Microsoft planning additional Surface tablets

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Jan 252013
 
Microsoft

Microsoft may have a good reason for not disclosing sales numbers for its Surface Windows RT; general concensus is that it is selling quite slowly. One estimate suggests that only one million were sold in Q4 2012. One factor working against the Surface is its relatively high cost – it starts at US$ / CA$ . The upcoming Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet will likely face a similar challenge with its price starting at US$999/CA$1019. That does not mean that Microsoft is ready to give up on the Surface. Calling it “one part of the overall Windows 8 story,” it instead plans to offer more models covering a wider number of price points.

Asked about goals for the Surface on yesteray’s earnings call, Peter Klein, Microsoft’s CFO, said:

Our goal is to continue to build that business to highlight the incredible power of Windows 8 in an interesting set of devices. We are going to expand geographically. We are going to expand the product line up. We are going to expand retail distribution and capacity. So we look forward to continuing the growth of that business.

He later added that Microsoft was looking to offer “a greater variety of devices at a bigger variety of price points.” No further details were given about these future devices. earlier rumours have suggested we could see three new Surface models including a smaller Surface RT 2 with an 8.6-inch display, a larger Surface Pro model with an 11.6-inch display and a “Surface Book” with a 14.6-inch display and a 22nm Intel “Haswell” chip. At first glance, only the first appears set to have a lower price point than current models, sugesting that Microsoft may look to its hardware partners to drive down the cost of Windows tablets while the Surface ones remain more of a premium device.

Read more: Seeking Alpha (Source: Venture Beat)

Canadian pricing for the upcoming Surface Windows 8 Pro

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Jan 232013
 

Surface Windows 8 ProMicrosoft yesterday announced that the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet would hit stores on February 9th. As expected, Canadian pricing will be slightly higher than U.S. pricing. The 64GB model will sell for CA$919 and the 128GB model for CA$1019. Much as we saw with the Surface RT pricing, Canadian pricing adds a CA$20 premium to the U.S. pricing. This is somewhat surprising as the Canadian dollar is now stronger than the U.S. one. You can probably chalk it up to additional transportation and distribution costs for Canada.

The optional Touch and Type Covers will continue to sell for CA$129 and CA$139 respectively.

Microsoft Canada also announced the 64GB version of the Surface Windows RT will be available in a new 64GB standalone version for CA$619. Previously only available with a bundled black Touch Cover, customers will now be able to choose what if any Cover they want to buy.

The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available in Canada from the Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com, and a number of other still-unspecified “locations.”

Read more: Microsoft Canada

Samsung to refresh tablet lineup with new 7-, 8-, and 10.1-inch models?

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Jan 232013
 
Samsung

Without even mentioning its usual “industry sources,” a new report by Digitimes today indicates that Samsung will refresh its tablet lineup this year. It expects new models ranging in size from 7-inches to 10-inches but provides little more. The one detail it reveals is potential pricing.

The 7-inch model could sell for as low as between US$149 and US$199. Next up will be an 8-inch model but it’s unclear if this none other than the Galaxy Note 8.0 or a different device without Samsung’s S Pen technology. Priced between US$249 and US$299, it looks to be aimed at the Apple iPad mini. At the top end would be a new 10.1-inch model for which no pricing is given. All would presumably be Android tablets but the report makes no mention of any operating systems.

The smallest and largest model are set to launch in the first half of the year in a bid to have them in the market before Apple is expected to refresh its own tablet lineup.

No mention was made of the rumoured 13.3-inch tablet with an optional QWERTY keyboard dock (think of a tablet along the lines of the ASUS Transformer).

Samsung is apparently looking to ship 40 million tablets in 2013, up significantly from the estimated 15 million it shipped in 2012.

Read more: Digitimes

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro launch in Canada and U.S. set for February 9th

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Jan 222013
 

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 ProMicrosoft today announced that its Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet (renamed from the original Microsoft Surface Pro with Windows 8) will launch in Canada and the U.S. on February 9th, only slightly later than it had originally promised.

Surface Windows 8 Pro is an exciting new addition to the Surface family, bringing a powerful, work-ready device that is just at home in the boardroom as it is the family room. Whether you’re a road warrior, a student or someone who just wants a flexible and powerful Intel PC, the Surface Windows 8 Pro will deliver. It’s the perfect complement to the Surface Windows RT and delivers hours and hours of entertainment with plenty of power and productivity to get your work done as well.

Unlike the Windows Surface RT, the Surface Windows 8 Pro will not be limited to a subset of applications and will run the full gamut of Windows applications. As a tradeoff though, it will be slightly thicker and heavier.

