So, what to make of the new MacBook Air just introduced by Steve Jobs last week? Is it just a jazzed up ipad or a more serious laptop? Perhaps at $1000 an overpriced netbook, although Jobs would apparently spit on more than your tie if he heard you suggest that.
Bench test results for the two new Air models are starting to arrive and they seem to be saying that size does matter. In this case 2 inches of extra screen seems to change a lot of things. The 11 inch version of Air now sells for $1000 which is down $500 from the previous Air model. The more powerful 13.5 inch screen sized model sells for $1300 but packs quite a bit more tech wallop for the extra 300 bucks.
The 13 incher is large enough to sport a full size keyboard of Apple feel good keys. The screen is a very sharp high res 1366-by-768 pixels vs. only 1024-by-768 pixels for most netbooks. Reports say that the 11 inch screen version is better than a netbook but is still a strain on the old eyeballs to do serious work on for a long period of time. The Air is also almost noiseless in its operation. It’s flash memory also makes for very fast boot ups and application start up.
The Air is only about half the weight of a MacBook Pro but you’re only talking about 2 pounds difference here folks. Neither of the Air models pack the processor horsepower of the Pro … but that may not be so important to those who don’t want to create video and do other stand alone stuff that a primary work horse computer does.
The Air is packaged in a more durable aluminum shell than the previous one and possesses wickedly fast solid state flash memory in place of a hard drive. It’s also suppose to able to run Windows but without a disc I guess it’s a bit tricky to get installed.
Apple it appears seems to be treading delicately on the user niches here. They don’t want the Air to impede ipad sales or Pro sales. The 11 inch Air runs faster than an ipad but only about 60% as fast as a Pro. A Pro will also out leg the 13 Inch Air by a margin of 20% or so. Apple makes a lot of money selling hardware for a lot more than their competitors do and so they need to be careful not to cannibalize their upper end products for these new cheaper products.
So who is the Air aimed at? This seems to be Apple’s pecking order. The ipad is cool for low end Internet cruising. The 11 inch Air is pricey competition for netbooks. The 13 inch Air is aimed as laptop replacements for medium duty applications, which leaves the Pro for higher end power users.
Well it’s not the Verizon iphone announcement people have been waiting for, but today Apple and Verizon did say that a WiFi only version of the ipad would start selling on Verizon before the end of the month.
The 3G version of ipad is still under an exclusive agreement with AT&T prohibiting sale of it on other carriers so Verizon and Apple have crafted a deal to get around that problem. A WiFi only ipad combined with Verizon’s MiFi 2200 hot spot device will give the WiFi ipad 3G connectivity on Verizon … plus up to 4 other user devices can also share the hot spot.
Bundled packages for a WiFi ipad plus MiFi modem will retail on Verizon for:
- 16GB ipad + MiFi: $629.99
- 32GB ipad + MiFi: $729.99
- 64GB ipad + MiFi: $829.99
Verizon is packaging the MiFi with a 1GB monthly plan for $20 which sandwiches itself between the two plans AT&T offers 3G ipad users. A 200MB plan for $15 and a 2GB plan for $25.
The Verizon bundle means you have two things to carry around instead of just one … but the hot spot thingy is only about the size of a pack of cigarettes and by offering connectivity to the user’s other Wifi gear from 30 to 40 feet away, that may make it a good trade off.
Batteries are another consideration …. two packs instead of one. Tests have indicated that a battery powered WiFi ipad running on a 3G modem can stay connected for up to 8 hours on one charge where as the MiFi modem supporting 4 connections can only stay online for about 90 minutes on a charge.
There has been a flurry of announcements lately from other manufacturers bringing out their versions of a tablet pc. Which one is the best tablet pc? Can anyone knock Apple’s ipad off its pedestal? Stay tuned. The market will have to sort these things out over time.
The Nokia C7 is the second Nokia product to be based on its new Symbian 3 OS software platform. It’s thin super sleek stainless steel and glass packaging is designed for social networking types and incorporates a 3.5 inch (640×360 pixel) touch screen, and it can update facebook and twitter feeds directly on screen.
It also has HD 720p video TV playback, GPS, and HTML email support. Ovi Mail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail account holders have one touch access. A micro USB connector with charging, and Bluetooth 3 is also part of the well thought out package that offers a lot of the features of its more aptly equipped N8 brother which sells for about $125 more. App downloads are available through the Ovi store.
It utilizes popular audio codecs like MP3, WMA, and AAC amongst others.
