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Editor's Letter: When the rubber hits the road

Tim Stevens

In each issue of Distro, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

The time for talk and for analysis has come to a close. The BlackBerry company's first phone hit the market in earnest and now we wait and see how the market reacts. According to BlackBerry itself, initial indications are just fine. While the company followed in the footsteps of Amazon and Microsoft and refused to give solid numbers (probably wisely), it did say that sales for the Canadian release were 50 percent stronger than any of the company's previous launches there. In the UK things looked even better, with sales 300 percent greater than any previous BlackBerry release.

Of course, it's been a long time since we've had a major BlackBerry release in any country and the market has grown considerably since then. Still, demand for the Z10 is certainly looking strong, and that's good news. Similarly, demand for the QWERTY-having Q10 will presumably also be high when that ships in a few months. To help devs prepare, RIM has released the Dev Alpha C handset, which too has a physical keyboard. And, the company's much-hyped Super Bowl commercial hit the airwaves on Sunday to rather ... mixed reviews.

The ad shows a Z10 user doing a lot of zany things that, seemingly, do little to enamor viewers to the handset or the software it's running.

The ad shows a Z10 user alternatively saving the world and morphing into an elephant while also catching fire and doing a lot of other zany things that, seemingly, do little to enamor viewers to the handset or the software it's running. No worries, BlackBerry still has a month to put together a new ad campaign before the phone drops here in the US.

BlackBerry was, of course, not the only tech company that chose to decimate its advertising budget with a 30-second spot during the Big Game. Plenty of nerdy commercials were on-offer, including the usual suspects like and Best Buy. Samsung made a bit of a splash with Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and LeBron James in its commercial, while we got a an intriguing look at Iron Man 3 as well. As ever, it was a grand time to be watching commercials, though if you were only focusing on the ads you missed a heck of a game.

Speaking of Best Buy, that retailer is just one of the many places that you'll be able to buy the OUYA console when it ships en masse in June. Amazon, Target and GameStop have also signed on to stock the $100 thing, with additional controllers costing $50. And yes, don't sweat: Kickstarter backers are still said to be getting theirs sometime in March, which should give you plenty to gloat about if you got in on that deal. If you didn't, well, there's always eBay...

Those looking for a bit more control over their iPhone 5s and iPad minis will be happy to know that the evasi0n untethered jailbreak is now available. The iOS 6- and 6.1-cracking software will set your device free from its digital shackles and make you secretly feel a bit more dangerous when using your phone. Go ahead; get some - just back up your data first.

Will the newly liberated Dell shift its tack dramatically into crazy new ventures now that it doesn't have as many investors breathing down its neck?

Dell, too, is feeling dangerous, confirming that it is indeed buying itself back from, well, everyone. The company is going private at a total cost of $24.4 billion, cashing out all the shareholders at a cost of $13.65 per share. That's a tidy 25 percent premium over the January 11th closing price of $10.88, which should make those (soon to be former) investors reasonably pleased. Microsoft chipped in $2 billion to help make this happen and Michael Dell will be contributing his own stock to the process. In return he gets to keep his job as CEO, but the question, of course, is what happens next? Will the newly liberated Dell shift its tack dramatically into crazy new ventures now that it doesn't have as many investors breathing down its neck? Or, will it re-focus on the enterprise and move away from consumer goods altogether? Suffice to say, we'll let you know either way.

Finally, we got a peek at Wine on Android this week. No, this isn't a new, boozy direction for Google's foodie naming scheme, rather a port of the popular Linux environment for running Windows apps. This could open the door to proper desktop productivity apps on Android smartphones and tablets, but if the performance of this early version is any indication, release is still a good ways away.

In this week's Distro we're taking you on a bit of a ride in Tesla's Model S sedan, which proves to be amazing, but still falls well short of perfect. We also have my review of Microsoft's Surface Pro, the "no compromises" tablet that, sadly, feels quite compromised, while Sarah Silbert weighs in on the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart. Ben Gilbert talked with a number of OUYA devs to get their take as we get closer to the thing's release, and Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan sits down for Q&A. That plus a new IRL and Eyes-On with Tesla's fee-free Supercharger. Now, make sure your reading device of choice is fully charged, and enjoy.

Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #77.

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