Amazon Tops Apple

November 13, 2014 by admin  
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A mere five months after Apple snatched J.D. Power’s tablet satisfaction award away from Samsung, it has lost it to up-and-coming Amazon.

Apple’s iPad finished in second place in the latest satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, with a score of 824 out of a possible 1,000. For the first time, Amazon took first place, scoring 827.

Samsung came in at 821 for third, while Asus and Acer filled out the first five, but those stragglers’ scores were under the category average.

J.D. Power’s satisfaction score included five separate measurements for performance, ease of operation, features, styling and design, and cost, with each accounting for different percentages of the final number. Performance, for example, counted as 28% of the total; cost for 11%.

Apple received high scores in performance and styling and design, while Amazon performed best in ease of operation and cost, said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power.

“Within the tablet segment, there’s a balance of cost and value, and for this period, Amazon was at the equilibrium,” said Parsons. “For the money, [Amazon tablets] do what buyers need them to do. And the Mayday feature really helped them in ease of operation.”

Mayday is a feature on Amazon’s higher-end tablets that lets customers video chat with support representatives using the device.

Parsons called out Amazon’s Fire HDX, which launched in October 2013 in a 7-in. size and a month later in an 8.9-in. format, for driving the brand’s scores. Amazon now sells the 7-in. Fire HDX for $179; the 8.9-in. model starts at $379. “The new Fire HDX did really, really well” in the survey, Parsons noted.

J.D. Power polled nearly 2,700 U.S. tablet owners who had had their current devices for less than a year. The survey period ran from March to August.

The last time J.D. Power published tablet customer satisfaction scores, Amazon placed fourth. Its jump to first was a small surprise, said Parsons. “I figured [Amazon's] scores would improve, but I didn’t think they’d take the top spot,” he admitted.

Price is increasingly important to satisfaction, said Parson, as costs fall and capabilities climb across the board, making it more difficult for premium-priced tablets like Apple’s iPad, to retain their polled positions. On average, tablet customers now spend $345 on their tablets, $48 less than in April 2013, a decline of 12%.

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Will Intel’s Core M Go Commercial?

September 12, 2014 by admin  
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Intel is getting down from four processor lines to three and it looks like Broadwell won’t come with an M-processor line and 57W, 47W, 37W parts. This is not something we expect to happen at this point. The H-processor line will take over the 47W TDP high performance market for mobile computers and some AIOs.

The H-processor 47W line, U-Processor Line with 15W and 28W TDP parts will end up with 5th Gen Intel Core branding. We expect a range of Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 parts that will be revealed probably at some point after Intel Developer Forum, or after mid-September 2014.

The Y-processor line will end up with the new Intel Core M processor brand and it will aim for high performance detachable and convertible systems that will show up in the latter part of Q4 2014.

Broadwell with 4.5W TDP and Core M branding will end up only in these fancy detachable notebooks and might be one of the most powerful and fastest tablet/detachable platforms around. It will also ‘speak’ Windows 8.1 at launch and we should see some Google Chrome OS products in early 2015.

Intel also plans to keep the Pentium and Celeron brands around and they will be used for Bay Trail-M processors. These parts have been shipping for more than three quarters in entry level detachables such as the Asus T100TA.

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Did Intel Miss The Tablet Boat?

June 13, 2014 by admin  
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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has admitted the obvious – Intel missed the boat on tablets.

Speaking at the Code Conference, Krzanich said the company was slow to react to the emergence of tablets and smartphones.

“There was a belief that tablets would be a consumption device only (and) that people would come back to the laptop and the PC. There were heavy debates within Intel and it took a while for us to accept and acknowledge that data. Companies make mistakes,” Krzanich told Walt Mossberg in an interview.

In other words at least part of Intel’s failure to tap the emerging mobile market a few years ago was internal wrangling.

The course shifted under the Krzanich regime. Last Intel President Renee James and Krzanich made it clear that the company is now treating its Atom line-up just like its big cores. For years the company treated Atoms as a sideshow, making sure that they would not eat into Core sales.

ARM had different ideas and so did AMD, they went after the tablet and essential notebook markets. As a result ARM currently dominates the mobile space, while AMD managed to carve a nice niche in the entry-level x86 segment, with Brazos and Kabini parts.

Intel is fighting back, but it is paying a heavy price. The company is on track to quadruple its tablet SoC shipments to 40 million units this year, but it has to pay through the nose to get there. As for the smartphone market, Intel is all but absent.

