Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tablet Newspaper (1994)

What I find most interesting about these nostradamus predictions, is how they nail 99% of everything down to the point. They predict we will have portable multimedia online tablets, that we will share its news contents (facebook) and that using the tablet we can access not only news but entertainment and communication platforms. The only thing they never manage to predict is that 80% of the people buying a pad today will, above all and like with any other type of computer, use it for porn.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My BlackBerry Playbook first impressions

So I just got a 32GB Blackberry Playbook. Here are my first impressions.

When you pick it up it has a nice heft so it doesn’t feel cheap. The back and sides are covered with rubberized paint. Along the top are a headphone jack, play/rewind/forward buttons along with a power button. The bottom has a micro HDMI, micro USB and a docking connector that reminds me of Apple’s Macbook magnetic power connector.

The Playbook has a 7” 1024x600 LCD display with 1GB of RAM, either 16/32/64GB of non expandable memory and is powered by a dual core TI 1Ghz processor.

The Playbook comes with a 10watt AC adapter (same wattage as the iPad) that includes the cord along with a micro USB cable and a nice fitted neoprene carrying case.

When I first turned it on and entered in the settings for my WiFi network it promptly started downloading a 269MB update. Then it took a few minutes to update. In the couple of days I’ve had the Playbook I’ve had 2 huge updates. It’s a good and bad thing. It’s good that we’re getting such frequent updates. On the other hand it’s bad that we need to be getting updates so frequently. Is the glass half full or half empty?

Anyways afterwards it runs you through a quick tutorial. Basically the paradigm is you slide your finger from the bottom bezel to the middle of the screen to bring up the launcher/switch programs. Sliding your finger from the top bezel to the middle brings up a program’s menu (if there is one). There are no physical home or menu button. You can also slide your finger from the left or right onto the screen to switch programs.

It actually reminds me of multitasking on WebOS. I like how the Playbook allows you to see your launcher when you multitask but I wish the Playbook would treat different windows from the same application like WebOS. For example if you have 5 browser windows open in WebOS you’ll have 5 separate entries which are grouped together when you multitask. On the Playbook it will treat the browser as one entry so you have to go to the browser and then switch browser windows.

The Playbook switches orientation automatically depending on how you’re holding it. There’s a orientation lock on the main menu.

What’s cool is the Playbook menu actually reminds me of Blackberry OS 6.0 (in a good way). If you’re a Blackberry 6.0 or even WebOS user you’ll find the Playbook familiar. Anyways for the most part the Playbook menus are simple and intuitive and best of all FAST. Hopefully they’ll address it’s short comings in an update.

As far as text entry goes there are QWERTY keyboards in both portrait and landscape modes. They’re excellent with a really fast response. They actually are laid out like a regular Blackberry’s keyboard. I liked the Playbook’s key-press sound - it kind of reminds me of the Windows Phone 7 sound.

While the Playbook ships with a smattering of apps really the main app is it’s browser and what a browser it is. It’s fast and has support for flash. I will remember the browser windows you last had open if you close it (you can turn this feature off) and it has a private browser setting which won’t remember your history.

The Playbook actually has a bunch of shortcuts for different email providers in the main menu but they’re actually shortcuts to the various email provider’s webpages.

While the Playbook browser is excellent the flaw in using it’s browser instead of apps are that for the most part the web is intended for computers with a keyboard and mouse. Some websites don’t work well without them. For example I tried to access my Google Docs but the on screen keyboard wouldn’t pop up when I created a new document. Another feature you lose out on is that some apps integrate with the operating system so you get stuff like alerts, widgets, that sort of thing.

One of the ironic things about the Playbook is that out of the box, it’s a Blackberry with no Email. To get email on it you either have to use the browser or you need to own a Blackberry. What happens is you download an app called ‘Blackberry Bridge’ to your Blackberry. The setup is pretty cool in that the Playbook uses a 3D barcode which you capture with App world on your Blackberry. After you’ve downloaded it you use another 3D barcode to pair the 2 devices.

Blackberry bridge is a pretty confusing feature. While the Playbook is connected to your Blackberry it’s only ‘sort of’ connected. You can use the Playbook to access your Blackberry’s Messages, Contacts, Calendar, MemoPad, Tasks along with it’s file system. You can also use the Blackberry to browse the web but only using the Bridge Browser app which is not the same as the regular Browser.

So if you don’t have a WiFi connection and are only using Blackberry bridge your other apps won’t be able to access the Internet. This includes the ‘regular’ browser. Confusing no?

