Archive for CES
Blackberry and AT&T have just announced that the two sides have once again joined forces to promote a resurgence of keyboard enabled smartphones.
The BlackBerry Passport will be available in the near future for $0 down on an AT&T Next plan at $21.67 per month with AT&T Next 24,3 $27.09 with AT&T Next 183 or $32.50 per month with AT&T Next 12.3 You can also get the smartphone for $199.99 with a two-year agreement or at no annual commitment for $649.99.
Blackberry CEO John Chen also announced that the Passport model AT&T is getting being redesigned. “AT&T wanted rounded corners. Some of us are more square. No other reason than that.”
Both of these devices have launched with the Amazon App Store as an avenue to download and install apps. This was a bold move by Blackberry, no pun intended, to throw down with Amazon and forgo World as the primary avenue. Keep in mind, Amazon doesn’t have a ton of app support. In some cases, the apps you really want, aren’t available. Basically, if an app competes against one of Amazons core businesses its not welcome. In these cases, check out our own Good e-Reader App Store.
Netronix has debuted a new 13.3 inch e-reader at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This device features a resolution of 1440×1600 and its powered by a Freescale i.MX6 Solo Lite CPU processor. It is running an older version of Android right now, but they promised it will be upgraded to Kitkat within a few weeks.
This 13.3 inch e-reader has a capacitive touchscreen display and is meant to be interested with via the active digitizer stylus. All of this combined allows for pin-point precision in taking notes, making highlights and annotations. Users can read tradition e-books but also have more flexibility in controlling their PDF editing experience.
Netronix is claiming that they are looking for OEM partners to license the hardware and they will also provide the SDK for the pen application suite. This includes different sized thickness to line drawing and the entire editing package. I heard that the wholesale cost will be $600 and the company will be ready to mass produce them in three months, after they redesign a new housing for it.
Visually, this prototype bears a striking resemblence to the Sony Digital Paper. It has the same flexible housing and looks to employ e Ink Mobius e-paper. The software is completely different though and the overall price should be significantly more affordable.
E Ink has been traditionally known for the screen technology found on popular e-readers such as the Kindle Paperwhite, Kobo Aura and Sony PRS-T3. The company has been developing digital signage technology for the past year and a half, and now accounts for 6% of their revenue stream. This year at CES the company debuted a new luggage tag system that will allow travelers more flexibility to track checked baggage.
The tags are made of low-power E Ink screen technology that feature RFID for tracking and Bluetooth for information updates. Users can use an upcoming app to program in flight information and connector flights. This is a boon for the frequent traveller that needs to know if their luggage made it and track its exact position.
The tag system is currently being tested at by Vanguard ID and British Airways. It has also been approved by IATA, the trade association worldwide airlines.
Good e-Reader was live at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada for the 5th year in a row. There were only a few near e-ink based devices to be shown, a few new tablets and plenty of alternative tech. Curved 4k televisions, Smartwatches and Drones were the stars of the show.
The Samsung Galaxy Note PRO line of tablets were a big hit and will be one of the big releases to watch in the next few months. Game and software developers confirmed with Good e-Reader that Blackberry is starting a section in their app store for straight Android ports. This new section in the store will open in the next few months. Curved television sets by LG, Samsung, Hisense and many other companies were the talk of the show. It seems as though 4k televisions are poised to take off in a big way with the new Youtube video codecs. Amazon and Netflix are jumping onboard the new ultra hi-definition bandwagon and going to start streaming within the next five months. WWE announced their new network, with apps on Smart televisions by Samsung and will have PPV’s as part of their $9.99 a month deal.
Smartwatches were the major trend of the CES show this year. For the first time ever they had a entire section where over nine different companies were showing their entire lineup. One of the more notable absences were Pebble and Samsung. It had a startup kind of vibe in here.
e Ink had some interesting tech on display this year, solidifying their departure away from e-readers and more into digital signage and alternative markets. They had a new luggage tag system they allowed you setup your flights within an app and then the tags change in real time. If you are prone to checking in your baggage you can track where it is, if it made it on the flight and if its lost, you can take it via GPS. They also had a bike with e-ink gauges and a big clock made of e Ink. Of course, we also saw the new Pocketbook CAD and Yotaphone.
The Yota Phone was a good idea with marrying a traditional E Ink display built into the back and a fully featured Android phone on the front. Being able to read eBooks without burning your eyes out is the reason why e-Readers have gained massive popularity in the last four years and you would figure a portable one would be amazing. Sadly, this is not the case. The Yota Phone suffers from a clunky interface, a sub-par reading experience and terrible hardware.
