Breaking barriers

Breaking barriers

The wireless industry is seeing the convergence of high speed wireless data connections, powerful handheld devices and clashing tech/wireless giants. Most consumers are somewhat oblivious to these forces, so one could ask why they should care. They should care because all these aspects of the mobile world coming together have resulted in a wireless experience that we, as consumers, have never seen before.

Dual-Core handheld devices the talk of CES
At the heels of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of 2011, it was clear that two things dominated the show and were the talk of the tech world: Dual-Core smartphones/tablets and 4G wireless connectivity. Motorola and NVIDIA came out as the clear victors of CES, literally throwing down the gauntlet at its respective competitors. The event was abuzz with the talk of multiple Motorola devices powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 dual core processors. The first real splash was the unveiling of the Motorola Atrix 4G for AT&T which will also be launched in Canada as the Motorola Atrix for Bell. The Atrix 4G is a new device that is a phone  with multiple docks that can turn it into a laptop, desktop and home media center, all powered by the same device.

Motorola used this momentum to announce the Motorola Bionic, Verizon’s LTE “4G” answer to the Atrix, and more importantly the Motorola Xoom, one of two announced “4G” Android Tablets running the highly anticipated Honeycomb 3.0 version of Android. All of these devices, including the LG Optimus 2x and the T-Mobile-bound LG G-Slate, are to be powered by Dual Core 1GHz NVIDIA hardware.

4G: what’s it all about?
No carriers in Canada have jumped aboard the 4G marketing bandwagon, as can be seen by the Canadian version of the Atrix 4G dropping the “4G”. However, US carriers have not hesitated to use 4G as a marketing tool, at the chagrin of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who had originally laid out the specifications for 4G, only to have them ignored by US carriers. Part of the ITU’s original requirements outlined that 4G must exceed 1000Mbps or 1Gbps. US carrier branded “4G” technologies including HSPA+ (AT&T and T-Mobile),  LTE (AT&T and Verizon) and WiMAX (Sprint) all fall short of these challenging goals. The ITU eventually backed down from these demanding goals and now acknowledges all three as 4G technologies.

Nevertheless 4G or pseudo-4G will allow these new powerhouse devices, be it smartphones or tablets, to seriously challenge netbooks and tablets in the mobile computing space. 4G could eventually even be a threat to the old land-based, cable and DSL internet lines.

How does all of this affect us consumers?
For one, the announcement of Bell committing to a device before it is even publically announced is an important step forward in bringing cutting edge tech to Canada shortly after being announced and hopefully sparking more heated competition. Second, there is a slight possibility that at least one of the big 3 (Rogers/Bell/TELUS) follow their US counterparts and market their HSPA+ network as 4G. If that doesn’t happen, LTE will most probably be the prime candidate to carry the 4G moniker.

So where does this leave us consumers? The advent of Dual Core and 1GHz+ CPUs in smartphones and tablets, coupled with 4G-like wireless broadband internet connections will offer consumers a mobile experience unlike any before it. Unbounded 1080p HD recording and playback capabilities, unparalleled multitasking capabilities, true desktop-like browsing experience and handheld, console level gaming are just a few possibilities. The day when our mobile phones, laptops, desktops, gaming consoles and home entertainment centers become the same device will soon be upon us, and these new powerhouse devices, like the Atrix 4G, are glimpses of that future

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