Google’s Chromecast makes streaming affordable, portable (also, Nexus 7 tablet refresh)

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on July 27th, 2013

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.

Chromecast is sold at Google Play, Amazon, and BestBuy.com.

Hop after the break to learn about Google’s other product announcement, if you dare. (Click here for more…)

The new iPad sees a bump to 128GB

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on February 2nd, 2013

News flash: Apple is adding a new storage option for the iPad with Retina display. Come Tuesday, February 5 the new iPad will sell with 128GB of valuable space in black and white for $799 (Wi-Fi model) and $929 (WiFi + Cellular model). Once it’s out, the latest and greatest fourth-gen Apple slate will be available in 16, 32, 64, and 128 gigabyte variants. Perhaps this will pave the way for iPhones and iPods to finally see storage capacity bumps in the future.

[Via Apple]

Microsoft announces Surface for Windows 8 Pro release date, new Surface accessories

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on January 24th, 2013

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.

[Via Microsoft]

Microsoft reveals Surface for Windows 8 Pro pricing, a January release

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 30th, 2012

Windows 8 is out, and Microsoft’s been pushing its own hardware dubbed Surface to highlight the best its tablet-friendly OS has to offer. When Surface was first announced, Microsoft detailed two different models: one running Windows RT and another with Windows 8 Pro. Surface for Windows RT was released into the marketplace the same day as Windows 8–on October 26. Surface for Windows 8 Pro would be saved for a later date.

We still don’t have a specific release date for the more powerful Surface, but this week Microsoft did announce pricing. As expected, the slate running Win8 Pro is pricier than its WinRT sibling (which starts at $499). Surface for Win8 Pro starts at $899 for the 64GB model; a second option with 128GB of storage space will go for $999. Microsoft is calling these “standalone versions” since they do not come bundled with an attachable keyboard cover. The Touch Cover and  Type Cover sell separately for $119.99 and $129.99, respectively.

So you want to know the differences. Let’s start with software. As explained in a previous post, Windows RT runs off ARM processors and does not support legacy applications made for Windows 7, Vista, XP, and so on. RT will only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. Windows 8 Pro, on the other hand, supports x86 processors and will run all legacy apps just fine. What makes this version of Windows 8 “Pro” are its enhanced security features including BitLocker encryption.

Moving onto the hardware side of things, Surface running Win8 Pro packs a more powerful processor with Intel’s third-gen Core i5 chip, double the RAM at 4GB, a higher resolution 1920×1080 full HD display, a faster USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort that can enable an external display up to 2560X1440 resolution, a larger 42 W-h battery, and it supports pen input. It ships with a pen and display tech called Palm Block that “prevent[s] your handwriting from getting interrupted if you accidentally place your palm on the screen as you write.” This enhanced Surface boasts the same 10.6-inch screen size, but its body is bigger and its weight heavier; it measures 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53in (compared to Surface for WinRT: 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in) and it weighs half a pound more at 2lbs.

So there you have it. Surface for Windows 8 Pro is coming in January. Keep your eyes peeled at Microsoft’s portal, and when the release date becomes apparent you’ll know.

[Via Microsoft]

Google intros Nexus 4 smartphone, Nexus 10 tablet running the updated Android Jelly Bean 4.2

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 29th, 2012

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.

[Via Google 1, 2] (Click here for more…)

Let Microsoft’s first Surface commercial dance right into your heart [Update: Pricing & specs revealed, preorder today, ships 10/26]

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 16th, 2012

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.

(Click here for more…)

Xbox 360 dashboard update rolling out today, Xbox Music coming to Microsoft devices this month

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on October 16th, 2012

Flip on your Xbox 360 today and you might find an update waiting for you to download and install. Microsoft releases updates to its video game console every fall and spring, and we’re well into October so this refresh shouldn’t come as a giant surprise. Nor should most of its features since the most prominent ones were highlighted at this year’s E3. But let’s recap. With nearly every update comes a refreshed dashboard with user interface tweaks; overall the design and layout largely remain the same, but you’ll notice that each hub now houses more tiles. Some of them are tailored to your gaming habits, recent activity, and content ratings, while others are merely advertisements. You can create a personalized folder of “pinned” items; you can pin your favorite games, movies, TV shows, and music to an easy-to-access destination on the dashboard. Bing search has been enhanced to allow for search by genre; for example, you can speak to your Kinect and say “Xbox, Bing sci-fi” and related content will show up. And last but not least there’s the introduction of Internet Explorer; Xbox nabs a web browser. Where’s Xbox SmartGlass? Microsoft is holding off on the second-screen experience until Windows 8 launches; when it does users will be able to control their consoles via tablets and smartphones and interact with content in new ways. (Learn more about SmartGlass here.)

Here’s how the rollout will work, according to Xbox’s Major Nelson. “To ensure a stable release, this will be a gradual deployment across subscribers and regions over the course of the next week. Our initial deployment will reach approximately three million consoles worldwide, with additional users being updated over the course of a couple weeks.” So there you go.

Announced separately from this fall’s dashboard update is the rollout of Xbox Music. With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 on the horizon, Microsoft wants to forget the Zune era and start anew with a cloud-based music service that extends across the desktop/tablet OS, the phone OS, and the home console. Currently Xbox Music is available on Xbox 360. Users will notice a newly branded destination to browse, stream, and download music. In the Music hub there’s an Xbox Music tile that takes you to Microsoft’s collection of 30 million songs. To access the content, users must sign up for an Xbox Music Pass that goes for $9.99/month or $99.90/year. With the Pass, you can stream individual songs and full-length albums, ad-free. A free 30-day trial is offered if you feel so inclined to dip your toe.

