Microsoft now reassured its affection for tablets! Its earlier attempts on tablets with Windows XP Tablet PC editions and Windows 7 had only slim chance to make a successful entry into the market, as both lacked a sound hardware counterpart. This time now, inspired by its Surface platform, Microsoft gets ready for its Surface tablet featuring the latest Windows 8 operating system. But, most importantly the new tablet now stands a chance to be considered as a real competition for Apple’s iPad (Apple still enjoys a near-zero competition for its tablet business segment).

Affirming its love with ARM processor, the Surface tablet comes in two processor flavors, Intel and ARM with the former being little heavy physically. Here are the things I see that could potentially go in favor of Microsoft Surface table and pose as a real iPad challenger in the consumer market:

 

  • Most-widely adopted PC operating system vendor – both at enterprise and home consumer levels (how Windows 8 would the reap the benefits from the success of its predecessor is something yet to be seen since Windows 8 has a new user experience philosophy – Metro).
  • One vendor OS targeting data center to PCs, to tablets and mobile phones, Windows 8 could mean a seamless experience among all these platforms and build a unified application ecosystem.
  • Support for both Intel (high-end usage, costlier) & ARM processors (casual users, cheaper compared to Intel’s)
  • Support for extensible memory storage – micro SD slot (iPad offers this option but via an accessory you have to buy separately)
  • Standard USB slot – while what devices would be supported with USB on Surface is unknown, many iPad users crave for this on iPad for peripheral connectivity!
  • In addition to touch and stylus inputs, two types of unique screen covers each doubling up as keyboard & mouse on their own – All out-of-the-box

 

It would be a huge win if this tablet can run existing desktop Windows applications (if not all, may be) without modifications and support developing applications targeting both PC and tablet with a single deployable package.

There are no words about Surface tablet supporting 3G/4G cellular connectivity but if the device lacks it, that would be my biggest disappointment.

Steve JobsThe whole Internet is buzzing with Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple CEO and the possible effects it might have on Apple and its products. There are people who hate, admire, get inspired and feel hatred about him. But, someone who shaped and revolutionized the digital world with his products not in the seat of CEO doesn’t mean of his company doesn’t mean end of all. In fact, he will continue to be with Apple but might not be in the same capacity and not so close to the team, due to whatever reason and I respect. In my opinion, Apple will continue to amaze the world because Steve has sown the seeds already.

  • It’s not Steve who designed iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. all by himself but his talented engineers he assembled, motivated and inspired for so long. The core skills he has implanted for decades in Apple makes him the leader.
  • Simplicity & user-centric design: Steve and Jonathan Ives (VP of Design) have created for Apple better than anyone for any company. I would say simplicity is Steve’s signature style. Form-factor and design of today’s many Apple consumer products will tell the success of Steve & Jonathan!
  • Not many have given so much importance to usability as Steve & his team have.
  • The culture of always looking for better things without settling for what they are, that he has infused into the organization and imbibed by many in Apple today will go a long way.
  • Of course, it was not with failure also (Steve is good in accepting failure too)! Apple had some not-so-great products but as everyone else it learned the lessons, recognized the potential and applied both in future vision!
  • In my perspective, Steve is a leader of innovation: from the bare metal lab to consumers’ heart, he has paved way for unique "experience" in everything in between. Innovation is not always about new things, but doing things differently too!
  • With due credit for other companies and individuals, Steve has set the standard for today’s mobile devices, be it a phone or a media player. Not just the devices, the applets on them, developing those applets, bringing them on to devices, advertising and making everyone profit from the whole ecosystem was the result of Steve and his team!

I am always inspired by this man of "innovation for simplicity"! Hats off to Steve!!

Today my Dell Venue Pro popped up a message that a new update is available.

Windows Phone 7 Update (Dell Venue Pro)

Since my DVP came with Copy/Paste feature update out-of-the-box, I am not expecting anything significant from this update. The Zune software also detected the update (including one for itself):

Windows Phone 7 Update via Zune (Dell Venue Pro)  Windows Phone 7 Update via Zune (Dell Venue Pro)  Windows Phone 7 Update via Zune (Dell Venue Pro)

It took about 45 minutes to download, backup current phone and finally complete the update (phone backup took the most). After update, here is the updated version info:

image

All went well!

Just installed the GM seed of iOS 4.3 on my iPad. As announced in the recent iPad2 release, the new version has two new options:

  1. Set the side switch (the one above volume key on the right side) functionality: Mute or Lock Rotation.
  2. Sharing your iTunes library with any iOS 4.3 device (within the same network)

The multi-tasking gesture function that was originally announced to be a developer preview feature, now looks to be making its way to the final release also.

Here is the option to set the 1st feature:

iOS 4.3 New Features: Side Switch & Multitasking Gesture

The multi-tasking feature basically lets you switch between open applications with left/right swipe and see the open application list with ‘swipe up’. You can still double-press the Home button for the latter.

Now the 2nd – Home Sharing: This option as you probably know, lets you stream your iTunes library on your PC or Mac to other iOS 4.3 devices in the same network. In order to do this, you should first enable Home Sharing in iTunes (I did this in iTunes 4.2/Windows 7):

Turn on Home Sharing in iTunes 4.2

You will also be required to login with your Apple ID when you turn on Home Sharing. Once done, you can enable Home Sharing on your iOS 4.3 devices and see the shared iTunes library; you should again login on the device with the same Apple ID used for Home Sharing in iTunes. Let me repeat: your iTunes host PC/Mac and iOS 4.3 devices should be on the same network.

