Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas computer maker HP unveiled the Envy 14 Spectre, a new 14 inch laptop with some fairly impressive specs behind it. It comes with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, an option for a 128 GB or 256 GB SSD, 4 or 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, Mini DisplayPort, HD webcam, Gorilla Glass inside and out, and USB 3.0. Users also get a choice of Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate or Professional, but you will have to go with the 64-bit version, as this new notebook doesn’t come in a 32-bit version. HP claims a nine hour battery life, but perhaps the nicest touch is the keyboard, which has individual LED’s behind each key to make them easily visible in low, or even no, light conditions.
Although I haven’t seen the HP Envy 14 Spectre referred to as an “Ultrabook” that’s the first word that comes to mind when I see it. The sleek, thin design and the lack of an optical drive all point to that category, which was the hot meme at CES 2012. There is more to this notebook than just the specs I listed above, but you will need to watch the video below to get all of the details. The Envy 14 Spectre will start at an MSRP of $1399. You can also visit HP for more info.
Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.
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Over the break, there’s been a bit of discussion by some of the big names regarding the reasons why Windows Phone 7 handsets haven’t been flying off the shelves this holiday season. Charlie Kindel started the debate with “Windows Phone is Superior; Why Hasn’t It Taken Off?” and largely faults the relationship between the OEMs, Microsoft and the carriers.
MG Siegler responded with a fairly weak response largely citing the mantra of “too late and not enough apps” but as can be seen from today’s news of 50,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, the latter argument really isn’t that valid.
As usual, Robert Scoble hits the nail on the head. People buy Android or iOS because it’s a safe bet and they don’t want to look stupid or uncool by buying something else. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and RIM’s Blackberries simply don’t have the gold-plated appeal of a sure-thing.
And he’s right. I was a big Palm fan and look how that turned out. I do feel stupid. After spending years waiting for Palm to move from PalmOS to WebOS and then HP promising to do big things. I bought in with a succession of Pre phones and pre-ordered a TouchPad. Maybe I shouldn’t be so shallow and have a less of an ego, because WebOS is a great operating system and even with the smaller app selection, it does 99% of what I need a phone to do. But when everyone else is, “Have you got this app and that app” on their Galaxy S IIs and iPhone 4Ss, you do feel a bit of a chump.
So thanks, HP. I feel stupid.
In a surprise move, HP has announced that it will give WebOS to the open source community while continuing to support and develop the platform. HP believes that the combination of the superb WebOS platform combined with open source innovation and corporate support from HP, will foster innovation, creating a compelling user experience.
“WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”
HP has said that it will work with the open source community to define the charter of the open source project based on four principles.
- The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the webOS platform
- HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
- Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
- Software will be provided as a pure open source project
No news was provided regarding other partners, new hardware or the specific handover timescale.
Undoubtedly more news will filter out over the coming days but it’s interesting move that may work out for HP and WebOS. HP gets to retain the patents it acquired from Palm to protect itself (and presumably WebOS) from attack, while hoping that the open source community and the homebrew scene will move the platform forwards. Future devices could appear from any OEM manufacturer, not just HP, but it will be interesting to see what the next WebOS product will be. Personally, I think it will be a printer.
Another week with no news from HP, another investigation by the WebOS Internals crew. This time they’ve directed their attention at HP’s App Catalog for WebOS to reveal everything you ever wanted to know…and probably some stuff you didn’t really care about.
– There are 8399 unique apps.
– There are 3514 apps that work on all WebOS devices.
– There are 5562 apps for the TouchPad.
– There are 6454 apps for the Pre 3.
– There are 6440 apps for the Veer.
– There are 7116 apps for the Pre 2.
– There are 6024 apps for the Pixi.
– There are 6761 apps for the Pre and Pre Plus.
– There are 1904 app contributors.
– There are 2642 apps that are free and 84 that cost $10 or more. 2638 cost 99c.
– Accuweather is the first app in the Catalog.
– Mayo Clinic High Blood Pressure is the largest app at 1.6 GB.
– It would cost $13,293.15 to download all the apps.
– It would take a 90 GB WebOS device to install them all. (Go on HP, let’s see a 128 GB TouchPad 2.)