Good e-Reader is live on the scene at CES 2014 in Las Vegas Nevada and there were a few commercial release units of the Yota Phone. This was my first experience with this particular device and there is a huge learning curve in how to control the e Ink screen. There is absolutely no tutorials or documentation that outline exactly what you have to do to initiate the reading functionality. In order to take advantage of the e Ink screen you have to make sure the Android LCD is firmly off. In many cases the screen is simply asleep and it automatically wakes up if you are holding the phone to read.
The entire control scheme of the phone is the worst I have ever seen. There are no physical buttons, and instead you have to gesture on the bezel upwards or double tap in an indeterminate area to access the home screen. In some cases you have to swipe left or right to turn pages while reading a book. Some books require you have to turn pages using the volume keys, so there is no consistency in the eBook reading experience. The resolution is 640 x 360 pixel on the e-ink panel. Text can be fuzzy very hard to read, there is hardly any options to augment the text size too.
While the e-reading experience suffers overall, the pure Android phone is fairly satisfactory. Like most Android phones, all the keys are software driven. It has a 4.3 inch screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. The dual core chip rated at 1.7 GHz does a good job at keeping things quick and peppy though it doesn’t have the more advanced quad core chips.
This phone is selling for close to $700 on the main Yota website and the limited production run was sold out right away. You can find one on the grey market, such as eBay for around $900. I would avoid this phone at all costs. If you are looking for a solid e Ink phone, take a look at the Onyx Phone that is going to hit the streets soon.
Samsung Android phones tend to be very popular on the worldwide stage with the Korean company controlling over 35% of the entire market. A large advertising budget and low prices have helped catapult the brand into public consciousness. This is why many 3rd party cases and accessories tend to do well, because its the brand name phone most people own. Pocketbook is trying to appeal to readers across the spectrum with the new Pocketbook Cover. Today, we see what all of the fuss is about.
The Pocketbook Cover Reader is basically a second screen that has a resolution of 800×600. You need to use the official Pocketbook app in order to read books and setup your reading preferences. Readers can turn off the Galaxy S4 screen and just read on the e-ink screen. The case is designed to flip your phone on its back and use the e-ink screen as the reading panel. This won’t kill the phone battery by using the color display. Additionally, missed calls and received SMSs are displayed on it.
The new CoverReader will use Plastic Logic’s flexible EPD product; the 4.8” display will be manufactured in the company’s Dresden facility. This new display has a range of benefits, as such screens are flexible, shatterproof, ultra-thin, ultra-lightweight, power saving, and daylight readable.
From practical everyday usage, i don’t know if I could recommend this product. You need to exclusively deal directly with Pocketbook to buy and read your books. This makes it difficult, but not impossible to load in your own books. In order to get the case to work you have to open a book on the Android screen and hit a button at the top of the UI. This projects anything on the screen directly on the EINK screen. When this occurs, the Android screen dims and becomes inoperable. The e Ink screen is not touchscreen and you will have to use the page-up and page-down button to turn pages. If you want to increase the size of the font or change the font-type, you have to first do it on the Android LCD screen.
The Pocketbook Cover is a bit of a gimmick, and I doubt it will sell well on the market. It is bulky and cumbersome and does not easily flip around the phone, so you can just read the e Ink screen and cover up the LCD. It feels flimsy and cheap.
Pocketbook is taking a departure away from the standard e-reader and targeting a very specific market. They are going after designers who find themselves using CAD software by Autodesk and need a device that wont die after a full days use. We caught up with this new device in the prototype stage at CES 2014 to give you a first look.
The PocketBook CAD Reader features a 13.3 inch screen and utilizes new E Ink tech called Fina. This is basically super lightweight glass and is easy to hold with one hand. Underneath the hood is a 1GHz dual-core CPU with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. It has built-in Wi-Fi and an optional 3G module. You will be able to use this device for a few days with its large 8000 mAh battery.
This design friendly reader is running Android 4.0.4 and the final product should have a fairly intuitive interface. Your recently opened CAD documents will be at the top of the screen and there is adequate room for five documents. On the left hand side of the screen is the Android apps that come bundled with it and a few other widgets spread evenly around.
The model at CES basically was running on a slideshow loop of different CAD drawings of automobiles, planes, and building schematics. It is meant to show the type of drawings it can support. Of course, a loop is not good enough for me, and was easily bypassed. This is where things went terribly awry. Outside of the loop was the standard Android interface that anyone with a device would recognize. Nothing here worked, I hit Settings and selected a few options and nothing loaded. Gallery crashed and nothing really worked at all. Obviously Pocketbook merely wanted to showcase its new CAD Reader in a controlled environment and to give an indication on the future direction of the software. Obviously, this needs a ton of work and is unusable in its current state.
