Category: Tablets

IBM and Apple cater to the elderly

IBM logoThe first fruits of the cooperation between IBM and Apple were announced today – in conjunction with Japan Post, the firms will provide iPads with IBM apps to milllions of elderly people in the country.

Japan Post is engaging in a pilot group for the project and by 2020 it hopes to provide four to five million units in Japan.

The iPads will include setting for low vision and people who are deaf, and IBM has written apps specifically for old people giving them reminders about medicines, exercise and diet. Apps will also give access to grocery shopping and job mapping.

IBM said it has included analytics abilities such as Japanese natural language analysis.

The move is likely to be the first of many such initiatives.

Big Blue said the elderly worldwide population will grow from 11.7 percent in 2013 to over 21 percent by 2050. IBM said 10,000 people turn 65 every day.

The pilot service will begin in the second half of this year.

Tablet shipments to flatten and fall

Dell TabletResearch on the global tablet market appear to indicate that shipments will stay flat in this quarter but will be down 10 percent from the same period last year.

And Apple iPads will fall by 30 percent in the second quarter of this year, with shipments of only 9.8 million units, according to Digitimes Research.

The research outfit estimates shipments of non-Apple branded products will be approximately 19 million units with Samsung trying to bridge the distance between it and the Cupertino giant.

That leaves the so-called “white box” manufacturers – many of them based in China. They are expected to ship 20 million units in the second quarter.

Lenovo has started to ship its cheap Mediatek tablet this quarter. Digitimes Research said that Asustek will see shipments fall – partly because Intel has cut subsidies and because there are problems with its SoFIA 3G-R system on a chip (SoC).

Most pundits agree that shipments of tablets are in decline because it is a more or less mature market, and the replacement cycle is slow.

Intel plunges more money into tablets

Dell TabletAlthough chip giant Intel has already taken a considerable beating because of its commitment to become a leading player in the mobile and tablet market, it seems that it doesn’t feel it’s spent quite enough yet.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, Intel is going to create reference designs for the Android operating system in the second half of this year in a bid to help so-called “white box” manufacturers make and sell cheap tablets.

“White box” goods are unbranded products which distributors and others can then pick up and re-brand with their own je ne sais quois.

The Chinese white-box tablet market has, according to several market research companies, already taken a whack as demand falls because the replacement cycle for these devices isn’t on a very regular basis.

But Intel wants tablets to use its SoFIA processors and prices for 10 inch, 8 inch and seven inch LTE and 3G tablets at prices of around $130, $90, and $80.

It isn’t just Chinese manufacturers who will benefit from Intel’s largesse – the same report said that well known names including Foxconn, Compal,  Pegatron, Wistron and Elitegroup will all give the Intel scheme a go.

Meanwhile, the research arm of Digitimes reported that there is such a huge stock of cheap notebooks in 2015 that manufacturers are complaining of the “worst ever” decline in shipments.

Dell launches new tablet

Dell TabletGiant multinational Dell said it introduced a new tablet to the market and it’s running the Android operating system, not Windows.

The Venue 10 7000 claims to have the best tablet display on the market – it uses a 10.5 inch OLED 2560 by 1600 pixel screen, is powered by a quad core Intel Atom, and also uses Intel’s “Realsense” snapshot camera.

The machine is aimed at the commercial market and can be managed by IT staff so that they can create profiles for business use as well as fun stuff when an owner isn’t earning a buck.

The business data is encrypted and Dell said it will offer Office for Android for the machine later this year.

It doesn’t come cheap though – prices start at $500 and if you buy the optional keyboard, the total price will be $629.

It’s not available yet, but Dell said it will ship in May 2015.

To cover its options, Dell also has added its “education portfolio” as part of the package.

Tablets put notebooks in the shade

OrangesA report said that tablets are set to overtake notebook PCs as the biggest mobile computing category.

That’s according to ABI Research, which said its data shows that tablets will have a 52 percent majority of the market by the end of this year.

Notebook shre will drop to a 48 percent share this year, and that will further decline by the end of 2016 too.

Tablets, are however, a niche and notebooks will show flat growth, partly because of a much longer replacement cycle.

Traditional notebooks are also threatened by Chromebooks which however will only show CAGR of 16 percent before this year and 2020.

ABI believes that tablets and notebooks don’t really compete in the same space, which makes the picture more complex. Acer, Apple, Asus and Lenovo all show good numbers in the Ultrabook and Chromebook markets, thinks ABI.

Adobe intros Slate app

Adobe SlateSoftware firm Adobe said it has introduced a free iPad app which it reckons can turn your words and images into nice looking Web content.

The app is called Slate and Adobe claims the content you create can adapt to any device whether it’s a PC, a smartphone or a tablets.

You can also share the content using text messages, email, to put on Facebook or embed on websites.

Adobe provides professionally designed themes, photo layouts, links to online sites such as “donate now” or “learn more”.

Adobe executive Paul Gubbay said that Slate is born out of Adobe Voice and because of its move to the cloud, and uses the software expertise of its developers and engineers.

