competent competitors (HiDrive). But SugarSync takes a different approach, preparing us for the day when storage and bandwidth will be affordable enough to have virtually everything we create in the cloud (or at least, that which we need to readily access).
The new version of the service’s PC and Mac-based software, takes a streamlined user interface and search across multiple PCs as well as an activity log so you can confirm what’s been synced. Another useful new addition seems like an obvious one, a “do not sync” preference when working on computers with limited storage or perhaps used over a stingy cellular connection. A forthcoming Android app also provides the flexibility to sync photos in the background, something that Apple limits to iCloud today.
It would be handy if SugarSync’s search could find documents on PCs even if they’ve been excluded from sync. Then, assuming the PC was online, it could be retrieved remotely a la AcerCloud. SugarSync says it considered adding the feature but held off for now due to privacy concerns. However, it may eventually get added as a preference.
With all the vertical integration and feather-ruffling of the new Microsoft (you know, the one with the sedate logo), it’s important to remember that the company has not abandoned its traditional business models of licensing and supporting multiple computing platforms (especially the one controlled by Apple) any more than it’s ready to dump desktops and notebooks as it embraces the tablet with Windows 8.
That’s why it’s refreshing to see that Microsoft apparently plans to bring Office, and from the looks of it, in optimized form — not only to iOS — but to that target of its legal ire, Android. This should be a win for Microsoft. Office is not the killer app that it once was, but having Office available on other platforms helps expand the power of the franchise as those platforms grow. The competitive impact to Windows Phone or Windows on tablets should be negligible as Microsoft has long since moved past the corporate synergy argument in promoting those platforms, even as it has boosted it by tying its music and entertainment to the vibrant Xbox brand versus the now buried Zune one.
Apple has them; Microsoft is building them. Despite all the advantages of online pure plays, a physical presence in the real world has its advantages. Amazon’s partnership with 7-Eleven took advantage of the latter’s broad reach (8,000+ locations in the U.S. alone) and the almost completely noncompetitive relationship between the two retailers (despite the occasional accusation that a taquito tastes like it’s been in a box for a couple of days). It’s now expanding that presence with Staples, which has a much smaller number of locations (fewer than 1.600 in the U.S., where more than three fourths of its stores are based). And Amazon sells just about everything you can find within a Staples store.
Indeed, it’s easier to see what Staples gets out of the deal. Those looking to pick up their Amazon purchase might remember that they need to pick up some printer paper or ink. At least Amazon gets to give consumers an option at which to pick up their wares in an environment that may be a bit less chaotic than one swirling with Slurpee-seekers.