Category Archives: Hardware

Tablets Revolutionising Computing

It is well documented that Tablets are becoming more popular over laptops and desktop computers. Both of those have their place for higher end purposes. But Tablets in particular the new Microsoft-surface Pro are changing the ways in which people and general computing purposes are conducted. Along with the Ipad, the tradtional means of computing on either a computer or a laptop is coming to an end for many.

Desktop and laptop computers can perform much better than Tablets. That being said, Tablets can be better utilised for the casual person i.e. the person who only wants to use basic office software and website browsing. Desktop and laptop computers are better utilised for purposes such as gaming, website development, games creation etc. So that means that the two types of computers will always have their place even if it will be stifled in the end.

Tablets have a very good feature and that is they can be linked with telephone software. With some tablets, that said tablet can have the same os as a smartphone enbaling that Tablet to get the same features on the go. One of the best examples is the IPad and IPhone. Software can be used directly between the two unless something is version specific.

It is interesting to see this kind of cross-connectivity. The ways in which computing operates changes every year. For now though, Tablets and their connectivity with smartphones seems to be a sure-fire way of success.

ipad – hardware aspects

The article will provide a user with advise and information on ipad.  It will cover hardware aspects.  Before we go any further it is good to have a brief look at ipad’s briefy history. 

History of ipad
Apple’s first tablet computer was the Newton MessagePad 100 introduced in 1993, which led to the creation of the ARM6 processor core with Acorn Computers. With the success of the introduction of portable music player iPod in 2001, Apple re-entered the mobile-computing market in 2007 with the iPhone. Smaller than the iPad but featuring a camera and mobile phone, it pioneered the multitouch finger-sensitive touchscreen interface of Apple’s mobile operating system—iOS.  The iPad was announced on January 27, 2010 and was developed before the iPhone.  Now, let’s have a look at the hardware.

Hardware

The hardware includes screen and input, audio and output, connectivity , power and battery and storage and SIm

Screen and input

The iPad’s touchscreen display is a 25 cm (9.7 in) liquid crystal display (1024 × 768 pixels) with fingerprint-resistant and scratch-resistant glass. Like the iPhone, the iPad is designed to be controlled by bare fingers; normal gloves and styli that prevent electrical conductivity may not be used, although there are special gloves and styli designed for this use.
The display responds to two other sensors: an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness and a 3-axis accelerometer to sense iPad orientation and switch between portrait and landscape modes. Unlike the iPhone and iPod touch built-in applications, which work in three orientations (portrait, landscape-left and landscape-right), the iPad built-in applications support screen rotation in all four orientations (the three aforementioned ones along with upside-down), meaning that the device has no intrinsic native orientation; only the relative position of the home button changes.
The iPad has a switch to lock out the screen rotation function (reportedly to prevent unintended rotation when the user is lying down).  There are a total of four physical switches, including a home button below the display that returns the user to the main menu, and three plastic physical switches on the sides: wake/sleep and volume up/down, along with the screen rotation lock.
Connectivity

The iPad can use Wi-Fi network trilateration from Skyhook Wireless to provide location information to applications such as Google Maps. The 3G model contains A-GPS to allow its position to be calculated with GPS or relative to nearby cellphone towers; it also has a black plastic accent on the back side to improve 3G radio sensitivity.  For wired connectivity, the iPad has a dock connector; it lacks the Ethernet and USB ports of larger computers.

Audio and output

The iPad has two internal speakers that push mono sound through two small sealed channels to the three audio ports carved into the bottom-right of the unit.  A volume switch is on the right side of the unit.
A 3.5-mm TRS connector audio-out jack on the top-left corner of the device provides stereo sound for headphones with or without microphones and/or volume controls. The iPad also contains a microphone that can be used for voice recording.
The built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR interface allows wireless headphones and keyboards to be used with the iPad. 

Power and battery

The iPad uses an internal rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery. The batteries are made in Taiwan by Simplo Technology, which makes 60% of them, and Dynapack International Technology.  The iPad is designed to be charged with a high current (2 amperes) using the included USB 10 W power adapter. While it can be charged by a standard USB port from a computer, these are limited to 500 milliamperes (half an amp). As a result, if the iPad is turned on while being charged with a normal USB computer port, it will charge much more slowly, if at all.  Apple claims that the iPad’s battery can provide up to 10 hours of video, 140 hours of audio playback, or one month on standby. Like any battery technology, the iPad’s LiPo battery loses capacity over time, but is not designed to be user-replaceable. In a program similar to the battery-replacement program for the iPod and the original iPhone, Apple will replace an iPad that does not hold an electrical charge with a refurbished iPad for a fee.
Storage and SIM

The iPad was released with three options for internal storage size: a 16, 32, or 64 GB flash drive. All data is stored on the flash drive and there is no option to expand storage.  The side of the Wi-Fi + 3G model has a micro-SIM slot (not mini-SIM). Unlike the iPhone, which is usually sold locked to specific carriers, the 3G iPad is sold unlocked and can be used with any compatible GSM carrier. Japan is the exception to this, where the iPad 3G is locked to Softbank.

