Friday, December 31, 2010

What to expect in 2011?

1. Laptops - Sandy Bridge. In 2009 and 2010 Intel rolled out their Nehalem Intel processor microarchitecture which is better know as the i3, i5 and i7 processors. Nehalem brought biggest single jump in laptop performance we have seen, especially in terms of integrated graphics power and a reduction in power consumption bringing unprecedented battery life. In 2011, Intel will be releasing their Sandy Bridge microarchitecture which they promise will be the biggest leap in processing power they have made.   

2. Netbooks - Fusion. AMD Fusion is a new approach to processor design and software development, delivering powerful CPU and GPU capabilities for HD, 3D and data-intensive workloads in a single-die processor called an APU. In simple terms, you can expect by the end of 2011 every single netbook in the market will be able to handle high definition content. Think of it as Nehalem for the netbook. Battery life will be an improvement over the current generation of AMD low voltage CPU's but we expect it to fall short of Intel ATOM levels.

3. Smartphones -  Dual Core. More powerful dual core smartphones will better be able to support flash and bring more of a personal computer experience to your 3.7-inch screen and you can expect NVIDIA's Tegra to be the prominent player.

4. Tablets - Honeycomb - Apple will improve on its iPad with a dual core processor, camera's front and back and a few other improvements keeping it on top of the market. But Apple creates premium priced products and their market share is limited by their price. In the same way we saw Android smartphones shoot past Apple iPhone's, but the end of 2011, we expect the a who slew of Android tablets will have a bigger share of the market than the iPad. But do not expect iPad sales to go down. We simply expect the tablet market to increase in size with good lower cost options. Expect to see dual core processors too, just like the smartphones.

Wishing you all a happy new year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

HTC Desire HD priced

The HTC Desire HD is now available at CMK Celphones for Php29,990. That is a lot lower than the suggested retail price announced two months ago, and even lower than our estimated price.

The HTC Desire HD is an Android powered smartphone with a 4.3-inch screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255 1 GHz processor, 768MB of RAM, 1.5GB of internal storage (the unit comes with a 8GB MicroSD for a total of 9.5GB storage) and an 8MP camera with a dual led flash.

At this price, the HTC Desire HD is our favorite smartphone.

Skype for iPhone now officially supports video calls

Skype for iPhone now officially supports video calls. Sky is a Voice Over Internet Protocol service which will allow you to make free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls over 3G and WiFi. Skype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or later. You can also use an iPod touch. With a iPhone 3GS, you can send video using rear camera on iPhone 3GS. The iPad and iPod touch 3rd Generation can receive video only as they do not have cameras. For more information, visit the Skype website.

Nokia sells 4 million N8's

Phone Arena reports that since its October 2010 launch, Nokia has shipped between 3.5 to 4 million N8's. While it is nothing compared to Apple's 4 million iPhone's a month, the 3.5 to 4 million units is not bad a bad figure overall.

That is just a bit less, than the Samsung Galaxy S which has sold 9.3 million units since its release last July. The Nokia N8 did much better than the entire gaggle of Windows Phone 7 smartphones, which were also launched in October shipped 1.5 million units during the same period Nokia shipped 3.5-4 million N8's. 

It seems they are selling well in the Philippines too. I was about to get a Nokia N8 on retention from Smart Communications, but after going to two Wireless Centers, the only color they had on stock was orange. Checking with the Nokia Store, they only had orange and green available. Silver, grey and blue are all listed as out of stock.

Update: There is a known issue with the Nokia N8 not powering up or powering down unexpectedly. You can read about it here at the Nokia Conversations blog interview and watch the interview with Nokia’s Excecutive Vice President Niklas Savander at this link.

Smart Communications 1.5GB cap on Mobile Internet Plans explained

Yugatech explains Smart 1.5GB cap on Smart Communications Mobile Internet Plans:
In order to avoid regular users from being affected by the heavy users, the heavy users (those who exceed the 1.5GB cap) are isolated and transferred to a different network segment or bucket. The allocation for that small group in the segment is then limited. Hence, only the heavy users will be competing for the limited bandwidth in their bucket while all the regular users remain on the regular, uncongested network.
You can read the rest of the article here, which also explains broadband capping in general. 

