Michael Gartenberg

HTC HD2: What WinMo Can Do In the Right Hands (First Take)

HTC HD2: What WinMo Can Do In the Right Hands (First Take)

Last week, the buzz was clearly on the DROID (see my first take here) but there was another device that was also getting a lot of attention, albeit somewhat more restrained as few folks had one to work with. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that emphasized people shouldn't dismiss Windows Mobile. Over the last week I've been using the phone with the quiet buzz that proves that assertion. Sadly, it’s the best Windows Mobile phone that you can't buy in the US yet. What device am I talking about? None other than the HTC HD2.

The HD2 is marked by two features not usually found on most Windows Mobile phones. The first is a capacitive touch screen. This is the first Windows Mobile device that has no stylus and is totally designed for input by touch alone. The second is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor that makes Windows Mobile and especially the HTC Sense UI fly. Finally, add in a gorgeous 4.3" screen and you realize this is not your father's Windows Mobile device.

Technology should be aspirational not confrontational

Technology should be aspirational not confrontational

I had lunch recently with someone who was a recent transplant to NY from Silicon Valley. They commented on what a great thing it was to finally ditch their car for getting around as it's a bit of a hindrance to own a car in Manhattan. I thought about this for a while afterward, mostly remembering the few years I lived in NY when I owned a car and kept it in NY. I never drove it anywhere for fear of losing the most sacred of things in NY, my parking space. As a result, it mostly sat unused except to move it from one side of the street to the other, twice a week. (I initially had dreamed of just garaging it until I discovered that for the same money, I could have gotten it three bedrooms and a 2 baths in a nice area in NJ). The key was, I had the potential of using it anytime I wanted to. Today, I live in the NJ suburbs, no more than 15 minutes from Manhattan without traffic. Ask me why, and I'll tell you it's to have the advantages of the suburbs but still be close to the great museums, theater and culture of NY. Of course you might want to ask me when the last time I went to one of the great museums or saw a show on Broadway. There's an aspirational theme associated with all this. It's not what I do. Rather what I could do.

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Verizon introduces the leader of the DROID army – First Take

Verizon introduces the leader of the DROID army – First Take

Recently I asked, if a DROID could take on the Death Star? Now, Motorola and Verizon, along with some help from Google launched DROID. I've spent the day with a device and here's what I think so far. First, Verizon was clear that DROID is going to be a family of devices running Android, Motorola's device will be the only one called DROID, others will be known as the DROID-XXX. DROID is the first Android 2.0 device and the Google branding points to the fact that this is stock Android. And I do mean stock Android: there are zero Verizon services on this device (with the exception of a non-branded visual voicemail app). No VCast. No nothing. One wonders if Verizon were willing to go to this length a few years ago, would the iPhone have landed on Verizon? Android 2.0 is a great update and finally is starting to feel complete. Compared to V1 Android running HTC Sense, it's a mixed bag. HTC’s UI is lightyears ahead of stock Android in my opinion but the DROID performs so much better than any Android V1 phone I've used and is nearly feature complete that it's hard to recommend a V1x device at this point.

Can a Droid take on the Death Star?

Can a Droid take on the Death Star?

Since it's introduction, the AT&T logo has reminded many users of the Death Star. Sure, that's not what it's supposed to look like but no matter how many times they tweak it, I just see the Death Star. So it was amusing to me when over the weekend the first leaks (or release depending on your point of view) came about Verizon’s latest campaign about a phone called the Droid that's poised to take on the iPhone.

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One Device to Rule Them All – I Think Not

One Device to Rule Them All – I Think Not

There's a lot of discussion about the role of convergence of devices. Everywhere you go, it seems that someone's pushing the notion that every function needs to be converged into one device. Now convergence is a great idea: the idea of carrying one device instead of multiple devices is compelling, but is it really realistic? Sure, I'd rather carry one device than two, but our research shows consumers will carry two or, in some age demographics, they'll even carry as many as three.

See Me, Feel Me… Touch Me?

See Me, Feel Me… Touch Me?

We're just a few weeks away from the formal launch of Windows 7 and I've been using the final build for some time now. It's very nice and I'm sure most of you have seen it, used it or read about it to death. What I want to talk about over the next few weeks is various parts of Windows 7. One of the most intriguing parts of the new OS that Microsoft has talked about for some time has been the integration of touch features. While vendors such as HP have done their own touch implementations in the past (HP has gone as far as to offer their own touch-based SDK for developers) this is the first time since Microsoft unveiled their touch platform offering, Surface, that we've seen the OS vendor incorporate true finger-touch features directly into the OS.

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Media Center for Windows Deserves Some Respect

Media Center for Windows Deserves Some Respect

When I first was briefed on the Media Center edition of XP by Microsoft, I thought MCE was a pretty bad idea. A lot of my skepticism had to do with the market they claimed they were going after, namely college students in dorm rooms and yuppies living in cramped apartments with no room for both TVs and PCs. Of course, college students mostly buy laptops, and no matter where you live most folks don't watch TV on a small computer monitor from across the room. The short-term market were enthusiasts who understood the value of a DVR such as a TiVo.

Over time, Microsoft tried a few approaches with MCE – from extenders to allow you to view content on other TVs in the home over your network, to creating extender technology for Xbox (which is already hooked up to a TV set) – as well as working with a host of OEMs to create "living room" form factor home theater PCs. The result of these efforts was less than a stellar success and few vendors actively build home theater PCs; these days, if a consumer uses media center they're either an enthusiast or they've tripped over it by mistake trying to do something else. That's a shame, as MCE has evolved over time to become a great technology, one that few people even know exist.

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When real is a little too real for me

When real is a little too real for me

One of the things I can't help notice, playing the latest and greatest video games, is how this generation of consoles and PCs have the ability to provide the most realistic worlds I have ever seen with the most intense level of detail and real-world physics models. It makes sense: games are, at their heart, simulations and thanks to Moore's Law the processing power of today's devices mean that I can model the world in ever more detail and sophistication.

To me, however, that's not necessarily a good thing. The problem is that there's a danger of real becoming a little too real, at least for me. I won't get into the issues of video game violence (for me it's simple: parents that are worried about video game violence should watch what their kids play) but watching the latest boxing titles and seeing someone get hit in the face really hard is a little disturbing to me. Sure, I love titles like COD, but as we get to the point of creating really convincing simulations we also begin to face the danger of losing the most important aspect of game play. Fun.

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It’s time for Microsoft to get serious about media and mobility

It’s time for Microsoft to get serious about media and mobility

This is a follow up note to some folks who work in Redmond (it's OK for the rest of you to read it if you want to).

Hi guys. How are you doing these days? There's no doubt that you must be frustrated. Really frustrated. After all, you were in digital music long before Apple, had cool phones that played music long before Apple and in general had a pretty compelling story for the digital consumer that was very complete, but no one paid a whole lot of attention. There were WMA players on the market long before iPod. In fact, Microsoft might have been dominant in digital music if it weren't for that pesky iPod and iTunes combo. You've taken some hard hits, I remember when Apple introduced a flash memory music player, removed features and had customers waiting 2-4 weeks to get one. Gladly waiting I might add and ignoring all those other devices your partners brought to market. Yep, it's been a tough few years.

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Lessons From a Mac OS Switcher

Lessons From a Mac OS Switcher

I used to be a total Macintosh user; however, over time, various places I worked depended on Microsoft Windows and other MSFT technologies so that I was forced to use Windows for much of what I do. I still kept using a Mac, mostly for creative work and where business use allowed, but I had to have Windows in my life. Over the last few years, Apple has created a new line of machines that more closely match my laptop needs and have made a lot of changes to their core platform OS X. The result is a combination that makes for a very compelling argument to use Macintosh full time.

Context is the killer app for the digital consumer

Context is the killer app for the digital consumer

As recently as a five years ago, it was relatively easy to segment the mobile market into business users and consumers. Business users had specific needs, as did consumers, and rarely did those needs intersect. Today, the idea of segmenting users into the classes of business vs. consumer is becoming archaic and to attempt that level of breakdown will lead to erroneous views of the market.

Snow Leopard is Just Plain Cool: Gartenberg First Hands On

Snow Leopard is Just Plain Cool: Gartenberg First Hands On

This fall will see the introduction of new operating system releases by the two major vendors in this space. For the first time in recent memory, Apple and Microsoft will go up against each other head to head with the newest versions of their platforms, released within weeks of each other. First up is Apple with Snow Leopard. Originally announced for a late September release, Apple surprised the market with an early ship date. Users will be able to pick up their copies starting on the 28th. Pricing for the release is $29 for Leopard users looking to upgrade. For Mac users still on Tiger, Apple offers the Snow Leopard box set which includes Snow Leopard along with the latest versions of iLife and iWork for $169.

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