Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Kindle Fire: This Season’s Hot Tablet?

What do you get when you combine Amazon’s well-established “Kindle” eBook reader with the power and flexibility of Google’s Android mobile operating system on an elegantly designed seven-inch full-color touch-screen tablet?  As this week has shown us, the answer to this question is Amazon’s new “Kindle Fire”; a much awaited tablet computer that offers a competitive (yet not cutting-edge) set of features for an almost irresistible $199 price-point.  Sure, users who order this device on November 15th aren’t going to be able to lug their entire media library with them using the relatively small 8GB of storage, and users looking for a camera or 3G connectivity are going to be out of luck, but nonetheless Amazon has really pulled together to create what may very well be a killer product.

While the mobile industry is starting to become somewhat occupied with low-end tablets, what really makes the Kindle Fire an interesting device that stands out from the rest is the fact that Amazon has built an entire infrastructure over the last year or so that helps to make the Fire a very well-connected and attractive device for Internet-centric users.  The little things like Amazon’s music store, application store for Android-based devices, video rental services, and of course the legendary eBook service that served as the foundation for the original Kindle line’s success more or less puts Amazon’s new tablet offering up to par with Apple’s concept of having everything built into the device as a native offering.

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iPhone Sales Down Pending Release of iPhone 5

As a blogger I rely heavily on numbers and solid facts to be able to form the opinions, viewpoints, and commentary that I share with readers like yourself.  Even though my job as a blogger doesn’t typically ask me to prepare numbers and statistics on my own, the fact of the matter is that without the flow of information that is readily available from the Internet I wouldn’t have anything to base my writings on, as the changes in statistics, information, and developments each and every day are what make the news that I report.  No better example of this concept is the constantly changing market-share in the dog-eat-dog mobile industry where competitors are constantly one-upping each other and releasing better and more powerful products.

This week a new statistical figure from Nielsen has concluded that in the last three months sales of Android handsets have been double that of Apple’s iPhone.  But while this number makes it sound as if Apple has really fallen behind in the mobile market, really following the ups and downs of the mobile industry really does prove that while Android-based handsets are definitely gaining in popularity, Apple is still an incredibly strong player in the industry.  And even though Apple’s sales of iPhone handsets are indeed down right now the numbers aren’t as bad as some people may make them out to be.

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Amazon’s Tablet the Kindle Fire Designed After the PlayBook?

According to Ryan Block over at gdgt, Amazon’s new tablet set to be announced this Wednesday is in fact built by the same people who built the RIM PlayBook.  How is that the case you ask?  According to Block’s sources, RIM originally outsourced a substantial amount of the hardware design and production of the PlayBook to Quanta, which is a company that builds, and sometimes helps design, hardware for name brands.

And when Amazon decided to do an Android tablet, the team at Amazon known as called Lab 126 (the Kindle team) apparently chose not to take on the project and focus their efforts on working exclusively on next-gen E-Ink-based devices.  This left Amazon’s executive team without an experienced team to build the device.  So what did they do?  Amazon turned to Quanta.

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How To: Customize the Mac OS X Menu Bar

Have you ever wanted to customize your Mac OS X menu bar?  Tired of the transparent white menu bar at the top of your screen?  Perhaps you want a sleek black menu bar.  Well, good news.  Now you can have one.

MenuBarFilter is an extremely lightweight app with only one purpose.  It changes the color of the OS X menu bar from white to black.  In my experience you need to make sure you disable the “Translucent menu bar” feature in the System Preferences under “Desktops and Screen Saver” in order for it to work properly.  That being said, it is also worth noting it’s still kind of buggy.  Now, it won’t break your Mac (that I’ve seen) and is still being developed so it will probably continue to improve. It is also open source and works on OS X Lion.

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Windows 8 Will Impact Microsoft’s Presence Even Outside of the Desktop

Considering Microsoft’s on-off history with releasing successful operating systems it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Microsoft’s success with the Windows platform from here on out (in a world where Apple is thriving and consumer-focused Linux distributions are popping up like advertisements for Internet Explorer users) rests on their ability to make another successful release this time around.  Of course, I’m pretty impressed with Windows 7 as it is and believe that Microsoft has made a very solid comeback after the miserable failure that was Windows Visa, but when it comes down to it Microsoft is really facing quite a bit of competition now and in order to hold its position as a driving force in the software industry they’re going to not only meet the current standards in operating systems but rather blow everyone away.

As simple of a concept as this is, I recently read a very interesting and thought-provoking article on ComputerWorld that discusses how Windows 8 will affect Microsoft’s Windows Phone line; a mobile operating system that despite being incredibly promising simply hasn’t gotten the traction in the mobile industry that we’ve seen with Apple’s iPhone and iOS or Google’s Android mobile operating system.  So the question is poised; will Windows 8 help Windows Phone’s presence in the mobile industry.

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Qwikster: A Rushed and Reactive Launch

With everything in our day-to-day lives having become focused more and more around our connection and utilization of the Internet in the last few years, there’s not a single part of me that thinks Netflix – the online streaming service that started its venture with DVD-by-mail service – would still be around today had they not implemented streaming service over the Internet years ago.  Even as someone who doesn’t spend a ton of time watching television shows or movies, I must say that I can really appreciate the convenience of queuing up a show instantly and watching it right then and there without having to run to one of the few remaining DVD rental stores or waiting for a DVD to arrive in the mail.  And in a world that caters to instant gratification, Netflix’s Internet streaming is, I think, the key component that has allowed them to be successful up to this point.

That said, television and movie streaming isn’t flawless.  Netflix has had downtimes in the past which have proven to be more than frustrating for users who put their faith in the availability of Netflix’s services.  Beyond that, streaming simply isn’t for everyone, and with so many areas not having access to stable and fast Internet connections there are a lot of users who simply cannot fathom streaming an entire movie over the Internet.  And in reality even when everything is fine and dandy and users are capable and willing to stream from Netflix, the chances of all the movies an individual wants to see being available on Netflix is next to nothing.  I mean, when I was a Netflix customer it seemed as if any remotely recently movie was only available on DVD or BluRay and never via streaming.

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