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June 5, 2014
The news is out today that Barnes & Noble and Samsung are working together on a new tablet design. The two firms will launch co-branded tablets. The new devices will be known as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
Nook, and will feature Samsung's hardware and customized B&N Nook software.
The first Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will hit store shelves in the United States in August with a 7-inch
The decision to partner with Samsung might be a good one for Barnes & Noble. The company's Nook
business has been failing miserably lately, with its last-reported quarter ended January 25
showing a 50.4 percent decline in sales.
B&N shareholders have been calling on the company to make drastic changes or shutter the operation
altogether. For its part, Samsung is performing somewhat better in the tablet segment and is one of the leaders
in Android-based tablets.
The partnership effectively ends Barnes & Noble's foray into hardware design. The company said
on Thursday that while it'll still offer its Nook GlowLight -- a backlit e-ink e-reader -- it will
now only support the Nook slates it's launched to this point.
Leaving the hardware design to Samsung allows Barnes & Noble to better focus on its own software
and Nook content sales.
To be sure, content sales have also proven difficult to generate lately. During the last-reported
quarter, which includes digital apps and e-books, among other services, saw sales drop 26.5 percent
year-over-year to just $57 million.
What's not immediately clear at this point is just what Samsung will get out of the deal. The
company is performing well on its own and doesn't necessarily need a Nook partnership with Barnes & Noble
to dramatically improve its business.
In a statement yesterday, Samsung kept its plans close to its vest, providing no insight into why
it might have taken the deal.
Barnes & Noble also announced on Thursday that it's relocating its campus. The company is moving
from its 208,000-square-foot Palo Alto campus to two new facilities in Santa Clara and Mountain View
that together take up 88,000 square feet.
The move is part of a much broader attempt on Barnes & Noble's part to reduce expenses. Indeed,
the move itself will save the company about $102 million over the length of the lease.
In other mobile news
Huawei claims that it has achieved a performance of 10.53 Gbps Wi-Fi throughput in the 5 GHz band in its most
recent lab testing. The lab trials took place on the company's Shenzhen research campus in China. The 802.11ax standard
is at the beginning of a push towards the market.
The IEEE board approved the standard effort in March after a year of meetings and initial trials.
Overall, Huawei says that the key technologies that offer it a ten-fold speed boost over 802.11ac's current
gigabit capability are “MIMO-OFDA, intelligent spectrum allocation, interference coordination, and hybrid access”.
To be clear, MIMO-OFDA describes a mix of two technologies instead of just one. MIMO – multiple in, multiple out –
uses many antennas at both the transmitting and receiving stations for spatial multiplexing.
By taking different spatial paths, the same frequencies can carry different information. OFDA – more properly OFDMA, orthogonal
frequency division multiple access – takes existing ODFM schemes, and divides sub-carriers to different data streams.
Intelligent wireless spectrum allocation and interference coordination is self-explanatory, but we have no clear idea about what's
meant by “hybrid access” in this context.
The Huawei release doesn't mention how many channels were needed to get 10 Gbps throughput, nor how wide the channels
The company is chairing the 802.11ax task group, and says it hopes the standard will be ratified in 2018.
In other mobile news
AT&T said earlier today that it will start selling the Asus Padfone X, a tablet and phone hybrid, to its
mobile subscribers on June 6 for about $200.
But you need to take note that this $200 sticker price requires you to commit to a minimum two-year service
But customers do have the option to buy the Padfone X for no money down as part of AT&T's Next contract-free upgrade
plan, if they elect to do so.
You also need to keep in mind that you'll still be on the hook for either eighteen monthly payments of $22.92 each or
twelve monthly payments of $29.80.
To be exact, they add up to sums of $412.56 and $357.60 respectively. Don't forget to tack on additional monthly data
and voice charges either.
One big advantage that the Asus Padfone brings to the table is its ability to function as both a wireless smartphone
and Android tablet.
That means owners of the device will have the flexibility to switch between a standard mobile handset and
slate on the fly, yet pay for only one cellular plan. Stay tuned for a full review as soon as we get our hands on
a test unit. We will update you at that time.
In other mobile news
It appears that Apple is planning to launch a new 'smart home platform' at June's Worldwide
It's expected that the new platform will allow Apple iPhones and iPads to control a home's
lights, security system and a few other connected appliances.
The new software platform, which will be unveiled at WWDC on June 2nd, will be built into
the iOS devices, according to the Financial Times report, which cited anonymous sources.
As with Apple's "Made for iPhone" program, the new platform will be open to third-party
device makers, allowing their electronic gadgets to work on Apple's new automation system.
One application of the new software platform cited by the newspaper was the ability to automatically
turn on the lights when an iPhone paired with the new system enters a building or home dwelling.
Apple outlined its ideas for a home automation system in a patent filing last November. The move
is seen as a big play to challenge device giant Samsung and Google, which in February closed its
$3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, a maker of the Learning Thermostat and the Protect smoke
and carbon monoxide detector.
As companies increasingly look for opportunities to expand smartphones' reach, home automation
is seen as one of new markets for sustained growth.
To be sure, Apple already has made inroads with the automobile sector. At WWDC 2013, the company
announced a few plans to better integrate iOS into car dashboard screens.
Dubbed 'Apple's iBeacon location-sensing technology' which debuted late last year on devices
running iOS 7, is already in use for indoor navigation, automatic ticketing, and location-relevant
We contacted Apple this morning for comment on the report and will update you when we learn more.
In other mobile news
We think we just found a pretty good deal a few minutes ago-- HP is offering a coupon for
$15 off its already low price for the HP 7 Plus tablet, which the company just added to its
lineup of products. So you can get it for just $84.99 while they last.
Just Wednesday of this week, we read with great interest a report that HP had introduced a
That's quite a bargain for a name-brand tablet, especially one with fairly solid specifications.
So imagine our surprise upon discovering this-- you can get the HP 7 Plus tablet for just $84.99
shipped when you apply coupon code SLICK15HP at checkout. Sales tax may apply in some jurisdictions.
To be sure, we've seen plenty of no-brand tablets in that price range, and the occasional early generation
Kindle Fire, but never something like this.
If you're shopping for a Father's Day gift that won't break your budget, you just found it.
Though entry-level in some respects, the HP 7 Plus has a couple of nice features going for
The new tablet is white, with a silver rear finish. It also sports a quad-core ARM Cortex A7
processor, which should run all your favorite apps.
For comparison's sake, Amazon's $139 Kindle Fire only has a dual-core chip. Next, although it has
just 8GB of internal storage, the 7 Plus includes a microSD slot for easy, inexpensive, and virtually
HP also gives you 25 GB of Box cloud storage, free, for life. The tablet runs Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean).
We're not sure if HP skins it or adds any bloatware, but ultimately it's much closer to a "pure" Android
experience than you get from Amazon's heavily modified version of the OS.
So what's the catch? Like most sub-$100 tablets, HP's 7 Plus has a fairly low-resolution screen: 1,024 x
600. Point of interest, though-- the original iPad Mini ran at 1,024 x 768. That's not ideal for reading
small text, but we think it's sufficient for the majority of tablet tasks.
And it's an IPS display, so it should offer pretty solid viewing angles. This was already a
sweet deal at $99.99 but now at just $84.99, it's a steal.
We have no idea how long the coupon code will be active, though, so if you want in, you should get going fast.
In other mobile news
Earlier this morning, Microsoft officially unveiled its Surface Pro 3 tablet, a new product
aimed at eliminating the so-called 'conflict' that Microsoft sees between a tablet and a traditional
laptop. (Not that there is any conflict that is...)
The device features a twelve inch screen and its kickstand, and supports a stylus. In addition,
the tablet comes with support for USB 3.0 and Microsoft's popular Type Covers available in several colors.
The Surface Pro 3 features an Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processor to increase its
performance compared to the previous Microsoft tablet.
Microsoft is saying that it's the first tablet that can replace a user's laptop. The company
argues that tablets and laptops have been mutually exclusive, but its new tablet can bridge that
gap. Only time will tell if that's true, and we should know more pretty soon.
In order to achieve that goal, Microsoft says that the new tablet is 9.1 mm thick, compared to 10.6
mm on the Surface Pro 2.
The device's 12-inch screen, up from the 10.6-inch Surface Pro 2, was critical, Microsoft
says, as it tries to make it compete with laptops.
The display also comes with a 2,160 x 1,440 screen resolution, topping traditional 1080 pixels HD
displays already available on the market.
Microsoft was also quick to point out that the Surface Pro 3 comes in at just 800 grams in weight.
The company has taken aim at Apple during its presentation, showing its new tablet on a scale against
the MacBook Air to prove it's lighter than its rival.
And of course, power consumption was a major concern for Microsoft to make its point that
the Surface Pro 3 can double as a laptop.
The device was placed inside a docking station to show the tablet can technically look like
a laptop, and some higher-end apps were shown off, including a 3D-rendering app and Adobe's Photoshop
Speaking of Photoshop, the creative photo-editing app has been optimized for the Surface Pro 3,
and works with both fingers and the stylus.
The app's icons have been increased in size by 200 percent to make it easier to access them. The
feature set, Adobe says, is possible because of the power built into the Surface Pro 3.
The Surface Pro 3's kickstand also received some attention during the event on Tuesday. The
device still comes with the standard, 22-degree angle, but can go all the way out to 150 degrees
if needed, making it practically flat.
The kickstand can, however, be placed at any angle between those two ends, if that works for you.
The Surface Pro 3 goes officially on sale on tomorrow, starting at $799. Microsoft has not
announced prices outside the U.S. yet.
There are actually three versions of the new Surface Pro-- an Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5, and
Intel Core i7.
The starting price is for the Intel Core i3. Customers who want an Intel Core i5 will need
to dish out $999 to $1,299 depending on storage and RAM. The Intel Core i7 goes up to $1,949 for
512 GB of storage and 8 GB of onboard RAM.
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Source: Barnes & Noble, and Samsung.
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