The ultrabook category has clearly taken the market by storm – initially started as a standard defined by Intel as an answer to the popular Macbook Air, most PC manufacturers were very quick to build their own versions. The idea is simple – very light, subnotebook class machines, with high end specifications, which cost a little more than standard notebooks. Most of these ultrabooks are now on their second generations, so they are better than ever.
But the problem with a standard like the “Ultrabook” is that manufacturers need to think of ways to differentiate their own products. A few ingredients are found everywhere – low power Intel processors, speedy solid state storage, and very thin bodies. Very quickly these machines all look like copies of each other. As you will see below, Samsung bends some of these rules for the better, with a very unique offering in the Series 5 Ultra Touch.
Samsung’s latest 13 inch ultrabook is a great example of how manufacturers are quickly reinventing their ultrabook offerings.
See below our video review of the Samsung’s latest entrant into the ultrabook space. (more…)
Nokia has taken another step towards connecting its next billion consumers by unveiling the Asha Touch family of mobile devices in South Africa, taking the touch experience to lower price points. The two new phone models – the Nokia Asha 306 and Nokia Asha 311 – expand the successful Asha family that was first introduced in October 2011.
As well as providing social apps, the Nokia Asha 306 and Asha 311 have been created with entertainment in mind. Included free with the new Asha Touch products is an exclusive gift of 40 EA games to download for free. These games include titles such as Tetris, Bejeweled, Need for Speed: The Run and Fifa 2012. The Nokia Asha 311 also comes with 15 levels of Angry Birds pre-loaded onto the phone.
Microsoft today showed us a bit more of their new Windows 8 operating system – and while it really is a very ambitious project, the clear attention was given to the tablet interface. It seems Microsoft is not bargaining on tablet / phone class dumbed down operating systems for tablets – they are going to put the full Windows experience on these devices, but with some more touch friendly controls. Risky move?
Windows 8 takes a lot of the aspects which makes Windows 7 so good and simply takes it further. It is all about speed, in fact they showed off Windows 8 running on a rather old Lenovo S10 netbook with a lowly 1GB of RAM. On closer inspection it seems Windows 8 uses even less system resources to run than 7, but the difference is not major. But netbooks are old news – we now want ultrabooks and tablets right? So Microsoft has had to keep up.
So the rest of the presentation rather focussed on a new Samsung Tablet that was loaded with Windows 8 and its new Metro style touch layer. The interface is truly new – it does not follow the same UI principles as iOS or Android, and that familiar Metro / Windows Phone inteface looks remarkably good on a wide screen display. Animations and typography looks brilliant. After looking at some videos it is clear that speed was especially important – but you should keep in mind these tablets are running Core i5 processors (and they sport a fan vent to get rid of heat)…
Microsoft is going to make Windows 8 available for a range of hardware – not only standard laptops and desktops. Even though the developer preview was shown off on Intel hardware, Windows 8 will be made available on ARM processors (similiar to what your smartphone uses), so expect major increases in battery life. This is of course a major undertaking – Microsoft has to make one OS that runs on everything from tablets to desktops with massive high res screens. Compare this with Mac OS X Lion, which only needs to be made for key few machines in Apple’s stable, and you really understand why Windows 8 is actually quite incredible.
Microsoft is releasing this developer preview today, and users can go download it. But the product is still very unfinished, and requires very specific hardware to actually try out the new touch based features. But there are a few things that can be seen right now:
Boot time: Microsoft has massively cut down on boot times with Windows 8. Regardless whether you run a brand new monster of a PC or an old netbook, expect boot times to be cut in half.
New Touch Centric “Start Screen”: This keeps the familiar Metro interface that was launched with Windows Phone. The user is presented with customizable “tiles” that can hold any type of notification you want – unread mails, calendar info, RSS feeds for News, etc.
Full Screen Apps: Yeah, this was taken from the iPad. But that is a good thing. Clicking on the tiles takes over the entire screen for the app being run, but the operating system buttons can still be brought up. And the current tablet hardware will sport a button to take you back to the start screen.
Internet Explorer 10: This can be viewed in the new tablet style interface, or in the old “desktop” centric interface we all use. The tablet “tailored” interface makes the website take over the screen, and additional swipes make buttons appear.
What is interesting is how different Microsoft has to approach the previews of Windows 8 compared to how Apple did it with Mac OSX Lion. Microsoft is handing out the developer preview more than a year before the release of Windows 8, where Apple only gave select developers beta access a few months before release.
The thing is that Microsoft is more reliant on developers to now get ready for the new touch tailored view of Windows 8, so it gives them really early access it. Microsoft’s strategy to use a full Windows operating system for tablets is risky, but brave nonetheless. What we should keep in mind is that iPad 3 will be out already by the time Windows 8 ships, with iPad 4 not too far away.
Do people still need full operating systems on their portable devices? Only time will tell…