The Lenovo Yoga Tablet: is it a #betterway?

This is James Whatley, reporting to you from Milan…


That’s not me, that’s Ashton Kutcher. He’s just been on the screen to announce that he’s the new product engineer for Lenovo. No, really.

Fortunately, that’s not the only thing Lenovo were throwing a big shindig to celebrate. Tonight they announced the new Lenovo Yoga Tablet.


‘Ooooooo! Shiny!’

First things first: this tablet is THIN. Not completely, it has a bulb at the end, but we’ll come back to that, but it is THIN. 3mm at its thinnest end (and 21.5mm at its thickest). Available in two sizes, 8″ and 10″ respectively, this Android (4.2.2) tablet from Lenovo really is a lovely bit of kit.

It being part of the ‘Yoga’ range, the tablet comes with several different ‘modes’. Unlike its PC/laptop predecessor, these modes are actually quite useful. At only 605g for the 10″ model [single] hand mode is super comfy. There’s also stand mode for consuming media, and tilt mode, is probably the mode I’d use it in most, is there for ‘desktop’ work, if you will.


The model I’ve got is wifi only, but I’m assured that the Tablet is also available with a 3G Micro SIM slot in case you want to get mobile data on the go. While we’re at it, the Tablet also comes with an expandable micro SD memory slot, a micro USB port (supporting OTG, worth its weight in gold on any mobile device), and a 9000mAh battery (on the 10″ model, again) resulting in a stonking 18hrs of usage.

That is mental.

Screen-wise, you’re looking at an HD display of 1280×800 and a 178 degree viewing angle. That’s great but I’ll be honest, having been spoilt by both a retina MacBook Pro and iPad, the resolution on the Yoga Tablet is the only downside that I could find in otherwise outstanding piece of kit. Saying that, once I’d played around with the settings a bit and installed my own launcher, you’ll find youself getting over that minor issue quite quickly.

Finally, the Tablet is also available with a fairly snazzy magnetic Bluetooth keyboard that just so happens to double up as a cover. Very nice. I like that, a lot (although I can’t give you any feedback on how good it is quite yet as mine is still charging on the other side of the room).

It’s getting quite late here in Italy and I need to schedule this post for the embargo drop in about an hour or so. As I said, I’ve been given one of these beautiful things to have as my own and, having never had an Android tablet before, I’m very much looking forward to giving it a whirl.

Pics are up on Flickr, and go search ‘#betterway‘ on Twitter for more.

Whatley out.


UPDATE: Pricing has been released and the 8″ and the 10″ models are estimated to arrive at €229 and €299 respectively. The Bluetooth keyboard is an additional purchase and that’s estimated at €99.

UPDATE 2: UK pricing for the basic models is set to be £199 for the 8″ and £249 for the 10″.

Specs (PDF)
Press Release (doc)





Five things you should know about Ubuntu Phone

My first post of 2013 is about mobile? Didn’t see that one coming…

Screen shot 2013-01-02 at 23.23.46

Ubuntu, from Canonical (an operating system I have never used (not an irrelevant point)), is coming to mobile. Haven’t you heard? OK, well watch the video embedded below (from about 5mins 20secs onwards) to get a brief rundown.

In fact, if you’ve got 20mins (like I had earlier, in the bath (there’s a mental image for you)), you should watch it all – it’s pretty good.

Got that? Right.

Five things you should know –

1. I am not an Ubuntu user
I’ll say it again: I am not an Ubuntu user. Not many of my friends are either. According to Wikipedia, Ubuntu is ‘the most popular Linux distribution on the market’. That’s a little bit like saying you’re the most popular kid in New Jersey but hey, who’s counting.

My point is (based on the super-scientific research of me and my mates – clearly) Ubuntu isn’t exactly consumer friendly and/or focused (yet). This might work against them, it might work for them. But we’ll come back to that one.

2. Oh my N9
The Nokia N9 was (still is, to be fair) a gorgeous phone. I still have mine. At the time, Meego’s SWIPE UI was innovative as hell and just so damn good to use. New Ubuntu for mobile has clearly borrowed heavily from Meego in this area.

Swipe left to do this, swipe right to do that; it’s a great interface. And, while I’m happy to see it being used, it makes me sad when I think about what the N9 might’ve been [had Nokia not decided to go all in with Windows Phone].

