Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tablet Sales Growth


Tablets will comprise about 80 percent of all computers sold by 2016, according to the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) most recent industry research.

Shawn DuBravac, the CEA’s chief economist and research director, and Jack Cutts, CEA’s business intelligence senior manager, gave this bit of data along with a wide overview of the computer and tablet market at the CEA Research Summit.

DuBravac noted that tablets now have a 40 percent home penetration rate and the products future, at least for the short term, is guaranteed to keep climbing. However, he added that the market is quickly shifting as average selling prices are falling for the most popular 7-inch and 8-inch tablets. This should result in a $99 tablet being available by the holiday selling season, said Cutts.

Looking further down the road, DuBravac wondered how long tablets will sustain their growth.
“We might hit a point in say 18 months when tablet adoption hits a wall,” he said.

In the meantime, tablet ownership levels will continue to rise. The CEA expects the majority of this growth to come at the expense of desktops and netbooks, and by 2016 the household penetration of tablets and desktop PC will be about dead even, at 60 percent. Right now desktop PC penetration is at 70 percent.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"I Can't Read Cursive...."


One of the most upsetting bits of testimony we’ve heard from the murder trial going on right now was the comment from a witness that she can’t read cursive. That means that the public school system is even worse than we thought. How on earth can anyone even get to middle school and not be able to read and write in cursive?

There are school systems around the country that are cutting cursive in favor of “keyboarding”. They are teaching students to use computer keyboards instead of learning the real basics. If this trend continues we will have a whole new generation that cannot even read the Constitution or Declaration of Independence because they were written in cursive!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The iFruit company Stock Price


This week the price of iFruit stock fell below $400 a share. It is our humble opinion that this is another indication of the trouble the company is in. The announcement of iOS7 was supposed to generate lots of buzz and get Fan Boyz and Gurlz all excited and panting in anticipation.

From what we’ve seen, there is virtually no buzz going on anywhere, except in the iFruit offices. As we have said many, many times, Apple needs to come up with a real game breaker to get their mojo back. A slightly bigger or smaller iPhone or iPad won’t do it. They need to bring back some of that Steve Jobs magic. If they can. Otherwise, Samsung and Google will crush them.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Dumbest Idea.... Ever


It’s not every day that we get to write about a really dumb idea but this is one of them. Huawei has confirmed that they are making a 7 inch Android tablet that can be a phone. A 7” phone!!

Here’s the full story:
Huawei has today confirmed the MediaPad 7 Vogue, a 7-inch Android tablet hoping to claw back some of the market share won by the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini.

The new slate, available as both a 3G and Wi-Fi only model, sports a 5-point multi-touch IPS display at a resolution of 1024×600. It’s powered by Huawei’s own K3V2 Cortex-A9 1.2GHz quad-core processor, as well as 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Consumers will likely fill that up in no time with apps, music and movies, so Huawei has also fitted a microSD slot for up to 32GB of additional space.

There’s a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of shooting 1080p video at up to 30 frames per second, alongside a 0.3-megapixel offering on the front for video calls, Vine and the odd Instagram video. Neither are particularly impressive on paper, but it’s clear that Huawei has built the MediaPad 7 Vogue for the low-end of the market.

The tablet runs Android version 4.1, as well as Huawei’s own Emotion UI skin that bundles in a smattering of exclusive apps and themes. It also runs on a 4100 mAh battery, which is competent but slightly below the 4,325 mAh offering stowed in the Nexus 7.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group also revealed today that the MediaPad 7 Vogue is capable of making calls, putting it in league with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and the Asus Fonepad.

The tablet will be available in black and white and will be launched in China later this month, with other markets to follow. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Free G5 Game for the Next Few Days


June 24th through June 30th, G5 Entertainment is giving away Epic Adventures: La Jangada on iOS, Mac and Google Play. Based on a novel by the legendary French novelist Jules Verne, the game takes you back to the 19th century on a trip with Minha and her family through the Amazon River. The game is wrapped into the beautiful romantic story that immerses players into an epic adventure right from the first screen. This week you can get this hidden object adventure at no cost to you and try it on your favorite platform.

