Quick! What’s Sony’s current high-end Android phone? Anyone? Yeah, Sony has a problem with brand recognition, one it likely hopes will be resolved with a big CES debut next week. While that could still happen, Sony’s Japanese press site just prematurely posted pics of the Xperia Z “Yuga” and the Xperia ZL “Odin”. And, surprisingly, the phones actually look worth remembering.
Sony, and before that, Sony Ericsson, has long floundered about in the mobile waters. Besides the Sony Ericsson gaming phone, none have been particularly interesting. Somehow Sony manages to make forgettable phones even though past models looked great and packed top-notch specs. Hopefully, and I mean that, these upcoming phones will hit the market with a bit more pizzazz.
As told by Engadget, the large Xperia Z and slightly more svelte Xperia ZL will likely 5-inch 1080p LCDs, quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processors with 2 gigs of RAM and Adreno 320 graphics. They’re said to have a 13-megapixel Exmor RS sensor on the rear. But those specs are to be expected and really don’t matter if consumers cannot buy the phones.
Currently in the US, Sony smartphones are only available on ATT. International the distribution is a bit better, but Sony smartphones are a pretty rare breed to see in the wild.
These phones, and likely several others, should be revealed next Monday at Sony’s 2013 CES press conference. We’ll be there liveblogging all the action memorable or not.
Go here to see the original: Per These Leaked CES Pics, Sony Is Actually Capable Of Making A Memorable Android Phone
Asus CFO told The Wall Street Journal late Tuesday that the Nexus 7, Google well-received, affordable 7-inch Android tablet was nearing 1 million in sales per month, having picked up the pace considerably over the last month in particular. Chang noted that unit sales rose from roughly 500,000 around the time of its introduction in June/July, and rose steadily after that. Tablet sales for Asus beat analyst expectations, likely as a result of the Google-branded Nexus device, which got an update earlier this week in terms of base storage specs at both price points.
The Nexus 7 sales, which would seem to end up totalling somewhere around 3 million based on the figures Chang shared, might be the glimpse yet we’ve had at the current size of the small tablet market. It’s a stat that will prove important for those watching the tech industry going forward, as Apple’s iPad mini debuts this upcoming Friday, and following that we’ll likely get more info from Cupertino about how iPad mini sales have fared so far, if the company sticks with its usual pattern of release early sales figures post-launch.
The Nexus 7′s success might be the most concrete standard against which to compare its progress, as there’s precious little data out there about how others have done in the smaller tablet market. Amazon has been notoriously quiet about Kindle Fire sales thus far, noting recently that the iPad mini announcement “tripled” sales of the Fire HD, but not talking about specific sales volume. An estimate by Asymco’s Horace Dediu from the end of August put sales figures for the Kindle Fire’s first nine months on the market at around 5 million units, however.
On the Apple side, the company sold nearly 60 million iPads during its 2012 fiscal year. But that’s a different market, one that Apple forged itself. How the iPad mini performs remains a separate question, even though Apple on stage at its event last week framed this as essentially a way to replicate and continue that existing success. Still, the iPad mini goes on sale in many more countries with an ecosystem that’s much more globally available than its small tablet competition, so it’s fair to assume Apple will beat competitor device sales, but by how much remains a key question.
Regardless of how the competition fare, the Nexus 7 sales numbers are promising for both Asus and Google, in a market where any individual manufacturer’s Android-powered tablet hardware has had trouble gaining a decent foothold. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nexus 7 line picks up even more momentum now that Google has updated its base specs, and will soon add more software features, like user account switching, via Android 4.2.
Apple changed its long-standing 30-pin dock connector out for an 8-pin new standard called Lightning. But what does that actually mean for users? Well the advantages are mostly passed on through hardware design — not necessarily around performance.
Here’s the skinny: Apple made claims on-stage about improved speed and reliability, thanks to an “eight-signal, all-digital” hardware design. The speed could be better, but this is still based on USB 2.0 specs, not 3.0 or Thunderbolt. That means gains will be modest, not magical. And given that Apple recently made sure that its latest notebooks all have USB 3.0, that seems strange.
But it isn’t that bizarre, really. Apple would have had to do significant redesigns on the inside of the iPhone itself to make that change, and that would have cost more money and affected margins. Engadget senior columnist and long-time mobile industry analyst Ross Rubin told me via email that, while USB 3.0 seems like a logical way to go, that likely won’t happen for a while yet, but is probably an easy switch in terms of the tech in the cabling itself.
“Particularly with the iPad being used as a video storage device and the growing video resolutions of cameras on the iPhone, a speed bump in throughput would have been welcome,” he offered via email. “The USB 2.0 speeds are likely a limitation of the iPhone 5 and not Lightning per se as it’s unlikely Apple would launch an architecture that would lock us to that speed for the next few years.”
Durability also seems like an advantage to Lightning, Apple says, since it has a design with much less of a ridge where cable meets connector, a common breakage point on 30-pin cables. But overall, this isn’t about delivering a better sync or charge experience for users, it’s about the same thing the nano-SIM is: saving space inside the case to allow for thinner, more lightweight designs and larger batteries. In fact, as Apple SVP Phil Schiller told AllThingsD, making an iPhone this thin with the existing dock connector wasn’t physically possible.
Before now, the iPhone’s design has been limited quite a bit by the 30-pin connector architecture. Now design decisions can be dictated by other factors, which obviously has benefits for consumers. For instance the horizontal size of the 30-pin dock connector is at least three or four times the width of the new connector. In a game where millimeters count for a lot, that’s a huge amount of extra room to play with.
Another thing Apple talked about was that the connector works no matter how you plug it in, so there’s definitely some upside in terms of usability. And there are downsides, like the fact that the dock adapter doesn’t support either video or iPod Out, according to Apple’s official specs (Lightning itself does support the same kind of media I/O as the 30-pin connector, however).
Lightning has a trade name that evokes its speedier, low-latency cousin Thunderbolt, but it’s a necessary step based on design decisions, not something designed to push the envelope on user experience. That said, the tangential benefits it makes possible are considerable in themselves, so the short-term disadvantages in terms of ecosystem obsolescence are ultimately probably not a bad trade-off. And Schiller indicated to AllThingsD that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so at least we’ll have time to recover from the extreme trauma of the shift this time around.
Read the original here: Apple’s New Lightning Connector: What It Does And Doesn’t Change
Amazon introduced one last Kindle Fire today, the HD version with LTE capability and 32GB of storage for $499. That’s a much better deal than the competition is offering, at least in terms of straight hardware comparisons. People can pre-order that device today, and it ships Nov. 20th.
It also comes with a $49.99/year data plan that provides 250 MB of traffic, 20 GB of cloud storage and a $10 Amazon Appstore credit. It’s a really good value, and CEO Jeff Bezos noted that it runs $410 less than a comparable iPad with data.
This is a significant addition to the line up, and maybe the biggest announcement today, in terms of what effect it might have on the tablet market. So far, critics have said that Amazon’s efforts with tablets are no threat to Apple’s dominance, since they aren’t really competing in the same price ranges. Now that’s changed.
To recap, the other specs of the Fire HD include a 1920
After launching earlier this year with Mac-only compatibility, Lytro has just announced that its desktop application now supports Windows. The company behind the miniature light field camera also rolled out two new accessories: a $20 USB wall charger and $20 tripod mount. They’re also offering free shipping on all camera orders this week.
Minimum specs for Windows PC owners are as follows: