On April 2 Amazon unveiled their latest foray into the hardware space. After making ebooks and tablets the online retailer is directly competing with Apple TV and Roku with their very own media streamer called Amazon Fire TV. The $99 box comes packed with myriad subscription-based and streaming services including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and of course Amazon Instant Video with Prime benefits to Amazon’s catalog of exclusive content.
There really are three things that set the Fire TV apart from the competition. First is its raw power. The box is powered by a quad-core processor, a dedicated GPU, 2GB of RAM, and it supports 1080p video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. The company is claiming it has 3x the processing power and 4x the memory of Apple TV and Roku. These specs allow for a fast and fluid experience navigating the UI and media playback. Such generous guts support Amazon’s anti-buffering initiative they’re calling ASAP, or Advanced Streaming and Prediction; instead of waiting 10+ seconds for a video to buffer and stream, the Fire TV will smartly predict the movies and shows you will watch and get them ready for streaming so when you hit play it will immediately begin playback. More specs: ’round back you’ll find a port for power, HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet, and USB. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also inside.
Amazon’s Fire TV also supports voice search. The included media remote sports a mic that listens to your audible search queries. Simply tap the voice button and speak into the remote to instantly search TV shows, movies, actors, directors, and genres. Of course, an on-screen keyboard is provided in case the software can’t pick up on what you’re saying for whatever reason. Note that the remote is paired to the streamer via Bluetooth so direct line-of-sight for control is not necessary.
Additionally, the box is being billed as a gaming machine. Does it compete with heavy hitters like the Xbox One and PS4–no way, but that doesn’t mean it won’t fight to become an affordable way to access easy-to-pickup titles like world-builder Minecraft and racer Asphalt. In fact, Amazon is so dedicated to making Fire TV a gaming destination that it is also selling a separately sold Amazon Fire Game Controller for $39.99 that is very reminiscent of Xbox’s pad featuring dual analog sticks, a d-pad, and ABXY buttons, as well as media controls. And on top of that, the company has formed Amazon Game Studios to develop games exclusively for the Fire TV such as third-person sci-fi shooter Sev Zero. Press the GameCircle button the Game Controller to view leaderboards and achievements across the Internet. Many games are offered today (a bunch of them are free) with “thousands” more on the way. Check out the Fire TV’s games and apps catalog here. Note that most games do not require the separately sold Game Controller for use, however some do.
What else? In addition to movies and TV, the Android-powered box also streams music (Pandora, Vevo, etc.) and it can wirelessly stream your photos and video saved in Amazon Cloud Drive. You can also mirror your Amazon tablet to your HDTV in the same way iOS devices can be paired with Apple TVs and your Amazon tablet can provide a second screen experience by pulling up content that’s related to what you’re watching on the big screen. Last, Amazon FreeTime allows parents to setup personalized profiles for their kids to access appropriate movies, TV shows, apps, and games.
Amazon Fire TV is available for purchase today. Get a closer look at the media streamer and its gaming controller in the gallery below, then jump after the break to see the UI in action, a sneak peek at Amazon-developed games, and the first commercial for it starring the insane Gary Busey.
“The future of the pro desktop” is finally here. This week Apple made it possible for (wealthy) consumers to order the new and marginally improved Mac Pro through Apple.com. First announced at WWDC ’13, the Mac Pro comes configured in two ways: the base model, starting at $2,999, comes packed with a 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory, Dual AMD FirePro D300 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each, and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage. The speedier $3,999 model sports a 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory, Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each, and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage. From there these models can be further upgraded before checking out. Apple says units will starting shipping in February. If you’re a heavy gamer or a professional creative in the TV and movie industries, this cylindrical powerhouse is just what the doctor prescribed.
On Tuesday, November 26 the complete box set of Breaking Bad releases on Blu-ray and DVD. Except it doesn’t come in a box but inside a collectible replica money barrel! In addition to all five seasons of the hit AMC drama, the set is packed with over 55 hours of bonus material including a two-hour documentary that chronicles the filming of the final eight episodes and, yes, an alternate ending.
