There comes a time in every modern geek's life when they seriously consider moving to Kansas City, simply to gain access to the wonder that is Google Fiber. This week, would-be bandwidth pilgrims gained another potential destination: Austin, Texas. Yes, the increasingly trendy SXSW locale has officially signed on with Google to start rolling out the connectivity in 2014. Sadly, we're told to not expect much in the way of access until the summer of next year, which seems like ages, but that should give you plenty of time to save up for a down payment. Austin housing rates are soaring of late.
Not wanting to be left out of the party, AT&T promptly announced its own initiative to bring high-speed fiber connectivity to Austin just hours after Google. Ma Bell is promising 1 Gbps speeds and the same sort of accessibility and contracts as Google's service, thus creating a very interesting battleground for high-speed connectivity. It's the sort of fiber-optic gluttony that we'd all like to indulge in some day, and if Google can keep pushing AT&T like this, perhaps some day we actually will.
We got what looks to be our first peek at the front glass of a purported next-generation iPad this week, a single shot of a pane of glass held by a gloved hand. This seems to point to a redesigned iPad that would match more closely the case shape of the iPad mini and the most recent iPod touch, with slimmer bezels and, perhaps, a thinner overall profile. Still no formal word on when exactly this device will be released, but indications are that it won't be long now.
Meanwhile on the Microsoft side of the aisle, the Wall Street Journal got what it considers solid information on the next generation of Surface tablets, including a 7-inch version. These tablets are due this year, though it's unclear exactly when and also whether they will be ARM or Intel-powered. Given the battery life and cooling issues of the Surface Pro, one might be inclined to hope for the ARM route. Regardless of processor, a smaller -- and more importantly cheaper -- Surface tablet can't come soon enough.
If you ask me, a new Xbox can't come soon enough either
If you ask me, a new Xbox can't come soon enough either, and we got some more bits of supposed information about it -- bits that we presume will continue to trickle out over the course of the next month or so. First up is another indicator that the system will be powered by an AMD x86 CPU, which falls in line with earlier reports. There were also reports of a very media-centric next-gen Xbox, with HDMI-in like a Google TV, enabling overlays and full DVR control.
Some rumors are even pointing to a pair of new Xbox devices, one more media-focused than the other, and the sale of Mediaroom to Ericsson this week might just bolster those claims. The IPTV unit was beginning to feel a bit out of place amidst all the development going into the Xbox side of the business, so hopefully Ericsson can give it a good home and keep U-verse users happy.
Samsung raised the stakes again in the smartphone size war. Twice. It announced not one but two phones in the new Galaxy Mega class. The first is a 5.8-inch monster with a disappointing qHD (960 x 540) screen, 8GB of storage and 1.4GHz dual-core processor. Obviously this is for those who value quantity over quality. For those who need even more, the 6.3-inch version should suffice, featuring an HD (likely 720p) display and up to 16GB of internal storage with microSD expansion. Whether either of these devices comes to the US remains to be seen, as does whether anyone will buy them.
In this week's Distro you'll find my review of that edition of the OUYA, which perhaps could have used another few months in the oven.
Finally, bad news from another Android-powered Kickstarter success, GameStick. The company announced that it is shipping early developer units, but those units going to the rest of the backers are being delayed until June. The company blamed demand and shipping issues, but perhaps after the reception of the early backer OUYA edition, the company decided it needed a little more time to get things shipshape.
In this week's Distro you'll find my review of that edition of the OUYA, which perhaps could have used another few months in the oven. We also have reviews of the Samsung Note 8.0 and the Roku 3. I interview Tesla's Elon Musk and get his thoughts on what it'll take for EVs to go mainstream and just when they're going to release a car normal people can afford. Ross Rubin examines the implications of Facebook's new Home in Switched On while Joshua Fruhlinger retells a harrowing tale of modern road rage. Finally, Daniel H. Wilson, author of Robopocalypse, kindly sits down for Q&A. It's all waiting for you just below, and I think you're going to enjoy it.
This piece originally appeared in Distro #86.