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Securifi Almond

June 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Does adding a touchscreen make this a must-have router? Newcomer Securifi delivers a surprising answer… 

 

Pros
Stylish, unqiue design
Both router & wireless bridge
Breakthrough touchscreen setup & management
Reasonably priced

Cons
Limited to 2.4GHz 802.11bgn
Average performance
Three 10/100 Ethernet Ports
Review Price £64.99

Score 8/10

Key Features: 802.11bgn 2.4GHz WiFi; 2.7in 320 x 240 touchscreen display; WPA / WPA2 & WPS security; IPv6 ready; 3x 10/100 Ethernet Ports
Manufacturer: Securifi

What is the Securifi Almond?
The Almond router is the first product from new networking company Securifi. It has been available in the US since last year, but arrives this month in the UK with upgraded antennas and new firmware. It is the first router on the market to operate via a touchscreen display and it can also double up as a wireless bridge to extend wireless signal from your existing router around the home.

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Securifi Almond – Design
This is not a section we usually devote much time to with routers, but the Almond is different. Most manufacturers produce dull slabs in the hope you won’t notice them, but the Almond hopes to be front and centre in your living room.

Most obviously it is the touchscreen that grabs our attention. The 2.7-inch, 320 x 240 pixel display may not match the ultra-high resolution panels we are used to in our smartphones, but colours are strong and it is highly responsive. When not in use it switches off by default, though a nice touch is it can be setup to display the time or weather. This not only makes it useful, but encourages users to display it in a prominent place, which benefits wireless range.

The other key aspect to the Almond is its size. It’s tiny. At just 122 x 109 x 48mm the Almond is one of the smallest home routers we have seen and at a mere 363g it is also one of the lightest. It helps that Securifi hasn’t integrated a DSL modem, but to be fair the vast majority of the routers on the market don’t these days and it enables the simplest setup as they just plug into the router supplied by your broadband provider.

When it comes to build quality, the Almond is less exceptional. It takes the familiar gloss piano black route, which attracts finger prints and dust in equal measure, and like every other router on the market its exterior is plastic. That said its size means the Almond doesn’t feel as hollow as many rivals and while we aren’t into the practice of beating up review samples of networking equipment it appears highly durable.

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Securifi Almond – Features
While we will focus on the touchscreen shortly, the most useful aspect to the Almond is its flexibility because it can function as both router and wireless bridge. Consequently those that need a new router can upgrade, but those looking for more wireless range can simply pair the Almond with their existing router and have it beam signal to new parts of the home or office.

That said there are compromises. While the 802.11ac standard is gathering momentum, the Almond is limited to just 802.11bgn over the 2.4GHz band and it only has dual antennas rather than the four and even six antenna arrays we have seen from some models. Consequently the Almond boasts a theoretical transfer rate of up to 300Mbit per second – half many mainstream routers. The fact theoretical transfer rates have little to do with real world performance means it is not a deal breaker.

What may be a deal breaker for some, however, are the Ethernet ports. Whereas router manufacturers have been decried for years for having just four ports, the small size of the Almond means it can only fit three ports and they are 10/100 spec rather than the prevalent Gigabit (1,000 Mbit) standard. If you need a lot of high speed wired connections, this isn’t the router for you.

It also isn’t the router for you if you’re a fan of the Cloud. Linksys’ Connect Cloud, D-Link’s mydlink and Netgear’s ReadySHARE have their detractors, but all enable remote control of the router and/or remote access to local files and media. Control of the Almond is only available when you’re connected to its network.

On the plus side WEP, WPA and WPA2 security profiles are supported along with the expanded IPv6 protocol. Still if this seems somewhat underwhelming, we would urge you look beyond the spec sheet for a number of reasons…

To learn why the Almond is much more than the sum of its parts and see its performance results click for the full review @ TrustedReviews

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

WWDC 2013: Old magic absent from pragmatic Apple keynote

June 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Naivety online is stopping Apple create more exciting products…

 

 

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Intentional or not “Can’t innovate any more, my ass!” has become the take away sound bite from WWDC 2013. It was uttered by marketing head Phil Schiller as he introduced the unfinished redesign of Apple’s Mac Pro desktop (below). As he lauded a long dwindling technology category, it was also most poignant for the complete lack of irony.

