July 09, 2012
New Tablets Join the Race
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New Tablets Join the Race
By Susan Smith
Over the past two-three years, the Apple iPad has become the ubiquitous business tool for mobile warriors of all kinds, and has definitely changed the face of the AEC market with its ease of use and connectivity to the office from afar.
There are a few fundamental things that the iPad doesn’t do that mobile professionals would like, however, and those holes in functionality are just waiting to be filled. One of those holes is the lack of a functional keyboard for word processing on the go – most pros I know carry a netbook computer to augment their iPad use, or vice versa – so there goes the weight factor when considering what technology to bring. You’re also now adding to the number of devices you have to take with you on a business trip, thus adding pounds. And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stick that tablet in your purse or manbag?
Navigation is also an issue, but Microsoft and Google – companies not historically in the PC market -- are right up there vying to help professionals and consumers alike consume and navigate content and media as efficiently as possible.
In the past month, Microsoft unveiled the Surface, a PC tablet that runs on the not-yet-released version of Windows operating system called Windows 8. This is a first for Microsoft – never before has it designed and sold a commercial PC. The fundamental big wow feature of this tablet is a flip-down cover that flips down to become a full keyboard. It also has a magnesium rigid case, a pen that clicks into the tablet and a kickstand that rests at a 22-degree angle that allows for more comfortable video conferencing.
The Surface has an ultra thin design, but still maintains current standard tablet specs such as a 10.6 inch high definition touchscreen, front and rear facing cameras – all inside the 9.3 millimeter, 1.5 pound frame. To me, with its stand up screen and keyboard, it’s looking more like a netbook, but thinner and lighter.
Windows RT, the first version of Windows 8 as it is to be called, will be available sometime in the fall in 32- and 64-gigabyte versions and will be competitively priced with popular tablets. A full Windows 8 version of the Surface will be available three months later in 64- and 128-gigabyte versions. For that version, the cost will be comparable to that of ultrabooks.
Google Nexus 7
Google Nexus 7
Is there a need for a smaller tablet? Google seems to think so – they have just come out with the Nexus 7, a 7-inch Android tablet that is a reasonable choice if you are not sure you want to buy a full-fledged 10-inch tablet. It is good for social media, email, surfing the web and playing games.
The other factor is that the 7-inch fits in a woman’s purse or a manbag, whereas the 10 +-inch iPad does not and it is lightweight.
It’s debatable how useful this will be for those in the AEC industry, yet it might be technology to watch because of its price point and future possibilities. The Nexus 7 sells for $200 with 8 gigabytes of storage, which is the same price as the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet with the same capacity of storage. There is also a 16GB version for $250.
The tablet has a 1280x800 IPS touchscreen that has a very good display, with great color balance. The Nexus 7 has very high performance when loading magazines, books, video or applications, thanks to the Nvidia 2.1GHz Tegra 3 quad-core processor.
Apple iPad Mini?
Is this really going to be a product? There have been rumors since the launch of the Nexus 7 that Apple will come out with an iPad mini at 7- to 8-inches in size. Although Steve Jobs himself said that there was no market for such a device some years back, and no one would watch a video on a small screen, he still launched video and e-book capability in the iPad (at that time considered too small a device) for such a mythical audience – to a screaming success. And beyond his wildest dreams, most likely, teens and young people watch videos on their iPhone screens, so go figure. This is an audience not yet concerned about the narrowing of their peripheral vision from such close up
There are reports from techno-pundits that this size tablet is the up and coming rage, perhaps driven by the need for smaller devices that don’t take up as much space and don’t weigh as much.
With Apple, there are more apps developed than for any mobile device created by Microsoft and Google, so that company has a massive head start in the tablet market. The company also has incredible user loyalty, in spite of its shortcomings. Whether more sleek technologies can overtake this head start remains to be seen.
It is also rumored that Apple will be coming up, in true fashion, with a surprise to rival all these other sleek offerings. This kind of surprise is characteristic and expected by Apple aficionados, and may be worth waiting for.
On the other hand, Windows RT and 8 versions of the Microsoft Surface show incredible promise to those in the AEC market who have the need for a high-performance tablet. It looks like the all-in-one tablet is nearly here and travelers may be able to leave their netbooks at home.
Microsoft and Google both have incredible stores of content.With the new Google Play, press materials promise “Now your favorite music, books, magazines, movies, TV shows, apps, and games are all in one place that's accessible from the Web and any Android device.”
Developers will be able to create apps using Microsoft Surface SDK, compile them for Windows then run them on Windows. There are some slick multi-touch controls in Surface 2.0 SDK to use for killer apps. Developers can download the Surface SDK and check out what is free there in the shipping samples.
The next few months will be interesting, as excitement for what the competitors have to offer grows and puts more pressure on the developers at Apple.
Top News of the Week
GRAPHISOFTannounced that ArchiCAD 16's global rollout process has begun. In addition, the company unveiled its
BIMComponents.com GDL objects portal, a cloud-based database that allows users to create, search, upload, and download custom BIM components of their choice.
The release of ArchiCAD 16 delivers key functionality to end users including the brand new MORPH™ tool, an optimal solution for creating custom BIM components, custom structures, and custom elements of the built environment, as well as custom-designed building interiors. Built-in Energy Evaluation allows architects working with ArchiCAD 16 to perform reliable dynamic energy evaluations of their BIM model within ArchiCAD, using BIM geometry analysis and accurate, hour-by-hour online weather data of the building's location. BIMComponents.com, a cloud-based, ArchiCAD-integrated community database, allows users to create, search, upload, and download custom BIM components of
their choice directly within their native BIM application.
Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.announced that Vectorworks Cloud Services now offers users 5 GB of storage capacity. This increase, up from 1 GB, will allow users of Vectorworks software the convenience of accessing five times more files and projects from any web-enabled device.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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