Griffin Gets Gadgets On The Go

Griffin has a great range of accessories for all kinds of smartphones, MP3 players and tablets, so it’s no surprise that they’ve a few additions to their product range here at CES. This year they’re announcing a two in-car mounts, some power solutions and a mount for air travellers.

First up, if you have a car that has an aux port (3.5 mm socket), then the WindowsSeat 3 Handsfree is the windshield or dashboard mount for your vehicle. It comes with combined aux cable and microphone that that can be used to make handsfree phone calls and stream music/navigation commands through the car speakers. WindowSeat’s mounting cradle holds iPods or iPhones in most shell- or skin-type cases, as well as a similar sized MP3 players and smartphones, including popular models from BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Price is $39.99 and available now.

Griffin AirCurve

If you don’t have  an aux jack, the AirCurve Window Mount is the alternative. This windshield mount is designed as an acoustic amplifier which can raise the volume by as much as 25 dB without any batteries or cables. Designed for the iPhone 4 / 4S, simply put the smartphone in speakerphone mode and chat away. Price is also $39.99 and available now.

Griffin’s PowerBlock range has been updated with new models –  PowerBlock Reserve, $59.99, a wall charger for iPod and iPhone that can be plugged into any AC wall outlet to provide a quick boost of power that also has a built-in rechargeable 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack for charging on the go. The PowerBlock Reserve Universal, $49.99, is the same concept but quickly charges any USB device. Both models charge their own batteries at the same time they’re charging connected devices, which is often not the case with competing models. A row of LEDs serve as a power gauge, indicating how much charge is left.

Finally, Griffin is bringing a new product to the market in Q2 of 2012 with a Tray Table Latch Mount. Specifically for the air and rail traveller, the mount is designed to be compatible with 90% of the world’s airline and commuter rail tray table latches and holds your eReader, tablet or smartphone at eye level for comfortable viewing. Very handy.

Pop round to Griffin in North Hall, Booth 5212 at CES 2012 in Las Vegas to see all their latest goodies or you can checked out the dedicated CES section of their website.

Tablets that Failed in 2011 (But Could Come Back in 2012)

Every year, we get new hype of electronics that are suppose to rock their niche. This year, we saw tablets galore. At CES 2011, I personally saw around 8 tablets that disappeared quicker than a fake Apple store in China.

But those tablets that stayed to try and take the market had to deal with the 500 lb gorilla in iPad2. Some did ok, while others failed miserably. That is what were going to look at today.

Cisco Cius

Cisco Cius

Cisco Cius

Knowing that Cisco didn’t want to deal with the consumer market, they decided to go for the business professional. Why not? It worked for Blackberry all these years. Only problem, it still couldn’t cut it.

Cisco Cius is an Android-based tablet that ran 720p, with Wifi, 4G and Bluetooth. It contains Cisco AppHQ, which is Cisco’s business app store. The seven-inch screen had an optional HD media station that could connect USB peripherals, Ethernet access and a handset, turning the Cius into a landline phone.

There is still hope for the Cius, especially in the office that wants to buy $1000 phones. Maybe in 2-3 years, this device will become more utilized.

 

HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

There is no way to sugar coat this, so I am going to say it. HP shot themselves in the collective foot. The HP TouchPad started out just fine. Using HP’s acquired Palm software, the WebOS system had a companion phone in the Pre3. The big feature was the ability to transfer items from the Pre3 to the TouchPad by setting the phone on the tablet.

This tablet was prematurely killed when CEO Leo Apotheker stopped production of WebOS devices in October. It also brought us the first viable $99 tablet, as stores were liquidating.

WebOS has been since deemed Open Source. Maybe the TouchPad will make a resurgence as a collectors item. ITM – HP will most likely come out with a Windows 7 tablet in the future.

 

RIM BlackBerry Playbook

Blackberry Playbook

Blackberry Playbook

RIM has been hurting as of late. Once a staple in business, they seemed to lose a lot of momentum to Apple lately. To really get into the tablet market, they decided to put out the PlayBook, which in all reality, was a pretty impressive tablet.

1 GB of RAM, dual-core 1 GHz processor, Dual HD cameras, and it also worked well with a Blackberry smartphone. The tablet does have a lot of strengths, but the market did not bode well. If it can stand the water, the Playbook might emerge in a year and really show

 

Motorola Xoom

Motorola XOOM

Motorola XOOM

The Xoomtablet was hit hard on specs vs. iPad2. The Xoom’s 10.1 inch display was deemed “Low end”. Resolution is not the only thing about a display. color depth, brightness and contrast are also big factors.

Still, this tablet, which now can be upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) could make a comeback with Xoom2 and a better display. It also has Bluetooth, micro USB and GPS.

Overall, all four of these tablets are still in production. They have some great features and – if a little work goes into them – they could shake up the tablet market in 2012. HP TouchPad would be the only exception.

With the Kindle Fire and Color Nook out in the tablet market, as well as some low-cost tablets ( like the  $99 MIPS Novo7 tablet that came out), 2012 might have some viable alternatives in the tablet market.

MIPS Technologies Introduces a $99 Android 4.0 Tablet

If you wanted a $99 tablet, you would wait for the HP fire sales of the TouchPad, or buy a no-name brand tablet that had a low end processor and no memory. But MIPS Technologies has announced their entry into the market – a $99 tablet that can run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

You might have MIPS technology in your home already. The MIPS processor is what powers TVs, DTV boxes, and other appliances from Sony, Pioneer, Motorola, and Cisco (Linksys).

MIPS Technologies

MIPS Technologies

Now, it’s ready to enter in the mobile market with the new tablet. The first one, a 7″ tablet created by Ainovo; the NOVO7 runs using a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) at 444MHz. The processor is a 1GHz single core, but using a technology called XBurst. Called JZ4770, it’s MIPS32,  65 nanometer architecture. The processor notes it can show 2D or 3D video in 1080p, with a low power consumption (less than 250mW).

Unfortunately, the unit is also sold out at this time.

“The openness of Android is enabling a new level of connectedness and interaction between devices and between people across the globe,” said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS Technologies. “We are excited to be a part of the Android ecosystem delivering on that vision. We applaud Ingenic’s accomplishment in developing this new high-performance, feature-rich Android 4.0 tablet, and offering it at a price point that makes it widely accessible. We look forward to teaming with Ingenic as it continues to develop MIPS-Based mobile innovations.”

Aionvo NOVO7

Aionvo NOVO7

Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google joined in on the praise:

“I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world.”

8″ and 9″ form factors will be available soon. All versions include support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3D graphics (1080p video decoding) and dual front/rear cameras (the NOVO7 has a 2MP rear, VGA face camera system).

The age of the “throw-away” tablet could be coming sooner than you think.

 

Sprint May be Getting iPhone5. Not Definite Yet [RUMOR]

Sprint Networks

Sprint is rumored to get iPhone5. Will it happen?

The upcoming iPhone5 in October might have a new twist to it. Sprint-Nextell might be joining the ranks as a phone carrier. This would be in addition to AT&T and Verizon to carrying the phone in the US.

I say “may” because it’s unconfirmed just yet. The Wall Street Journal reported that it will be happening. They got their information from “people familiar with the matter”. Yet, news leaks sometimes can be misleading.

Other iPhone5 Rumors

  • iPhone4 will get an 8GB model, replace 3GS as low-end device
  • dual-mode iPhone will let you switch from CDMA to GSM networks.
  • 4G LTE - No word if dual-mode LTE – WiMax
  • 8 Megapixel camera, Front facing VGA camera with no light.
  • A5 processor running dual 1 GHz.
  • Thinner and lighter phone
  • Longer and wider screen – Same size phone
  • Turns into Bumble Bee, everyone’s favorite Transformer (OK, maybe not. But wouldn’t that be cool?)

LTE vs WiMax

If Sprint does get the iPhone5, we could see a full iPhone war come October. There is one problem to this – Sprint is primarily a WiMax 4G service and iPhone is rumored to be LTE.

Sprint had put in measures to try and buy out Clearwire and add LTE into their service. Even if that happens, Sprint will have to do some fast work to make the iPhone 4G usable in the US.

We then have to ask the question: is T-Mobile also getting the iPhone? Not to mention the underdog carriers (US Cellular is one of the top underdogs in the Midwest, an iPhone 5 would mean local competition, too).

How iPhone5 Could Affect Android

Android has done a good job in clouding the market. Whereas iPhone only has 1 model with 3 memory size options (16, 32, 64 GB) and 2 color options (Black or White), Android comes in many sizes and shapes. HTC, LG, Motorola (obviously) and Sony- Ericsson all make different types of Android smartphones.

Still, with an iPhone 5 in all four US carriers could put a new dent into Android sales. A lot of people may make the switch because it’s an iPhone.

Once again, this is a rumor, but if true, could give Apple a bigger market share. Sprint users might have a bad experience for the first year simply because the carrier has to adapt to the phone, instead of vise-versa. If it does happen, I might finally switch off to another carrier for the first time in 13 years…

GNC #696 Sea of Change

All we are planning the server upgrade for Thursday, all of my other sites have been moved to the new box and we will be doing some test with a second new server as well to see how well it stands up to some data delivery test we will be doing. Major investment in new hardware to support the show and the site.

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Google Purchases Motorola Mobility (along with 24,000 Patents) for $12.5 billion

Motorola-Android

Motorola-Android

Google announced this morning that it will be acquiring Motorola Mobility for $40 a share – $12.5 billion total. With it, come 24000 patents on mobile devices, in which 70-80% will most likely move right into Android technologies. Is this a major win for Google and their partners?

Motorola Mobility started in 1928[Wiki]. They pioneered mobile devices starting with the StarTAC in 1996. Motorola Mobility also invented the flip phone and their most successful handset – the RAZR - was the most popular phone from 2004 to 2008 (when the iPhone surpassed it).

“This transaction offers significant value for Motorola Mobility’s stockholders and provides compelling new opportunities for our employees, customers, and partners around the world” said Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility. “We have shared a productive partnership with Google to advance the Android platform, and now through this combination we will be able to do even more to innovate and deliver outstanding mobility solutions across our mobile devices and home businesses.”

24,000 patents, ranging from initial cellular connections all the way to current technologies, are also a part of that purchase. This means that Android has a better chance of warding off most other patent lawsuit disputes, which seems to be a key to a smartphone or tablet.

It’s also a great advantage to Android partners Samsung, HTC, Sony-Ericcson and LG-Electronics. Motorola had several Android-based smartphones themselves, including the Droid and Droid 2.

“The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences.”Says Larry Page. “I am confident that these great experiences will create huge value for shareholders. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”

With this news, the mobile eco-system might take a major turn. Google has some major firepower behind their Android system now. While not all technologies they purchased might not be viable in today’s tech market, they could be a basis for modified technology based on original patents.

Have you switched to an Android phone yet? Do you have a Droid3? What are your thoughts on this acquisition?

Official Google Press Release

Android 2.3 Coming to Droid Pro, Droid 2, and Droid X

If you are a user of the Droid Pro or Droid Global and have had problems with corporate sync, the Motorola has a fix rolling out for you – it’s called Android 2.2 Gingerbread.  According the Motorola’s own support forums a company rep has stated that the problem will be fixed with the upcoming Gingerbread update.  The post, made May 23 at 4:49 pm has since been edited.  Here is the original:

A test version has already been rolled out to a few lucky Droid X users (I am not one of them).  That means it’s likely that it will be the first to receive the update, perhaps as early as May 26th, according to other rumors floating around.  We have also heard that the Droid X Gingerbread build has been approved by Verizon.  The other devices will likely be close behind.

After Verizon rejected Motorola’s first build it looks likely, providing testing goes well, that it will be a go this time.  As soon as it hits we will have screenshots and and update right here.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread May Finally Reach the Droid X

motorola droid x

It looks like the Motorola Droid X may FINALLY get the latest and greatest Android – 2.3, also known as Gingerbread.  Supposedly Verizon received Motorola’s build about a month ago, but rejected it.  Now it’s rumored that Motorola’s second try has been given the green-light by the wireless overlord.  This news hasn’t been officially confirmed or denied by either Motorola or Verizon.

If it’s true then the rollout would likely begin in the next few days.  So far no users have reported receiving the update.  The Droid X currently runs Android 2.2.1 and system version 2.3.340 and still claims it is up to date when asked to check for updates.

For those users who have rooted their device and are running an unofficial version of 2.3, you can find instructions on an upgrade path over at MyDroidWorld.  Those running stock devices should begin making periodic checks for updates as it may available that way before being pushed.