If a user has read this article then he/she would have learnt about ipad hardware issues.

The 5 Best Mobile Phones

The following is a list of the five best mobile phones that we give a rating of 5 stars, including the Samsung Tocco Lite, Samsung Jet, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Samsung Genio Touch and Apple iPhone 3G S.

Samsung Tocco Lite. Available in black or pink, the Samsung Tocco Lite is seen as a response to the LG Cookie. The touchscreen mobile phone is great value for money, but lacks 3G. All the features you would expect from a modern mobile phone are included, with easy access to popular websites such as YouTube and Facebook, a 3.2 megapixel camera, FM radio with RDS, video recording, music player, Bluetooth and a memory card slot. It’s available for free on contract with a range of free gifts, such as a laptop, free line rental or an X-Box 360!

Samsung Jet. This attractive slimline phone is extremely fast and responsive. Not only does it deliver a lot of features and good quality, but it comes at a middle-of-the-road price. It delivers access to a range of online widgets, fantastic web browser, multi-tasking and a fast processor to handle it all. It comes with a 5 megapixel camera with flash and autofocus, FM radio with RDS, music player and a fantastic AMOLED display. This great phone comes packed with incredible features.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. Available in Black, red and blue, the first touchscreen phone to be released by Nokia is very impressive. Some may say that the list of great features make it better than the iPhone, even if the iPhone seems more polished. The benefits include a 3.2 megapixel with Carl Zeiss optics, 3G video calling, a Flash supported web browser, and the touchscreen offers an extremely high resolution with 16 million colours. In addition, a music player with FM radio, GPS positioning, WiFi, Bluetooth and an 8GB memory card!

Samsung Genio Touch. Similar to the Tocco Lite, this touchscreen mobile phone is ideal for those looking at entry-level. The camera is more basic than the Tocco Lite, and the screen smaller, but MySpace, Facebook and Twitter are easily accessible. With its bargain price-tag, the Genio Touch is an all-round great phone.

Apple iPhone 3G S. Last, but by no means least, the iPhone is the best known and quite easily the greatest phone to ever be released. This isn’t just a phone, but equally a media player and internet device, too. Also included are GPS, a digital compass, WiFi, extremely fast web browsing and there are thousands of applications available. Complete with 32GB of memory, a mountain of music storage is possible. The only problem is that most of us will have to wait for the high price to drop!

Mobile Airwaves to be Harmonised

The EU is encouraging its members to occupy the same airwaves for mobile broadband In an attempt to reach its 2013 target of 100% broadband coverage.

As members change from the traditional analogue to the new digital broadcasting method, the spectrum will be made available.

The change will make it much simpler to use devices “across borders” and permit consumers to use “roaming” services.

The plan is being likened by some to the rise of GSM mobile phones in the 1990s.

Using a common frequency as planned would be of significant benefit to rural communities as it travels over long distances.

The EU revealed that approximately 30% of its rural population is currently without high-speed internet access.

The development will use the 790-862 MHz sub-band radio spectrum  which is part of the “digital dividend” which was made available from the digital switchover.

However, during the changeover, the EU will be determined that all of its members agree on its technical standards.

 Without such agreements, different states may allow different uses for the spectrum which could cause interference, revealing that “radio spectrum knows no borders.”

A bonus for mobile broadband users is that the 790-862 MHz spectrum can easily penetrate buildings.

According to the commission, it is feasible that “3G and 4G mobile phone services that allow video streaming, full web browsing and fast downloads on a mobile handset,” could be used.

This would enable “high-speed broadband coverage of 100% of the EU population by the end of 2013.”

This switchover would need to be made by 2012 according to the EU and the developments are being encouraged by British broadcasting regulator Ofcom, who will study the proceedings with the government.

A spokesman announced, “the spectrum could deliver benefits such as mobile broadband or any other suitable services to EU citizens.”

An open auction for the frequencies made available by the switchover will be held in the UK, with many groups interested, such as broadcasters who could use some frequencies for high-definition services.

