All Posts, Editorials

CES: The Best of The Best, as The Lights Dim… (Wrap-Up)

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and while there may not have been many high profile products announced (in fact many claim there was no clear “Best of Show”), this years CES brought a ton of awesome new gadgets just the same.

As there was not much activity on Day 3, the final day of the show, I decided I would highlight some of my personal favorite announcements – the best of the best – from throughout the week.

Google’s Android Style Guide
Although it isn’t really a product per-se, the Android Style Guide was released to developers on Day 3, and aims to help them in creating and designing beautiful apps for Android using the new style conventions introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich. The style guide is available now on Google’s Android Developer portal.

Windows 8 tablets
Intel, along with a few other companies, showed off some prototype Windows 8 tablets at the show. I must say, Microsoft is on a roll with their Windows products lately, following up the awesome Windows Phone 7 with the equally new and unique Windows 8. It features the same gorgeous Metro UI of WP7, and aims to provide an experience tailored for touch input, as well as the conventional keyboard and mouse. Microsoft has promised a beta of Windows 8 will be released in February.

Nokia Lumia 900
I’ve recently become a big fan of Windows Phone 7, and if you’re looking for the iPhone or Galaxy Nexus of Windows Phone, look no further than the Lumia 900 from Nokia. The first LTE offspring of the Microsoft / Nokia deal, the Nokia Lumia 900 is described by company CEO (and fellow Canadian) Stephen Elop as “the first real Windows Phone”. It’s a gorgeous device that features an 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss shooter on the back, and a beautiful 4.3” display on the front.

LG’s 55 inch OLED TV and LG’s LM series 1mm bezel TV’s
LG pulled out the big guns at this years CES, showcasing a 55 inch OLED TV that The Verge states was “making love to our eyes”. LG also announced the LM series of TV’s that feature a tiny 1mm bezel. They are absolutely stunning, and all of these models will be arriving sometime in 2012.

Samsung Smart TV
This wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite products, but it is an interesting one nonetheless. Samsung announced a new Smart TV that the user can control using, yes, their voice. Wasn’t there another company rumored to be working on a voice-controlled television? Oh yeah…

Sony Xperia S
Sony’s first Android phone to debut sans-Ericsson was the Xperia S. It’s a cool looking phone that actually features a transparent plastic strip along the bottom which functions as the antenna. Neat! Unfortunately, it’s still running Gingerbread, and it is skinned, though not as heavily as some of Sony’s previous Xperia devices. This one will be hitting AT&T in the US soon.

Vizio’s all-in-one computer and thin-and-light laptops
Vizio, known mostly for their line of discount TV’s, unveiled their first foray into the personal computer market at CES. Their new all-in-one features a very modern design, announced alongside matching peripherals including a keyboard, external trackpad, and subwoofer. The all-in-one also features an HDMI input, meaning you could hook up a Blu-ray player or game console to it and essentially use the monitor as a TV.

Vizio also showcased a line of thin-and-light laptops that they insist are not Ultrabooks! Vizio says their new portables match or outdo Intel’s Ultrabook specs. The laptops are gorgeous for Windows machines, and feature the same modern and sleek design as the company’s all-in-one.

Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon launched the G1 X, a camera with the power and performance of a DSLR, but in the body of a point-and-shoot. The $799 camera features a 14.3 megapixel sensor and a non-interchangeable 15.1-60.4mm zoom lens. The G1 X is meant for photographers that already own a DSLR, but want something more portable to carry around that can provide the same superior image quality. The G1 X is one sexy piece of kit, though a little out of my price-range…

And that is the best of the best at this year’s CES. Thanks for joining Current Editorials on our look at CES 2012!
Links via The Verge and Engadget.

All Posts, Editorials

How Google saved Android

Last week, I was contemplating writing an article on how the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia could take away a substantial margin of Android’s market share. Things change. Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility may have saved Android’s place as the top mobile OS in terms of global market share (keep reading). But make no mistake, it won’t be all smooth sailings for Android as it has been for the last 3 years – Windows Phone will take a significant chunk out of their users – and Google will have its first serious challenger (Blackberry withheld due to incompetence) outside of Cupertino.

Windows Phone 7 carries roughly 30,000 apps. Android is pushing 300,000 apps. The gap is staggering, but it is a well known secret that Android developers do not make the kind of money from their apps that they can and do in Apple’s App Store. Microsoft has achieved something that many didn’t think could be done – bring developers to a subpar OS. The 30K apps – all but 22% are paid apps — which developers released in the Windows Phone Marketplace are running on an OS that does not even have features that were included in Android and iOS devices two years ago. Mango, the major update for WP7 with over 500 new features, should bring the OS closer to the titans that are Android and iOS. When you include the collaboration with Nokia, a truly global smartphone maker with deep ties in Europe, Microsoft can and will lure the underpaid developers from Android, and iOS developers who would like a secondary option that will actually bring in profits.

Google’s major problem was dubbing Android an “open” OS, which isn’t really that open at all. Google controls source codes, places app restrictions in the Android Market (which they are free to do, as they control it), while carriers skin every device, and demand that you pay extra for services that come free naturally through the device (tethering, visual voicemail). Another symptom of the open OS is the completely ridiculous software update schedules from the Handset makers. The best features of the open OS comes into play for users when you see the abundance of free apps, widgets, and customizations that are possible Android may be great for consumers, but for the people who make the applications, it could be much better.

The purest and by far the best iteration of Android is the Nexus line. Timely updates, no carrier skins or bloatware, and sleek designs on par with the iPhone, show what Android can do when completed properly. The Nexus line, which Google controls from the design all the way until it is set to be released, creates a better experience for the user. With the purchase of Motorola Mobility, Google may have saved Android’s place in the long run.

After the purchase is completed, and the first Google/Motorola phone is released, all other device makers will have to step up or get left behind. Gone will be the days of updates six months after release. Fragmentation will decrease, as companies like HTC, Samsung, and LG will not want to be upstaged by Motorola’s release date updates that Google will most certainly employ. Much has been made of Larry Page’s statement about using purchase of Motorola to strengthen Google’s position in the patent fights with Microsoft and Apple, but the fervor over the patent lawsuits may be overblown. Android won’t be stopped or even significantly slowed down by the Microsoft/Apple conglomerate, or vice versa. But Google’s purchase of Motorola does send a statement to handset makers; get better, get faster, or get left behind.

You can follow Micah on Twitter @micahsingleton