New Flash Beta Dialing Into Phones

Adobe (s ADBE) will on Tuesday release developer betas of Flash Player 10.1 for the web and AIR 2 for the desktop. Both runtimes are to be released to the public in the oh-so-very narrow and specific time frame of “the first half of 2010.” Key to plans for the next year is compatibility on netbooks and smartphones — first up for Adobe is full Flash functionality on x86-based netbooks, then the Palm OS (s PALM), then Android (s GOOG). RIM (s RIMM) has also said it will bring Flash to BlackBerries in 2010, and AIR is also due for mobile later next year.
A side benefit of these mobile optimizations is that Flash on Windows desktop will in turn get hardware decoding of H.264 video and graphic acceleration, said Tom Barclay, senior product marketing manager, Adobe Flash Platform. Adobe has also added support for multitouch and gestures for both phones and Windows 7. Update: Some mobile devices will also get graphics acceleration; it is not available for PCs.
There are also neat new features like microphone access from within Flash — so developers can access binary data from wave forms from a computer’s microphone and manipulate them. Guess what that means? Opportunities for developers to create in-Flash Auto-Tune and karaoke. (Whoo!)
Also, as expected, the beta will support client-side file based encryption, HTTP streaming, in-browser DRM and improved buffering — though those will be more fully appreciated as we get closer to the actual product releases and developers are making things for real audiences.
Somewhat left out of this push is televisions, which can only get Flash Lite for now, but Barclay said to expect fuller support later next year.

Viliv S5 WiFi Problem and a Fix

cimg14274If you have been following my adventures with the Viliv S5 Premium UMPC then you are aware I have been so impressed with the little PC that I have ordered one for my own. I am getting a tremendous amount of good use out of the S5, and everyone I have shown it to is duly impressed with Viliv’s UMPC. This weekend a problem cropped up with the S5 that had me doubting my own judgement until I figured out what was causing it and I was able to get it solved. Now I am back to happy mobile computing, so I’ll pass on what happened in case it will be helpful.
One of the things that has most impressed me about the S5 is the power management that Viliv has incorporated. The user doesn’t have to do anything to get great battery life, and a big part of that has to do with how well the S5 enters and exits Standby mode. The common usage scenario is to pop the device into standby and to resume when it’s needed again. I usually find it only takes about two seconds to go into Standby and 2-5 seconds to resume. Unlike other mobile computers I have used in the past the S5 is able to resume from Standby and reconnect to the WiFi network very quickly, at least until yesterday.
The problem set in all at once, as they often do. I found that the S5 was having trouble resuming from Standby. The desktop would appear right away as usual, but I found that the system didn’t want to execute programs, sometimes for as long as a few minutes. I watched the process many times to determine what might be causing this and began to suspect that the USB systems were not resuming from standby very well. There are many USB systems on the S5, as there are on most mobile PCs. The visible USB systems that were not resuming properly were the WiFi adapter and the Bluetooth adapter. Both of these devices are USB, and I felt pretty certain that one of them was not making the transition from running to standby to running again.
I tested this with repeated standby cycles and hard boots. The USB systems would always work as they should after a hard boot, it was just with a resume that they would fail and cause the system delays I’ve indicated. I set about scouring the Device Manager to see if some power management settings had been changed somehow but nothing really stood out. So I thought long and hard about what could have caused a major change to this system to interfere with this process, one that had been so solid before the problem set in?
The answer was ultimately the hardware driver for the WiFi adapter. My efforts to troubleshoot this went as far as doing a complete system restore to factory conditions. That went well as Viliv has a recovery partition and an easy method to reimage the system using the device buttons. The restore was followed by a Windows Update session to bring it up-to-date and that’s where I noticed what could easily be creating my problem.
I must share the blame for this new driver install as I saw a new Marvell driver update in Windows Update and thinking it was the Ethernet adapter, I checked the box to install it. I don’t remember applying this update before the restore, but I must have done so. I still had the resume problem after the restore so now that I was aware the WiFi adapter had been updated I could deal with it. The fix to my problem that I wasted hours on troubleshooting was to simply roll the driver back to what it was originally. Windows makes that very simple to do and that has fixed my problem.
My system is back happily resuming from standby as it did before. I suspect that Viliv has done a good job customizing the Marvell driver for the S5 and the generic Windows Update driver lost those customizations, thus creating my problem. It goes to show that you have to pay close attention to updates that Windows wants to apply and make darn sure you need a hardware update.

CES Wrap up- where oh where was Android?

asus-booth1Today is travel day as we leave the pretend world of Las Vegas and head back to the real world.  We’ll be offline and in the air for much of the day but meanwhile I’ve thrown together a bit of a wrapup of the big CES 2009.

Netbooks were definitely the big item as CES this year but we expected that.  Almost everybody makes one and the rest plan to make their own.  The little notebooks were everywhere and due to the low prices of them they are not going away any time soon.  The Sony Vaio P appearance was big news at CES and while not a netbook it is a “tweener” device that piqued a lot of interest at the show.

