Tag Archives: hardware

Sony Vaio BIOS update killed the battery

I’ve just updated the BIOS on my Sony Vaio VPCSB 1 V9E to version R2081H4 using the standard Vaio update tool.

The new BIOS killed the battery. 😦



Filed under Hardware

Nokia / TabCo will release Windows 8 tablet tomorrow (just dreaming)

I guess you have already seen this page: http://www.whoistabco.com/

If not, it may be the right time to see some of their teaser videos. For example that first one, made during Apple WWDC 2011, with the help of skytypers

TabCo is (probably) a virtual company preparing a big media event for tomorrow – Monday, August 15 at 9 a.m. PDT (18:00 CET) – so less than 24 hours from now. They say they are going to launch a new tablet, that will be… er… different. They have said or shown very little so far, but let’s recap these scarce fragments.

  • Avaliable for order in USA in August, in some European countries in September
  • 400 – 500 USD
  • 16:9 screen aspect ratio
  • USB, Bluetooth, SD card slot, WiFi and 3G (no 4G)
  • Build quality comparable to Apple or Nokia
  • Innovative GUI is predictive and takes inspiration from spheres and Rubik cube
  • Will be distributed with a set of apps from the beginning
  • There probably aren’t heaps of native software yet, but Angry Birds and office apps are available
  • Development SDK will be available after the launch

Other observations:

  • They have mentioned Apple or iPad many times, almost always in positive light
  • They have mentioned Google or Android many times, almost always in negative light
  • Microsoft and Nokia were mentioned rarely, usually in positive context

What could TabCo be:

  • Amazon tablet
  • Some startup full of energy and borrowed money
  • ELSE Ltd.
  • Acer Iconia 2
  • Xoom 2, TouchPad 2, Playbook 2 or Galaxy Tab II
  • New Tabasco flavour
  • Well-funded joke
  • Huawei UFO Tablet with Android 2.x much improved by NonSense UI layer
  • Apple iPad HD
  • Nokia (or Intel) MeeGo / Maemo tablet
  • Nokia Windows 8 tablet

The last option is undoubtedly the most interesting one. Let’s dream about it from a developer’s perspective for a while… This would mean that there will be no big revelation at BUILD in September, exactly one month from now. On the contrary, SDK will be available tomorrow and everybody will download it immediately and will frantically play with it for the next few weeks. Many developers will take their own Windows 8 tablets to the BUILD in fact. Everything will be inside out this time…

Although so blatantly betrayed by Microsoft, most developers will be jumping for joy and consider their dreams fulfilled. This new attack of Metro UI will help Windows Phone sales too…

Why this won’t happen

  • We all know Windows 8 is scheduled for 2012. It’s in some unimportant Milestone phase now.
  • Microsoft always gives things to developers first and then – 6-12 months later – the best customers may get something too
  • There are leaked Windows 8 builds with no traces of a tablet interface and these other cool things
  • The Windows 8 UI revelation event showed no spherical interface elements
  • Interface hints in the above video are different – for example that circular context menu hasn’t been shown, video controls were different etc
  • The lack of software for the new platform. Even old Windows software will not work, because this tablet is almost for sure built on the ARM platform.
  • Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott haven’t seen it coming
  • Microsoft is never so fast
  • Microsoft is never so cool (except for that XBox 360 R2D2 Star Wars edition, of course). While some other companies are habitually cool, Microsoft is habitually cold.

Top Secret Microsoft’s Corporate Exchange leak:

Steven Sinofsky: We should develop Windows 8 in a stealth mode and in just two years. That would surprise everybody and make the Wow effect we so desperately need. That would be cool!


XBox 360 Star Wars Limited Edition

XBox 360 Star Wars Limited Edition Kinect bundle is the coolest Microsoft product ever (for sure 😉 )

Why this may happen after all

  • What we have learned about Windows 8 in June was a total surprise to everybody. So Microsoft is able to hide things if it wants (and Sinofsky is in charge). It’s quite probable it wasn’t the final version of UI.
  • That infamous Microsoft silence about the Windows 8 development platform is just insane. It simply makes no sense to hide things just from developers! On the contrary, it sometimes makes sense to hide things from the general public. But a developer conference is not the ideal place for revealing things to the general public! The conclusion? Some revelation is planned before the BUILD.
  • There were hints about Windows development taking just two years, about Windows 8 tablets coming this fall, about Win division defeating Dev division, about Microsoft selecting just a few hardware partners for the first W8 tablets, about Nokia working on a well-thought tablet etc.
  • Nokia – Microsoft pact makes much more sense from a Nokia viewpoint if this is in cards.
  • Software is important. But Microsoft may provide Office, old Windows software written in .NET may work even on ARM, and Windows Phone emulator may provide some not so optimized, but working software. This plan worked for Apple after all.
  • Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott haven’t seen it coming 😉
  • This may just work


Nokia Sea Ray possible virtual buttons

Windows 8 tablet with the Windows Phone emulator. Oh wait!

The Kinks, You really got me:


Filed under Windows 8

Sony Vaio S (with Sandy Bridge) stress test – Part 1: Yes or No?

Wow! A new laptop has arrived.


Should I conduct the test and thorough review of this notebook? Help me decide!


(No, I don’t promise to blindly respect the outcome of this poll. 🙂 )


Filed under Hardware

Nokia makes both Windows Phone and Steve Ballmer relevant again

Note: This is my first blog post in English ever. Please help me with corrections and suggestions in the discussion below!

If you were in Antarctica in the last three days, you may have missed the announcement of the year. This video says it all…

Nokia and Microsoft announced the strategic partnership on Friday. Nokia will abandon Symbian, stiffle MeeGo, and adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone operating system. This transition will take place in the next two years. During the “black friday” Nokia shares fell horrible 14 % and Nokia employees walked away on a silent protest march.

About 1000 Nokia employees on a silent protest against Symbian discontinuation. (picture by Engadget)

About 1000 Nokia employees on a silent protest against the Symbian discontinuation. (picture by Engadget)

Web abounds with comments, as expected, but I feel that some things weren’t said yet. So let me offer some thoughts.


Times were ripe for the change. Nokia’s flagship operating system Symbian is flawed and irreparable. Nokia tried hard to adapt it for the touch screen, but to no end. Symbian is too attached to individual phone models, they have practically different version of the system for every device, which is unmanageable in the long run. Nokia counts losses on all fronts, but its weakest spot is low margins and diminishing market share in smartphones. MeeGo, a promised open source savior, developed in cooperation with Intel, is still not ready and would mean just another lost year with no clear outcome.

Nokia was effectivelly forced by the situation to the humble decision to license an alien operating system. They had only two options – Google Android or Microsoft Windows Phone. Why they chose Microsoft? Because Google was just too evil for them.

Many argue that Google would be a better choice. It is clearly possible, nobody knows the future. But the effect on Nokia employees and Symbian developers would be the same and the effect on smartphone customers would be worse in my opinion. Now we have the race of three strong horses or rather three chariots – Apple, Google and Microsoft + Nokia. HP with its WebOS and RIM with BlackBerries are the main losers. They will face hard time to attract and retain developers. And developers matters.

Nokia has a clear strategy and must deliver upon it now. Nokia presented some concept designs already. It is critically important for them to launch their first WP handsets in the Holiday season 2011 in my opinion, otherwise the strategy will be in doubt.

Nokia rendered concept phones with Windows Phone OS. Rather not the real thing as there is no volume cradle on the left side. (picture by Engadget)

Nokia rendered concept phones with Windows Phone OS. Rather not the real thing. (picture by Engadget)

Another concepts from the Mobile World Congress presentation. These look little bit cheaper. (picture by wpcentral.com)

Another concepts from the Mobile World Congress presentation. These look little bit cheaper. (picture by wpcentral.com)

Of course, we should expect the Mango (7,5?) version of Windows Phone OS in these handsets.


Windows Phone 7 is not selling. Sure, MS has shipped two million pieces to operators, but it’s too little and we don’t know how many was actually sold to the end users. There are bad signs all around: At first, there are no new devices rumored to be announced at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona. HTC already said they have nothing to show there. I personally expect something from Asus and perhaps ZTE or other low-profile (phone) manufacturers, but the booths of Samsung, HTC, LG and Dell are going to be quite boring for WP7 fans.

Second: developers and software producers are not making money. Of course, there always are exceptions like Elbert Perez (I reccommend his free game Scribble Defense by the way), who makes $380 daily from his free, ad-supported games. But the number of such happy devs is very, very small.

And customers are not paying attention, because the phones are mediocre. Make no mistake, all the OEM partners have Android as their primary platform and save the best designs for Google. Windows Phone needs the dedicated, fully commited hardware partner and sorely lacks it.

Steve Ballmer’s genius gave a new lease of life to Bing by the contract with Yahoo in 2009. And he used the same pattern for saving of Windows Phone now. Steve is not an engineer, no doubt about it. He is not a technology visionaire. But he is a strategic thinker and probably would be a good military general. I guess that this briliant maneuver will save his own position in Microsoft too.

On the other hand: The accusations of Stephen Elop being a trojan horse of Microsoft in Nokia are ridiculous. Such monumental changes must be approved by the board of directors. During Nokia press conference at MWC today someone yelled at Elop “Are you a trojan horse?” And he replied directly:

I’ll take that question. The obvious answer is no. We made sure that the entire management team was involved in the process, and of course the board of directors of Nokia are the only ones that can make this significant of a decision about Nokia. They made that final decision on Thursday night.

In fact, the talks with Microsoft (and Google) started immediately when Elop took his position in Nokia on September 21, 2010. It’s pretty clear he had a mandate for this agenda. I even think that they deliberately chose a foreigner for the dirty work.

I should keep it short, but let me briefly discuss one last thing…

Developers and the WP platform future

Nokia clearly wants to extend the Windows Phone to the lower market segments and even hints a possibility of another hardware platform. This brings big risks: Platform fragmentation, lower hardware specs and possibly worse customer experience.

But do not forget that Windows Phone is designed from the ground up for the different hardware platforms. In fact, it supports two completely different platforms now: x86/x64 for development (in the emulator) and ARM (Qualcomm Snapdragon) in devices. For example, if Nokia wants to use Intel Medfield SoC, which is basically an ultra low consumption Atom with some radio-specific features added, Microsoft may just change the licensing terms. I exaggerate, but you get the picture.

The other side of the equation is simple: Market expansion from millions to hundreds of million customers.

Plus wider language and marketplace support and better maps in Europe (Bing is horrible here).

The picture is somewhat darker for Symbian developers. But even they knew for sure that the unavoidable transition to the other OS – MeeGo – was awaiting them. My advice is simple: Go there now, download the free Windows Phone developer tools and begin to study them. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Elvis Presley, Love me tender:

Do not miss Steve Ballmer’s keynote at MWC 2011, (Monday, Feb. 14 at 7 a.m. PST/10 a.m. EST/4 p.m. CET).

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Filed under World from above