Category: Tablets

Tablets to sort Scots wolves from English sheep

David-Cameron-at-the-EU-s-007The UK government is pushing through a bill to allow only English MPs to vote on English only matters as part of a pledge UK prime minister David Cameron made before this year’s general election.

Chris Grayling, leader of the House of Commons, said the Tory party is a “passionate supporter of the Union” of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As there are 50-odd Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) members in the Commons, and sundry other MPs from the other two countries, the logistical matter of separating the Scottish, Welsh and Irish wolves from the English sheep is a bit of a problem.

The Tory party only has one MP in Scotland after the SNP staged a landslide victory which swept away nearly all Labout MPs as well as Liberal Democrats.

Currently, when MPs vote they file through two lobbies – one for yes and one for no – and are counted by human tellers.

But in a move which will propel MPs from Gladstone’s days into the 21st century, the Clerks have come up with a new system of telling using tablet computers to account for the differences in nationalities.

The tablets, said Grayling, will “give the Tellers an immediate tally of whether a measure has a majority of English MPs”.

He did not say which brand of tablets will be used, but the method won’t apply to the House of Lords because, well, it just won’t.

Grayling’s plans were picked up by Pete Wishart, the shadow SNP leader of the House of Commons.

He said: “What a lot of constitutional bilge and unworkable garbage!” He said the plans will create two classes of members of parliament. “We would do as well to stamp the foreheads of Scottish MPs before they go into the Lobby, and I thought that the Leader of the House was quite close to suggesting or proposing it.”

Grayling said: “The honourable Gentleman seems a tad on the exercised side”.

Phablets phall

ChinaThe word phablet is an ugly word but means, in the industry, a cross between a phone and a tablet – that is to say a phone with a big screen.

But the bad news for vendors of these devices is that sales of “white box” units made by Chinese vendors fell in the second quarter of this year.

According to Digitimes Research, the reason for the decline is that the main markets for these Chinese products are in Russia, Eastern Europe and South America.

And currency fluctuations has made them more expensive in these regions while demand for 5.5-inch and six inch smartphones has risen

The “white box” vendors, according to the market research unit, also faces stiff competitions from established vendors including Huawei and TCL.

So the white box vendors are being squeezed and sales fell in the second quarter by as much as 15 percent.

Intel delays mass production of Cherry Trail

Intel bus - Wikimedia CommonsCompanies that make “white box” tablets are being forced to use Bay Trail T CR for Windows 10 tablets, according to a report by Digitimes Research (DR).

DR believes that Intel won’t be in a position to supply the chips until the end of the third quarter this year and that’s not making the tablet makers very happy.

Microsoft and Intel have still got ambitions in the tablet and smartphone markets, despite spending billions of dollars with little result.

Microsoft is gambling that Windows 10, along with subsidies it is offering manufacturers, will generate extra demand although many feel that it and Intel have  missed the bus on both the smartphone and tablet fronts.

DR claims that Intel won’t be able to supply the manufacturers with a reference design for Cherry Trail until the end of September.

That will force the mainly Chinese manufacturers to make do with Bay Trail Windows tablets which they’re going to push like mad in Western markets in time for the holiday season.

People who buy tablets don’t really care which chip and which operating system runs the devices – and that has given competitors like British chip ARM a leg up in market share.

Samsung SSD TRIMs data

Samsung-SSD-ActivatedSamsung may have inadvertently trimmed their sales. A story on StorageServers yesterday suggests that Samsung’s SSDs “could be wiping data” due to the SSD Controller’s improper functioning of the TRIM command.

The TRIM command allows the Operating System to inform a Solid State Drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be erased. The Trim command was introduced soon after SSDs started to become an affordable alternative to traditional hard disks.

Because low-level operation of SSDs differs significantly from hard drives, the typical way in which operating systems handle operations like deletes and formats resulted in unanticipated progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs.
Trimming enables the SSD to handle garbage collection overhead, which would otherwise significantly slow down future write operations.

According to StorageServers, an engineer with Algolia claimed to have discovered the bug in the way in which the drive reallocates blocks of data. Instead of zeroing areas which contain previously deleted data as they are supposed to, the drives appear to be deleting 512 byte blocks in “random locations on the drive” resulting in corruption of large file systems and near total erasure of small files. Hope of recovering the data was reported as “a tedious task” at best.

Samsung SSD models confirmed with the problem are:

  • Samsung MZ7WD480HCGM-00003(SM843TN)
  • Samsung MZ7GE480HMHP-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung MZ7GE240HMGR-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series
  • Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB

Samsung recently issued a firmware update to fix problems with the 840 EVO SSD which exhibited slow read speeds. A new team has been assigned to look into the TRIM data erasure/corruption problem and will be issuing an update shortly.

TechEye Take

Samsung does not like stains like this and will break out the reserves to not only fix the problem but also ensure that it does not re-occur.

We are trying to find out whether any of the affected drives contain any of Samsung’s 3D NAND-Flash devices.  They are not indicated as having any part in the reported problem.

It will be interesting to see whether this will have a positive effect on their competitors ‘share price on Monday’s market open…,

Toshiba gets a Cortina button

1024px-Ford_Cortina_KTO959EToshiba is introducing a Cortina button into their keyboards as a convenient way to call up the Windows 10 virtual assistant.

Cortina is an intelligent personal assistant which is Microsoft’s answer to SIRI.  By all accounts the software is rather good and the idea of having a button to call it up could make it really useful.

Jeff Barney, the general manager and vice president in charge of Toshiba America’s PC business said that the Cortina key will be on all of Toshiba’s Windows 10 PCs—“across the board, top to bottom,” he said.

The key will be located on the upper left area of the keyboard, near the function keys, he said.

Toshiba hopes that the move will separate itself from other hardware releases made on the back of Windows 10.  It is a good idea though and other suppliers are certain to follow.


More than half of UK homes own tablets

Ofcom logoA report from telecomms regulator Ofcom said that over half of UK homes now own a tablet.

Only two percent of homes owned one in 2011 – a year after Apple’s iPad launched.

And they’re most popular with people between the ages of 35 and 54, with nearly two in three people owning one.

It’s not just people of a certain age, though. Ofcom said seven in 10 children between the ages of five and 15 had access to a tablet by the end of last year.

They don’t have to share tablets, either. One in three kids in this age group have their own device.

Worse than that, one in 10 three to four year olds are glued to their tablets.

News apps are popular with grown ups, with 48 percent getting their daily fix using one.

The silver surfers don’t seem to have really engaged with the tablet computer yet, according to this Ofcom table of tablets.

Ofcom tablet report 2015

Tablets haven’t had their day yet

Dell TabletDespite figures that show shipments of tablets and 2-in-1 devices will fall by 3.8 percent compared to 2014, there is still an opportunity for vendors selling the machines.

That’s according to a report from IDC, which said cellular tablets and 2-in-1 devices are showing strong growth in some regions.

Jean Philippe Bouchard, an IDC research director, said: “Cellular connected devices fill multiple needs for vendors and carries around they world. They offer a quick solution to price and margin erosion, and when compared to smartphones they offer a less expensive way for carriers to increase their subscriber base.”

Bouchard said that these type of devices currently only represent a small part of the whole market but will grow this year and beyond, compared to wi-fi only devices.

The rise of smartphones with larger screens – so called “phablets” – are having an impact on the market because people think that they won’t need a tablet because a phone with a bigger screen fits the bill.

IDC released a chart showing tablet and 2-in-1 share by operating system, which shows a decline in the Android operating system and a gain in the Windows operating system.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 14.24.55

Big beasts hit by tablet declines

Dell TabletApple and Samsung saw their tablet market shares fall by double digits in the first quarter of this year. Apple, is however the leader of the pack, while Samsung is top of the pile of Android OS vendors.

But while the big beasts of tablets saw their share decline, smaller vendors are seeing growth in sales of their gizmos.

Market research company Strategy Analytics said that Huawei, TCL-Alcatel and LG are all showing growth.

Huawei shipped 1.3 million units in the quarter, a 147 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year. However its market share only amounts to 2.4 percent.

Samsung is cutting its portfolio to concentrate on strong performers in the mid to low price range, including the Tab S, Tab 4 and the Tab A.

Peter King, service director of Strategy Analytics, said that Apple is pumping money into marketing after falling in five consecutive quarters.

“Its work to address enterprise tablet usage with IBM on the Mobile First partnership and some new features rumoured for upcoming models will position the company well for long term growth,” he said.

Battle starts for stylus dominance

Intel's Gordon Moore and Robert NoyceYou might think that using a stylus with a tablet was something which went out with the ark, when companies like Fujitsu and Micosoft pioneered their use in the 1990s.

But if a report from Taiwanese wire Digitimes is true, the so-called stylus wars are set to start all over again.

Digitimes said that sources think Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with a stylus designed for the machine.

Meanwhile, Microsoft bought an Israeli company N-trig recently. N-trig specialises in both touchscreen and stylus tech and are already implemented in the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet.

But Intel is not going to take a back set if any kind of war is going on. Digitimes reports that the chip giant has launched a so-called Universal Style Initiative and is gathering up manufacturers to work on a standard stylus that will be used on a number of machines.

However, although Intel would just love to set the agenda on reference designs and the like for its IT egosystem, the success of Apple’s iPad and iPhone has proved that where the market goes, Intel will follow rather than lead.

iPad shipments on the slide

Apple iPad AirA drop in demand for tablets has led to speculation that sales of iPads will fall by 20 percent during 2015.

Digitimes estimated even though Apple is expected to make a 7.9 inch tablet and a 12.9 inch tablet, iPads will continue to decline – and part of the reason is the larger screen sizes on smartphones.

The Taiwanese wire points to results from component suppliers who make iPads dropping in the first quarter of this financial year.

All in all, the wire believes that shipments of tablets worldwide will be down 10 percent in 2015 – so it isn’t just going to be Apple that suffers.

You can find the Digitimes story, here.