The EU has several “strategic objectives” to take advantage of the digital dividend, including a European-wide agreement on how the frequencies should be used and meeting targets on the technologies that will be allowed to use them, too.

By making agreements over the use of the frequencies, up to £45bn could be generated as a result.

Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media declared that “The digital dividend is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make ‘broadband for all’ a reality all over Europe and boost some of the most innovative sectors of our economy.”

“Europe will only make the most of the digital dividend if we work together on a common plan.”

Nokia to Sue Apple

Finland’s mobile phone giant Nokia is planning to sue Apple for their failure to pass on royalties from their sales of the immensely popular iPhone.

Apple are said to have infringed upon Nokia’s mobile phone technology patents when developing the iPhone.

How much Nokia will be seeking has not yet been confirmed, but expert analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray predicts that Nokia will seek 1-2% from every iPhone that is sold.

Over 30 million have been sold to date which would generate between $6 and $12 per iPhone, potentially totalling $400m.

Apple has recently announced third quarter profits of £1bn with the iPhone delivering a 7% growth, having to pass on 1-2% of its iPhone royalties would be relatively insignificant.

On the other hand, Nokia revealed a loss for the last quarter due to a downturn in sales; the first in a decade.

Nokia has confirmed agreements with approximately 40 companies, which included the majority of mobile phone handset makers, allowing the use of its technological advancements, but Apple had not signed the agreement.

Ilkka Rahnasto, vice-president of legal and intellectual property at Nokia explained, “the basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for.”

“Apple is also expected to follow this principle.”

Mr Rahnasto went on to say, that Nokia has actually invested over £36bn on research and development in the past two decades.

Highly respected Apple expert Mr Munster has confessed that a sum of $12 per phone was “unlikely,” but if Nokia did manage to prise such a high figure out of Apple, it “would not change our positive thesis on the iPhone and Apple.” He went on to add, that “ultimately, the resolution is uncertain.”

The BBC sought further information from Apple, but a spokesman for the technology giant revealed that the company didn’t comment on pending litigation.

Nokia have alleged a total of 10 patent infringements, applying to all models from the iPhone range since its 2007 launch. Some of the patents that have been allegedly breeched include wireless data technology, speech coding, encryption and security. Nokia went on to accuse Apple of “trying to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

Sony Ericsson Shipments Plummet by 45%

After releasing their third-quarter (Q3) results, Sony Ericsson’s sales are down to €1.619 billion, a massive drop of 42%.

Handset shipments and revenues are also struggling at Sony Ericsson. Their Q3 results show that just 14.1 million units were shipped, a 2% shortfall on Q2 results and a 45% slump in comparison to the same quarter results from last year.

Sony Ericsson will be most hurt that their sales figures are 42% down to £1.48 billion, 4% lower than Q2. The average selling price of Sony Ericsson units is down from €122 in Q2 to €114 in Q3, but up from last year’s Q3 figures of €109.

The mixture of products and difficult market conditions was blamed for the lower average selling price of handsets.

According to a statement made by Sony Ericsson, improvements were made on gross margin, but dropped annually due to foreign exchange inconsistencies and lower sales. However, improvements in volume and percentage rate were seen in the success of the W995 Walkman phone and a series of cost cutting measures.

President of Sony Ericsson, Dick Komiyama, stated “Our business in the third quarter started to show the effects of our ongoing transformation programme. Having refreshed our brand we are now better positioned to support the launch of new products such as Aino and Satio in Q4 2009. We have cleared channel inventories, and have continued to realign internal resources and improve efficiency.  We have also arranged external financing to strengthen the company’s financial position.

“Transforming the business for future growth and returning Sony Ericsson to profitability is the focus of the senior management team and will continue under the new leadership.”

Sony Ericsson set out last year in a bid to reduce their annual operating expenses by €880 million; efforts that are set to continue. The benefits from these cuts are due to be seen towards the end of 2010.

Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, chief executive and president of Sony and member of the Sony Ericsson board, succeeded Carl-Henric Svanberg on 15 October, with Bert Nordberg becoming president at Sony Ericsson in place of Dick Komiyama. Mr Komiyama will remain as an executive advisor until the later stages of 2009.

Experts believe that the world mobile phone handset market for 2009 will shrink by approximately 10% from the 1.19 billion units sold in 2008. Sony Ericsson believe that for unit sales during Q3, they hold approximately five per-cent of the world market.

