The world's baddest (and we mean that in a good way) vending machine just went up in central Tokyo this week at the East Japan Railway Co.'s Shinagawa Station. What separates this vending machine from all others -- and makes it newsworthy for a tech site -- is the ginormous 47-inch touchscreen being wielded.
That's right, this thing packs a touchscreen larger than some home TV displays, but that isn't all it has going for it. Still images and video are fed to the machine by way of WiMAX wireless broadband, which can be used to show promotional content depending on the season or time of the day. In the heat of summer, for example, you might see a bottle of ice cold water displayed across on the screen. In the future, commercials are likely to be played, too.
The smart vending machine, which was co-developed by JR East Water Business Co., Omron Corp, and Fuji Electric Retail Systems Co., uses a built-in face recognition system to figure out the customer's sex and age, and then uses that info to display items that might be of interest. And in a move that's sure to have privacy advocates up in arms, the machine also retains customer data, like previously purchased items, which will then be used for marketing purposes, Nikkei.com says.
Best Buy’s CTO and Geek Squad founder, Robert Stephens has just piqued our interest today after tweeting some pics of a Rocketfish tablet. In case you haven't spent any time in the big box electronics chain, Rocketfish is Best Buy's in-house brand for various accessories. But a Best Buy tablet? There are a few things this might be, some of them pretty exciting.
There are a fair number of similarities to the HP Slate, at least superficially. The ports seem to be the same, and the design is similar. So it's possible this tablet is being manufactured by HP. It would be a cunning way for HP to test the markets. They said the HP Slate would be a business only product, but they didn't say anything about a Rocketfish-branded, HP-built tablet. If this device fails, consumers will chalk it up to Best Buy, not HP.
But what OS is this tablet running? The obvious answer is Windows 7, just like the Slate. But HP did acquire Palm for webOS. But would they really debut a webOS tablet under someone else's brand? While webOS is a long shot, Stephens did let it slip a while back the company was working on an Android 2.2 tablet. What's your take on this?
With so many tablets purportedly on the horizon, many of which will tap into Google's Android platform, it's going to be increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd without some kind of novel twist. Samsung may have found one, as evidenced by a recent patent filing that places a touch panel on both the front and rear of a tablet. Here's the short and sweet of the lengthy patent app:
"A terminal device having a dual touchscreen capable of controlling a content is disclosed. The terminal device displays at least one content to a display unit. A processor coupled to the terminal is configured to checking content mapped to an area at which a touch event is detected and released from the dual touchscreen including a first touch sensor and a second touch sensor and to control the content according to the touch event."
It's an interesting idea, though it also raises a number of questions. Can you pick up the device and use either side, or is there a true front and back? And what are the optimal uses for a dual-sided tablet? Is this something Joe User even wants?
If you've got the answers, we'd love to hear them. Hit the jump and sound off!
Every time a new smartphone comes out, the guys at iSuppli get their paws on it and open it up. They rummage around inside and identify all the components to give us an extimate of just how much the parts are worth. This inevitably depresses anyone that spent money on the device in question. In their recent iPhone 4 teardown, iSuppli was able to deduce the new Apple phone is composed of $187.51 worth of hardware.
The most expensive element of the phone is the so-called "Retina Display", which clocks in at $28.50 from manufacturer LG. The NAND flash memory cost nearly as much at $27 for 16GB. The Apple A4 CPU also added noticeably to the cost at $10.75 from maker Samsung. These rundowns of cost obviously do not include R&D costs, or labor. Although, we hear Foxconn works cheap.
This parts list is par for the course. The iPhone 3GS was found to be worth $179 when it came out. Google's Nexus One had hardware costing $174.15 at launch. The 16GB iPhone 4 that was checked out goes for $199 on contract or $599 unsubsidized. This seeming disparity is probably just a fact of mobile life we'll have to live with.
It's no secret that tablets are gearing up to become as popular as netbooks, but would you have guessed that the current and upcoming demand would push shipments of touchscreen displays up by 5,000 percent in 2010? First of all, that's not a typo, and secondly, that's the exact number market research firm iSuppli is predicting.
"The rising popularity of slates is setting off a conflagration in touch screen technology, firing up not only the long-dormant tablet computer market but also all-in-one PCs, desktops and monitors," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitors and sustainability displays for iSuppli.
It's going to be a touchy-feely tech world in the coming years, iSuppli suggests. Global shipments of touchscreen tablets and tablet-like devices is expected to rise to 8.9 million units in 2010, up from only 176,000 in 2009. After than, touchscreen shipments will jump seven-fold by 2013 and reach 63.9 million units, iSuppli says.
An all-in-one PC for around $1,000? From Sony? And carrying the Vaio brand? As unlikely as all that sounds (collectively, anyway), Sony's Vaio J Touch All-in-One PC brings multi-touch to the masses for a lot less than what you might expect..
Sony's press release says pricing starts out at about $900 for the Vaio J series, though the pre-order product page shows the base model checking in at $1,100. That nets you a 21.5-inch full HD multi-touch screen display, Intel Core i3 350M (2.26GHz) processor, 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory, 500GB hard drive, Blu-ray drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, a memory card reader, and other odds and ends.
Starting at $1,550, Sony will bump you up to an Intel Core i7 620M processor (2.66GHz), 6GB of memory, and Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics with 512MB of dedicated video RAM.
Both models are expected to ship on or about June 25, 2010.
Touchy feely types rejoice, Gateway has gone and updated its all-in-one touchscreen ZX series of PCs, spreading the love to both Intel and AMD. What's more, Gateway says both PCs easily double as a TV, which we can see being particularly attractive to the college-bound crowd.
Pricing starts out at $750 and gets you the Gateway One ZX4300-01e. This one comes equipped with an AMD Athlon X2 235e (2.7Ghz, 2MB L2 cache), integrated ATI Radeon HD 4270 graphics, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, 640GB hard drive, 8X DVD burner, multi-card reader, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, six USB 2.0 ports, 2.1 channel audio, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. All this drives the 20-inch touchscreen display with a 1600x900 resolution.
For a little more jingle, the Intel-based Gateway One ZX6900-01e will set you back $1,020 and comes built around Intel's core i3 530 processor (2.93GHz, 4MB cache). Other upgrades include a larger display (23 inches, 1920x1080), 4X Blu-ray reader, and eSATA and HDMI ports. This one also swaps the Radeon chip for Intel GMA graphics.
Come June, Gateway said it will add a third model with an Intel Core i5 650 processor and TV tuner.
Total touch screen shipments increases 29 percents year-over-year in 2009 to settle in at 606 million units, according to market research firm DisplaySearch, which just released its Touch Panel Market Analysis report.
"Touch screen penetration has been rapidly increasing in mobile phone, PMP/MP3, portable navigation, and other applications. Over the next several years, touch screens will undergo strong growth in large-size applications such as all-in-one PCs, Mini-note/slate PCs, and education/training,” noted Jennifer Colegrove, PhD, Director of Display Technologies at DisplaySearch.
Apple's iPhone and iPod touch played a big role in popularizing capacitive touch technology, and with the iPad joining the fray, DisplaySearch projects that capacitive touch screens will for the first time pass resistive touch technology to become the leading touch technology in 2010, as measured in revenues.
The emerging tablet market looks to play a big role in pushing touch screen technology, but in the meantime, mobile phones still lead the charge. According to DisplaySearch, mobile phones are the biggest application for touch screens in terms of unit shipments and now account for over a quarter of the overall market penetration.
Someone in LG's marketing department has a serious sweet tooth. It started with the LG Chocolate, and now we have the Cookie, the latest smartphone with an edible name tag.
3G comes baked into the Cookie (though not on AT&T and T-Mobile), as does a 3.5mm headphone jack and 4GB of internal memory. Other ingredients consist of a 3-inch 240x400 pixel touchscreen (resistive) display, built-in 5MB camera, microSDHC card slot, FM radio and transmitter, and support for 7.2Mbps HSDPA mobile broadband.
This isn't a high-end handset like the iPhone, Droid, Nexus One, or the like, and according to PhoneArena.com, audio capabilities leave a bit to be desired. However, we suspect you'll eventually see this one offered as a free or low-cost phone after contract which, thanks to the touchscreen, might not have a hard time finding a mainstream audience, especially among the teenage crowd.
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?