3. Disingenuous(?) Commentary
The super smart chaps spotted chatting in the video from 14mins onwards make some really interesting and valid points. But – and you may think this yourself when you watch it – the comments are bit generic and fluffy. But that’s not their fault, it was down to the questions asked and the edits made afterwards –



4. We’ve been here before, remember?
Back in November 2007 (a mere five years ago) Google (re-)launched Android into the world. ‘It’s an operating system for geeks!’ the nay-sayers yelled. And they were right, for a time. One might argue that is still very much the case BUT ONE WOULD DEFINITELY BE WRONG.

Android is the number one mobile OS in the world today. Five years after the industry signed it off as ‘just for geeks’. Alright Ubuntu isn’t Google but still, don’t discount them yet – sometimes being the underdog really helps. Speaking of Google…

5. Hardware vs Software
According to sources, a build of Ubuntu for mobile will be ready for download and installation onto Google Nexus devices within the next three weeks. If you made it through the video above, then you probably already know that ‘if your hardware works with Android, then it’ll also work with Ubuntu’ – which is basically Ubuntu saying ‘We work on Google phones!’.

That to me is awesome.

That means we are one more step closer to separating hardware and software in mobile. That means, like in the PC world, you could buy a Google Nexus device and then ostensibly install any OS you want on it [within reason]. This level of disruption can only be good for the market.

In closing:

Consumers don’t care for (or even know about) Ubuntu, but consumers didn’t care about Android when that first launched and look where we are now. The OS itself looks innovative and exciting, the market is screaming out for disruption (Windows Phone isn’t quite there yet), and perhaps, just perhaps, Ubuntu for mobile might be an(other) interesting way forward.



Comments are welcome, but there’s already an interesting discussion already happening over on G+ that may be worth your attention as well.



The Samsung Galaxy S III

An opinion from someone who’s read the internet –

Announced last Thursday as, believe it or not, the third device in the Samsung Galaxy S range. The SGSIII was all set to inherit the crown of ‘biggest selling non-iPhone / smartphone of the year’ from last year’s winner, the SGSII.

At least, that’s what we thought.

You can’t argue with the numbers – in 2011, the SGSII was a fantastically popular phone and Samsung, with its large screen, speedy graphics and TouchWiz’d version of Android – hit the sweet spot for consumer awareness + desire for the best Android phone on the market.

Admittedly, I was never a fan. I prefer my Androids to be pure Google experiences and both HTC + Samsung (amongst others) like to skin their OS accordingly. It’s a bit rubbish and generally gets in the way of being able to actually use the phone… but still, I can see why some people like it.

I’m rambling. Let’s get cut to the chase –

Is the SGSIII a worthy successor, is it actually any good?

Before I answer that question, let’s make one thing very clear:

I have not had hands on with this device at all.

What you are about to read is pure conjecture based upon the opinions of trusted friends & peers, images & video from the launch event, and several years working in and around the mobile industry.

Understood? Good. I don’t exactly love this kind of post, but to those of you that are still here, thanks – there’s a few things I’d like to cover –

1: The Samsung SGSIII is ugly + made of cheap plastic

As per my note above, I agree with Eric’s comment purely based upon the photos, videos and posts I have seen from the launch event. But even so, he’s not alone, and the man has a point. And while it might be harsh (I’ve seen worse devices), we – the industry at large – were just expecting something more.

And actually, while we’re at it, when your software is fundamentally the same across different handsets, design is a fundamental key selling point. It’s why I rock a Lumia 800 and it’s why I’ll recommend the HTC One X over the SGSIII should someone ask me about Android phones.

2: The Samsung SGSIII features some a sweet innovation

The word ‘innovation’ is bandied about too fast and loose these days however, reading this post TechCrunch shortly after the SGSIII announcement I was actually quite impressed by one particular paragraph –

“The Galaxy S III looks deep into your eyes and only turns off when you do,” noted Jean Daniel Ayme to the audience. That is to say, the screen will note when your eyes are on it and will stay “awake” for as long as you look at it. “It knows precisely what we are doing and our intentions.”

Now this is more like it.

While ‘creepy’ is a word I’ve heard a couple of times since discussing this particular addition to the handset, having a phone that turns on *when I look at it* is actually kind of awesome. I like this, a lot. Proper ethnographical research, informing technological innovation. More of this please.

3. TouchWiz Android is horrible

As Android skins go, HTC Sense is pretty darn ugly but, TouchWiz takes it to a whole new level. If you want a ‘pure’ Google experience with Android, buy a Nexus. Other device manufacturers can’t be trusted.

