Blackberry Playbook demo at CES 2011

I’ve known about the Blackberry Tablet, Playbook, for a long time now.

Don’t know why I never blogged about it, especially considering the fact that it’s the only non-Android, non-iOS , tablet out there.

What reminded me was this video of the Playbook demo at  CES 2011.

The display looks great, the form-factor seems about the right size and it has compatibility with the Blackberry Enterprise Server.

That should be a big deal for existing Blackberry users.

Some of the other features of this tablet are :

  • Multitouch Capacitive touch screen
  • 1 GHz TI OMAP 4430-based ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • QNX-based Blackberry Tablet OS
  • Adobe Flash 10.1
  • Support for HTML5
  • 3G as well as 4G network access
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 5 MP rear-facing and 3MP front-facing camera
  • 1080p Full HD video output
  • Seamless pairing with your Blackberry smartphone
  • Compatibility with Blackberry Enterprise Server

Here’s another demo by the BGR guys, which shows of the capabilities of the device in more detail.

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Booting Linux in under one second using swiftBoot

One of my former colleagues and friend, Pranav Peshwe, pointed me out to this company called MPC Data who has developed a solution called swiftBoot.

Using swiftBoot, these people have managed to boot into a fully running Linux OS in under one second.

Take a look at this unbelievable video to check it out for yourself.

The developers claim that there is no other gimmick involved other than optimizations done, as a result of a good understanding of the Linux system.

The demos show that not only does the system soft-boot in within a second but it also function normally after that.

There is a second demo of the same on a TI OMAP3530 based OMAP3530EVM board. This time, they use a stop-watch for monitoring the performance.

I know if makes business sense to use this to provide a service to OEMs and ISVs, but imagine what havoc it would create if they open source their findings and it gets merged into the mainline kernel.

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Nexus S boots Meego and Ubuntu

Most of you are aware of Google’s Android-based Nexus S smart phone. With sleek looks and feature-packed to the core, it is arguably, the best and one of the most expensive smart phones in the market.

However, having said that, it is really appreciable that it can still be hacked to run other Operating Systems.

Meego, is a Linux based framework for mobile handsets and internet tablets, headed by Intel and Nokia. It is currently still in the development phase, but you can be sure that there will be a lot of devices running Meego in the coming years.

Meego is one of the OSes ported on the Nexus S. This is a huge step for Meego developers as it gives them a validation of their framework on a mainstream device like the Nexus S. The image shown below shows a raw, un-formatted version of Meego dumped on the Nexus S.

Meego running on the Nexus S

Ubuntu , is arguably, the most popular Linux distribution today. Ubuntu’s decision of embracing Unity, a desktop environment designed with a view of running it on Internet tablet devices, certainly seems to have paid off. What you are seeing in the image below is a Nexus S running Ubuntu’s Unity desktop.

Ubuntu's Unity desktop running on the Nexus S

One thing to remember is that these “ports” or hacks are still very developmental in nature. Hope this encourages the developers to port these other open source frameworks on other Android devices as well.

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The Motorola Xoom Tablet with Android 3.0 Honeycomb

CES 2011 is long over and it was raining Tablets this year.

However, there were a couple of tablets which stood out from the rest (that is not to say that the others weren’t good enough).

One of them and by far the most popular amongst all the Tablet demos was Motorola’s Xoom Tablet with. The Motorola Xoom was crowned the best tablet at CES 2011.

Motorola's Xoom Tablet with Android 3.0 Honeycomb
Some of the awesome hardware specs of the Xoom are :

  • 10 inch LCD touch screen with 1280×800 resolution
  • Nvidia Tegra 2, 1GHZ dual-core processor : This is a first in tablet history
  • Support for 3G, LTE and 802.11n Wifi
  • 720p capture and 1080p playback
  • 5 MP rear-facing and 2 MP front-facing camera

To complement this, it will host the Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS which is specifically designed for tablets with features like :

  • Google Maps 5.0 with 3D view
  • Flash 10.1
  • New browser with tabbed-browsing
  • New look and feel for applications like YouTube
  • Scrollable Widgets on the home screens

So without further ado, here’s the  video of the Motorola Xoom with the Android 3.0 ( Honeycomb ) OS :

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BodyMedia Announces’s FIT Armband BW

There were a lot of cool, crazy, futuristic gadgets at CED 2011 this year. You decide which category this one belongs to.

BodyMedia, a company in the Health sector focusing on Body mentoring and health solutions, introduced it’s latest high-tech gadget : The BodyMedia FIT Armband BW.

The BodyMedia FIT Armband BW is a body monitor device that you need to strap-on on your upper arm. It is specifically designed to be worn perpetually, be it working out, going to work or even while sleeping. It monitors and measures your bodies activity levels, skin temperatures , conductivity and other health-related measures.

