February 2012

Panasonic shows 5-inch IP57-rated smartphone
After prolonged silence from Panasonic in the smartphone space, the company showed the Panasonic Eluga Power at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. There's plenty of power with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, Android 4.0, as well as the obligatory 8mp camera, 1080p video, secondary front camera, speedy wireless and microSD card slot. What's interesting is the giant, for a phone, 5-inch 1280 x 720 pixel screen, larger than many automotive GPS units, and as large as "tweener" devices between phones and tablets were just a year ago. Time for bigger pockets. The other interesting thing is that the Eluga Power is IP57 rated, which the press release considers dust and waterproof (IP67 would be much better, as IP57 still permits limited dust ingress, which could not possibly make it waterproof). [See Panasonic press release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 by chb

Huawei 10-inch quad-core 1920 x 1200 tablet
Also interesting in Barcelona: the very elegant Android 4.0 based Huawei MediaPad 10 that the company calls the world's first 10-inch quad-core tablet. The speedy proprietary Huawei K3 1.5GHz chip is complemented by 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution (current iPad 2 1024 x 768), 4G support, dual cameras (8mp and 1.3mp) and svelte design (0.35 inches thick, 1.3 lbs.). Huawei promises global availability in Q2, 2012. [See Huawei press release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 by chb

Review: Logitech iPad 2 Keyboard Case and Fold-Up Keyboard

Keyboards of tablets are always a compromise if they are built for the tablet (vs. using a full external Bluetooth or USB keyboard). Dan Rasmus reviewed two Logitech keyboards, and they are no different, but each offers a unique reason for being. The Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 is a precision-machined aluminum keyboard that also doubles as a travel case, and it is amazingly thin. The Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2 offers a much wider typing surface, but one that isn't as well integrated as the Keyboard Case and key travel is a bit shallow. Neither is ideal as a day-to-day case, but they could be a good addition to your travel bag. [See Dan Rasmus' reviews of the Logitech iPAd 2 Keyboard Case and Fold-Up Keyboard]
-- Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by chb

Review: Ful Brooklyn and Joint Venture bags
The folks at Ful pride themselves at making quality bags with a certain fashion edge, and Dan Rasmus has been giving two of them a workout. The "Brooklyn" backpack (left) sports good airflow over the back, a cross-chest clip to ensure that the backpack doesn't slip as backpacks occasionally do, and a hidden water bottle net that folds unsnaggingly away on the side. The more traditional and more egalitarian "Joint Venture" (right) is aptly named with its notebook and tablet personality. This messenger bag is more traditional and more egalitarian than the Brooklyn backpack. The bag is smart looking with clean lines for the nearly-purely-digital. [See Dan Rasmus' reviews of the Ful Brooklyn and Joint Venture] -- Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by chb

NVIDIA announces first Tegra 3-based "super phones"
NVIDIA announced at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress the world's first NVIDIA Tegra 3 "super phones," including the HTC One X, LG Optimus 4X HD, ZTE Era, Fujitsu's Ultra High Spec Smartphone and the K-Touch Treasure V8. The new version of Tegra 3 for super phones runs at speeds up to 1.5 GHz. At the heart of Tegra 3 is its 4-PLUS-1 quad-core CPU architecture that delivers increased performance and battery life, plus a 12-core GPU, to deliver up to 5x the performance of the dual-core Tegra 2. [See Tegra 3 processor page] -- Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by chb

Slashgear demo of Neonode's 3D touch technology
SlashGear ran interesting coverage of the Neonode 3D touch technology, including a video that demonstrates some of the potential and anticipated 3D uses. [See Slashgear's Neonode 3D touch headed to tablets and phones: Hands-on] -- Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by chb

Neonode announces "swipe" patent it received in January
Neonode, which invented the unique optical sForce touch screen technology, just now announced that a user interface patent filed back in December of 2002, almost ten years ago, finally received approval from the US Patent Office on January 10, 2012. The patent covers, among other user interface issues, activating and escaping from things via swiping. One interesting note: Likely not anticipating that phones would grow ever larger instead of smaller, in the the patent Neonode refers to touch-sensitive areas just 2-3 inches diagonally. [See Neonode's patent 8,095,879] -- Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 by chb

TI shows off OMAP 5 platform in Barcelona
Texas Instruments is displaying its new OMAP 5 platform at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona. For a detailed overview of the multi-core OMAP 5 platform, check TI's OMAP 5 page. -- Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 by chb

Huawei introduces quad-core 4.5-inch Android 4.0 smartphone
At the Mobile World Congress 2012, Huawei introduced what they call the world's fastest quad-core smartphone. The Ascend D quad phone likely represents the way of things to come with its own-brand 1.2/1.5GHz K3V2 quad-core processor, Android 4.0, full 1080p video capture, and a very large 720p (likely 1366 x 768 or 1280 x 720 pixel) 4.5-inch display. Expected to be available in the US end of April. [See press release] -- Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 by chb

Harris introduces rugged 7-inch Android-based tablet for mission-critical defense and public safety deployments
Harris Corporation introduced the Harris RF-3590 Ruggedized Tablet, an Android-based 2-pound tablet with a 7-inch 1024 x 600 pixel sunlight-readable multi-touch display. According to Harris, the tablet was designed to provide a "smartphone-like experience to military personnel and first responders who require secure real-time information at their fingertips to execute their missions." Designed with numerous sensors, extensive wired and wireless communications technologies (including BT 4.0, GPS and 4G LTE), the RF-3590 certainly looks like a very interesting attempt to meet mission-critical information needs out there in the field. [See description and specs of the Harris RF-3590 rugged tablet] -- Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 by chb

Motorola Solutions launches a remarkable Mission Critical Handheld for first responders
Motorola Solutions introduced the LEX 700 Mission Critical Handheld that's hardly bigger than a consumer smartphone but is an entirely different class of device that connects to public safety LTE broadband, is tough as nails, and was designed from the ground up to give public safety personnel a tool for the job. The dual core OMAP 4470-powered device has a 4-inch capacitive display with 800 x 480 resolution, extensive voice and data connectivity, currently runs Windows Embedded Handheld, but will likely be upgradeable to Android Open Source 4.0. [See description and specs of the Motorola LEX 700] -- Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 by chb

e-con Systems licenses Windows CE camera driver to MilDef CReTE
e-con Systems Inc., which specializes in developing advanced customized camera solutions and related services, has licensed its Windows CE camera driver source code to MilDef CReTE of Taiwan, a manufacturer of rugged handheld computing devices (and also the supplier of AMREL Rocky rugged computers) that contain e-conís camera modules and drivers with Omni Vision image sensors. e-con Systems says it's been working with Omni Vision on specialty sensors (High Dynamic Range, 720p/1080p HD, etc.) for applications in security and surveillance and low-light conditions. [See e-con camera modules and camera boards] -- Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 by chb

Socket Mobile introduces low-cost barcode scanner for Apple devices
Socket Mobile announced the upcoming availability of the Socket Bluetooth Cordless Hand Scanner (CHS) 7Ci, a low-cost barcode scanner for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The CHS 7Ci expands upon Socket Mobile's CHS Series 7 line of barcode scanners by providing an affordable option for reading 1D barcodes into Apple devices that is also backed by an optional software development kit. The CHS 7Ci is expected to be available in Q2 2012 following certification by Apple at an MSRP of US$260. [See Socket Mobile scanners] -- Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by chb

Synaptics to show its latest capacitive touch technologies in Barcelone
Synaptics announced it will show its latest capacitive touch solutions at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. This include these ClearPad Series 2, ClearPad Series 3 sensor-on-lens, in-cell and on-cell solutions, as well as the ClearPad Series 4 integrated Touch and Display Driver IC solution. In addition, the Design Studio 4 ClearPad development tool will be on display along with the ClearPad 7300, the industry's first high-performance, single-ASIC solution for the tablet market. -- Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012 by chb

Global tablet shipments reach 15 million Q1 2012
According to Digitimes, vendors will ship 15 million tablets in Q1 of 2012, dropping 30.6% from Q4 2011, but rising 77.6% from Q1 2011. Shipments will consist of 11 million iPads as well as 4 million non-iPad tablets which will decrease by 50.8% on quarter and include 1.5 million Kindle Fires and 300,000 Nook tablets. Digitimes also pointed out that Taiwan-based ODMs will ship 13.51 million tablets for a global share of 90.25% in Q1 of 2012. -- Posted Monday, February 20, 2012 by chb

MediaTek delivers MT6575 Android 4.0 smartphone platform
Taiwanese IC design firm MediaTek announced the availability of the MT6575, its 3rd generation platform for mid and entry‐level Android smartphones. The MT6575, using 40nm CMOS technology, includes a 1GHz ARM CortexTM‐A9 processer, a 3G/HSPA modem and runs "Ice‐Cream Sandwich" Android 4.0. It supports 720p HD video playback and recording with an 8MP camera and qHD (960x540) high‐resolution displays. [See press release] -- Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 by chb

Xplore turns profitable
When the folks at Xplore Technologies excitedly discussed their plans of creating the ultimate rugged tablet computer with us back in 1996, good thing they didn't know they'd have to wait a full 15 years for their first profitable quarter. But it's finally happened: Xplore announced record revenues of US$8.9 million for Q4 of 2011 (up from US$4.3 million for Q4 of 2010) based on the momentum of their iX104 C5 family of rugged tablets (see our full review), and income of US$284,000. [See press release] -- Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 by chb

New rugged Trimble Juno GIS handhelds
GPS/GIS specialist Trimble introduced a new generation of its Juno line of handhelds that combine Windows Mobile computing power with exceptional GPS/GIS performance in a rugged 11 ounce package. The new Juno 3B and 3D (the latter with 3.75 WWAN) run Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 on an 800MHz Samsung processor, have 3.5-inch QVGA touch screens, and GPS receivers specifically designed to maximize position yields in challenging GPS environments, such as under forest canopies and near buildings in urban areas. [See description and specs of the Trimble Juno 3B and 3D] -- Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 by chb

New: Intermec CV41 rugged Windows CE-based forklift vehicle-mount computer
Intermec introduced the CV41 vehicle-mount computer designed primarily for fork lifts and similar warehouse operations vehicles. The handy Intel Atom-powered 3-pound device runs Windows CE, has an 8-inch WVGA touch screen with 900-nit option, a very complete 64-key keyboard, comprehensive wired and wireless connectivity, IP66 sealing, and it's also Vocollect voice-ready. [See description and specs of the Intermec CV41] -- Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012 by chb

Are keyboards dead?
With all the emphasis on tablets, are keyboards dead? The folks at rugged computer maker AMREL just posted a very interesting essay entitled "The Death of Keyboards & the Japanese Experience" -- Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012 by chb

Psion joins Sprint's Open Device Initiative
Psion announced it has joined Sprint's Open Device Initiative to provide its customers with access to the strength of Sprint's 3G network in the U.S. This agreement helps to meet the need for rugged mobile devices and Psion is already shipping Sprint-certified versions of its EP10 rugged handheld to customers. Sprint says its Open Device Initiative is the product of more than a decade of experience certifying non-Sprint-branded devices on its networks. The Open Device Initiative accelerates the process of identifying, testing and deploying devices. -- Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by chb