No one has seen much of the HP Slate until now. The ten seconds Steve Ballmer fumbled with it at CES 2010 don't really count as a debut, but someone at Conecti.ca has finally spent some real time with the device. Conecti.ca managed a quick hands-on and review. The verdict is a decidedly ambivalent one. Certainly not the response HP would have liked for their supposed iPad killer.
The HP Slate is a keyboardless touchscreen tablet with an 8.9-inch screen that rocks an Atom CPU. In every way that matters, it's a netbook without a keyboard. This is often cited as a strength, but the reviewers point out that it's also the Slate's biggest weakness. While it runs Flash and any Windows app you care to use, the touch interface on Windows 7 makes the device hard to use. HP has made a special finger-friendly graphical front-end, but much of the device's functionality is lost in it. The device also has a dock with HDMI, USB ports, and a kickstand.
It's unlikely this first salvo will sink the unicorn pad, and we're not sure it needs to be sunk. There's still a lot to learn about the new tablet market. Would you consider purchasing the HP Slate? If not, what would you need to see in a tablet to convince you?
Citing unnamed sources in the component industry, DigiTimes claims Apple has already stared developing its second generation iPad. As the report goes, the Cupertino company plans to outfit the followup device with an OLED panel and is shooting for a 2011 launch.
That's probably wishful thinking, even as panel makers put more resources into OLED production. The technology's high cost has prevented it from marching into the mainstream, and even for a $500 to $900 tablet, it seems unlikely that a pricey OLED panel would be part of the package.
Nevertheless, the sources insist that OLED prices are falling and will drop significantly enough that Apple could use them on the next gen iPad. We remain highly skeptical. According to Mingchi Kuo, a senior analyst with DigiTimes Research, the current price of the 9.7-inch LCD panel for the iPad runs about $60-$70. By comparison, an OLED panel of the same size would cost about $500. It's tough envisioning that kind of price gap narrowing significantly by 2011.
According to a Washington Post report, Israel has banned all imports of Apple's popular iPad tablet. It isn't the lack of Flash or pre-iPhone OS 4.0 multitasking that has Israeli officials taking a tough stance on iPad imports, but concerns over Wi-Fi.
Here in the States, the FCC allows Wi-Fi enabled devices to broadcast at higher levels than what's allowed in Europe and Israel. The concern for Israel is that the iPad could interfere with other gadgets. As of late last week, customs officials had confiscated about 10 tablets.
"If you operate equipment in a frequency band which is different from the others that operate on that frequency band, then there will be interference," said Nati Schubert, a senior deputy director for the Communications Ministry. "We don't care where people buy their equipment. ... But without regulation, you would have chaos."
Software developers living in Israel have voiced concerns over the ban.
"There are several hundred people in Israel who make their livelihood develop apps ... and there are going to be companies that suffer, because they can't deliver the services they're supposed to be delivering," said Amnon, a software developer who legally brought an iPad in Israel but asked that his last name be withheld.
Can open-source overtake the iPhone? The iPad? Apple itself? That's the dominant position of Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. But is that an idea that's based on reality? He's been trying to paint a connection between Sun and its Solaris OS--a "legacy" operating system to Linux, he suggests--and Apple's various devices. While it's all well and good to somehow consider that just because one mighty empire toppled, the next is just as likely to crack... that's just wrong. Apple has nothing to fear from the open-source world.
If you thought you were pissed that your $500 iPad doesn't do Flash content, along with any other Apple devices you might own, try being Adobe. The two sides have been sparring back and forth over the issue, and it's about to spill over into court, IT World reports.
The issue isn't just that Apple refuses to incorporate Flash support on any of its mobile products, but a more recent stance in which Apple changed its iPhone SDK (software development kit) license to prevent developers from submitting programs to Apple that use cross-platform compilers.
"We are aware of the new SDK language and are looking into it. We continue to develop our Packager for iPhone OS technology, which we plan to debut in Flash CS5," said Wiebke Lips, an Adobe spokesperson.
Flash CS5 is part of the Adobe Creative Suite 5 that launched earlier this week, but for now, it can't be used to create apps for Apple devices. This isn't sitting well at all with Adobe, and according to IT World, unless the two sides come to some sort of arrangement in the next couple of weeks, Adobe is prepared to sue.
With the early success of Apple's iPad and several competitors soon to follow with their own take on tablets, slates could potentially become as popular as netbooks, and just as quickly. So what does Intel think about all this?
"This is by no means the first attempt at tablets," said Justin Rattner, the head of Intel Labs. "The jury is still out... but this round seems to be getting close to a form factor that probably has some legs."
David Perlmutter, head of Intel's architecture group, was equally cautious during the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. "These new categories are hard to predict," Perlmutter said. "We're ready with technology to be able to support this market as it evolves."
Already there are a number of tablets coming out that tap into Intel's Atom processor, and those will have access to an Intel application download store. Intel also recently announced plans to port Android to Atom-based smartphones, an OS that was originally developed with ARM processors in mind. It would seem that, at the very least, Intel is busy getting its ducks in a row to be a player in the mobile computing space beyond the netbook market.
Make no mistake, Apple's iPad is off to a stellar start. The lack of Flash support, multitasking (until iPhone OS 4.0), USB ports, built-in camera, memory card slot, and other stripped out features don't seem to have put a damper on sales. In fact, Apple claims to have been caught off guard by the positive response.
"Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad," Apple said in a media advisory. "We have also taken a large number of pre-orders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April."
Apple went on to describe the iPad as a "runaway success in the US thus far," and that spells bad news for the international crowd. In order to fulfill US orders, Apple said it has decided to postpone the international launch of the iPad until the end of May.
According to CNN, the delay will affect England, Japan, and seven other countries.
Dropped Wi-Fi signals isn't the only thing early iPad adopters have had to contend with. Trying to charge the tablet has a caused a few headaches as well, at least for those entrenched in the PC camp. The problem, says Apple, is that some USB 2.0 ports and accessories don't provide enough juice for charge the iPad. And in some cases, the iPad will charge, but only when it's in turned off or in Sleep mode.
If you happen to own a recent Gigabyte motherboard, however, you're in luck. The mobo maker announced this week that it has come up with a driver update that solves the problem.
"Gigabyte’s unique USB power design is able to deliver extra power for devices that require more than the 500mA delivered from a traditional USB port. With a simple On/Off Charge driver update which can be found on the Gigabyte website, Gigabyte motherboard users are able to take full advantage of USB charging of their iPad, giving them more options and convenience when recharging their new device," Gigabyte said.
The driver works with a whole bunch of Gigabyte boards, including those for the Intel X58, P55, H57, H55, and AMD 800 chipsets.
Another week has passed, which means it's time for another scintillating No BS Podcast. This week you're in for a special treat, as Editorial Director Jon Phillips joins the crew in order to reveal the identity of Maximum PCs next Editor in Chief. Want to know who it's going to be? Click here!
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Ending months of speculation, Apple yesterday finally and formally introduced the world to iPhone OS 4, the upcoming followup to the software that drives the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
As many expected, iPhone OS 4 will bring multitasking to the table, a much needed feature if Apple is to keep its mobile OS relevant. App developers will have access to seven new multitasking services, including background audio and VoIP. This means apps like Pandora will be able to stream music in the background, while VoIP apps can receive calls regardless if the iPhone is asleep or if the user is doing something else.
iPhone OS 4 will also include Folders, another much needed feature and one that brings the OS up to par with competitors like Android. The way it works is users will drag an app icon on top of another to automatically create a folder. The new folder is then given a name based on the App Store category of that app, though these can be renamed. By utilizing folders, users will be able to install and access over 2,000 apps on their iPhone.
Hit the jump to see what else is new in iPhone OS 4!