BodyMedia FIR Armband BW

The beauty of this product is that it connects with an iPhone or Android application viz Bluetooth t help you keep track of all these measurements. The application , Activity Manager, displays your activities throughout the day and with inputs like your calorie intakes and sleep activities it helps you realize your fitness goals.

BodyMedia Armband iPhone App Activity Manager

The device with a built in 3-axis accelerometer, is prices between $229 to $249 , which might be a little steep depending upon … how high your fitness goal and body fat is.

However, the fact that the device is already in back-ordered state (sold-out ?) makes one think of not only the number of desperate, unfit people out there but also the credibility of this device’s usage.

If you are a fitness freak and had $250 to blow, would you invest in BodyMedia’s FIT Armband BW ?

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Panasonic’s User Interface for HDTVs

Panasonic is a consumer electronics company. It’s not a Software company.

So although you would consider Panasonic for all your gadget needs like Stereo systems, projectors, camcorders, etc. you do not expect to find any great user interfaces to it (apart from maybe, the sleek looks and arrangements of the panel-heads)

However, as you will see in the video below, they have come up with a very intuitive and innovative user interface for their HDTV’s

The interface seems very smooth, with bold icons and no clutter. The 3D look and feel adds to it’s graciousness.

To top this, the HDTV comes with a Wii-like remote for gesture-based controls. So, as you will see, the remote control reacts to gestures like “pull” and “push”.

The funny thing is that, Panasonic still feel that this UI is not ready for prime time. Well, if you ask me, instead of displaying a UI which you claim not ready for prime-time, you should make sure it is GA (General Availability) consumption ready and then showcase it at events like CES 2011.

What do you think of the UI ? Too juvenile ? Futuristic ? Or do you wanna play with the bad boy now !! 😉

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Android-based Headphones

There was a time when they used to say that the NetBSD Operating System is can be ported on anything other than a toaster. Then they ported it on the Toaster.

Going ahead people started saying the same about Linux , as more and more hackers convinced the commercial market to put Linux in every consumer device.

Extending the same notion further is Android. From the explosion of Tablet devices at CES 2011 this year, it is obvious that Android devices plan to be omnipotent.

However, it looks like some people will stop at nothing.

Nox Audio, a company who designs innovative audio products, have introduced a Android-based set  of Headphones. The headphones, named Admiral Touch, have a 2.4 inch LCD touch screen running Android.

Nox Audio's Android-based Admiral Touch Headphones

It is obvious that there can be very limited functionality to this touch panel and it is currently used only for changing the unit’s audio modes, viz, streaming radio or VoIP calls. This would particularly be useful for Android application like Pandora and Skype.

Nox Audio claims that Admiral Touch are the industry first truly wireless audio headset which can enable full wireless audio communication with gaming consoles. With a 7.1 channel surround sound, Bluetooth and Wifi to boast of, it claims to be a truly immersive experience in playing video games, listening music or for clear audio phone calls.

Now, this brings me to two very important questions :

1. Will you buy these obviously expensive headphones, only because it has Android running on it ?

2. What other unlikely products do you think will have a Android version ?

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ArchOS Tablets embrace Android Big Time

ArchOS is rooting for Android Big Time !!!

As of this writing there are 5 internet tablets from the ArchOS stable , running Android.

The internet tablets named ArchOS28 , ArchOS32, ArchOS 43, ArchOS 70 and the ArchOS101 are named after the size of their screens.

ArchOS28 2.8 inch TabletArchOS32 3.2 inch Internet TabletArchOS43 4.3 inch Internet TabletArchOS70 7 inch Internet TabletArchOS101 10.1 inch Internet Tablet

So ArchOS28 is a device with a 2.8 inch screen and the ArchOS32 has a 3.2 inch screen. As such, these are more of media players running Android, than “tablets”. However, the ArchOS70 with it’s 7 inch screen and the venerable ArchOS 101 with 10.1 inch screen are full-fledged tablets with webcams, HDMI output, 1080p full-HD output et al. And in between these two form factors is the ArchOS43 with a screen size of 4.3 inches (that’s slightly larger than an iPhone).

The devices support 3D graphics acceleration, high resolution video and Wifi connectivity.

The ArchOS70 even has a 250GB disk space, OpenGL support and Flash 10 support.

And not to be left behind, the ArchOS101, over and above all the features of the smaller tablets, supports Wifi 802.11n (a much faster Wifi mode), has an accelerometer and for the geeks, even switch over to OpenEmbedded’s Angstrom Distribution.

With a comparatively cheap price point , (the entire range lies from less than 100 Euros for the ArchOS28 to less than 300 Euros for the ArchOS101)

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