I know this may sound strange to many, but I actually would be more inclined to apply for a service with a cap than one without. Since this should mean more consistent speeds. I do have separate internet connections for my home (Globe DSL), my office (Smart Bro) and a separate mobile connection (Smart 3G). I do not try to use a single connection for all my needs. Now if you are the type to tether your mobile phone to your desktop when you get home, the cap is not going to be something you like. 

More than three years ago, I used to use Globe Visibility, until it slowed down to a crawl and one day simply stop working. I move over to Smart 3G, at Php10 for 30 minutes. It used to be fast and consistent until Smart Communication started to offer unlimited 3G access for a fixed fee a month.

Eat-all-you-can without any limit sounds good. Unlimited means having one rate for all, which means setting one rate for all. This results in light and moderate users having to pay for bandwidth used by heavy users or as what it most likely happening, the service provided simply maintaining the best service they can for Php999 a month regardless of whether it is satisfactory or not. 

The service providers in offering unlimited services opened up a pandora's box, which they will now have a hard time closing. But pay-as-you-go is always a better policy. Service providers should just provide plans with higher caps for heavy users and charge with higher fees for those plans. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If you really demand unlimited without limits, in the end all you can expect is poor service.

Lenovo S10-3 (5906-6559) @ Php12,990

Lenovo S10-3 IdeaPad
Netbooks are getting cheaper than ever and now there really is a good budget netbook. Lenovo Philippines has a lower end version of its 10.1-inch Lenovo S10-3, which has one of the best keyboards in a netbook, priced at just Php12,990. At this price you only get a 3-cell battery and the operating system is DOS. We like the availability of DOS equipped laptops and netbooks, since it gives us the option of buying one to run Linux on without having to pay for a operating system we do not plan to use. It's other specifications are pretty good for the price, you get a Atom N455 processor (1.66GHz), 1GB of RAM, a160GB hard driver, WiFi, webcam and a card reader.

Neo has even a cheaper option, the B3360N netbook priced at Php11,999. It's specifications are nearly identical to the S10-3, but it comes with a larger 250GB hard drive. The cheapest option is the eMachines eMD350-21G16ikk at Php11,900. The eMD350 has nearly identical specifications to the S10-3, but which comes with the older Atom N450 processor. 

Despite being the most expensive of the three, the Lenovo S10-3 is the best of the three. It comes down to build quality, and the Lenovo is better built than the Neo or eMachines units. 

You can install Windows 7 Starter on it for an additional Php1,500-1,950 or, try Ubuntu Netbook Edition Linux operating system. It's easier to use than you think and has an excellent interface for small screens. This post is being typed on a laptop with Ubuntu 10.10 Linux installed. WiFi worked without a problem on install, and it was easy enough to configure Smart Bro's Plug-It modem through a wizard. Since we are talking budget, give Ubuntu a spin and if you like it you can maximize your savings.

Ubuntu Linux Netbook Edition

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

HTC Desire HD is here!

The HTC Desire HD is now available at Top Electronics.

We do not know how much. I am sure stocks wont last... this is the probably most awaited, most wanted, most desired smartphone in the Philippine market right now among the techie crowd. If you want one, best you now waste your time here and head over to their website and get one.

RIM's PlayBook to be delayed due to battery life issues

 It is amazing how fast information travels these days. I first saw if on Twitter which lead me to this article at, which quotes this article at Electronista. A quick search in Google News looking for confirmation results in locating more than a dozen articles on the matter The earliest article I can find on the matter is on Tech Trader Daily, about 15 hours ago. 
"If Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook is to succeed at market the way the company hopes, there are a few engineering hurdles to overcome. The most significant, according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, is the device's relatively poor battery life.