Said ending has already leaked onto the Internet and you can watch it now after the break. However, don’t freak out just yet; the inspired bit is just that–it’s a parody that involves Bryan Cranston waking up next to his Malcolm in the Middle wife played by Jane Kaczmarek having experienced a nightmare that pretty much sums up the bulk of Bad. Cranston steps into Hal’s shoes and Kaczmarek doesn’t miss a beat as his former TV wife Lois. Leading up to the series finale many Breaking Bad fans imagined Vince Gilligan’s show to be a prequel to Malcolm whereby Walter White gets put into witness protection and lands on his feet in that sitcom’s household; or it was all a dream, Newhart style. Though that never came to fruition, this fun and quite funny “alternate ending” should do just the trick for fans with such wild imaginations.
The Breaking Bad barrel, which also includes a 16 page booklet with a letter from Vince Gilligan, a commemorative challenge coin designed by Gilligan, and a Los Pollos Hermanos apron, is up for preorder today at Amazon for $201.29. Jump after the break to view the full list of special features. Fill the stockings with the blue stuff this holiday season and get your Heisenberg-obsessed loved one a money barrel brimming with the best of Bad.
Update: A couple more videos are now embedded after the break. Vince Gilligan sets up shop with a webcam to unbox the Breaking Bad barrel, and in another clip stars Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul get ready to read the series finale script for the first time. Also provided is a link to watch Cranston & Paul read the final moments of the last episode together for the first time at Cranston’s place; it’s all part of the aforementioned two-hour documentary included in the barrel. Enjoy! (Click here for more…)
Microsoft is updating its Surface tablets that showcase their redesigned operating system Windows 8. The Surface 2 is the successor to Surface for Windows RT; its 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display now renders 1080p, it’s powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, and its battery life promises 10 hours for video playback. Its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 and its front and back-facing cameras have been upped to 3.5-megapixel and 5-megapixel, respectively; both can capture 1080p video and feature improved low-light performance. Preloaded with Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Outlook 2013 RT, the Surface 2 starts at $449 and will come in 32GB and 64GB configurations when it goes on sale October 22. Customers can choose from a black or white coat this time.
The Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface for Windows Pro; it packs the same 10.6-inch ClearType Full 1080p HD display as the Surface 2 but it’s faster as it’s powered by Intel’s fourth-generation 1.6GHz Core i5 processor. MSFT hypes a 75 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro thanks to the new processor and other internal enhancements. The device houses three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0, a mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, and audio in/out. A two-stage kickstand, also featured on the Surface 2, gives users another angle to position their tablet. The Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 and will come in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM when it, too, hits the market October 22.
New Surface owners will get one year of free international calling and Skype hotspot access, along with 200GB of SkyDrive storage that is free for two years.
The new tablets will sell alongside some new accessories. The Touch ($119.99) and Type ($129.99) Covers are getting updated with thinner and light-weight designs. A new Power Cover ($199.99, coming in early 2014), which features a Type Cover experience, will extend your Surface’s battery life by up to 50 percent. A Docking Station for Surface Pro ($199.99, also coming early next year) will allow owners to easily connect desktop peripherals to their tablets, “taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant.” A Music Cover gives amateur DJs a new way to dive into the art of music making and remixing; release date and price is still TBA on this one.
Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the new Surface tablets and accessories.
On Tuesday Tim Cook hosted an Apple event in Cupertino that introduced not one but two new iPhones. Also, Apple’s next-gen mobile operating system iOS 7 now has a release date and the company’s productivity suite and creative apps are about to become even more popular. Let’s dive in, shall we? (Click here for more…)
First up, a price drop. The Wii U is shedding $50 and will sell for $299.99 starting September 20. This is the black-coated 32GB “deluxe” Wii U that’s seeing the price decrease. The white 8GB “standard” version remains at $300 but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ninty decided to discontinue what used to be the cheaper model soon. With an even more competitive price tag and an onslaught of anticipated first-party titles coming soon (see below) perhaps the time is nigh to finally pull the trigger and pick up Nintendo’s next-gen entry.
Also hitting shelves on the 20th of September is a limited-edition Wii U bundle packed with the anticipated Gamecube remake The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. At the same $299.99 price point you get the deluxe console, a code to download a digital copy of the Zelda title from the Nintendo eShop (the physical disc doesn’t hit retail until October 4), one GamePad controller adorned with Zelda-inspired gold lettering, and a digital copy of Hyrule Historia, a book that details the chronology, history, and artwork of The Legend of Zelda series.
