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Tablets

WiFi-only 32GB Motorola Xoom Tablet Available Mar. 27 for $599 at Big Box Stores

Motorola’s Android OS 3.0 powered Xoom tablet may be the most siginificant iPad competitor currently available. The appearance of a WiFi-only model free of mobile phone contract activitation will only helps its cause. WiFi-only tablets definitely have their place. By the time my segment of the iPad 2 waiting line reached the Apple Store last week Friday evening, all the 32GB and 64GB iPad 2 models were sold out. The store clearly underestimated the demand for the WiFi-only model.

The official Motorola press release provides some information about the WiFi-only Xoom model’s availability.

Motorola Mobility Brings MOTOROLA XOOMâ„¢ Wi-Fi to United States

The WiFi-only Xoom will be available in the U.S. starting March 27 which falls on a Sunday. Sunday seems like an unusual day to launch a product in terms of news coverage. However, it does mean that many people will have time to wander over to retail store to take a look at it. The Xoom will be available from a number of large U.S. chains: Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Sam’s Club (select locations), Staples and Walmart. The 32GB WiFi-only Xoom will be available for $599. This is the same price as Apple’s WiFi-only iPad 2 32GB model. Some retailers bundle accessories with the device which may make the $599 price a bit more enticing.

IE9 Helped Me Find an Interesting Site for the iPad & Tablets: AP Labs Timeline Reader

Microsoft released the Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) web browser yesterday. They also created a website a website to help people discover IE9′s features.

http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/

One of IE9′s features is hardware-accelerated graphics and HTML5 web rendering support. To help uses discover how these two can work together, Microsoft assembled a list of HTML5 optimized sites that they call amazing sites. One of the sites was one from a tier-one company I had not heard of:

AP Labs Timeline Reader

Since it is an HTML5 site, it occurred to me that it should work fine on an iPad as well as other tablet with web browsers that support HTML5. One more more categories can be selected from a sidebar on the left.
It literally displays news headlines on a horizontal timeline by date. If you select multiple categories, this view can get cluttered very quickly. Tapping a headline brings up a short text summary with the option to read the full article (“continue reading”).

The Timeline Reader website is touch friendly but not optimized for touch. For example, you need to use the horizontal scrollbar near the top of the window to move horizontally across the timeline.

I don’t think it is my preferred way to read AP’s news content. But, it is an interesting experiment that I applaud. And, since it doesn’t take up any storage space, it doesn’t hurt to bookmark the site and visit it from time to time to see what’s new.

RIM Provides More BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Previews – Meanwhile the iPad 2 is Available This Friday at 5pm


Video courtesy of BlackBerry

BlackBerry’s response to the iPad has had a lot of previews. It doesn’t have, if memory (and a quick web search) services me correctly, an actual release date yet. But, here’s another preview in a series of previews on RIM’s YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/user/BlackBerry

RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook has generated a lot interest and positive buzz in the tech community. But, they really need to actually make it available for sale. They need to field a team to be in the game.

While RIM keeps releasing previews of their tablet, Apple will be happy to take your money for an actual iPad 2 this week Friday starting at 5pm at your local Apple Store.

Via Inside BlackBerry (The Official BlackBerry Blog): BlackBerry PlayBook Apps: 7digital Music Store and BlackBerry Podcasts

Ars Technica Took the Moto Xoom Android Tablet for a Spin: The Assessment? Still Feels Like a Beta Release

I really thought hard about buying a Motorola Xoom just to have an Android OS 3.0 based tablet to play with. But, ultimately, the price ($800 without a contract) and the need to activate 3G just to turn on WiFi convinced me otherwise. A good friend of mine, however, bought a Xoom from Best Buy the first day it was available. So, I’ll get a chance to play with one soon. In the meantime, Ars Technica has a great detailed review with lots of photos.

Ars reviews the Motorola Xoom

So, what is Ars’ Ryan Paul’s overall assessment of the Xoom? He says that the Xoom has great technical specifications but many of the features are not yet turned on. These features will become available as updates to the system are delivered in the coming months.

It sounds like waiting for the Xoom to get its updates is my best course of action right now. In the meantime, I’m planning to get an iPad 2 later this week. How about you?

Why Mobile Developers Should Look to Android for the Future: Businessweek & Robert Scoble's Thoughts

In what seems, at first, a paradox, Businessweek reports there is a greater demand for Android developers than iOS (iPhone, iPad).

Google’s Android Spurs More App Jobs Than iPhone

The use of the word “more” is barely appropriate since this pronouncement is based on 987 Android jobs offerings posted to Dice as of March 1 compared to 970 jobs for iOS. Yes, it is more in the strict numeric sense. However, it is still newsworthy since iPhone apps have far surpassed Android apps in terms of revenue. You can read this blog item I wrote earlier this week for specifics.

Google Due to Provide In-app Purchases This Month: Will It Make a Difference to Developers’ Bottom Line?

My theory is that it is simpler to deploy Andoid apps in a private internal setting than iOS (iPhone) or Windows Phone. Both iPhone and Windows Phone requires going through their respective markets. iPhone apps can be deployed outside of the App Store but is subject to expiring profiles.

Social media guru Robert Scoble provides reasons for Android developers to develop specifically for the new generation of Android OS 3.0 tablets.

Developers: why you should build for Android tablets

He provides very interesting additional reasons to develop for that Android form factor including a currently sparse Android tablet app market and access to APIs and features that Apple’s iPad lacks.

Microsoft Research $100 Digital Slate Project: Primary Medium? Paper

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports on a Microsoft Reseach project that has a very different, low cost and low tech take on tablet computing.

A low-tech Microsoft slate for the masses

Frank McPherson and I bought use and like LiveScribe’s line of smartpens. LiveScribe’s digital pen requires paper with special microdots that its pen uses to determine X-Y positiioning. Microsoft Research’s project, however, uses ordinary writing paper on top of a digitizing surface to record position and other information. It also has a 3.5-inch touch screen display which is powered by Windows CE (the same engine that powers Windows Phone devices). The project’s goal is to conceptualize a device that costs about $100 in quantity.

Paper has been a great medium for thousands of years. Even modern electronics like the iPad can’t replace it for speed, convenience, price, and even archival retrieval. Fans of LiveScribe’s smartpens know this intuitively. I hope we see this project gain enough traction to leave the research phase and begin the road to production.

Microsoft Said to Be Planning Summer 2012 Windows 8 Tablet Launch: Way Too Late? What About Apps?

Businessweek reports that Microsoft will not have a tablet that competes with Apple’s iPad until the 2012 back-to-school-season.

Microsoft Is Said to Plan Windows Release for Tablets in 2012

This puts the tablets release in the June to August 2012 timeframe. This also means that Microsoft’s iPad-competing tablet will be competing with Apple’s iPad 3 if Apple continues to schedule new iPad releases annually in the spring.

Microsoft has had a tablet strategy for a decade now. And, as I noted earlier this week, the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Washington had a selection of tablet computers running Windows 7.

Visit to Microsoft Store: Tablet City-Dell Duo, Exo PC, Asus Eee Slate

Windows 7, like tablet editions that preceded such as Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, is designed for use with a stylus not a finger tip. Microsoft’s Windows 8 (or whatever it will be called) will be, it is assumed, designed for a more finger friendly design. The problem is, however, that tens of thousands of software applications for Windows are not even Stylus friendly, etc alone touch friendly.

HP vs. RIM: War of Words – Meanwhile the iPad 2 is Ready to Launch

BlackBerry will soon find out if their mobile engine switch to QNX for their first tablet (instead of the BlackBerry OS that powers their phones) will pay off next month. BGR reports that the BlackBerry PlayBook launches in a little over a month from now.

BlackBerry PlayBook launching on April 10th

Meanwhile, BGR reports that HP believes that the PlayBook merely copies their own webOS powered Touchpad. HP spent $1.2 billion to buy Palm and their webOS mobile platform.

HP calls BlackBerry PlayBook a webOS ripoff; RIM responds

2011 is shaping up as the year of the tablet. Motorolla launched the first Android OS 3.0 powered tablet just last week. RIM and HP are queuing for their own tablet releases. Microsoft’s Windows 7 tablets have quietly made their way into the market. Meanwhile the 800 pound gorilla in the form of the iPad 2 launches on March 11. Given Apple’s huge successful headstart and rich app library, I predict only ond and perhaps two of the alternative tablet platforms will be around two years from now.

Speculation: Microsoft Windows 8 Will Use Metro UI from Windows 7-Why This Will Not Work

BusinessInsider reports that an unnamed Microsoft source said that the next version of Microsoft Windows will be tuned for tablets and use some version of the Metro user interface designed for Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft Preparing Windows 8 Tablet Design Demos For June

This would indicate that Microsoft is following Apple’s lead. Apple has already announced that the next version of OS X would include a number of features originally seen in iOS for the iPhone and iPad.

Microsoft’s problem, however, is that applications for Windows are not designed for touch or even stylus use on a tablet. So, it does not matter how good their Windows 8 Metro UI is if applications break the interface the first time they launch. Apple’s iPad does not have this problem because all apps are designed for iOS from the start.

You can read a bit more about the Windows Phone 7 Metro UI in this item I wrote last month.

Windows Phone 7: The 5 Design Principles for Metro UI

New Archos color eReader & Low-priced Android Tablet Brand (Arnova)

Archos introduced both a new color eReader device and a new brand line for low-end Android tablets according to this report by PC World.

Archos Launches Color E-reader, Android Tablet for €129

The eReader 7ob might be a follow-up to their current color eReader. You can see a photo of the current Archos 70 eReader device in the photo to the left.

Archos 70 eReader

The 7ob, at $179, is priced higher than the black and white Amazon Kindle but is significantly less expenensive than Barnes & Noble’s Android based color Nook.

Archos is also preparing to launch a new brand line name Arnova. The first product branded with this name will be a $179 8-inch Android tablet with a resistive (vs. capacitive display found in most current touch smartphones and the iPad).

Archos devices have typically been difficult to find and purchase in the U.S. on their initial release. So, you may have a hard time finding either of devices until 6 months to a year after their release.