Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





1 month and lovin the MacBook until now…

15 10 2008

As anticipated, on October 14th, Apple renewed their tri-pronged attack in the notebook market – a more powerful MacBook Air, a completely redesigned MacBook (the bread and butter of Apple computers), and the gigantor sized multimedia heavy MacBook Pro. By the way, did you know that new Apple products are always announced on Tuesdays? Did they pick the 2nd day of the work week simply because they got too lazy to prepare over the weekend and instead laid to waste a perfectly good “Moon-Day” for prep work? Either ways, one thing is for certain, the new MacBook kicks ass. Or do they?

Physically there are differences but the dimensions are very similar to my MacBook. 1.08 x 12.78 x 8.92 inches as opposed to the new sizes – 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 inches. Even the keyboard is identical aside from black color (and backlit feature for the $1,599 model). 4 main physical differences between the new MacBook and mine are:

  1. Firewire Port: It’s GONE! Mac fanboys are screaming “BLASPHEMY!” after Apple’s beloved IEEE 1394 port is now MIA from the MB line. But fear not MacNerds (or aspiring MacNerds) because the now elusive 1394 port exists on the more expensive MBP (MacBook Pro) if you can’t live without it. If you have truely set yourself in a loving monogamous relationship with Apple wares, you’ll find he money to upgrade to the MBP.
  2. Screen: Black bezel around the screen with gloss glass finish to the entire lid. I hate gloss finish on screens but it appears to be implemented well on the new ‘Books.
  3. Keyboard: It’s the same only black in color and if you want the keyboard lighting feature, it’s available on the $1,599 model.
  4. Material: The neat aluminum look to fit in with the rest of Apple’s computer line. I have to say however that this makes the entire Apple product line seem very … boring in a weird way. Previously the black and white MacBook models injected some life into their notebooks.

Additionally, you could add that the battery life bar is on the left-side of the notebook instead of the bottom but that’s nitpicking.

So in essence, the new MacBook IS a “mini” MacBook Pro. It packs a powerful punch with a dedicated GPU from NVIDIA’s 9400M line (the graphics card uses shared DDR3 RAM unlike the DDR2 stuff on my “white” MacBook) and it looks just like the new MBP, only better portability. I like it but the price hike and the lack of customization can be a factor – you only have 2 choices:

  1. $1,299 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.0GHz and 160GB HDD
  2. $1,599 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.4GHz and 250GB HDD w/ backlit keyboard

On the plus side, the weight has been reduced by 1 pound and both options use more efficient LED lighting for the screens. Also, the touchpad/trackpad no longer has the button at the end and supports 4-finger multi-touch (which is customizable) like the MBA (MacBook Air) and the MBP. It is made of glass and should be flashy enough to cause some to upgrade.

Finally, here’s a picture of my (now previous generation) MacBook. In my opinion, it can hold it’s own and has a very cleancut image without appearing to do a “me-too” look like the rest of the Apple line.

… I also thought I should share a picture of the new iPod Touch (2nd generation) placed alongside my workhorse communications device, Nokia E61. The one to the left is a protector screen sticker thing pasted on top of the iPod in it’s plastic glass case. Boy have I jumped over to the dark side.

If you’re pissed off about not getting Firewire support for the MacBooks, look at the MacBook Pro line. The 15″ is currently on sale and the 17-18″ should be joining soon next month.

My verdict: Wait until the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s out (sometime early next year sayz the rumors), then purchase the MacBook without having to pay $$$ for the upgrade. This should also allow ample time for Apple to smooth out the kinks on the new system and hopefully lower prices or even better hardware.





Can Nokia’s N-Gage engage Google’s Android?

10 05 2008

What does Nokia’s N-Gage have anything to do with Google’s upcoming mobile operating system, Android? Well they both have been hyped a lot and are both supported by large global technology leaders. The biggest similarity is that they are both vying for that exclusive spot in your pocket and unless you happen to be one of those who carry two phones, there is room for only one even if you have multiple pockets.

