Tag Archives: Apple

Google Home

Google home entertainment: What can we expect?

It’s been a long time coming, in hindsight.  For years Google have said that the next big thing for Google would be, whatever the next big thing in search is, because that what Google do and that is by and large, their main source of revenue.

All the while, Apple steadily became the most valuable company in the world, with more cash than the US Government.  Don’t get me wrong, Google do well, but it must sting a little when one of your main rivals’ profits is bigger than your revenue.

Google had already soured the relationship with Apple by turning Android into the iOS competitor that it is now. What sticks in the throat of the Cupertino crew the most is the feeling that one of their own, Andy Rubin, defected to Google and took with him ideas that became the blueprint to what Android is now.

Now, again with more than an admiring glance at what Apple have, Google intend to get knee deep in hardware and home entertainment.  The Motorola deal has pretty much been given the go ahead, and so now they have a whole bunch of patents along with a team of hardware specialists.

Many in the techsphere have already doomed Google to failure in this venture but I’m not so sure this will be consigned to the scrap heap along with Google Wave and Google Buzz.  I say, let’s take a closer look at what Google have going for them.

YouTube

Google have made large strides to improve YouTube, recently giving it a complete redesign to help promote the various types of video categories as well as highlight that YouTube is now a destination for Film, Shows, Live videos, Education and News.  With all that covered, you may wonder why you need a TV licence at all.  Indeed, Google will be hoping that’s exactly what you are thinking, as they have already stated that they want to increase the time spent on YouTube and have made the number one online video service more visible through Google+ and more accessible through the updated Google TV app and mobile app.  With 4 billion video views per day already in the bag, how long before you’re sat round the big screen with your family, flicking through YouTube channels?

Google Music

Google Music has got off to a bit of a stuttering start, this is very keenly felt over here in the UK as we have yet to receive it.  Nonetheless, in the US where it is up and running, it’s a formidable service, were it not for its late start it may have proven to be a rival for iTunes. Having the ability to hold and stream 20,000 tracks in your library or download tracks directly to your phone is a great feature.  There’s little needed to add this to a feature of a home stereo or some sort of music hub.  We’ve seen Apple do something similar and the Sonos system works very well.  This is a competitive space and will like become an even more fierce battle ground, but no doubt Google have planned this for a long time and recent revelations show that their employees are testing equipment in their own homes, dog-fooding as it is called. I’m optimistic, competition in this industry is great for the consumer, guys like you and me. And Google are pretty good and making their wares compatible most everything else, so if everything runs smoothly, you won’t have to throw out your existing goods, unless you really want to.

Google

The biggest thing Google have going for them is, who they already are, by that I mean that they are one of few brands that have become a verb. When you search online, you Google, that means you’re always going to come into contact with Google, which gives them an opportunity to sell their services to you. And Google have shown that they have no hesitancy leveraging their existing properties to promote their new products.  And while Google+ has yet to take off in a massive way, there is deep integration into everything that Google produces at the moment, with more tie-ins growing the partners may soon be on par with what Facebook have in their own network. Google already have a huge portfolio of non Home Entertainment products, but that won’t stop them from making sure that their products work together, making them distinct for a lot of what’s already out there in terms of audio and visual.  We seen the iOS update to the Google+ app mean that you have instant uploads to an online album, why wouldn’t you be able to view those photos through your Google TV? Or what about when you have a video of your child’s performance in a school play and you want to be able to watch it with the sound playing through your home set-up, I mean, my nephew was awesome in the school performance of West Side story.  How about all the high res images in your picasa album, wouldn’t that be nice to scroll through on a 30” screen at the end of the year?

Admittedly I’m not the most creative guy, I’m just squashing together stuff that I’m aware already exists but there’s a lot of potential.   The Android@home music system will no doubt be the first of many Android@home products, after all with a name like ‘Project Tungsten’ it’ll be underwhelming if it produced any less than a myriad of products.  Google isn’t particularly good at hardware but it is good at a lot of other things, and the Motorola acquisition will go some way to address those weaknesses.  This should make for interesting times for all us technophiles, if your appetite isn’t whetted by this, then what on Earth will?

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Battle of the TVs – a tech giant face-off

Forget streaming to your laptop – 2012 is set to be the Year of the TV (good news for newly launched Netflix).

Whispers have reached us of the launch of the long-anticipated AppleTV for 2012 – a fully functioning Apple TV set, as opposed to their existing offering.  Late founder Steve Jobs reportedly cracked the formula for creating the TV in the quieter years before his death, and the launch of the latest innovation could secure Apple’s dominance on yet another area of our tech-consuming lives.

