Apple is the undisputed master when it comes to using television to market new technology. The sincerest form of flattery being what it is, it's not surprising that every major manufacturer now uses TV ads to unleash its own "next big thing."
Today, news about new products floods the blogosphere long before launch campaigns hit the airwaves. A new product can actually be panned before it reaches stores. Bad reviews from uber geeks, however, don't daunt ad agencies. In a :30 spot, every product is a ground-breaking miracle!
For the past few weeks, I haven't been able to watch a popular network TV program without seeing ads for the new BlackBerry Z10 smart phone or the HP Envy x2 two-in-one tablet/notebook.
The theme for BlackBerry's campaign is "Keep Moving," which aside from borrowing the brand name of a fine, Louisiana-made cigar, spells out exactly what the company formerly known as Research in Motion hopes these ads will accomplish: make the new Z10 smart phone fly off dealers' shelves.
The TV spot for the HP ENVY x2 featuring magician Dan White is more warm and fuzzy. The late Steve Jobs often used the word "magical" at Apple product launches. HP obviously believes that a real magician will make an even better pitchman.
BlackBerry Z10 smart phone
The BlackBerry Z10 is the first smart phone to use the re-designed, re-engineered and re-invented BlackBerry 10 platform. As such, the company claims the Z10 is the fastest and most advanced BlackBerry model ever produced.
The unit features an all-touch keyboard, a high-resolution 4.2-inch display, and an 8-megapixel camera that records 1080p HD video. The Z10 is fully compatible with 4G LTE networks and will be sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Verizon will be the only carrier that will sell a white as well as a black version.
The Z10 has many cool features. BlackBerry makes a big deal of the BlackBerry Hub, but it is basically a home screen for email and social networking accounts. You can reach the Hub from any app with one swipe to see what's new, then instantly swipe back to what you were doing.
The unit's touch screen keyboard even learns how you type and adapts so you can write faster and more accurately. This includes personalized prediction and contextual auto-corrections.
BlackBerry Calendar is another feature that understands and adapts to how the smart phone is used. Every time a new appointment or meeting is created, the calendar predicts and suggests who should be invited.
The Z10 also features BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) video and screen share so you can catch up face-to-face and share the content on your screen with your friend or co-worker.
Taking photos and creating memories is easier with Time Shift, which captures the moments before and after you press the shutter to let you create the best shot, and Story Maker, that helps you create a movie from your stills in a few swipes.
It all sounds great, but I side with those who view the Z10 as "too little, too late." Never underestimate BlackBerry loyalists, however. I personally don't see a bright future for the company, but miracles happen.
The BlackBerry Z10 smart phone is now selling at AT&T retailers for $199.99 with a two-year agreement. For more information, visit ATT.com.
HP ENVY x2 tablet/notebook two-in-one
The HP ENVY x2, billed as "the right device for the right time, every time," supposedly solves the "Do I bring my notebook or tablet?" dilemma, providing the power of a notebook and the freedom of a tablet in one device.
Constructed of shiny aluminum with a dockable keyboard equipped with a hinge secured with magnets that smoothly guide the slate into place, the x2 weighs 3.1 pounds. When separated, the tablet portion weighs just 1.5 pounds.
The unit has an 11.6-inch diagonal HD touch display that yields ultra-wide viewing angles thanks to a bright, In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel. Beats Audio provides rich sound, and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology lets you share content, including photos, contacts and URLs, with a simple tap.
The device is powered by an Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM and 64GB solid-state storage. The operating system is 32-bit Windows 8, so it's compatible with standard Windows applications.
By now, consumers are used to seeing Windows 8 touch-screen notebooks transform into tablets and vice versa. I really like how the x2 accomplishes this, but the ad with Dan White wowing a child on an airplane is unrealistic. No nine-year-old I know would be that impressed.
The HP ENVY x2 lists for $849.99, but I've seen it discounted $100-$200, including on HP's own website. For more information, visit HP.com.