Late last year, Nokia unveiled their newly rebranded “N-Gage” system for online mobile gaming and “Arena” community support. A lot of hype was tossed about and around on the various gaming blog sites like Joystiq.com and IGN.com to name a few. In theory, the idea seemed like a perfect strategy with a dedicated platform of gaming phones of all shapes and sizes on the so-so popular Symbian-based S60 OS. To back that up, a report in 2006 showed that roughly 80 million converged-devices (smart phones) were sold that year and a considerable chunk of that (67%) ran on the Symbian operating system on their phones compared to WindowsMobile (14%), RIM (Blackberry 7%), Linux (6%), and Palm (5%).

Types of Symbian Operating System

Those numbers look good until you realize that there are many variants of the Symbian operating system based on the type of user interface (UI) designed for the phones. Nokia’s UI are tagged with “Series” followed by a two-digit integer as a suffix. Among the 3 types of Nokia smartphone interfaces (note: the S40 is not a smartphone), the S60 is the more popular choice in relation to the decadent S80 and S90. Japan’s fancy schmancy cool phones run on NTT DoCoMo’s proprietary UI tagged as MOAP/FOMA “Mobile Orientated Applications Platform” and Sony Ericsson has their UIQ system. There are probably more but these are the major global players in the Symbian family.

Global Marketshare of Symbian OS

If we assume that the Nokia Series (60, 80, 90), UIQ, and MOAP are all equally represented in the 67% market share, that would mean that each of them have 22.33% of the market. Do note that this here is simply a false assumption because it is not taking into consideration the proliferation of Nokia handsets in this industry with respect to their other Symbian counterparts. However, due to time limitations and lack of sources, I have decided to go with a 50-50 split.

So for Nokia out of 22.33%, let us make another assumption using a 95% S60 dominance over S80 or S90 (since those 2 are nearly dead) and this leaves S60 with a still strong 21.21% overall global market share.

Within the S60, we have yet another subdivision with THREE generations aptly named – S60, S60 2nd Edition, S60 3rd Edition. Let us make yet another assumption that all 3 generations are equally distributed on this 21.21% plane which provides each edition of the S60 with a paltry 7.07% globally. The “3rd Edition” is the current/newest version out since late 2006.

The reason why I broke down the market share for S60 into three is because applications designed for either one of those editions are not compatible with the other. So basically, they can be considered as three separate mobile operating systems due to the lack of interoperability between them in terms of hardware or software.

Now you see that out of this 7.07%, the S60 3rd Edition can be broken down into (again) three sub-categories … the cheaper but functional devices (these are numbered for Nokia like the 6120 or 3rd party manufacturers like Samsung’s SGH-i550), the E-series (Nokia’s Enterprise/Business devices), and the top of the line multimedia N-Series. Applications between these devices are generally compatible depending on the application’s design (widescreen 320×240 or portrait 240×320) structure and use of certain hardware requirements like a GPS, accelerometer, cameras (front and rear), 3D GPU (Graphical Processing Unit – aka 3D Gfx card), etc.

The N-Gage Focus

Even with those tiny numbers, Nokia is only willing to put their “N-Gage” system on ONE out of the 3 sub-categories – the expensive line of N-Series handsets. What they mean to say is that the N-Gage will only be compatible on 3.36% of the global smart-phone industry. This is bad news in my opinion because it highlights the frailty of a system for which a lot of time, effort, and money were invested.

Like the new platform, the original N-Gage was also mutually exclusive (N-Gage and N-Gage QD) but on a smaller scale (N-Gage and N-Gage QD). The “unbreakable” games were cracked shortly after launch to run on all S60 (1st edition) handsets which made people realize that the N-Gage games were simply S60 games but of a higher quality and standard. The N-Gage games also offered added value like Bluetooth or online multiplayer gaming on their cell phones against people around all parts of the world. Unfortunately for Nokia, that project was doomed to fail due to the exclusivity of the product to just 2 phones and an already aged operating system as a backbone.

And if you thought the Espoo Finland-based giant learned from their mistakes, think again. They’re doing the same thing with the new N-Gage, only marketing it to their N-Series lineup and their decision to go Han Solo will once again undermine their chances of a global success in my opinion.

N-Gage Service or Nokia Phones?

Nokia is at a T-intersection and is using the “N-Gage Gaming” as an additional feature to market their N-series phones instead of the other way round. What we can take from that is the “N-Gage” is still NOT a focus for Nokia. They are still in the business of selling their “Nokia” branded phones which is fine by me but that focused-strategy is dragging the N-Gage into the same hole it was looking to crawl out from. They are not willing to create a separate enterprise (aka Global N-Gage System), rather they are preferring to go with a lackluster one-console approach in the same vein as the failed original N-Gage.

