Friday, January 29, 2010

Me, the Australian Macworld Podcast and why everyone missed the point

OK Mac fanboys, the dust has settled so I can now begin to talk turkey on the UberTablet blog. I mean, can I really call this the UberTablet blog without facing the new reality of Apple releasing a Tablet which intentionally helps make Tablet mainstream? No!

If you can’t be bothered reading feel free to catch my thoughts on today’s Australian Macworld Podcast (edpisode 19). Today I was interviewed by no less than four media sources about the iPad and its possible effects on the current Tablet landscape. My initial reaction after the launch was one of relief, given Apple could have landed the potential knockout punch to change the current Tablet landscape forever. Then as the dust settled I began to realise just how calculated, conniving and clever Apple is.

I could begin by mentioning what I don’t like about the iPad, but that would make me look silly and perhaps too cliché for someone who has spent most their adult life working with Microsoft Tablets (and now we need to make distinctions about what Tablet fence we sit on). What I would like to discuss however is why Apple released the Tablet they did, and not the one everyone was waiting for!

Reality is that Apple are a double-edged sword which rely on a very tactful cooperation between their hardware engineering team (in this case the guys that made the iPad and the new A4 Processor) and their software engineers (the one’s that hacked up the iPhone OS and threw it on a 9” display). Between the two they provide the richness in experience the PC world can only dream of and if you add the might of Apple marketing people then you have an equation for PC devastation. So why is there all this sense of disappointment in the air?!?

The reality is this…Apple did not make the iPad for the people, Apple made the people for the iPad!!!

If you're not already aware, Apple is doing everything in their absolute power to drive users to their three main revenue generators, i.e. iTunes, AppStore and now iBook club! Look at the AppStore alone, it has estimated between $20 and $45 million dollars in revenue as of May 2009 (as reported by Tech Crunch via Venture Partners numbers). If you don't believe me, watch the main campaign marketing video and you'll quickly hear the mention of all three clubs - showing just how important the message is given they highlighted it on the one video everyone was guaranteed to watch after the keynote!

The reality is that the iPod was the beginning of this global paradigm shift Apple created, iPhone the cherry and perhaps iPad the straightjacket. Think about it folks, with the lack of ports, the lack of operating system function, lack of camera and lack of processing power, the richness of this unit will not come from the hardware as much as it will come from the software experience housed within (or accessible therein).

What did iPad stand to gain from the inclusion of a camera? Nothing! Apple don’t currently have their finger in VOIP or Video Conferencing (as a main revenue generator) so it goes without saying that at the design stage when the topic of the camera came up Steve quickly said, “f%^&* it off boys!” (Or something similar…LOL). I mean which manufacturer, PC or other, would in their rightful mind launch a new device and NOT include a camera, unless their intention was not to create a device but to create a portal. Don’t get me started on the ports (USB or SD), the processor or the lack of pen input! All very achievable at the same price.

This device (and quote me on this) is nothing more than a clever portal, or gateway if you like, to Apple’s three main revenue generators, i.e. iTunes Store, AppStore and iBook. At this stage I should clarify that Apple did not make the world’s best Tablet, nor did they intend to make the Tablet everyone was waiting for; what they did is ensure a profitable business venture for many years to come!

Yes I believe this is a portal to their cash-cows, and yes I believe it was clever on their behalf, and perhaps even timely. What I am uncertain about is when the dust really does settle and users begin to experience this Tablet for reasons other than iTunes, AppStore or iBook will the euphoria remain?

History tells me that most everyone will go for the highest spec’d device which ultimately means spending the most dollars. The end result of all this outlay may offer the largest hurt when you try and work outside of Apple’s intended use. Only time will tell just how engrained Apple’s paradigm has become in our culture, and just how resourceful users are at experiencing outside of the box Apple is creating. Ultimately it may be such a great experience that no one will care and the portal to all or desires is only but an iPad away. With all its Apple sexiness, air-ness and drool appeal we may all be blinded anyway! LOL!

For me however, like GottaBeMobile’s Amy and perhaps Warner, I will stick to the plethora of PC based tablets I have (many Core2Duo, many with dual camera, full Operating Systems, USB ports, SD slots and screens with touch, multi-touch and pen support) and enjoy witnessing iPad’s wave of enthusiasm and new found lovers of Tablet related technologies surge its way around the globe!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Noosa holiday and gadgets are ready

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for Noosa for 6-days with the wife and kids, and can't wait! I'll be packing my Fujitsu T5010 with built-in 3G for "very litte" work, my Viliv S5 for GPS and Apple iPhone to read email on the road. Just in case I'm taking a Navman GPS and USB car charger adapter & multi-voltage car charger with USB port built-in. I also have camera, USB portable keyboard and other bits!

Love my gadget bag.
Last time I shared what's in my Gadget Bag was on a trip to Beijing (a while back)! ;-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mobile PC on a Mission Australia

Last week I had a meeting with Daniel Petsalis of Mission Australia (runs the Mission Beat side of things) and some other folks. We had a great chat and it looks as though they are taking the whole Mobile  PC story more and more seriously, which obviously appeals to my senses!

DT Research DT312, Panasonic CF-U1, TabletKiosk MediSlate

Today I've been called in to meet with the folks at Mission Australia again and am taking a small army of devices once more! :-)

Samsung Q1UP-XP, Gigabyte T1028X, Viliv S5

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Playing with Multi-Touch Fujitsu T4310 today

Today I had a play with the new Fujitsu T4310. The neat feature about this unit is that it hosts both traditional Wacom Active Digitizer (for crisp handwriting and drawing experience) while also including support for Multi-Touch gestures. One idiosyncrasy was that on the touchscreen a finger (or two) was the prefered input method, while a stylus (for pointing only) was no good. I found this interesting as the driver must be working over time to care enough to know if it was being touched by a finger or a stylus (dummy pointer). As promised by Fujitsu however when the Active Digitizer was present the unit switched to Active Digitizer seamlessly.

This "auto sensing" method of switching between Active Digitizer and Touch (multi or single) is not my preferred method for switching between the two input methods. I much prefer the way TabletKiosk does it on the Sahara i440D with a physical switch for alternating between the two input methods. This allows for a truer Touch experience when in Touch, and truer Digitizer experience when in Digitizer, without all the idiosyncrasies.

Right-click Multi-Touch Win7 Pinch Gesture

Here is a photo of pinch gesture in action (I like that it allows for a zoom-styled response in dialog boxes) and a photo a right-clicking (by a single finger on the screen and concurrently tapping with a second finger to create a right-click dialog box).

No Pinch Gesture in use

Zoom-in Multi-Touch Win7 Pinch Gesture

Zoom-out Multi-Touch Win7 Pinch Gesture

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Medibank International Tennis event

I'm headed to the Medibank International Tennis event today, and all courtesy of Panasonic ToughBook. We're meeting at a Pub in Sydney, where no doubt CF-U1 and his friend CF-19 will be there, and we'll then have a stroll through the courts seeing if we spot any stars!
I'll have my Villv S5 3G in my pocket! (Shhhh! Don't tell Panasonic)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rise of the Tablets by CRN

Good to see Australian Media acknowledging what is occuring at CES this year. What pleased me most was today's article by Iain Thomson of CRN (Reseller Channel Magazine), especially given resellers will be responsible for the greatest ground swell to come. This article is focused on "Top 10 best and worst of CES" of which Table PC comes 2nd in the "best of" category!


The highs and lows of the world's biggest electronics show. It's been a long hard week for many people in Las Vegas this week as over 100,000 people have flocked to the city for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Three huge convention centre halls and numerous other locations have been used to demonstrate the next generation of electronic technology and a dizzying parade of new systems, peripherals and add-ons have been put on display.

Read full story

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cocerned about IdeaPad U1

I was watching the marketing video about the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 and got a little excited. I do however take a lot f what manufacturers say with a grain of salt as it's their inention is to entice and excite. What concerned me right away was this video onYouTube by Notebooks.

Here are my thoughts.

In the first video Kevin Gao makes a compelling case for a two-computers-in-one device. He touts one as being a dual core device, and the other a standalone screen with standalone processor and operating system. While this is a great in theory in practice it is clumsy and potentially missing the mark.

In the second video Kevin’s hype is put into practice but with a major stumble, i.e. when the device is undocked (leaving behind a perfectly good Dual Core Processor embedded in a standalone keyboard!!?!?!!) the screen reverts to the ARM processor and unquestionably struggles to perform the “synchronisation” Kevin highlights in his speech. The reason I am being brutal on this point is that the user experience ultimately suffers and the device itself will be criticised for it. Given there are still so many months before this device hits the streets I hope Lenovo will heed some of this and make the “sync” story and better one. Hopefully these are nothing but pre-production jitters and everything will be sorted soon.

On a bright note, this has heaps of sex appeal (as a device) and conceptually stunningly presented. The Lenovo Operating System (more than likely a Linux flavour of sorts) looks gracious, addictive and sticky enough to perhaps keep users in slate mode and perhaps win the hearts of traditional notebook users. It’s nice to see Manufacturers paying attention to successful UI (User Interface) like Apple iPhone, Nintendo Wii and DSi.

Just some thoughts! :-)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Where to begin?

I's been so log between posts it is hard to know where to begin. I know many of you have asked me to post again, and many to put up videos. This year I will make an effort to do both and with enough enthusiasm from all of us we'll make Tablet greater than ever this year.

Currently I 'm playing with a Fujitsu T5010, a Viliv X70 and TabletKiosk Sahara NetSlate a my main devices (all depends where/what I am doing). Here is a small summary of why:

  • T5010: A 2.8GHz Core2Duo Tablet PC with dedicated Active Digitizer screen. Has a nice bright display and the feel and function of the pen is exceptional. This is the machine I use most and with Win7 Ultimate 64-bit, 4GB RAM and Office 2010 there is little I can't do. My favourite Tablet apps are still OneNote 2007 and PDF Annotator, and things like Snipping Tool and InfoPath are a locked in on my Win7 TaskBar. I added a Sierra Wireless MC8790 inside and unlocked GPS function.
  • Viliv X70: This fanless, 6hrs battery-life little monster became a favourite very rapidly in my mobile armoury. It’s ability to connect to 3G networks seamlessly (although I hate it ships with the Huawei EM770W as standard – would much prefer the Sierra Wireless MC8790 with unlocked GPS function). What I like most is the battery life. The fact that we get a true 6hr usage out of this little guy means that in airport lounges and on the road it is a real go-to device. I have installed a set of Australian maps (BETA version) on the unit to take advantage of the GPS module inside which has helped me get rid of my NavMan (I so hate single-purpose devices).
  • NetSlate: This is a discerning an understated device. It has gone under most people’s radars without reason. This 12” slate has one of the nicest  feeling Touchscreens on a Tablet PC and it has this soft and almost squidgy feeling surface on it which makes it really comfortable to hold. For night surfing in bed, or in the toilet (yes, I said it folks!) it is a joy. :-)

Of remorse this last year is the loss of OQO. While it is fairly obvious as to what happened ultimately I hate having lost such an innovative product to the mobile PC space. The sadness is shorted lives however as along comes CES 2010 and many new devices which pail everything we’ve seen so far into insignificance. I’ve been touting the Slate for so many years, as have many of my friends in the blog-o-sphere and it is really funny to see Steve Ballmer hold it up this year at the CES KeyNote as the “latest and greatest” technology to hit the world. I have owned an iTablet since it was released in 2003-ish and a TC1100 soon after. Who knows we may see both of these make a resurgence!!! LOL. It was also sad to see Raon Digital die a miserable and slow and shameless death. With little to no thanks/mention from themselves to the community I found that to be tasteless. God only knows they must have been in the poo to go that way.

Regarding my currently life…I am the proud father of two kids, i.e. Leon and Amber. They are both Tablet  loves and can often be heard asking parent’s of friends, “why is your screen broken??? Every time I put my finger on it nothing happens! And where’s the pen!?!” Tegatech Australia continues to grow thanks to the wonderful commitment of many Australian and New Zealand Resellers, and we will officially open Tegatech Europe this year too (office been open for 3 months getting infrastructure ready). I was awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for the fourth year in a row, and have enjoyed Presenting at CeBIT Australia, Teched Australia and Teched New Zealand and much more.

Moving forward, and as always, I will focus on your needs and thoughts and desires regarding what information I post. Don’t come to my blog for a long winded “latest news”, but join me for a technical chat using everyday examples and everyday terms. If it’s not fun why waste your valuable time and mine. Right!?!

Big hug to you all and look forward to hanging out once again on the Net with you!


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Year of the Tablet PC

As many of you are witnessing at CES 2010 this is shaping up to be the year of the Tablet, and frankly given all the energy I've focused on Tablets these last years I can only say....YOOOHOOOOOO! It is so exciting to see devices like the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 (more about that later) and the HP Slate Ballmer heldup at the keynote and more. The reality is that Apple has accelerated the rate of which Tablet PC, and as a form-factor the Slate PC, will be accepted by the masses. After years of people like Neil Roodyn, Otto Berkes and Bert Keely, and many bloggers touting the Tabet PC then this is a happy moment.

Where have I been? Where do I start/end?!? Not as important as what is going on now! I'll be back with some posts this year as this year is shaping up to be special! :-)