Anyways if you want to the rest of your apps to access the Internet and don't’ have WiFi you can use your Blackberry to get the Playbook online by tethering it via Bluetooth. Tethering via Bluetooth is SEPARATE from bridge. So your Playbook is sort of connected to your Blackberry twice. Confused now? To tether you have to pull down the menu, choose tether, and then tell it to connect. It’s not automatic.

I imagine the reason why the Playbook handles it this way is because a lot of Blackberry users don’t have really beefy data plans. So by using bridge you sort of lessen the amount of data used. If you want the rest of your apps to access the Internet via your Blackberry then you have to manually tell it to tether. If that’s the case it’s a valid reason but try explaining it to a non techy end user.

Of course if you don’t own a Blackberry you could always get the Playbook online using your phone as a wireless hotspot assuming you have an iPhone, Android device, WebOS device, etc.

There’s a 5MP camera in on the back and a 3MP camera in front. Both picture and video quality is quite good. Both cameras capture video at 1080P. It’s quite a contrast from the iPad 2’s cameras which quite frankly are trash (though I still find them entertaining to use).

Anyways I’ll have a full review of the Playbook once I’ve played with it for a few more days.


Exclusive: White iPhone 4 lands at Vodafone UK

Well, would you have a gander at that? That, friends, is Apple's long-awaited, hardly-forgotten white iPhone 4, and so far as we can tell, this is actually the real deal. We've seen retailers making space for the elusive handset over the past few months, and earlier today, we heard that Vodafone UK's inventory systems were showing the white iPhone 4 as shipping in. Now, we've secured a few images of a 16GB model from a separate source that has seemingly made its way into the hands of one lucky customer (read: bloke) over in Britain.

As the story goes, the salesperson rang it up as a black iPhone to help facilitate the transaction, and shortly after the sale went down, Voda sent out a notice to halt sale of these gems "until next week." Just so you know, the MC604B/A model number shown here is particularly interesting when compared to our own in-house UK iPhone 4; the latter, which is also a 16GB edition, sports a model number of MC603B/A. We suspect we aren't going too far out on a limb by suggesting that the "3" and "4" are there to represent hue variations, and if you'd like to stretch the theory one step further, MC605B/A represents the 32GB black iPhone 4. In other words, don't be shocked when the white 32 gigger rolls in as MC606B/A. So, is this the first legitimate sign that a white iPhone 4 is but days away from going on sale? We're hardly experts in meteorology, but it sure felt like spring in Londontown today.

P.S. - 9 to 5 Mac suggests that it'll be landing on April 27th, at least in the Netherlands.

[Thanks, Anonymii]

iPhone 5: iPod touch back, 3.7 inch display, gesture-based home button?

iPhone 5 mockup from This is my next
This is my next drops a bombshell, claiming that the next-generation iPhone will not be a minimal departure from the iPhone 4, like others are saying, but will be a completely re-designed phone, as Engadget reported earlier this year. The iPhone 5 that the report describes is said to be a prototype in testing – we know that Apple tests many products before going to market – that features a body akin to that of the one found on the fourth-generation iPod touch. This design is said to also be “teardrop” like the late 2010 MacBook Air’s design – thicker to thinner from top to bottom.
Even more interesting is that the next-generation iPhone is said to gain a larger home button on the bottom portion of the device and… it’s gesture sensitive. This is my next points out that this could easily work hand-in-hand with some of those funky new gestures Apple is testing in iOS 4.3with iOS App Store developers. The report also backs up a report from the Wall Street Journal, and says the screen will cover most of the device’s front and the new phone will likely lack a true bezel. Even cooler is that This is my next says Apple is exploring ways to hide the earpiece and the iPhone 4′s famous sensors behind the screen.
Speaking of screens… the report says that it’s not your everyday iPhone 3.5 inch display, but it’s 3.7 inches and the pixels are staying the same. This will cause a drop in pixel density of 13 pixels-per-inch – but this will still be above the magic Retina mark of 300 pixels per inch. The screen will likely look the same to the human eye, and developers will not need to adjust their graphics. Perhaps they will have the option in the iPhone SDK to to take full advantage of the extra screen real estate. This is my next is also saying that this all-new-phone could possibly sport some sort of wireless/inductive charging and/or NFC, but that is less confirmed – on their part – compared to the rest of the story.
Finally, This is my next closes by making it clear that the described iPhone 5 may never hit the streets, but it’s certainly being toyed with at Apple HQ:
Now, keep in mind that this info isn’t fact — we’re getting lots of threads from lots of places and trying to make sense of the noise. The versions of devices our sources are seeing could be design prototypes and not production-ready phones. Still, there are strong indications that Apple will surprise a public that’s expecting a bump more along the lines of the 3G to 3GS — and this is some insight into where those designs might be headed. We’re working on a couple of other intriguing pieces of information concerning future Apple products… so stay tuned for much, much more.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