On the smartphone front things were quiet with the obvious exception of the Palm Pre.  The introduction of the new smartphone from Palm was the biggest buzz-maker at the show and put the only life into the smartphone arena that we saw.  Palm needed a transfusion of excitement in their world and the Pre has definitely provided it.

The rest of the smartphone world at CES was dead silent.  There were no new Windows Mobile phone announcements, handset maker displays were just more of the same.  Nokia showed some new stuff but it was largely variants of existing stuff and no one was walking around the show floor talking about them.  It’s as if Palm sucked the wind out of the smartphone world for everyone else.

The biggest surprise for me at the CES was the total lack of anything Android.  There were no new handsets presented, none announced, just dead silence.  The handset makers working on Android phones may be waiting for the Mobile World Congress in February to make their move but it was surprising to not see a single Android phone appear at CES.  It unsettles me a bit as I have predicted on the latest MobileTechRoundup show that I expect to see at least 12 Android phones appear this year.  Android could give Palm a run for its money with new handsets so they’d better get busy.

Rest day- installing Windows 7 beta

windows_7_vienna_logo-11Today is a day to wind down from the CES 2009 grind and for me that means installing the newly released Windows 7 beta.  I got an install DVD from someone at the Tablet meetup yesterday so today I’m installing it under Parallels on the MacBook.  The install actually went pretty smoothly as Parallels had an update last week to include support for the Windows 7 beta.  The only thing I can’t get working so far is sharing the 3G connection on the MacBook with the virtual machine with Windows 7 installed.  I’m playing with it now.  🙂

UPDATE: after installing Parallels Tools in Windows 7 my connectivity issues disappeared.  This update was performed in Google Chrome under Windows 7 under Parallels Desktop.

Reader HG shows off gadgets

Long-time reader Hector Gomez drove hours to meet up at the tablet gathering in Vegas. Hector had some cool gear with him, the MSI Wind running Windows 7 and the sweet little Kojhinsha SC3.

Thanks for coming out Hector!

Sony VAIO P Manhandled on Video

We finally found the right time to get over to the Sony VAIO kiosk, so here’s a short, 11-minute preliminary hands on with the P. Very first, limited impressions: this is a well designed device. The P certainly doesn’t feel like 1.4-pounds when you hold it; it feels far lighter. I guess we’re all used to carrying 2.5- to 5-pound devices. 😉 It’s definitely pocketable, but not in any pants I own. The P should fit nicely within an inside jacket pocket, though.

Most amazing to me is how thin the lid and display are, which we show in the vid. There’s really no flex either. The keyboard is reminiscent of the chiclet-style keys on my MacBook. Definitely usable, but tracking nub may take some getting used to. I wasn’t thrilled that the camera is off to the side; I had hoped that Sony somehow designed it with a small tilt so you could sit centrally. Nope. We didn’t check the DPI settings, but text was quite readable. It’s sure to be a stretch for some folks, but for some, it beats having to scroll every few seconds.

Clearly, this is a nice device. Nice enough for $899 or more? That’s a tough call and one we can’t make with out spending more quality time. Before I forget: as I was working the camera (and getting jostled around), I thought the Sony P had HDMI out. Sleep deprivation has set in as I was obviously wrong. That’s the multi-purpose port for an external display and Ethernet. Best part of the vid? The guy who was trying to hone in on the device so he could take video too. Listen and you’ll hear what I mean… take a number, dude! 😉 We’ll get a link to the higher quality video shortly.

Update: the high-def version of this video can be seen here.

Tablet & Touch meetup in Vegas will start soon

One of the events held during the CES week each year that is our favorite is the Tablet PC meetup.  This year it’s being held in the CntrStg suite and you can attend with us as it’s being streamed live.  It starts at 3 PM Pacific Time which is about a half hour from now so join us for the fun.

CES Video: Day 2 Thoughts, Day 3 Plans

We were exhausted from walking on day 2, so our daily wrap video didn’t happen until this morning. There were more MIDs, UMPCs and netbooks sighted yesterday. We also spent a good amount of time talking with AMD, who powers the HP dv2: it’s not that much more costly than a well-specified netbook, but doesn’t compromise much in terms of power and performance.

Today we’re hoping to get our hands dirty with more of them and we’ll try to video the experience if things work out. You’d think the show ended yesterday based on the empty press and blogger lounges. Sure, all the big news has come out by now, but there’s still devices to be tinkered with! Only until 5:15pm local time though: I’ve got a very rare playoff game to watch.

Windows 7 is Back on the Menu

windows_7_vienna_logo-1Heavy traffic put Windows 7 beta download on hold yesterday, but we’re hearing reports that things are humming along nicely now in Redmond. Here’s the link in case you missed it: you can find both the 32- and 64-bit versions. Early reports of installs and impressions exceed what we saw in the earlier build. Folks appear happy about the lighter overall footprint and cleaned-up UI. I’m on EV-DO and have to wait until I get home before I download, so someone save me a spot in the download line. Thanks!