Hewlett Packard is trying to pull off a flanking maneuver on the Android market, through low-profile launches of low-cost devices. We recently came across the company’s VoiceTab phablets during a side-show at Mobile World Congress, and now we’re looking at a more traditional 7.85-inch tablet called the HP 8. In return for $170, you’ll get a plain-looking device that, aesthetically, has more in common with last year’s Slate 7 than with the faux-metal VoiceTabs. However, since we’re making comparisons, we should also point out that the HP 8 has a worse display than both the Slate 7 and Dell’s rival Venue 8, with fewer pixels (1,024 x 768) spread out over a larger area. The software and internals seem functional enough, though: Android 4.2.2 running on a quad-core ARM chip made by the Chinese company Allwinner, with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, stereo speakers, and a just-about-okay 3,800mAh battery that promises up to seven hours of use.
Well, this is a pleasant surprise. We’ve known for a while that Verizon would carry an LTE-capable Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, but the carrier has just put the massive tablet up for sale without any fanfare. Not that it’s exactly an impulse buy. Samsung’s cellular-equipped slate costs a hefty $850 at full price, and you’ll only save $100 if you sign up for a two-year contract. If you’re determined to stay online while you draw your latest masterpiece, though, you can order the Note Pro today.
Google Play Games just became much, much more useful for avid Android gamers. A newly released update to Google’s entertainment hub lets you see all your invitations; it’s now much clearer that someone wants to play. The upgrade also shows you a not-quite-live view of who’s playing, and a new Find Games area (shown here) suggests titles you can try. Play Games still won’t compare with advanced gaming frameworks like PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, but it’s likely worth a download if your smartphone regularly doubles as a handheld console.
Via: Android Central
Source: Google Play
Thanks to an FCC filing back in January, we knew LG’s G Pad 8.3 was likely heading to Verizon. Today, Big Red made things official: the 8.3-inch slate will arrive with LTE this Thursday for $300 unsubsidized and $200 on-contract. Until March 10th though, the G Pad 8.3 will be discounted to $100 with a two-year agreement and can be added to Verizon’s More Everything plans at any time for $10 a month. Those figures go a long way to combat our biggest gripe with the tablet — that original $350 price tag.
Instapaper’s already broad device support has just grown a little bit broader. The service’s updated iOS app lets you send articles to Kindle for reading on one of Amazon’s devices, and you can push videos to your big-screen TV through AirPlay. Even if you’re happy with catching up from your iPad or iPhone, you may also like a new option to auto-renew your Instapaper subscription. It’s not the most life-changing Instapaper update we’ve seen. Stay tuned, though — the developers promise that their next release will be the biggest since Betaworks acquired the app last year.
Via: The Next Web
Tesla isn’t the only automaker with a tablet-like center console. Volvo’s latest “human machine interface” will debut at next week’s Geneva Motor Show — however, it could be a bit simpler than what we’ve seen from the competition. The screen is divided into tiles, with navigation, media and vehicle info up top and secondary features including phone and climate controls further down. As Volvo tells it, this reduces visual noise, keeps typical controls where you would expect them to be and makes using them while driving safer as a result. Climate control remains the default screen but should you select another function, you’ll still have access to it onscreen. In fact this goes for all functions: when another tile is selected, it expands to cover a bigger area, but other controls remain accessible on a smaller scale. The outfit says the tech will arrive in its XC90 crossover SUV this fall.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Barnes & Noble’s tablet range was on ice; while the firm did promise to work with third parties on new models, it went through all of 2013 without fresh devices. The bookseller will soon reward patient fans, however. It just revealed that there will be a new “Nook color device” early into the company’s fiscal 2015, which roughly translates to this summer. However, we don’t know what the new Nook slate will offer, or even who’s making it. Barnes & Noble says it’s still talking to multiple “world-class hardware partners” about development and distribution, so it could be a long while before we know what to expect. The company does have some breathing room to implement its Nook strategy, though. It swung to a $63.2 million net profit for its fiscal third quarter versus a $3.7 million loss a year ago, and it now has more than twice as much cash in the bank. Even though the company is making half as much revenue from its Nook business as it did at this point in 2013, it’s not facing a dire financial crisis.
