Monday, 24 November 2014

Gadgetero at Slush 2014

This year I was able to attend Slush 2014 in the Exhibition Center in Helsinki (Messukeskus). Slush is an event focused in startups and technology talent to meet with investors, executives and media. I was part of the media thanks to our work at TechXpats Podcast.

This year the venue changed from Kaapelitehdas, a small exhibition area in the south of the city, to the Helsinki Exhibition Center, Messukeskus, the biggest hall for this kind of events in the city. I had not been there before but I have heard that the event started around 5 years ago with only some few hundred people till what it is now (10.000 people joint the event in total). I think this year was a big year for the organizers and I must say that the event was worth visiting.

All together there were 4 stages where you could see different companies talking about their ideas and products. One of the stages was reserved for a pitching competition that went on through the two days the event lasted, and winner got 250.000 EUR price, not bad :-)

As part of the TechXpats podcast crew, I was more interested in technology and my two surprises were the announcement of the new Nokia N1 tablet and the Jolla tablet. I had the chance to go to Nokia N1 booth and test the device, talk with the people there, and get a feeling of what Nokia N1 is and means for the Android tablet world.

Nokia N1 tablet

I must say that I would have never expected a tablet from Nokia, the "real" Nokia,  as their main business is mobile network infrastructures and Here maps. But after the mobile phone division was sold to Microsoft, it seems they didn't want to miss the chance to be in the consumer electronic market, and they launched their first Android tablet.

After playing with it for a while, I must say that the design is really clean and simple. The tablet is really thin and light, and it feels good in the hands. The software itself was not optimized yet so it felt a bit slow, but the persons from the booth said that they are still working on it and when it comes to market, by February next year (Chinese new year), it will be working smoothly. The camera was also not yet tuned, so they did not allow me to test it as pictures were blurred.  About the tablet specs, you can check more at Nokia N1 site here, so I will not go into details.

The Nokia N1 comes with the Z Launcher. It is an Android app launcher. The beta version can be already downloaded for any Android phone. It is based on handwriting and your own trend using apps. The launcher learns what you use at certain time of the day, suggesting you always what you use most at that time. It also has a handwriting recognition where you can write the first letters of an app, contact, or other content and it will show you the results on the launcher itself.

While Z Launcher seems to be Nokia technology, the device itself is manufactured by Foxconn, chines manufacturer, and they also take care of marketing, distribution, etc. The only thing that comes from Nokia is the launcher, some licensed technology, the design, and of course, the Nokia brand. It is a smart move from Nokia to get revenue from their most valuable thing, their brand.

The tablet will launch first in China for Chinese new year, and it will come later to selected markets in Europe. The guys at the booth did not want to give any details on when and where the device will be available. Also, they are not planning to launch it in USA.

Best of all it is its price, just 250 USD!

Here are some pictures of the device as well as a video showing the Z Launcher:

Jolla tablet

The other big announcement was Jolla tablet, by Jolla team. You might already be familiar with Jolla phone that they launched a couple of years ago. Jolla phone is based on Sailfish operative system, that is an evolution of the old Nokia MeeGo operative system. The phone itself was selling well specially in Finland, but it has not been extremely popular worldwide. The good thing is that it is Android compatible so you can run all Android apps on it. Now they released a new table with the same principles, based on Sailfish. And same as the phone, it will run Android apps.

The guys from Jolla decided to go with popular crowdfunding and it took them only two hours since the tablet announcement to reach their target. And it is still ongoing. If you are interested on buying one, go to their crowdfunding page here. You might have still the chance to order one of the first devices to be shipped. Release date is May 2015. And one of the big selling points besides its beautiful design, its price: 199 USD!

Unfortunately, the devices was not available to demo and we could only see it in a glass box running a demo. Here it is some pics and video of the demo.

Final impressions

Besides the "gadget" side, there were many interesting companies and speakers during the event. I have to say that I am looking forward to the next year event, and that time I will reserve at least one full day to go around and enjoy the event much more. And also, to stay longer in the famous Slush party, that is held in between the two days. This year I had only some time to enjoy the VIP party, but I was not able to stay till the real Slush party started.

I leave you here with some more pictures from the event.

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