Архив метки: CES

Is the world ready for the return of the PDA?

I want to live in the Gemini’s universe. It’s one where the promise of on-demand hardware has been fulfilled. Where crowfunding, rapid prototyping, scalable manufacturing all of those good things have improved our lives by giving us the devices we both want and need. It’s the utopian dream of 2011, fully realized.
In the Gemini universe, the PDA never went away. It simply adapted. All of those irritated anti-touch typers had nothing to complain about. Sure, the iPhone still moved a billion units, because Apple, but the physical keyboard simply evolved alongside it, because tech should adapt to people and not the other way around.
Of course, the realities of technological Darwinism are much darker, and every half decade or so, there’s an extinction-level event, and Apple’s smartphone hit the earth like football field-sized asteroid covered in the bubonic plague. Over the past 10 years, many have and tried and all have failed to address the shrinking, but vocal niche of consumers bemoaning the death of the physical keyboard.
Many of us, myself included, fell in love with the Gemini at first sight when we spotted it across the room at CES. It wasn’t the hardware or the execution, so much as the idea. And, of course, we weren’t alone. When an astonishing 6,200 people came together to pledge $2.2 million on Indiegogo to help bring it to life, it was clear London-based Planet Computers had struck a chord.

And with both Nokia and BlackBerry having waged comebacks of sorts (albeit through licensing deals), it seems the iPhone’s 10th anniversary has been the perfect time to revel in a bit of mobile nostalgia. People have gone utterly gaga over the 3310 — clearly there must also be space in amongst this smartphone fatigue where a PDA can positively flourish.
In one sense, it almost didn’t matter what the final hardware looked like, this felt like a kind of bellwether. But in a larger and more important sense, of course it did. When it comes to consumer electronics, people don’t buy ideas, they by hardware. And in the cold, harsh light of day, the Gemini is a far more exciting concept that it is an actual product.
The product is a return of sorts for the Psion 5, with some of that clamshell’s designs back on board. And indeed, the device takes more than a few design cues from that 20-plus-year-old piece of hardware. The build itself is a bit of a mixed bag, here. It’s solid, but the clamshell ensures that it’s big and bulky, compared to standard smartphones with similarly sized screens (5.9-inch).

It’s not much to look at from the outside, with a plain metal casing, through there are some innovative touches here, including a break in the top that can be plied open to access the device’s innards, using compatible tools. The lid flips open, with a nice, satisfying motion, but screen’s hinge feels loose, moving each time you interact with the touchscreen. It would have also been nice to have the display open at different angles, but there are only two positions here: opened and closed.
As for typing, well, if you’re among the vast majority of mobile users have made the leap to touchscreen typing, you’re going to have to unlearn those skills. My own typing on the keyboard is nowhere close to what I’m able to achieve on a touchscreen these days. For a few fleeting moments, I entertained the idea of writing this review on the thing, but almost immediately backed down, when I found it difficult to type even a sentence right the first time.
The device’s size makes for an extremely cramped keyboard, in which many of the keys have to do double duty. But the width and girth of the device itself means there aren’t too many scenarios in which using the keyboard make a whole lot of sense. Attempting to type while holding it feels like an almost acrobatic feat. Really, a flat surface, like a desk, is your best bet, at which point you’re left wondering why you didn’t simply shell out the money for a real laptop. The ability to dual-boot Linux and the inclusion of a healthy 64GB of storage are interesting cases for the product as more of a small computer than a massive phone, that, of course, is ultimately hampered by the small display with smartphone dimensions.

That gets at what is perhaps a larger issue here. It’s unclear which problems the device is looking to solve in a world of ubiquitous slate phones and low-cost laptops and tablets. There aren’t ultimately all that many scenarios in which the throwback makes more sense than the hundreds of other available options, so it’s hard to recommend this as either a primary phone or laptop in 2018.
Perhaps many of its issues can be chalked up to first-generation hardware issues. There’s a lot to be said for the mere fact that the company was able to deliver a product in the first place. The Gemini certainly works as a compelling niche device, and it would be great to see Planet explore this idea further.
Anything that frees us from the oppression of nearly identical handsets is a victory in and of itself. As I said earlier, I want to live a world where devices like the Gemini can peacefully coexist with more mainstream devices. I just won’t be using it as my phone any time soon.

