Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Top Gadget News: Apple Introduces iPad Tablet Device

Today can be considered as IPAD day in terms of the top searched on Google. More than 20 searches from 100 Top Google Trends are related to this revolutionary gadget from Apple. It is quite understandable, since today is The Date, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, calling the tablet a "magical and revolutionary" addition to the company's existing lines of Macs, iPods and the iPhone.

Priced starting at $499 but with the top-end configuration listed at $829, the iPad will be available within 60 days. The tablet sports a 9.7-in. LCD display, putting to rest rumors of a smaller-sized display that would supposedly use the more advanced, power-saving OLED technology.

"This is a true personal computer with the first radically different operating system since the original Mac in 1984," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "This is absolutely the right answer by Apple to netbooks. If you want the Apple experience, but don't want to pay $1,000 for a MacBook, here it is."

Jobs also announced what he called a "breakthrough deal" with AT&T to provide 3G connectivity for the iPad using two pre-paid plans: a $14.99 plan that allows up to 250GB of data monthly, and a $29.99 unlimited data plan. iPad users do not have to sign a contract with AT&T, Jobs added, and can cancel at any time without penalty.

iPad models with 3G capability will be priced $130 more than their WiFi-only cousins: The 16GB iPad without 3G costs $499, for example, while the 16GB model with 3G runs $629.

Ship dates will also vary depending on whether consumers want a WiFi-only or 3G-capable iPad. The former will go on sale in 60 days, said Jobs, or near the end of March, while the latter will follow 30 days after that, in late April.

After claiming that Apple is the world's largest mobile devices company -- by adding iPod, iPhone and Mac notebook revenues -- Jobs rhetorically asked the question that many analysts have tried to answer.

"Is there room for a third category of device in the middle?" Jobs asked. "Something that's between a laptop and smartphone?" If there was, Jobs continued, it needed to be more than either. "This device needs to be better than a laptop or a smartphone ... or it has no reason for being."

Gottheil said he thought Apple nailed it. "We're getting what I was hoping, something that's not a Mac, not a Windows PC, something that isn't complicated to use. I don't have to know about folders, I just want to use it."

Key, said Gottheil, was Apple's decision to use a variation of the iPhone OS for the iPad. "Some 40 million people have figured out how to use [that OS] without much handholding," he noted. "I want this to be simple, and with the iPhone OS, it is. That's the killer feature."

During the 90-minute unveiling, Jobs and other Apple executives demonstrated the iPad's capabilities to prove their point that the tablet is better than either a laptop or a phone, at least at a host of applications, ranging from Web browsing and games to movie watching and e-book .

"But this isn't the Kindle killer than some were expecting," said Gottheil. "It's portable and a useful size, but I think it's too heavy and too thick to be an e-book reader killer."
In many ways, the iPad resembles an overgrown iPhone -- the "iPod Touch on steroids" that some analysts, including Gottheil, had predicted last year -- down to the touch-enabled display and the appearance of only one button, the Home button, on the device.
The iPad weighs approximately 1.5 pounds, is about half an inch thick, and is based on a 1GHz Apple-designed processor, which Jobs dubbed the Apple A4. "It's powered by our own silicon," said Jobs, "[and] it screams." Although Jobs did not specifically say so, the chip was likely created by P.A. Semi , the Santa Clara, Calif. boutique microprocessor design company Apple acquired in 2008.

Multiple models of the iPad will be available, with prices dependent on the amount of flash memory. Apple will sell the tablet in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models for $499, $599 and $699, respectively with WiFi only, but for $629, $729 and $829 with both WiFi and 3G.

Jobs claimed that the iPad's battery would last approximately 10 hours while playing video, and remain in standby mode for up to a month without recharging. "I can take a flight form San Francisco to Tokyo and watch video the whole way," he said.

