SurfaceBook in Laptop and Tablet on Top Modes
The glitzy “Windows10Devices” launch event here today in New York carries multiple meanings. Sure wonderful new Microsoft Hardware products bowed, but more importantly, Microsoft intends to leverage its audience of over a billion Windows users (110 Million+ have converted to Win10 in 10 weeks) and unified code base to concrete hardware world. From your wrist (band) to your games (Xbox) to your pocket (Lumia) and your work & lifestyles (SurafcePro/SurfaceBook, Microsoft has you covered.
Left to its own devices, this launch signifies Microsoft intends to no longer merely nudge and inspire PC makers to make great devices, but to actually manufacture and own the high ground (and high margins) with what are undeniably two of emory goes up to 16 GB and 1 TB of Flash storage. Microsoft claims the 5 megapixel Pro 4 is 50% faster than Apple’s popular MacBook Air. The 8.4 mm thin unit gains a fingerprint reader and improved keyboard – fully compatible with the SurfacePro 3 family.
The SurfaceBook is positioned as “the ultimate laptop.” Yet as we discovered, it is a sculptured, full-keyboard aluminum package which disguises the breakaway 7.7 mm thin 13.5 inch surface tablet package of goods.
Microsoft packs a whopping 6 million pixels (PixelSense 267 pip display) into a 3.34 pound 13.5 inch package boasting 12 hour battery life. The tablet is secured by a quick release tensioned spring system and stylish rolling hinge. Stuck together, the unit feels like a solid laptop when docked, yet the 7.7 mm thin tablet section can breakaway instantly from the Nvidia graphics accelerator base and keyboard as needed.
The display can be undocked and reduced on its flip side, allowing the display to face upright while the GPU keyboard remains docked beneath.
Microsoft claims SurfaceBook is two-times faster than Apple’s own MacBookPro. “Ounce for ounce, pound for pound it is the fastest laptop ever made!”
Lumia 950XL – a Desktop PC in Your Pocket!
Lumia Phones are positioned to woo back customers because these are essentially powerful Windows Cortana mobile devices…which when attached to a desktop display, form a no-punches pulled desktop PC on the go. In an Android world rife with rogue apps and packability, Microsoft stands a decent chance to gain business and consumer share with this dual capability.
Lumia Models 950 (5.2 inch) and 950 XL (5.7 inch) each capture 4K video (through a Zeiss lens 20 MP imager) and display on 518/554 pixel per inch OLED screens. The Lumia USB-C port expands the Lumias (with an adapter) into a desktop PC with dual USB 3.0 Ports and DisplayPort video. They are priced at $549 and $649. No carrier deals were announced. An entry Lumia 550 is just $139 and ships in December.
Microsoft’s ace in the hand here is one single Windows 10 code base. Write an app for Win10 and you can easily port to Lumia. Compare to Google with separate Android, Chrome and Google TV programming environments.
MicrosoftBand 2 adds an eleventh sensor – a barometer – to capture exercise while ascending. It aicroslso does a unique VO2 Max high-output oxygen test which may help performance athletes monitor their peak performance better. Band gains a curved, Gorilla-glass OLED display and the price rises to $249.
Microsoft showed powerful progress in HoloLens Augmented Reality demonstrations. Microsoft will ship a developer HDK in Q1 2016 for $3000 a pop as a Developer Edition.
Windows10 will add Xbox 360 emulation capability to Xbox One this fall when upgraded.
SurfacePro 4 starts at $899. SurfaceBook is $1499. Pre-orders start October 7th, deliveries commence October 26th.
Fasulo was bracketed by top managers of Sony’s successful professional video and imaging businesses: Alec Shapiro and Toshi Okuda.
Fasulo rose to President 20 months ago during torturous times for the global consumer electronics pioneer. Now he forecasts double-digit cost savings and predicts a healthy year-end 2015 with sales forecast up 18% over 2014’s success for the US and Canada.
Sony’s winning strategy under Fasulo: produce premium, high-margin products for consumers and professionals alike. “We’re out of CE commodity,” said Fasulo. So consumer TVs and Audio now follow professional video and imaging’s success. “We were the number one selling soundbar last year at over $1,200,” Fasulo boasted. “Globally, we’re number one in headphones.”