WWDC 2013 proved itself to be many things. It was a veritable tick box list for long running iOS feature requests, it pushed boundaries in laptop battery life, it saw Apple finally enter the streaming music market, OS X was updated (and given a silly new name), office and mapping services leapt to the web and yes, it brought us a new PC chassis. But for everything WWDC was the one thing it wasn’t was innovative.

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Imitation flatters rivals
I didn’t expect the earth. An iTelevision was never in my thoughts and I never truly believed a MacPad hybrid would appear, but Apple TV developer apps or an iWatch would have been nice as would some swipe typing Swiftkey-style. iTunes Radio could’ve challenged Spotify instead of Pandora and if you’re going to recreate iWork in the Cloud at least bring Cloud-specific features like the real time collaboration offered by rivals.

Furthermore while in some ways Apple should be applauded from bringing key elements of other mobile platforms to iOS7 it didn’t bring the best. Automatic app updates, proper multitasking, quick access to settings and redesigned app UIs were all welcome and overdue. But ultimately users are still stuck with a grid of static icons, the inability to change default apps and the same basic notification system that has plagued the platform for years.

Live tiles, the option of widgets, NFC support, and just one thing we hadn’t seen coming would at least have jazzed things up a bit.

Yes Google and Microsoft now face a platform which is closer to them than it was 24 hours ago but – aside from the hard work of its app community – it is difficult to see how iOS7 has done anything more than repeat a worrying recent ritual of playing catch up as both Android and Windows Phone again prepare major updates to leap ahead.

World Wide ‘Developers’ Conference
At which point the correct counter-argument would be “well duh!”.

WWDC is for developers. It is to show them new software and technologies to allow them to better develop for Apple platforms. With a new version of OS X and 1500 new APIs in iOS7 Apple did this in spades. Right?

Not exactly. To see WWDC this way is naive. The name may have stayed the same since the first event in 1983, but since 2002 it has been morphed into a launchpad for the company’s biggest announcements. New iPhones, Macs, iPads, and iOS and OS X versions have all been launched there. The same is true of Google I/O and Microsoft Build.

That said Apple clearly still has a big conference to come. August or September will no doubt see the new iPhone (or iPhones) to launch with iOS7, an updated Apple TV (with apps?) and maybe even the fabled iWatch or iTV. Apple will then be back on song.

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Can’t Innovate
And yet I think not. For despite Schiller’s ‘can’t innovate any more, my ass’ proclamation what I took from WWDC 2013 is Apple is increasingly hamstrung. The problem is what defines ‘magic’ has moved on.

Apple’s hardware and UI reveals are like watching an overly competitive dad raving about painting his shed. Yes, yes, yes it’s better than it was before.

Instead where the ‘magical’ leaps are coming today are online and this is where Apple remains weakest. Aggregation of wide ranging online services and global search data is currently driving Google towards the head of the pack and Apple looks to be suffering from years spent sitting pretty and raking in fat profit margins on hardware and offline software.

The fruits of Google’s labours are now producing models capable of predicting user behaviour and it is hard to see how Apple could even begin to counter an increasingly influential product like Google Now (right). Facebook Graph Search ploughs a similar route and Microsoft and Yahoo! (now run by former senior Google exec Marissa Mayer) are treading these familiar paths. Even Sony crows about seamless Cloud-powered gaming. Meanwhile Apple is licensing Bing and gushing about a desktop.

Apple must invest online
So how can Apple break out of its comfort zone and truly wow us once more?

The logical route appears to be acquisitions. Apple is cash rich and Spotify, Ask, Dropbox and even Yahoo! buy-outs wouldn’t do it any harm. But as we saw with Apple Maps, even the combination of purchasing and licensing data from no less than nine third parties took years to collate and ultimately poor execution damaged its name. But at least it now has a cross platform web service with Maps released online.

Fixing further holes would be just as troublesome. Independence in search, for example, would be even harder and risk stalling the company again and again. That said it may have little choice. The differentiators rivals can bring online are growing rapidly and Apple cannot respond. Apple finds itself beholden to Microsoft for Bing, yet Windows Phone wants to catch iOS and could now do so with an obvious Machiavellian move. No wonder all the Apple’s digs this year targeted Google and pretty much let Microsoft off scott-free.

Which leaves Apple in the scenario it faced last night and has been for the last few years: treading water while it hopes to pass off pragmatism as magic. Since mindsets shift slowly the trick still works. Shiny hardware and resprayed feature-assimilating software has largely drawn praise and more will follow for the iPhone 6 and iPad 5. But year-by-year these reveals feel more hollow as Apple’s options for advancement constrict and it struggles to match rival innovations derived from online services.

Apple has long been known for its bravery and risk taking. If it wants to create yet another magical product the company must fully embrace the Web and be braver and risk more than it has ever done before.

To read the original article on TrustedReviews click here

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 

 

 

Apple should make a MacBook iPad

June 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

The hybrid is the computing form of the future. Apple can lead it with a MacBook-iPad hybrid…

 

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Mac hardware manager Douglas Brooks got Apple fans excited this week. He allegedly told a customer to expect “something really different” from the company’s new Mac Pro line-up, which is expected to be unveiled at WWDC 2013 on 10 June. MacBook Pros don’t get me excited, though. What tickles me is the thought of Apple finally doing for the laptop-tablet hybrid what it did for the mobile phone and tablet.

The MacPad
Here is the vision I see: the fusion of an iPad and a MacBook Air. The world’s most popular tablet and the world’s best-built laptop. The iPad brings the Retina Display the MacBook Air needs and the Air brings the detachable keyboard and industry leading trackpad. In tablet mode it runs iOS, in laptop mode it runs Mac OS X and iCloud seamlessly syncs productivity, media, gaming and core app data between them.

Imagine the scenario: use as a tablet on the train to work, as a laptop at work, a tablet on the way home and in front of the TV. Need a larger display? AirPlay would project the screen to a television or desktop monitor. Apple’s hybrid isn’t limited to a two-in-one, it can be a three-in-one. One device to rule them all.

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Image credit: http://blog.sfaranda.com/dear-steve-jobs-the-macpad/

The case against

But it won’t happen, this isn’t how Apple does things. Three main objections come to mind.

Dual boot. Apple may allow Windows to dual boot on Macs, but that is to satisfy users who may be lured by Windows. Typically Apple likes to keep things simple: each device has a specific role and a clear usage scenario.

Cannibalisation. If successful a hybrid could cannibalise sales of all core Apple product ranges, reducing their sales and putting too many eggs into one basket. If unsuccessful a hybrid could also taint all core Apple product ranges, highlighting their flaws individually, and fractured integration collectively.

Mac OS XI. Rumours suggest Mac OSX 10.9 isn’t far away and with it inevitably even greater crossover between it and iOS. But OS XI is where we would expect the major shake up to begin with extremely tight iOS integration, if not even a merger of the two platforms. If Apple were to launch a hybrid it would make more sense to wait until then.

All three reasons above are logical, sensible, safe and likely enough to nip any idea of a hybrid in the bud. But there are innovative, exciting and risky counter points to each…

The case for

steve-jobs-iphone-apple-logoProgress means cannibalisation. When Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone he joyously proclaimed to the crowd he had three devices for them – “a widescreen iPod with touchscreen controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device”. He repeated the phrase over and over, before saying “are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device.”

In launching the iPhone, Jobs knew sales of the iPod – then Apple’s most successful product – would be cannibalised, but he knew the market was changing and he bet the company the mobile phone was the next opportunity area.

Jobs and Apple did it again with the iPad. The tablet had long been a glorious concept no-one had quite gotten right and he risked the cannibalisation of cheaper Macs, MacBooks and even iPhones by betting on tablets. Jump to today and – with the exception of the US – iPhone and iPad market shares are slipping around the world. The hybrid in 2013 is like the smartphone in 2007 and the tablet in 2010 – unrealised and ready to take the next step.

Mac OS X & iOS need merging. Whatever your opinions on Windows 8, it is hard to fault the ambition of Microsoft’s schizophrenic OS. Desktop and mobile platforms are merging. Microsoft has taken its first step and Google continues to unify functionality between Chrome OS and Android. Apple is doing the same with each iteration of Mac OS and iOS, but right now it has no product to truly exploit such a merger. The hybrid fulfils this role.

Of course dedicated desktops, laptops and tablets will exist for many years yet, but they are forms that don’t drive the necessary advancement of a single OS or excite users about its potential. The hybrid can, and if Apple can enter this market as successfully as it did with phones and tablets the ‘hybrid’ won’t be a category any more. It will become a universal usage expectation. Every form of computer will be a hybrid, morphing its usage as required via a single, flexible, Cloud-synced platform. That’s the next step of computing and hybrids can drive it.

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Standing still is not an option. When the iPad and iPhone launched there was nothing quite like them on the market. This window of opportunity has already passed with the hybrid and – while no-one has mastered it – Computex demonstrated only last week that models like the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity are getting better with every generation.

Haswell is a big factor in this. Intel’s fourth-gen Core architecture brings the hybrid both power and great battery life. Tablets and their power-efficient software always had the latter in particular to keep them safe from the hybrid, but not any more.

Apple still has the platforms, street credibility and platform-wide integration through iCloud to pull off a hybrid with better execution than any to date. But Google is inching closer and scores more Windows 8 hybrids will arrive over the next year. And by the end of this year the Microsoft ecosystem will see Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8, the Xbox One and SmartGlass all playing nicely together. Apple needs to act now.

WWDC 2013

Despite all this it is safe to say WWDC 2013 is highly unlikely to see Apple step into the hybrid market.

The teased “something really different” will be the adoption of Haswell to make existing Macs and MacBooks faster, slimmer and lighter and to give the latter better battery life. Meanwhile iOS7’s impending redesign will only put the pressure on Mac OS to take time out to realign all graphical elements with its mobile counterpart.

These all feel like baby steps, iterative advancement while rivals gain experience through radical concepts that become ever more appealing with each hardware and software update.

Apple has traditionally excelled through leading not following. When Tim Cook takes to the stage next week the child in me will be hoping for a hybrid, unveiled after the too long absent phrase: “One more thing…”

To read the original editorial on TrustedReviews click here

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 

What is Intel Haswell? 5 reasons why you should care

June 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Intel just announced a CPU upgrade like no other. I tell you why…

 

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The ‘Intel Inside’ moniker may be known around the world, but in recent years it has been superficial rather than internal advances that have caught the eye. This is about to change. Slapped in front of every major laptop launch at Computex this week has been the codename ‘Haswell’ and with it comes some quite incredible claims. It could also be the key to making Windows 8 a success…

So what is Intel Haswell and why should you care?

Reason #1: Battery life
Haswell is the codename for what Intel formally refers to as its fourth generation Core architecture. In short: new processors, and they will carry the same ‘i3’, ‘i5’ and ‘i7’ branding and use the same 22nm manufacturing processor as their predecessor ‘Ivy Bridge’. Despite this Intel executives claim Haswell will bring the largest single generational gain in power efficiency in the history of its x86 processors.

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The result is Haswell-based Ultrabooks must deliver a minimum of nine hours battery life in Windows 8 when idle, at least six hours when playing HD video and last for up to seven days in standby. Fail this and manufacturers can’t call their device an Ultrabook, and won’t benefit from Intel’s support and subsidies.

By contrast, Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks had to last over five hours in normal usage. This is a huge difference and could finally signal the arrival of thin and light laptops that truly last all day on a single charge.

How has Intel achieved such gains? The primary reason is Haswell’s more responsive power management, which can react within nanoseconds to what the user needs. As such chips don’t just power down based on whether you are gaming or writing email, they react instantly – even between keystrokes. “[It is] the kind of granular power management at the chip level that we’ve never had before,” says Intel Architecture Group vice president Navin Shenoy.

Reason #2: Graphical prowess
Despite its headline grabbing battery life Haswell isn’t only about stamina, it brings significantly greater graphical prowess as well.

Following the HD 4000 range of integrated GPUs used with Ivy Bridge, Haswell will see the launch of the HD 5000 range that offers up to twice the performance of its processor. Intel claims this is enough to make graphically intensive games like Skyrim and Bioshock Infinite playable. While it may not sway hardcore gamers from dedicated solutions, it opens up gaming to a more casual audience.

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It isn’t only gamers who should celebrate, though, as Haswell has a big carrot for home cinema fans too. Haswell natively supports 4K video playback, so should you wish to output downloaded content to a shiny new 4K television at some point in the next few years Haswell has you covered.

Interestingly, given these benefits, Intel is no longer being coy about its integrated graphics. The HD 5000 range will be the first to get a marketing friendly name with lower end GPUs called ‘Iris’ and higher end models named ‘Iris Pro’.

Reason #3: Windows 8 tablets and hybrids can flourish
But Haswell won’t purely benefit Ultrabooks. Intel has confirmed it will launch 19 Haswell-based mainstream mobile processors in the remainder of 2013 alone, and they will bring savings not only to larger laptops, but also be potential game changers in bringing 8-10 hour iPad-comparable battery life to Windows 8-based tablets and hybrids.

This is potentially huge for both Microsoft and its struggling third party manufacturers. In choosing to root its tablets and hybrids in a PC platform as opposed to Apple’s strategy of launching tablets from a nimble phone OS, their theoretically greater functionality has so far been hamstrung by poor battery life. In fact this was our biggest (though not only) problem with the Microsoft Surface Pro.

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Exciting results can already be seen. Computex 2013 has been filled with such devices, making the first 8-inch Windows tablet viable and even inspiring wild creations such as the Windows 8/Android merging Asus Transformer Book Trio (above).

Intel claims over 50 ‘2 in 1’ Haswell powered devices will hit the market over the next few months. With the traditional tablet sector dominated by Samsung and Apple, this could inspire some much needed competition.

Reason #4 Reduced Noise
Not only does Haswell outlast and outperform Ivy Bridge chips, it will also run at lower temperatures. This means smaller fans that enable even thinner designs and, crucially, a lot less noise. In fact, Intel even took to the stage at Computex this week to tease a completely fanless version of Haswell for tablets and hybrids.

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Yes, there have been fanless Intel processors in the past, but none that deliver it with the performance of Haswell.

Needless to say, high end gaming and desktop replacement laptops like the Razer Blade Pro (above) will still run hot when pushed and fans will spin up, but less jet engine-like cooling is required and designs can be slimmer than ever before.
Reason #5: Upgraded Ultrabook spec
A hugely positive side affect of Haswell is it will debut alongside Intel’s upgraded Ultrabook specifications. We have already touched upon the new battery life requirements, but manufacturers hoping to gain the Ultrabook seal of approval from this point forward must also produce models with touchscreens and WiDi.

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The former is predictable (especially with the battery life to more than counter the drain of touch), but the latter is particularly interesting. WiDi (Wireless Display) has struggled for uptake since it was introduced more than two years ago, but mandatory inclusion could send WiDi into the mainstream much as mandatory inclusion did for WiFi in Intel’s first Centrino-based laptops.

WiDi also now supports MiraCast, the open wireless HD video and lossless audio streaming standard and alternative to AirPlay. MiraCast has been built into Android 4.2 builds onwards and just this week Microsoft announced MiraCast will be a part of Windows 8.1. Look out Apple.

Lastly, Intel will also push for ‘perceptual computing’ to be a part of Haswell Ultrabooks from 2014. In plain English this means facial, gesture and speech recognition, which opens the way for Ultrabooks to mimic both Kinect and Siri. It would also undoubtedly come in handy for integration with Google Chrome’s new voice search.

Too good to be true? There are some caveats…
And yet, despite all these plus points, Haswell isn’t without its faults. Perhaps most disappointing is the huge focus on mobile means Haswell doesn’t really push the envelope for high end desktop computing and it promises only minimal gains in processor performance over Ivy Bridge.

These CPU limitations are also felt in its mobile iterations. Intel quotes a 10-15 per cent performance increase on Ivy Bridge processors clocked at the same speed, which is hardly earth shattering. That said we never found Ivy Bridge to be particularly slow.

The other concerning aspect to Haswell is pricing. In bulk Intel is retailing flagship Haswell Core i5 and i7 chips for $342 and $454 respectively compared to just $250 and $346 dollars for the equivalent chips in Ivy Bridge.

While Intel is keen to push down Ultrabook prices, it looks like higher end Ultrabooks are more likely to rise in price than fall. Certainly the examples we have seen so far push top end Ultrabooks close to MacBook Air territory, though Apple’s entire Mac range due to be announced at WDDC this month could also be affected by the move to Haswell.

There is also some concern that Haswell could be the chip to finish off AMD and while Intel’s long term rival is readying new chips of its own, with enough marketing that could be the case. Intel’s fight with ARM is clearly its main focus these days, but the lack of any real rival in the laptop and desktop space would surely slow innovation there.

Core-processors

Wait to buy or get a deal now?
Ultimately, while Haswell does raise some issues, they fall by the wayside compared to the huge technical strides it makes. In an ever more technologically mobile world battery life has been the a glaring shortcoming in our increasingly smart devices. The fundamental problems with battery technology remain, but Haswell is a wonderful way to paper over its cracks.

Furthermore if battery life isn’t crucial there should soon be some remarkable deals to clear the inventory of Ivy Bridge PCs, especially if you’re looking at the cheaper end of the laptop market where ultimate performance is less vital. For everyone else, Haswell-based devices will start shipping during Q2 and with review models due with us shortly we fully expect a game changer.

To read the original article @ TrustedReviews click here.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 

The Wii U is Nintendo’s Dreamcast

June 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

It’s almost game over for the Wii U. This time a gimmick won’t save Nintendo from sharing Sega’s fate.

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This week everybody got angry, again. The launch of the Xbox One drew much scorn, with people complaining about everything from its appearance and internet requirements to its lack of backwards compatibility and overarching home cinema pretensions.

Sony similarly got it in the neck in February. The PS4’s approach was criticised for being old fashioned, limited in scope and Sony was mocked for not showing off the console itself.

How Nintendo must wish people cared this much to have a go at the Wii U.

Since it went on sale late last year Nintendo’s console has been all but dismissed by consumers and video game makers. Multiple price cuts have failed to boost flagging sales and major publishers have even refused to categorise it as a next generation console. Most recently industry whale Electronic Arts admitted it will only develop a limited number of titles for the U, saying there isn’t enough power to run its next generation Frostbite 3 game engine.

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For all intents and purposes the Wii U looks dead in the water – a release that will kill off the company’s hopes of ever releasing another games console. It’s Nintendo’s Dreamcast.

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The similarities with Sega’s ill fated Dreamcast don’t stop there either. When the Dreamcast was released in 1998 it was initially well received and praised for its innovative features. Most notable was a controller that could house a display that acted as a second screen for games and could even be used as a stand alone device. The Wii U is the first console to try this since.

What ultimately did for the Dreamcast, however, were more advanced rivals. 12 months after launch, Sony released the more powerful PlayStation 2 and as sales dwindled and Sega’s faith in the Dreamcast faded Microsoft delivered the knock out blow with its first Xbox.

Two console generations later, ‘Sega’ can be swapped for ‘Nintendo’.

But unlike Sega, which was on its last legs after the failure of the previous Sega Saturn, Nintendo’s woes are self-dealt. The company launched the Wii U still in relatively strong health and where the Dreamcast was arguably too ambitious, the Wii U has seen Nintendo rest on its laurels. For this we can blame the Wii.

Prior to launch the Wii was widely tipped to be the failure the Wii U is turning out to be. It was underpowered, had a silly name and seemed to rely upon a gimmick – motion control – which just so happened to change the entire games industry. The Wii gave Nintendo too much self confidence and taught it to ignore warnings.

Merciless Mobile
But where Nintendo previously struck lucky, this time it has picked the wrong gimmick. Second screen gaming is where Microsoft and Sony are already strong. Sony in its PSP range and PlayStation tapping phones and tablets; Microsoft has SmartGlass and the increasingly tight integration between Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone.

The Wii’s motion control had made for a compelling differentiator. In an age of rapidly evolving, high resolution, slim profile mobile devices, the Wii U’s gaming controllers just look sad.

Smartphones, tablets, apps and the post-PC era have all apparently slipped under Nintendo’s radar since the Wii launched. Where Microsoft and Sony are actively involved in all these sectors, Nintendo has released incremental DS upgrade after incremental DS upgrade and now lacks the wider infrastructure to enhance and prolong the lifespan of the Wii U. Mario and Zelda games aren’t going to make up for it.
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MarioSonicDashComboSo what?
There’s another perspective to take here, though. The Wii U may have got a critical and financial kicking over the last six months, but it seems the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are already coming in for similar abuse.

