Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Surface Revealed

A few months ago Microsoft announced their entry into the new tablet market with the Surface. For the first time in a long time, people were really excited about what Redmond was showing off. With an Apple style event to kick things off, they showed off a really cool piece of technology. However, they got one thing wrong, there was no price, and no ship date. Unlike the 'king of big reveals' that Apple is, Microsoft forgot this crucial step when you have a room full of hungry journalists and bloggers looking for information.

All is better now though, since the pricing on the RT (ARM based) version has been revealed. The base level model with 32GB of memory will be launched with a $499 price tag. That puts it right in the ballpark of the iPad, which is really where Microsoft needed it to be. For an extra $100 you can get it with their revolutionary keyboard cover. Considering you'll pay ~$100 for a decent Apple keyboard cover, this isn't too bad of a pricing model. I haven't yet seen pricing on the Intel based models, so perhaps the main question is will the RT model interest enough people to be competitive.

I've been rooting for a 3rd player in the phone and tablet space, and the Surface has a bit of a chance. I'm sure Microsoft can still come up with a dozen more ways to doom it. But for now, as we wait for the big event next week, we can hope that perhaps we may be seeing the emergence of a three way race for our mindshare.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Finally a date....

Not that kinda of "date" silly, this is a tech blog. We finally have a rumored date for the much anticipated iPad Mini, and that date is October 23rd. Honestly, I'm more excited about this than the iPhone 5 or a new MacBook refresh. After playing with some 7 inch tablets, and having an eReader, I've come to find some really good value in that particular tablet size. The key is going to be price. If the rumors are true, the iPad Mini will NOT have a retina display. I'm really hoping it doesn't, because honestly, I want a value Apple device, not a top of the line tech device. I was sorely disappointed with the iPod Touch refresh, and it's sky-high price point because of it's retina display.

I think the key for Apple with this device is to target the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire and Nook HD. That means that they can't go above $250 for the base level model. No one is going to fault them for asking for a $50 premium over their competitors for the "Apple premium", but any more than that, and they're going to substantially cut themselves out of the market.

So here's hoping. October 23rd will be an interesting one to watch!

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I don't have a wood shop...

It's been a few weeks since my last entry on this site, and there's been a good reason. No, it's not because there hasn't been anything interesting to write about, I certainly didn't take advantage of many good opportunities to write about tech news. It has been for a simple, somewhat silly reason. The new Warcraft expansion launched.

I hear the groans now, all the way through the ether. People screaming "Oh no... he's one of THEM!" Well, sorry to disappoint, but yes, I am "one of them". But, some clarification is in order. I don't abandon my family to play WoW, I get my work done, I don't call in sick, etc., etc.,. However, it does bring up an interesting new phenomenon in our modern society. Gaming as a hobby.

It's long been a staple of adult life to fill our time with hobbies and pastimes that give us something to do beyond work, but yet challenge us a bit mentally or physically. Video gaming has been around only a few decades, but it has grown in to a multi-billion dollar industry, employing hundreds of thousands of people, and producing more content than any single person can see in a lifetime. It's a staple of our life in this century, and that won't change.

The question is though, does it qualify as a hobby or is it just 'entertainment'? I believe that for a long time, video gaming was considered entertainment, because it involved looking at a screen, that mainly had one other purpose, bringing us television entertainment. But to classify something as interactive as video games as entertainment, I think does it an injustice. Certainly, early video games were very limited in their interactivity. You had very simple controls, very simple graphics, and often had to play alone. But the video games of today are sometimes full body experiences, with expansive worlds to become immersed in. And more likely than not, games today have a social element baked right in. Not every game is as social as an MMO (Massively Multi-player Online) game like World of Warcraft, but even game consoles like XBox focus users on the "community" aspect of being an XBox player.

So as I look at the distraction that has consumed a small portion of my time these past couple weeks, I realize that I don't work on cars, I don't putter in the garden, I don't have a model railroad, and I most certainly don't have a woodshop. But I do have a hobby that engages my mind, allows me to be social and work toward goals, and accomplish all the other positive aspects of having a hobby. Just because mine involves digital pixels doesn't really make me a lot different than a lot of other people out there.