Is there room in the market for this? Many serious designers are using tablets, such as the iPad. This model will likely cost close to $400, as Pocketbook can’t manufacture enough of them to keep costs low. Still, its really light, can be used in the direct sunlight and can render any CAD drawing done with Autodesk software. This is aimed at a very specific niche market, and does not even have a built in e-reading software.
Finally, Pocketbook did a very excellent video, that demonstrates how the CAD Reader will be used in the real world. It was one of the best videos I have ever seen and had high production values. I was told by E Ink that Pocketbook only spent $15,000 on it, and that included post-production.
Kurio has come up with a kid-specific tablet at the ongoing CES event which breaks convention as it is 4G compatible. Until now, manufacturers would usually stick to Wi-Fi connectivity for tablet devices meant for kids to ensure control over their usage of the device. Verizon would be the carrier of choice for the Kurio tablet and is schedule to launch its Share Everything plans around the same time.
As for its features, the Kurio Tablet will run Android 4.2 (sorry, no KitKat for the kids) but with enough modifications to ensure parents have an idea of what their kids are up to. Kid specific tablets and parental controls are almost synonymous, and the Kurio Tablet isn’t an exception to this too. As such, the tablet will allow the creation of up to eight separate user profiles, each having their own set of parental controls. Users can always remaining within the levels of control even if the tablet is shared by more than one child of different age groups within the household. The tablet also boasts of Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility.
As a further precaution, the tablet will also feature Kurio Genius Internet filtering system that scans more than 450 million sites everyday to ensure maximum possible immunity for the kids against harmful sites. Parents will also be able to block sites that they feel are unsafe for their kids, a necessity for a tablet that has advanced connectivity options.
What comes next is even more intriguing: a smartphone device for kids which has the potential of creating a whole new segment in itself. The Kurio Phone will be 3G compatible but will be the first to hit streets, as the device is likely to be ready for action by spring this year. The rest of the specs of the Kurio Phone include a multi core processor (of unknown make), 1 GB of Ram, 4 GB of storage along with a 4 inch 800 x 480. The Kurio Phone will also come with its own set of controls which includes alerts issues whenever the user has ventured out of a pre-determined area, parent locks on new contacts without approval before making calls or sending messages, and more.
The launch is expected to happen around summer this year. It’s not known what the Kurio Tablet and Kurio Phone will cost, though there is likelihood of a bundled offer for parents opting to buy both the tablet and smartphone for their kids.
Samsung has just unveiled the first ultra large screen tablet, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet. This is going to be available as a pure WIFI device or with data. It should be hitting AT&T within the next month or two and brings a fair number of compelling aspects to the table.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 features a 12.2 capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels. Visually the resolution is arresting and multimedia looks really amazing. Underneath the hood is a 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa processor (Wi-Fi model) or 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor (LTE model). It also has 3GB RAM, 8-megapixel rear facing camera, and a 2 megapixel front facing camera. This model has more internal memory then any of the other tablets Samsung has debuted at CES with 32/64 GB of storage and expandable memory.
There should be plenty of battery life to play games and engage in media with the 9,500 mAh battery. The 8 core processor will really make games, apps and everything else really shine.
Finally, the Note Pro 12.2 is very light! For a really large tablet, you would figure it would be very hefty. I easily held with it one hand and did not find it was weighing me down.
The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 model runs Google Android 4.4, which is the latest version. What makes this tablet really interesting is the main UI. This is unlike any other tablet the company has released.
Most Android tablet users are likely used to the pure vanilla experience. You have app icons on the main screen and the primary app list. Samsung has borrowed a page out of Microsoft’s playbook by adopting live tiles. This will have apps like the New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, give you live updates. If you install apps on your own, this can also be integrated. This is all accomplished by pinching and zooming.
I have seen a number of phones lately by mainstream companies like LG that allow you to have two apps open at once, with each one taking up half of the screen. Samsung is taking this one step further to allow for 4 apps to be open at the same time and can both be used live. You can have a few spreadsheets open and a number of business documents. If you are into movies, you can watch one and then bash it on Reditt and other movie review sites.
These two software elements is really what makes this stand out in a crowded market place.
If Android is your bag, you will want to take a long look at this tablet. I can see it being a solid business device with its ability to multitask. It will also be fairly good at video games, able to handle anything you can throw at it.
