An anonymous reader writes "Here's another story of a tech gadget that arrived before its time. Nokia created a web-ready tablet running EPOC (later to be renamed as Symbian) thirteen years ago. The tablet was set to go into full production, and they actually built a thousand units just before it was canceled. The tablet was scrubbed because market research showed there wasn't demand for the device. The team got devices for themselves and the rest were destroyed. The team was then fired. The lesson: Don't try to be pioneer if you're relying on market research studies."
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SpankiMonki sends this news from The Guardian: "Children are arriving at nursery school able to 'swipe a screen' but lack the manipulative skills to play with building blocks, teachers have warned. They fear that children are being given tablets to use 'as a replacement for contact time with the parent' and say such habits are hindering progress at school. Addressing the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Manchester on Tuesday, Colin Kinney said excessive use of technology damages concentration and causes behavioural problems such as irritability and a lack of control."
jones_supa writes: "Sony is warning about a potential fire risk in some of its Vaio Fit 11A portable notebooks (the final model under the Vaio brand, which was sold off in February). The company is asking customers to stop using this laptop model as soon as possible. Sony said it had received three reports of overheating batteries causing partial burns to Vaio computers. The company stopped selling the product at the beginning of this month, with nearly 26,000 units in the wild. The manufacturer and company responsible for the faulty batteries is Panasonic. 'A Panasonic spokeswoman confirmed the company had provided the batteries to Sony under an outsourcing contract. She declined to say which other computer makers had received Panasonic batteries, as such information is confidential. However, she said the batteries are customized according to clients' requirements and differ depending on client.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports on research (PDF) into the (alleged) wearable device trend: fully one third of customers who bought one stopped using it within six months. Activity trackers fared even worse: half of them are collecting dust. 'For comparison, you wouldn't find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they'd abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone. They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn't occur to them. ... So far, there aren't clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing, in the way that [early] music players did. Useful new technology has to replace or simplify some function, ideally; otherwise it has the challenge of persuading us that we need this entirely new thing. Smartphones are simpler ways to collect your email – and also make phone calls and surf the web (and so on). Fitness trackers... let you track your fitness. But given that 41% of people run with their smartphones, you might get by with a movement tracking app instead. The trouble with devices that claim to track your steps is they're so easily hoaxed by waving your arms around.'"
An anonymous reader sends this quote from OLPC News about whether the One Laptop Per Child project can expect to continue much longer: "Here is a question for you: 8 years on, would you recommend anyone start a new deployment with XO-1 laptops? With the hardware now long past its life expectancy, spare parts hard to find, and zero support from the One Laptop Per Child organization, its time to face reality. The XO-1 laptop is history. Sadly, so is Sugar. Once the flagship of OLPC's creativity in redrawing the human-computer interaction, few are coding for it and new XO variants are mostly Android/Gnome+Fedora dual boots. Finally, OLPC Boston is completely gone. No staff, no consultants, not even a physical office. Nicholas Negroponte long ago moved onto the global literacy X-Prize project." A response from OLPC says their mission is "far from over." They add, "OLPC also has outsourced many of the software and development units because the organization is becoming more hardware and OS agnostic, concentrating on its core values – education."
DavidGilbert99 writes: "Keylogging has been a big component of most malware in recent years, but with the advent of touch as the interface of choice on smartphones, tablets and — increasingly — laptops, it has been getting harder for cyber-criminals to know what you are doing. A researcher has developed a proof-of-concept piece of malware which is able to capture everything you are doing on your touch devices, from where you touch the screen to what is being displayed."
FuzzNugget writes "Peter Bright brings the hammer down on the increasing absurdities of laptop keyboard design, from the frustrating to the downright asinine, like the 'adaptive keyboard' of the new Lenovo X1 Carbon. He says, 'The X1's Adaptive Keyboard may have a superior layout to a regular keyboard (I don't think that it does, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend that it does), but that doesn't matter. As long as I have to use regular keyboard layouts too, the Adaptive Keyboard will be at a huge disadvantage. Every time I use another computer, I'll have to switch to the conventional layout. The standard layout has tremendous momentum behind it, and unless purveyors of new designs are able to engineer widespread industry support—as Microsoft did with the Windows keys, for example—then their innovations are doomed to being annoyances rather than improvements.' When will laptop manufacturers focus on perfecting a standardized design rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with every new generation?"