Next up: new hardware. The Nintendo 3DS is getting a new sibling and its name is 2DS. At $40 less than the 3DS, the 2DS eliminates the ability to play games in eye-popping 3D. Dual screens, cameras, and touch input remain intact, but the original hinge design is replaced with a flat look. The 2DS plays all 3DS games in 2D and it’s backwards compatible with all DS games. When it comes out October 12 for $129.99 it’ll be available in two hues: black/red and black/blue. Watch an introductory video after the break.
Lastly, the house that built Mario is pimping its upcoming games lineup as we near the holiday season. In addition to the aforementioned Zelda title, also in the Wii U pipeline are Wii Party U (10/25), Super Mario 3D World (11/22), Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (12/6), and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Coming soon to 3DS (and 2DS) are The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (11/22) and Mario Party: Island Tour (11/22). For a list of third party games coming soon to Ninty’s home console and handhelds, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
On Wednesday Google made a couple product announcements and what we’re doing now, we’re diving right in.
First up is Chromecast, a new way to wirelessly stream content from your personal devices to your big screen TV. The hardware itself resembles a small USB stick, except inside of plugging into a USB port it goes into an HDMI port located on your HDTV. After being plugged in, Chromecast requires two things to function: it needs power (using included cables you can either plug it into a standard wall socket or a USB port on your TV) and WiFi. Land on the correct TV input and blam, you’re connected and ready to go.
Chromecast doesn’t actually boast a user interface. Everything is streamed and controlled by your personal device. For example, if you want to stream an episode of Arrested Development from Netflix, you’d open the Netflix app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and click the “cast” button to wirelessly stream the video content to your TV. Once the content is projected to the TV, the device you’re streaming it from becomes the remote control allowing you to play, pause, and scrub through whatever you’re watching.
In addition to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Chrome are currently compatible with Chromecast. In addition to streaming video and music with those apps, the inclusion of Chrome allows you to stream Tabs so you can browse the Internet on your TV. Google is letting developers get their hands on a Google Cast SDK preview so that more apps can become compatible with Chromecast. In the pipeline already is a new version of Pandora that will work with Chromecast with more promised on the way. And Chromecast works across a variety of devices; in addition to Android phones and tablets it also functions with Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, as well as Macs and PCs.
So why buy Chromecast, especially if you already own an Apple TV or Roku or the like? I can think of two reasons right off the bat: one, it costs $35. Yeah, that’s it. You’ll want to own this thing just because you can. And then there’s ease of portability. Sure, you can unplug your Roku and bring it around the house, TV to TV, whenever you like. But can’t you imagine how simpler it’d be to transport something as small as a USB stick to get the job done? The only issue here, of course, is that Chromecast doesn’t support Hulu and Amazon Instant Video and all the other video streaming services out there. Yet. But once it does, Chromecast has the potential to shake things up in the entertainment space. For now, though, see it as an extremely portable and affordable way to bring Netflix, YouTube, and other Google services with you provided an HDMI slot is available to play.
Hop after the break to learn about Google’s other product announcement, if you dare. (Click here for more…)
Meet the Droid Mini, Droid Ultra, and Droid Maxx.
The Mini, as its name makes obvious, is the smallest of the bunch sporting an edge-to-edge 4.3-inch TFT display with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720. Inside there’s a Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System (that is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with a 400MHz quad-core GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage, a 10-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, and a 2000mAh Li–Ion battery for up to 28 hours of usage or up to 14 days of standby time.
Verizon is calling the Ultra “thinnest 4G LTE smartphone available” measuring 7.18mm thin. It rocks a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with an HD rez of 1280 x 720. It packs a Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System inside (that is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with a 400MHz quad-core GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor). 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard memory is standard here, too, as is a 10MP shooter with HD video capture and the 2130mAh battery (up to 28 hours usage or up to 13 days standby time).
And then there’s the Maxx. Its specs are nearly identical to the Ultra’s expect for its heftier size thanks to an extremely large battery. The non-removable 3500mAh battery promises up to 48 hours of usage (that’s two days!) or 25 days standby. Also, the Maxx has double the internal memory at 32GB. The Maxx also touts built-in wireless charging compatible with a charging pad sold separately.
