Tech Report: Microsoft: Apple: Google: A Lot To Pay Attention To!

By October 19, 2012
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Hi all, Andrew here, full of anticipation!

So much stuff is about to happen in the tech world! The last weeks of October are busy ones for sure. Here’s news from the big three:

Microsoft:
Debuting Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT along with the Surface tablet on Oct 26th. Three days later on the 29th comes Windows Phone 8.

I feel like Windows 8 is a mixed bag. There’s a lot of stuff under the hood to like about Windows 8, but the interface takes some getting used to, no question. I find The Interface Formerly Known As Metro a little annoying – I have three large monitors and TIFKAM is not well suited to large screens. Corporate adoption is likely to be slow, much slower than Windows 7, which was driven both by pent-up demand from Vista skippers, and the fact that Windows 7 is a terrific OS. Consumer adoption will be driven by demand for PCs, which is down quite a bit, and by the success of Surface, which is a wild card.

Windows Phone 8 is a big step, with support for multiple core CPUs, larger screens, and VoIP and video calling integration. I may have to add a fourth horse to my stable of cell phones (Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4s, and BB9930 if you’re keeping score) because the Lumia 920 looks awesome.

Apple:
Announcing what people assume is the iPad mini on Oct 23rd. The rumors are 7.85″ screen, 1024×768 resolution, LTE variants available. My best guess on pricing is $269 (16GB), $349 (32GB), and $449 (64GB), and $130 more for the LTE units. Some talk floating around about a new Mac mini as well.

Apple is in a bind here – they don’t want to cede the small tablet market to Google and Amazon, but they don’t want to cannibalize sales of the larger iPad, either. If the mini is iPod Touch-thin, and has LTE, that’s a very compelling option. Google better get mobile data-capable Nexus 7’s out there soon.

Google:
Announcing new Nexus phones on Oct 29th. Lots of info floating around about a “Nexus 4″ based on the LG Optimus G. Screen is 4.7”, 1280×768 HD IPS (no Pentile!) display, quad-core Snapdragon at 1.5GHz, 8 or possibly even a 13MP camera. The Optimus G is getting dinged hard for LG’s crappy skin, but a Nexus would be pure Android, no skins, unlocked bootloader. There’s some talk of Sony or Motorola Nexus units. Having Nexus units from multiple manufacturers would be new for Google.

A big question is whether Verizon will pick any of them up. Verizon’s support for the Galaxy Nexus was pretty feeble, but honestly, if you have a Nexus and you’re not ROMmed, why have one? I’m quite partial to Peter Alfonso’s Bugless Beast, but I like AOKP very much, too. So I hope Verizon does get at least the Nexus 4. Verizon’s LTE network is second to none. I often get 40Mb/s download speeds with them, and it’s a treat.

I have a little Amazon news, too. Two items of interest: First is that I got my Kindle Paperwhite, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. It’s everything you want a Kindle for, and better. The lighting is very good, and although I do wish you could completely turn it off, the range of adjustment is excellent. The unit itself is delightfully compact, and the touch interface works well, with no missed touches and little lag. I’m a fan.

The second bit of news is that I just saw my first bank of Amazon Lockers in the wild at the 7-11 at Franklin & Vermont in Los Angeles. It’s an interesting idea; you have your package shipped to the locker bank near you and Amazon texts you a code that will unlock the locker with your package in it. For people who live in an apartment or in a neighborhood where they’re not comfortable having a package sit in front of their door all day, it might be the difference between ordering from Amazon or buying from a local store. I can’t imagine that the fee 7-11 is charging Amazon for the space is small. So Amazon thinks they will significantly reduce refunds due to theft in transit, or drive more business, or both. Either way, it’s an interesting step in retail.

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Andrew Solmssen

About me: I am a nerd. I nerd it up currently as an independent computer consultant and stand-up comic, but my nerd history is long. I started by typing in BASIC programs on a TRS-80, progressed to Apple IIs and then PCs and Macs. My first internet transaction was downloading the "Canonical Collection of Light-Bulb Jokes" from an FTP site on a line-printing terminal at the University of Maryland in 1984. My CompuServe ID was 73300,13, and my Slashdot user id is 9448. I still have some Apple DOS 3.3 disks somewhere, and the first USR Courier 2400bps modem I ever owned. I have been to three different Fry's in one day. I can build a new PC in an hour from stuff I have around the house. I started by administrating a Novell 2.15c network and now do Windows, Mac, and Unix. I'm not a comic book geek, or a Star Wars guy, or even a D&D guy, although I can speak those languages. Nerd, that's me. Visit me at www.bitboy.com, facebook.com/solmssen, and twitter.com/solmssen/