Mat Honan, a writer for Wired, has posted an article detailing his takeaways from long-term use of Google Glass. He makes particular note of how the device's form factor is much more offensive to others than the actual technology contained within. For example, his wife wanted him to take pictures and shoot videos of their child's birth, but not with Glass: "It was the way Glass looked. It might let me remain in the moment, but my wife worried it would take her out of it, that its mere presence would be distracting because it’s so goddamn weird-looking." It can get unpleasant when strangers are involved: "People get angry at Glass. They get angry at you for wearing Glass. They talk about you openly. It inspires the most aggressive of passive aggression. ... Wearing Glass separates you. It sets you apart from everyone else. It says you not only had $1,500 to plunk down to be part of the “explorer” program, but that Google deemed you special enough to warrant inclusion (not everyone who wanted Glass got it; you had to be selected). Glass is a class divide on your face." Honan found most of the default software to be handy, but the third-party software to be lacking. Glass also facilitated his unintentional switch from an iPhone to an Android phone. He ends the piece by warning of the inevitability of devices like Glass: "The future is on its way, and it is going to be on your face. We need to think about it and be ready for it in a way we weren’t with smartphones."
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the application and the user. We're seeing tablets advertised like crazy these days, and a trip to any busy coffee shop with free wi-fi will make it obvious that while there may not be as many tablets in use as notebooks, you see a lot more of them than you did five years ago, when it seemed like Bill Gates was the only person who had one, which he tried to show off as often as he could. In 2010, Apple debuted the iPad, and before long tablets were all over the place. So, on behalf of people we know -- and there are more than a few -- who either sneer at tablet computers or aren't sure they need one, we turned to David Needle, editor of TabTimes.com, for advice on what kind of tablet to buy -- assuming we need to buy one at all.
MojoKid writes "Mobile device displays continue to evolve and along with the advancements in technology, resolution continues to scale higher, from Apple's Retina Display line to high resolution IPS and OLED display in various Android and Windows phone products. Notebooks are now also starting to follow the trend, driving very high resolution panels approaching 4K UltraHD even in 13-inch ultrabook form factors. Lenovo's Yoga 2 Pro, for example, is a three pound, .61-inch thick 13.3-inch ultrabook that sports a full QHD+ IPS display with a 3200X1800 native resolution. Samsung's ATIV 9 Plus also boast the same 3200X1800 13-inch panel, while other recent releases from ASUS and Toshiba are packing 2560X1440 displays as well. There's no question, machines like Lenovo's Yoga 2 Pro are really nice and offer a ton of screen real estate for the money but just how useful is a 3 or 4K display in a 13 to 15-inch design? Things can get pretty tight at these high resolutions and you'll end up turning screen magnification up in many cases so fonts are clear and things are legible. Granted, you can fit a lot more on your desktop but it raises the question, isn't 1080p enough?"
An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation announced today the first laptop they have been able to certify as-is that respects the user's freedoms. The laptop is free down to using Coreboot in place of a proprietary BIOS. The OS shipped on the laptop is Trisquel, the Ubuntu derived Linux OS that removes all traces of proprietary firmware, patented formats, etc. The only issue though for new customers is this endorsed laptop comes down to being a refurbished 2006 ThinkPad X60 with single or dual-core Intel CPU, 1GB+ of RAM, 60GB+ HDD, and a 1024x768 12.1-inch screen, while costing $320+ USD (200 GBP). The FSF-certified refurbished laptops are only offered for sale through the Gluglug UK shop. Are these outdated specs worth your privacy and freedom?"
BigVig209 writes "In a follow-up to a story we discussed in May, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that London-based Datawind it will begin selling its $38 UbiSlate tablet computer in the U.S. early next year. 'The $38 7-inch touchscreen UbiSlate 7Ci tablet runs on Google's Android 4.0 and features a 1-gigahertz, single-core processor. It has 4 gigabytes of storage with microSD card slots for additional storage. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800x480 pixels.' The specs aren't the greatest, fastest, or most powerful, but, for under $50, they're still pretty decent."
Sockatume writes "The IEC, the standards body which wrote the phone charger specification used in the EU, has approved a standardised laptop charger. While the 'DC Power Supply for Portable Personal Computer' doesn't have a legal mandate behind it, the IEC is still optimistic that it will lead to a reduction in electronics waste and make it easier to find a replacement charger. Unfortunately the technical documentation does not seem to be available yet, but previous comments indicate that it will be a barrel plug of some kind." I wish they'd push a yank-resistant and positive-connecting plug along the lines of Apple's MagSafe.
Dan Rosenbaum is the editor and publisher of Wearable Tech Insider, which means he covers wearable technology every day. He's obviously a good person to chat with if we want to learn what's going on in the wearable tech world. So we did just that. The overall sense we got is that wearable tech is less of a gimmick than it was a few years ago, but isn't necessarily something all of us need quite yet. One note here: Dan is not a Google Glass fan. Watch the video (or read the transcript) to find out why.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm looking to pick up a tablet for my father. He is in his 70s and the internet is a bit of a mystery to him, but he asked me about a way to send/receive email and watch online videos. He is not interested in getting a smartphone or changing his cheap phone plan that doesn't include data. But he is interested in getting a tablet and using the free Wi-Fi that is available in his building. Here is my question: can you recommend a tablet equivalent to those phones with the big numbers that they sell to older people? Does there exist a tablet with an interface that would be simple and easy to use for someone who has very little experience with computer GUIs?"
stigmato writes "Once upon a time the MacBook Pro line was well-regarded amongst IT professionals for their quality, performance, serviceability & upgradeability. As appealing as the new Retina displays are, I don't want a device I cannot upgrade or repair. Glued in batteries and soldered in RAM with high prices have made me look to other manufacturers again. What are you buying, /. community? System76? Dell? Old article but still rings true with the latest models. I post this from my 2010 MBP 13" with a 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD in the optical bay, 8GB (possibly 16GB soon) and a user replaced battery."
SmartAboutThings writes "Chip maker AMD has announced that it's won 2 CES Innovation Awards for a gaming tablet the company plans to show off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device is called "Project Discovery" and will come with AMD's Mullins chip that is a 64-bit, x86-based chip, perfectly suitable for Windows 8.1. The low-power Mullins APU (accelerated processing unit) is AMD's answer to Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm, aimed at fanless tablets, ultrathin notebooks, and 2-in-1 devices. The 28nm processor is expected to consume as little as 2 watts of energy while in use. The obtained images show that the upcoming AMD tablet is quite similar to Razer Edge."
adeelarshad82 writes "Acer officially announced its new Chromebook, C720. The C720 is 30% thinner (at 0.75 inches thick) and lighter (at 2.76 pounds) than Acer's previous Chromebook, C7. The C720 Chromebook has an 11.6-inch anti-glare widescreen, with a 1,366-by-768 resolution. Acer claims seven second boot times and up to 8.5 hours of battery life. The C720 comes with 4GB of DDR3L memory and uses an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Haswell technology. The system also has 16GB of local SSD storage along with 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi to get to Google's cloud-based storage. Like previous Chromebooks, the C720 Chromebook is constantly updated with the latest version of the Chrome OS and built around the Chrome browser." One thing this machine lacks is the most intriguing feature of the new ARM-based (and lower-power) Chromebook 11 from HP: charging via Micro-USB.
itwbennett writes "PC maker Lenovo accidentally posted manuals on its website showing an Android laptop called the IdeaPad A10. Lenovo spokesman Chris Millward said the company had planned on making an official announcement for the device, and that 'the product has not been canceled. It will be going out to the market.' Launch dates and pricing to come, but specs show that it could be a budget product."
SmartAboutThings sends this excerpt from Technology Personalized: "Intel has started shipping the fourth generation Haswell chips for tablets, which brings power-efficient processors and hence much better battery life to Windows tablets. According to IDG, Intel has now started shipping new low-power, fourth-generation Core i3 processors, including one that draws as little as 4.5 watts of power in specific usage scenarios. These new Haswell processors could go into fanless tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids, bringing longer battery life to the devices. This is a great news for Windows lovers, who have had to sacrifice performance for battery life (and vice versa) until now. Now, with almost 50% better battery life as promised by Intel for Windows tablets, the OEMs have no real need to come out with Windows RT based tablets and hybrids anymore."