Sources tell him the tablet currently lasts just a few hours per charge, compared with rivals like Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which lasts about six, and the iPad, which lasts upward of 10. If true, that's an untenable situation for RIM, which really needs to hit the mark with the PlayBook, and it may cause a delay of the launch--if only for a bit. 

Exactly what "just a few hours" is, we are not sure. But we are guessing 3-4. "If only a bit" probably means one or two more months. On December, RIM said the PlayBook would come out in the first calendar quarter of the year, meaning March 2011. Now it is looking to May 2011. By than there will be a whole gaggle of Android Tablet outs, and the newer better Apple iPads should have hit the scene as well.  

We are really interested in the Playbook, with a promised priced of under US$500, it should be a cheaper alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Tab (sans 3G) while providing dual core goodness. By May 2011, those features may be pretty much par for the course. 

Android Market now at 200,000 apps

PhoneArena reports that Android now has 200,000 Apps. Considering that there were only 100,000 Apps for Android last August versus 300,000 for iOS, this is an incredible jump. A 100% increase in two months indicates is a means that they are adding 50,000 Apps a month. At that rate that by the end of the first quarter or in the second quarter of 2011, Android will have the most Apps in the market.


Insights from: Why I Chose an HTC Mozart Windows Phone

Selecting a new gadget is a big deal. A digital camera is something I plan to keep for at least 3-4 years. My shiny new MacBook Air will have to hold the fort for 2-3 years. A mobile phone is supposed to be replaced only every two years, that is when my carrier will give me one for "free" under a two year contract. It would be a dream to be a writer for a tech blog and to be allowed to use the latest tech gadgets for even short periods of time, but that is not the case. 

For those of you who follow this blog, you probably have guessed that lately, I have been focused on mobile phones. Today, is the day that I qualify for early retention (and given that my carrier might take a month of two to get you a new phone, availing of retention early is not a bad thing to do). In the past two years, no product has evolved more than the smartphone, making my decision more difficult. I am on my third physical QWERTY phone, and if you asked me a year ago, I would have said I would never leave the QWERTY messenger phone factor. In the tech world, forever may mean one year.

Prowling my favorite online haunts and just randomly searching on Google for advice, I came across this article: Why I Chose an HTC Mozart Windows Phone
The best way to start is to discuss why I went with Windows Phone 7.  I want to be frank here, I both love and hate smartphones with equal measure.  I like being able to do a little light web browsing and check and update Facebook and Twitter, but primarily I want a phone to be a phone.  This is the overriding concern I have about modern smartphones, they’re simply not phones first!
x x x The thing I’ve always liked the most about it though is simply being able to switch it on and see at a glance the time and any forthcoming appointments.  Android can do this, but with widgets, the iPhone won’t do this at all, and I believe Windows Phone does this best of all.
I really have to agree with this. When I go my first smartphone it displayed my next appointment on its face. When I got my second one I assumed it would (which it did not do). My main consideration in selecting a smartphone ever since than has been one that displays my next appointment on its home page. I mainly rely my phone for voice calls, to keep track of my appointments and to-do list and handle my SMS and email.

Last time I selected a smartphone, it was between a Symbian and Windows Mobile powered QWERTY messenger. The Symbian OS does a better job of displaying appointments on the home page, displaying your next two appointments and it integrates the to-do list with your calendar. WinMobile only displays the next immediate appointment and does not integrate to to-do list with the calendar, but is does have a better month view and had threaded SMS. Threaded SMS better physical keyboard gave the nod to the WinMobile QWERTY messenger.

Luckily, my carrier (Smart Communications) does not offer the iPhone, so I do not have to worry about whether I should change my seven year philosophy of what I think a smartphone should do in exchange for Apple's shiny new toy. It would be offered at a plan higher than what I normally am willing to pay anyway and there is no way I am switching carriers. Smart has given me no reason to want to switch. Not even a super phone would be worth that. Short of buying a new phone, my options are really just limited to a pair of Android's (the HTC Wildfire and Acer Ferrari Liquid E), the BlackBerry 8520 (but I am guessing a 9300 should be available soon), the Symbian powered Nokia N8. Adding Php3,500 could get me a Samsung Galaxy Tab instead. The HTC Mozart is available but would cost another, Php12,500. 

Or maybe I should wait and see if they add new options in the next month or two... after all I am keeping the new phone for two years. But one thing is settled, I want my calendar on the home screen.

Do techie's really hate Apple that much?

I am an avid reader of Laptop Magazine, which had their Readers' Choice Awards earlier this month. In the Readers' Choice Award for Laptop of the Year, the Sony Vaio Z came out on top (25.61%), with the HP Envy 14 coming in second, the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro (13.51%) came in third and the 11.6-inch MacBook Air came in fourth (12.81%).  The results seemed fair enough, especially since the the 13.3-inch MacBook Air and 13.3-inch Toshiba Portege R705, the "poor man's" Vaio Z were not included in the poll. 

Than came the Readers' Choice Award for Smartphone of the Year. The RIM BlackBerry Torch garnered the highest number of votes with 35.94%, with the HTC Evo 4G coming in second with 31.43%. The Apple iPhone 4 came in a far third with 11%. I would not have been too surprised if an Android phone had won this category, with one in four Smartphone sold in the third quarter of 2010 being an Android. The poll, surprisingly did not include the Samsung Galaxy S, Google Nexus One or HTC Desire. The Torch winning the crown was a bit of a shocker. Apple sells more iPhone 4 at 4 million units a month, than RIM sell BlackBerry's of all types, and I am guessing the Curve is their best seller. 

But the Readers' Choice Award for Tablet of the Year really takes the cake. The Apple iPad got 28.91% of the votes, which was second place.The winner the ExoPC Slate at 53.13%. 

My first reaction is what is the ExoPC Slate? The ExoPC Slate is a 11.6" tablet running on Windows 7. It is almost 50% heavier than the iPad and has less than half of the iPad's battery life. At US$599, it is not cheaper than an iPad. It does have a very interesting looking user interface and its creators should be given credit for that, but Tablet of the Year?  If people voted with their wallets, the Apple iPad would be the clear winner.

I understand there are things not to be liked about Apple. The only issue I have with Apple is the Apple tax. But this year some of the Apple products do not really carry the price premium you expect. If you are looking for a reasonably powerful 13-inch laptop which weighs in at three pounds and give good battery life, the 13-inch MacBook Air and Toshiba Portege. Here, in the Philippines the Toshiba actually cost 20% more than the entry level 13-inch MacBook Air, making the MacBook Air an easy choice.  The entry level Sony Vaio Z is of was the most desirable, but it is also by the far the most expensive.

For tablets, the Php30,990 base model Apple iPad 3G is cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S and the Php23,990 is very competitive (a better deal actually) with even tablets like Cherry Mobile's Superion Php19,900 a 7-inch Android powered tablet powered by a 600MHz Qualcomm processor with it whopping 512MB of internal memory. It is a bit odd, talking about Apple's as value for money options. The same is true for the iPod's too by the way.

Personally, I find the 9.7-inch Apple iPad too big, but with its entry level Php23,990 price, if I got a tablet right now, it makes more sense than shelling out Php34,000 for my favorite Tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. 

I really do not see how the Apple iPad could lose a Tablet of the Year Award. In the end, I can just picture Steve Job's laughing away at these results. With iPhone sale at 4 million phones a month and iPad sale at 1 million tablets a month.  

BlackBerry services in the Philippines: Sun Cellular

Interestingly enough, Sun Cellular is the only company to offer a dedicated BlackBerry plan for the consumer market. Globe Telecom and Smart Communications offer BlackBerry services as add-ons to a regular plan.

Sun Cellular's Blackberry Plan is a Php2,500 per month plan under a two year contract. BlackBerry Plan 2500 comes with a free BlackBerry 8520 Curve (presumably to be upgraded to a 9300 soon). For a Php15,000 cash out, you can upgrade the handset to a BlackBerry 9780 Bold. The plan comes with unlimited access to BlackBerry services and unlimited internet browsing. As for telephony, the plan also comes unlimited calls and SMS within the Sun Cellular network. There is are 350 SMS to other networks bundled in, and Php500 credit for calls or SMS to other networks.  

Sun Cellular's also offers add-on Blackberry Plan's at the following rates:

BlackBerry® Add-on PlansInclusionsAdd-on MSF
Plan 700FREE 10MB allowance for BlackBerry Service
*Php 0.10/KB excess usage charge
P 700
Plan 999Unlimited BlackBerry ServiceP 999

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NoseDial for iPhone

I saw this over at GSM Arena. An iPhone App which allows you to dial with your nose...

Image from GSMArena
Follow this link to find out why you may need this.

8-inch Apple iPad?

The 7-inch Apple iPad rumors do not seem to die. Steve Jobs has explained as to why Apple wont be releasing a 7-inch iPad. "Apple has done extensive user testing and we really understand this stuff," he said. "There are clear limits on how close you can place things on a touchscreen, which is why we think 10 inch is the minimum screen size to create great tablet apps." x x x "One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent of the benefits of a 10-inch screen...this is far from the truth. Seven-inch screens are 45 percent as large as an iPad," Jobs said. "This size isn't sufficient for making great tablet apps." In sum, Jobs declared that  7-inch tablets would be "dead on arrival".

The argument that a 7-inch iPad would be too small is obviously flawed, Apple's own 3.5-inch iPhone would be proof of this. The reality is that creating both a 10-inch (actually 9.7-inch) and a 7-inch version would create difficulties for any company. The real problem, as Job's correctly explained, is that a 7-inch tablet would have a screen half the size of a 10-inch tablet. While a program created for one would run on the other as you could even keep the same 1024 x 768 screen resolution for both tablets, the buttons, icons, fields and other elements would be half the size. 

After having used both the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, I have to say, I am a bit confused about exactly how you use one. Considering how well it has sold, I guess most people do not share the same opinion. A 9.6-inch tall and 7.5-inch wide tablet feels just a bit too big for me to want to carry around in one hand for a long period of time. It seems more like something I would like to lay down on a table or place on my lap. 

I really did like the smaller size of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is a product I am reluctant to purchase because there comes the question of whether or not it will get long term support. Google has announced that its Tablet OS will be Android 3.0. Early adoption of an Android tablet may mean that it might not be able to run Android Tablet Apps once they are out, leaving you running apps designed for a mobile phone on your Samsung Galaxy Tab. There are reports that the Samsung Galaxy Tab will get a Honeycomb update.

I suppose I am not the only one who would like a smaller tablet and Apple would be making a mistake to ignore this market. Maybe an 8-inch tablet might not be considered to be "dead on arrival" by Apple's guru? Samsung might make an official announcement on Honeycomb support for its tablet. If not there, will be a whole slew of 7-inch tablet to choose from in a few months time.

BlackBerry services in the Philippines: Smart Communications

For the consumer segment, Smart Communications allows offers you unlimited access to BlackBerry services,  push email, BlackBerry Messenger, instant messaging, BlackBerry Social Networking Apps and web browsing for a monthly fee of Php1,200 per month. You can also avail of the service on a weekly or daily basis. Smart Communications also offers allows you to avail of what it calls it lite services, by unbundling the email access from social networking. The fees for BlackBerry services is billed on top of you monthly service fee.

BlackBerry Unlimited Data Plan (Unlimited access to email, instant messaging including BBM, BlackBerry Social Networking Apps, and Browsing)
DailyP50BB DAY
WeeklyP300BB WEEK
MonthlyP1200BB MONTH
BlackBerry Lite Social Bundle (Unlimited access to BlackBerry Social Networking Apps, and instant messaging including BBM)
WeeklyP100 (from Dec 10, 2010 – Jan 31, 2011)SOCIAL WEEK
MonthlyP299 (from Dec 10, 2010 – Jan 31, 2011)SOCIAL MONTH
BlackBerry Lite Email Bundle (Unlimited access to email and instant messaging including BBM)
WeeklyP100 (from Dec 10, 2010 – Jan 31, 2011)EMAIL WEEK
MonthlyP299 (from Dec 10, 2010 – Jan 31, 2011)EMAIL MONTH
In order to activate the service you have to text the <keyword> to 2207. For example to avail of the BlackBerry Unlimited Data Plan for a day you have to text BB DAY to 2207.

