ASUS Prime Tablet with detachable keyboard to launch December 8th

Here at Technology Report we’ve always been fans of ASUS for their innovative designs combined with power and low prices.    Their early netbooks were among the first in that line, and now they appear to be coming up with a tablet that will exceed the iPAD in some specifications, including a very clever detachable keyboard that solves one of my main concerns about tablets – they are MUCH harder to write with than a netbook, desktop, or laptop unless you plug in a keyboard, making them … cumbersome.     ASUS appears to have solved this challenge with a very thin, light, and sleek detachable keyboard that appears to also act as a cover, making this device – to my frame of mind – a lot more logical than the standard format tablet computer.     We’ll have more at CES where I’m sure ASUS will be showing these off a lot:

ASUS' new tablet with keyboard

Apple iPad / iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy

PC World has compared the iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab with this great comparison chart.

PC World seems to feel the Galaxy is the first real competitor to Apple’s iPad even though that’s not really true at all – e.g. the Dell Streak.

At fist glance the Galaxy Tab really seems superior with phone capabilities, lighter weight, and two cameras vs the iPad’s zero.

However it’s never clear the the legions of Apple’s enthusiastic customers would stray from the mother brand, and many products have flamed out assuming that unlikely scenario.   Still, it seems that Apple’s brilliancies in the iPhone and iPad are starting to be duplicated here, with the EVO phone, and with arguably superior form and function, so the future, as usual, remains uncertain.

HTC EVO 4G

HTC EVO™ 4G

Sprint Evo 4G

Sprint is gushing about their new Evo 4G which will soon be more available in the USA although it appears sold out in some areas from pre-orders.

That’s right. The phone that captivated international trade show CTIA is here, and we’ve packed it full of features! A large vibrant 4.3 inch screen, dual cameras, 32GB MicroSD card slot and wicked fast web speeds, this is more than a phone. It’s a Mobile Hotspot for up to 8 of your Wi-Fi devices. It’s a high-quality mobile device – featuring Android™ 2.1 and the award-winning HTC Sense™ experience, and it’s your personal portable HD media center with an HDMI output so you can share in HD.

Hyperbole aside, the reviews from CNET, Engadget, and early users are very favorable.

CNET Reviews

Engadget summary:    Let us be crystal clear: we love this phone. Nay, we adore it. But the fact remains that it’s still very much an Android device — which means that if you don’t like Android now, odds are good that even Android executed on the most amazing hardware to date won’t do much to change your opinion of it. You’ve also got to be concerned about upgradeability; Froyo is almost certainly around the corner now, and HTC hasn’t done anything to suggest it’s able to push Sense-powered updates in a timely fashion.

That said, this is truly one of the best smartphones ever made, and even spotty 4G — a reality of a young technology that’s going to take years to properly build out — probably won’t do much to hamper your enjoyment of this thing. It’s reasonable to assume that phones like the EVO will ultimately come to every carrier over the next few months… but hey, if you jumped ship for Sprint to pick up this monster, we wouldn’t be able to blame you.

I’m anxious to read more discussion of the 2-5 year  future of iPhone vs Android devices, but maybe I’m missing something here to think that’s very relevant.    Apple folks will always have iPhones and new folks will choose on the basis of factors that are not necessarily technological.     It is very clear that mobile devices are already shaping the future in key ways, and there is plenty of room for many models.

Important plan and 4G coverage info from Sprint.

Update on Gizmodo Apple iPhone case

CNET seems to have the most intelligent commentary on the Apple iPhone / Gizmodo  case that may have far-reaching implications for technology and new age journalism.     Gawker is likely to move forward with the case without a settlement (or perhaps because the state will refuse to settle this without criminal charges), so we are probably going to see some important decisions about how much protection bloggers have.

Some will argue – I feel speciously – that this is a case about freedom of the press when in fact it’s a case about the relationship of the media to criminal activity.     How far should the law go to protect the rights of the media when stories are based on stolen goods or illegally obtained information?     A few years back Gizmodo got off the hook very easy after a malicious prank at CES to disrupt a presentation.    The lax standards in the blogging journalism world – where fun, alarmism, distortion and opportunism trumps professionalism much of the time –  have got to come home to roost sometime.