Fujitsu adds SAS, iSCSI and SSD to Eternus DX

Fujitsu is looking to strengthen its Eternus DX brand by adding SAS and iSCSI interfaces and a solid state drive, enhancements developed since its March takeover of Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers had twin controller arrays with Fibre Channel connectivity for small/medium businesses in the FibreCAT SX60 and SX80. SAS and iSCSI were already features found in Fujitsu’s Eternus 2000 array, directed at a similar customer base and offered the Eternus 4000 and 8000 as larger-scale arrays.

Fujitsu has been aiming to merge the SME products into one range and to re-brand it ‘Eternus DX’. In June, initial steps were made by renaming the FibreCAT SX60 and SX80 to Eternus DX60 and DX80. STEC had already been chosen to supply its Eternus drive arrays with solid state drives (SSD’s) a month earlier.

Due to this range of modifications, the Eternus 2000 range has now been replaced by the Eternus DX60 and DX80, with SAS and iSCSI working in conjunction with the Fibre Channel. Up to 24 15,000rpm SAS HDD’s are offered by the DX60 with an option of 300 or 400GB capacity, and the DX80 up to 120. Nearline SAS drives are also available with either 1TB or 750GB capacities, rotating at 7,200rpm, however SATA drives are not supported.

The DX/60/DX80 give leading edge performance and easy-to-manage storage for a range of uses. The capability of data storage to the most appropriate medium, from SAS, nearline SAS to SSD allows customers to generate better information lifecycle management.

2 to 4 Fibre Channel host interfaces are offered by both models, or an equal number of 3Gbit/s SAS or 1Gbit/s iSCSI interfaces. 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel is provided by the DX60 while the DX80 can deliver 8Gbit/s with 100 or 200GB SSD’s.

Both products include RAID migration, Data Block Guard, eight snapshots which is extendable to 512 (DX60) AND 1,024 (DX80), redundant copy, disk encryption, and a function called Eco-mode, which is based on MAID (Massive Array of Inactive Disks) technology to allow administrators to save electricity by choosing to spin-down inactive disk drives.

They suit a range of uses, such as Microsoft Cluster Server or X10 sure and storage consolidation. Also, these products are perfect for important company applications such as E-mail, data archiving, database operation and disk back-up.

The DX60/DX80 also acts as a great storage aid in virtual server environments with VMware vSphere, Critix and Microsoft Hyper-V.

DAB future is bleak as year-on-year sales drop 20 per cent below expectations

The future of DAB is in the balance as sales of the technology have been recorded to have slowed through 2008 according to figures recently released.  Unfortunately for the DAB technology sales in the digital radios fell by 10 per cent through the final three months of 2008 in comparison to 2007, marking the first recorded quarter that the digital radio technology has felt a drop in year on year sales since digital radio sales were first recorded six years ago.

Being market as a success throughout the middle-class homes in the country, the digital radio was set to take over from analogue radio in the same way that digital television is gearing up to take over from analogue television.  However, there has been no date set as yet as to when analogue radio will be completely switched off and this uneasiness is starting to ripple through the growth of the DAB market.

Still, the battle that DAB faces against the ongoing pressure applied by the popular internet radio platform rages on and could in the end derail DAB’s hopes for taking over the future of the radio waves.  The effects of Internet radio are being compared to what is being seen stunting the growth of Blu-Ray DVDs as video content is being delivered digitally.

The figures speak for themselves in this situation and clearly show the popularity of the DAB radio could simply have fallen into being labelled a ‘fad’.  More than 500,000 DAB units were sold through December 2008, however that figure is down by 10 per cent compared to December 2007 and has fallen well short of predictions made by the Digital Radio Development Bureau, falling around 20 per cent below the forecast.

The chief executive of DRDB, Tony Moretta, claimed that the figures were encouraging despite falling below the forecasted sales as the results could have been much worse in the wake of the economic recession.

“At the end of the day any forecast from any body a year ago would not have predicted what has happened to the economy.  There aren’t many industries or companies that have hit their targets for the year. We are still seeing growth. Despite lots of sometimes negative stories in the press, consumers are still going out and buying digital radios,” said Moretta.

Moretta felt that the outlook for the DAB device is bright and that these figures do not represent the country’s feelings on the technology.  “Consumer confidence in DAB remains high and it is important that retailers and manufacturers do not lose sight. At a time when other consumer electronics products are suffering declining volumes and value, DAB radio is holding its market position and growing its share versus analogue devices,” continued Moretta, who also blamed a “lack of stock” in many retail stores to be a key issue around the Christmas period.

2009 will be a decisive year for the future of the DAB device which will be looking to make progress in a difficult economy.

