theSync: Windows 8.1 Fall Tablet Roundup

It’s been a while since we last talked about Windows, and it’s not fair to many syncers out there. From all reports, Windows 8.1 is the bee’s knees in tablet experience and some really great hardware coming from Acer and Lenovo and Windows 8.1 being a true touch experience.

This week on theSync, the Fall Windows 8 Tablet Roundup

Gotta Trust the Remiix

lenovo-miix2

Fresh off a Shinzen Assembly Line is Lenovo’s Miix2. That’s Miix with 2 I’s. The Re-Miix is an eight and a half-inch wide, 1200×800 HD tablet powered by Intel’s Bay Trail Atom Processor. The Miix2 has a 2 megapixel front camera and 5 megapixel rear shooter. I don’t suppose you’ll be a tablet Ansel Adams with the Miix2, but at $300 it’s hard to beat on price.

Iconic Hardware

SONY DSC

Intel inadvertently leaked the grand spanking new Iconia W4 from Acer. Acer’s new 8.1 tablet rocks the same chip and camera capes found on the Miix2, and comes standard with 32 GB of storage and includes micro-USB, micro-HDMI, and microSD. It also sports a micro price, starting at $330 this is a nice tablet for a nice price.

Digital Devices for Water Sports

fujistu_qh77

In a deep sea diving capsule near Japan, Fujitsu announced the QH77. A waterproof full-on Windows 8 tablet powered by a core i5 processor. Who knows what new discoveries Jacques Cousteau could have made if he had an Internet capable underwater tablet.

Ohhh Myyyy

And finally, Sharp announced their first Windows 8 tablet in late September with a gorgeous 2560×1600 screen powered by, you guessed it an Intel Bay Trail Atom processor and it’s water resistance. Don’t head out to MicroCenter to pick this baby up yet. Sharp isn’t releasing this device until 2014. So you have time to get your money together.

I have to admit, I like where Microsoft is going with it’s latest installment of Windows and I’m sure we will see more awesomeness when Surface 2 debuts. As long as Microsoft doesn’t sell their own stuff they should be fine.

Let me know what you think about Windows 8.1 in the comments.

Thanks for listening, and reading. You’ve been synced.

theSync: Developing Apps for Windows Phone

So, a few weeks ago I was pulled up about only talking about iOS and Android apps. After the Windows Phone show, I received requests to talk specifically about developing apps for Windows Phone. Admittedly, we’ve developed Windows Mobile and Windows CE apps for years, but we are only now getting involved with WinPho apps.

This week on theSync, getting setup and developing apps for Windows Phone.

1. You Need a Windows 8 Machine

First, in order to build the latest apps you need a Windows 8 machine. There’s no debating this. The latest FREE development tools require Microsoft’s latest OS running on 64-bit hardware.

2. Signup and Become a Windows Developer

Now that you have a Win8 machine signup for a development acct. You’ll need the account to test your software on a Windows Phone device. Right now, the fee is only $19. There really is no excuse if you’re determined be a WinPho developer.

3. Download the SDK and Tools

After getting your account activated and picked up a Win8 machine download the SDK tools from Microsoft. Microsoft will give you everything you need to get started including Visual Studio 2012 Express, a Windows Phone emulator, and tools for debugging. If you have a phone, now is a good time to register your device using the Device Registration tool.

4. Build Your First App

Get your feet wet by building the included Hello World template and running the app in the emulator. You’ll get a feel for interacting with the world’s best IDE, Visual Studio and seeing how XAML applications are created.

5. Focus on Delivering Content and not Presentation

Learn yourself some XAML and focus on UX/UX/UX. WinPho’s Metro UI is ultra-slimmed down with a supreme focus on content. Change your mindset from the land of buttons and UI widgets into a realm of content presentation and experience. In my opinion, Microsoft has always been the most developer friendly toolset and platform company. Creating XAML-based applications is a different experience from the code-for-your-life-Charlie-Brown experiences we’re used to, but helps create unique apps quickly and reliably.

I’d love to hear your experiences with developing apps for Windows Phone, let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading and listening.

You’ve been synced.

Over the weekend, the world lost one of the smartest and nicest people on the planet. I’m dedicating this week’s episode of theSync to my friend Ed Tignor. Rest in Peace buddy we will miss you.

theSync: 2012 Holiday Gadget Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

This week on theSync, I share with you my pics for the best holiday gadgets to give that special someone.

Or just yourself.

Buying stuff is cool, but remember what’s most important. PSA over, let’s get to the gadgets.


1. The Nest Learning Thermostat

Every year, the home automation nerds bring us a step closer to having Jarvis make breakfast for us in the morning. Topping this year’s list is the Nest Learning thermostat. I’ve mentioned this on Briefcase Radio and I’ve briefly spoken about it on theSync, but I’m a big fan of this little device. The Nest learns your preferences and dynamically adjusts your A/C and heater for optimum temperature and savings. For just this innovation alone, it’s a steal at $249 and can be controlled by your iOS or Android smartphone. You can pick it up at Home Depot or online at nest.com.

2. A Mini-Tablet

I know. We all have iPads, Nexuses, Kindles and what not, but you can never have too many computing devices in your life.  I panned the iPad Mini a couple of weeks ago, but I have to say that I’m impressed by the weight and feel of the device.  I stand behind my original argument in that it doesn’t make sense as a business tablet, but it is a great toy.  The Mini is light, well built, and well, made by Apple.

On Briefcase Radio I spoke great things about the Nexus 10, Google’s Samsung constructed super resolutioned tablet.  The Nexus 7 is the 10’s baby brother.  At $199, you’d be crazy to not get the Nexus 7 over another mini-Android tablet.  It feels good in your hands, runs Jellybean, and has a beautiful display.

Cool kids get iPad Minis, the nerds get Nexus 7’s. If you don’t think you fit in with either group, pick up the Kindle HD.  Last year, I reviewed the Kindle Fire and I was really impressed with Amazon’s tablet entry.  The HD is a pretty good improvement upon their existing design with an updated screen.  It costs the same as the Nexus 7 with a true 1280 high resolution screen.  Amazon claims that it is the world’s most advanced tablet with it’s true HD screen, dual-band wifi, and solid black design.  They might be right.

3. A Grown Up Tablet

Last week, I spent some time with a Microsoft Surface RT device.  And this may be the best product Microsoft has released.  Microsoft introduced the world to tablet and smartphone computing over 10 years ago, but couldn’t execute.  This time, the Surface has the battery life, screen capability, and application support to make it worth while.  If you’re special one is a business owner or entrepreneur, this is that tablet to get.  Why? Two words.  Microsoft Office.

4. A Really Good Pocket Digital Camera

Even though we publish the Snapperific app, and are soon to come out with Snapagram, I still believe that digital cameras make great Christmas gifts.  We can make more money, but we can’t make more time.  And nothing captures the time we spend with our families better than pictures.  CNET, recommends Panasonic’s Lumix ZS20 digital camera, and I agree with them.  The ZS20’s 20 mega pixel sensor can catch a fly buzzing a four feet with crystal clarity.  But more importantly, you’re getting Leica performance without paying Leica money.  On this camera, you’re getting a Leica lens and sharing the same silicon as Leica’s digital cameras.  For less!  That’s a great gift.

If you’re not in the mood for Panosonic cameras, check out the Nikon Coolpix 800c. The 800c is an Android powered camera which means at some point you’ll be Instagramming and Facebooking your images straight from the back of the camera.  I was wondering how long it would take to see Android powered cameras and this year they are right on time.

Huh? What about DSLRs.  See below.

5. Smarter Smartphons

Every year we read about, watch talking heads, and here ringtones coming from new super phones.  This year, LG files one in the ridiculously spec’d out category with the LG Optimus G.  Let’s see.  Quad-core Snapdragon processor clocked at 1.5 gHZ, 2 GB of RAM, 4.7″ HD display, expansion slot, and LTE.  I’d wager that some of you are reading this and listening to theSync using computers with lower specs.  At $99 on contract, it’s the ‘IT’ cellphone surpassing even the mighty S3.

6. Stocking Stuffers

I say it every year.  You can’t not have too much storage and energy.  Get plenty of SD and CF cards for those digital cameras.  If you’re really savvy, pick up the iPad digital camera connection kit from photojojo so that your special one can easily copy those moments to their iPads.  An FM transmitter for your mate that doesn’t have in-car Bluetooth would be nice.  A Victorinox SWAK USB drive is always a cool and welcome gift.  An Apple Magic Mouse is a stylish and productive accessory for your loved one’s workstation.  And finally an external battery pack for those iOS and Android smartphones being unwrapped on Christmas morn.

What?

We all know about the war between the S3 and iPhone5.  Why should I mention them here?

Thanks for listening and reading.  It’s the start of the holiday season, so please enjoy yourself, behave responsibly, and if necessary make sure you have a designated driver.

You’ve been synced.

What Didn’t Make the List

The Wii U

This is going to be another ‘IT’ gift for the season.  Reports have stated that Wii U’shave sold out at Wal-Marts and other retailers.  Why didn’t it make the list?  According to initial reports, the Wii U’s graphics and processing performance hasn’t been spectacular with the hard core games such as Mass Effect 3 and others.  Although Nintendo was never the system for the hard core.  I would wait and see or try it before you buy it because software only gets more complex with time, not simpler.

Smartphone Controlled Helicopters

You can walk into any mall in bumble-America and find a smartphone controller helicopter.  They are cool.  I want one myself, but you know where they are.

Google Glasses

As much as I’d like to live our my Kurweillian fantasies, the Google Glasses won’t be out until 2013.  I hope to get my hands on a set ASAP.  If they work out, they will be on the list next year…

The Canon 5D Mark20xyz or the Nikon D9z

I am a Nikon fan.  I’ve only own Nikon DSLRs.  I currently own a Canon G9 prosumer camera, a Bronica SQAi, a Yashicamat 124G, a Pentax K1000, a Nikon F100, and an old, old Polaroid.  The new Canon 5DmkIII is supposedly the best thing to ever happen to photog since autofocus, but I own too much Nikon glass and have shot too many Nikon images to not be biased.  It wouldn’t be fair to you, or to my cameras.

Nokia Lumia 800 Hands-On

Last weekend, the wife and I spent some alone time and she needed to get some issues with her iPhone resolved. After leaving the Apple store, we strolled through Tyson’s Corner Mall and happened upon the Microsoft Store. We were curious and decided to journey inside.

I have to admit, I really like the Microsoft Store. As usual, the Apple Store always seems that it’s the place to be. But, the Microsoft Store is really cool. In addition to the myriad computers and laptops running Windows 7, they had two stations showcasing their Surface technology. Surface is a touch screen/projector technology allowing you to swipe and flick a computer monitor that takes up the size of a work table. I personally think it’s pretty cool. There was a scene in the last Bond film, Quantum of Solace that displayed similar tech.


After checking out some Samsung phones, one of the floor salesman must have noticed how geeky we looked and asked us if we wanted to see something cool. Of course, we said sure. And he went in the back and brought out the Nokia Lumia 800.

It’s Nokia’s Easier, Faster, Funner entry into the smartphone market. The 800 runs Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Phone, Mango, and I have to admit, I fell in love with it immediately. The Lumia 800 sports a gorgeous, 3.7 inch, Super AMOLED screen. Nokia claims that their ClearBlack Gorilla Glass protected screen reproduces colors more vividly and accurately than any other smartphone display. Trust me, it’s beautiful.

The Lumia 800 is powered by a 1.4 GHz Scorpion (Snapdragon) chip using an Adreno 205 GPU. Although the Adreno 205 is grossly underpowered, Mango was extraordinarily snappy and all of the Window flyouts and icon animations were displayed effortlessly. I’ve always felt that webpage scrolling is challenging for smartphones, and the mobile build of IE9 scrolled through websites with almost know lag or jitter. The 800 gives you 512 MB of RAM and 16GB of storage memory. The Lumia 800 is 3/3.5G phone with LTE support coming in the superbly designed Lumia 900 later this year.

On the back you’ll find an 8 megapixel shooter that produces spectacular pictures. Nokia cleverly integrated a dedicated shutter button for the camera that activates the camera app by simply clicking the shutter from anywhere. I think this is an awesome feature, because I’m always missing my kids’ unprompted moments waiting for my i4’s phone app to load, catching the tail end of that Kodak moment. The camera is very impressive, Nokia chose Carl Zeiss optics for the lens and gives you a dual-led flash head that even gives you a simplified burst mode. The Lumia produces HD video at 30 fps.

The Lumia 800 is very remarkable, but what I find most impressive is its software. It’s no secret that I believe that Microsoft’s Metro User Interface is a proper breakthrough for not only mobile operating systems but for greater computing. Metro is a full on digital user interface. You will not find glassy icons, 3D buttons, or shadowed window elements here. The UI is futuristic, it’s 21st century, and is a departure from what most people think of operating system widgets. When you watch sci-fi movies, the computer UIs are fully digital, futuristic, and Microsoft doesn’t disappoint with Windows Phone’s User Interface, Metro.

Using Metro is refreshing, I feel like I’m in the 21st century and it’s super responsive and feels right. Microsoft has even pushed Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines to the Nth degree by not only bringing your content front and center, but in some cases making your content the only important aspect of your app. Using my Apple mindset, the Camera/Photos app stupefied me and the floor rep had to show me that I was over thinking. There were no controls or navigation bars, all control was built into the photo. Single tap to play, double tap slideshow, tap-tap to remove. It was indeed, fully gestured, and intuitive. And fun to use. The years of study at Microsoft Research, the success of the Xbox, and feedback from Kinect players definitely show in the ease of use and experience Metro gives.

Of course Microsoft is going to build in mobile support for its second cash cow, Office. On the device we were using, the Office app synchronizes with Office Online and you can sync, edit, and upload your documents to and from the phone. As a business owner, this is great, and there are colleagues that will enjoy updating drafts while sitting on the Metro or in traffic.

So, will I switch? I’m seriously considering it. From a business point of view, continuing to develop apps for Android and iOS make sense. Both platforms have a large and expanding user base and there is a thriving iOS app market. Microsoft is trying to encourage more developers to build apps for the platform and all of the major developers are there. The challenge is getting consumers to purchase Windows Phone devices so that the market can thrive. Microsoft’s deal with Nokia could make this happen. Nokia was in the duldrums for sometime, but people forget that they are the world’s largest feature phone seller. Windows Phone is a legitimate and powerful mobile operating system. Using Microsoft money and ability to absorb losses Nokia can convert its base of feature phone users into smartphone users and you have three man race on your hands. Microsoft tools, development products, and languages are developer friendly. It’s faster and easier, to build and release .NET based applications that the memory confusing confines of Objective-C or the slimmed down Java platform of Android. Developers will come, but can Microsoft and its partners bring consumers? The sales reps kept making the point that Windows Phone does more without needing a bunch of apps and they are correct in that regard, but we’ve reached a point in computing where people want and expect lots of choice.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is bold, powerful, and sexy. It’s a little pricey at an unlocked price of $800, but you will not be disappointed. For anyone sick of iOS’s confinement or Android’s battery chucking habits, the Lumia 800 is a great device with an alternative platform.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is available in short supplies. The sales reps told us they’re sold out for six weeks. It’s 3/3.5G GSM based phone and ships unlocked.

What do you think about Microsoft and Nokia’s entry into the smartphone war?

WLM3