After Minha agrees to marry Dr. Manuel Valdez, they decide to hold the wedding in Brazil. You start this riveting adventure in Peru and travel through Amazon on an astonishing ship – the Jangada. Sounds like a great journey, however her father's dark past threatens her happy marriage. Long ago, he was accused of murder and now he is being blackmailed for Minha's hand in marriage. You are plunged into this evolving narration; it's your job to help unravel the mystery of her father's past.

The immersive storyline in Epic Adventures: La Jangada is supplemented with pleasing voice acting, lovely music and cleverly interspersed hidden object scenes. A nice addition to the hidden object scenes is that you have to find and then return the items to their exact places in some scenes. For example, you'll need to help Minha tidy her bedroom and pack a suitcase. Search for answers and clues in 43 thrilling locations, solve a variety of intriguing puzzles, brave the dangers of the Amazon jungles and find evidence to clear the name on Minha's father and save him and Minha's future.

Epic Adventures: La Jangada is developed and published by G5 Entertainment under license from Urchin Games.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

MSFT Bing Marketing Failure


MSFT recently canceled yet another of their hair-brained schemes designed to make lots of money for them and costing consumers. The “Brazil” project was designed to link their Bing search engine to brick-and-mortar stores and lead paying customers to participating stores.

All of us have experienced “targeted” ads when we’re online but this was going to be an attempt to go one step further. They were going to track your actual location and “suggest” likely places you’d spend money.

We have enough intrusion into our privacy already by people in Washington, DC. The last thing we need is more intrusion by people in Washington State!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Bully Pulpit

President Teddy Roosevelt once described the exposure the POTUS gets from the press to every word they say as a "Bully Pulpit". With the internet many more people have the opportunity to have their thoughts and words read by many, many people. This blog and our monthly ePub give us a pulpit of our own.

I would like offer some advice to anyone planning a vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC, avoid the Coral Beach Resort!! We have spent the last eleven days here and I have had to call the front desk because of one problem or another every single day! The problems have included insufficient bath towels (their bath towels aren't much bigger than face towels), no facial tissues, no plastic cups, a broken shower faucet and worst of all, no WiFi.

Our WiFi has been out for the past five days so it has been very difficult to stay in touch. Thank God for book stores and coffee shops that offer free WiFi to customers. Without them we would have been lost!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sales of Chromebooks


We recently heard that Walmart and Staples will be selling Chromebooks very soon, with other major retailers to join their ranks in coming months. This could be an important step in the greater adapoption of Chromebooks by the buying public and we applaud the additional marketing. Chrombooks have always been favorites if ours and we hope everyone who is looking for a new laptop will consider them.

However, there is one major drawback to the whole Chromebook philosophy: they are connected devices and rely on the internet to function. I am currently writing this on a road trip using a Tablet that has a Verizon Wireless connection built into it using Google Docs. I am being forced to use the tablet because the Netbook that I would normally use to access Google Drive can't get inline. The resort I'm at is being apologetic but that is little consolation. Fortunately, I planned ahead.

The moral of the story seems to be, Chromebooks are great IF you have a constant internet connection!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

MSFT Shifts Gears... Again

Earlier this week we had a discussion in our offices about MSFT and their proposed DRM changes for the new Xbox One. We specifically were talking about the need to have MSFT check your system daily to make sure no hanky-panky was going on. 

Our gaming expert assured us that this would never happen because the gamer world would rebel and MSFT couldn't risk losing all of that money. As it turns out, he was right.

This week MSFT announced another change in policy and they will no longer require the daily system check to insure compliance. Once again good wins out over evil!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

No post yesterday and our monthly ePub

We must apologize for not posting a blog piece yesterday, we had server problems and were without internet access!! We're still intermittent so keep us in your prayers!