But don’t think that Apple have this one all sewn up already, as other tech heavyweights are stepping into the ring.  Connected TVs with built-in processors are tipped as one of the hottest topics at this year’s CES, and the big players are launching various new innovations for TV fanatics across the globe.

LG have unveiled their Smart TV with Google TV, powered by the Android OS. Now no more peering at a tiny screen to get the angle of that Angry Bird catapult just right – you can stream Android’s app portfolio direct to your TV.  The set also features passive 3D technology, and accompanied by a state-of-the-art remote containing a Wii-style selector and Qwerty keyboard, allowing users to easily navigate the OS, along with offering the portfolio of Google’s offerings like Chrome and the Android Market, along with a very navigable bottom task bar.

Samsung might be set to hang on to their title of world’s Number One TV retailer with the launch of its new ‘smart’ tv. Boasting an internet connection like many of the new crop of TVs, this machine also has the ability to have its hardware upgraded with each new development. Putting the ‘evolution’ into tech revolution. But Samsung haven’t stopped there – the new TV, thanks to a built-in camera, also offers voice, face and gesture recognition, indicating that the days of the humble remote – and the ‘roll the batteries’ troubleshooting technique – could be numbered, along with the need to update your whole set every few years.

Sony, meanwhile, chose to remind the world about their offering as a whole by using some celebrity endorsement to promote their offering to the market – famed performers Will Smith and Kelly Clarkson livened up Sony’s presentation at CES, reminding audiences of Sony’s content offering. Whether this will be quite enough to prompt people to buy one of their TVs remains to be seen.

But while there is a wealth of connected TVs out there, the problem remains that users still may not be employing their full functionality. According to television industry analyst Forrester, around half of all connected TVs bought are never put on the internet by customers. The challenge now for manufacturers is to convert this slightly more tech-fearful audience to use their devices to their full potential.

While there’s no confirmation yet on which of these will reach the UK market, we’re already creating our wish list. Which set would be your pick?

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What next for tech? A look ahead for 2012

HP have revealed details of their first 27-inch all-in-one PC, dubbed the HP Omni 27.  Upon release, it is due to pack features including a non-touch version of the Magic Canvas software, up to 2 TB of HDD space, Beats Audio, HDMI input and optional extras such as a TV tuner or a Blu-ray drive.  The basic model will have a 2.5 GHz Sandy Bridge Core i5-2400S processor, integrated graphics, 6 GB of RAM and two USB 3.0 ports.  All this will be cased within the 27-inch 1080p LED-backlit display, constructed with edge-to-edge glass.  Clearly, all-in-one PCs aren’t new, but they are becoming increasingly popular.   A combination of a mature and improving industry sector, as well as the trend to fit your tech into a small neat space within your home, has made all-in-one PCs an increasingly attractive option for all.

The Asus Transformer Prime has yet to reach our fair shores but there is already talk of a possible Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Mini.  By all accounts, the Asus Transformer Prime is one of the champion of champions when it comes to Android tablets.  And as such, it will be the chosen one to lead the fight against the iPad.  The Transformer Prime Mini looks set to be a smaller and more affordable tablet; think something more Kindle-sized.  Sound interesting yet?  Well how about these tasty specifications: 7-inch capacitive screen, 1280×800 resolution, 1.2 GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, up to 64GB flash memory and 3D capabilities.

This year at CES heralds the march of the ultrabooks into the homes of gadget lovers and technophiles across the world.  There will be a number of manufacturers competing to gain our attention and divert interest away from Apple’s consistently board-sweeping offerings. Acer have recently unveiled the world’s thinnest ultrabook – 15mm at its thickest point – called the Aspire S5. The device is expected to become available in Q2, and boasts a magnesium alloy cover, InstantOn technology, and HDMI, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports – no mean feat for such a physically small machine. The push on ultrabooks by all manufacturers is the result of an Intel initiative to produce a rival to Apple’s MacBook.  It would seem that by banding together, they hope to ease pressure being put on them to cut their prices to attract custom away from Apple.  I’m all for competition, so this should be interesting.

If tablets are more your thing, the ‘world’s thinnest’ tablet title has just been claimed by Toshiba. The Excite X10 is the world’s thinnest 10-inch tablet – just .3 inches thick and weighing 1.2lbs. Another potential big player on the soon-to-be flooded tablet market? Definitely – 1GB of RAM and a TI OMAP 4420 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, with 1200×800 screen resolution, a 2 megapixel front face shooter for video chat and a 5 megapixel shooter on the back of the tablet, with mini connectivity ports for HDMI, USB and SD card. As yet though, the OS is unconfirmed and Toshiba’s previous offerings in that area haven’t been promising. It’s speculated that it will be issued with an Android operating system – depending on the Excite’s release date, it’ll be Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich.