Tag Archives: MSI
I say this because when I was at Taiwan’s Computex 2010 conference less than a month ago there were some formidable competitors in terms of hardware, but the leading manufactures for these devices didn’t really offer a whole lot in terms of software.
Sure, the Acer tablet that allows one to flip the netbook-style form factor over to a table was impressive, but the touch functionality of Windows 7 for it was quite lackluster: I asked a product rep to reboot the device because there seemed to be a problem with the touch software, only to have the same problems crop up again once it started up.
Asus offered up a beautiful tablet design that had potential to compete with Apple, but they kept a product manager closely hovering over the device running a new version of Windows CE that looked surprisingly Android-like, but because of the people and Asus employees holding a close grip on the tablet, no one was really able to test the paces of Microsoft’s UI.
MSI had a winged version of a tablet running Android that seemed surprisingly comfortable in my hands, but we all know that Google’s smartphone operating system isn’t really meant for tablets – it just seemed like a supersized stock version of the OS. An MSI product manager also told me that the MSI Wind tablet was just a concept for now.
This is problematic. The reason why I say this is because since Apple has taken the world by storm plugging an already existing operating system with the iOS to a tablet form factor, that have essentially beaten the entire computer manufacturing market with the iPad. There is no one else that has an operating system that is fully compatible with touch on a tablet.
That’s not to say Android is far behind Apple’s touch-based operating system, but it is clear that unlike the iOS, there was no plan for tablets in its future. We’ve seen early on Google’s Chrome OS tablet concept, and we can only hope that Chrome OS will offer a stylishly-designed slate from the likes of HP, Dell or Acer in the coming months, hopefully something that is just as functional, open source for app developers and creatively designed mobile gadget that can compete with the iPad.
I hold out hope on this, because only one successful tablet in the market does not bode well for innovation. What do you think? Which one of these PC manufacturers has the best chance of offering a tablet running Chrome OS that can compete with Apple?
A newer build of Chromium has been released (you can get a packaged version here), and while I plan on looking over it soon someone has posted a video showing some of the updates. From this clip with the new build on a MSI netbook it looks like the login screen now features the ability to have several profiles that load up, and the options screen appears to be more lengthy than before:
I could go through the Chromium site to look at the changes, but there has been so many revisions I’ll hold off until I take a look myself.
It hasn’t been surprising that there aren’t too many Chrome OS products on display at Germany’s CeBIT conference, which is the largest computer manufacturer meet in the world. While I had heard rumors of Chrome OS ARM devices popping up there, nothing of interest has shown up yet. The best bet is that the largely Taiwanese manufactures of netbooks such as Acer, Asus and MSI are planning to reveal some interesting things on their home turf at Taipei’s Computex, set for the first week of June.
So while we sit through this lull before the exciting developments come to fruition, there are some really cheap gadgets that are coming out of CeBIT. And both of these prototypes could possibly be loaded with Chrome OS. It’s hard to tell because the Chromium projects site doesn’t offer me too much information on minimum requirements.
The first is a tablet, set at a price point of $100. It’s the 7″ Hivision Speedpad and it comes with a ARM 11 chip by Samsung, 2GB of storage and 256 MB of RAM. Did I mention it’s loaded with Android? Based on these specs, it may be difficult to run Chrome OS on this machine, but with ever falling component prices it may not be a far flung reality:
And then there’s the $85 netbook, or perhaps best described as “mini-netbook”. Made be Coby, its dubbed the NBPC722. It has a Marvell ARM, has a 7″ display and is running Windows CE. I couldn’t get any info as of yet on storage or memory, but I’m betting because it’s running Windows CE, these specs are pretty dimunitive:
Conclusion? Expect to see more devices like this coming in the next few months. While these two are running operating systems befit for a mobile phone or the distant past, I see them simply as placeholders for a time that will soon come where we see a browser-based OS being the standard for these devices. This is because that is the core function these products will provide for users.
What would you do with one of these?
There has been a lot of speculation that there will be a Chrome OS netbook that will be available from Acer in the middle of this year, which would only be about four months away. I’m not sure where this kind of information is coming from, but I think that this was something that was leaked by an insider to keep Acer’s name in the news about Chrome OS. Ther reality is that yes, we will probably see something from Acer in mid-2010, but it won’t be something that we as consumers will be able to buy yet.
That’s because one of the biggest computer shows, Computex, will be convientley showing off the wares of many manufacturers in early June. Doesn’t that sound like mid-2010 to you? Plus, Computex is held in Taipei, Tawian. That means that major companies such as Asus, MSI and of Acer will be there, and they will probably be showing finished products that run on Chromium builds.
Also, in late May, Google will hold its developer conference, dubbed Google I/O. A look at the sessions that will be held has some Chrome OS topics scheduled. There may be some news that comes out of the conference, most likely of which will be an announcement of a uniform programming language for use across Google’s platforms to help streamline development when the operating system is actually released. This will most likely be of Google’s own experimental language, called Go.
Look, anyone that has taken a look at the latest builds of Chromium by running Hexxeh’s Flow would know that while the OS is progressing, there is still some development that still needs to be completed before Google is going to give the green light for manufacturers to sell devices with this platform. While I’m sure they want to get something out that competes with Apple’s iPad soon, rushing the development cycle for this is not going to create a lasting impression on users if the product is not ready.
So if you’re in such a hurry, Acer, why don’t you advertise the fact that you have the Windows 7/Android AOD250 netbook on the market? Sure, it’s not a tablet. But it’s probably a more polished product that what Chrome OS can offer consumers over the next six months:
So expect to see some interesting hardware developments by June, but don’t expect to see something that you can actually purchase until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
There is no speculation at this point that Apple’s tablet has been way overhyped – but it’s been some great free marketing. Plus, the iPad has a leg up on its rivals in that it does not have any solid competition right now in this segment. Many are saying that at $499 ($130 if you want wireless 3G) for the entry level 16GB iPad that this tablet is a good price. But the reality is that it’s a good price because there are not many tablet products out there as well as the fact that it’s a pretty cheap Apple product.
The only other tablet products that are out now are made by PC manufacturers such as HP and Lenovo, but these devices usually come with Windows 7, have swivel keyboards and cost over $1,500. Those products are tagerted toward businesses, and that’s a totally different market altogether than what the iPad is currently focusing on.
What you’re getting is essentially a larger iPhone – without the phone. There’s no camera, you cannot multitask and typing anything other than short texts are going to be difficult unless Apple has some really groundbreaking technology in this product. And did I mention that the operating system for the iPad is closed source?
Apple still doesn’t offer a product in the netbook genre. Instead, they are releasing a tablet. This may be a good idea for them – but I have a feeling once the competition heats up that only those who are Apple diehards are going to want an iPad. In fact, at a recent presentation at Google’ London headquarters, Senior Product Manager of Search Anders Sandholm basically had to go the “no comment” route when asked about whether Chrome OS will have a multitouch tablet product.
Final thought? Apple is going to have a cash cow on their hands – until Google gets a product from a manufacturer like HTC or maybe even an MSI product running Android. Also Motorola has announced plans to bring out a product that is cheaper and has more capabilities. And there’s no doubt that many other companies are going to announce their plans as well.
Don’t believe that Apple is just using this tablet to pad the bottom line from slower iPod sales? Look at this bill of materials report on the iPad by Computerworld. Interpretation? Apple has room to drop this price when competitors arrive, but they will try to keep their healthy margins as long as they can.