We're publishing our monthly ePub today (a day late due to the outage) and it's a very good issue. The extensive review of the Pentax Q10 and some lens accessories is particularly interesting, if I say so myself!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Will iOS7 Work on Your iDevice

If you’re wondering if the iOS device(s) you use will see the update, wonder no more. Here’s a full compatibility list of the iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches that Apple plans to update:

- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 5

- iPod Touch (4th – 5th gen)

- iPad 2
- iPad 3 (Retina)
- iPad 4 (Retina + Lightning)
- iPad mini

However, while these devices will get updated to iOS 7, not every feature will be available on all of them. 9to5Mac posted this table with a breakdown of major new features and whether or not they’ll be available on each device.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pentax Q7 Announced

Pentax has just officially announced the Pentax Q7, an ultra-compact interchangeable lens camera which will soon be joining the Pentax Q10 and Pentax Q as part of the mirrorless Q-mount camera system. The Q system was originally launched in 2011, and to date it remains the smallest interchangeable-lens camera system on the market.

The Q7 is an incremental upgrade over the Q10, just like the Q10 was an incremental upgrade over the original Q.  The main difference between the Q7 and the Q10 is that the Q7 features a new 12-megapixel sensor measuring 1/1.7" diagonally.  This sensor is substantially larger than the 1/2.3" unit found in older Q models, and it is the same size that manufacturers typically use in premium point-and-shoot cameras.  The Pentax MX-1 and the Ricoh GRD IV feature similar sensors.  Like the Q and Q10, the Q7 supports JPEG as well as RAW image capture.

This single change is probably the biggest thing that has happened to the Pentax Q system since its launch, however. We hope that it will be a game-changer in the eyes of current Pentax fans and potential customers, as outside of Japan, the Pentax Q system has not seen much popularity compared to other compacts.

The Q7's sensor has about 50% more area than the old sensor, and this means that it will be able to deliver cleaner images with less noise and more dynamic range.  We expect the Q7's image quality to be very similar to that of the Pentax MX-1 (see our in-depth review here).

The fact that Pentax has increased the sensor size implies that all current Q-mount lenses support the larger 1/1.7" image circle.  Those using adapted DSLR lenses with the Q7 will notice that the crop factor is smaller, though given the higher quality of the sensor and reduced risk of diffraction, we do not anticipate that the effective "reach" will change.


Monday, June 17, 2013

iOS7 Announcement


As our regular readers know, we are big supporters of all operating system, iOS, Linux, even Win-doze, because we feel that competition makes everyone better. That said, we were a bit disappointed by the “big” announcement from the iFruit company annual love fest, the WWDC or World Wide Developers Conference.

iOS7 looks like a nice, incremental upgrade to iOS6, just like the pending upgrade to Win 8.0 to 8.1 is a nice update. It isn’t, however, earth shaking news. It doesn’t do much to restore iFruit mojo the way Steve Jobs always did, it’s just there.

What Apple needs the most today is charisma. They need to bring back that old spark before they become even more of a niche player. We wish them well. They're going to need it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers Day

As a father and a grandfather, I would like to wish a very happy Fathers Day to all of the Dads and Papas out there.

There won't be a blog post today, I'm taking the day off, so watch for some great stuff next week.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pentax K-500


Pentax is re-joining the entry-level DSLR market with their latest DSLR offering, the Pentax K-500.  The K-500 is being launched at a price of $599 (including the DA L 18-55mm kit lens), which means that it will be slightly cheaper than the current Nikon D3200 and Canon SL-1 entry-level DSLRs.  It will be available in early July.

Below are the highlights of the K-500:
  • 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Prime M image processor
  • 6FPS framerate
  • 1/6000 maximum shutter speed
  • ISO 100-51,200
  • 100% viewfinder coverange with 0.92x magnification
  • 4 optional focupostsing screens
  • 1080p video at 30FPS in H.264 .MOV format
  • Dual control wheels for easy operation
  • Body-based shake reduction
  • 11-point autofocus
  • 3-inch LCD screen with 921k dots (VGA)

For those of you who are familiar with Pentax cameras, you have probably already noticed that these specifications are identical to those of the current Pentax K-30.  The only difference is that the K-500 is not weather sealed and does not have an electronic level.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pentax K-50's 120 different colors

Pentax has announced the new Pentax K-50 as a replacement for the K-30. Following the pattern set by the tiny Q10 cameras, the K-50 will be available in a plethora of color, 120 combinations to be exact. To see them all go to pentaximaging.com/K50studio#/white/black

The K-50 can shoot at ISO 51,200 (just like the K-5), while the K-30 was limited to ISO 25,600.  The hardware otherwise appears unchanged.

In the US, the K-500 will not be sold as a body-only.  In addition to the 18-55mm kit ($599), it will also be available in a two-lens kit (DA L 18-55mm + 50-200mm) for $699.

The complete K-500 specifications are available in our Pentax camera database.  We have also created a dedicated K-500 forum for future owners of this camera.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Game Systems from MSFT and Sony


Sony and MSFT have officially announced their pricing plan for their new game systems due out this Fall. The Sony PlayStation 4 will be priced at $399, undercutting the MSFT Xbox One by a hundred dollars.

Both systems look remarkably similar and should be available in time for the biggest buying time of the year, the December Holidays. We’re sure gamers will rush out to buy them because that’s all that they live for.... living in another world.

How many normal, sane people (you know, the ones that don’t care about the E3 Show going on in LA this week) will buy either one? Probably not one person.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Win8 Bad News


Removing computer viruses ranges between painfully frustrating to impossible, and an external rescue or boot disk is frequently required to clean viruses that are resisting removal.
In fact, the practice of cleaning an infected device from an independent, external, known clean device is recommended by government cyber security departments and computer security leaders around the world.

Win8 PCs contain a new technology called Secure Boot that only boots devices that have been verified by MSFT. Many popular rescue disks won’t boot on PCs that ship with Win8 without modification to the BIOS (called UEFI on Windows 8 PCs) system firmware. Even MSFT’s own Windows Defender Offline won’t boot.

PC manufacturers must include a technology called Secure Boot in order to ship PCs with Win8. Secure Boot uses a public-key infrastructure to verify the integrity of the operating system and prevent unauthorized programs such as bootkits from infecting the device. One consequence of Secure Boot is bootable removable media (rescue disks, Live CDs, Live USBs) will no longer work on PCs that ship with Win8 unless they’re upgraded to include the necessary signed components. So far it looks like only  FixMeStick has upgraded.

We’ll keep you up to date as more rescue disks support this new Secure Boot architecture and please let us know if you know of any that do already.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Xbox One "Clarification"


MSFT has, once again, published another clarification on the new Xbox One. Here’s the latest information they have put out.

MSFT responding to concerns about trade-in rights on its new Xbox One console, said users may sell titles back to retailers or give them to friends provided they have approval from the publisher.

Consumers who purchase the new console, which goes on sale in time for the holidays, must connect to the Web at least once every 24 hours for games to work, while access to digital libraries provided by the console requires an Internet connection every hour, the company said in a blog posting last week. Broadcast TV, Blu-ray and DVD movies will work without a connection.

Microsoft unveiled its first new Xbox in almost eight years on May 21, seeking to position the console at the center of games and home entertainment against a growing roster of competitors that include companies from the iFruit company to Facebook. The player will use voice commands and motion sensing to recognize users and let them switch seamlessly between games, live TV and Skype video calling.

All game publishers will have the right to determine whether consumers can pass disc-based titles made for the new console on to friends, or trade in or sell them, the Redmond, Washington-based company said last week

For Xbox games Microsoft makes, in order for titles to be swapped among friends, participants will be required to be on a digital list created by users for at least 30 days. All titles can be swapped only once.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pentax Rumors


Leaks about the upcoming Pentax K-50 have recently been joined by talks of new releases for the Pentax Q system as well.  The Q body cap lens, which was originally presented at CP+ 2012 and confirmed at CP+ 2013, is likely to be announced in the coming weeks.  Based on leaked photos, it looks like the official name of this lens will be "07 Mount Shield Lens", and it will feature a focal length of 11.5mm and a maximum aperture of F9 via a pinhole-inspired optical design.