Well, that’s probably enough for now. If you want to keep up-to-date on WebOS Internal’s work, you can follow @webosinternals on Twitter.
HP has still hasn’t decided what to do with WebOS but appears to be taking the decision seriously. At an all-employee meeting last night with the WebOS team in Sunnyvale, new CEO Meg Whitman, reportedly said, “It’s really important to me to make the right decision, not the fast decision,” and “If HP decides to do this,we’re going to do it in a very significant way over a multi-year period.”
Setting this against reports coming out of Reuters that HP had engaged with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to sell WebOS for just hundreds of millions of dollars, rather than the $1.2 billion HP paid for Palm, it seems clear that Meg Whitman is seriously evaluating all the options for the future of the mobile operating system. She’s reportedly also said, “The question now before us is what do we do with webOS software and do we come back to market with webOS devices? It obviously will not be the same device but it will be version 2.0.”
What does seem to be clear is that any future thoughts focus on tablets rather than mobile phones. At the all-hands meeting, Whitman reportedly said that, “Things get more complicated if you add in phones.” While the TouchPad may continue, it sounds like Pre and Veer are dead as product lines whatever happens, but you never know.
On one hand, it’s easy to criticise HP for continuing to dither, but to me it appears that Meg Whitman is doing a proper evaluation of the options available, rather than taking the somewhat whimsical approach take by her predecessor Leo Apotheker. If WebOS is retained by HP in addition to the PSG group, it will be one of the biggest corporate turnarounds in history!
Over the weekend, an amazing piece of detective work by the WebOS Internals team and some crowd-sourcing via Twitter has revealed that there approximately 4.2 million WebOS users, give or take.
Every WebOS phone or tablet user has to create a profile in order to use their device. Each profile has a unique identifier, a number that appears to simply increment by 1 as each new profile is created. Early Palm Pre adopters have identifiers typically in the 10,000s whereas those who started with the TouchPad are in the milllons. The profile identifier cannot normally be seen by the user but a Homebrew program called Impostah, developed by Rod Whitby and WebOS Internals, allowed this number to be revealed.
Using Twitter, WebOS owners were encouraged to come forwards with their identifier and the date they signed up so that a graph of identifiers against time could be plotted, showing the rise of WebOS and key moments in the timeline, such as the release of new devices. The graph, courtesy of WebOS Internals, is shown below and what you can see is a fairly steady rise reaching around 4.2 million. The most notable point is probably when HP had the TouchPad firesale and the graph climbs steeply. Click on the graph for more detail.
The number of profiles is slightly ambiguous when trying to convert to numbers of users or number of devices because while you can only have one phone per profile, you can have a phone and a tablet. For example, if you had both a Veer and a Pre 3 you would need two profiles, but if you had a Pre 3 and a TouchPad you’d only need one profile. Obviously, there are also accounts that have become dormant when the owner has moved to another platform.
In comparison to iOS and Android, both of which have in excess of 100 million users each, the 4 million-odd WebOS users are a drop in the ocean. Regardless, the graph shows that there was slow but steady adoption of a little under 2 million per year. Of course, HP continues to dither over the future of WebOS.
The WebOS Internals team are a bunch of hackers (in the best sense of the word) who created a whole Homebrew ecosystem under the Preware moniker that allowed Pre owners to add easily add patches and other software outside of the official App Catalog. They’re probably WebOS’s best last chance.
After an “evaluation of strategic alternatives”, HP has decided not to either sell or spin off the Personal Systems Group (PSG). Given the plummet of the share price on the original review announcement and the subsequent departure of the then-CEO Leo Apotheker, this is not entirely unsurprising news.
The new CEO and HP President, Meg Whitman, said, “HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger.”
Apparently the in-depth strategic review revealed that the PSG was tightly integrated throughout HP’s operations and brought significant value to HP’s brand and portfolio. The cost of extracting PSG from HP negated any possible benefits from the split of the organisation. There’s a surprise.
No news on whether WebOS will get a reprieve but more may be revealed at a this afternoon’s press call (5pm Eastern)
Update: based on the press call, it’s “wait and see” for a few months with regard to WebOS. There’s more over at PreCentral.