Sony’s product command of professional video camcorders and production gear – is premium. Premium positions in imaging and mirrorless. Premium imaging sensor sensitivities, far exceeding the finest sensitivity film emulsions. Driving exceptional cameras which can capture 4K slow-Mo at 4 to 5 times normal frame rates. Sensors whose dynamic range will propel still camera HDR and expanded contrast range HDR at 4K resolutions for professional production and consumer delivery both.
When might HDR screens and much anticipated Blu-ray delivery bow? Fasulo smiles and says “Soon.” Stay tuned for more announcements at CEDIA in Dallas next month.
Pulitzer prize winning NY Times’ journalist John Markoff takes the AI/Robotics reader on a prize journey to AI Artificial Intelligence vs it’s antithesis: IA Intelligence Augmentation. True, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard folks, so Markoff provides 350 pages of detailed history into how AI/IA has evolved, paused and “gone cloud” from the 1950s to present.
Machines’ Foreword and the concluding chapter; Master, Slaves or Partners forms the core of Markoff’s AI v. IA journey for the reader. Here, he succinctly defines the origins of AI/IA and robotics, and the challenges facing our technologists and society as systems roll out into people’s lives – and livelihoods.
The intervening 330+ pages form an AI history, tracing back about 60 years. Markoff’s AI journey would make a “History of Rock” equivalent look like a mere napkin sketch. The author will leave many readers with far more questions than they had before immersion into Markoff’s incomparable review of AI research. They will be able to draw from the book’s depth for AI/Robotics for the inevitable scads of forthcoming AI/IA debates far better than be equipped for AI technology reviews or funding round arguments. AI/Robotics’ Market potential is not the focus of the book. Rather, Markoff’s AI vs IA interpretation forms the see-saw pivot of which research goal is “better.” The see-saw never pauses.
There is little Markoff doesn’t cover in his six-decade review of AI, albeit briefly. Examples: a few lines on Sony’s pioneering Aibo AI robot (many thousands sold at $2,000+ a pop) or IBM’s mighty Watson accomplishments; reduced to little more than a page. Still, if the book were a passport, it would need extra pages for all the visionaries, pioneers (those with arrows still in their backs) and scant harvesters of AI/Robotics’ market potential. Markoff also catches glimpses of the “humanity” of these individuals; which will lend fire to the debates as to whether AI/IA or something else was on their minds.
In Nicholas Negroponte’s 1995 Being Digital, the reader walked away clearly realizing the difference between physical commerce and solutions based on atoms, versus digital commerce, based on digital electron flows. Being digital was profound. And there was no going back.
After reeling from the histories of the many extraordinary scientists and engineers who form the foundations of AI research, and digesting the many fits and starts AI research has endured, many a reader might be left wondering “how far along the journey have we travelled?” Alas, no Google Maps answer for that question: “How much AI is enough?” is not fully reckoned with.
Consider, to many, Watson, Siri, Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa are already the stuff of the science fiction made real in apps, smartphones, PCs and cylinders thanks to an always connected world. A growing variety of premium cars now can brake, sense lane veering and hazards, faster than any human might. As author Markoff touches upon after driving such a car, the urge is to grab the wheel…yet this is a human problem. Many of these cars can act faster than the fastest Formula 1 driver’s reflexes. As Markoff summarizes: “It’s not about the machines.”
After reading Machines of Loving Grace, the reader is left with more questions than resolved answers. Yet, the reader now has the detailed Markoff bibliography to credit or blame or pursue for further resolution.
I would like to consider this book as “Volume 1” of at least a partial series. John will certainly continue to track and communicate AI/IA advances to broad audiences through his Times’ writings and perhaps follow-up texts. The “Common Ground” of the title is a work in process. Yet, it that process which may be the most important society-changing technology change challenging researchers and governments in coming decades.
Most AI researchers have their eyes on what AI/IA might do, what might be possible. Not on “what might possibly go wrong.” Or as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Steven Hawking have recently rallied, what might go terribly wrong!
To postscript Markoff’s last line; it’s about us. After reading this book, the reader will be able to leverage decades of AI wisdom to match their own appetite and eagerness for the coming, AI richer world. Are you ready?