Adobe has also introduced updates to Adobe Voice today.

Here comes TechEye's appallingly late iPad review

About a year on from the iPad’s original release and TechEye is late off the mark. We’ve finally, finally, finally had a chance to play at length on Apple’s shiny luxury gizmo. Everything you need to know about the iPad is out there online already, and chances are if you’re any sort of news punter you’ve read opinions on the thing, mostly fawning. We won’t be able to tell you anything new, but – biting the bullet – we have to admit that we like it. 

First impressions are of a speedy user interface which will be familiar to anyone who has played with an iPhone and very cool innards which quickly figure out whichever way you’re holding it. The 64GB Wi-Fi model feels weighty in a nice way – lighter than a netbook but heavy enough to make it feel like a real product. Whether you’re aware of the Bill of Materials or not the product is designed to handle expensively. Unlike the unwieldy netbook which finds itself in a laptop bag along with other assorted bits and pieces like cables and hastily folded scraps of paper, you feel almost hesitant to take it anywhere without a case.  

The panel sitting at the front is clear, bright. pleasing and the prospect of cracking it is terrifying. Crispier than Gary Linnekar’s heavily comp’d crisp cupboards and the kind of quality that is giving rivals and netbook manufacturers the shakes. 

The design is superb but then that’s what Apple is known for – branding products in an appealing way to the average consumer. And beyond anything we have to suggest that this is the only market, save a few professional graphic artists or similar, that will truly benefit from an iPad. Even then the benefits are unclear.

There was a recent survey that suggested your average computer user is a couch potato. Tweeting and Facebook use shoots up when in front of the telly, casual surfing is king. This is where the iPad really shines. Rather than sitting at a computer and craning your neck to see Simon Cowell bellow approval or denial on the X Factor you’ve got something sitting in your lap that you can easily dip in and out of, during the ad breaks or otherwise.

The iPad is the new coffee table book and a true laptop rolled into one. As in you can put it on your lap. 

What can you do with it? At the same time, a lot and not much. It really depends what capacity you need mobile computing for. If it’s in any traditional professional role, forget about it. There are keyboards you can buy for the iPad, as well as portable speakers, which as far as we’re concerned defeats the purpose of a tablet computer.

Writing an article on this thing would be an utter nightmare: the iOS auto-correct is notoriously unintentionally funny or it’s downright terrible. Navigating back to a typo is painful without backspacing your way through: bad for copy editing. Office tools on the device aren’t great. 

Pulling the thing from your coffee table and starting up Google Earth is swift and frankly very cool.

There’s a lot of software you can show off to friends that is impressive. Instant stand-out apps include Shazam, already available on a multitude of different kit, which can understand and track down whichever song happens to be on. Virtuoso is the piano app you see in all of the iPad adverts – one of the “iPad is” bits between “magical” and something else – that while incredibly simple, the addition of a clear screen and touch turns it into a fun toy to screw around with. Shopping is made easier – clear winners being the eBay and Rightmove applications – transforming clunky web pages into an intuitive and fun way to browse and buy, or more accurately, consume, consume, consume. 

Meanwhile there are apps like Soundrop and Beatwave that let you tinker around with sound and visuals at once. Again they’re fantastic to show off your shiny new toy but they’re essentially pointless. Something that goes against the grain is Amplitube which has received rave reviews from musicians – hook your guitar up with the iPad and you have a powerful mixing desk on a touch screen. 

Sketchbook Pro, for a miserly amount, will let you draw on your fancy rectangle.

As for reading and the future of publishing: magazines are much the same as their physical, older brothers but with high definition screens and embeddable videos. The Times, which has most of its eggs in the iPad basket, is not revolutionising journalism with a digital focus. Actually, contrary to other apps, reading a newspaper feels clumsier than turning pages. The bonus is with applications like The Guardian’s Eyewitness, which brings you a stunning slice of HD photojournalism every day. 

For workers who need to access content on their PC, LogMeIn Pro helps you connect remotely: but the application’s popularity goes further to prove that the iPad is an intermediary, more of a remote control than a production engine: great for email but not for work. That’s TechEye’s official position on the first generation iBad – UK councillors skavving the device as a laptop replacement beware. 

So far, so fun. As the IT industry at least in the consumer space moves towards connectivity it appears the tablet PC could be the missing link between devices – not quite a smartphone and not quite a computer, instead straddling the line between the two. Mostly useless but engaging anyway. 

In the month I have been toying with mine it has got a lot of use. And I mean a lot. Where and how it got used is a different matter: ad breaks on the TV means having a quick go on Fruit Ninja HD and, yes, Angry Birds. Games actually lend themselves very well to touchscreen tablets – the reemergence of the point and click adventure game being a case in point. A remixed Broken Sword and Monkey Island are popular on the slate because you can touch and it works. Not cumbersome at all.

