Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...
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Spillikins ¹137. Windows 8 for Tablets: Obvious Flop
On one hand there were more than enough events for this issue of Spillikins, but on the other hand I spent the entire week discussing the fate of different tablets on Android, which will appear later this year and offer quality upgrade of the current characteristics. The rate of development for tablets is pretty staggering today as companies compete for this market sparing no investment. Perhaps that is why my attention was attracted by a desire of Microsoft to get a foothold in this market niche, so I had to dedicate a large section of the issue to explain why the software giant is unlikely to succeed. This topic is very important and worth paying attention to. For the computer market the last IDF2011 was crucial as well. Intel once again said it is waiting for ultra portable laptops destined to dominate the market. Frankly speaking we have heard it all before. Interestingly, Intel and Google have agreed to optimize Android for x86 architecture. This piece of news requires some consideration, but lacking information I will refrain from playing guessing games. It could be either something great or an ordinary flop. People quick to speculate already made an assumption that Intel will benefit from access to Android to beat ARM. It is not really so as for Google ARM architecture will be main one for the next few years, while Intel will be on standby with x86 used not in smartphones, but in different devices. Let's discuss the tablets first.
In 2001 Microsoft released a set of specifications for Microsoft Tablet PC providing the description of tablets. For such devices the company developed a version of Windows XP (Tablet PC Edition) to work with touchscreens. From 2002 new devices started to appear for this OS and their total number to date exceeds a hundred models, but I'm sure you do not know much about them. These models are not popular due to a variety of reasons. When a rotating touchscreen was added to a standard laptop the resulting solution became far from successful and Microsoft suffered along with hardware manufacturers. Who needs a touchscreen if there is a keyboard, touch pad or an external mouse? There was not enough demand on the market for such devices. The photo below shows the ubiquitous tablet of the type - Lenovo X61. Lack of differences (weight, form factor) with conventional laptops and quite a high price made these models unpopular.
The evolution of the first Tablet PC from Microsoft when a touchscreen module became removable was received as something exotic. If you do not need a keyboard disconnect it and work only with the touchscreen. You can take it with you if you wish. History repeated itself again and these products did not attract buyers. Why? Once again consumers did not need such devices and they did not understand their benefits, which were absent anyway. Choosing between a laptop and a similar "tablet", the choice was always for the laptop.
With the advent of Apple iPad market stirred up and all manufacturers without exception started creating their answer to iPad. Only Google was a real contender to compete with Apple as it decided that a new niche in the market is ideal for Android. Even Google was in a hurry and could not come up with an adequate response to the iPad. Today, Google offers numbers if not quality. On the side of Google are several dozens of tablets manufacturers, more than a hundred models in different price categories and advertising budgets, which collectively beat Apple. iPad still commands better sales, is in short supply and the demand is only growing. Below is a link to the piece on the Android market share with appropriate explanations.
Microsoft also wanted to be in the market of tablets. In January 2010 Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft stood on the stage of the Congress Hall at CES and tragically demonstrated the tablet, which the company promised to release soon along with its partners. His speech was dedicated to the future, because the product itself was not available yet. Ballmer grief was understandable, because the tablets in the form envisaged then did not appear. Once again we saw tablets on Windows 7, which were released by terrorists to permanently scare away from Microsoft all owners of such devices. I do not understand how you can use the tablet built on the philosophy from 2001.
My next point is very important. Do not look at individual features and software, just pay attention to tablets on the market today. Microsoft suffers from systemic errors associated with the way the company sees the device, its practical application and advantages. Microsoft is aware of the building blocks behind the success of Apple tablets, but concentrates on separate elements instead of a general system. Below are some basic and gross system errors, which have to be corrected before Microsoft can start dreaming about the success of its tablets.
I could go on with what’s wrong with Microsoft’s plans but it does not matter. I think I have already outlined the main issues and Microsoft cannot succeed on the tablet market without changing their approaches. They deny the current market rules and have problems with product positioning.
As long as there are fans in Microsoft tablets we cannot speak about their mobility.
Now let’s talk about what’s new in the tablets mode and how it’s different from the desktop version. Firstly, we have the lock screen feature – in this state the tablet displays new message notifications, missed events etc.
The start screen look like the one in Windows Phone 7 – the differences, however, concern file management and Internet Explorer work. There aren’t really that many changes to say the tablet version is really unique and stands apart from the desktop version.
I want to conclude this part by saying that Windows 8 for laptops and desktop PCs will be very popular – I have no doubts about that. We all have about opinions about Microsoft but their desktop operating systems have always been commercially successful. Even Vista, branded a failure by many, still made quite a profit. It failed only at creating a positive image and this is a different story.
You may know that in terms of the sound quality Android smartphones fall behind Apple who has a ginormous experience with iPods. HTC understands that and make sound quality a top priority direction for development for their devices alongside with cameras and their proprietary Sense UI. So sound quality is now their number three priority for the next few years.
Just at look at these utBeats by Dr. Dre that will be bundled with HTC Sensation XE. This phone will be an exact copy of the regular Sensation apart from the sound quality which, as the company claims, will be spectacular.
The called the new technology used in this phone Beats Audio. It was announced back in August about the cooperation of HTC and Beats Electronics and this product is the first fruit of their work. I cannot say I was impressed by it – I am quite skeptical about it and I think it’s better to underestimate something than give undeserved compliments.
Until recently Beats Audio hardware has been used only in a number of HP laptops. In my opinion, such a limited popularity is caused by the fact that HP also focused advertising attention on the famous headphones which the company is famous for. As a matter of fact most people know the company name only because of Dr. Dre headphones. I could find any info on the sound technologies applied in the products as the company’s website is just a promo ad. I think if there were some hardware changes HTC would be the first to announce it and not limit their ads with mentioning of a special sound profile enabled when Dr. Dre headphones are connected. What we have here is an example of how a popular smartphone manufacturer cooperates with a famous headphones manufacturer in order to make their products more attractive to buyers. It’s good that you get decent headphones out-of-box but it’s not enough to make the device sound better – you need to improve the hardware as well. I think we should regard this product as the first step towards improving the situation and I support such initiatives. However, if the changes will be limited to the bundled pair of headphones together with promises that they will suffice I will not buy that.
Besides the headphones the new model has also received a faster CPU (now with 1.5GHz clock), bigger battery (1730mAh), slightly different body paint (see the pictures).
The sales are scheduled to start in October. In retail it will cost ˆ70 more – which is not much for these headphones. Dr. Dre Tour probably are better than these since they cost twice more but we all know only too well price does not always stand for quality. I wonder whether Beats Electronics are ok with bundling smartphones with expensive headphones – I think we will be able to check that by comparing the Sensation XE bundle headphones with regular Tour. I expect the latter to best the bundled ones.
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Published 20 September 2011
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