Here comes the HTC Evo View 4G! And it's packing a lot of firsts for its Friday debut on Sprint: The tablet is Sprint's first 4G Android tablet to hit the market, period–that's the first tablet set up to work with the company's 4G WiMax network—around 5 Mbps downloads and 950 Kbps uploads.
Most importantly—for movie buffs—the HTC Evo View 4G is the first tablet to ship with built-in support for Netflix movie and video streaming. In doing so, it joins an exclusive club of Android devices that support the service: A sad list that's currently limited to just nine Android smartphones.
So what's the deal? Are other Android-equipped devices—both phones and tablets—just too slow to run Netflix? Not necessarily. A Sprint spokeswoman confirmed in an interview with Wired that the company performed plenty of testing to ensure that Netflix streaming would proceed smoothly across the company's network.
The more realistic answer as to why you can't yet get Netflix on, say, a Motorola Xoom tablet, is the ugly monster that often rears its head whenever Android upgrades are discussed: Fragmentation. In the case of Netflix, the company has to perform extra research and configuration to ensure that the digital rights management systems it employs work across a number of Android devices. And that's not just a work-once, works-everywhere kind of proposal.
The ad, titled "Now," highlights the versatile nature of iPad apps. "Now, you can watch a newspaper," a voiceover says, zooming in on someone flipping through the Wall Street Journal app. "Now you can listen to a magazine," the voice says, switching to an interactive "Fantastic Mr. Fox" feature from Spin magazine.
The ad also flashes to someone watching "The King's Speech," video chatting via FaceTime, and taking an online class. "Hold an entire bookstore [via iBooks] and touch the stars," the ad concludes, flashing to an astronomy app, "because now, there's this."
This, of course, is the iPad 2, and the commercial ends with a shot of the updated tablet sitting on a table, presumably waiting for you to dole out hundreds of dollars for the pleasure of its company.
The HP TouchPad finally has a launch date! If you've been jonesing to pick up the first webOS tablet, your lucky day will be July 1st, as long as you're cool with the Wi-Fi model. If you prefer the 3G TouchPad, you'll have to wait until later this summer. The 3G provider for the TouchPad will be AT&T, which may influence your decision on waiting. You'll be able to get the 16 GB TouchPad for $499, while the 32 GB model will retail for $599, which is right in line with iPad 2 pricing.
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In the first public unveiling of the upcoming Windows 8 interface, Microsoft's president of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, showed off a radically altered Windows start screen that features user-configurable tiles and looks almost nothing like Windows 7. The demo took place during this week's D9 conference in southern California.
The new interface supports gestures, snap, pin, cloud apps, new concepts like a basket for files you'll want to share between apps and services, and a hidden task bar on the right side of the screen. The updated OS is designed to work on "the hundreds of millions of PCs already out in the market," Sinofsky said.
Since it's still Windows, all devices and apps that work with Windows 7 will run on Windows 8, said Sinofsky, adding that consumers will only have to choose which device to run it on. "The interface scales from about 7-inches to a wall-screen display," explained Sinofsky.
In addition to the development screen, Microsoft showed Windows 8 running on tablets from Samsung and Lenovo.
Is Advanced Micro Devices finally making a major push into the tablet market? That's the signal sent by leaked product roadmap slides showing plans for an AMD tablet chip codenamed Desna that surfaced on NGOHQ.com last week.
The slides don't offer any specs for AMD's Z-Series accelerated processing unit, or APU, nor do they name a release date other than the heading "2011 AMD HD Tablet Platform Overview."
Here's what we do know. AMD thinks Desna is well-suited for both consumer media tablets and devices built for business use. The chip maker is playing up its graphics prowess with promises of "smooth streaming HD video," AdobeFlash 10.2 acceleration, Microsoft Office 10 visual enhancements, and support for DirectX 11 and Windows 7 Effects.
Desna also runs accelerated HTML 5 and Internet Explorer 9, while "leveraging the Microsoft Windows application base," which sounds a bit like AMD saying, "we don't actually have an app store for this chip."
The Z-Series platform's commercial play seems to be summed up with promises of "full integration and support in IT environments," "unparalleled versatility and security," and "enhanced productivity."
A source tells the site that Wal-Mart will be carrying a 32GB version of the 9.5-inch tablet running HP's own in-house webOS, for the Apple iPad-like price of $599.
A Wal-Mart listing presumably passed along by the tipster doesn't contain a lot of detail, though it does list the $599 TouchPad as Wi-Fi-enabled. Other connectivity options weren't indicated.
The source must have passed on other details, because PreCentral.net reports that the TouchPad will be 9.5x10x1.78 inches, weigh in at 3 pounds, and that a number of TouchPad accessories will also be available from Wal-Mart.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimates that RIM has sold about 250,000 PlayBooks to date, and could sell about 500,000 in the quarter. Abramsky and his team checked out PlayBook stock at 180 Best Buy stores and found that 14 percent of the 16GB versions were sold out, 71 percent of the 32GB PlayBooks were gone, and 84 percent of the 64GB tablets had been purchased. He cautioned, however, that the sell-outs on the 32GB and 64GB "appear allocation related."
Abramsky found that returns for the PlayBook are "nominal," despite setbacks that include a recall of 1,000 tablets and the lack of a native email client.
This comes about a month after Peter Misek, an equity analyst with Jefferies, speculated that RIM possibly sold 45,000 PlayBooks in the first few days.
An entry-level tablet codenamed Coyote will be powered by Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 mobile platform, while a more powerful device codenamed Hollywood will sport Nvidia's upcoming quad-core "Kal-El" chip, the website reported Monday, citing a "tipster."
The source did not provide screen-size details, according to BGR.
The processor details put the theoretical release of the rumored Hollywood tablet at no earlier than the second half of 2011. Nvidia's Kal-El upgrade to its Tegra lineup isn't expected to be released until then.
Kal-El promises a significant boost to Tegra. The System-on-a-Chip (SoC) for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones boasts a 1.5GHz, quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 central processor and a 12-core Nvidia graphics processor that's purported to deliver five times the performance of the GeForce GPUs in the Tegra 2 SoC.
Barnes & Noble has not indicated what the event will cover, with PR firm Fleishman refusing to take a page from Apple's playbook and tease audiences with what the announcement could include.
However, in a May 4 10K filing, Barnes & Noble disclosed that the May 24 announcement would indeed be an e-reader. "In a meeting with investor analysts on May 4, 2011, Barnes & Noble, Inc. (the "Company") indicated it expects to make an announcement on May 24, 2011 regarding the launch of a new eReader device," the company said, without elaborating.
Barnes & Noble now represents more than 25 percent of all of the U.S. market for e-books, more than the company's share of physical books, and it sells twice the number of e-books as physical books, at least online. The company exceeded its sales plans for e-book sales during the company's most recent quarter.It is the fourth straight quarter of topline growth exceeding 50 percent since selling the Nook in 2009.
As an e-reader with tablet functionality, the Nook wouldn't seem to have many features that it lacks compares to other e-readers. The Nook is available in color, and in both Wi-Fi, and in 3G, although speculation is that version is dying.
"It remains early in the development of the digital reading market," said William Lynch, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble, in a conference call on Feb. 22.
What could Barnes & Noble offer, perhaps in a Nook 2?
At the Google I/O 2011 conference, Android product management director Hugo Barra held up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 as an example of new exciting form factors using Google's mobile OS, adding, "it's not available to anyone yet ... with one exception: conference attendees."
You can guess the cry of elation that erupted in the auditorium. And it wasn't unjustified, based on our first impressions of the device. Most laymen could easily mistake it for an iPad 2, but it's a tad lighter at 589 grams (1.3 pounds), and has a larger, higher-resolution 10.1-inch display, at 1,280-by-800, compared with the iPad's 1,024-by-768. This means it can play full 1080p HD video, at a maximum of 30 frames per second.