For additional information you can go to Smart Communications BlackBerry page through this link.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Samsung Wave 723

Hardware Zone has posted a mini-review of the Samsung Wave 723. The Samsung Wave 723 runs on the same bada operating system the is used on the Samsung Wave 8500 and Wave 525. Priced at Php12,500 it priced halfway between the Wave 8500 and Wave 525. 

It priced pretty well for what it offers, with a 3.2-inch 400 x 240 screen, 5MP camera with a LED flash, brushed aluminum battery cover and a removable plastic flip cover with a leather texture give it am appearance making it look more expensive than its Php12,500 asking price. Connectivity options are complete with high speed 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and a micro-USB port. 

All in all, a nice phone. The problem is the bada OS. We have tried this operating system on the Wave 8500 and really have no complaints about it. But these days when people think about  smartphones they think iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. While you wont find any iPhone's at this price range, but the remaining stocks of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 are selling at Php12,000 and the Android powered LG Optimus One P500 is selling at Php12,490. It might be rough sailing for the Wave 723. But this is where Samsung did well give the Wave 723 a premium look. This with an intuitive touchscreen interface will be enough for the Wave 723 to find its niche in the market. Now, if the Wave 723 were an Android...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Globe Telecom now offers the BlackBerry Curve 9300

Globe Telecom is now offering the new BlackBerry Curve, the newly released 9300. We really like the new entry level BlackBerry messenger smartphone sine it has 3G connectivity. The BlackBerry Curve 9300 is available for free at Plan 1799 with a two year contract. In order to take full advantage of any BlackBerry, you should avail BlackBerry services. Globe Telecom offers two packages for the consumer market.

1. What is BlackBerry Messaging (BB MSG)?
BB Messaging is the cheapest BlackBerry plan for Globe Postpaid and Prepaid subscribers. BB Messaging allows subscribers to enjoy unlimited push email, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and Instant Messaging for only P300 for 30 days. Unlimited push email can be enjoyed for Yahoo! Mail, GMAIL, MSN and any POP3/IPOP email account. For subscribers with corporate emails, you can register your office email if you have Outlook Web Access (OWA). Instant Messaging can be enjoyed only via the following applications: Yahoo! Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Google Talk. Mobile Browsing is NOT allowed while subscribed to BB Messaging. Should you want unlimited surfing + unlimited use of BlackBerry services, unsubscribe first to BB Messaging then register to Super Surf for BlackBerry or BlackBerry MAX.  
2. What is BlackBerry Social (BB Social)?
BB Social is the cheapest BlackBerry plan for Globe Postpaid and Prepaid subscribers. BB Social allows subscribers to enjoy unlimited Social Networking, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and Instant Messaging for only P300 for 30 days. Social Networking can be enjoyed only via the following applications: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. Instant Messaging can be enjoyed via the following applications: Yahoo! Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Google Talk. Mobile Browsing is NOT allowed while subscribed to BB Social. Should you want unlimited surfing + unlimited use of BlackBerry services, unsubscribe first to BB Social then register to Super Surf for BlackBerry or BlackBerry MAX.  
For postpaid subscribers, the BlackBerry service is charge over and above your plan, which means that you should be prepared to spend Php2099 a month. The Php300 or Php600 premium over your regular monthly bill will show you why BlackBerry's have been so popular over the past few years.

Globe Telecom also offers plan with unlimited browsing, email and instant messaging, starting at Php50 per day. For more information you can follow this link.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Tablet Beckons

They have been with me, for what seems to be forever. My permanent daily companions have been the notebook and the smartphone. The notebook has gotten faster and lighter with each generation and offered more battery life. The smartphone has gotten smarter and not is pretty much a mini computer which can be used to browse the send and receive email, browse the web, read and edit word documents and view, and in theory even prepare, spreadsheets.  

