There are plenty of standards for sharing your media collection between devices, but what if you want to borrow a device's camera or display? MediaTek thinks it has an answer. Its new CrossMount standard lets devices share their hardware and software when they're on the same WiFi network, letting you use whichever components make sense in a given situation. You can use your phone's mic to dictate voice commands to your TV, for example, or use your phone's webcam for a video chat on your tablet.
It seems that, despite their best efforts to stop things leaking, Sony have slipped and overnight an image popped up on their Xperia Lounge app about the soon-to-be-released Xperia Z4 Tablet Ultra.
Silly name conventions aside, what do we know about this tablet? Well, it is going to have a 2K screen and be either 10” or 12.5”. For some reason I am leaning towards the bigger size. It makes more sense and it seems like it will fit into their ecosystem better at that size.
Other things we know is that it will feature a Snapdragon chip of some sort, potentially the new 810, as Sony have been quite vocal about their support for this chipset. The new chip from Qualcomm does allow the use of up to 8GB of RAM so we can expect an improvement over the Z3 Range here as well. I’m guessing 4GB.
Storage wise, I would expect this to come with at least 16GB on board as a bare minimum, but hopefully that is bumped up to 32GB or even 64GB whilst retaining microSD card support. Will we see a LTE version? Only time will tell, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
We know from the image that the tablet will be very thin, just like the Z3 Tablet compact which just came out last year. Other rumours are pointing to this machine having some sort of docking keyboard which will support backlighting and will give a laptop-like experience. If this is true, I for one am going to find it very hard to resist as readers will know I have a weakness for Sony kit.
I think Sony are going to be aiming this at the higher segment and pitching this as a competitor to the Surface range and also to the oft-rumoured iPad Pro. If this is the case, expect the device to be in the £500 to £700 price-point.
One thing we can be sure of from this leak is that there will indeed be a Z4 family (as if there had ever been any doubt). Hopefully the X4 phones will be next.
All of the above is merely speculation as I have no real backup for the rumoured specs other than the screen resolution. These are just what I think would make sense for Sony to release given the market as it stands today.
I will be running to the Sony stand as soon as the doors open on Monday to try and find out more for you, so keep it here for the latest updates.
Intel Atom Quad-core 1.33GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, microSD reader, 32GB flash memory and 500GB drive in the keyboard “base” section. Windows 8.1 (32 bit), 11.6″ Active Matrix LCD IPS LED back-lit multi-touch / touchscreen at 1366×768. WiFi IEEE 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, 8550mAh battery.
I’ve used this Windows tablet / laptop cross-over for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of Microsoft. Windows 8, without installing anything additionally to make you feel more at “home”, has a number of differences to my old and rather battered Chromebook. When I’m using the trackpad, webpages scroll in the opposite direction to the way I’m used to, and the hybrid mash-up of a touch-based GUI and a that traditional Windows UI really should be a disaster waiting to happen.
Yes, I’m going to be biased here. I’ve bought into the Google cloud big-time and someone at Google knows how warm my house is, where I parked my car, whether it’s raining where I currently am and perhaps even I last bought online. Here we have Bing, and I know deep down that the top search term is going to be “Google”. Depending which side of the fence you sit, Bing is a complete clone of Google or Google is a clone of Google. Either way, it’s Internet Explorer that you get out of the box and it’s Bing that does your searching for you.
There’s always going to be a bit of a gear-change if you’re swapping or even upgrading OS. Here, when you head to the Store to get bits like “Chrome” etc, you’ll be met with some “Desktop apps” which don’t run in the rather swish touch / Metro UI, but break out into the desktop interface where you’ll be met with the traditional-looking Windows 7-style interface.
After a short while though, you begin to find your feet. I switched on “reverse scroll” and, although IE isn’t my browser of choice, it did a good enough job.
The concept of this device is one that shouldn’t really work. You’ve got that old-school user interface which is traditionally driven by a mouse, and yet a screen that you can interact with and touch. Oh, and that’s before I even get to the fact that the screen completely comes away from the keyboard and turns into a tablet.
This, the Acer Switch 11, is a device that’ll quite happily act as your laptop. It operates quickly, boots pretty rapidly and has HDMI and USB slots. You can use that trackpad or your own mouse and quite happily never use it as a tablet if you wish. Sure, the slightly weighty tablet / top section can pull the machine over, but only if you tilt the screen back to a stupid angle. The keyboard, which I’m typing on right now, doesn’t feel uncomfortable or vastly different to the standard stand-alone QWERTY you may have sat on your desk at work. The black keys are low profile, but they stick proud of the chassis enough for you to easily locate them and typing is a breeze. Properly comfortable.
