The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime feels like the first laptop-class Android tablet, with its quad-core 1.4GHz processor, clever add-on keyboard dock, and its support for USB storage and console gamepads. This is easily the most impressive Android tablet ever. But with such startling specs, it's outstripping the weak app selection available for Google's Android Honeycomb OS. Although there are a few standout apps for the platform, the lack of a thriving Android tablet app community makes the Transformer Prime a less sure choice than it should be. Read on for our full review of the Transformer Prime to see if it's worth your attention (or money.)
Normally at this time of the year, I predict tech trends for the New Year. As I think about 2012, I realize that over the next 12 months, the personal computing and consumer electronics industries are poised to see some big disruptions that could change their course for the next five years.
In fact, I believe that when we end 2012, we will look back and realize that it was the most disruptive year we will have had in personal computing in over a decade. In the next 12 months, the market for personal computers of all shapes and sizes will have changed dramatically.
So, what will be the major forces that could reshape the PC business in 2012? There are four technologies and trends in the works that I believe will force the computer industry in a new direction.
The first will be Intel's huge push to make ultraportables 40 percent of its laptop mix by the end of 2012. Although I don't believe it will achieve that goal, especially if ultrabooks are priced above $899, the fact is that ultrabooks are the future of portable computing. Instead of thin and light laptops driving the market as they are now, ultrabooks, which are thinner and lighter, with SSDs and longer battery life, will eventually be what all laptops will look like in five years. The heavier and more powerful laptops that exist now won't go away completely since there are power users who will still need that kind of processing power. But ultrabooks will be the laptops of the future and 2012 will be the first year of their major push to change the portable computing landscape.
There is an interesting twist with ultraportables that could be even more important starting next year: the introduction of ultraportables with detachable screens that turn into tablets. In the past, this hybrid, as it is called, ran Windows when in laptop mode and Android when in tablet mode. But this approach was dead in the water from the start. With Windows 8 tablets ready to hit the market next fall, you will see ultraportables with detachable screens that will run Windows 8 with the Metro UI both on the laptop and in tablet mode. This will bring a level of OS consistency across both device modes and I think that this concept is a sleeper. In fact, if done right, this alone could reshape the traditional PC market in the near term.
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Analysts at JP Morgan met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer on Friday to discuss the long-term impact of Apple products, and when it comes to competitors like the Kindle Fire, "we believe that Apple is not too concerned about the low-priced entrants," the firm said in a note to investors.
If anything, the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and other low-priced options might help introduce consumers to the tablet market, prompting them to eventually upgrade to more feature-rich devices like the iPad, the report said.
"In other words, we think Apple is not seeing much pressure from lower-price tablets, yet," JP Morgan wrote.
The Samsung Exynos 5250 sports two ARM-based Cortex-A15 cores and it delivers double the performance of 1.5GHz dual-core SoC with Cortex-A9 cores, the company said this week in a Korean-language press release that's been translated by the Sammy Hub blog.
Manufactured with Samsung's 32-nanometer process, the Exynos 5250 is intended for high-end tablets, according to the Korean tech giant. The next-generation SoC is set for volume production in the second quarter of 2012.
Here's another 2011 Holiday Gift Guide entry for the kids, as we feature the Vtech Innotab Learning Tablet. This multi-functional tablet combines interactive animated e-books, tilt-sensor learning games, creative activities, and a rich collection of applications into a sleek and durable toy that kids will want to play with. Cartridges with your child's favorite licensed characters are sold separately and teach essential skills in reading, logic, and creativity.
You can pick up a Vtech Innotab for $79 on Amazon.
Read More | Vtech InnoTab
It worked for the HP TouchPad, why not the BlackBerry PlayBook? A sneak peek at the Staples Black Friday 2011 deals (check out our Black Friday 2011 page!)shows a huge price drop on Research in Motion's struggling tablet: just $199 for the 16GB version.
That's a $300 price drop from when the 16GB PlayBook made its debut in April.
Meanwhile, all versions of the PlayBook will get a discount in Canada: $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. That will apparently run from Nov. 18 to Dec 1.
We're entering that special time of year. No, not the season when people begin to wrap presents and trim their trees, but those months leading up to the period when it's assumed that Apple will launch its next-gen tablet that iPad rumors abound.
The latest report comes from Digitimes, which has claimed makers of iPad displays including Samsung, LG, and Sharp shipped one million high-res panels for the iPad 3 in October. It also said these suppliers will increase shipments to two million units in November.
Apple will begin assembling the third iPad in January of 2012, Digitimes also said.
It alleged that Apple is developing a new 7.85-inch panel, and suppliers AU Optronics (AUO) and LG have already sent samples to Apple. However, Digitimes said it couldn't determine whether or not Apple would add an iPad of this size to its line next year.
In this episode we review the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet e-reader (also see our text version of our Kindle Fire review.) Amazon's looking to disrupt the tablet landscape with the Fire, and is pricing it aggressively at $199. The Kindle Fire weighs 14.6 ounces and packs a 7-inch IPS display, dual-core processor, 512 MB RAM, and 8 GB of on-board storage. It runs a forked version of Android that Amazon has customized in a major way. You also get Wi-Fi built-in as well. Purchasers of the Kindle Fire also get a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which'll let you get a nice sampling of what the company's Video on Demand service offers.
The browser, Amazon Silk, will be exclusive to the Kindle Fire for the time being, and it aims to speed up web browsing by a significant margin by offloading some of the heavy lifting to the Amazon EC2 cloud servers.
You can pick up the Kindle Fire for $199.
Big thank you to GoToMeeting and JackThreads for sponsoring the show - be sure to check them out! As for JackThreads, we've got exclusive invite codes that give you $5 to use towards anything you'd like.
The Staples Black Friday 2011 sale begins at 6:00 am the day after Thanksgiving, and they've got a few items that have our attention. We've got the highlights of the sale for you after the break, which include a $199 BlackBerry PlayBook, Beats by Dr. Dre Solo headphones with a $20 gift card at purchase, buy 1 get 1 free paper, and more.
The Amazon Kindle Fire is the first small tablet that average users can pick up and immediately use, with a simple, clear interface. Then there's the price: Android along with amazing specs for just $199. It's open enough to attract geeks, too. While the user interface occasionally gets sluggish, we're willing to have a bit of patience to get a first-rate tablet for half of what most competitors charge, thus the Kindle Fire is our first Editors' Choice for small tablets.
A solid little brick at 7.5 by 4.7 by .45 inches and 14.6 ounces, the Kindle Fire looks and feels a lot like the BlackBerry PlayBook, but the Fire is smaller in all dimensions. There are no slots or tabs; both the memory and battery are sealed in, and the only interruptions in its smooth, black form are the headphone jack, Power button, MicroUSB jack, and dual stereo speakers. There's no camera, but I've never been sold on the value of tablet cameras anyway. It uses 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks to get online; there's no cellular radio or Bluetooth connectivity.
Turn the Fire on and the 7-inch 1024-by-600 IPS LCD screen lights up. This display is very sharp and clear, but it's also rather reflective. Just like on the Apple iPad 2, you may have trouble reading in bright light because of the screen's sometimes mirror-like gloss. While this is par for the course with tablets, I expected more given the Kindle name. This isn't a dedicated e-reader by any means.