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In Defense of Window Phone 7 March 3, 2011

Posted by Marcus in Hardware.
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I feel that windows phone 7 has been getting a pretty rough time lately. I’m not saying it doesn’t deserve it. From low sale numbers to the ever allusive updates, WP7 deserves quite a bit of criticism. On the other hand, the OS does one thing that I feel is revolutionary in this space. For that WP7 deserves a shout out.

I think the best way to explain the genius behind WP7 is go back to its origins in a device called the Zune HD. The Metro UI took its first baby steps onto the scene in this device, and I was immediately hooked. Despite my contribution of one purchase, the Zune HD was a commercial failure. But the Zune HD is not the story here; the story lies in the metro UI. It is easy to argue that this was most likely the first time a user interface was put onto a device as part of a larger development program. I’m not saying that the Zune was never supposed to succeed; I’m just saying that Microsoft might not have been too concerned with its success.

Let’s come back to present day. Microsoft has released Windows Phone 7 onto the market, and it hasn’t been easy going to say the least. Problems with the software, lack of updates, and slow adaptation of the product have plagued the device. There were terrible rumors of sales fewer than fifteen thousand, and people had started to look at the device as the next Kin. Yet despite all this there are certain aspects of this phone that are genius simply a stroke of genius.

First off is the user interface that found it’s infancies in Zune. What is amazing about it, is the fact that the UI is so distinct. Really no one has ever done a text based UI for a phone before or any other device. This gives developers an amazing opportunity to developers. Applications don’t feel like applications when they use the same interface as the OS, they feel more like a natural part of the phone. Windows phone blurs the line between itself and third party apps, and for that it deserves credit. The other thing Microsoft did developers right by is Xbox integration. This isn’t really about Microsoft’s benefit as much as it is the developers’ benefit once again. This allows for game makers to jump on to the xbox brand, and entire xbox live ecosystem for their games. No other platform offers that.

I don’t know if WP7 will be successful long term. However, if they do manage to take a large chunk of the market, it will remind everyone about what is important to a platform. Applications are what make or break a platform despite the form factor, and it is nice to see that when companies like Apple do all they can to control developers that someone is still looking out for them.

The Ipad, ExoPC, and the Future of Tablets February 18, 2011

Posted by Marcus in Hardware.
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Tablets are in a strange place right now, We know what they are supposed to look like and about how much they should cost, however we have yet to figure out what they are supposed to do. That should be the first thing, right? I was excited when tablet computing burst onto the scene last year with the release of the Ipad. However since then we haven’t figured out where to draw the line between functionality and simplicity. So far most tablets have fallen into two categories, “big phone” and “computer without a keyboard”, and neither of these work. There are a lot of good things about the Ipad, but paying for the price of a laptop and getting the functionality of a smartphone is absolutely absurd, and not fair to the consumer. At the same time, putting Windows 7 on a touchscreen doesn’t work too terribly well either. So then that leaves us with one product that has gotten fairly close.

Ipad ExoPC

The ExoPC was released late 2010 and has quietly been selling in unreported, however predictably low numbers. Despite this, it is one of the most ingenious items on the market to date. The concept behind the device is fairly simple. Take windows 7 and overlay it with a touch UI. Seems simple enough, however they didn’t stop there. They also set up a marketplace, and made a SDK making it possible to develop apps for the device UI. The UI itself takes advantage of the large screen size, and includes touch friendly multi-tasking. Then  to top it all off, they allow you to minimize the ExoPC UI and run regular old Windows 7. The combination gives you full functionality when you need it and simplicity when you don’t. The device is a work of genius given its competition. However, it is not quite there. The problem ExoPc has is that it isn’t made by Apple, Google, or Microsoft. And regrettably won’t gain enough market share to be a mainstream contender in the market. I’m not saying that for sure, because I hope more than anyone that it does.

If ExoPC does not conquer the tablet world, all is not lost looking forward. Both Microsoft and Apple have talked about touch being a huge part of their next operating systems, alongside that  Blackberry is looking to bring true multi-tasking to their 7″ Playbook. What I think the future of tablet computing will be is full-fledged operating systems with an overlay of touch functionality by the two companies that do operating systems best. I personally don’t see Google Android or Blackberry doing well after the dust settles in the tablet market. It will be fascinating to see how this develops in the next couple years, and in the mean time thank-you ExoPC for getting the ball moving in the right direction.

Get To Know Illumintech February 17, 2011

Posted by Marcus in Hardware, Online.
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Welcome, My name is Marcus. I’m starting this site to try and fill a gap in technology blogs. Before we get any further, I’d like to explain that this is not about reviewing gadgets, or services. This is not about reiterating tech news from other sites. What Illumintech is about is ideas. I hope that there is a market out there for this content, because I don’t want things to end with what I put on the page. I encourage everybody to post in the coment section so we can have some actual discussions about technology today and where technology is  going.

Saying that, I would like to get some rules out for discussions.

  1. No fan boy comments: No comment pages will disintegrate into a Mac vs. PC discussion. There is two much of this already, and it is counter productive.
  2. No personal attacks: You can disagree with any comment. That is what discussion is about, however keep on subject. No one is a (insert profanity) because they think different than you.
  3. Keep on subject: Small tangents are fine, however I’d like to keep on the subject at hand, this is still a blog not a forum.