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Wow, Oracle will own Java…
I didn’t mention Toshiba’s TG01 in my roundup of Mobile World Congress phone debuts, since Toshiba avoided the rush by announcing the phone a few days early. I got a little hands-on time at Toshiba’s booth today, and while it turned out the prototypes on hand weren’t really ready for prime time–touch input was achingly slow when it worked at all–the phone’s screen resolution made a major impression.
The TG01 is one of several new phones at the show to sport a 480-by-800 display–others include LG’s Arena and HTC’s Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2–which gives it 2.5 times more pixels than the iPhone’s 320-by-480 screen. Toshiba also says it incorporated technology from its Regza flat-screen TVs into the TG01’s screen, and while I don’t know if that’s hype or mundane fact, the results are impressive.
What will more pixels bring to phones? Prettier interfaces, for one thing, since it’ll let typography look crisper at the same font size, for instance. And high-res phones will be able to fit more of a Web page or document on screen at once (although at some point it’ll be debatable if that’s a benefit–if text is too teeny-tiny it’ll cause eyestrain).
I’m not sure if any of the high-res handsets at MWC fully take advantage of the potential of the extra pixels–the iPhone has a slicker interface than the TG01 despite its resolution handicap. But I’m looking forward to what the technology will permit in future phones, and I’m wondering how long it’ll be until there’s an iPhone that matches it. Resolution is one of several ways in which the new phones at the show are leaping past Apple’s phone from a hardware standpoint–while continuing to lag it on the software front. More on that in a future post.
Oh, and when I do get a high-resolution phone it most likely won’t be the TG01: Toshiba doesn’t sell handsets in the U.S., and has no plans to bring this one stateside.
Solid state drives are finally moving into capacities that are useful for today’s modern applications. Toshiba said Thursday that it would be introducing a 512 gigabyte 2.5″ SSD at CES 2009 in January. The flagship SSD would be complemented by smaller capacity 64, 128, and 256GB drives available in the company, which would come in sizes of 1.8 and 2.5 inches.
Mass production of the drives is set to begin in the second quarter of next year. The drives would be able to read and write data faster than the typical HDD, with a 240MB/sec read rate and 200MB/sec write rate.
Toshiba’s move is likely an attempt to get a foot in the door in what will be the next big thing in storage drives. One in ten computers will ship with SSDs in 2010, ramping up to one in four by 2012. This would also benefit users through decreased load times, quicker waking times, and higher durability.
Moving parts in HDDs are more susceptible to data loss and errors from sudden movement and drops. SSDs do not have this problem, mainly due to there being no moving parts. Additionally, they are far quieter.
Pricing has not been announced as of yet. However, I’m hoping that these companies work on ways to produce them much more cheaply — I’d love for my next laptop to be SSD based (the form factors can be so much smaller), but right now they’ll break the bank.
The Open Handset Alliance–the organization responsible for Google’s Android open-source mobile operating system–has rallied more companies into its camp, significantly increasing the likelihood that there will be an influx of Android-based devices in the near future. C0nsumers will be the big winners: With Apple and RIM battling furiously, the added jolt that an influx of Android-based devices has on the marketplace could inspire even greater innovation.
Today, the alliance announced that 14 more companies had joined its membership rolls, and that those companies would either be manufacturing compatible devices, introducing complementary products and services, or contributing code to the Android open source Project. Google was the founding member of the alliance, and is the primary contributor to Android.
The new members include AKM Semiconductor, ARM, ASUSTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Teleca AB, Toshiba and Vodafone. They join a conglomeration of nearly 50 other companies, including carriiers, device manufacturers, and chip makers’s G1, the first phone powered by Android, stacks up well against comparable smart phones and has received reasonably favorable reviews.
More importantly, the G1 is partly credited for driving device maker HTC’s record profits last month. With proven sales appeal and its royalty-free license, other device makers are likely to follow HTC’s lead and adopt Android.
I didn’t mention this in yesterday’s post about the Consumer Electronics Show, but another issue I have with the event–which, again, I like–is that it’s not the crystal-clear preview of what’s next for personal tech that you might assume it would be. After last year’s show, I wrote a piece about that odd fact for Slate, and one of the examples I gave was surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) TV–a cool technology which Canon and Toshiba kept showing off but not shipping.
One of the things that has kept SED out of our living rooms–or at least out of the living rooms of the exceedingly well-heeled–is a nettlesome patent lawsuit that has dogged the technology since 2005. But the Financial Times is reporting that SED’s legal woes are over, and Canon–which bought out Toshiba’s interest in the technology–is now free to manufacture sets.
Which doesn’t mean that it’ll do so any time soon. The FT quotes Canon’s president as saying that the current price plunge for LCD and plasma TVs means it would be a lousy time to introduce a new technology. That leaves open the possibility that SED could be trumped by OLED–another nascent technology that’s actually available in sets you can buy–before it ever gets going. (I’m not enough of an expert on display technologies to really compare SED and OLED’s pros and cons and chances of success–I just remember being wowed by SED, and I’m being paranoid.)
I’m kind of assuming that Canon won’t be trumpeting SED at next month’s CES. But it’s nice to know it could do so without it being an utter pipe dream.