To round out the techie stuff, you can listen to the built in stereo FM radio for a long time with a 1200mAh Li-Ion battery backing everything up … and oh yes you get 8Gb of memory built in, with up to 32Gb available through micro SD cards. The C7 comes in two versions that can run either on GSM or CDMA based networks.
Nokia’s latest smartphone also packs a 8 megapixel camera. The HSDPA Cat9 wireless connection standard the Nokia C7 uses maxes out at 10.2 Mbps.
Nokia isn’t the world’s largest wireless phone manufacturer for nothing … and the C7 packs quite a techie wallop for the price. What about the price you ask? It retails for about $450 U.S. but can probably be bought for less through certain carriers and other rebate schemes.
You can find a nice little app here that will download videos from Youtube and other video sharing providers.
Verizon iphone rumors continued to gain new substance today when Verizon announced its new 4G network will be up and running near the end of this year … and initially will give about 110 million Americans access.
Verizon president Lowell McAdam said that 38 cities and 60 airports would be covered by the 4G service when it starts up, and he expected expansion of the network to cover all the U.S. by 2013. LTE will also provide better coverage than existing 3G and can transmit thorough buildings and other objects easier.
The new 4G wireless standard that’s being adopted by many of the world’s telecom providers is called Long Term Evolution, or LTE for short. The fourth generation 4G standard will be 10 times faster than 3G giving upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps, and download speeds of 5-12 Mbps.
Unlike Verizon’s present 3G CDMA based network, the new 4G LTE broadband highway will allow smartphone users to roam the Internet and talk at the same time. Apple’s iphone chose the AT&T GSM network in 2007 because it had this feature that CDMA couldn’t match.
Unlike 3G networks which have suffered system overloads in the past when Apple’s iphone was bought by the masses … the new LTE network claim is that it will not slow down and become overloaded by a spike in the number of users.
With Verizon’s announcement of the imminent start-up of a 4G LTE network comes word that Qualcomm is going to provide Apple’s iphone with a chip so it can operate over the new network, and not on CDMA based technology that was previously thought.
With other carriers world-wide building 4G LTE networks this would give the iphone a huge market and be convenient to travelers. Some are now speculating that Apple will announce a Verizon version of the iphone at the upcoming CES show.
Anyone who uses a laptop a lot probably notices that the little fan underneath really blows hot hot air once the machine has been on for a while. If you monitor the internal temperature of the CPU inside using one of the laptop’s utilities you can see it reaches temperatures in the 50 – 60 degree celsius range.
One of the questions now being asked … is a laptop too hot to put on your lap? One observation by a doctor treating someone for an overheated lap due to laptop exposure says a condition called “Toasted Skin Syndrome” can result.
While not hot enough to actually burn you, there’s enough heat to damage your skin if you leave the machine in one spot too long. Some say that in theory skin cancer could result from prolonged exposure this way.
They suggest if it feels too hot then it probably is too hot to leave it on your lap. Get a desk or one those fan coolers if you want to use it on your lap.
Can a laptop’s heat cause infertility in men? A man’s scrotum is external to his body because sperm must be kept cooler than body temperature to survive. Now its been found that a hot laptop sitting on the lap can increase a scrotum’s temperature as much as 35 degrees above the body’s normal 98.6 degrees.
Computer users can be a pretty nerdy bunch, but it’s hard to believe anyone could sit there with a laptop and do nothing about it while the seed for future generations gets roasted below. Now we know the real threat that global warming poses.
Customers of Verizon Wireless have complained to the company since 2007 about being charged $1.99 to access the internet, even though they were not on a data plan. Some phones would inadvertently activate their browsers and connect to the internet. Customers seeing this happen were still billed $1.99 even when immediately disconnecting. Normally $1.99 buys a megabyte of bandwidth.
Customer complaints to Verizon about this problem went un-resolved until the F.C.C. started an investigation … and today Verizon said that after reviewing their records, some 15 million customers will be getting a refund of some sort.
On October and November bills, existing customers who were affected will receive a credit of between $2 – $6. Customers who are no longer with Verizon will be sent checks. The total refund could be as much as $90 million.
The refund is quite likely the largest payout any telecom company has been forced to make. Previously Verizon had always denied they were billing customers for accidental short term data connections.
The F.C.C. began reviewing Verizon customer complaints in January 2010 and now will likely apply a penalty to the company in addition to the refund, because of taking so long to notify their customers about the problem.
Verizon blamed a software glitch in the phones for causing customers to make the unwanted data connections.
At the recent Devcon conference in San Francisco RIM executives showed off the company’s new tablet computer called Playbook.