To Force The Latest OS Update on Your BlackBerry PlayBook using Desktop Manager

By Ray Nicolini
BlackBerry PlayBook OS Update
RIM is once again doing their rolling updates with the BlackBerry PlayBook OS updates. Some of you may have noticed your device is not getting notified with the latest update and I can kind of understand RIM trying to stagger out the 300mb downloads. Scott over at BBSync got a bit creative and found a way to get his PlayBook to perform an OS update to the latest release using a bit of trickery with BlackBerry Desktop Manager. It is not as simply as hitting check for updates and you MUST perform a backup of your PlayBook to not lose your information!
Here are the instructions for the trick:

  1. Open BlackBerry Desktop Software on your PC
  2. Do full backup on your tablet
  3. Go to Device > Update
  4. You will get a message “No Update Available”
  5. Press ok, leave your PlayBook connected via USB
  6. Press the Power Off app then select Restart
  7. Once the PlayBook boots up, you will be prompted to do the update
  8. Make sure to finish the whole upgrade process before doing a restore of your information!
Let us know how it works for you!

BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet -- It's here! (Official Video)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook gets iFixit tear-down

By Ray Nicolini

The team over at iFixit spent the morning tearing down RIM’s brand new tablet for an in-depth look at the inner-workings of the BlackBerry PlayBook. There aren’t too many surprises, but the firm did discuss how difficult and costly it could be to replace broken parts. If you aren’t using a case for your PlayBook just yet, here’s one reason you might want to start:
“The front camera, rear camera, and top control buttons are all attached as one assembly, making the replacement of a broken power button or volume buttons very costly.”
iFixit also said that RIM chose to build a magnesium frame around the glass LCD display, which should give it some extra durability. If you do end up shattering that 7-inch front panel, it’s not the end of the world. The LCD isn’t fused to the glass, which means a replacement should be fairly easy on you, and your wallet. 
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Add NoteEditStep 9 

  • Now we turn our attention back to the front panel assembly.
  • The right speaker is held in place by just two Phillips screws.
  • The speakers conveniently use pressure contacts to make an electrical connection to the motherboard.
  • Each speaker assembly houses two individual speakers, bringing the total speaker count to four.
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Add NoteEditStep 10 

  • The left speaker assembly lifts straight out of the steel mid-frame, while still connected to the battery.
  • The mid-frame is secured to the front panel assembly by a few screws.
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Add NoteEditStep 11 

  • Let's remove the mid-plane board, which houses the battery, left speaker, and antennas.
    • This design allows for quick-and-easy access to the front panel and LCD - the most commonly broken components on mobile devices.
  • The actual antennas in the PlayBook are built into the rear case and speaker modules, and are attached to the antenna cables via pressure contacts.
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Add NoteEditStep 12 

  • The camera assembly is easily removed from its recess.
  • The front camera, rear camera, and top control buttons are all attached as one assembly, making the replacement of a broken power button or volume buttons very costly.
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Add NoteEditStep 13 

  • The headphone jack cable is held in place by a metal retainer.
  • The right microphone is also attached to this assembly.
  • Dual microphones presumably allow for noise cancelling to eliminate background noise.
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Add NoteEditStep 14 

  • We peel the left microphone off the front panel assembly.
  • Upon removing a rubber cover and dust grill, we can read: S233 7252
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Add NoteEditStep 15 

  • After removing a few retaining screws, the LCD can be lifted off the front panel assembly. This little 7" panel packs a 1024 x 600 resolution.
  • Upon closer inspection, we find that the frame around the front glass panel is made of magnesium, a strong yet light metal. Many devices are using magnesium for structural components due to its desirable qualities for mobile devices.
  • The Cypress CY8CTMA3 Multi-Touch All-Point TrueTouch™ projected capacitive touchscreen controller is visible in the last picture. It is attached directly to the digitizer cable.
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Add NoteEditStep 16 

  • BlackBerry PlayBook Repairability Score: 7 out of 10(10 is easiest to repair)
  • The rear cover comes off easily with a couple of pries from the plastic opening tool.
  • The LCD is not fused to the glass, making the glass repair easier on the wallet.
  • You have to dig through the entire device if you need to replace your cracked glass, but the mid-plane assembly comes out easily with all components attached.
  • Other components (cameras, headphone jack, etc.) come out easily. However, there are usually two or three components attached to the same ribbon cable, increasing replacement cost if only one component fails.
  • You'll need to remove the motherboard if you'd like to replace the battery -- which is glued to the mid-plane assembly.
  • Front glass panel has a metal frame glued to it, which you'll need to separate with a heat gun if the glass cracks.