We have seen smartwatches before but none this big. With a 2.4 inch display, the Neptune Pine is to smartwatches what the phablet is to regular tablet devices. It is twice the size of regular smartwatch devices that usually max out at 1.2 to 1.6 inches. However, the humongous proportions isn’t the only distinguishing factor of the Neptune Pine in that it is designed to operate completely on its own and not as a companion device to a smartphone. It actually is a smartphone that you can wrap around on your wrist. Not bad, when you have a device that offers half the screen real estate as the regular iPhone.
However, apart from the size, the Neptune Pine is about substance. Powered by a Snapdragon S4 chip rated at 1.2 Ghz, the smartwatch is zippy to say the least, and is good enough to last a full day of regular usage or about 7 hours of internet usage via Wi-Fi. The device also comes with front VGA and rear 5 megapixel camera, another smartphone-like feature. While the need to have a front facing cam on a smartwatch is debatable, the 5 megapixel rear shooter can prove handy even though it amounts to pulling the device from the wrist strap each time a pic has to be taken. The device runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Typing is also a lot easier on the Neptune Pine compared to any other smartwatch, which makes sending messages a breeze; the device can also be used to make or receive calls. Reading messages is also convenient thanks to the larger display area, which also lets users read comfortably, but not for extended periods. The display should also allow for smaller games to be played easily. Surfing the web will be much more interesting on the Neptune Pine and can prove handy while on the go.
However, let’s not forget one of the biggest draw on the battery is the display and the bigger it is, more will be the drain on power. Also, with smartphones growing bigger in scope (and size, too), what remains to be seen is whether there will be many who would like to opt for a device that they can strap on to their wrist which offers just the basic functionalities of a smartphone. The Neptune Pine is priced $355 and will be available by the end of this month. The company revealed the second gen version is already in the making and let’s hope it is smaller than the current version. In any case, the Neptune Pine in its present form does conform to what Apple co-founder Steve Wonzniak had said of smartwatches, that he wants the entire internet on his wrist.
WebOS has been the kiss of death in the tech industry and nobody has really made it work since it was first developed by Palm. HP tried to make a go of it with their ill-fated TouchPad, and was promptly killed off three months after their only commercially viable product. LG is trying hard to make it relevant on their entire line of televisions. We will soon see it on 3D/4K and other new tv’s in their portfolio within the next few months.
Today, Good e-Reader got an exclusive hands on demo with WebOS for televisions and we get a sense of what it brings to the table. LG is going to be running their own video and television rental service under the LG Store. They have deals with major studios and were showing off Spider Man, Hunger Games and many other popular movies. They also have a dedicated section of the store for WebOS apps. You can install Netflix, Hulu, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and tons more.
I tried to confirm what the submission process would be for indie developers wanting to port over their apps they developed for the TouchPad and what the guidelines for apps actually are. No one at the event had any clue and I was told no one even asked that question but me, and everyone was fairly confused.
Pepcom is one of the largest press events and transpires the day before CES. Good e-Reader was live on the scene and checked out some of the most compelling devices. Surprisingly there was no new e-readers unveiled, but Kobo was on the scene with their entire portfolio of products. Mainly, we looked at a bunch of solid new phones, such as the Huawei Ascend Mate 2, LG G-Flex and Alcatel One Touch.
The casual television crowd has all heard of 3D, but it never really caught on due to the price. 4K televisions have been available for over a year, but lack of quality content is hampering growth. This may change as Netflix and Amazon both announced this week that they will be delivering ultra hi-definition streams later this year. Google announced a new 4K streaming format, VP9, that would cut in half the bandwidth necessary to stream 4k from sites like YouTube. CES 2014 is all about curved televisions that are quite the departure from the flat-screen models everyone knows.
LG, Samsung, Hi-sense, and many other companies were displaying their curved 4K 3D television sets. Most ranged from 55 inches to over 105 inches and most have a hefty price tag of $60,000!
LG is doing something very interesting with WebOS, that they purchased from HP, after their ill-fated TouchPad. LG has developed a store that has WebOS apps, such as Crackle, Skype, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and 50 other apps. They will be integrating WebOS as their infrastructure of choice on their entire line of curved televisions. The company also demoed the frst bendable UHD OLED. It will actually transform from a flat screen via motors and give you the option to curve it.
Samsung was showing off a mammoth 105-inch curved Ultra HD display and will have extra 55-inch, 65-inch and 78-inch curved UHD sets (no prices, later this year). Samsung’s curved displays deliver “even more lifelike picture quality with more depth,” said HS Kim, executive vice president of the visual display business at Samsung Electronics. He compared the experience to 3-D and IMAX. “You can feel that effect.”
Curved television sets were the major trend this year at CES, as more companies seem to be embracing this technology in a bid to win over consumers.