Recommendations for the N-Gage

With all the rumors nowadays of the Sony Playstation Phone and the Nintendo Phone, the best way to negate those possibilities is to work with your rivals. A cross-platform N-Gage Arena experience (hint: UIQ, S60, MOAP) would help the “N-Gage” division thanks to a much global exposure from the synergies created by working with rivals like Sony.

The N-Gage is a software like the S60 and should be allowed to perform on multiple platforms. By sharing their proprietary online gaming system on all Symbian phones, the biggest gaming leaders like Nintendo and Sony could integrate the system into their phone OS like the MOAP and UIQ thus providing legitimacy to the N-Gage application. The combined experience of Nokia, Sony, and Nintendo in the communications and gaming industry would only benefit Nokia’s N-Gage.

So does Nokia want the N-Gage to fare better this time around? We would hope yes because of all the money poured into the program but it seems like they’re doing a half-assed job of it.

If they are so worried about a cross platform N-Gage system stealing sales of their phones to other handset makers like SonyEricsson (why buy a Nokia to play games online if you can do the same on a SonyEricsson), my recommendation for them is to work on promoting their core competencies – excellent hardware support, sturdy product build and reliability, up-to-date fashion design cues, and quality “multimedia” handsets. Those are the reasons people bought Nokias and still continue to do so.

They don’t have to go all out with ALL SYMBIAN interoperability for the N-Gage for now but I highly recommend pushing it out to all S60 3rd Edition devices. The difference between the regular S60, an E-series, and the N-series should be:

1. The regular models will be wimpy in hardware specs (smaller screens, no GPS, no 3D cards, etc) but cheaper.

2. The E-series will be similar to the N-series but will lack prepackaged multimedia applications. Less power could be a way to make this cheaper.

3. The N-series will feature a slew of free prepackaged apps and additional hardware pluses like 3D cards and GPS.

I’m not saying the Finnish masters haven’t done their research but from a strictly consumer’s point of view, those are my opinions.

Can Nokia’s N-Gage engage Google’s Android?

From what we know above, the answer is a resounding NO. There is simply no incentive to use a Nokia phone if the best features are reserved for the most expensive devices. For a product that requires mass appeal, the N-Gage’s limited product-line (software/hardware) hinders growth in the market while Google’s mobile operating system will feature on different sets of hardware (phone) manufacturers. Android also has this cooler looking interface and I guess we’ll have to wait and see but a storm is coming…





The Apple iPhone is a star but can I smell your …

28 04 2008

It seems like every few months, there’s something really gross making the rounds out on YouTube. The last big viral video was the 2 GIRLS 1 CUP crap literally. The video was pulled faster than you could say KAZAAM but recordings of the reactions of viewers proved to be equally as popular.

So this time, it’s by “Riskay – The Drama Queen” who shops around for a catchy R&B/Hip-Hop tune which goes something like …

… can I smell your yo dick?

Seriously who says that but the song is definitely catchy. The rather strange request to sniff her boyfriend’s (or boo or whatever) d*ck to see if he’s messing around with some other chick is downright gross. The best thing in the video is the iPhone doing some Joey Grecko (host of Cheaters TV) stuff to aide our “Riskay” and confirm her fears. The poor iPhone gets thrown but survives the fall.

Also, quite a few spoofs are already out on the internet. Check them all out, YO!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruef7aYCEbc

EDIT: 2008-11-01 Fixed broken video link. Apparently you can’t embed it anymore. 😦





Google Android mobile platform hands-on video

12 11 2007

Happy Veteran’s Day and now down to a sweet video on Youtube showcasing a variant of the new Google Android mobile platform on an real cellular device. At first I thought it was WiFi but the “G” next to the wireless signal strength bar usually refers to GPRS but then he said it stood for 3G. The name of the service provider is not listed which is why everything is so murky. Maybe they just got 3G broadcasting radio in their testing center and that’s how the dude is connected.

The first narrator (Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google) sporting a bad-hairday do brings us to another dude (Steve Horowitz) who looks like he’s from Apple holding a white nondescript device with a landscape screen. This means the phone has a QWERTY keypad on it and by the finish on it, looks like it could be a yet to be announced HTC device. He tries to dial out to “Erin” at the number 650-555-1212 but when I did a Google look up (ironic lol), it came up as the number to a restaurant to a Marriott located at …

4460 El Camino Real
Los Altos, California 94022

So I’m guessing they’re trying to do that “calimari” thing Apple iPhone ads did when they first came out. Erin is the manager at the restaurant? Probably just a random number Google came up with. But the phone looks really cool from what I can see of it.

The 2nd phone is black and even harder to see anything other than the tall screen and that there’s no room for a keypad at the bottom meaning it would be a slider phone. Most probably another HTC (but probably already out in the market running Windows Mobile). I’m under the impression that Motorola hasn’t had the time to bring out a phone for the Android yet. They even displayed the 2nd (black) phone running a truncated Quake game but that’s no big deal since even a lot of the basic older Nokia S60 phones (104MHz) can do that – without 3D hardware acceleration. Does Android require a 200+ MHz processor and 3D hardware acceleration to run Quake? If so, that is not a good sign.

Both phones are touchscreen and use the same overall UI (user interface). So this could mean that the UI will stay the same on the Android platform but the functionality of the phones will differ depending on the limitations set by the phone service providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc. Google also set aside $10 million as prize for the “best user created application” for the Android.

My take on it is this all looks very Apple’ish. The video recording. The nicely toned down facial features and calm voices of the ppl on the clip. The Apple-like coverflow design on the HTML browser when going through it’s history. The touchscreen features etc.

Not sure how this will compete against S60 but I can see hoards of Windows Mobile and Apple iPhone users wanting to switch to these devices. Symbian S60 (3rd Edition) only has a niche market here so the numbers of users switching might be significantly lower than Apple and Microsoft’s users.

EDIT: Apparently you can download the Android SDK (“software development kit” for the nubs) and run the Android emulator to play with a virtual phone on your PC/Mac (even Linux).





Google’s new mobile platform – Android

5 11 2007

Google unveiled their new “Android” mobile platform with 33 business partners already hooked on including HTC and Motorola as some of the big guns from the manufacturing industry of handsets carrying the Android OS.

So what is the GPhone and when is it going to be released? Contrary to popular rumors, the GPhone might never exist simply because Google, being the smart guys, knows that quick money can be made on software where the ROI is greater and risks are lower. Which is why, they focused on creating the interactive backbone structure based on Linux and called it Android.

Phone manufacturers and telcoms (cellphone carriers) can dictate what they’d like to see on the phones and how it will appear visually etc but the basic overall platform design is Android. THE GPhone might never be made but you never know. Instead Google prefers to liken all phones running Android as GPhones or equivalents whichever way you see fit.

So the GPhone is the equivalent of a Windows Mobile or a Symbian S60 phone (Sorry Palm. No matter how much I liked you, you’re almost dead because you’ve failed to move on from the year 2002).

The basic requirements of Android are: 200MHz ARM9. Since this is open source screen (sizes) resolutions and QWERTY/number-pad inputs can be tweaked to the OS by the manufacturer.

All this spells bad news for Microsoft’s Windows CE-based “Winows Mobile” OS and a similar blow to Nokia’s Symbian S60 OS. SonyEriccson’s Symbian UI and Palm’s Garnet OS are already on their way six-feet under so this news only adds a turbo-charger to the hearse carrying both mobile operating systems.

In the end, it will be tricky. Here’s my take on how this works out in the market.

Windows Mobile 6: Fan boys will continue to use this operating system but Android will steal many who use WinMo only because Windows like to label their phones with a “smart phone” tag next to the product. Phones running WinMo and S60 are both “smartphones” but a lot of people get easily fooled by mere marketing words.

Symbian S60: Similar to WinMo in terms of fan boy appreciation tactics although Android will manage to steal the few S60 users who only use it for it’s multi-tasking capabilities. Symbian S60 is known for it’s durability unlike the constant resetting required on WinMo devices. The new Nokia N-Gage online mobile gaming system will put up a good fight to Google so this is a 50-50 decision. People who like to play games on the go with 3D hardware acceleration will stick with their Nokia S60 phones (esp the N-series).

Apple iPhone: Apple fan boys will always hold a small niche userbase for Apple products despite the availability of equally cooler or better substitutes out there simply because this is an Apple product. Unfortunately for the iPhone, a lot of users who got it are traditionally non-Apple users and in 1-2 year’s time, the batteries of their iPhones will be dead and that is when a chunk of those first timers will switch over to Android.

Symbian S40: The non-smartphone version of the Symbian-based OS will see a huge migration in users unless the “GPhones” come with a hefty price tag. S40 3rd Edition has made this UI very appeasing to the masses especially in the form of the Nokia 5300 slider music phones but like I said, this category is for price and fashion conscious users. The inclusion of Motorola will mean more fashion-heavy devices will HTC will plunder on the feature-heavy section. Expect this segment to go dead in upcoming years like Palm.

RIM (Research in Motion): Black Berry lovers will originally be split between using a Blackberry which is something they’re used to or the new “GPhones” which does all what RIM puts out and maybe more. Sadly for the Canadian company, there appears to be a high possibility of new and potential RIM users to defect over to Android.

Proprietary UI (User Interface): Users of crappy UI’s on most cheap phones will be undeterred from getting a phone that can do all simply because they’re happy to live with a phone that can store address books and make/receive calls. Large swaths of Motorola Razr, Samsung slider phone lovers, and other fashionistas will make the switch. The grannies however will be happy with their phones that acts and looks like one.

Note: Thanks to Engadget and Gizmodo for the coverage on the Q&A section.





Guru of boring spins out 2 cool toys (Pt 1)

22 10 2007

Nokia is usually known for their rather plain-jane looking phones. They’re the Toyotas of the phone industry. Reliable and strong products but very weak in the fashion element. Surprisingly enough, the designers have been given a raise. There are just 2 shiny new gadgets that the ninja really wants real bad aside from the Super Phone aka the Nokia N95 and one of them happens to be the completely kick-ass maemo linux-based Nokia N810 “Internet Tablet OS2008.”

The successor to the much hailed N800 is out in stores for mass consumption and for the average internet user, it does it with great style. First of all, you will notice that the N810 looks a lot sleeker and comes complete with built-in GPS and free mapping software. It’s physical dimensions are smaller overall and the screen’s 20% brighter but manages to maintain the 4.1-inch screen size.

Some of the advantages aside from the cosmetics are the in-built GPS unit, a 60MHz bump in the TI OMAP processor to 400MHz, and a standard internal storage memory of 2GB instead of none (OS stored on default 128 shared memory) as in the previous iteration.

Unfortunately with all that good news, there are a few nagging issues with this Nokia. The N800 had 2 memory card storage slots while the new toy only comes with 1 and it only supports miniSD instead of the dual miniSD/SD support of the former. Then you can’t use T-Mobile/AT&T or Verizon/Sprint GSM or CDMA cellphone bands for cellular communication.

But fear not. The N810 comes with the same WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, and USB 2.0 components. The screen resolution stays the same at 800×480 pixels. Also, you can still use the VoIP voice call features. Then you’ll notice it actually has a physical keyboard which slides-out while the size dimensions actually decreased. How cool is that? You can still use the on-board touchscreen virtual keyboard as is present on the iPhone but that just covers up a sizable chunk so tactile feedback keyboards FTW (ie. for you non-doofuses, it’s For The Win)!

This would be the perfect replacement for my aging Palm Zire 71 pda (personal digital assistant). The processor is almost 4 times as fast, same poor resolution but the camera’s better on the Nokia. Cant even compare the internal memory. The Zire 71 came with 16MB and the N810 comes with – 2GB. WiFi and Bluetooth. I think my Zire 71 has a 3″ screen (unconfirmed) compared to the Nokia 4.1 incher but in the end, all I want is a newer sleeker, faster device with some form of wireless connectivity other than the lame infrared crap as evident on my Zire 71. Don’t really care for the GPS part of it but hey that’s a plus.

The price tag for the Nokia N810 is $479. For $20 more, you can get the new 40GB Sony Playstation 3 but that’s not a portable device. Microsoft is sweating buckets and Google’s looking for ways to find ways to get their new upcoming and rumored Google OS onto a similar platform. They (the Googly bros) already have Taiwan-based and world famous HTC committed to making devices running their new OS. While Google and MS ponder on, I’m looking for a miracle to include the purchase of an N810 in my already tightened budget. 😦