AMD and the future of ultramobile

Sean Hollister at The Verge writes a great piece about AMD’s woes which, among other criticisms, notes that AMD stayed out of the netbook market for too long. But with the low margins and eventual collapse of the netbook market as it had previously existed, that might have been a wise business decision. Perhaps the best thing gained from being in the old netbook market would have been gaining a greater understanding of the new ultramobile market of tablets and hybrids running Windows 8 and RT with Clover Trail and ARM processors. Obviously, AMD will need to be a strong player here to be competitive and would be consistent with a move into ARM.

Dropcam now supports iPad

A bigger canvas provides a better case for buying multiple Dropcams.

ANT+ products march into their own directory

The fitness-minded ANT+ (originally Advanced and Adaptive Network Technology although most traces of its origins have been wiped from the Web) protocol created by Dynastream Innovations (which sounds like a Hollywood invention) and later adopted by Garmin (presumably to complement its Forerunner wristwear for now) now has a directory of products. The diversity of the offerings is no doubt meant to show off industry momentum. However, at 311 products listed, it also shows the protocol’s vulnerability to Bluetooth Smart, which is heir apparent to the short-range radio in billions of devices.

Nook for Windows 8: The PC is not an e-reader

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.

Verizon smartphones to come with Amazon app suite

Prime Instant Videos are not included. Still, this smells like another step in Amazon inching toward creating a smartphone.

Droid DNA first impressions

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.

The tradeoffs of an iPad mini Retina display

Marco Arment:

Apple didn’t make an arbitrary decision to withhold Retina on the Mini to save money, upsell more buyers to the iPad 4, or “force” the first generation of iPad Mini owners to upgrade next year. They chose not to ship a Retina iPad Mini because it would be significantly worse than the previous iPads in very important factors.

Marco makes astute observations about the often non-obvious tradeoffs in product design. There are always compromises. However, the new Nook HD has a high-resolution display and presumably has more than three hours of battery life.

Google’s new book scanner really sucks

Very MacGyver.

SugarSync sweetens the deal with version 2.0

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.

On Microsoft’s Xbox Surface gaming tablet rumors

Tablet games, as the heir to PC games, are more graphically impressive and immersive; they will come to walk the fine line between casual and hardcore games that even the home consoles must navigate these days.

My latest Switched On column for Engadget discusses how Microsoft’s rumored 7″ powerhouse would mesh with industry trends.