Without even without those clever shortcut key combinations (like Windows + E to switch interface or Windows + S to search), it’s fairly easy to navigate around the OS and even to fiddle around with the settings you need to play with to get this feeling right. Don’t get me wrong, I still had my foibles (like the on-screen floating “back button” that got in the way of web pages) but overall it wasn’t something I was going to immediately discount as I could see that it could be adjusted to be as I’d like it.
The Acer Switch 11 itself, at the time of typing, costs less than £300 (Argos) and comes with a vivid 11.6″ (1366×768) IPS display and is powered by an Intel Atom Z3745. Inside there’s 32GB storage, a microSD slot plus that USB, microUSB and micro HDMI slot I touched on earlier. You also, when it’s connected together, have a 500GB drive in the base. Loads of storage.
The tablet part clicks into the keyboard base via a very strong connecting system. This uses magnets to help pull the tablet section down and two locking points to slot into. It connects together and then the OS cleverly knows when you’re using the keyboard and trackpad. As an example, if you use the physical keyboard then the on-screen one will instantly vanish, but touching the screen and selecting a text selection box will make it pop up again. Likewise, when you use your finger to browse around the OS it’ll remove the pointer, but using the trackpad will reintroduce it.
The design of this is almost like a tale of two halves. The keyboard section is fairly swish and reminiscent of other brands, but the tablet section itself has an almost industrial feel to it and the hinge mechanism is a little blocky due to the weight of the tablet resting above.
The base section has just one USB port and no ethernet port at all, which is a bit of a shame, but the mere fact that I could use the screen at the same time as the trackpad set it apart from my existing Chromebook. Interacting with websites, flicking check-boxes and operating the GUI was all pretty easy and straightforward if I’m honest and you got used to using the trackpad and the touchscreen together.
The screen was good, although a little more reflective than my standard device, although viewing angles from the sides were tricky once you turned the device 30 degrees or more to the left or right. I also found that the brightness didn’t quite go as high as I’d like, especially in a room bathed in sunlight. For me that wasn’t a great issue as I don’t like screens to glare too much.
The two front speakers, located at the bottom of the screen when you’re using it in landscape mode, produce good sound, although you shouldn’t be expecting lots of bass from these small speakers.
Up top, a small 2 megapixel camera lets you do video conferencing but, while I’m here, I should mention what the device is like when used as a tablet. Personally, for me, I doubt I’d use it a great deal in this form. Don’t get me wrong, as a presentation tool this is great and you can switch (geddit?) the screen around into the “tent” shape to show the screen contents to others. It also works as a netbook / laptop and I loved the touchscreen on it, but as a tablet it was quite hefty and, in portrait especially, it felt a little unwieldy. If you were to use this as a tablet then you’d probably have it parked on your lap in “landscape” orientation to best appreciate websites and content.
Powered by an Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core CPU at 1.33GHz with 2GB RAM, this powers Windows 8 pretty well indeed and I had no issues with it running the OS or apps on-board. It’s well-priced and the battery lasts very well indeed, even with my heavy usage. What I learned, fairly quickly too, was that Windows 8.1 isn’t actually as bad as I thought. Even with me using it in my usual ham-fisted UI / desktop switching fashion, it served me well and didn’t really give me cause to complain. Sure, I hated the Windows Updates and the wait-times associated with them, but it didn’t detract too much from the experience.
Inside, apart from the OS itself, there’s a number of add-on apps which you can remove if you wish. Netflix and some Acer apps plus McAfee AV software.
Sure, there’s some parts of the Acer Switch 11 which don’t feel quite as “tight” as they should be. The trackpad didn’t seem to be as sensitive as I’m used to and the build quality in some areas could’ve been slightly better, but at the price, for what you’re getting here, it’s really rather good. I’ve got the full Windows 8.1 OS, I’ve got a neat touch-screen interface and the full-fat desktop OS. There’s 32GB of storage to play with, but you can slot in memory sticks and use cloud storage if you want to store files elsewhere and it operated quickly and quietly, without complaint.
For less than £300, this is a great price for Windows 8.1 with a truly useful design, great screen and keyboard combination. I had the OS freeze a couple of times and, although I found the Windows 8.1 interfaces simple enough, the OS still felt like it was trying to be everything for every user and the slightly bulky top-heavy design and 760g overall weight meant that it was a two-handed operation to use as a tablet unless you propped it up against something.
That said, I liked a lot about this device. The idea of having the 500GB drive in the keyboard section and the 32GB flash within the screen was good, and it wasn’t often that I left the house with just the top “tablet” section anyway. You’re not going to find yourself saying, “Oh yeah, I left that video of our trip to Ibiza on the 500GB hard drive bit of the device” because you’ll mostly be using this as a laptop rather than a wide-screen tablet.
Get more details on the Acer website. With prices tumbling down to £299 it’s definitely worth considering if you want a well-specc’d budget Windows 8.1 touch-screen laptop that’ll also be your presentation device and tablet.
It's easy to forget that Samsung is a multi-tentacled company that builds much more than TVs and phones. For instance, it manufactures CPUs for arch-foe Apple and makes small-to-medium OLED panels for various companies, not just its own mobile division. According to Reuters, Samsung will invest another $3.6 billion into its OLED business to offset flagging smartphone sales. Most of that cash will go into a new production line producing curved panels for the Galaxy Note edge and third-party devices. And Samsung's not the only South Korean manufacturer dumping more money into OLEDs. LG will also stake nearly $1 billion on new OLED capacity for large-panel items like TVs, as well. The takeaway? Given the display dominance of the two companies, many more OLED devices -- both big and small -- should be hitting the market soon.
Attention, Google fans: the company's big developer conference is kicking off early this year. The internet giant has announced that I/O 2015 will take place on May 28th and 29th, about a month ahead of where it was in 2014. Sign-ups start at noon Eastern on March 17th, although the company is once again running on a lottery system that picks guests at random. As for what's going to show? Google isn't saying anything yet, but there's bound to be talk of Android's rapidlygrowingecosystem, Chrome developments and internet services aplenty. What do you hope Google will show? Let us know what you think!
Follow the Apple rumor cycle and you'll notice that accessory makers play an important role in leaks -- some of them "borrow" factory blueprints to produce cases and other add-ons for iPhones and iPads that are still weeks away from launch. Well, the crew at 1 Infinite Loop is apparently fed up with these companies spoiling the surprise. Sources for 9to5Macclaim that Apple made key accessory producers sign agreements preventing them from getting design details from anyone besides Apple itself. If the firms give into the temptation and ship leak-based products, Apple warns of "penalties" that could include refusing to stock the offending goods at its stores.
If you feel that Apple is upgrading iOS a little too quickly, you're not alone -- there are concerns (if sometimes overstated) that it's focusing too much on interface revamps and extensions over making things work well. There may be relief in sight, however. Sources for the historically reliable 9to5Macclaim that iOS 9 will have a "huge" emphasis on behind-the-scenes fixes and performance optimizations. That's not to say there won't be any spiffy new features, but this could be more of a tune-up (in the vein of OS X Snow Leopard) than a breakthrough release. Apple likely won't confirm anything until its next Worldwide Developer Conference sometime in mid-year. If the tipsters are on the mark, though, the new iOS could be good news for anyone who feels that Cupertino hasn't been living up to its "just works" reputation as of late.
Based on hype alone, you'd think that sapphire was the ultimate replacement for glass on phone screens. However, that's not totally true -- while sapphire is extremely scratch-resistant, it's both more expensive and more likely to shatter if your device nose-dives into the sidewalk. Corning may have found a way to combine the best properties of both materials, though. It recently teased Project Phire, a glass that's as resistant to drops as Gorilla Glass 4 while touting scratch protection that "approaches" sapphire. The company isn't saying much more about the technology at this point, but it should go on sale sometime later this year.
We’ve seen many iPad mounts over the years but having one that sticks onto your fridge? That’s a new one on us. This is the FridgePad 2 and will convert your fridge (or, I guess, washing machine, tumble dryer or dish-washer) into a “smart appliance” by magically holding your iPad or tablet on the magnetic surface.
Run and designed by a team of “self-confessed tech geeks”, this has been designed by a company called Woodford Design and the mount has recently had a redesign, making it compatible with the latest Apple iPad Air and Mini models. If you don’t have one of those, don’t worry, it’ll still work with the iPad 2, 3, 4 or Android 7/10 inch tablets.
Once you’ve put your device in and placed the magnetic onto the fridge, it’ll let you rotate the device via a 360 degree spin function so that you can view it in either landscape or portrait.
If you want a convenient way to store your device in a busy and mess-filled kitchen, it’s just £29.99 from their very own website.
Are you the sort who has to have the latest phone and tablet? Sprint might have a deal for you. It's extending its aggressive For Life deals with a promotion that gives you an iPhone 6, an LTE iPad mini 3 and service for both at $100 a month, or about $17 less than what you'd pay to get them separately. While you only get 2GB of data on the iPad, that could be enough for family vacations or regular trips to a WiFi-less coffee shop. The big caveat (besides the conspicuous lack of an Android equivalent) is that the offer ends on April 9th. If you're all-in on Apple gear, you'll want to act quickly -- Sprint's determination to win new customers with cut-rate pricing isn't going to last forever.