June 8, 2012
No matter what your home gaming console platform presence is, the influence of tablets was evident in the presentations of the Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. The main claim to fame of the Wii U, of course, is its second screen, basically a small tablet with gaming controls. Sony took a moment to highlight the renaming of PlayStation Suite to PlayStatiion Mobile with designs on expanding beyond its own tablets as certified devices. And Microsoft, of course, surprised many with SmartGlass, a second-screen architecture that goes beyond gaming into XBox’s new and broader entertainment domain.
It would be inaccurate to suggest that tablets are about to be as disruptive in the home console space as smartphones have been in the handheld console market. Nonetheless, beyond the game platform triopoly, the influence of tablets was not only evident in presentations from major publishers such as Activision and EA, but also in a pair of companies that may be less well-known to at least U.S. gamers. Social mobile platform Gree showed off six titles. There were also several companies showing off gaming controllers to try t bring back some of that tactile control to the tablet’s frictionless and often imprecise display.
Tags: E3, Gree, social gaming, tablets, WeMade, Wii U
March 22, 2010
One aspect of 3DTV that holds particular for me is the impact that it may have on user interface. For example, 3D could lead to a complete rethinking of the electronic programming guide.. I’ve seen one early demos of 3D information overlay from cable supplier NDS that show how 3D could affect on-screen information presentation, and have heard many tales of woe about the difficult debates that have occurred in the industry over the proper depth location for closed captioning when watching 3DTV.
Last week, though, I got to see at least one demonstration of a 2D user interface at the Panasonic public demonstration near Penn Station in New York. nVidia was showing off its 3D gaming system using an otherwise unmodified version of Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed racing game. The 3D effect wasn’t too different from playing a racing game without the glasses although the whole picture seemed to be inset within the TV, and the difference really became clear in “cockpit view” where your perspective is through the car’s windshield. The user interface elements floated above the action in a pretty basic but effective way. As games and other content become more optimized for 3D, I suspect we will see more experimentation with translucence and other 3D effects.
Tags: 3DTV, NDS, nVidia, user interface
December 6, 2008
The pictured Cidco iPhone, one of the last gasps of a company that had made its name in Caller ID boxes and part of a class of information appliances called “screenphones” in the mid-’90s, may have predated Apple’s sleeker 3G version by a decade. But among the technoddities on display at Gizmodo Gallery last night, I was far more interested in some even older vintage tech than he 103″ Panasonic plasma TV since I will be seeing my fill of freakishly large televisions next month.
Among a 19th Century vintage portable typewriter, the first Sony Walkman, and the Bell Labs’ videophone used at the 1964 World’s Fair, there were also two Frog Design prototypes of an Apple tablet Mac and an Apple screenphone. You could almost hear all the iPhones packed in the room whispering, “Mommy?”
There’s a gallery of the gallery after the break.
Tags: Apple screenphone, Apple tablet, gizmodo gallery, iPhone, vintage computers
October 24, 2007
Fall CTIA is the less device-centric of the two annual wireless shows. Some attribute that to it being bumped up close to CES, but I think it has more to do with the spring CTIA show coming on the heels of the even larger European 3GSM show, a handset announcement bonanza. So, there wasn’t that much really new on the device side of the show, but it did provide an opportunity to get hands-on with some recently announced products, particularly from Samsung and LG.
I liked Samsung’s Juke (differentiated form factor and inexpensive) and the BlackJack 2 is a strong contender to the Motorola Q9. I was less drawn to the somewhat chunky and industrially styled i760 side-slider, but a colleague has ordered one and is satisfied so far.
The LG Voyager really brings the ball forward from the company’s successful enV. It is by no means an iPhone-killer as it has been portrayed. In fact, it’s not even a smartphone at all. But it should be. It’s not so much that the Windows Mobile UI would dramatically improve the overall user experience, but getting a few decent communications (IM, Web) and media applications on the Voyager would make it a formidable Sidekick competitor.
LG is the only top-five cell phone company that doesn’t offer a smartphone. It would be interesting if they offered Symbian’s OS (they are a licensee) as it would be nice to have more options for that operating system in the U.S. market, particularly on the CDMA side.
As for the Sidekick, I had been more interested in the Slide than the LX (which I’ve dubbed the “Widekick”), but, having now seen them both, the LX is not appreciably thicker than the Slide. The Sidekick would definitely benefit from a touchscreen, if only to address its longstanding need to reveal the keyboard in order to dial a number.
Tags: Juke, LG, Samsung, Sidekick, smartphones, Voyager
September 28, 2007
I swung by DigitalLife this afternoon and checked out the two big hardware introductions at the show, the Gateway One and the Palm Centro and came away with more favorable impressions. The Gateway One looks a bit like the iMac might have if Apple had continued with the polycarbonate gloss but made it black. It’s more wedge-like than the iMac’s thin “where’s the computer?” look, but may just be the best-looking desktop PC in the market. The multifunction power brick, by the way, is massive but, hey, so is the Xbox 360′s and you can’t plug a tanning lamp into it.
The Palm Centro looks better in black than red and the keyboard, while small, wasn’t that bad even under my large fingers, although part of that may be my greater experience with inferior keyboards in the past few years. I still don’t think the sub-$100 crowd will see a lot of the remaining value left in Palm OS as the consider the Centro versus Sidekicks, EnVs and slim Windows Mobile smartphones with QWERTY keyboards, but EV-DO is a nice plus and the integrated instant messaging looked nice from a cursory glance.
Tags: Centro, DigitalLife, Gateway One, Palm
April 4, 2007
In case you were wondering why there was no posting last week, I took a working vacation around CTIA Wireless 2007 in Orlando. I really like spring CTIA as far as large trade shows go. It’s big enough to command a position as an industry focal point while not being so big that taking it in within the alotted days becomes physically impossible without an elite team of ninja bloggers or at least a Segway. Unfortunately, I have neither.
This year I moderated a panel at the Smartphone Summit on smartphones and media with panelists from Nokia, Microsoft, WiderThan, Sling Media and MediaFLO. The panel consensus seemed to be that, while both smartphones and wireless media are gaining consumer momentum, they’re not moving toward each other, at least not yet. Why?
- the relative newfound popularity of smartphones, particularly the QWERTY Windows Mobile variety, which are starting to move well under the $100 price tag
- the fractured state of smartphone operating systems, which make native development less profitable
- the focus on the mass market by carrier initiatives such as VCast and easy to use quick access features such as the “TV” button used by MediaFLO-enabled handsets.
Why develop media optimized for smartphones? For traditional broadcast media, there isn’t much financial incentive, but there’s surely an opportunity for one of the Web 2.0 companies out there to bring some aspects of community and interactivity to a wireless media experience
Will the iPhone goose this market? Well, depending on how you define “smartphone” — and my personal view of the term is liberal — it’s the first high-end device to focus on a consumer media experience, However, much like the WinMo phones, the experience is still based on sideloading, which carriers are at best tolerating and which fail to capture the true flexibility that wireless is supposed to bring us.
Incidentally, this is the 150th post that I referenced in the Out of the Box birthday post.
January 31, 2007
The venerable startupfest began anew yesterday. Some of the early highlights for me are Zink, although I question the potential for embedded printers, SplashCast, which seems like a Web 2.0 version of Orb, and Mobio, which competes with Action Engine. I’ll update this post if other companies of interest emerge.
January 30, 2007
What’s left to say about an operating system that’s been hyped about, griped about, embraced, embattled, and beta tested by what Microsoft claims is five million people? Apparently not a lot. At last night’s official launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007, even Michael Sievert, Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows Client Marketing, admitted that most of those in the audience had probably seen most of Vista’s highlight reel before.
Probably the most interesting part for me from a research perspective was more detail than I had heard on the “Windows Vista families” and the “Burn to CD” button that some mom had insisted appear in Vista’s photo gallery application. Ethnographic research is all the rage but you rarely hear much insight into it as it’s usually done on a custom basis. Having kids launch the Times Square signage was a cute touch.
It was quite a contrast from Apple’s iPhone unveiling in January. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there but all accounts described the crowd reaction as if they were watching the Beatles reunite — yes, with John and George back from the hereafter — and win the World Cup for their country. In contrast, despite the synchronized light show from nearly every large-screen display in Times Square, the Vista launch was very anticlimactic. As someone I’ve known a good while in the industry spun it, “Another year, another Windows.” He works in PR.
December 11, 2006
I just accepted an invitation to attend a session at CES about high-performance or, as the invitation puts it, “HD” audio. The invitation notes:
While MP3s offer convenience, the quality of the audio experience is greatly diminished. High-resolution audio — or HD Audio — heightens that experience and demonstrates that consumers need not sacrifice quality for convenience.
And so continues the home audio crowd’s self-defeating crusade against MP3. Instead of embracing this popular format that can produce very good audio at high bitrates and expanding its market, the high-end continues to cling to the compact disc and lament the failure of SACD and DVD-Audio.
Lossy audio compression is here for the foreseeable future; it’s part of the ATSC broadcast specification and it sounds fantastic. I’ve seen only one company that truly is combining “no compromise” digital audio with most of the flexibility of media-independence; Unfortunately, I doubt that more than five percent of consumers woud appreciate the quality advantage that uncompressed audio has over, say, WMA encoded at 256 KBit/sec.
Can you imagine if video vendors acted like this? “Oh, sure, MPEG-2 lets us put a whole movie on a DVD, but you don’t want the compromise of compressed video, do you?” To the contrary, DVD manufacturers are embracing new codecs like DiVX and Windows Media, while the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD camps are moving to even more efficient encoding schemes such as VC-1 and MPEG-4.
This strikes at the heart of a theme that I have turned to again and again in the past year – the need for consumer technology providers to strike a better balance between quality improvements that have traditionally driven industry growth and flexibility. Show me the benefit of these marginal (in terms of customer perception) quality improvements achieved with the same level of convenience that especially unprotected MP3 offers.
September 26, 2006
The DEMO Fall conference lineup looks like one of the strongest I have seen in a long time for consumer technology, especially for hardware. Dash Navigation is bringing innovation to the portable navigation device segment while RingCube’s Mojopac is taking the “virtual PC on a flash drive” (they actually favor hard drives) segment beyond what we’ve seen from U3, Ceedo and Migo. I can’t wait to see the Headplay display. Mvox brings the Bluetooth headset even more independence. Presto is looking to do for photo printing what Ceiva has tried for photo display, although the company really needs a smaller 4″ X 6″ printer offering. Even nComputing has a long-term consumer play.
JaJah, Pinger and GrandCentral are debuting some interesting voice applications (ah, so that’s what you can use a cell phone for?), the latter has the potential to be the first mass-market “universal messaging” service. And Scrapblog and Cozi are targeting the memory and appointment keepers.