Category: Opinions

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Chromium and Firefox within Android

Posted by Charbax – February 3, 2010

The default Android web browser is really awesome in terms of speed, it even works amazingly fast on the ARM9 Powered web browser of the Hivision PWS700CA that I tested in my video-review a few days ago. Though for Laptop form factors, also known as ARM Powered Netbooks or Smartbooks, and for Android Tablets like the Archos 5 Internet Tablet that has a HDMI output and supports USB and Bluetooth keyboards and mice, the default Android web browser might not be enough.

This is why the support of the full desktop-like experience using Chrome and Firefox web browsers within Android are really going to be nice. Perhaps the June 2009 release of the Native Android SDK can help developers reach this goal.

The Mozilla team is showing this screenshot of Firefox running within Android (check also Mozilla's wiki entry on Android: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Android):

Since Google is now working on releasing the full Chrome OS for ARM Powered devices, perhaps it would make sense to take the source code of that Chrome web browser for ARM, and make it into an Android application. This way on a Pocketable Android tablets or phones the default Android web browser would still be used, but when in HDMI output mode to a HDTV and when using USB or Bluetooth keyboards and mice, the Chrome browser or Firefox would thus be the browser of choice.

I think it would be nice as well if it was possible to provide a full speed browser experience even on cheap ARM Powered Android devices that come with little RAM memory such as only 128MB or RAM, still enable the use of unlimited amounts of opened tabs by somehow perhaps saving the state of each tab into ROM memory and be able to quickly in few milliseconds be able to pull that back into RAM memory when the specific tab is selected.

On the other hand, I also think it would make sense to support all Android applications within Chrome OS, thus this might mean that eventually Android and Chrome OS will merge.

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Pricing and availability on Archos 7 Internet Tablet (8GB) leaked

Posted by Charbax – February 1, 2010

If the leaked pricing rumor of £149 for the Archos 7 Internet Tablet is correct, this may mean that it will be sold for only $199 in the USA. Consider that European retail pricing always includes around 20% VAT taxes which are not included in US retail pricing.

In September 2009, Archos did announce that they would upgrade to 1ghz processors, thus I expect it may be the new Texas Instruments OMAP3640 that is a 45nm process or a 1ghz version of the current OMAP3440 processor.

Archos 7 Internet Tablet (8GB)

The cheaper $199 Archos 7 Internet Tablet, means the Archos 5 Internet Tablet will probably also be available $50 to $100 cheaper. It is currently sold at $249 at Radio Shack. Thus by March, pricing for the Archos 5 Internet Tablet (8GB) may be lowered to around $179 (I am speculating here).

Archos 7 Internet Tablet (8GB) specifications

It'd be really nice to see Archos come during the next few months with more screen sizes from 4.3", 4.8", 7", 8.9" and even 10.1" Android Tablets. I speculate on what the overall pricing of those may be in this post: http://archosfans.com/2010/01/29/my-recommendations-on-archos-cheap-android-tablet-revolution/

Most importantly, if full Google Marketplace can officially be supported on larger screened Android Tablets, and if all bugs are fixed soon for very stable full Android and VOIP usage, I think this positions Archos and the whole Android Tablet segment as a really good value alternative to the $499-$829 Apple iPad.

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Update on my wishlist for my next HD camcorder

Posted by Charbax – January 31, 2010

Here's an update on my August 2nd 2008 wish-list for features of my next HD Camcorder:

Since the beginning of 2008, I have been using my Sanyo HD1000 camcorder to post about 1000 videos in 9mbit/s 720p HD quality (h264 baseline Sanyo recordings) to Youtube and before mid-2008 using 3.5mbit/s DivX 720p HD to my server when I posted all my technology videos at http://techvideoblog.com. In 2005-2007, I was using my old Sony HDR-HC1 for my 1080i HDV recordings to video-blog in 3.5mbit/s DivX 720p and Google Video.