Is the world ready for the return of the PDA?

Yesojo’s Nintendo Switch projector dock is a dream accessory

 The Yesojo Nintendo Switch projector dock got a lot of attention when we covered the launch of its crowdfunding campaign last year, but at CES, it was on display and working, with the company ready to ship to its early backers. We got to spend some time with the portable projector, which gives your Switch a high-resolution screen you can take with you anywhere – and we came away very… Read More

Yesojo’s Nintendo Switch projector dock is a dream accessory

Dell’s new app brings mobile notifications to the desktop

 I’ll be honest, Dell wasn’t at the top of our list of must-visit companies at this year’s CES, but the PC stalwart is actually showcasing a couple of interesting new products at the show. On the software front, mobile connect is a free offering that will be bundled with all new Dell computers. Read More

Dell’s new app brings mobile notifications to the desktop

Is T-Mobile Getting The Samsung Galaxy Note?

galaxynote

Even though I think it’s way too big for the average human, Samsung’s Galaxy Note is doing quite well since its debut in January at CES. In fact, Samsung has sold 5 million units of the Galaxy Note thus far, which comes out to about 1 million Notes sold per month. But could it be selling better?

Possibly.

The phablet is only available at AT&T with a rather steep $299 price tag, but that may be changing soon according to TmoNews.

The site stumbled upon a listing for a Samsung product with the model number SGH-T879. Usually that T and the following 8×9 refer to tablets, but the resolution given alongside the listing is 800×1280. To be clear, the GalNote is the only Samsung device with that resolution, and the fact that 800 comes before 1280 likely suggests that this is a device meant to be held in portrait, not landscape. You know, like a phone.

That speculation on its own is shaky, to be sure, but then TmoNews got a hold of some screenshots that are reportedly taken from a T-Mobile variant of the Galaxy Note. The shots show Android 4.0, the same build number as AT&T’s Galaxy Note, running on the same model number as listed above, SGH-T879.

And to make matters a tad more solid for you, GigaOm noticed that one of the screenshots displays an icon for T-Mobile’s Name ID service. Of course, we don’t know anything for sure until T-Mobile hits us with a press release, but I’m feeling confident that this is for real.

The device will likely employ T-Mobile’s 21Mbps or 42Mbps HSPA+ network, which means it won’t have LTE proper but should still be speedy enough for you big-handed data fiends.


Is T-Mobile Getting The Samsung Galaxy Note?

Galaxy S Blaze 4G Lights Up T-Mobile Shelves On March 28

Blaze

Word of the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G first broke around the time Team TechCrunch was roaming the cavernous halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES, but at the time T-Mobile wasn’t feeling very talkative about release dates.

The mangenta-hued carrier seems to have opened up a bit during the intervening months though, as they’ve taken to Twitter earlier today to announce that their latest Samsung handset will hit their sales channels on March 28. If you’re really lucky (or willing to hop in a car and take some chances), you could snag a Blaze 4G even earlier than that, as some stores will be selling the device a week early.

You’d be forgiven for not remembering the Galaxy S Blaze 4G — between all of the nifty new gadgets on display at CES and MWC, a mid-range T-Mobile handset like the Blaze can slip though the cracks pretty easily. Still, while a Galaxy S III this thing ain’t, one could certainly do worse than eye up a device with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor, 3.97-inch Super AMOLED display, and support for T-Mobile’s 42Mbps HSPA+ network.

For better or worse you’ll still have to deal with Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread and Samsung’s hallmark TouchWiz UI but hey, it’s not like the market is swimming in Android 4.0 devices yet. At $150 (after a $50 mail-in rebate, ugh) the Blaze 4G runs squarely in the middle of the T-Mobile pack, and while it looks to be a solid choice for anyone sitting on an upgrade, pulling the trigger on a phone like this still takes some consideration.

A few more bucks nets you a proper Galaxy S II (in white even!), while a few dollars less yields up some solid-if-dated hardware like the HTC Sensation. It’s a perpetually tough call for prospective phone shoppers — should they take a plunge on a mid-range handset now, or wait for prices on high-end devices to drop?


Galaxy S Blaze 4G Lights Up T-Mobile Shelves On March 28