Now comes the tablet... a new device has appeared making many, I suspect, consider a new daily companions. The tablet, whether the 9.7-inch iPad or the 70-inch Galaxy S are thinnest and lightest viable alternatives to a laptop that people had a chance to acquire. Notebooks that thin and light, have been available from time to time, the 1.6 pound 11.1" Sony Vaio X and a couple of 9 and 10-inch Fijitsu's come to mind. But the Vaio X and those small Fujitsu came at a fairly expensive price, while tablets are relatively affordable.  

When I saw my first Apple iPad a few months back, it did not smile at me. It was a bit too big to be used while walking around, too big to be held with one hand.  If got a device primarily to use it on on a table or airline seatback tray, I would prefer a small notebook. A smaller tablet like the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab is something you can use in situation where a notebook would not be feasible or convenient to use.

I do not see the tablet replacing my laptop. I spend to much time preparing long documents to give up a physical keyboard. I does not mean that it would not have its own small uses. A small tablet is a less obtrusive device for taking notes during meetings and making references to resources during lectures and hearings. I can imagine, preparing spreadsheets might actually be easier on a tablet.

Walking around a mall with my wife doing Christmas shopping, I typed out this blog post on my smartphone while waiting in line to pay for gifts and waiting for packages to get wrapped, I cannot help but wonder if I there is actually room for something a both bigger and smaller.
Some random thoughts... Happy holidays.

HTC Desire is the best smartphone for 2010

Techradar, in its article 20 best mobile phones in the world today, has just rated the HTC Desire the best smartphone in the world. No this is not an old listing. This was just posted 6 hours ago. In Techradars listing the venerable HTC Desire beat out the Apple iPhone 4 (No. 2), the HTC Desire HD (No. 3), the Samsung Galaxy S (No. 4), and the Google Nexus S (No. 5).

Priced locally now as low as Php24,400 (from Php25,500 just a few weeks ago) with an official HTC Warranty is priced just a lower than the Php26K Samsung i9000 Galaxy S 8GB. Notably the local available Samsung Galaxy S 8GB's are all grey market units do not come with an official Samsung warranty. The local Samsung distributor only decided to bring in the 16GB version of the Galaxy S which is priced a fair amount higher than the HTC Desire at Php30,990. In that sense, the HTC Desire is still a viable option despite having lost its AMOLED screen, dependence solely on a MicroSD card (a 2GB card is bundled) for storage and absence of HD video recording.

This is certainly going to be controversial listing and will enrage an iPhone 4 user or two. Personally, if I made a jump to Android, this would be one of my choices, but mainly for sentimental reasons (or if the price drops further). It's your last chance at getting a Google Nexus One which one year after its release is still a current phone. Pretty impressive.

Acer Aspire One 522: Next Generation Netbook released?

Macles reports that the Acer Aspire One 522 is out. This is one of the new next generation netbooks we have been writing about which will have full support for HD content.  As expected it uses a cool running dual core AMD C-50 "Ontario" APU, clocked at 1GHz and rated at just 9W TDP. The on-chip graphics solution is an Radeon 6250 graphics, which support DirectX11 and can play HD content. Yes, this is one of the new AMD Fusion chips you have been hearing about. The netbook will have a HDMI port. Nothing really surprising, but a definite step forward for netbooks. 

The Acer Aspire One 522 will use the same chassis as the current Aspire One 255

There is one surprise though, the 10.1 inch LCD screen will sport a 1280 x720 screen resolution (720p). We were expecting a more industry standard 1366 x 768 screen. Now, this is very interesting.

Expect to see one with a HD sticker prominently displayed on the palm rest this January 2011.