Hype Over The New Motorola Tablet

As CES 2011 fast approaches it’s becoming clear what the most hyped product will be.  It’s not a 3D TV, Blu-Ray player, phone, or set-top box.  It’s the forthcoming Motorola Android tablet.  Of course, as any good company would, Motorola is fanning the flames as hard as they can.

It has already been a huge comeback year for them with the success of the Droid, Droid 2, and Droid X.  Now they are hoping to take the tablet market in the same storming fashion.  Yesterday they released a brilliant teaser video (which you can watch at the end of this post) that swept around the internet to mostly high praise.  In 24 hours the video has passed half a million views.  As Motorola has been known to do with their Droid ads, they again took a swipe at Apple with this teaser.  And, to be fair, they also took a shot at the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Today they put an official countdown on their website.  The giant counter is counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the debut at CES.

Very little has leaked about this forthcoming tablet.  The only thing that seems to be know for sure is that it will run Android Honeycomb (which is either 2.4 or 3.0 depending on who you listen to).  The name is also unknown.  The ad seems to point to it actually being called the Evolution, but the name Xoom has been getting some play on blogs today.

As the counter says, we only have roughly 14 days until we find out all of the details and see it is truly the darling of CES or the bust.  But, either way, it is clearly the most anticipated product leading up to the show.

Smart Phone Critical Mass

The smartphone is a concept and an evolving device that has been around for a few years, though until now mass consumer adoption has been slow.

The introduction of the iPhone in June 2007 marked a radical improvement in smartphone interface design, usability and device capabilities. The iPhone caused a big upheaval in the then somewhat sleepy cell phone market. Even though the iPhone was an instant hit and unquestionably successful product, Apple’s choice of tying the iPhone exclusively to AT&T in the United States likely slowed the pace of faster smartphone adoption. In a way, this slowing of smartphone adoption has been good because it has allowed carriers to beef up their networks in the interim.

Google entered the smartphone market announcing Android in November of 2007. Initial implementations of Android-powered devices demonstrated promise, but it has taken a while for Android itself to be improved, and smartphone manufacturers such as HTC and Motorola to come up with highly-desirable devices that take full advantage of Android’s evolving and and advanced features and capabilities.

We are now in July of 2010. The iPhone 4 has been introduced. Alongside the iPhone 4, highly-desirable and functional devices such as the HTC Evo 4G, Droid Incredible , Droid X, and other Android-powered devices have either arrived or are shortly to come on the market. Now there’s suddenly a new problem – all of these devices are in short supply, and manufacturers such as HTC are scrambling to ramp up production to meet the demand that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Where did all of this smartphone demand come from? There are several pieces of the marketplace puzzle that have finally come together all at the same time. The new smartphone devices are finally at a point where they are highly usable. Multiple competing cell networks are finally at a point where data connectivity and speed make them usable. Also, millions of consumers over the past few years have become intimately familiar with “dumb” phone models that have had smartphone-like features embedded into them, such as integrated cameras, limited Internet browsing, gaming, text messaging and GPS functionality. They make regular use of these features, and are ready to move up to better devices with larger screens.

The smartphone has reached critical mass and is ready to continue the march towards maturation. Smartphones are becoming a very mainstream product. People who a few years ago would have never considered any phone labeled with the smartphone moniker are now readily embracing the new devices.

As a result of this mass consumer adoption of the smartphone that’s now underway, the market for highly-specialized smartphone apps will continue to explode to a degree in the future we might consider surprising even today. Multiple millions of consumers have millions of different needs and expectations. This exploding smartphone app market lends itself to the development of highly specialized niche applications.

Virtually any type of personal or industrial use a computer can be put to can likely also be done with a specialized app running on a modern smartphone. One tiny example of this is already in use is the area of automotive diagnostics. For many years, automotive technicians have used laptop computers in conjunction with special software connected via a cable to an automotive diagnostic port to onboard vehicle computers. Such software already exists for the iPhone to be used in place of a laptop computer, able to replace the cable connection with a Bluetooth connection. Imagine this realized potential multiplied a million times and you catch a glimpse of the future potential for smartphone apps and the uses these devices can and will be put to.