iTablet 10.1″ Windows 7 touchscreen computing

The iPad revolutionised the flagging tablet market with an inspirationally simple approach. AHX Global has noticed this success and decided to set off in the completely opposite direction. The company’s iTablet device crams a fully-functional Windows 7 operating system onto a diminutive 10.1-inch tablet form. Will it work?

iTablet

AHX Global, the company taking on Apple’s premium pad, is a joint venture between X2 Computing, a UK-based supplier of mobile computing solutions, and AMtek Systems, the leading Taiwanese designer of tablet computers. Unfortunately, AMtek’s proliferation in the tablet market means that parts of the iTablet are very similar to other tablets we’ve already seen.

Firstly, the 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen has a pretty standard 1024×600 resolution. That means it’s worse than the iPad’s resolution of 1024×768 (on a smaller 9.7-inch screen), so you can’t expect a razor-sharp display. Other tablet staples include wi-fi, Bluetooth and stereo speakers. It also rotates to work in landscape or portrait orientations, and has a HDMI output to provide high quality playback of HD video and pictures through larger TV screens.

While the company may have run short on revolutionary ideas, what they’ve lost in inspiration they’ve gained in determination. Inside, it may be the most powerful tablet on the market. There’s an Intel Atom Z530 1.6GHz processor and 2GB DDR2 RAM (almost eight times more than the iPad). There’s ample storage, too, with 32GB on-board, and a SD card reader for expansion possibilities. You could also plug an external hard drive into one of the two USB 2.0 ports.

It’s a powerful offering, and it should run Windows 7 Home Premium without a hitch. That means, unlike other tablets, there’ll be full Flash compatibility and a choice of browsers, as well as the entire office suite (which comes pre-installed as a trial). It also means full-sized Skype for video and VoIP conferencing application – using the built-in two megapixel webcam. How all of these will run on a 10.1” display is the vital question – we’ve set-up camp in the wait-and-see stockade.

Despite being a fully-powered Windows 7 system, it actually weighs under a kilogram. It’s also pretty compact too, with dimensions of 271 x 163 x 16mm. With this much portability, matched to this much power, something has to give – we’re willing to bet it’s the battery life. We’ll find out in March, when it hits UK stores.

Dell Inspiron duo – Tri-mode functionality to meet multi-functioning requirements

If your house consists of people of significantly varying professions, or your brood comprises of offspring of considerably different ages, you will probably be eternally wearied by relentless battles over what mode a computer PC tablet is switched to. Your ears may therefore prick up when you learn of the Inspiron duo, Dell’s first convertible tablet, enabling users to switch seamlessly between entertainment and productivity modes.

Dell-Inspiron-Duo

Dell’s growing commitment in creating mobility products has hit new heights, as in sporting a unique flip-hinge design, the Inspiron duo ingeniously blends the capabilities of a full-sized keyboard, the facilities of a tablet and the convenience of a dock, meaning users can switch effortlessly from type to touch to dock in a flash. This almost instant tri-mode functionality is perfect for multi-functioning households, craving productivity and entertainment in equal doses.

For those requiring seamless entertainment facilities, in tablet mode Dell’s new duo Stage software supplies for easy touch access to games, videos, an eBookstore through the Bookstage application, music and the internet. With its vivid 10.1 inch HD screen facing outward, the Inspiron duo makes the perfect entertainment companion.
For those requiring more serious productivity, simply flip the screen inwards and the duo leaps into ‘work mode’, revealing a keyboard, for all conventional typing demands, such as word processing, presentations and spread sheets.

The versatile functionalities of Dell’s first convertible tablet are almost limitless. With a built-in Web-cam, elective connectivity options, such as Bluetooth and 4GB mobile broadband and integrated Wi-Fi, the Inspiron duo makes staying in touch with people easier than ever.

At a first glimpse, £449 may seem on the slightly expensive side. Although when you consider you will possess a dual-core processor with a 250GB hard drive with Windows 7 Home Premium loaded, a unique flip-hinge design that formulates a distinct and electrifying new form factor, and endless other features that provide multiple computing and entertainment features, that will satisfy all the family’s requirements, Dell’s fun and versatile tablet, is actually quite a bargain. The Inspiron duo optional dock model costs slightly more at £499, whilst the 320GB hard drive model is mid-range priced at £379.

All three models are for sale at Dell from 2 December 2010 – just in time for a peaceful Christmas!

Acer shows off ICONIA and slew of other tablets,

Acer threw their hat back into the race yesterday with a slew of touchscreen releases, a smartphone and an app store. Despite Steve Job’s now infamous declaration that non-iPad-sized tablets DOA (600,000 Galaxy Tab owners might disagree) Acer have brought out a variety of tablets in different shapes and sizes.

Acer-Iconia

Most exciting, clearly was the ICONIA, a 14” dual touch-screen device. Dual screens open up a number of interesting possibilities – you can have a video on one screen and pull up related info on the other – I’d love an additional screen when working on certain things on my iPad so I can see some advantages. The ergonomics of reaching for the top screen to manipulate it seems dubious, but it’s something that we’d love to test. There is also the question of how well the touch screen keyboard works – although the gesture to summon it – simply placing both hands on the screen did look cool.

The 10.1 Android tablet comes with WiFi and 3G, as well as an HDMI out and full HD support – enabling you to display content on the big screen. The 10-point multi-touch system, gyro meter control and HD screen should be excellent for gaming – an Acer promise an entertainment experience on par with the best games consoles. If Acer can deliver this remains to be seen.

There is also a Windows 7 flavour tablet that combines touchscreen goodness with a physical-keyboard-attached docking station and more connectivity options – which I’m guessing means Ethernet. And of course the now standard front and back facing cameras. Well standard with one glaring exception.

There is also a wee 7” Android tablet that comes with Dolby Mobile Technology. Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity and front and back video cameras. It also have a dual core processor and support for Flash 10.1 – although how this affects you performance and battery life has yet to be determined.

The app store announcement came as a bit of a surprise (I’ve never had problems filling my PC with content). Dubbed “alive” it gives access to a variety of digital content such as music, books or games and is managed by content providers. Acetrax: provides over 2,000 titles available from top Hollywood studios to Rent or Buy, to stream or download. There is a news service, audio book from Audio G, magazines from Zinio, Casual games, Adobe’s InMarket app store for Adobe AIR applications.

Windows 7 phone review roundup

The Windows 7 Phone platform has just been released, and reviews across the internet have been published as publications try to give their two penny worth. The replacement for the much maligned and now defunct Windows Mobile, it will be available in the UK with the HTC HDZ and HTC 7 Mozart, Samsung Omnia, and LG Optimus 7.

Ballmer

Understandably first on most agendas of any article covering Windows new baby (which they are rumoured to spending a recession-mocking four hundred million pounds promoting), is its interface, and reactions to it have generally been positive. The Daily Telegraph describes it thus:

Turn on any WP7 device and the home screen slides up to reveal a panel of large icons. These give access to the “hubs” around which the system is built – from “People” to “Pictures” or “Music and Video”. Scroll up and as you come to the bottom of the list the icons above are compressed slightly; it makes knowing where you are in a list intuitive. Menus throughout the phone, too, pirouette onto the screen in a way that is as smooth-looking as it is surely battery-draining.

wmpoweruser.com likes the simplicity of the interface and its intention to keep things as quick and straightforward as possible:

Sometimes, the interface can be a little dull, and perhaps not as flashy as things like the iPhone, or Android, but it puts information, rather than shininess first, and at that, it’s pretty much unparalleled.

As we all know, apps now rule the mobile universe. Windows have recognised this and created the Marketplace, where users can go to pick up apps, games and music videos. They have brought a host of third developers on board, who will be bringing additions every day. About Marketplace, neowin.net said:

Microsoft’s store is a joy to use unless you’re searching for something specific. Hitting the search button allows you to narrow down your search but the final results mix in applications, games and music so it’s often hard to find the application you require.

As Apple as iTunes, so Windows has Zune to buy and play music which you can sync with your Windows PC. Unfortunately the Guardian has compared looking for songs on it to shopping in “a 1950s Soviet supermarket: damn big, and damn empty.”

However, neowin contradicts this by saying:

Overall the Music and Video hub offers everything you’d expect. Windows Phone 7 supports a variety of formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, MPEG and H.264. DivX and MKV formats are not supported natively but we fully expect third parties to offer separate applications for these.

Emails appear to be taken care off and the Phone 7 gets general thumbs up all round, with wmpoweruser saying:

The Email client is pretty much spot on. It supports IMAP, POP, Hotmail/Live and Exchange ActiveSync push email, as well as full HTML support, and the interface is brilliant to boot.

It’ll also easily sync with your Facebook, with neowin gushing that “if ever there was a Facebook phone then this is truly it. Facebook is at the very heart of Windows Phone 7 and it beats throughout the operating system.”

Pictures from Facebook and email are easily retrievable, where “the hub syncs down your photos and albums from Facebook and Windows Live. The Facebook integration is solid in pictures, allowing you to save photos locally and comment on friends Facebook images.”

There’s full Microsoft Office capability, with techradar saying this is where Windows Phone 7 really shines, though it does say,

Being able to jump directly to tables in Excel or sections in Word, using the contents list Mobile Office builds automatically is certainly useful but we’d really like to see the other apps work more like OneNote, enabling you to have notes on your phone that sync to the Web and to the PC version of the app as well.

In general, opinions on the 7 Phone were pretty positive. Techradar (giving it four out of five) says:

Microsoft has delivered what it set out to do: a refreshingly different, truly engaging mobile OS. The user interface delights and there are standout innovations such as linking multiple contacts.

All the reviews do lend a caveat that it isn’t yet the finished article, and that it offers little new for smartphones with Telegraph perhaps summing it up with:

Everything looks genuinely slick and stylish – but WP7 is neither cutting edge under the bonnet nor so effortless to use that it’s a plausible object of aspiration for anybody but a business person whose IT department won’t allow them a better option.

Not long to wait now – Windows Phone 7 handsets roundup

It’s eight months since Microsoft first revealed its Windows Phone 7 OS, and now the wait is nearly over for you to get your hands on it.

October 21 is the UK launch date for several WP7 smartphones from the likes of HTC, Dell, LG and Samsung.

Ballmer

“Glance and Go” is Microsoft’s catchphrase for the new operating system, claiming that you’ll be able to carry out your everyday tasks faster, and that vital info will be accessible on a glance and go basis. It’s Microsoft’s latest foray into the smartphone market, which is predicted to take over 70 per cent of the market in the next three years.

Its last attempt, Windows Mobile, received a lukewarm reception, but the new OS has been simplified – the menu button, which sent users into an increasingly complex range of submenus has been ditched – although it is also missing some major functions, such as cut and paste (a software update has been promised for early 2011). This is the first clue that what we’re being given isn’t quite finished.

The other is that the number of apps available has yet to be announced, although we do know that nearly half will be games related, with Electronic Arts named as a launch partner. Major apps such as eBay and Facebook are being fast-tracked to be ready for launch.

The phones will also feature Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE games and the Zune music and video experience.

Windows-7

HTC will be launching three WP7 phones this month – the HTC 7 Trophy, the HTC 7 Mozart, and the HTC HD7. All the handsets will come with HTC Hub, which will offer a number of dedicated apps such as stocks and weather in addition to those available in the Marketplace.

Samsung is launching the Samsung OMNIA 7, a sleek, slimline handset with a metallic chassis. It boasts a 4-inch SUPER AMOLED touch screen, 1GHz application processor and a 5-megapixel camera with HD recording.

The Venue Pro is Dell’s Windows Phone 7 flagship handset, with an AMOLED display. It is the only one of the new devices to feature a portrait QWERTY slider, rather than the landscape slider of the LG Quantum.
For a full rundown on which phones are available on which network, head on over to the official Windows Phone 7 site here.