It’s very hard to justify the £700.00 price tag for something that is steamrolling into homes across the world as, essentially, a vehicle for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It is also hard to predict where tablets are going from here. We are aware that the iPad 2 is looming somewhere on the horizon and it’ll probably go that extra mile, meaning you can do more, none of it particularly useful. Every consumer electronics manufacturer wants you to buy their tablet and we’ll bet they’ll get their way for a time.

Anecdotally it is a popular device among friends. You show it off and they want to hog it. TechEye found itself lazing about one evening, iPad in tow, casually sweeping between the different pages with small finger swipes because it’s tactile, not really doing anything: only just about more active than rotting in front of Countdown. 

What is fantastic is that it is easy to use and we suspect the other tablets that follow will take a similar route, encouragingly simple designs and for the layman, less technological options to toy with but more toys with more options. This is the tablet’s key strength and weakness. They are simple and there are developers building interesting out-of-the-box content, as well as creative professionals doing the same for advertising or otherwise. You can pull up a Google search in seconds but for the day-to-day you can’t do much more, yet, than the basics.

We can see it having a use in the educational space and we’ve heard kids love it too. The colourful nature of using the iPad, we’re told by a former professional in the industry, means it would be perfect for adult classes for those with learning difficulties – and it probably has a space in music and art therapy as well.

The iPad hypnotises you into thinking it’s better than it is by its nature.

Tablet computing so far seems to be the realm of the bored, ADHD electronics that demand and deliver quick fixes when you need them. The novelty still hasn’t worn off and we definitely want to keep it.

We’re just not sure why. 

*EyeSee Many thanks to Expansys which flogs iPad deals along with stuff such as high end laptops and pre-emptively sells the Motorola Xoom in the UK

We take a dekko at an HP Mini 210

With the iPad launch having gone full swing and tablet PCs going to be the talk of the town at Computex in Ol’ Taipei we thought we’d go firmly against the grain and take a look at a netbook, the HP Mini 210.

HP Mini 210

£249.97 at PcWorld.co.uk

The first thing you’ll notice about this netbook is that it’s light as anything and it looks prettier than your average netbook. The sample copy sent over was a masculine pinky red. The base and lid are smoothly textured while the 1024×600 screen is shiny and a very reasonable size for a netbook. It’s not going to get you the same level of attention is a brand spanking new tablet PC but as far as a traditional keyboard netbook goes it’s a sleek and cool design that you won’t feel embarrassed about getting out at a trade show, a conference, on the train or wherever you take it – should you be as terribly bothered by vanity as us.

When you boot the system up you’ll notice it’s fairly quiet, and it stays so for extended use, even when its little fan is going bonkers trying to keep the kit cool.

When you’ve started up the Mini you’re taken to a quick-access page before it boots up Windows 7. This has all the sort of stuff you may need to access sharpish on the web: instant messaging, emails and browsing are all included without needing to head into Windows 7. Quickweb is great and lets you toy around with your media files too. We found start-up for Windows 7 was quick and painless, but in a rush Quickweb is very useful.

In terms of ease of use, the main thing you’ll have to struggle with is the keyboard. It’s a diddy keyboard for diddy hands and diddy fingers – small, that is, not branded by the hip hop mogul who we hear paradoxically has rather big hands – but then again, the netbook itself is small, so what were you bloody well expecting!? In actual fact it doesn’t take long at all to get used to the smaller keys and spacing. The touchpad is generally pretty good though we did find that a flailing thumb could scupper the window you’re working in – but that’s touchpads in general. You can quickly turn the touchpad off by double tapping the top left. The only issue we found was the left-and-right click buttons. They’re stuck in, as usual, at the bottom of the touch pad, however they are built into the touchpad itself instead of being raised. This makes the touchpad pretty to look at but occasionally annoying to use, particularly with scrolling or moving windows about.

In terms of what’s inside, it’s standard-ish fare: the HP 210 is powered by an Intel Atom N450 which clocks at 1.66Ghz. It’s got a huge 250 GB of storage space and packs in 1GB of RAM memory. While this doesn’t seem like much, compared to the other netbooks below we found the HP 210 to run extremely well.

WiFi is, of course, built in but there’s no 3G. This makes train travel a bit of a pain but since most of us are dongled-up it’s not much of a problem really. Another impressive aspect of the 210 is its long battery life, built with a six-cell battery by default. Your mileage may vary but we got around four and a half hours out of the netbook each time without a charge. When your juice has run out, the charge is fast and you’re good to go again in no time.

The Good: It’s pretty and light. You won’t feel like a huge nerd bring this out in front of a bunch of Macbook’d types. It runs smoothly and Quickweb is a great addition. Generally sample kit is fun and we’d like to keep it, but we were really sad to part with the 210 and this review is considering buying one.

The Bad: The touchpad can be annoying at times. We wouldn’t have minded some additional memory but generally the 1 GB fared well.

The Ugly: Hey? What!? The netbook BSOD’d on us once and on reboot it told us that there was no operating installed! We let it cool down for a while and on the second reboot all was well again. Phew.