Krzanich insists he is not giving up on the phone and tablet space. He wants Intel to take a 15 to 20 percent market share in these segments, which sounds very ambitious. Thanks to generous subsidies it has a good chance in the tablet space. This week Intel announced a deal with Rockchip, which should also boost its presence in the booming tablet market in China.

However, so far the company has not rolled out a compelling smartphone SoC and it’s lagging behind the competition in LTE integration.

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Samsung Makes Changes In Mobile

May 22, 2014 by admin  
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Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, has replaced the head of its mobile design team amid criticism of the latest Galaxy S smartphone.

Chang Dong-hoon offered to resign last week and will be replaced by Lee Min-hyouk, vice president for mobile design, a Samsung spokeswoman said on Thursday.

“The realignment will enable Chang to focus more on his role as head of the Design Strategy Team, the company’s corporate design center which is responsible for long-term design strategy across all of Samsung’s businesses, including Mobile Communications,” Samsung said in a statement.

Lee, 42, became Samsung’s youngest senior executive in 2010 for his role in designing the Galaxy series, a roaring success which unseated Apple Inc’s iPhone as king of the global smartphone market.

Samsung now sells two times more smartphones than Apple, largely thanks to the success of Galaxy range.

But the South Korean firm has also been battling patent litigation the world over, with Apple claiming Samsung copied the look and feel of the U.S. firm’s mobile products.

The Galaxy S5, which debuted globally last month, has received a lukewarm response from consumers due to its lack of eye-popping hardware innovations, while its plastic case design has been panned by some critics for looking cheap and made out of a conveyor belt. The Wall Street Journal said the gold-colored back cover on the S5 looked like a band-aid.

Chang, a former professor who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will continue to lead Samsung’s design center which overseas its overall design strategy.

Lee, who acquired the moniker of “Midas” for his golden touch with the Galaxy series, started out designing cars for Samsung’s failed auto joint venture with Renault in the 1990s.

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Microsoft Updates Office Online

April 28, 2014 by admin  
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Microsoft is updating its Web-based Office Online suite, closing the features gap with the main Office 365 and Office 2013 suites installed on users’ devices.

“We know you want features that allow you to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop,” wrote Kaberi Chowdhury, an Office Online technical product manager, in a blog post Monday.

Improvements to Excel Online include the ability to insert new comments, edit and delete existing comments, and properly open and edit spreadsheets that contain Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code.

Meanwhile, Word Online has a new “pane” where users can see all comments in a document, and reply to them or mark them as completed. It also has a refined lists feature that is better able to recognize whether users are continuing a list or starting one. In addition, footnotes and end notes can now be added more conveniently inline.

PowerPoint Online has a revamped text editor that offers a layout view that more closely resembles the look of finished slides, according to Microsoft. It also has improved performance and video functionality, including the ability to play back embedded YouTube videos.

For users of OneNote Online, Microsoft is now adding the ability to print out the notes they’ve created with the application.

Microsoft is also making Word Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online available via Google’s Chrome Web Store so that Chrome browser users can add them to their Chrome App launcher. Excel Online will be added later.

The improvements in Office Online will be rolled out to users this week, starting Monday.

Office Online, which used to be called Office Web Apps, competes directly against Google Docs and other browser-based office productivity suites. It’s meant to offer users a free, lightweight, Web-based version of these four applications if they don’t have the desktop editions on the device they’re using at that moment.

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Will Chrome’s API Work?

March 25, 2014 by admin  
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Google has targeted web browser settings hijacking in its latest update to Chrome for Windows.

On the Chromium blog, Google engineering director Erik Kay announced an extension settings API designed to ensure that users have notice and control over any settings changes made to their web browsers.

As a result, the only way extensions will be able to make changes to browser settings such as the default search engine and start page will be through this API.

Bargain hungry consumers are often unaware that freeware programs often bundle add-on programs for which developers receive payment but can create irritating, rather than malicious, changes to user settings.

Although there is usually consent sought at installation, quite often it is ignored or not understood, and the people who miss the warnings are generally the same ones who find it hard to change the settings back.

Kay said that the API is available in the Chromium developer channel, with a rollout to the stable channel set for May.

The Chromium stable channel has been updated to version 33.0.1750.149. The main change is an update to the embedded Flash Player for Windows, which is now version 12.0.0.77.

There are seven new security fixes, most of which were user submitted via the open source Fast Memory Detector Address Sanitizer.

Although the user community and Chrome team continue to proactively protect the Chromium project, third party extensions can still cause problems, with several already having been removed from the Chrome Store this year.

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Will Google Use Intel Inside?