Microsoft already announced pricing back in November: US$899 for the 64GB model and US$999 for the the 128GB one. Pricing in Canada may be slightly higher if Windows RT tablet pricing (CA$20 higher) is any indication. Both versions will come with a Surface pen with Palm Block technology. Accessories including the Touch Cover and Type Cover will be sold separately.

The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available through all Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com and at Staples and Best Buy in the U.S. as well as from a number of locations in Canada. Other markets will follow in the coming weeks.

Read more: The Official Microsoft Blog

Rumour: Google to launch upgraded Nexus 10 tablet at MWC 2013

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Jan 212013
 

Google Nexus 10You can now add another device to the list of rumoured announcements expected at MWC 2103 next month. According to Bright Side of News, Google will unveil an updated version of the Google Nexus 10 tablet.

With its 10.1-inch WQXGA (2560×1600) display, the original Google Nexus 10 has a reputation for pushing its 1.7GHz dual-core Cortex-A15 Samsung Exynos 5250 with Mali-T604 GPU to the limit leading to performance lag. To address this shortcoming, Google and Samsung are reportedly going to bump it up to a multi-core processor paired to a new 8-core Mali-T678 GPU. A prototype seen at CES 2013 allegedly ran significantly faster with the performance difference between the two being described as “night and day.”

Other specifications of the revised tablet are not expected to change. Even the form factor will remain the same despite the fact that both Google and Samsung admit that it lacks some “wow factor.” That will apparently be worked on for the next version.

Despite the rumoured announcement at MWC 2013, the tablet may not be available until the fall for either the same price as the current model or slightly more.

Read more: Bright Side of News

Samsung takes aim at RIM with Unicorn Apocalypse ad

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Jan 212013
 

Samsung poked quite a bit of fun at Apple and its fans with its “The Next Big Thing is Here” ads for the Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy S III. A new campaign, “The Next Big Thing for Business is Here,” now takes on Research In Motion and its own faithful. For example, the ad depicts them clinging to their QWERTY keyboards and two phone strategies (one for work and one for home).

Needless to say, Samsung’s pitch is that its Android devices, including the Galaxy Note II with SAFE technology, are as good if not a better fit for the modern business as RIM’s devices.

Is Samsung worried about the upcoming BlackBerry 10 launch? Probably not too much but there’s never a bad time to remind enterprises that there are options out there. In the end, it’s not quite as clever as Samsung’s Apple ads were but still worth a look (and a chuckle or two).

Read more: Samsung Mobile USA [via YouTube]

Sony Mobile announces Sony Xperia Tablet Z

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Jan 212013
 

Sony Xperia Tablet ZSony is kicking 2013 off with a number of devices. It announced the Xperia Z and Xperia ZL smartphones at CES 2013. And now, confirming last week’s rumours, Sony Mobile today announced the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, the successor to its Xperia Tablet S.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z specifications:

  • Processor: 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064
  • Operating system: Google Android 4.1 JellyBean
  • Cellular connectivity: Optional LTE
  • Other connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
  • Display: 10.-inch WUXGA (1920×1200) with Mobile Bravia Engine 2
  • Input: Capative touchscreen
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 32GB onboard and microSD cards
  • Rear-facing camera: 8.1MP with BSI and Exmor R sensor
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 6.9 millimeters-thick, 495 grams
  • Colours: Black, white
  • Other: Waterproof and dustproof (IP55 and IP57 certifications), virtual S-Force Front Surround sound

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z will launch in Japan sometime this spring. There is no confirmation on availability beyond yet but hopefully Sony will announce those plans shortly. Pricing was also not revealed.

Read more: Sony Mobile (in Japanese) [Google translation] (Source: Engadget)

ASUS considering Windows Phone 8 including Padfone model

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Jan 172013
 
ASUS

Things are looking for the Windows Phone 8 operating system. According to The Wall Street Journal, ASUS is the latest manufacturer to be considering making devices powered by Microsoft’s mobile operating system. Benson Lin, corporate vice president of mobile communication products confirmed that ASUS is currently engaged in licensing discussions with Microsoft. “There is no target timeline… but we are interested in making Windows phones.”

Lin also revealed that ASUS proposed to Microsoft to develop a Padfone device powered by Windows 8. The current ASUS Padfone 2 is an Android-powered smartphone that docks into a tablet accessory. “With our Padfone concept, the phone plus tablet, I think it makes sense for Windows 8,” Mr. Lin said.