4. The SGSIII is a HUGE disappointment

As much as I dislike their current advertising, the HTC One X is probably my favourite Android device on the market today and the SGSIII has done nothing to change that. But don’t just take my word on it, the out pour of disappointment around this particular phone launch is staggering

For example – ‘How Samsung Broke My Heart‘, ‘The Galaxy SIII is a “Me Too” Device and a Disappointment‘ and ‘Dear Internet: I am incredibly sorry for over-hyping the disappointment that is the Galaxy S III‘ are just three well-written and well-informed pieces that I’ve read over the past couple of days, of which I am sure there are many more.

Sad times.

And, even though I happily acknowledge that I haven’t even played with the SGSIII yet, I can safely say: if you’re in the market for an Android phone, look at the Galaxy Nexus or check out the HTC One X.



Instagram + Facebook

I had a post scheduled for later on this week talking about my recent love affair with all things Instagram (even though I don’t actually own an iPhone) however, some news is breaking right now that kinda needs covering.

Facebook just bought Instagram, for $1bn.

That’s right: One. Billion. Dollars.

Stefan nailed it –

Well, do you? It’s a lot.
But why?

To start us off, here are some numbers* to get your head around taken from the mere 18mths that Instagram has been in existence:

  • 1 billion photos uploaded
  • 30 million registered users
  • 5 million photos uploaded every day
  • 575 likes every second
  • 81 comments every second
  • 1 million downloads of the new Android app in 24hrs

That’s a lotta love for an app that is solely mobile-based. But why is that important to Facebook? Think about it – Facebook is about the data. As the saying goes: if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product – and Instagram just sold a whole ton of data about its users. Not personal data, or contact data but image data and sharing data.

What people snap, what filters they apply when they’ve snapped and where & how they share that snap is all important data for a social network that builds itself around social objects and the relationships that people form around them.

While this kind of purchase is new ground for Facebook, it’s refreshing to see that it has every intention of keeping the service independent and multi-platform friendly. Mark Zuckerberg has already talked about lending Instagram Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure – something that they’ll need when it comes to the building for scale. That sounds like someone who only has the app’s best interests at heart, certainly.

And while a billion dollars is a lot of money, Facebook has just bought itself its own standalone photo-sharing app, with a built-in base of happy users while at the same time cancelling out a potential competitor in the lucrative social networking space. Good things will come of this acquisition, Yahoo + Flickr this ain’t.

As Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, blogged earlier today

It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.

Remember, the future is mobile and Instagram have proven that a mobile-only social network is not only worthwhile but 100% achievable to boot.

Best of luck guys (all 13 of you); your fans, users, industry and investors will be watching.

*since April 3rd, 2012 – source

UPDATE – Other posts of note:

1000heads: Google v Microsoft; a question of ethics

On a recent trip around the web last week, I came across this old post by one Steven Hodgson writing for WinExtra

He poses an interesting question: Why is it that what’s cool for Google is an ethical question for Microsoft?


I remember when Google surprised everyone who was attending one of their conferences that had to do with Android with a free smartphone that had the current Android OS installed on it. They did the same thing when the Nexus was launched much to the delight of the attendees.

At no time when this was happening did anyone do anything but cheer Google on for coming up with a great marketing idea and ya it was a great idea.

Yet when Microsoft does the same thing like they did at their E3 event to announce the new Xbox 360 suddenly we have CrunchGear suggesting that there are ethical questions that we should be considering.

At 1000heads we adhere to a strict ethical policy across all engagements; be that through fostering relationships between brands and communities or simply through outreach and / or disruptive product trials – and it’s in this latter section that we come to Google v Microsoft.

I say it again: it’s an interesting dilemma and I consider the two examples to be slightly different; on one side you have a large global search/software company (dressed up as Android) trying to get its (at the time still relatively new) operating system into the homes of developers globally and on the other you’ve got a big gaming brand trying to make the biggest splash at the world’s largest electronic entertainment expo (E3).

Who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong?

Ethics are a constant discussion point here at 1000heads and I’m proud to say that ALL of our staff work hard (and often argue passionately) about what is right and what is wrong.

In the case of Microsoft v Google, where do you stand?

N900 vs Nexus One: Confessions of an Android user

I wrote this post back in April earlier this year. I’d say around the 10th. Time got the better of me and I never got ’round to publishing. After much deliberation I thought I’d throw it up. Just in case it still holds weight. Your comments, as ever, are welcome…

The N900 and the Nexus One. My two main phones at the moment. Both brilliant in their own right. The former still proving the model of awesome content consumption while the latter still manages to surprise with the quality of its creative skills.

Continue reading “N900 vs Nexus One: Confessions of an Android user”