(Microsoft Courier photos in this post via Gizmodo)
This week I've been lucky enough to start some coverage of non-phone gadgets that readers have been asking me about: Microsoft's Zune HD and Apple's iPod nano 5G. While all of us at PhoneDog obviously stick to our core mission - phones - most of the time, the blurring of lines between "phones," "portable media players," "cameras," and the like makes it a natural fit for us to do some gadget coverage now and again.
Zune HD is a no-brainer for me to cover both because it's Microsoft's answer to iPod Touch (which, itself, is many an AT&T-hater's answer to iPhone) and because it's powered by an NVIDIA Tegra chip. Tegra has for awhile now been one of those "this could be the future of smartphones!" technologies I've been eagerly keeping an eye on. Frankly, I'm tired of seeing the same Tegra demo at trade shows for more than a year running now, so it's good to see the thing hit the market, even if it's not yet in a cell phone. Zune HD can pump 720p Hi-Def video out to big screen TVs thanks to its Tegra chip. To me, that's pretty exciting, and hints at a near-term future where cell phones double as portable HD media centers.
Special thanks to my friend Chris Leckness for helping me see the light when it comes to the benefits of subscription music services like Zune Pass. You can check out Chris' Zune-centric website, gotzune.com, for more Zune goodness. And you can check out my unboxing vid of Zune HD and the Zune HD dock, as well.
iPod nano is a no-brainer to cover because it's the most popular mp3 player in the world and, ironically, because it's the only iPod to offer iPhone's latest and greatest feature: Video recording. While everyone expected Apple to update their iPod Touch line with camcorder functionality similar to that on the iPhone 3GS, they didn't. Instead, the new nanos come ready to record VGA video at 30 frames per second (just like the 3GS), but the Touches don't. While there may be a number of reasons behind Apple's strategy here, it's hard not to think that they've seen Flip's success in the low-cost camcorder space and decided they wanted in on the action with a $150 camcorder that, oh by the way, doubles as an iPod nano.
Check out my hands-on video of the new nano, including some sample footage shot with the device.
Then there's Microsoft's Courier. Gizmodo blew the doors open on Courier yesterday - or blew them semi open, anyway - and it looks like they'll be revealing more about MSFT's touchscreen tablet project in the coming days. Should Courier wind up shipping soon in a final version at all resembling the demo video Giz is running, I may wind up in lust with a Redmond-designed product for the first time in a long, long time.
Courier is a dual-touchscreen computer arranged in a journal/notebook configuration, with displays on either side of a hinge that itself apparently acts as a sort of storage area. Courier is sort of hard to describe, but it looks to be a multipurpose "living journal" that combines touch and stylus-based interfaces, a camera and media viewers, organizers and to-do lists, and (seemingly) all sorts of other goodies. Watch the video and tell me if it gives you nerdy goose bumps like it did me, even if it's just a concept video and not necessarily a true depiction of what the device may/might/will/would do if/when it's ever released.
I have no idea if Courier will include any sort of connectivity ... except that it'd shock me if it didn't. WiFi's a no-brainer on a device like this, and mobile broadband makes at least as much sense. We'll keep close tabs on this one, as it has the potential to fufill the promise of smartbooks, MIDs, and Apple's mythical tablet all at the same time.
Or, y'know, it could wind up being vaporware. But given the MSoft/Gizmodo "planned leak" of the device, I kinda doubt it'll wind up as vaporware. That'd be too embarassing.
Why do I mention Zune, nano, and Courier here on the PhoneDog blog? Because they're all pretty cool in their own ways, of course! And, also, because they're representative of the ever-changing, bleeding edge of mobile gadgetry:
That's the fun part about this business. Phones get more features, more and more gadgets get phone-like connectivity, and all of us here at The Dog get to cover it for you. Good stuff, huh?