Cool Random Tech Stuff

Random ramblings of a tech enthusiast

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Dell Inspiron 14r (N4110) Review

From Dell Inspiron 14r

The Inspiron 14r second generation (N4110) is a refresh of the original lineup. This includes the second generation Core i3 or Core i5 chips, as well as Intel WiDi. The model I was sent to review seemed to include more of the upgraded options on this model, which I will base most of my review off of. Keep this in mind if you are considering a purchase of the 14r with other options. I priced this laptop with the review specs and it came out to $799 after a $209 discount, but you can get one for as low as $499 depending on options.

Bottom Line

I absolutely love the chicklet style keyboard. I have one on my HP dm4 as well as my Logitech Revue keyboard and will never go back to a non-chicklet style keyboard. Thank you Apple for popularizing them. I am not a fan of the overall design of the Inspiron 14r (N4110), especially the hinge system for the screen. It will suffice for a laptop if it is the one you choose though, and comes with decent options. Who couldn’t save a few bucks these days while still getting updated hardware internals?

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What a crazy week in tech!

This week has been pretty crazy in big tech news. Monday morning started off with the early announcement by Google that it was going to acquire Motorola Mobility. On Thursday afternoon HP announced it was discontinuing their WebOS hardware for the time being and getting out of the PC market.

Google to Buy Motorola Mobility

This was personally shocking to me, and probably to most as well. Google, a software company, was buying a hardware company! The motivations behind this move are not completely revealed. On the investor conference call Monday morning, Google was not shy about talking up the patent portfolio of Motorola Mobility but would not comment on their entire strategy. They said they would keep Motorola running as a separate company, even having them compete with other OEM’s in their Nexus phone program. So that would mean Google wanted the patents to protect Android, and would just get Motorola Mobility as a side business. Seems cheery and the best defensive stand for Android.

There has also been talk about Google buying Motorola and their patents to protect Android from partners suing each other. Motorola was threatening to sue other manufacturers of Android devices, such as HTC and Samsung. This would be disastrous for Android as a complete system. This would also point out problems with the open source nature of Android where the manufacturers carry more of the patent burden than Google. This is in contrast where Microsoft licenses Windows Phone 7 at a price because it has the patents to back it up. (Apple doesn’t license their software to other companies, but has plenty of their own patents).

So what now for Google and Motorola? I wouldn’t mind a sweet Google TV box with their Motorola set-top box business. Or how about more plain Android devices instead of skinned phones everywhere? (Is it that difficult to ask for a pure Google experience on Verizon?) Google could also be aggressive with the patent portfolio and begin suing the likes of Apple and Microsoft instead of maintaining a purely defensive strategy, but I don’t see that being a popular option.

The HP Bombshell

Thursday afternoon I started seeing alerts about HP spinning off its PC business. Then a little bit later it was revealed they would be discontinuing their WebOS hardware. Nothing really shocking there. The TouchPad wasn’t selling well, nor were the WebOS phones. The only shocking thing was that this came a little bit over a year after HP bought Palm for over a billion dollars in July 2010.

The real bombshell in my opinion was the fact that HP was getting out of the PC market. The number one PC manufacturer was throwing in the towel saying the tablet effect on PC sales is real. Instead, HP will be focusing on the enterprise and business side of things. This is more profitable for the company and they are trying to drive more value for the shareholders. They also announced a purchase of a British software services company to move more in to the higher profit margin services market.

Conclusion

Google buying a hardware manufacturer for patents, and maybe more. HP moves out of the consumer space and more into enterprise and software services. I don’t know many who would have guessed that for this week in August. I’m sure things will calm down a bit, at least until next month. Until then, try to digest the magnitudes of these two announcements.

Google to Buy WebOS to Combat Android Fragmentation

Okay, that is a completely false statement in the headline. It most likely got your attention though, otherwise you’re just too smart for me.

Imagine, though, a WebOS interface in Android. This would certainly be more appealing than the current stock Android interface. Not only is WebOS a completely different platform, it would also require lots of programming to make the changes needed. Google already snagged the WebOS designer, Matias Duarte, last year when HP was acquiring Palm. He has started to work on improving the interface of Android, which is seen in Honeycomb’s slightly more appealing look.

The fact is Android still has a lot to improve upon with looks. Every update seems to “drastically” improve the performance of the OS (Dalvik VM) but what about appearance? Remember how Windows started losing market share to Mac because the Mac system became so much easier to use with a more appealing look? I do, because it’s evident in Windows 7 now and how Microsoft finally made Windows more appealing.

Right now it is the major smartphone OS (going forward) that sucks on the UI front. Tons of people love their iPhone’s looks, Windows Phone 7 looks pretty awesome and just different, and WebOS was very well received by tech journalists but just failed to catch on in the consumer market. BlackBerry is pretty questionable on the UI front as well, but I do not see them as a primarily consumer device. They have always been about corporations, let alone their market share shrinking as time goes on.

The only question I have is when is Google going to drastically improve appearances of Android. Will we see some improvements in Ice Cream Sandwich with a year of WebOS’s designer working at Google? Time will tell. Hopefully people will give them more time than 49 days that killed of the HP TouchPad.

Moto to be acquired by Google

This morning Google announced that they would be acquiring Motorola Mobility for around $12.5B (a 63% premium over Friday’s closing price!) in an all cash deal.

On the conference call all parties referenced that it will still be run as a separate business that licenses Android. It will even have to bid on the yearly Nexus phones.

This seems as a patent move for Google and Android. No one on the call would talk about the strategy for the future but I suspect the patent portfolio would be used for a defense of Android or potentially even an offensive against Apple and Microsoft. The latter would be drastic, but could be a way to settle the patent system for smartphones and tablets. This would probably be seen as an “evil” move though, and Google is about no evil, right?

Vizio Tablet for Under $300

Vizio announced that their 8″ tablet is being released, with sales in Sam’s Club and Costco. This is just in time for back to school season. A honeycomb tablet for that price is inticing.

Continue for full press release.

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