As many had predicted, including a metric firm that detected dozens of unidentified devices running at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. campus since last October, the iPad runs a variation of the iPhone OS. Apple will release a modified iPhone SDK (software developer kit) later today that has been enhanced to support iPad development, said Scott Forstall, the senior vice president of iPhone software.

Most existing iPhone applications can run as is on the new iPad, Forstall added, in either an expanded mode or in a small, iPhone-sized frame.

The iPad's e-book capabilities, which Jobs compared with Amazon's Kindle, come courtesy of a built-in app named iBook. Tablet users can download electronic books -- they're in the ePub format -- from an iTunes-like bookstore that's populated with titles by major publishers including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Penguin. To flip a page, readers simply tap anywhere on the right (to go forward a page) or on the left (to go back) side of the iPad screen.

ePub is an open standard maintained by the International Digital Publishing Forum .
Apple has also created an iPad-specific version of its iWork productivity suite, which includes a word processor, presentation maker and spreadsheet. Each of the three applications -- Pages, Keynote and Numbers -- will cost $9.99 to download from the iPad's App Store, said Philip Schiller, Apple's head of marketing. For text and data entry in iWork's applications, the iPad uses what Jobs and Schiller called an "almost life-sized" on-screen keyboard.

Apple will also sell iPad accessories, including a Kindle-style cover, a docking/recharging station and a keyboard dock that offers a full-sized Apple-style keyboard.

"The price and the keyboard, that's what puts the iPad over the top," Gottheil argued. "For some, this can be a full-fledged MacBook substitute. There will be some chewing away of the iPod Touch below and the MacBook above, but the net is that this greatly expands Apple's market.

"This has the potential of bringing in even more people into the Applesphere," Gottheil concluded.

Size and weigh
-        Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
-        Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
-        Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
-        Weight: 1.5 pounds (.68 kg) Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

-        9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
-        1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
-        Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
-        Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

-        16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

-        1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

Battery and Power
-        Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
-        Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
-        Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input and Output
-        Dock connector
-        3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
-        Built-in speakers
-        Microphone
-        SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

-        Accelerometer
-        Ambient light sensor

Wireless and Cellular
Wi-Fi model
-        Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
-        Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
-        Wi-Fi + 3G model
-        UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
-        GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
-        Data only2
-        Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
-        Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

-        Wi-Fi
-        Digital compass
-        Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
-        Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

Audio Playback
-        Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
-        Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
-        User-configurable maximum volume limit

TV and Video
-        Support for 1024 x 768 with Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component A/V Cable, 576i and 480i with Apple Composite Cable
-        H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

Mail attachment support
-        Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)

-        Language support for English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian
-        Keyboard support for English (US) English (UK), French (France, Canada), German, Japanese (QWERTY), Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese (Handwriting and Pinyin), Russian
-        Dictionary support for English (US), English (UK), French, French (Canadian), French (Swiss), German, Japanese, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin), Russian

-        Support for playback of closed-captioned content
-        VoiceOver screen reader
-        Full-screen zoom magnification
-        White on black
-        Mono audio

So, great new for the gadgets lovers! Price is great, that can be already seen. But what about the features of the IPAD you can buy for this price? Engadget post offers the initial evaluation in comparison with iPod.

The screen is gorgeous, tilting is responsive, and the thing is super thin. Here are some initial thoughts on the iPad:
  • It's not light. It feels pretty weighty in your hand.
  • The screen is stunning, and it's 1024 x 768. Feels just like a huge iPhone in your hands.
  • The speed of the CPU is something to be marveled at. It is blazingly fast from what we can tell. Webpages loaded up super fast, and scrolling was without a hiccup. Moving into and out of apps was a breeze. Everything flew.
  • There's no multitasking at all. It's a real disappointment. All this power and very little you can do with it at once. No multitasking means no streaming Pandora when you're working in Pages... you can figure it out. It's a real setback for this device.
  • The ebook implementation is about as close as you can get to reading without a stack of bound paper in your hand. The visual stuff really helps flesh out the experience. It may be just for show, but it counts here.
  • No camera. None, nada. Zip. No video conferencing here folks. Hell, it doesn't have an SMS app!
  • It's running iPhone OS 3.2.
  • The keyboard is good, not great. Not quite as responsive as it looked in the demos.
  • No Flash confirmed. So Hulu is out for you, folks!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Detroit Auto Show 2010 Top Models

Detroit Auto Show 2010 opened on January 11, and the search for the related links made today to the top 100 Google search strings.

The 2010 North American International Auto Show that is also known as Detroit Auto Show opened in Detroit on Monday (January 11). Around 700 models of vehicles will be on display at the Detroit Motor Show 2010. General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and others auto giant are all set to unveil new 2010 models and concept cars during the Detroit Car Show 2010.

In Detroit Car Show 2010, a number of electric powered vehicles are set to debut for the consumers. Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Volvo C30, Fiat 500, BMW 1-Series, etc will be showcased in Detroit Auto Show 2010. It is expecting that at least 30 new vehicles are scheduled to be revealed at the Detroit Motor Show 2010. Chrysler exhibits with its new owner, Italian car maker Fiat, which will highlight smaller models like the Fiat 500. Ford will showcase its popular European model Fiesta. Lamborghini and Ferrari along with cars from United Kingdom manufacturers like Rolls Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin will also show their cars. This year Saab, Hummer, Infiniti, Suzuki and Porsche will not take part in Detroit Car Show 2010.

Detroit Show opened on Tuesday (January 12) for media and will open for general public on Friday (January 15). 14 days long Detroit Auto Show will run till January 24. It is expected that United States President Barak Obama with others will also visit at Detroit Auto Show 2010 which is considered as world’s one of the biggest auto show.

Featured Cars

Audi E-Tron

Audi's e-tron electric supercar concept has already been through two iterations--or, rather, one. With two different-colored R8-styled show cars, Audi hit the Frankfurt and Los Angeles Auto Shows hard. Now they've brought a third color and a new more cab-rearward layout to the car.

With the mid-engine proportions gone--this is an electric car, after all, and with the motors mounted inboard of two wheels, the powertrain is highly reconfigurable--the e-tron looks more like a classic front-engined sports coupe. It is also a very compact design, with a wheelbase of just 95.67 inches--that's 8.66 inches shorter than the R8.

Unlike the previous e-tron concepts, the latest uses two electric motors instead of four, driving the rear axle. By only driving the rear wheels, the new e-tron concept is able to maintain Audi's desired weight distribution of 40:60 front:rear despite looking like a front-engine (and therefore front-heavy, or at least 50:50) car. The battery unit sits just in front of the rear wheels, and checks in at a hefty 879 pounds.

Styling, aside from the different proportions, follows essentially in lock step with previous e-tron concepts, including the trapezoidal grille, LED headlights and taillights, and generally high-tech, sweeping curves terminated in crisp edges.

To help keep weight down and therefore maximize range of the battery pack, the body's structure is made with Audi's Space Frame (ASF) technology, which combines aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced composites. The high-tech materials allow the lightweight structure to maintain the rigidity necessary without the bulk of steel. Total curb weight of the new e-tron: 2,976 pounds.

Performance is good, too, at 5.9 seconds 0-62 mph and 37-75 mph in just 5.1 seconds, meaning passing should be a breeze as well. This is slightly slower than the Frankfurt show car's 4.8-second 0-60 mph time and 4.1-second 37-75 mph run, perhaps hinting that Audi has begun tuning the power delivery more for range than outright performance. Top speed is electronically limited to 124 mph and range is a moderate 155 miles.

Audi promises that the car has precise and nimble handling, thanks in part to its advanced chassis and weight layout, but also to the electromechanical assisted direct rack-and-pinion steering system, which provides more feedback than alternatives. Nineteen-inch wheels with 35 spokes and a unique blue color also grace the show car.
Though it's not yet known which version of the e-tron concept will make production, the e-tron has already been confirmed for 2012.

Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid is actually the first Mercedes hybrid to go on sale and is also the first mass production automobile to use a lithium-ion battery.

The internal combustion engine and the hybrid module develop a combined output of 295 horsepower, and a combined maximum torque of 284 pound-feet. The electric motor contributes 20 hp and 118 lb-ft to the powertrain. Fuel economy for the S400 is rated at 19 city, and 26 highway -- yielding a combined fuel economy gain of 38 percent over the S600.

The S400 Hybrid is the first series production hybrid car to be equipped with a lithium-ion battery. During braking the electric motor acts as a generator and is able to recover kinetic energy. The lithium battery is particularly suited to this task. The battery's high energy density means it is small enough to fit in the engine compartment. As such, the trunk capacity and interior dimensions remain unchanged. The car's 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission is specially configured for hybrid operation.

"The S400 Hybrid is a major milestone on our road towards emission-free mobility," said CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche. "In this way the S-Class and the Mercedes-Benz brand are doing important pioneering work for the electrification of the automobile."

Aside from the addition of the hybrid S-class model, another one of the most noticeable changes across the lineup is the addition of daytime LED running lights fitted to the outer edges of the bi-xenon lamp units. The rear end is also accented with a total of 52 distinctively arranged LEDs in the two taillights. Gone are the body-colored strips through the taillamps.

Camera and radar-based driver assistance systems include Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and the Pre-Safe brake system linked to the proximity regulating radar, which intervenes autonomously before an impending rear-end collision. Other highlights include the Attention Assist driver drowsiness monitor and Active Body Control with automatic crosswind stabilization.

Engineers also managed to improve the night-vision system with the introduction of Night View Assist PLUS, which is equipped a special pedestrian detection function. The Pre-Safe braking system has also been improved to reduce injuries in unavoidable crashes. Mercedes says the car can apply maximum braking pressure automatically around 0.6 seconds before what is recognized as an unavoidable accident. The system therefore acts as something like an "electronic crumple zone," Mercedes contends.

Toyota FT-CH

This sporty little car is the Toyota FT-CH Concept vehicle, a compact hybrid capturing the spirit of a car thriving in an urban environment. Toyota promises that the FT-CH concept, if manufactured, would be cheaper than the current midsize Toyota Prius -- a non-plug-in hybrid that starts at $22,000.

That's a far cry from the more than $30,000 that GM's Chevrolet Volt could end up costing consumers, even after they cash in a $7,500 government rebate. Of course, the Volt is a full plug-in.

The lower price point will capture younger, less-affluent buyers who don't need a larger vehicle, says Jim Lentz, Toyota's U.S. president. And the 8-bit styling could attract those younger buyers, who have grown up in a world filled with video games and email.
"It's meant to be fun, innovative, colorful and stylish," he says. The automaker also confirmed that they'll make a family of vehicles sharing the Prius name, and the FT-CH could be one of the first cars in the bunch.

The FT-CH looks like a squeezed version of the Prius, with a stylized hood and hatchback.

Lentz said the vehicle would get better fuel economy than the Prius, which averages 50 miles per gallon, but he declined to be more specific. It would be a traditional hybrid, not an electric vehicle, meaning a battery would assist the gasoline engine to get better fuel economy.

The FT-CH, which is 22 inches shorter than the Prius but about the same width, “thrives in the inner-city environment,” Lentz said. It’s targeted at a “younger, less affluent demographic" that wants a fuel-efficient car designed especially for city driving but capable of freeway speeds.

Toyota is promoting the FT-CH as “inspired by the 8-bit generation,” a reference to 1980’s videogame technology. “Today 8-bit is considered a specific retro style” that Toyota’s European designers tried to integrate into the FT-CH, Lentz said.

Sources and Additional Information: