CES in Depth: Tablets and ultrabooksDonald Bell and Dan Ackerman talk about the trends in ultra-mobile computing, with host Rafe Needleman.
Speaker: Hi everybody. Welcome back to CES (In Depth?). I'm Rafe Needleman. I'm joined today by Dan (Ackerman?) and Donald Bell and today we're talking about one of the big deals at CES which is portable computers in other words Ultrabooks and tablet computers and I have to ask this question Dan (Ackerman?), what the heck is an Ultrabook? Those look like laptops to me. Speaker: They certainly do. It's sort of like every Ultrabook is a laptop but not every laptop is an Ultrabook but it looks like these are the only things people brought here this year. Speaker: So what makes it into an Ultrabook? Speaker: Well that's an Intel term. It's an (inorganic?) term that we all kind of came up with. Intel said we're gonna call these Ultrabooks, here's the spec list. If you hit this list for a 13 inch or 14 inch then you can call it an Ultrabook. Speaker: And those specs include what? Speaker: They can't be more than... I think 18 mm thick for a 13 inch. They have to have some form of solid state hard drive and of course they have to run certain Intel CPUs. Speaker: It just sounds like the next revision of laptops. Speaker: It really just sounds like trying to make a Windows version of a Macbook Air. Speaker: Yeah and in fact... as I was saying that HP, that's the Envy Spectre right there, the beautiful glass one... First of all... I don't understand why there's glass. It looks like heavy. Speaker: ...You know it's a little heavier but it still has to fall under it. I think it's 3.1 lbs. Speaker: Also in order to be an Ultrabook you have to be under a certain weight class. Speaker: But the weight is different for a 14 inch screen like this than it is for a 13 inch screen like this. Speaker: Okay, they're laptops. Speaker: So this technically still counts but yes. Speaker: Okay but as I was saying you open that thing up and it looks exactly like my Macbook. Speaker: Except for this big piece of glass hanging over the whole (wrist rest?) which you... Speaker: More unnecessary glass. Speaker: That's right. So you got some here, you got some here, you got some back here. So just don't drop it. Speaker: Okay so... can these machines compete with the original Ultrabook which being the Macbook. Speaker: That is the big question that I think the 1st generation of Ultrabooks that we saw late in 2011, the first handful were like 1199, 1299 I don't think you can compete with something that's about the same price as a Macbook, then we saw them coming in like 799, 899 and then (you go?) okay 128 gig SSD 799 I'm down with that. Speaker: Now and these things are gonna be running Windows 8. I mean are these products available now? Speaker: These are actually Windows 7 versions. We've seen a bunch here that are gonna come out later in the year and hypothetically run Windows 8 and the next generation of Intel chips. Speaker: And we're gonna talk tablets in a minute and... more often to discussing Android products but before we do that I have to ask because it was such a big deal when it happened, I haven't seen a sing Chrome book here. What happened to that operating system? Speaker: You know I don't know if there really was an operating system even. It was like a netbook that just have like Chrome browser on it and that's it and I don't think it's a product that anybody was looking for so I'm not shocked that nobody bought them and (??) actual commercial like Samsung made one and I think one of the company made one, we got them in... they're terrible. Speaker: They really were. Speaker: They also weren't (dirt?) cheap enough. I mean I was (part of it?). You're only gonna get a browser. Speaker: For $300 get a Windows machine. Speaker: So the other... the ultrabooks are kinda morphing in to tablets in a way. We've seen some convertible things that the Yoga... Speaker: Right, the Lenovo Yoga. Speaker: I'm not sure what that is. If that's a tablet or a notebook. Speaker: It's a Windows 8 laptop and the screen folds all the way back around. So you could turn it into a tablet that runs Windows 8 (metro?) interface. Speaker: Pretty heavy tablet. Speaker: A pretty heavy... yes. Speaker: You'll do a little bit of a workout to really keep that thing. Speaker: I could use that. Now... but let's talk about tablets. Now Android tablets are all over the place here. I believe every version of Android ever written is running on some tablet somewhere. Speaker: Sure they're not... (they had a pike?) not as much as they were last year. I think the... a lot of them are like... say like Ice Cream Sandwich, the big news... Speaker: The new OS for Android is not... it doesn't have the power behind it, you know, the sizzle behind it if you will, that Honeycomb had last year. So there was a lot, like honeycomb really grab the headlines this time last year. Ice Cream Sandwich is just kind of... if it doesn't have Ice Cream Sandwich or isn't stated to be shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich, is just kind of no one is paying attention. Speaker: Now why is that? Is that because people are... just want iPads... I'm sorry? Speaker: New... the new. They just want the new... the newest. Speaker: Or is it because the... in order to have a successful tablet product now you need to go beyond the specs. I mean I saw the... the small one from Samsung. I've seen some other tablets, they're all great, they look like great hardware and all of the vendors are trying to come up with their own unified ecosystem as Apple does. Can anybody do it? Speaker: I think Google is finally doing it. I mean they finally nailed music... video, you know video rentals really came on board this, you know, over the past year... you know, apps, book content. You've got all that now but it is still a little bit different from device to device... Depending on which device I get on a week to week basis. If I log in to their particular Android app store sometimes music won't be there, sometimes videos won't be there. I don't know if sometimes that's carrier control they're what... what gets mixed up in the process but not... not every Android app store seems to be created equal on these devices. Speaker: It's the fragmentation I think that kills... gives you more options, it's just if you don't have the same experience everytime it's gonna be confusing. You're not (??) between the gap. Speaker: You know well in my experience on Android tablets sometimes when you try to run a program or you click on a web link it'll ask you or click on an app to buy, do you wanna buy this from the browser or from the marketplace. So this fragmentation inside the product itself. It's... to much choice... On the other hand in the Apple products, one can argue, you're too limited. So I mean... are people... Speaker: People want that curated experience... Under value the curation. Speaker: Right so as we move to these in between products, these fold over notebooks that become tablets or tablets that have keyboards on them... we saw for example. Let's compare and contrast the... Lenovo Yogo which is I think the 14 inch laptop. Speaker: I think it's a 13. Speaker: A 13 inch laptop that becomes a notebook and the ASUS Transformer Prime, ASUS Transformer Prime which is an Android tablet with a keyboard... How does one make the decision between one or the other. They're both did more or less the same stuff right? Speaker: Yeah, (one wants?) Windows... Speaker: And I think the Transformer Prime is a... kinda sexier, smaller product that really comes into 2 pieces. You can take that tablet out of the keyboard and use that just as a stand alone tablet and a really pretty excellent tablet too. Speaker: Do you think people will take to buying Android products that have full keyboards that are basically slimmed down laptops? Speaker: I mean the capabilities there, you can load up docks to go and you can have that word processing experience. If you really... just kind of into being a power user and (triaging?) your e-mail really quickly and really want that keyboard that's there. I don't think though that it's yet tipped over to where college students would necessarily buy a Transformer Prime instead of a standard laptop. Speaker: So it can't be your standard work laptop... Speaker: It might be happening but... Speaker: When the iPad came out everyone said oh I'm just gonna get an iPad and that Bluetooth keyboard. It's just like a laptop and then you realize I don't have the file system that I can access and I can't run photoshop and whatever and that's the same... that's the same problem. It's not a replacement for like your work/student machine. Speaker: Now I wanna get back to Windows 8 for a second and talk about the products that will be coming out running Windows 8. So Microsoft is supporting a new... a new chip. Talk about that and what that means for Windows 8 developers on mobile devices. Speaker: I think we'll see then more tabletish style devices running the (arm?) version of Windows 8... but then you get into concerns about what especially old softwares are gonna be cross compatible between them and we don't really have all those answers yet and I think if you're running kind of your own Windows version of fragmentation which kind of happens everytime there's a new Windows OS where even sticking straight from Intel to Intel some stuff doesn't work. Your (fridge?) doesn't work suddenly. You have driver issues. So when you multiply that by a (second chip?) manufacturer that seems crazy. Speaker: Fragment's not at Windows at this point where we're seeing fragmentation on Android be such a... a thorn in that operating system side. That would be kind of... would be just. Speaker: I mean say what you will about Android, even Android 1.0 apps still seem to be able to useful on even the latest tablet. Like the app software still seems to be able to run from device to device. Speaker: Point taken but do you (??) a little bit different and the apps do look and feel different right and I was sitting here yesterday with the guys from Samsung. We were talking about... the new tablet. I think a 7 inch tablet. They're weird (dinner plate?) sized phone... the Galaxy note... Speaker: That's an interesting one too... Speaker: Which is actually kind of a cool product and Galaxy Nexus smartphone, they're all running different versions of Android. I mean how does that happen? Speaker: I think you know the problem when you buy something, and 6 months later, Ice Cream Sandwich comes out and they're like you can't get it on yours, but I just bought it. Speaker: Now is that because the developer... or the manufacturers aren't with the program or because they're locked in due to some carrier regulations or things. Speaker: I mean Samsung is an interesting case because they... over the past year have been coming out with a tablet for every size and you can imagine... even like beyond... even beyond like 4 inches and 5... or 3... or a 3.5 inch with the Galaxy player products but the 7.7 was announced at CES and it's tied to... carrier I think is Verizon for 4G. Beautiful screen but it's hard to recommend still with like a 2 year contract but I'm sure they're developing that one specifically for a carrier and the note, same product where I think it's on AT&T's network but I don't know why they didn't have 1 unified. I don't have an answer for you... Speaker: We haven't talked about... for this discussion which is tablets and Ultrabooks. My cut off is the note. We can't go... we can't talk about phones but the note, I don't feel like it qualifies as a phone. I mean, what do you think? Is that a, for some people, get that instead of a small tablet? Speaker: You know, I like it. I saw it (??) that's kinda cool. I'm not sure if I would really use it or if I put it in my pocket and it'll be too big but I don't make a lot of phone calls from my phone so I could see (deemphasizing?) the phone part and getting a bigger screen device that just occasionally I'll make a call on. Speaker: All right. So we're here at CES. There's... all the vendors are out there... If you could only... there's one or two booths for the ultrabooks, what would you say people should check out. What are the cool vendors? Speaker: I mean I think that... Samsung has an interesting stuff to show. They have that (exterior design last year?), they have the new version of that. Obviously there's HP. Spectre is really cool... you might see this Dell over at the Intel booth. In fact if you go over the Intel booth they have a lot of ultrabook set up as kind of examples and they have pretty much all of them. I went around and took some pictures to see what they were emphasizing and you know, it was like Lenovo stuff, HP stuff and actually Toshiba stuff there are a lot of ultrabooks though. Speaker: Okay and Donald on the tablet side. Speaker: For tablets I think ASUS is probably the one to look at right now. They've got Transformer Prime. Like this... really cool convertible tablet with the detachable keyboard dock and also this new $250, you know Ice Cream Sandwich tablet that they unveiled at the Nvidia press conference. So that's gonna be really interesting. Speaker: So that's where you can see the cool new stuff. Now real world. You gotta buy your mom a notebook... what do you recommend for her? Speaker: Give her Macbook. Speaker: Macbook okay that's not surprising. Tablet? Speaker: I think my mom already wants an iPad. I really... there's nothing... Speaker: You know this is completely as I... this is completely as I expected. Speaker: But that's the mom's (obsession?)... Speaker: ...the real world is still Mac. What can... or Apple. What can these vendors, Dell, HP, Asus, Samsung, you name it, what can they do to be as compelling, as cohesive as coherent as the Apple offerings? Speaker: I think be customer focused and consumer focused in designing and developing products. I think there are too many conflicting interests within these companies in the development process working with different partners, working at this and advertising (market?) or whatever. Just build things that are great for consumers and I think that's where a lot of people is about. Speaker: How did they not get what is great for consumers. That implies they're not doing it. Speaker: I think that... look at the classic case of something like Sony back when they tried to get into digital audio players many years ago and they had the content people saying you can have open source... you know, MP3 now... you can have MP3s on there, you gotta have (Add Track?) so we can protect it and that led to products that were not good for consumers. You have these conflicting... interests and the consumer interest does always win when you have another business partner with you making their voice heard in the development group. Speaker: So you think any of the tablet guys can get it? Speaker: I think so. I think it's gonna take them... (there must?) be an effort to explore simplicity a little bit more. I think there's a big lesson to be learned from the Kindle Fire and that... the success of that of being utterly forgettable hardware design under specced but being... the attraction being simplicity and just being on to get right on to the media and the fun stuff. Speaker: So don't get hung up on the specs, focus on simplicity, focus on media. Speaker: Design by subtraction. Speaker: Design by subtraction. I like that. Guys thanks a lot. Speaker: Thank you. Speaker: Hey thanks... thanks again. I mean it's great to have you along talk about tablets and netbooks... tablets and ultrabooks... Up next is the (404?) with special guest Eliza Dushku, Wayne (Brady?) and the (Beber Cam?). Don't go away.