I consider myself to be a professional video-blogger, thus I really would like to see the HD camcorder industry to include video-blogger features in next generation camcorders.

I would like to see Sanyo release a compact pocketable HD3000 model in the next couple of months, with following features:

- built-in WiFi upload to Youtube HD, like the Eye-Fi but WiFi uploads should be fast at full WiFi speed with resume of uploads supported and very easy to use user interface in the camera to manage uploads and automatic-uploads.
- built-in Android touch screen interface (for editing titles/descriptions), with USB-host or Bluetooth for keyboard text input to edit titles/descriptions
- faster/better H264 encoding quality per bitrate with more lower bitrate options such as 4mbit/s 720p (which should be at least as good quality as 9mbit/s encoding on the older Sanyo HD1000) for quicker upload to Youtube.
- Wireless microphone using Bluetooth or RF built-in would be nice as well.
- Live WiFi streaming with overlay chat API for Qik/Ustream would be nice as well while it also records HD versions.
- If possible, it should record both 4mbit/s 720p or 1080p 8mbit/s for Youtube and 20mbit/s 1080p for archiving.
- It should support automatic editing of intro/outros in all videos. Thus I could record a new intro/outro for each new event and it should just automatically edit that in.
- Let me pause recordings to thus edit videos while I film and let me join/cut videos within the camcorder faster than on HD1000
- It should let me point to a transparent PNG file to use as Watermark in all videos by default, the Watermark should be applied while filming thus not loosing any quality in re-encoding later.
- Version with built-in SIM card slot for HSDPA features would be nice, constant overlay live IRC chat would be nice to receive live questions and suggestions from live viewers
- 4.3" or 4.8" screen would be nice as viewfinder compared to the 2.7" of the HD1000.
- Built-in 2.5" or 1.8" hard drive compartment would be nice for adding built-in storage upwards 500GB.
- Otherwise a second built-in SDHC card slot would be nice.
- Some clever system to swap battery while filming without having to interrupt the filming would be impressive.
- Built-in wide-angle, I film everything in wide-angle so I'd rather not have to buy an add-on wide-angle lense. Yet it's ok if Sanyo make the lense look wide an cool by default (small lenses don't look as professional).

Dear Camcorder industry, if you want to differentiate your HD Camcorder with good optics (better than a basic Flip camcorder), and not let Smartphones get HD camcorder functions built-in before we see some of these things. These features are it! Once you have got these features integrated, you can start aiming towards Quad-HD resolution recording for cheap if the HDTV LCD industry can follow as well, instead of making those ridiculous 3D HDTV.

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I uploaded 72 videos from CES 2010

Posted by Charbax – January 21, 2010
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 08:  Consumer Electronics ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Wow, I beat my record for the amount of videos that I filmed and have posted from a 4-day consumer electronics conference. I uploaded 72 videos to Youtube from CES 2010 in HD 1280x720 9mbit/s quality. And I am still not done. I still have at least 2 more videos that I can think of that I forgot to upload yet (one because I had to edit it) which I will get to upload during the next couple of days as soon as I find them.

22 of those videos have so far reached audiences of more than 1000 viewers, which I think is lower than I would have hoped for. I did not have any time during my trip in the USA to try to promote my best videos for trying to get them embedded on the big technology news blogs. And also, the big technology news blogs like Engadget and Gizmodo had their own armies of 20+ bloggers each doing all the coverage that they needed. Engadget for example brags about having published 700 posts during CES (I didn't count them), that wouldn't leave much space for them to think about embedding any other small video-bloggers videos even if those might be better than their own ones.

My new site http://ARMdevices.net is also only just launched right now before CES, I need to work on optimizing the features, especially the comments and social networking aspects of it. Please do subscribe to my RSS feed if you do use that kind of technology so you will automatically know when I post new awesome videos.

My plan is now to film my next extensive consumer electronics show video coverage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from 15-18th February, where Google might be releasing Nexus Two, Three and Four, so definitely check back for that!