Given that Microsoft offers Windows Phone 8 for smartphones and Windows 8 for tablets and PCs, it will be interesting to see how the Padfone would work. Could it use Windows Phone 8 in smartphone mode and switch to Windows 8 when docked? Or will ASUS wait for the rumoured Windows Blue release which is supposed to bring Windows 8 to smaller-screens?

The report adds that ASUS is currently also in discussion with U.S. carriers to bring its phones to the U.S. perhaps as early as next year.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

Samsung GT-N5100 to be known as Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

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Jan 172013
 

SamsungIt appears that the Samsung Galaxy Note family is getting ready to welcome its latest member. According to two separate reports, Samsung could unveil the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet (currently codenamed Kona) as early as next month’s Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Two variants are planned: One with HSPA+ connectivity (the GT-N5100) and a Wi-Fi-only model (GT-N5110).

Detailed albeit unconfirmed specifications have also surfaced:

  • Processor: 1.6GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos
  • Operating system: Google Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • Cellular connectivity (GT-N5100): HSPA+ / EDGE
  • Cellular connectivity (GT-N5110): None
  • Other connectivity: A-GPS, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Display: 8-inch WXGA (1280×800) Super Clear LCD
  • Input: Touchscreen and Samsung S Pen
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16/32GB onboard and microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Rear-facing camera: 5MP
  • Front-facing camera: 1.3MP
  • Battery: 4,600mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 211.3 × 136.3 × 7.95 millimeters / 330 grams

It appears that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 will be aimed squarely at the Apple iPad mini. Based on specs alone, it may have the edge for now but Apple is rumoured to be readying a second-generation iPad mini for a spring launch that could once again tip the balance.

Read more: VR-Zone (in Chinese) [Google translation] and SamMobile

Google Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.7 by LG to be announced at Google I/O?

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Jan 162013
 
Google Nexus

If the latest rumours are true, LG will continue to be Google’s manufacturing partner into 2013 with at least two more devices. According to a forum post on the Korean website Ruliweb, Google will announce both the Google Nexus 5 and Google Nexus 7.7 at the upcoming Google I/O 2013. Both will be manufactured by LG.

The Google Nexus 5 will be powered by NVIDIA’s new Tegra 4 processor. It will come with a 5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display with 1 millimeter bezels, 2GB RAM, a 13MP rear camera and 3MP front one. Onboard storage is listed at 8GB. If so, a 16GB option is also likely.

The Google Nexus 7.7 will be very similar. It will also come with the NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, 2GB RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. As the name implies, it will have a 7.7-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display with a thin bezel (although perhaps not as thin as that of the Nexus 5) and a 5MP front camera.

With Google expected to unveil the next major version of Android at the event, it is possible although not stated in the post that both will come with latest Android version rather than Jelly Bean.

Both could sell for as low as US$299 in their 8GB configurations.

Google I/O will take place from on May 15th to 17th. Ticket prices and other registration details will be announced in February.

For now, take it all with a grain of salt until some corroborating evidence surfaces to give these rumours some more credibility.

Read more: Ruliweb (in Korean) [Google translation] (Source: AndroidAuthority)

Sony Xperia Tablet Z revealed?

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Jan 152013
 
Sony

The recently announced Sony Xperia Z flagship smartphone may soon be joined by a new Sony Xperia tablet. Details about the upcoming tablet have been revealed by @xperia_info in a couple of tweets. Identified as the Sony Xperia Tablet Z (model SO-03E), it will presumably replace the Sony Xperia Tablet S.

Rumoured Sony Xperia Tablet Z specifications:

  • Processor: 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064
  • Operating system: Google Android 4.1.2 JellyBean
  • Cellular connectivity: LTE
  • Other connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
  • Display: 10.1-inch Full HD (1920×1080)
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 32GB onboard
  • Rear-facing camera: 8.1MP
  • Front-facing camera: 2.2MP
  • Battery: 6,000mAh
  • Dimensions: 266 × 172 × 6.9 millimeters
  • Colours: Black, white
  • Other: Waterproof and dustproof (IP55 and IP57 certifications)

It’s likely that the LTE connectivity will be an optional configuration and that there will be additional variants with different onboard storage capacities. You can also expect it to support DLNA and act as an IR universal remote control.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the device yet but its design will reportedly be similar to the Xperia Z.

Sony is expected to launch the Xperia Tablet Z in the second quarter. It will first launch in Japan with Hong Kong, Europe, and other markets to follow in succession. There is no word yet on pricing.

Read more: @Xperia_info and @Xperia_info [via Twitter] (Source: Techkiddy)

Microsoft Surface RT sales only reach 1 million last quarter?