Home Sharing in iPad with iOS 4.3

After providing the same Home Sharing Apple ID, open your iPod application to view the shared library:

Home Sharing on iOS 4.3

Select your shared Library and you all set to enjoy your iTunes home sharing/streaming!! (the albums you see below are from my iTunes library on my Windows 7 box)

Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 in Action on iPad

I am yet to install the 4.3 GM on my iPhone. Not expecting any surprises…

As you might know (if you are from India), Dell launched its Windows Phone 7 device Venue Pro recently (and it took few weeks to reach the retail shops after official announcement – quite odd to me). I got one lately and put one of my 3G SIMs on to it. After initial WP7 configuration, I enabled both Data and 3G options and switched the phone off/on just to make sure things work fine (this is what many mobile operator CS would tell you if they asked you to make any network setting changes :-) ). After the device came up, to my surprise I didn’t see the E or G (for EDGE and GPRS respectively) letter at the top bar. This just confused me. I also have iPhone 4 and have used HTC Desire HD before and they both configured themselves (or received settings from the network or whatever the magic it is) with a new SIM and they "just work" and display the data connection (E, G, H or 3G) but that didn’t happen with Venue Pro. I spent almost a day doing internet search, running through blogs, articles, forums, playing around with the phone settings and everything except calling Airtel customer support. Their CS sucks and I am very sure they wouldn’t know about this new device – period.

 

Finally, just out of fluke, I added an APN pointing to airtelgprs.com (leaving user name and password empty) and that’s it! Venue Pro picked up EDGE/GPRS signals (without restart) and it showed E at the top bar. Part of the problem got solved. Now, what about 3G? Well, I didn’t do anything except moving around in my living room holding the new phone and outside my home also just in case the signal was weak to catch 3G (as you might aware, 3G requires stronger signals compared to EDGE/GPRS and how strong it should be to pick up varies from device to device. From my experiment so far, iPhone 4 picks up 3G better compared to HTC Desire HD or Venue Pro at the exact same spot for the same SIM, assuming the signal strength didn’t vary while I was switching the SIM card between the devices :-)). Finally, at one point Venue Pro showed ‘H’ and made me smile! Well, I give the benefit of doubt to the Venue Pro blaming the signal strength. Just that my experience with iPhone 4 and HTC raised my expectation with Dell Venue Pro WP7.

 

Heck, WP7 doesn’t have a mechanism for device screen capture!! Hope Microsoft introduces it in the near future!!

 

Hope this info helps somebody.

After I figured out how images and movies from outside digital cameras can be imported into iPad, I don’t get that impulse to buy a big one anymore! :-)

The big question people might have after reading my earlier post is: why would anyone want to go through that painful process of renaming, copying and importing files while you can simply drag and drop them with the help of iTunes? Simple answer is more memory. If you have already stuffed up your iPad with lots of things but have more stuff to view on iPad, may be while on travel, you can simply copy those things to a large capacity SD/USB storage and use the Camera Connection Kit to view them on iPad. But mind you: you should have enough swap space on your iPad to import files. The whole idea is nothing but the memory paging concept of operating systems but applied in raw way, I don’t take the credit:-) So, in net:

[External Card Capacity] – [iPad Swap Space] = Extra iPad Virtual Memory!

In my case: [64GB USB Drive] – [Free 8GB of 16GB] = 56GB!!

On a lighter side: if you can carry more memory cards then total up their capacity so you will have even more stuff to play with :-)

I am a big fan of Belkin brand! I am not sure if you too fall in this category or not, but I am always amazed by their “cool” products. Long long ago, I was looking for a gadget or some sort of transceiver than can transfer and receive all formats of audio and video signals (composite, S-Video and component) from the source to the receiver (a TV) kept in another room. Obviously I didn’t want to run lengthy wires between the source and the receiver. After some Internet search I came across Belkin’s PureAV RemoteTV, – exactly what I was looking for. The love with Belkin brand started then but it was not possible to ship the product outside the US despite my desperation and only ended with disappointment. Since then I have been using many products of them (their N+ ADSL modem + router, iPhone sleeve
J, 8-port Ethernet switch, N+ WiFi USB adapter, powered 7-port USB hub and power surge protector all found a place at my home). Though Belkin entered Indian market about two years ago, only limited products of them are available. All right, why am I telling all these now? Well, I had been looking for a Bluetooth audio receiver and of course came across few products from Sony and others. The intention was to play music from my laptop, Mac or mobile phone on my home theater via a Bluetooth receiver connected to the AV receiver.

Though Sony’s Indian website mentioned about a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver, it is still not available in any retail shop. Yesterday when I was buying some MacBook accessories, I accidently found a Belkin Bluetooth receiver!! J Bought it immediately and hooked it up with my AV receiver. My yet another search ended and wish fulfilled by Belkin! J

[Product image courtesy: Belkin.com]

[I am no way related to the Belkin, the company. I don’t work for them nor do I resell their products. I am just one happy consumer of their products!]