Hands On With The Kupa UltraNote, A Modular, Customizable Tablet That Makes Windows 8 Shine


At the Pepcom MobileFocus event at CTIA MobileCon, an unlikely underdog made a very big impression on me. It was the Kupa UltraNote, and it was my first hands on with a tablet that ships with Windows 8 installed. The Kupa impressed, from its modular design that allows for ample customizability, to its pen-based, pressure-sensitive input system that makes drawing on the tablet a pleasure.

The UltraNote isn’t Kupa’s first crack at a Windows tablet; the company also put out the X11, a Windows 7 device that received positive reviews from some quarters. But this is the first of its tablet products that has a truly compatible and suitable partner in the form of Windows 8, which is built from the ground up for touchscreen input. And the difference really shows in Kupa’s latest effort.

The UltraNote is an Intel Ivy Bridge i7, i5 or i3-based Windows 8 device, with a 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS display. It offers 10 points of multitouch input sensitivity, comes with digitizer pen input with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity (on par with some pro drawing tablets), ships with 4GB of RAM and is expandable up to 8GB, and offers either 64GB or 128GB of SSD storage. It also weighs only 760g, has a seven-hour battery life, or 12 hours with a docking station accessory, and even boasts a user-swappable battery that Kupa says will be inexpensive to replace.

There’s also a SIM card slot on that list of pleasant surprises, and Kupa CTO Yuan Xie explained in an interview that it will work with a modular handset extension to operate as a real, practical phone. It also has two USB 3.0 slots, an HDMI out, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and 3G/4G LTE radios, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, RFID and NFC.

The modularity allows the Kupa UltraNote to dock additional accessories to one side, making it possible to add additional ports, additional hardware accessories and more.

Xie was also particularly proud of the screen, which avoids the typical 1920 x 1080 resolution for 10.1-inch displays Windows is pushing, and providers users with more usable screen real estate, which he says is better for productivity apps.

The UltraNote ships in November, the company says, and for a price that’s yet to be determined, along with a keyboard dock accessory that’s also still not priced. We’ll have more time with the device when it’s ready to ship and will let you know how it performs in longer trials. But for now it’s a very promising early look at Win 8 on tablet hardware.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

T-Mobile’s Nokia Lumia 810 – We Go Hands On, But This Phone’s Literally Got No Guts


T-Mobile recently announced it would be offering the Nokia Lumia 810 Windows Phone 8 device, sometime in the coming weeks, and it had the handset at the Pepcom’s MobileFocus event at MobileCon today. But the hardware wasn’t really the hardware as such – it was a dummy unit with nothing on the inside. But it still showed off some of what the phone will offer users.

The Lumia 810 from T-Mobile comes in both black and cyan variants, and will have a 4.3-inch OLEG WVGA screen that could be very good-looking in practice, one might imagine. There’s also Windows Phone 8, an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel front shooter for Skype and other communication apps, which could take very nice pictures, it’s reasonable to assume.

What we do know about the 810 is that it feels quite substantial compared to most contemporary smartphones, like in a way that actually isn’t altogether a good thing. The Lumia 810 could easily use a diet, in fact, and there’s a lot of space taken up around the not-yet-active screen devoted to bezel. It’s a bold, aggressive design choice, and one that could result in a chunky chic appeal, but it could also backfire – in a world where thin and light are the name of the game, this is a phone that stands apart, as you can see by the side-by-side shots with it and the iPhone 5.

Microsoft clearly doesn’t want anyone touching the Windows 8 software before it unveils it later this month. We’ll see what the 810, and its bigger brother the 920 delivers when Windows 8 finally ships.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Hands On With Romain Jerome’s Octopus Steampunk Dive Watch


Here is a high-end dive watch to consider if you like that Captain Nemo look. It is called the Octopus, and is from avant garde Swiss watch brand Romain Jerome (RJ). Those familiar with the Romain Jerome Titanic DNA collection of watches will recognize the styling of this new Octopus diver.

The number 8 plays throughout the piece. There’s a unique octopus engraving on the back of the case, 888 feet of water resistance, and they’ll sell only 888 pieces in the limited edition. There are even eight special screws. One feature we love is the “suction cup” style inner part of the rubber strap. Decidedly strange looking, Romain Jerome knows that they are designing and producing polarizing products. People with a strong sense that their watch needs to say something about themselves tend to find watches like this appealing. The RJ Octopus will come in a few styles and each contains a Swiss automatic mechanical movement. You can check out my deeper look over here or just save up your pennies to buy this $ 10K piece.

TechCrunch » Gadgets