March 21, 2014 by admin  
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It seems that Intel has elbowed its way under the bonnet of the high profile Nexus 8 tablet. Word on the street is that the Moorefield chip which is said to make a top speed of around 2.33 GHz, when the wind is behind it, has kicked Qualcomm’s tried and tested Snapdragon chip out of the Nexus range.

The move would give the Nexus 8, some good GPU power thanks to the PowerVR G6430 graphic engine. Google may unveil the actual tablet during the Google I/O event as well as the next big upgrade to the Android software dubbed lollipop. Still it is starting to look like Intel may really become a force to be reckoned with in mobile after all.

However, we should point out that Nexus 8 CPU rumors are nothing new. There was talk of Intel, Qualcomm and even Nvidia over the past couple of months – but we are still not entirely certain what’s under the bonnet.

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Are Transparent Semiconductors Next?

January 23, 2014 by admin  
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Scientist have emerged from their smoke filled labs with transparent thin-film organic semiconductors that could become the foundation for cheap, high-performance displays. Two university research teams have worked together to produce the world’s fastest thin-film organic transistors, proving that this experimental technology has the potential to achieve the performance needed for high-resolution television screens and similar electronic devices.

According to the latest issue of Nature Communications, engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Stanford University show how they created thin-film organic transistors that could operate more than five times faster than previous examples of this experimental technology.

Research teams led by Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, and Jinsong Huang, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at UNL used their new process to make organic thin-film transistors with electronic characteristics comparable to those found in expensive, curved-screen television displays based on a form of silicon technology.

At the moment the high tech method is to drop a special solution, containing carbon-rich molecules and a complementary plastic, onto a spinning platter made of glass. The spinning action deposits a thin coating of the materials over the platter. The boffins worked out that if they spun the platter faster and coated a tiny portion of the spinning surface, equivalent to the size of a postage stamp they could put a denser concentration of the organic molecules into a more regular alignment. The result was a great improvement in carrier mobility, which measures how quickly electrical charges travel through the transistor.

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Did Intel Have an IPad In Y2K?

December 20, 2013 by admin  
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Intel apparently built an IPAD ten years before Steve Jobs though of the tablet and the name. It was in the days when sticking an I in front of anything meant it was Intel rather than Apple and the Intel Pad, or IPAD for short, could browse the Internet, play music and videos, and even act as a digital picture frame.

Intel scrapped the IPAD before consumers could get their hands on it as its move into Tablets was seen as one of the outfit’s biggest blunders. According to CNET in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Intel wanted to diversify its operations beyond the PC. The IPAD came from one of several small teams within its research arm tasked with exploring new business opportunities. The IPAD, which included a touch screen and stylus, would not run entirely on its own but connected to a computer to browse the Internet through an Intel wireless technology.

Intel thought that “mobility” meant moving around your home or business and the IPAD was to be a portable device you could take around your house. The reason that they never thought of connecting it to the phone network was because Intel wanted to tie it all back to its core PC chip business. After several years of development on the Intel Web Tablet, then-CEO Craig Barrett unveiled the device at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2001. The company planned to sell the tablet to consumers later that year.

Sadly though it miffed Intel’s PC partners, which didn’t want a product that could potentially compete with them and Intel caved in and cancelled the project.

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Intel’s Cherry Trail Forthcoming

December 16, 2013 by admin  
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The next generation desktop and mobile Atom is Cherry Trail in 14nm and the first parts are expected in late 2014. Intel has been working hard to accelerate the introduction of Atom parts based on the new architecture and in 2014 it will finally ship Broadwell notebook chips and Cherry Trail Atoms in the same year, both using the new 14nm node.

The Cherry View is a notebook SoC version of a chip based on new Airmont core, while Cherry Trail is the part meant for tablets. The phone version is based on Moorefield architecture and they are all expected to show up in late 2014, most likely very late Q3 2014.

The TDP should go down compared to Bay Trail platform as the new 14nm needs less voltage to hit the same speed and should produce less heat at the same time. With the 14nm shrink Intel’s new Atoms will be able to get more fanless design wins.

The significance of 14nm products for mobile phones and tablets will be in the fact that ARM alliance lead by Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek and a few other players will be struggling to get 20nm designs out of the door in 2014, and Intel can already get to a 14nm.

However, Intel still has to integrate LTE inside its mobile phone SoCs, which has traditionally been proven to be a tough task. At this time only Qualcomm has on-die LTE and its LTE enabled SoCs are under the bonnet of almost every significant ARM based high-end phone out there.

Only time will tell how successful Intel’s mobile push will be. Even with these 14nm parts, once they show up roughly a year from now, it might be really tough for Intel to get some high-volume design wins in the phone space, despite the transition to 14nm.

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