A Japanese web site that originally leaked information about the K-50 is now suggesting that the camera will go on sale on July 5th in Japan, which means that we are bound to see an official announcement very soon.  The web site confirmed that the specifications of the K-50 are largely unchanged compared to those of the Pentax K-30, although the K-50 will be available in more colors (in Japan, different colors will be available for the grip and the body).

Other sources suggest that a new Q-series camera called the Pentax Q7 might soon be joining the Pentax mirrorless lineup; this camera may feature a larger 1.7" sensor rather than the 1/2.3" unit found in the Q and Q10.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fathers Day Suggestion


One week from today is Fathers Day and I know many of our readers are looking for gift suggestions. One idea was passed on to us last week and it’s a good one for anyone who wants to give a techie gift to their Dad. iolo System Mechanic 11 is a great all-around utility package for anyone with a laptop or desktop computer.

The latest version of SM is greatly enhanced and works with Win8. It helps your computer run faster and safer and will be a welcome gift for any Dad that receives it. We’ve used it for many years and, trust me, it is a much better gift that a necktie!!

Right now it’s on sale on at www.iolo.com for $25.00 off using code ELEVEN

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wikipad Availability


Wikipad, Inc. announced its 7” Wikipad tablet will be available on June 11, 2013 at a retail price of $249 in the US, with an UK and global launch planned for this summer. Thanks to its award wining and patented interchangeable game controller, Wikipad redefines the mobile tablet experience bringing together the console quality experience with the functionality and portability of a premium tablet.

“The launch of the Wikipad 7 tablet signals a transformative turning point in the direction of the mobile gaming industry. Wikipad’s tablet combines the latest range of features found in a premium Android tablet together with the unrivaled console video game experience only available with a gamepad,” said Matthew Joynes, Chairman of Wikipad Inc.

“There is no other mobile device on the market that possesses Wikipad’s unique functionality and versatility and all available with full warranty and customer support at an entry level price point,” said Fraser Townley, President of Sales at Wikipad Inc.

The Wikipad is the only tablet to possess both the unique combination of a console quality gaming experience with the functionality and portability of a tablet thanks to its award-winning and patented detachable dual-analog controller. Wikipad offers a multi capacitive 7 inch touch screen, 16 GB memory with an additional micro SD slot to support a further 32 GB of storage, together with micro USB, GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope. The tablets ultra-light and thin chassis is powered by the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core mobile processor that's optimized for cloud gaming with a 12 core Nvidia GPU. With an aspect ratio of 16:10, a 2-mega-pixel front facing camera the Wikipad tablet offers true widescreen HD display and HDMI out.

Consumers will have instant access to entertainment and videogame content of over 700,000 apps from Google Play from Google Mobile Services, PlayStation®Mobile games from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., and TegraZone – NVIDIA's free app that showcases the best games optimized for the Tegra processor. When the gamepad controller is detached, Wikipad’s sleek design and full Android 4.1 Jelly Bean functionality make it a powerfully versatile tablet for surfing the web, emailing, enjoying all the latest films, books, magazines and music, conversing via Skype or experiencing the latest apps at home or on the go.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid


The Guardian newspaper revealed exclusively on Wednesday that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has and continues to vacuum up millions of Verizon customer details, including information on phone calls both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.

Under the order, Verizon is ordered on an "ongoing, daily basis" to hand the NSA the information on all of the call data in its systems.

On Thursday, ZDNet obtained a copy of a note sent by Verizon chief counsel Randy Milch to employees. In the note, he did not confirm or deny the story, but in describing it as an "alleged" court order, he stressed that the text "forbids Verizon from revealing the order’s existence."
"If Verizon were to receive such an order, we would be required to comply,” just as any other company would be forced to.

Milch added that the company "continually takes steps to safeguard its customers’ privacy," but warned that the "law authorizes the federal courts to order a company to provide information in certain circumstances."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Olympus Cameras


We asked for a response from Olympus to the article we saw listing them as one of the endangered brands for 2013. The “official” response we received back is: “Olympus will discontinue new product development for low-priced compact cameras. However, sales of products that have already been manufactured will continue through the life cycle of the products”.

Hmmmm, does that sound like really strong response to you? To us it sounds like tap dancing around the question.