There is also widespread talk that no matter how successful these machines are, the market for a Wii 3, Xbox Two or PlayStation 5 will have dried up by 2020 – replaced by uber-powerful, Cloud-centric, 100 per cent mobile devices that wirelessly communicate with your TV, projector, watch, glasses and whatever else technology thinks up.

We are witnessing a three way fight between dinosaurs as the Asteroid looms large above them.

The difference is two of these dinosaurs know what they are doing. They are fitter and stronger, getting fat on the land while it still remains and using what they store to refine existing escape plans. The third dinosaur is gradually going hungry, refusing to look up at the sky.

Dream turned nightmare
Yet what Nintendo faces is not extinction, but the agony of inescapable decline. It will be stunned by Microsoft and Sony, tenderised by Apple and Google and – should they choose – picked apart by Activision, EA and possibly Rovio.

The failure of the Dreamcast condemned Sega to a future pimping out a few well known franchises to past rivals. With the impending failure of the the Wii U, a similar fate awaits Nintendo.

To read the original article at TrustedReviews click here.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 

 

 

Jolla Sailfish OS smartphone (preview)

June 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

A hands-on look at the smartphone industry’s latest player…

Key Features: 4.5in display; 16GB storage; microSD slot; Replaceable battery; Sailfish OS

What is the Jolla Sailfish smartphone?
Jolla is the first phone by the Finnish start-up of the same name. It will be released in late 2013 and run the Sailfish OS, which is based on the abandoned MeeGo project founded by Intel and Nokia. Jolla is largely made up of ex-Nokia employees disenchanted by the handset maker’s move to Windows Phone exclusivity in early 2011.

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Jolla announced itself to the world in late 2011. It has already raised $258 million in investment from the telecommunications industry to help revive tMeeGo, which has only been available to the public once before on the widely praised Nokia N9.

We got an early hands-on with the handset and its software at an exclusive launch event this week in Helsinki.

Jolla handset
Six months is an eternity in the handset market, so we were surprised Jolla was keen to demonstrate its smartphone just one day after it was formally announced and targeting a Christmas arrival. That said from a hardware perspective what we saw is extremely encouraging.

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The Jolla certainly has taken style cues off the Nokia N9, but its design is as unique as anything we have seen in recent years. On the surface the phone appears a fairly angular touchscreen slab and standard connectors including a top mounted micro USB charge port and headphone jack, side positioned power and volume buttons and speakers at the base. There are also some predictable specs: 4.5in display, 4G support, eight megapixel camera, 16GB of storage, microSD slot and an unspecified dual core processor.

Look closely, however, and things become more interesting. Firstly the phone has no facia buttons or soft keys (more of later) and secondly the phone quite clearly comes in two halves. Typically a colourful rear (though black in our demo) snaps on and off not only to allow access to a replaceable battery, but to enable an array of different covers to interact directly with the phone.

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Jolla wasn’t revealing technology behind this (we suspect NFC), but covers have the power to automatically change the colour scheme (‘ambiance’), wallpaper, fonts, profiles and even functionality of the user interface. Jolla calls this ‘The Other Half’. Admittedly it is slightly gimmicky, but it opens up an array of marketing and brand opportunities we’re sure Jolla will be keen to exploit.

In hand the Jolla feels angular, though by no means uncomfortable compared to the 5-inch monsters now on the market. It was noticeable on our demo unit that some of the fittings weren’t flush and it had chips and dents, but we won’t read anything into that for a handset likely in heavy testing and still five to six months from release.

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The Jolla has been announced with a €399 (£339) SIM-free retail price which we find a little high, especially considering where the handset market could be come the end of 2013. That said Jolla admits this may change and with a network deal in Finland with DNA and several European and Chinese carrier deals “in the pipeline” it will be interesting to see if the company can secure those all important network subsidies.

What will attract them? The software itself… This is a sample, to read about Jolla’s highly impressive Sailfish OS click here for the full preview @ TrustedReviews

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