Until then, I plan to release some awesome video reviews of amazing new products. I have right here the Android based Hivision Mininote laptop, it is absolutely amazing and I have been preparing to film my extensive video review of it to be published imminently. I should hurry up as I am probably one of the very few very lucky people on this planet with a real ARM Powered Android laptop. I also got a Pocketbook 360 e-ink e-reader which may well be the most pocketable e-ink e-reader on the market, I will soon post a high quality video review of that one. I just got a Huawei e5830 Mifi adaptor, awesome to always stay connected to the Internet, I will test VOIP Android applications on Archos 5 Internet Tablet using its new Donut-based Android firmware 1.7.33 and the hacked Google Marketplace using it to see if that can fully replace a mobile phone.

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A message to Boxee about the Boxee payments system

Posted by Charbax – January 20, 2010

I posted this comment to Avner Ronen's announcement about the upcoming Boxee payments system:

It was nice to film Boxee Box at CES.

And congratulations to them with all those people thinking they were the best of the show.

I wish the Boxee project good luck in revolutionizing the TV world. It’s a big deal though, I think that industry is not only a multi-trillion dollar industry worldwide, they also basically control the minds of people. TV stations are decisive in elections, they make or break politicians and one cannot become famous without TV.

While I am amazed to see all Boxee's cool TV remote interfaces work so smoothly on an ARM Powered Tegra2 device, I’d like to see confirmation that Boxee Box definitely support everything and all codecs on that platform. If they really will support all the same content sources such as Youtube HD, Hulu, all the podcasts, BitTorrent RSS and more.

Since Boxee is building an open system, perhaps the best way to implement pay-per-view would be to implement an open platform that not only supports Boxee payments but could support any other payment system where Boxee might not even see 1% of the transaction revenues. It’d probably be weird though for Boxee to be that open even on the payment opportunity side of things.

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4.8″ WVGA should be the sweet spot for more pocketable devices

Posted by Charbax – January 19, 2010

As you would know from checking out my other fansite http://archosfans.com I am a fan of the 4.8" 800x480 resolution screens. I just wonder why we still haven't seen any so called "smart phone" with such screen size and pixel densities. I posted this opinion at crunchgear:

5″ is about the perfect sized screen at WVGA resolution because it fits in mostly all pockets and provides enough resolution with large enough pixels to provide near full PC-like web browsing and movie watching experience. I also think that it can provide near desktop-like applications experiences.

Normally, even with a kick-stand like on the Archos, you will hold the 5″ Tablet at about half arms length from your eyes, while the laptop screen usually is nearly at twice the distance from your eyes down on your lap or on a table further away (also because you have the keyboard and mouse pad).

So basically, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet pretty much provides you 75% the full resolution experience of web browsing on a Laptop and 75% the experience of watching a movie on a laptop. In terms of number of visible and reachable pixels per degree of angle of vision.

While the iphone only provides you with 33% the resolution/experience in both browsing and video watching compared to a laptop. That is why most of the actual use of iphones and other similar sized smart phones are mostly for actually only doing phone calls and playing music and running random low definition apps (with few buttons and little screen size to actually use).

You may count screen size difference between 3.5″ and 4.8″ as “only” 1.3″ difference. Another way to compare screen sizes is the mathematical way, which is to say the truth that Archos 4.8″ screen is 2x the surface area of the iphone screen. Basically it is really a huge difference.

Archos 5 next to the iphone

Archos 5 next to the iphone

And I just don’t think it is right to say that 4.8″ screened devices don’t fit in most people’s pockets. Wallets and Passports are all larger than 4.8″ in diagonal and they are designed to be transported in pockets all over the world. Walking around with business card sized LCD screens is just not good enough in my opinion if you really care to take the Web and Video with you everywhere.