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Jan 142013
 

Microsoft SurfaceMicrosoft’s tablet business may be off to a slow start. Rumours back in November suggested that Microsoft had reduced its 2012 orders from 4 million to 2 million units. UBS analyst Brent Thill now expects that Microsoft may have only sold about 1 million Surface RT tablets in Q4 2012. Thill cites two reasons for the low sales: “Surface RT is a consumer device with [fourth-quarter] sales suffering from the difficult iPad compare and narrow distribution.”

Such numbers could well justify Samsung’s recent decision not to launch its Windows RT-powered ATIV Tab tablet in the U.S.

Thill expects that Surface sales may improve with the launch of the upcoming Surface with Windows 8 Pro. He describes it as “more promising” as he expects that it will be a credible alternative to the Apple iPad in the enterprise space.

Thill estimates that Microsoft could sell about 2.5 million Surface tablets by the end of June when Microsoft’s fiscal 2013 year ends. Sales could climb to 8 million in FY2014. As a comparison, Apple is expected to have sold over 20 million iPads in the same period.

Read more: CNET

ASUS announces 7-inch budget MeMO Pad tablet

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Jan 142013
 

The ASUS MeMO brand is alive! As had been rumoured, ASUS, Google’s partner on the Google Nexus 7 tablet, has released its own 7-inch tablet. The ASUS MeMO Pad is clearly aimed at the budget-minded buyer with a starting price of US$149. While most of its specifications will not touch those of the Google Nexus 7, it has one that many Nexus 7 owners wish for: a microSD card slot.

ASUS MeMO Pad

ASUS MeMO Pad specifications:

  • Processor: 1GHz VIA WM8950 with Mali-400 GPU
  • Operating system: Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Cellular connectivity: None
  • Other connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Display: 7-inch WSVGA (1024×600) LED-backlit
  • Input: 10-point multi-touch capacitive touchscreen
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • Storage: 8GB or 16GB onboard and microSD cards up to 32GB, 5GB free ASUS WebStorage
  • Rear-facing camera: None
  • Front-facing camera: 1MP withf/2.0 aperture and 720p HD video capture
  • Connectors: 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port
  • Battery: 4,270mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 196.2 × 119.2 × 11.2 millimeters / 370 grams
  • Colours: Sugar White, Titanium Gray, Cherry Pink

The ASUS MeMO Pad will be available later this month in “selected markets.” Pricing will start at US$149 for the 8GB model.

Read more: ASUS

Windows RT Samsung ATIV Tab tablet to skip U.S.

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Jan 112013
 

Samsung ATIV TabIt appears that Samsung is having second thoughts about Windows RT. The company this week revealed that it will not launch its Samsung ATIV Tab tablet in the U.S. Its plans for other global markets are also in doubt at this point. Mike Abary, the Sasmung senior vice president who heads up the company’s US PC and tablet group, told CNET that demand for Windows RT devices is just not high enough. Not only is retailer interest low but it appears that consumers don’t quite grasp what Windows RT is and offers. According to Abary:

“There wasn’t really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8, that was being done in an effective manner to the consumer. When we did some tests and studies on how we could go to market with a Windows RT device, we determined there was a lot of heavy lifting we still needed to do to educate the customer on what Windows RT was. And that heavy lifting was going to require pretty heavy investment. When we added those two things up, the investments necessary to educate the consumer on the difference between RT and Windows 8, plus the modest feedback that we got regarding how successful could this be at retail from our retail partners, we decided maybe we ought to wait.”

Abary does not rule out future devices powered by Windows RT. “We want to see how the market develops for RT,” Abary said. “It’s not something we’re shelving permanently. It’s still a viable option for us in the future, but now might not be the right time.” Samsung is not the only manufacturer to come to such a conclusion either. Both HP and Toshiba have also taken a wait-and-see attitude.

Samsung first unveiled the ATIV Tab at IFA back in August along with the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Galaxy Camera.

Alongside the already available Microsoft Surface RT, ASUS, Dell and HTC are also expected to offer Windows RT devices later this year.

Read more: CNET

Microsoft releases Surface With Windows RT firmware update

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Jan 092013
 

Microsoft SurfaceAs part of its regular “Patch Tuesday,” Microsoft yesterday released an update for the Surface RT. It’s a maintenance release that provides System Firmware (UEFI) improvements including:

  • Improvements to audio playback when in Connected Standby
  • Additional capabilities for handling firmware updates during low battery situations

While many were hoping for some pesky Wi-Fi issue fixes, Microsoft is still “working on getting it resolved.” A fix will need to wait for another update.b

If you have not received the update, you can check for it manually by selecting Settings > Change PC Settings > Windows Update > Check for Updates.

Read more: Microsoft