Filed under: Tablets
Source: Barnes & Noble
Wacom has been pushing into the world of mobile for a while, and its efforts have just culminated in a pretty bold move: A single, cross-platform standard for sharing handwritten notes and sketches between users, regardless of whether they’re using a stylus or a finger, an iPhone or a PC, an app or a browser. The tool is called “WILL” — “Wacom Ink Layer Language” — and it captures a pen stroke’s coordinates, pressure and the identity of its creator (through a unique “Pen ID”), as well as allowing the scribble to be edited by others. Users can also see other people’s handwriting being created in real-time, i.e. we’re not just talking about static images.
Beginning next month, Wacom will promote WILL by distributing SDKs for iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows, as well as for browsers and cloud platforms. These SDKs are meant to make it easier for developers to create apps that accept signatures scrawled on a touchscreen, or DIY smileys, or hand-drawn highlights on a cloud document, or any other sort of handwritten input. Of course, the concern with any such format is that it’ll need to be embraced by a large number of companies in order to reach a tipping point and become widely accepted. Wacom doesn’t seem to be ready to announce even a single partner just yet, but where there’s a will… (Ahem, sorry.)
Huawei’s recently announced MediaPad X1 has caused quite a stir — it’s the lightest and smallest-ever 7-inch tablet (let alone a phablet), while also packing decent features like a 1,920 x 1,200 display, 5,000mAh battery and 150 Mbps LTE. The retail price quoted at the launch event was €399 or about $550 for the LTE model, but back in China, it appears that Huawei’s slapped an insane discount on the same quad-core tablet, albeit under a slightly different name. Dubbed the Honor X1, the 3G model will retail for just CN¥1,799 or about $290, and the 4G version will go for just CN¥1,999 or $330. That’s a $220 drop for the LTE model! So when we caught up with Huawei Device’s CMO Shao Yang at MWC, we had to ask him: What was he thinking? Well, it’s all about the way consumers perceive this device in different regions.
The exec explained that his company conducted different tests in four countries: China, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Russia. For the China tests, many people identified the X1 as a phone, which isn’t surprising given the increasing popularity of phablets in Asia. Folks from other countries, however, saw the X1 as a tablet that can be used as a phone.
“As Honor is our online brand, we’re saving channel costs and can therefore offer a further deal.”
“Under these circumstances, we priced the device according to the way it’s perceived in each region,” said Yang. “In Europe, the iPad mini with LTE costs about €499 to €599, so our partners are still extremely happy with our €399 price point over there. In China, it’s a special case: the X1 is sold under the Honor brand. As Honor is our online brand, we’re saving channel costs and can therefore offer a further deal.”
Of course, it’s no coincidence that the Honor X1 is priced the same as the Xiaomi Phone 3 — which doesn’t even have LTE, nor storage expansion — and other flagship phones from similar Chinese online brands. It’s apparent that Huawei’s willing to drastically squeeze its margins just to starve its local online competitors, in order to hold or even leap from its number four position in China. But at the same time, you have to also admire Huawei for innovating in the wearable space to reach this goal, and Yang told us to stay tuned for more later this year.
Since Fujitu’s prototype Haptic Sensor Tablet revealed yesterday is all about touch, describing it will be like trying to explain how a steak tastes. But here goes: it works by emitting ultrasonic vibrations below the touchscreen, which can be pulsed with varying force on any region of the screen. Those oscillations actually push your finger off the surface of the tablet and, depending on the force, can give different tactile sensations. For instance, a high pressure layer of air can reduce friction, making the surface of the screen seem slippery. By contrast, rapidly varying the pulses can make the display seem rough or even bumpy.
At least, that’s the theory. After trying it, we found some illusions like the slippery surface to be very convincing, for instance. But the rough texture sensation feels more like the screen is just sticky, and the bumpy experience is even less convincing. When touching the crocodile skin, it just felt like I was moving my finger over slippery and then clingy patches. There’s also a strong buzzing sensation, which is mildly disconcerting. All that said, though, it was still a lot of fun, and it’s hard to see how you could get much more realistic than that with a smooth, 2D surface. There’s a video after the fold showing it in action, but we apologize for the occasionally poor sound quality — as you’ll see, each time the haptics activated, it messed up our camera’s microphone.
Filed under: Tablets