Sony and Samsung tablets miss the mark thanks to idiotic contracts and pricing

galaxytabletp Sony and Samsung tablets miss the mark thanks to idiotic contracts and pricing

Between the Mobile World Congress and Apple’s upcoming iPad event, set for March 7, there’s been no shortage of tablet coverage recently. Although the iPad 3 has arguably stolen the spotlight, Samsung and Sony have done their best to vie for attention. Well, maybe not their best, but they’ve made an effort. Each has announced an impending tablet that will debut before Apple shows off its latest entry: Samsung will introduce the Galaxy Tab 7.7 on March 1, and Sony will offer up the Sony Tablet P threes days later on March 4. Ordinarily we’d applaud this sort of gadget onslaught. After all, when three of the industry’s biggest names throw their hats into the ring, surely consumers will reap the rewards. Except Samsung and Sony have bogged down their tablets with ridiculous contracts and prices that are sure to turn off consumers while ruining any chance the companies had of seriously challenging Apple for big-dog status.

When Samsung made its latest Galaxy Tab pitch, for instance, instead of giving consumers reason to overlook the rest of the Tab family’s disappointing performance, the company overshadowed the tablet’s 7.7-inch, LTE credentials with this fuckup: The Galaxy tab 7.7 will set you back a minimum $499, and that’s with a 2-year contract. If you say to hell with carriers, the price of the puny tablet swells to an eye-watering, deal-breaking $699.

And Sony, already bleeding money, is similarly stupid. Its Tablet P, a 5.5-inch tablet with a Nintendo DS-like ability to fold in half, will price itself off the market with a 399-dollar contract tag, and that price skyrockets to $549 without a contract.

If you’re wondering why those prices are bound to sink both products to the bottom of the gadget heap, a place reserved for hare-brained, half-baked efforts, look no further than Apple’s leading tablets. You can get in to a 9.7-inch iPad 2 for $500, and a carrier-backed version that won’t saddle you with a contract comes in at $629. Despite a rumor that the iPad 3 could command an 80-dollar premium, odds are those prices will carry over. In fact, if anything, the iPad 3’s rollout could slash its predecessors’ prices. That’s the word, anyway. But even if that last rumor doesn’t pan out, the iPad will lord over its pricier-per-inch Samsung and Sony competition because, well, it provides a better bang for your buck.

Not that it has to convince consumers of its worthiness. Two years and more than 55 million iPads later, Apple has comfortably established its tablet as the one to beat. It’s up to the competition to make compelling arguments for relevance. But they haven’t. Samsung and Sony have shot themselves in the collective foot with foolish prices and led two more lambs to the slaughter. Good show, guys.

What to expect from the iPad 3′s Retina display

Considering the way Apple’s upcoming iPad 3 has dominated headlines for months, it’s easy to forget the company has yet to officially acknowledge anything and that almost everything we think we know about the tablet-to-be is still up in the air. One feature, however, is a surer thing than the rest, having been validated from suppliers on down: a double-resolution, 2048×1536 Retina display. Like the iPhone 4 and 4S before it, the next iPad is all but certain to get the ultra-high-resolution treatment, and we’re here to show you what to expect from a screen with four times the pixels.

retinainfographic What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

Infographics are fantastic ways to present data. They’re also often huge — so huge that current iPads can show just a fraction of the overall images in full scale. Take, for example, the above picture, rendered in 6243×1000. On a traditional iPad, at 100 percent scale, a fair amount of the image is lopped off on the horizontal axis. A Retina iPad, on the other hand, would have no such trouble.


infintyretina What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

Games, at least until they’re optimized for a double-resolution display, will look fuzzy. Titles made with the first- and second-gen models in mind will have to be stretched to fit the iPad 3’s more generously pixeled display, and they’ll look blurry as a result. Think standard-definition content scaled to fit a high-definition TV.


retinabean What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

This image of a coffee bean, rendered in a double-resolution, Retina-like sharpness on the right, gives you an idea of what you’re in for with the iPad 3’s display. Although similar-looking from a distance, upon closer inspection, the images and their clarity are significantly different.


