RIM has just finished presenting its new BlackBerry 10 mobile OS to the world at a much-awaited press conference. But the first thing the firm's CEO, Thorsten Heins, had to say is that RIM is no longer—from now on the Canadian manufacturer is called BlackBerry.
Here's a quick round-up of what went on at the event.
The times they are clearly a-changing at RIM, so what better moment to announce that the firm will now be known as BlackBerry, and BlackBerry only.
Z10 and Q10
So, first up, BlackBerry presented its two new smartphones, the Z10 and the Q10—the first handsets to run on the revamped BlackBerry 10 (BB10) mobile operating system. The Z10 has a 4.2" touchscreen and no physical keyboard, while the Q10 gets one of this firm's trademark keyboards, complete with a predictive text function.
Next up, the BlackBerry 10 OS.
BlackBerry 10 has a handy Balance feature, which lets users switch between business and personal profiles in the same handset.
The BB10 camera function has been treated to a new set of filters and a picture editing tool. Plus, you can now tell the camera what to focus on by keeping a finger pressed on the screen. Then, simply lift up your finger or tap the screen to take the snap. A burst mode is on hand too, so you can shoot a scene or subject several times before picking the best photo to keep.
The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging service has been upgraded in BB10 to include video calls (in addition to text-based messages) and offers a remote screen-sharing function so you can show another BlackBerry user what you're up to.
BlackBerry is promising 70,000 applications in the BlackBerry World store at launch, including favourites like Facebook, Skype, Angry Birds, Twitter, Foursquare and more. Plus, the platform will offer content downloads with films, TV shows and music available to buy. Magazines and newspapers will be available via a news-stand app.
The BlackBerry Z10 is due out in the UK tomorrow and will be coming to the US in March. UK networks Orange, T-Mobile, EE, O2, Vodafone and Three are all reported to be carrying the phone. The Q10 is expected to follow in April.
But the presentation of BB10 and these two new smartphones doesn't seem to have convinced the financial markets. At the end of the presentation, the firm's share price had dropped 4% to $15.
Research in Motion is presenting today, 30 January, its new operating system, BlackBerry 10 (BB10), as well as the first smartphones that will carry it. It's a major move for the Canadian brand; already struggling to keep up with Samsung and Apple, the firm has a new competitor to deal with: Windows Phone 8.
Today is the day that RIM will be showing the world its cards. It's a day in which the company can't afford to miss its mark. In order to re-spur its own growth, the firm must be able to produce some "oohs" and "aahs". For after losing the golden sheen that once surrounded the brand name—not to mention the majority of its market share—the company's very future rides on this moment. According to IDC, Research In Motion held just 6% of the market in 2012. Samsung held 40%. And when it comes to OS market share, there's a gaping abyss separating BlackBerry OS and Android, which accounts for nearly 70% of the global market.
"Future-proof for the next ten years"
RIM appears to be pulling out the big guns, but what's even more important is that the company act quickly and on point. BB10 will have to be impressive enough to make consumers forget about a certain number of missteps that have helped tarnish the company's image, such as its numerous launch delays. But what the company needs most right now is new customers, new sales. Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry's CEO, told German newspaper, Die Welt, that "we have taken the time to build a platform that is future-proof for the next ten years." It's a pledge that's as ambitious as the task is arduous.
Arriving two years late on the smartphone scene and with a platform that struggles to offer optimal performance for mobile web browsing, BlackBerry's handsets are clearly a few steps behind the competition, which for several years now have already mastered the touchscreen user interface. RIM says this is one of the main improvements that will come with BB10, which is expected to be optimised for the company's signature feature, the mobile keyboard, as well as touchscreen interfaces.
A brighter tomorrow?
One of the features the company is counting on to breathe new life into the BlackBerry brand is an innovative new interface that garnered positive reactions from the press with the first hands-on demonstrations, a function that allows users to juggle multiple apps at once. Also on the menu are: a new web browser, a revised touchscreen keyboard and a hub for e-mails, messages and social network notifications. There's also a function that makes it easier to separate your work, family and social lives.
The new phones are expected to be a visual departure from the designs the brand has become known for. Essentially, BB10 is RIM's last chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew.
Once upon a time, RIM was the envy of the mobile community. Today, the company is struggling to convince analysts that it's capable of reclaiming its heavyweight status on one of the most coveted markets in the world, one dominated by Samsung, Google and Apple. For many observers, BB10 is RIM's last chance at a comeback—one that will mean not just catching up with the competition, but surpassing it.
The MX410de is one of Lexmark's latest line of printers. It's a monochrome all-in-one that's being advertised as fast and versatile, with a slew of pre-installed productivity solutions.
Designed for small- to medium-sized workgroups, it has 512 MB of memory (expandable up to 2.5 GB), an 800 MHz dual-core processor and a colour touchscreen. Like most printer brands, Lexmark works hard to offer effective business solutions to meet users' demands with print management tools and solutions.
Find out more in this week's printer review...
> Read the full review: Lexmark MX410de
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The MX410de is one of Lexmark's latest line of printers. It's a monochrome all-in-one that's being advertised as fast and versatile, with a slew of pre-installed productivity solutions. Designed for small- to medium-sized workgroups, it has 512 MB of memory (expandable up to 2.5 GB), an 800 MHz dual-core processor..
Ahead of the CP+ trade fair, which opens in Yokohama (Japan) on 31 January, Olympus has announced two new point-and-shoot compacts and an advanced compact with a fast lens.
The Olympus Stylus VG-180 and Stylus VR-370 both use a 16-Megapixel CCD sensor. The Stylus VG-180 has a 5x zoom lens starting at an equivalent focal length of 26 mm, a 2.7" screen with 230,000 dots and only gets a digital stabilisation system. All of that makes for a fairly basic pocket camera that's designed to be discreet and easy to use. It'll be available in March in red or black and shouldn't cost more than £100.
The Stylus VR-370 is a slightly more adventurous model with a 3" touchscreen with 460,000 dots, a 12.5x zoom lens starting at 24mm and reaching a maximum focal length of 300mm. This model is barely any bigger than its entry-level counterpart, but gets a mechanical stabilisation system and a small grip handle on the front. Video resolution is limited to 720p HD. Another added extra in the Stylus VR-370 is Eye-Fi™ compatibility, so with an Eye-Fi card you can upload photos to a computer over an Ad Hoc wireless network. Note, however, that Eye-Fi cards can be quite expensive. The VR-370 is coming in March in black, red, silver and blue.
Olympus Stylus XZ-10
The Stylux XZ-10 is the most ambitious model of the three announced, as Olympus sets out to conquer the expert compact market with a higher-end spec sheet. This camera gets a 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, a 26-130mm lens with f/1.8 aperture at wide-angle and a still very respectable f/2.7 aperture at the maximum zoom setting. Lens aperture can be controlled directly using a settings ring around the lens, which is also used to control shutter speed in S mode. A super-macro mode is on hand for shooting subjects just 1 centimetre from the camera.
The Stylus XZ-10 has a 3" touchscreen with 920,000 dots. It films 1080p Full HD video with slow-motion video at 120 frames per second (although resolution drops to 720p). This new Olympus compact is compatible with Eye-Fi and FlashAir cards.
With its PEN-esque design, the Stylux XZ-10 will be landing at the end of March in black, white and brown.
> Compact Camera Reviews
Pentax has updated its range of rough, tough compact cameras for 2013. The Optio WG-3 (with or without GPS) is due to take over from the WG-2 (with or without GPS) while the Optio WG-10 offers an entry-level option.
Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS
Since there's clearly no point changing a winning formula, Pentax has kept the same original, rubbery, all-action, carabiner-clip-clad design with its latest Optio waterproof cameras. But while the casing may not have changed that much, Pentax has used this update to improve the two main problems in last year's WG-2. The Optio WG-3 (which, don't forget, is available with or without a GPS) therefore gets a new 25-100 mm lens with f/2 aperture at wide-angle, letting in three times as much light! That's definitely good news—and even more so since Pentax has finally loaded this camera with a stabilisation system. However, the maximum focal length loses 40 mm as a result. Win some, lose some.
The rest of the tech specs are fairly standard stuff for a waterproof compact, with a 16-Megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, a dustproof, coldproof (-10°C) finish, and a Full HD video mode. The WG-3 is waterproof to 14 metres and shock-resistant to drops from up to 2 metres.
The WG-3 will set you back £280 without the GPS function or £330 with the GPS. Both models will be available from March.
The Optio WG-10 is an entry-level alternative to the WG-30 with a skimmed-down spec sheet. It's waterproof to 10 metres, shock-resistant to drops from up to 1.5 metres and can snap away at temperatures as low as -10°C. It has a 14-Megapixel CCD and video resolution is limited to 720p HD. The screen is a low-def 230,000-dot affair and the 28-140 mm zoom lens with f/3.5 aperture is lifted straight out of the WG-2.
The WG-10 will be available in March for £180.
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