All the new Droids are made with DuPont Kevlar fiber unibody design and Corning Gorilla Glass. The 4G LTE enabled phones run the latest version of Android, that is 4.2 Jelly Bean, featuring new software enhancements including Droid Command Center (an exclusive homescreen widget for users to easily access notifications for text messages, missed calls, battery level and weather), Droid Zap (a new way to share pictures with nearby Droid users), hands-free voice activation (Droid users can wake up their phones by saying “OK Google Now” and telling it what to do next), and Wireless Display (users can mirror what’s on the screen onto a Miracast-enabled HDTV).
The three Droids by Motorola are up for preorder today. After signing a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless, the Droid Mini can be yours for $99.99, available August 29. The Droid Ultra (made in black and red) and Droid Maxx both go on sale August 20 at $199.99 and $299.99, respectively. Pix in the gallery below. PR after the break.
At Microsoft’s pre-E3 #XboxReveal event, the veil was lifted away from the company’s next-gen hardware known as Xbox One. The event focused primarily on introducing the hardware (including the black box, the enhanced wireless controller, and Kinect 2.0) and the power behind it. Xbox One and its ability to act like a TV set-top box and serve as “the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system” was the big highlight from that event. Though a handful of titles were teased there, MSFT would save the games for its E3 media briefing. For more, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
Like Microsoft, Sony held a pre-E3 event where they officially announced the next-gen PlayStation, the PS4. Without showing off the actual console, Sony filled in a lot of the blanks by talking up the advanced architecture that powers the machine, introducing the DualShock 4 wireless controller, a new PlayStation Eye camera, the system’s ability to share and stream gaming sessions, and the company even saved time to introduce some next-gen games. At last, Sony revealed the actual box behind it all and previewed many more games coming to PS4 (more than 140 of them are coming this year) at its E3 briefing. For more, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
Last Wednesday Apple updated its MacBook Pro with Retina Display lineup with new processors and more affordable prices. The 13-inch MBP with Retina Display now starts at $1,499 (with 128GB of flash storage), and for $1,699 you can opt for a model with a new 2.6GHz processor and 256GB of flash storage. The 15-inch MBP with Retina also received a processor upgrades now featuring models complete with 2.4GHz quad-core and 2.7 GHz quad-core processors. Additionally, the Pro’s slimmer cousin the 13-inch MacBook Air also saw a price drop and now starts at $1,399 (with 256GB of flash storage). These new MBP and MBA models are available at these prices and with these specs today at Apple.com, Apple Stores, and authorized resellers.
Microsoft’s more powerful version of its Surface tablet finally has a release date. Surface with Windows 8 Pro comes to market February 9. It comes packed with Intel’s Core i5 processor and it supports apps available in the Windows Store as well as legacy programs that run on Windows 7 and other previous OS’. More Pro advantages: this slate sports a 1920 x 1080 full HD display, 4GB of RAM, a fast USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and a pen with Palm Block technology. The Pro starts at $899 for the 64GB model; alongside it is a 128GB model that will sell for $999. Unlike the RT version, the Pro doesn’t come bundled with a keyboard cover. The Touch Cover and Type Cover sell separately for $119.99 and $129.99, respectively.
In addition to fully fleshing out the Pro’s future release, Microsoft announced a new pricing option for the Surface for Windows RT. This is the 64GB model but it ditches the keyboard cover to sell for $599. It joins the standalone 32GB model ($499), the 32GB model with Black Touch Cover ($599), and 64GB model with Black Touch Cover ($699).
And there’s more. Microsoft is adding more to its Surface accessory lineup. Three new limited edition Touch Covers featuring funky designs in red, magenta, and cyan are coming soon; they’re priced at $129.99. Also on deck is a wireless Wedge mouse whose design is inspired by the modern look of the Surface; it’s priced at $69.95.
Take a look at the Surface with Windows 8 Pro, along with the new accessories, in the gallery below.
Shorty after pushing out their next-gen Wii U, Nintendo let loose another new hardware release. The Wii Mini is a miniaturized version of the original Wii featuring an updated matte black with a red border design. It comes packaged with a matching red Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuck Controller. At just $99 the Wii Mini is steal for casual gamers who’ve fully embraced motion control gaming. To lower the price to such an affordable level, Nintendo removed the console’s Internet capabilities and GameCube backwards compatibility. The Wii Mini is designed exclusively to play Wii games, and that’s it. “It’s a great value for first-time Wii owners who just want to jump in and experience all the great Wii games that helped usher in a revolution in motion-controlled gaming,” says Ninty in a press release. For the time being, the redesigned Wii will ship exclusively in Canada come December 7. I find it interesting that it’s not simultaneously releasing Stateside, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t penetrate our marketplace soon.
