hybrid

HP made some pre-Computex announcements on Sunday as it revealed plans to release a number of new Windows 8.1 notebooks later this summer, all of which can also be used in some form of tablet mode. The new version of the HP Split x2 still allows the display to detach from its keyboard dock to be used as a big 13.3 inch Windows 8.1 tablet. The keyboard dock also serves as a second battery for the Split x2. The new version has a 500GB hard drive inside the tablet and will also have Intel's Bay Trail processors. It will go on sale in the U.S. June 29 for the starting price of $599.99.

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Out of all the Windows hybrid machines we have been able to get our hands on, Lenovo’s line of YOGA machines still sit among the best. The company’s current YOGA 2 Pro is an excellent unit, but with its $999 price tag, it can be out of reach for some. In a world where cheap Windows laptops reign supreme and Google Chromebooks at $249 look like a good option for some, we really need a truly great, yet affordable, Windows 8 machine – enter the Lenovo YOGA 2.

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Sony's line of VAIO Flip PCs are a very interesting and beautiful concept for the future of Windows 8 computers. They appear to be Ultrabooks, but have a latch that releases the screen and allows the display to flip 180 degrees backward on a fulcrum. This year at CES 2014, Sony has just introduced a new addition to the lineup – the VAIO Fit 11A Flip PC. 

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The creation of Android/Windows 8 hybrid machines is nothing new. I personally wrote an editorial a month ago, entitled "A Tale of Split Personalities: Windows 8-Android Hybrids", that concentrated on the negative effects these machines could have on the Windows 8 ecosystem. 

This year at CES 2014, the trend continues as Asus announced its Transformer Book Duet TD300. The unit itself can be dual-booted between Microsoft's Windows 8 and Google's Android Jelly Bean operating systems. 

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Do you remember Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 Windows 8 slider laptop/tablet hybrid (wow that’s a mouthful)? If you don’t, don’t worry – it was a terrible machine; the unit was plagued by an uncomfortable keyboard, short battery life, and a bulky design. Sony wants to take another shot at the slider concept though, and has unveiled the Sony VAIO Duo 13.

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Xbox 360 - Summer of Arcade 2012 schedule announced

A few times a year, Microsoft calls attention to some of its larger Xbox Live Arcade releases with special promotions. Just a few months ago, the Arcade Next lineup introduced Minecraft: XBLA Edition and several more heavy hitters to the Xbox 360 crowd. Next month, the yearly Summer of Arcade promotion kicks off. The lineup doesn’t have anything quite as big as Minecraft (already the best-selling XBLA game ever), but it still packs great games and a special reward for gamers who buy three or more Summer of Arcade titles: a 400 MS Point rebate.

Head past the break for the full Summer of Arcade schedule, prices, and Sonic the Hedgehog XBLA news!

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Jorma Ollila, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nokia Corporation, told the well respected Financial Times that Nokia has plans for tablets and "hybrid" smart devices, details nearly lost in the article focusing on how Nokia is trying to rebound from losing market share lately.

While specific on the device plans are scarce, Ollila did give a few tantalizing details in the interview, noting:

“Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors [handset designs] in the future.”

We can of course only surmise that Ollila is referring to Windows 8 plans for the fall where Nokia is expected to release such devices. Such a pronouncement echoes an earlier comment by Marko Ahtisaari, Design Chief at Nokia who said in March that he spends a third of his time at the company on tablet development.

With Nokia making advances in flexible screens, their excellent design esthetic and the new Metro layout of Windows 8, we see yet another perfect storm to take on Apple in the tablet space.

Trying to catch up to Cupertino will be exceptionally difficult for the Finnish company, as much if not more than in the smartphone realm. But if there was a perfect aligning of technology: Nokia, Windows 8 and Microsoft would be the best shot.

The other bit about "hybrids" is also fascinating as it sounds to us like something between a tablet and a smartphone is being considered, ala the Galaxy Note. While the Note with its 5.3" screen was dismissed by many as too large, the device has actually been selling quite well indicating a strong market for such hybrids.

Needless to say, this fall should be very exciting.

Ollila is stepping down from Nokia after 27 years from the company as announced late last year.

Source: Financial Times; via the Nokia Blog

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Although many would say Bing maps is a pretty solution to mapping in Windows Phone 7, one thing users always enjoy is choice. Two new mapping applications have arrived in the Marketplace recently and while neither is the be-all map-app, both offer some unique features that a few may be interested in. Unlike TA Maps which exploited Google's mapping servers but also required you to 'jailbreak' the device, both of these apps are distributed through the Marketplace, albeit for a price.

Advanced Maps Viewer ($0.99 + no trial): uses Google Maps and includes Street, Satellite, Hybrid and Physical maps in addition to geolocation positioning. OpenStreetMap integration is coming. This app is the most similar to TA Maps including "locate me" but also offers different map layers. It's fast, efficient and works. Downside is no routing. Grab it here in Zune on your phone or desktop.

JustAnotherMaps ($1.29 +  trial): Uses OpenStreetMap (not Google) with routing and searching. This is actually great since it can give directions but it severely needs a "locate me" icon to zoom to your current position. Nothing a simple update couldn't improve upon. This app is better for those in Europe and other countries where Bing Maps is not so accurate or available. Grab it here in Zune on your phone or desktop.

Like we said, neither is perfect and it depends what you want more: Google Maps + Layers or mediocre Search + Routing. Someday we'll get it all, but for now, we'll keep watching what these two developers continue to offer.

Update: @mahoekst alerts us to the very cool and quite impressive Maps Mania (get it here), which also does Google Maps, Bing Maps, OpenStreetMap and custom maps. Nice.

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In the first generation of the Windows Phone 7 development software, access to sockets is not available--that's what is needed for VOIP services to work and why Skype won't (really can't) hop onto the OS just yet.  Microsoft has stated that sockets support is coming, so with one of the OTA updates (fingers crossed), this will be made available.

Until then, a hybrid-approach can be used. Such method is used by companies like iSkoot where instead of using the data connection to make the free call, it re-routes the call to a local call center which then makes the call for you over the internet. It's like Opera Mini vs Opera Mobile--in the former, the "hard work" is done off the phone remotely. However, iSkoot hasn't updated their Windows Mobile software in sometime and they haven't said anything about support for Windows Phone 7.

Step in Voxofon who operates in a similar manner. They seem to be supporting all the new OSs in town, including pushing big into Windows Phone 7. So kudos to them for taking that market seriously. Now unlike Skype-to-Skype calls over true VOIP, you are charged for making calls on Voxofon. This is done like Skype where you can buy credits and they are linked to your account. Luckily, rates are very cheap making it an affordable option for making inter-continental calls: (1.3 cents per minute).

The software looks quite nice--it's a separate dialer app that log ins to your account, displays your balance and tells you the rate per minute before you call. It's no true Skype solution, but at this point we'll take what we can get.

Read more here at Voxofon.

[tipped by Alexey G of Voxofon]

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