Although the device is not in production yet and they had no actual hardware for people to play with, the thing most interesting was the new QNX OS that will run Playbook.
The Canadian company that makes the QNX OS is pretty much unknown but the fact that RIM recently bought the company and now is using its OS for its tablet computer raised a few techie eyeballs.
RIM executives have now confirmed that the QNX OS will also be slowly migrated over to the smartphone platform in the next couple of generations and replace the Blackberry OS. This may be a very important step in getting RIM back in the smartphone game as they’ve been losing market share to Iphone and Android devices.
Initially all the buzz was how would the new Playbook stack up against the Ipad and the potpourri of other competitors pursuing it?
Others now have had a chance to look at what RIM is doing and think they may be onto something. They are not positioning Playbook as a direct competitor to Ipad but instead of an enterprise tool for serious users that already use the Blackberry Enterprise server … which no other tablets can do.
Their software development strategy is also uniquely different from the rest. The other tablet manufacturers have all used their smartphone OS’s and modified them to run their tablets. RIM is doing the reverse. They are taking their Playbook OS and modifying it to run their smartphones … which might give them a lot more robust and capable system with fewer bugs.
As IDC analyst Al Hilwa said in a Sept. 28 research note … the introduction of Playbook may go down as “the day RIM began to get its mojo back.”
If the message isn’t already clear enough to Internet users it’s about to get a lot clearer, its that NO Government wants you to have any privacy no matter who you are or where you live … in spite of technology that makes this possible and practical for almost any user.
Companies like RIM have used encrypted email and the privacy it offers as its business model and now governments want to target these guys and force them to open their network to government snoops at their whim.
RIM CEO, Jim Balsille recently stated “We’ve made it clear that we are respectful of government needs and fully co-operating to comply with lawful requirements on an industry standard basis, but we cannot compromise the security architecture of the BlackBerry enterprise solution”.
Lets hope he can stick to his guns when a new bill reaches Congress next year.
The New York Times said the bill would require all online services that enable communications to have interfaces built into their networks so that they could comply to a wiretap order. Providers of encrypted e-mail, such as BlackBerry, networking sites like Facebook and direct communication services like Skype would all be affected.
Security officials say the new regulations are necessary because crooks and terrorists are moving their communications from phones to online.
FBI lawyer Valerie Caproni said “We’re talking about lawfully authorized intercepts. We’re not talking about expanding authority. We’re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.”
In the hyper competitive world of Silicon Valley, where Tech companies are constantly seeking out engineering and scientific talent to fullfil their needs … the Department Of Justice has decided that bilateral agreements amongst certain tech giants not to poach from their competitors labor force by cold calling went a bit too far.
Even though these types of employees are very well paid and in high demand, the DOJ concluded after a year long investigation that for companies to agree not to cold call each others’ employees for job prospects, that it amounted to a “restraint of trade” rule violation under well established antitrust law.
The Justice Department said the agreements to curb cold-calling each others’ workers amounted to “diminished competition to the detriment of the affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities.”
Several of the big tech companies had established no cold call agreements amongst themselves. Apple and Google, Apple and Pixar, Intel and Google, Intuit and Google, and Apple and Adobe.
At its peak hiring phase in 2007 Google was hiring 40 people a day. Between 2005 and 2009 it grew the company by 16000 employees.
Intuit for one was not happy with the DOJ ruling and said they “ agreed to disagree” over the issue of wrongdoing in the case.
In Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity he theorized that if one twin stayed on earth and the other flew through the cosmos on a rocket that the twin returning from space would be slightly younger than the one that remained on earth.
This he said was because at high altitudes, or in space, the earth’s gravity is less thus allowing time to speed up.
In Fridays edition of the journal Science it reports that physicists have proven that even a twin traveling in a car at only 20mph will be a fraction of a nanosecond younger than the brother when he returns.
James Chin-Wen Chou, a researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder Colorado who led the experiments said “During your daily life, you experience relativity”.
In order to make very precise measurements of time for their experiments they built a timepiece that is 100,000 times more precise than the atomic based clocks now used as time standards.
Their clock measures time by using an aluminum ion to calibrate the frequency of a laser that oscillates more than a million billion times per second. By being able to divide time into much smaller chunks they can test Einstein’s relativity theory for every day events.
For instance … if one clock was positioned about two thirds of a mile above an identical clock on the earth’s surface and the time difference of the second hands measured over the average 79 year lifetime of a human … the upper clock would be ahead by about 90 billionths of a second.