Still many more videos to be uploaded

Posted by Charbax – January 15, 2010

I am in a third world country when it comes to Internet connection speeds. Neither do any hotels in Las Vegas nor San Francisco provide any decent Internet upload speeds. Since I left the Press Room at the CES convention center on the 10th of January, I have barely been able to upload any of my 9mbit/s 1280x720 videos. Here are the places I tried:

- Imperial Palace Hotel Las Vegas : Internet sucks, it costs $10 per day, disconnects constantly, I couldn't upload anything, Youtube would disconnect. The speed was actually 0 for most of the time. I had to call the ISP HKI Wireless and hold for 20 minutes to get one of their technical service representatives to remotely reboot the WiFi router so that the Internet would work at all. They did not provide a full refund for bad Internet service.

- Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas provides Ethernet connection but the upload speed is very bad, I was not able to upload any video successfully, it would always disconnect in the middle of file transfers (Youtube does not support resuming of uploads) and the upload speed was generally below 30kb/s. Connection cost $12.95 per night included in the "Resort fee".

- Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas did not provide any decent upload speed either. I was not able to upload any video from that Hotel even though I stayed there 2 nights. All uploads got interrupted and were far too slow, upload speed less than 50kb/s over their Ethernet. Price $14.95 per night for the Internet though it's included in their "Resort fee".

- Treasure Island in Las Vegas did provide below 80kb/s upload speed, I managed to upload a couple of videos overnight. The Internet access is available using Ethernet and is included in their "resort fee" as well. Though it was much too slow for me to upload anything significant. I might have uploaded 1GB overnight from there.

- McCarran airport in Las Vegas provide decent 200kb/s upload connection, sponsored for free by Google. So I was able to upload 1.5GB to Youtube while waiting for my airplane to leave.

- San Francisco airport does not provide free Internet access so I did not try. One has to pay T-Mobile some unreasonable amount of money to connect.

- Marina Heritage Hotel in San Francisco has very crappy Internet access. Those are unencrypted WiFi hotspots provide by a company name HotWan. It sucks so bad, nothing was achieved and even checking Emails and browsing the Internet was unbearable.

- I tried about a dozen Netcafés in San Francisco, including Café Trieste on Market, Cyber Café on Geary Street, Quetzal Café on Polk Street, and half a dozen other places. Including the Fedex Kinkos on Van Nesse Avenue. None of them have any usable Internet upload speeds. They are all at less than 50kb/s and a couple might be around 80kb/s if I leech their whole connection (making things slow probably for everyone else in the net cafés), thus making it impossible for me to upload any of my videos without squatting one of these Internet Cafés for 15-20 hours. That's not going to happen. ISP company named ZRnet provide WiFi at several of the places and hotels, their customer support line has no idea what bandwidth they provide and they disconnect users after 90minutes of use, making Youtube uploads impossible.

It would have been useful if there was some kind of user generated map of Speed Testing of all the download and upload speeds of all the hotels and netcafés. I wouldn't mind paying $1-$3 per GB, as long as the speed is guaranteed 100mbit/s upload. I thought San Francisco was the Silicon Valley and that they would have decent Internet here. I get much faster private Internet over ADSL2+, Cable or Fiber in Copenhagen Denmark for $40-60 per month than US Hotels provide to all their guests combined.

So please check back within the next few days and I will hopefully have found some ways to upload my remaining 7.5GB of HD quality videos from CES 2010. At the least I will have them uploaded once I am back to real European 2mbit/s to 100mbit/s Upload speeds.

Most importantly, if you know where I might be able to find decent 10-100mbit/s upload speeds in San Francisco, please send me an email at charbax@charbax.com

WiFi is bad at CES, video-uploads coming later

Posted by Charbax – January 6, 2010

I am not able to get enough bandwidth or any connection at all on the WiFi hotspots at the CES press events at the Venetian hotel (is CES not really interested in having bloggers blog about their tradeshow?), the Venetian press room has no working wifi and 6 ethernet cables to share among 2000 journalists. Also, the $10 daily WiFi access at my hotel room at Imperial Palace constantly drops off so I can for now not upload my first CES HD quality videos.

So for now I send you this blurry picture:

Today, I have seen some awesome looking ARM Powered laptops powered by Marvell and Qualcomm and the Lenovo one looks really great.

I will upload my videos daily as soon as I have access to the real Press Room at the convention center, perhaps starting tomorrow, where I am sure that they will provide hundreds of megabits per second upload speeds.

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I have arrived in Las Vegas

Posted by Charbax – January 5, 2010

And here is what you can find in all Radio Shack stores in the USA, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet (8GB) selling right there for a very affordable $249 price. If Archos markets this device the right way and provides a perfect Android firmware for it with full Google Marketplace integration, and soon announce 3G and 7" versions and solutions for Camera and Compass, I think Archos has a huge opportunity right there to make a very big influence on the market.

You can follow my extensive HD quality video coverage from CES here on http://armdevices.net during the next few days.

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CES video coverage on ARMdevices.net

Posted by Charbax – January 2, 2010
Consumer Electronics Show
Image via Wikipedia

I will be in Las Vegas to film up to 50 HD quality videos from January 4th to 11th of the best ARM Powered® devices to be shown at the tradeshow. I will try to film behind-the-scenes Interviews with Engineers, Product Managers and other experts in the ARM Powered® Tablets, Mobile Phones and Laptops that are going to be shown at CES and launched hopefully soon thereafter at attractive prices.

The big question for me will be to notice the actual performance level reached by those latest ARM Cortex A8 or ARM Cortex A9 processors to be embedded in those devices. The certain crucial performance levels that we need to see working smoothly and fine are following:

- The web browser needs to browse on websites fast and with multiple amounts of opened tabs.

- The web browser needs to load advanced Javascripts and AJAX based websites just as fast as on an Intel-based Laptop.

- Flash 10.1 support needs to be just about as smooth and good on ARM Powered® devices as on Intel-based ones.

- I'd really like to see the first demos of fast and smooth Google Chromium OS demos running on ARM Powered® Laptops and Tablets. The full Google Chrome browser optimized to use hardware acceleration of the ARM Powered® Laptops and Tablets is crucial for the success of the platform. That is, it would be surely great to see Firefox and Opera browsers also working fast and smooth for all those advanced things.

- Some level of advanced 3D hardware acceleration for 3D game platforms such as the Unreal Engine, Quake3 demos, even N64 emulators demonstrated to work on all the latest ARM Cortex based technologies would be really great and would add a certain level of confidence in ARM Powered® devices from the bunch of 3D gamer geeks that do represent a large part of the blogosphere.

- In general, it would be extremely great to see working implementations of full hardware acceleration in Android and Chrome OS, as well as in Ubuntu 9.10 and any other Linux ARM based OS that can really be used well to optimize the use of hardware acceleration.

Then in terms of business models, ARM Powered® devices should have more opportunity to be sold to consumers at attractive prices. Subsidizing the devices with telecom contracts running up to more than $2000 over the 2-years is one way to do it. What I would really like to see are official announcements that the ARM Powered® Laptops and Tablets are not only very powerful in terms of Javascripts/Flash/3D performance, but also that they can be sold significantly cheaper to the end consumer than devices based on Intel.

The $200 ARM Powered® Laptop and the promise of $100 ones for consumers to buy totally unlocked and without contracts, that is where the biggest opportunity lies with ARM Powered® devices in my opinion. By bring the PC/Laptop industry to a lower cost level, could also mean that 1 Billion or more people around the world will be able to afford to have full access to the web. And if all those devices can add the Pixel Qi low power sunlight readable screen and even function in Tablet mode, run 20-40 hours on a low cost and light battery, then all the greatest. It would be really nice to see actual product announcements at CES in just a few days.

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