AMD produce greener processor chips

AMD have announced that they are modernising their 45 nanometer “Shanghai” Opteron processors by creating new energy efficient chips that will be able to operate within thermal envelopes powered by as little as 55 Watts.  Advanced Micro Devices are hoping that the new, greener processor chips will wind up in servers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun Microsystems.

There are five of the newly green processor chips each varying from the original Shanghai Opteron chips, running at a much lower power consumption than their predecessors.  Where the original Shanghai Opteron chips would run at an ACP (Average CPU Power) rating of 75 Watts, the newly updated chips run at a cooler 55 Watts.

“When we first came to market we brought out the standard power (Shanghai processors) because that’s where the bulk of our market is.  As always, we follow up fairly quickly with the HE, which are the energy efficient models, and the SE, which are the high-performance models,” announced the director of business development for server and workstation products at AMD, John Fruehe.

AMD are claiming that the rush to produce these high performance, low energy chips is to fulfil the need to compete with the massive amount of “computing cloud centres” that are popping up by the likes of Apple and Google who deliver cloud services.  Not so long ago these greener processor chips with their lower clock speeds would have been a flop on the market, however with the unexpected growth of the cloud computing market, AMD’s senior product manager, Steve Demski, is predicting that they will be seeing a high demand for these newly undated processor chips.

Fruehe continued to discuss the plans for the processors in the market through 2009, saying, “These processors basically fill out the 2P, 4P and 8P products.  We had the standard products that were introduced in November so this will fill out the line-up and give [customers] a standard model, a low-power and a high-performance part. 

“As we get into the later part of this year, you’ll see us bring out our ‘Istanbul’ product and those will be six-core processors and those will also fit in the same 1207-socket (Socket F) and so the customers that have a “Barcelona” [65-nm Opteron] system can also take advantage of a Shanghai part or the upcoming Istanbul processor,” said Fruehe.

However, AMD have also recently made the news headlines due to the fact that they have decided to cut down their processor production in an attempt to avoid creating “unwanted” chips that they won’t be able to sell.

“We’re slowing everything down quite a bit.  We think our CPU sales out of AMD will be less than consumption… our inventories will drain in Q1 – we’ll clearly be manufacturing below our shipment level,” announced the chief financial officer for AMD, Rob Rivet.  AMD are claiming that once the demand for their processors returns then they will return to their original rate of production.

Seagate CEO Watkins replaced by Luczo

Seagate, the computer storage manufacturers, have had a pretty rough December and due to that are now facing a cut in employees.  So it doesn’t really come as much surprise that the CEO of the company is being replaced and the chairman of the company is being rushed in to replace him.

The now former CEO of the company, Bill Watkins, was in the position since 2004, yet has been pushed aside by the company who have placed the slightly younger Stephen Luczo in his place.  Luczo has been the chairman of the company since 2002 and is said to be staying in the role as well as taking his place as the CEO.

Watkins did some good things with Seagate in his time as CEO.  When he took over, Seagate’s shares were priced at close to $12, however over Watkins’ time as CEO, Seagate’s shares reached up to $28.60 in November 2007.  Unfortunately for Watkins, it seems as though he may have lost his edge and 2008 was not such a good year for either him or Seagate as the company’s share prices plummeted and today they are around $5.51.

Luczo said in a statement that Seagate had to thank Watkins for all he has done for the company, saying, “I want to take this opportunity to thank Bill Watkins for his commitment to Seagate. Since first joining Seagate more than 12 years ago, Bill has made many significant contributions to our Company through his dedication, knowledge and leadership.”

The board’s lead director, Lydia M. Marshall, voiced her opinion about the move by the company to place Luczo in the position of CEO, announcing how he was the person that the company needed.  “Steve’s significant understanding of Seagate’s business and technology, and the customer and employee relationships that he built over his 15-year career at Seagate make Steve the ideal person to lead our company at this time,” she said.

The move by Seagate comes at an interesting time as the company has recently announced that they would be planning to get rid of 10 per cent of its United States workforce.  It seems as though they are starting the New Year with a bit of spring cleaning.  Seagate seems to be struggling, as many other businesses are around the world, with the current economic downturn.

It is clear that Watkins is being blamed for the company’s misfortunes over the last year or so, in particular for December’s revenue figures, which dropped badly claimed Watkins.  In fact, Watkins was being heard claiming that the last quarter was “terrible” for the company.

The president of Seagate’s consumer division, Brian Dexheimer, said in an interview recently that the hard disk drive sector had been feeling the pressure of the economic downturn, and Seagate was among those feeling that pressure.  Dexheimer claimed, “We are preparing for a pretty tough environment here over the next 12 months.”  This is now becoming clear and it seems that Seagate is readying for the storm