January 9, 2011 update: In the market for a netbook? Technology changes fast. You may want to look at the first AMD Fusion powered netbook in the country, the Acer Aspire One 522 at this link. It's here. Acer Philippines has displayed one to members of the media. Price? An amazingly low Php17,990. Check out the updated post at this link

iPad competitors won't hit the shelves till March 2011 (at the earliest)

For the next three to four months, it appears that the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab are the only really viable options. Apple really did good with this one, creating a new market over which it has a virtual monopoly for a period of a year. Oh, they did this before with the iPod. Good one Apple.

RIM's Playbook

While you will be seeing a lot of tablets being shown at the 2011 Consumer and Electronics Show (CES), GSMArena reports that Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), which is designed to be tablet ready, won't be released by Google until March 2011. Most manufacturers, are waiting for Android 3.0 before releasing their tablets.  RIM's Playbook tablet, powered by RIM's QNX operating system is also rumored to ship in March 2011. HP's WebOS powered PalmPad wont be shipping until March 2011 either. More likely, the Honeycomb tablets won't be on the shelves till April or May 2011. That is about the same time Apple iPad 2. 

Smart Communications Android's

Smart Communications has a couple of Android phones in their mobile phone line-up. While this is no the first time Smart has offered Android phones, they were offered with their mobile internet plans and not their regular plans. 

HTC Wildfire

The two units currently being offered by Smart are the HTC Wildfire and Acer Ferrari Liquid E, both of which are being offered for free at Smart Gold Plan 2500, with a two year contract. Smart is not offering any higher end or lower end Android. At the high end Smart seems to have committed itself to Windows Phone 7 and the HTC Mozart. On the lower end, you find a gaggle of Nokia Symbian phones.

Acer Liquid

The HTC Desire and Desire HD would make better competitors to rival Globe Telecoms Apple iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S. Globe Telecom and Sun Cellular also offer the Samsung Galaxy 5 as entry level smartphones. Smart should contact LG and see about getting their Optimus One. 

Still it is good to see Androids in Smart's regular phone line-up.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lenovo Thinkpad EDGE 11

While some of the best 13-inch laptops like the Sony Vaio Z, MacBook Air or Toshiba Portege R705 weigh in at 3 pounds and make good daily carry units, the typical 13-incher is closer to 4 pounds in weight. We think 11.6-inch laptops are a good size and weight for a daily carry device. The typical 11.6-inch laptop is light, being a little bit over 3 pounds in weight, and its keyboard is not as small or cramped as a 10-inch netbook.

Lenovo has several 11.6" laptops available, the Thinkpad X100e and the Ideapad U165, but the new Thinkpad EDGE 11 is the best of the bunch. The AMD powered X100e and U165 are fine laptops, but fall a bit short on battery life providing about 4 hours of real world computing. The EDGE 11 is powered by Intel Core i3 380UM processor. Mated to a six cell battery, this will give you a good six hours of battery life.

It has all the features you would expect in a current 11.6-inch notebook. A 1366 x 768 screen, the ability to play HD content, a HDMI port to output HD content, a multi-touch keyboard, card reader and the usual wireless and wired connectivity options. Like most 11.6-inch laptops, it has an optical drive. Its specifications are identical to the Acer TimelineX 1830T, and comparing the two is not hard to do.

Compared to the 3 pound, 1-inch TimelineX 1830T, it is 10% heavier and thicker (3.3 pounds and 1.1 inches). Also, the 6-cell battery sticks out the back. It does have its advantages. While this is a bit subjective, it does have a keyboard that provides better tactile feedback and the trackpad is a bit more comfortable to use. 

Our main reservation about the EDGE 11 is the price. It has a retail price of Php35,990 without an operating system which is a fair amount higher than the TimelineX 1830T which can be found for Php28,500 (cash) to Php32,500 (12-months "zero" interest) with Windows 7 Basic (64-bit) installed. The price of the EDGE 11 is about the same as the Core i5 powered  Gateway EC19C10i (which is an 1830T sold under the Gateway brand). 

The EDGE 11 comes in black and red. If you are in the market for an 11.6-inch unit, and the Acer TimelineX 1830T and  Gateway EC19C10i do not strike your fancy (given its netbook look), you may want to give the EDGE 11 a look.

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