Marvel’s “Phase One” Blu-ray collection was supposed to come out in September but it was delayed due to lawsuit involving the suitcase packaging. After months of silence, the company is finally engaging with its fanbase with new details surrounding the long-anticipated collections that includes all Marvel Phase One movies–namely Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor (in 2D/3D), Captain America: The First Avenger (2D/3D), and The Avengers (2D/3D)–plus loads of other content including “special access to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most confidential archives, including a top-secret Bonus Disc filled with never-before-seen deleted scenes, extended scenes, featurettes and more, including “And Then Shawarma After” featurette.” The collection also includes “exclusive memorabilia (prop reproductions and artifacts) from the motion pictures,” not excluding the redesigned suitcase and the glowing Tesseract.
Marvel apologizes for the delay in the best way they can: by stuffing the Blu-ray set with new bonus material and a look at “Phase Two” material. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently spoke with EW and spilled the beans. “We went back to the editor’s assembly of each film and discovered some rare moments that dropped out of the films early on and had not been released on prior discs,” he said. The new material will allow fans “to catch the connective tissue that paved the way toward the Avengers assembling.” He added, ”We spent an embarrassing amount of time compiling the ‘Shield Files’ included in the box set to be sure that each character’s file was full of great, movie-accurate props and Easter eggs, which help tie all of the Phase One films together.” And as for the sneak peek at Phase Two? Owners can expect “footage, concept art, and a few new surprises,” he teased. “Also, look for a nod to Iron Man 3 in the Tony Stark S.H.I.E.L.D. file in the box set.”
The 10-disc, limited edition collector’s set (now called Marvel’s Cinematic Universe: Phase One Collection) is now up for preorder at Amazon for $197.10 and it’s aiming for release on April 2. Additional pics below and an alternate ending to Thor after the break!(Click here for more…)
The latest member to join the Droid smartphone family is the Droid DNA by HTC and it’s the most powerful one yet. Right off the bat you’ll notice its 5-inch, true 1080p HD super LCD 3 display (440 pixels per inch) with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, specifically a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU that’s paired with a high-performance GPU. Android’s latest and greatest Jelly Bean operating system comes preinstalled along with HTC Sense 4+. The backside camera specs go like this: 8-megapixel f/2.0 28mm wide-angle lens, 5-level automatic flash, backside illuminated sensor (BSI), superfast autofocus, 1080p HD video capture. The 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera features f/2.0 88-degree ultra-wide angle lens and also captures full HD video. Beats Audio is on board, as is “a unique, 2.55-volt, built-in headset amplifier and dedicated amp for the external rear-speaker to help boost the audio signal to deliver crystal clear sound with less distortion, even at maximum volume.” WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC are here as well. It is 4G LTE capable. It packs a 2,020mAh battery. And as far as measurements go, the DNA is 9.73mm thick and weighs 4.86 ounces.
The Droid DNA is arguably the best and most powerful handset Verizon Wireless offers today. Well, technically it releases Wednesday, November 21st, but you can preorder it now if you like. Sign a new two-year contract and it’s yours for a reasonable $199.99. PR after the break. (Click here for more…)
On the same day that Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 and detailed a hardware lineup, Google decided to announce new hardware along with a new version Android.
Google leaves it up to many third party smartphone manufacturers to develop devices to run Android. Once in a while, however, the search engine likes to inject its own cream into the crop with devices branded Nexus. The next smartphone featuring vanilla Android is the Nexus 4 and it’s a collaboration between Google and LG this time. Here are the hard specs: 4.7-inch WXGA True HD IPS Plus display (1280 x 768 resolution, 320ppi) with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor; 2GB RAM; 8 megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording and 1.3 megapixel front camera; 2,100mAh battery promising 15.3 hours talk time and 390 hours of standby; 8GB and 16GB storage capacities; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth; supports NFC and wireless charging; ports include Micro USB, SlimPort HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; it’s 9.1mm thin and weighs 139g; and it supports 3G (WCDMA) and HSPA+ networks. The Nexus 4 comes loaded with the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2) and it releases November 13 at $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB); it will be sold as an unlocked device at those prices in the Google Play store. Buy the 16GB model from T-Mobile with a new two-year contract and you can get it for a more affordable $199. On launch day it will be available in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Australia and it’ll start to roll out to Europe, Central/South Americas, Asia, CIS and the Middle East beginning in late November.
Google is already in the tablet game with the Nexus 7, and today they’ve decided to up their game with an even larger slate to directly compete with Apple’s iPad. A collaboration with Samsung, the Nexus 10 packs–you guessed it–a 10.055-inch WQXGA display with an incredible 2560 x 1600 resolution (300 ppi) and Corning Gorilla Glass 2 coat of protection. Other specs include: dual-core Cortex A15-based 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5250 processor; Mali T604 GPU; 2GB RAM; 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.9 megapixel front camera; front-facing stereo speakers; 9000 mAh battery promising 9 hours of continuous video playback and 500 hours of standby; 16GB and 32GB storage capacities; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth; supports NFC; ports include Micro USB, Magnetic Pogo pin charger, Micro HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; and it’s 8.9mm thin and weighs 603g. The Nexus 10 too comes preinstalled with Jelly Bean 4.2 and it releases November 13 at $399 (8GB) and $499 (16GB); these slates are WiFi-only.
Google’s original Nexus 7 slate is seeing an update. The 8GB model is no longer offered; in its place are 16GB ($199) and 32GB ($249) flavors. Available today are those WiFi-only models, and come November 13 a 32GB model with WiFi and HSPA+ data (with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US) will sell for $299.
In addition to announcing a new smartphone and tablet, Google injected new life into Android with the latest version of Jelly Bean 4.2. Photo Sphere allows you to take pictures in every direction and stitch them together for immersive panoramic images; Gesture Typing brings Swype-like interaction to the virtual keyboard; support for multiple user accounts gives your friends and family their own personal spaces on a single device (this feature is limited to tablets only running v4.2); Daydream allows you to personalize your screensaver with photos and news; and Google Now and Google Search have been updated with more cards and an enhanced interface, respectively. For more, click the source link below. (Update: The Google Search app for iOS has been updated with improved voice search that rivals Siri. Download here, video demo after the break.)
And just like that, Google has their very own lineup of Android-powered Nexus devices in three different sizes. Get a closer look at the Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet in the galleries embedded above; after the break there’s video.
Apple intros 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, updated Mac mini & iMac, fourth-gen iPad & iPad mini
On Tuesday Apple took the stage for the second time in two months to announce a slew of new hardware. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been gifted a Retina display to match its 15-inch brother, the Mac mini packs the latest specs, the iMac slimmed down in a major way, a fourth generation iPad with Retina display replaced its six month old predecessor, and the tablet now has a smaller companion in the iPad mini. Read on for the full rundown organized by product category.
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
This summer Apple introduced the “next-generation” MacBook Pro with a 15-inch model featuring a Retina display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800. This week the 13-inch model received a similar upgrade. The new MBP sports a 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 (that is 4x the number of pixels than the previous 13-incher). Apple is calling it “the world’s second highest resolution notebook display” behind the 15-inch MBP with Retina display, of course. The screen promises rich color, deep blacks, 29 percent higher contrast ratio, 75 percent reduced reflection, IPS for 178 degree viewing angle, and 300 nits brightness. The optical drive is gone, and this allows for a slimmer design; the new MBP is 0.75 inches thin (20 percent thinner than before) and weighs 3.57 pounds (almost a pound lighter), making it the lightest MBP ever. It features a FaceTime HD camera, backlit keyboard, left and right speakers, glass multi-touch trackpad, built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and 7 hours of battery life. Ports along the left side include MagSafe 2, two Thunderbolt ports, one USB 3 port, a headphone jack, and dual mics; on the other side there’s an SD card slot, one HDMI port, one USB 3 port. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display specs start at 2.5GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB flash storage for $1699. Now shipping.
Apple’s MacBook lineup includes 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros with and without Retina displays and 11 and 13-inch MacBook Airs.
Jump after the break to see the new Mac mini, iMac, iPad, and iPad mini. (Click here for more…)
Let Microsoft’s first Surface commercial dance right into your heart [Update: Pricing & specs revealed, preorder today, ships 10/26]
With the release of Microsoft’s radically new operating system coming out so soon, the company has let loose a fun commercial touting its in-house tablet dubbed Surface. Directed by Jon Chu (Step Up 3D) and choreographed by Christopher Scott and Jamal Sims, the spot incorporates an infectious track and aggressive dance moves to market its snazzy slate to a young crowd. Though it doesn’t offer specs and pricing, it does highlight the Surface’s ability to snap to a cover/keyboard hybrid the company calls Touch Cover and Type Cover, and it also puts the device’s built-in kick stand in the spotlight. It also screams that Windows 8 begs to be touched.
Surface for Windows RT releases day and date with Windows 8 on October 26.
Update: Now there’s even more to celebrate. Today Microsoft put up a product page for Surface with Windows RT and it includes a final spec list and pricing. Three separate SKUs are offered. The tablet starts at $499 and that gets you a 32GB slate. For $599 you get the same storage capacity and the slate is bundled with a black Touch Cover. And for $699 storage jumps to 64GB and you’ll get a black Touch Cover. The company is selling Touch Covers separately at $119.99 in a variety of colors including black, white, red, cyan, and magenta. Also sold separately is the Type Cover at $129.99 in black only. According to the site, the cheapest SKU ships “within three weeks” while the other two will arrive on your doorstep on Windows 8 launch day October 26. Preorder today.
When Microsoft announced Surface in June, they didn’t fully divulge all of the tablet’s specs. Now we’ve got ‘em all. Been wondering what the 10.6 inch display’s resolution is? It’s 1366 x768. For a full list of juicy specs, jump after the break for the official PR. Glance at new images that just surfaced below.
The next version of Windows is almost here. October 26 is under two weeks away, so what better time to reveal what the physical packaging looks like and flip the switch for preordering. Microsoft describes the packaging as “tak[ing] a fresh approach, in the reimagining of Windows.” It is made up of paper based materials which makes the box greener than in the past. Interestingly the company will ship Windows 8 in a variety of packages, each featuring a different “vibrant illustration” on the front. Check out the five options in the gallery below.
In addition to showing off the product’s package, Microsoft also announced that the Metro-fied OS is up for preorder. Consumers can reserve a packaged DVD of the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $69.99. However, if you can live without the snazzy new physical package, on launch day you’ll be able to upgrade online via the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant (at Windows.com) for $39.99. The upgrade promotion runs until January 31, 2013. To be eligible for an upgrade at these prices you must already by running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. Note that you can upgrade for even cheaper–$14.99–if you purchase a Windows 7 PC anytime between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013. If you’re interested in viewing all the Windows 8 SKUs up for preorder, head over to NewEgg to see the lineup.
Like clockwork Barnes and Noble has outed new slates to compete head-to-head with Kindle’s new Fire tablets. There’s two of ‘em, a 9-inch and a 7-inch, and they take aesthetic tips from their predecessors Nook Tablet and Nook Color, so let’s dive right in.
The 9-inch Nook HD+ boasts a full HD display (1920 x 1280 resolution, 256 pixels per inch) and it’s powered by a 1.5GHz OMAP4470 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. It’s lightweight at 515 grams and promises up to 10 hours of reading and 9 hours of video playback. As far as ports go there’s a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack, one HDMI-compatible port, microSD, and a charging port. WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth are built-in. It comes in a black “slate” color in 16GB ($269) and 32GB ($299) storage variants. The HD+ is up for preorder today and goes on sale in November.
The 7-inch Nook HD packs a 720p display (1440 x 900 resolution, 243 pixels per inch) and it’s powered by a 1.3GHz OMAP 4470 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. It’s even lighter than it’s more powerful sibling at 315 grams and its battery promises nearly the same life expectancy. The ports, expanded memory, and wireless connectivity remain the same. It comes in not one but two colors–black “smoke” and white “snow.” The 16GB models will sell for $199 and the 32GB models will go for $199 when the HD releases this November. Like the HD+, it’s available for preorder today.
So if you’re in the market for a new device that delivers reading experiences (books, magazines, newspapers), video and music playback, and apps, the competition (read: Google, Amazon, Apple) just heated up.