Personally I’d be a lot more sympathetic to Gizmodo if this was about some sort of political or general technology issue where they could make a case that the public right to transparency and knowledge trumps the way they got the information.   (e.g. Pentagon Papers)  However the iPhone case seems to mostly be about commercial issues, presented in a commercial way for monetary advantage.      I’m guessing this will be the nail in the coffin of Gizmodo’s case and lead to a (relatively minor) criminal charge.

CNET:

It’s clear that federal and state law generally provides journalists–even gadget bloggers–with substantial protections by curbing searches of their employees’ workspaces. But it’s equally clear that journalists suspected of criminal activity do not benefit from the legal shields that newspapers and broadcast media have painstakingly erected over the last half-century.

No less an authority than a California appeals court has ruled that the state’s shield law does not prevent reporters from being forced, under penalty of contempt, to testify about criminal activity, if they’re believed to be involved in it.

Apple v. Gizmodo a key online law case

Today police seized computers at the home of one of the web’s most prominent online technology editors – Jason Chen of Gizmodo.    The action was in response to Gizmodo’s aquisition of an new Apple iPhone prototype that was left in a bar by an Apple employee.   It appears that the employee left the phone at a table where it was picked up by another patron who then *sold the phone* to Gizmodo.

The impact of this case may extend far beyond a simple stolen property issue.    Gizmodo is likely to claim press protections under free speech laws in another test of  how the courts will treat new media journalism.

Although I think we’ll hear a lot of rationalizations of the purchase of the  phone by Gizmodo, I’d guess the case will hinge on whether Chen understood he was “buying stolen property” and whether Gizmodo’s publication of information about the phone was for profit or “the public good”.     Frankly, I don’t see how Gizmodo can make a strong case for either of these conditions.   Even if the seller insisted he had legally obtained the phone, Chen’s position as editor of one of the most watched iPhone watching websites in the world means Chen would have known that Apple had not released this yet.     In fact the Gizmodo articles about the phone are likely to be some of the most incriminating evidence against them.

It’s very early to speculate but I’m guessing that arrogance,  hubris, or the lack of good legal counsel led Gizmodo to think they were dealing with a Google rather than Apple.      Google’s mostly transparent and open sensibilities and public persona would probably have led them to effectively slap Gizmodo around a few times, extract an apology, and go on with the business of the web.

Apple, however, is a very different company and Steve Jobs is likely to view this as something of a personal and corporate affront.      If Gizmodo was in competition with Apple or had deeper pockets I think Apple would probably be more aggressive, so it is hard to know how this will shake out.     It’s not even clear this type of publicity harms Apple in any way – if anything it is probably favorable in terms of future revenue from the new phone.

However in any case the legal case against Gizmodo promises to be a major online law case unless settlements are reached out of court .

More on Gizmodo / Apple  from TechMeme

Apple iPad

Update: Well, the reviews seem a bit mixed from the tech crowd even as the TV news stories are about the best thing Apple could have hoped for – breathless anchors telling us how much they want an iPad.

Wall Street Journal has a good summary of the early buzz. My take so far is that these are the key features in play:

“low price” “giant iPhone” “many applications” “high quality” “no still or video camera” “potential typing challenges”

This morning Apple launched what is almost certain to become the new tablet computing standard, the Apple iPad. Reviews will be coming in at a lightning pace today and we’ll try to summarize them later, but in the meantime here’s a great “Everything you need to know about the iPad” piece from the Gizmodo people.

Apple iPAD launches

Steve Jobs had Liver Transplant and is Recovering Well.

Some of the mystery surrounding the condition of Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs ended tonight.   Jobs is recovering from a liver transplant he had in Tennessee about two months ago and is expected back at work at Apple soon.    The WSJ reports:

Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave from Apple Inc. since January to treat an undisclosed medical condition, received a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago. The chief executive has been recovering well and is expected to return to work on schedule later this month, though he may work part-time initially.

Mr. Jobs didn’t respond to an email requesting comment. “Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there’s nothing further to say,” said Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton.

Tomorrow’s Apple stock may surge Monday on this news as there has been widespread speculation that Jobs would not be able to return to Apple at full strength where that now appears to be a distinct possibility.   Under Jobs leadership Apple effectively resurrected itself as a viable technology company after nearly imploding under the pressure of cheap, massive PC sales in the 1990s.     Yet thanks to the iPOD, iPHONE, and other Apple gadgets the company has enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity, prestige, and most importantly for investors….stock price.