Device Makers Unveil NFC-enabled Tablets and Hybrids Running Windows 8
While the first smartphone sporting the Windows Phone 8 operating system grabbed the headlines–the Ativ S from Samsung Electronics–a number of other NFC-enabled portable devices, from Asus, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, as well as Samsung, were unveiled at this week's IFA tradeshow in Berlin.
Many of the new NFC devices unveiled are tablets, notebooks or hybrids of the two running Microsoft’s new PC operating system Windows 8, which will be released in October. Like the related smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 comes with native NFC support.
Among the new Windows 8 devices were the Vaio Duo 11–a hybrid tablet-PC that has an 11.6-inch touchscreen and a keyboard that can slide back, and the Vaio Tap 20, a 20-inch tablet that comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse.
The Japanese electronics giant is making use of NFC to enable multiple Sony devices to share photos and music. The "One-touch” function works by touching one NFC enabled device to another to quickly establish a wireless connection without the need for any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi set-up, said Sony.
Sony also unveiled NFC-enabled smartphones, the Xperia T and Xperia V, and accessories at the tradeshow. Music from the devices can be wirelessly streamed to a Sony SRS-BTV5 NFC-enabled speaker or an NFC-enabled MDR-1RBT headphone.
Large PC maker Hewlett-Packard also announced an NFC-enabled portable device supporting Windows 8 with the HP Envy x2, a tablet-laptop hybrid that can be used a standalone tablet or docket with a keyboard. The device comes with NFC functionality that, HP says, “lets users share content, including photos, contacts and URLs, with a simple tap.”
Toshiba also introduced a Windows 8 device, the Toshiba Satellite U925t, a 12.5-inch tablet that has a screen that enables users to slide to reveal a full-size keyboard with an NFC chip in the palm rest. The device, according to reports, has NFC built-in.
And at the IFA show, Taiwan-based device maker Asus unveiled two NFC-enabled Windows 8 devices, the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT tablets, which were renamed from earlier announced 600 and 810 tablets. The NFC functionality enables the Asus tablets to easily sync with other NFC-enabled devices.
There was no word if the new crop of Windows 8 tablets and tablet-laptop hybrids will support payment or other secure applications, though that is the plan later for Ultrabook laptops and presumably some Windows-based tablets.
Asus already produces Google’s Android-based Nexus 7 tablet, which was released in July. NFC connectivity allows Nexus 7 users to share files using Android Beam peer-to-peer communication and to use Google Wallet.
MasterCard Worldwide has certified the Nexus 7 for use with its PayPass contactless payment application on an embedded secure chip in the Nexus 7.
There were also some NFC-enabled Android portable devices announced at the IFA. In addition to the Xperia phones, Samsung unveiled a sequel to its popular Galaxy Note smartphone-tablet hybrid, the Galaxy Note II.
Samsung kicked off the announcements of NFC-enabled devices Wednesday at IFA with the world’s first Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the Ativ S, along with the NFC-enabled Ativ Tablet running Windows 8.
The Ativ S announcement came a week before the expected launch of the first Windows Phone 8 device from Nokia, as part of its Lumia series, which is also expected to support NFC.
The building wave of NFC-enabled Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices comes as Microsoft has signaled solid support for the technology.
Microsoft last year demonstrated its Windows 8 operating system, showing "tap-to-share" applications. The software giant also has introduced its own touch mark, designed to show users where to tap on Windows 8 devices that carry NFC chips.
In addition, Windows Phone will be the third major mobile platform to support a wallet, after Google's Android-based NFC wallet and the recently announced Passbook wallet from Apple, though the next iPhone probably will not support NFC.
Microsoft has made it clear it will support SIMs as the secure element to anchor payment and other secure applications in its wallet.