retinacoin What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

The fine details of this half-dollar are vague in iPad 1 and 2 guise, but become striking when fleshed out with four times the pixels. The stars, text, and eagle are much clearer in the Retina example.


retinatext2 What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

E-ink has always had text sharpness over the blurrier iPad, but not for long. The iPad 3’s Retina display will do text justice, rendering characters in a resolution that’s sure to reduce eyestrain and make eBooks, Web sites, and PDFs a pleasure to read.



coldplayretina2 What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

Bands spend big bucks on colorful, often-intricate album art. It’s a shame, then, that it can’t truly be appreciated from the current iPad, where details an artist likely made a lot of money to conceive tend to go by the wayside.


retinamovie1 What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

The current iPad’s 1024×786 display can nearly pull off 720p content in its native, uncondensed form, and videos in that format have no trouble filling the screen. But that same content will look blurrier on an iPad 3, which will have to substantially scale those feeds to fit its screen. 1080p content, on the other hand, ought to be mighty impressive, if a wee bit upscaled.


retina icon What to expect from the iPad 3s Retina display

Icons will similarly benefit from the iPad 3’s ultra-high-resolution display. With so few pixels to play with on the third-generation tablet’s predecessors, icons often look washed out and indistinct. On the iPad 3, however, they’ll be razor-sharp and could better represent their apps — assuming, of course, their creators take the time to step them up.

Apple wins injunction against Motorola over photo-gallery patent

FOSS patent reports that that Apple has been granted an injunction against Motorola in Germany for European Patent 2059868, or “Portable Electronic Device for Photo Management.” Florian Mueller of FOSS patents says that although Apple has scored a significant victory, “Motorola will keep selling devices that will continue to have a photo gallery, though any workaround will definitely degrade the user experience.” Similar rulings handed down in August of 2011 forced Samsung to modify software that infringed Apple’s patents.

Update: Motorola says its user experience won’t suffer as a result of the ruling. The company sent us this clarifying statement:

Today’s ruling in Munich, Germany on the patent litigation brought by Apple concerns a software feature associated with performing certain functions when viewing photos in a ‘zoomed in’ mode on mobile devices. We note that the Court ruled that performing the functions in a ‘zoomed out’ mode does not infringe on this patent. We expect no impact to supply or future sales as we have already implemented a new way to view photos on our products that does not interfere with the user experience.

Source: FOSS Patents

Apple readying 8GB iPad 2, 7.85-inch tablet, source says

According to DigiTimes, Apple has two iPad-related tricks up its sleeve: an 8GB iPad 2, which will be revealed alongside the iPad 3 on March 7, and a 7.85-inch tablet that will roll out in the third quarter. A smaller iPad that could go head to head with Amazon’s Kindle Fire has been rumored for months, but the watered down iPad 2 is news to us, though we’ve reported Apple could sell a discounted model.

Android allows all apps to access users’ photos

A few days ago, an exploit was found in iOS that allows third-party apps to access your photos if you grant permission to the app to access your location. Apple says it’s working on a fix and that it should be out shortly (possibly with iOS 5.1). Well, it seems iOS isn’t the only one with the vulnerability…

Today, the New York Times reported that Android has the same problem, but with a bit of a twist. While the iPhone cuts off its photo directory from apps that don’t have any user-granted permissions, Android doesn’t. According to the report, Android’s apps can have access to all of your photos, and it’s not because of a bug — it’s because of how the OS was designed. Google is reportedly considering a fix and issued this statement:

We originally designed the Android photos file system similar to those of other computing platforms like Windows and Mac OS. At the time, images were stored on a SD card, making it easy for someone to remove the SD card from a phone and put it in a computer to view or transfer those images.

As phones and tablets have evolved to rely more on built-in, non-removable memory, we’re taking another look at this and considering adding a permission for apps to access images. We’ve always had policies in place to remove any apps on Android Market that improperly access your data.

Given the recent concern over privacy on mobile devices, it’s likely Google will be “taking another look” at these issues pretty soon.