The Verge reports that Microsoft is working on developing a high-powered 7-inch gaming tablet dubbed Xbox Surface. It would represent a modern-day Xbox contrast — launching a primary gaming platform on Microsoft hardware but supporting multiple mobile OS tablets and smartphones as second screens via SmartGlass.
This appears like a radical change of strategic direction and in some ways it is. Microsoft had previously kept its homegrown hardware to home console games, eschewing competition with Sony and Nintendo in the portable space. But the vertically integrated Xbox Surface would be a new platform whereas Microsoft positions SmartGlass as a “companion” that it opens to all tablets to enhance the gaming and entertainment experience. It’s a smart way to hedge with attacking the market that’s real today (console games) while experimenting in the one that’s developing (multiscreen).
Even before the iPad mini’s strong opening weekend, the race was on as to which company would be first to give it the clamshell treatment. It’s not too suprising that Zagg, which leaked the iPad mini’s availability prior to its official announcement, looks prepared to win that race with a pair of accessories. In contrast to their current folios, in which a split back works with a keyboard groove in which to place the iPad, the ZAGGkeys Mini 7 and the less elegant but presumably more ergonomical ZAGGkeys Mini 9 have more of a Surface-like layout, with a kickstand in back of the case and the keyboard rolling out in front. This makes for a fairly large footprint.
The usual landslide of cases and other iPadaphernalia has also started pouring in with announcements from Kensington, Griffin and others.
Manatee looks like it could be a great aid to those with limited mobility or the bed-ridden. However, while Realize says that the product was named after the parts that grip the iPad since they resemble a manatee’s arms, there is a fair possibility that some would begin to resemble the endangered sea cow with prolonged supine use of the product.
My latest Backed or Whacked column at TechCrunch discusses three products that can be used to support the iPad while standing, sitting and even lying down.
Looks nice. Been waiting for Slacker to do something like this for some time.
Om Malik is, of course, right that it’s silly to try to anticipate what the next 75 years will look like, much less plan for them. But what I think Meg Whitman was going for was drawing a contarst between HP’s history — which stretches nearly 75 years — and its future, much like one would wish a couple another happy 25 years at their 25th anniversary.
(No, this post is not about a new protective cover that wraps around Apple’s second-generation tablet ever more tightly.)
Breaking a bit with tradition at the debut of the iPad mini, Apple did not keep the previous version of the iPad 3 in the lineup with the release of the fourth-generation iPad. Instead, it eliminated the third-generation iPad and instead left the slower, second-generation (iPad 2) product in the lineup. About the only possible explanation for this was that Apple couldn’t get the price of the third-gen iPad down to the $399 price point it was seeking to address competition in the 10″ Android tablet category. Costs have also likely come down more on the iPad 2 components so that that product can now be more profitable at $399.
However, it also puts the older iPad 2 closer to the new iPad mini that shares its processor and resolution. This begs the question, what is the case for the iPad 2 given that the iPad mini is 80 percent of its size and identical in most other respects. In fact, the iPad mini’s cellular models can connect to LTE networks whereas the iPad 2 is limited to 3G.
As smartphone trends clearly show, there is a large group of consumers that will flock to the larger screen. There’s also something to be said for having a product below a pricing milestone ($350) and another below $400. But, all things being equal, and most are in this case, the iPad mini just seems a bit too close to the 10″ iPad’s price and capabilities. The lineup would have been a bit cleaner with either the iPad mini at $299 or the third-gen iPad between Apple’s latest tablets.
At today’s Windows 8/Surface launch, I got to lay my hands on Surface and its two keyboards. If you are considering picking one up, I’d recommend you visit your local retailer and do the same. It’s a very solid device although its lightness or kickstand feel didn’t immediately stand out. As the ads clearly show, this product is about the keyboards, so that’s what’s worth zooming in on.
It is easy to look at the reported overall inferiority of the typing covers’ suitability for a fast typist and dismiss them, but the controversial touch cover is a pretty impressive achievement. The keys require a bit of natural pressure to activate., but it’s a far better experience than mushy membrane keyboards. Contrary to what some reviews have reported, I had almost no learning curve and felt no discomfort. My immediate accuracy could have been improved, but it was still far beyond and far more comfortable than typing on glass. Speaking of which, the trackpad is comically (even compared to a netbook) small and oddly proportioned, but it will mostly be used for tweaking broad navigation on the touchscreen
That said, for a small premium in thickness, a relatively larger one in thickness, and some jeopardy of gunking up the space between the keys, the tactile touch cover offers an even more improved typing experience,
Also, one word on the hold between the cover on the cover and the Surface. I tried several times to forcefully shake the Surface loose holding it by its cover and could not. That said, it’s good to know that the Surface can survive a spill if dropped.
Apple devoted a good chunk of the iPad mini introduction doing a direct comparison with the Google Nexus 7 (by ASUS as everyone has clearly forgotten). It was at once necessary and wasted, depending on the audience. For those open to comparing the two, the less convincing focus on the increased screen real esate and the more convincing (if oft-trotted out) focus on tablet app superiority helps to justify the 65 percent price step-up from the baseline. But for many, the availability of a capable $200 tablet is basically the end of the story. Apple’s messaging is of the iPad mini in of the smallest, least expensive iPad, not a relatively big and expensive “small tablet.”
The sad truth for Android tablets is that there have already been two tablets from major manufacturers released at close to the size of the iPad mini — the well-received Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the Motorola Xyboard 8.2. Neither was priced close to the $200 asking amount for the Kindle Fire HD or Nexus 7. In fact, most or all distribution of those models was through carrier stores, which have not been successful in moving tablets to date.