When Windows 8 ships later this month on October 26, Xbox Music will be the destination for music consumption from Microsoft there, too. Unlike 360 owners, desktop/tablet users will have free unlimited, ad-supported access to the music database. Purchase an Xbox Music Pass and the ads go bye-bye; and also with the Pass, you’ll be able to save songs for offline listening. A feature called Smart DJ allows you to personalize a radio station based on your favorite artists. Since Xbox Music is a cloud-based service, your entire music collection (including playlists and Smart DJ data) is synced across devices including your desktop/tablet, phone, and console. Start streaming a song on your Xbox, pause it, and continue exactly where you left off on your tablet. You get the idea. Feel the urge to download a song for keeps? Purchase it in the Xbox Music Store, available on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Speaking of Microsoft’s phone OS, Xbox Music will begin to rollout to WP8 devices as they ship after the OS’ release later this month. Xbox 360’s rules apply to WP8 devices–an Xbox Music Pass is required to access streaming content. To reiterate, free ad-supported streaming is only available to Win8 users. Microsoft notes that they plan to expand the service to other platforms (think Android, iOS) sometime in the future.

In review: your Xbox is about to be injected with new life, and Microsoft is ready to take on the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Spotify with the launch of their very own cloud-based music streaming service and storefront. If you’ve got an Xbox, you can explore Microsoft’s new offerings today; for the rest of you it will come baked in Windows 8 when it releases in just over a week.

[Via MajorNelson; Microsoft]

Amazon outs new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, adds to the Kindle Fire tablet family

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on September 7th, 2012

The third major tech company to take the spotlight this week was Amazon. On Thursday they updated their e-reader and tablet lineups with the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire HD.

The Kindle Paperwhite is the fifth-generation Kindle e-reader and it houses “the most advanced e-reader display ever constructed,” says Amazon. How so? It contains 212 pixels-per-inch making room for 62% more pixels than before and this allows text to appear crisper and clearer and images are sharper and richer. In addition, the blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter thanks to 25% higher contrast. What Amazon is really touting here is the patented front-lit display that makes reading with or without natural or artificial light a better experience. With the light left on all the time, the Paperwhite will still give you 8 weeks of battery life. The new e-reader packs a 6-inch capacitive touchscreen for input; there are no physical buttons for page-turning. Amazon describes its size like this: “[it's] thinner than a magazine [at just over a third of an inch thin] and weighs less than a typical paperback [weighing 7.5 ounces].” Software enhancements include Time to Read, a feature that helps readers know the amount of time it will take them to finish a chapter or a book; X-Ray, a feature that lets readers see all passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia; WhisperSync for Voice that allows readers to start an audiobook on one device and pick up where they left off on another; and new typeface options. A Wi-Fi only version of the Kindle Paperwhite goes on sale October 1 for $119. A 3G version will sell for $179. Preorder today.

In addition to introducing a second generation Kindle Fire (more on that device soon), Amazon added two new Android-based devices to the Fire family. The Kindle Fire HD comes in a 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions. The larger display model features 254 pixels per inch with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 (1080p full HD). The smaller display model has a lower resolution of 1280 x 800 (720p). New LCD technology reduces glare by 25% compared to the third-generation iPad. Also, integrated IPS allows for wide viewing angles. Other specs include: 1.5GHz dual-core OMAP4 4470 processor (in the Fire HD 8.9″), 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4 460 processor (in the Fire HD 7″), Dolby Audio with dual stereo speakers, a front-facing camera for video chat, and built-in Bluetooth, HDMI-out, and 40% faster WiFi (compared to the latest iPad) thanks to dual-band support, dual antennas, and MIMO technology. To size ‘em up, the Fire HD 8.9″ is 8.8mm thin weighing 20 oz. and the Fire HD 7″ is 10.2mm weighing 13.9 oz. Amazon shares that the smaller model gets 11 hours of battery life. Software enhancements include X-Ray for books, movies, and textbooks, allowing users to augment their tablet experience with expanded information from Wikipedia, IMDb, and YouTube; and FreeTime, a set of parental controls that allows parents to limit their kids’ screen time by content type. Pricing and availability. The Fire HD 8.9″ comes in four flavors: WiFi-only 16GB ($299), WiFi-only 32GB ($369), 4G LTE 32GB ($499), and 4G LTE 64GB ($599). For $49.99 customers can receive 4G LTE from AT&T, 250GB of data per month for one year, plus 20GB of Amazon Cloud storage and a $10 credit in the Amazon Appstore. The Fire HD 8.9″ is up for preorder today and goes on sale November 20. The Fire HD 7″ comes in two flavors: WiFi-only 16GB ($199) and WiFi-only 32GB ($249). These are in direct competition with Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. They’re also there to preorder and will release sooner on September 14.

Now I told you I would return to the successor of the original Kindle Fire. Amazon is still calling it the Kindle Fire, and it still features the same 1024 x 600 non-HD 7-inch display. What’s changed? It’s got a 40% faster processor for better performance (1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4 430), twice the memory (1GB), and longer battery life (8.5 hours). The sole 8GB model goes on sale September 14 for $159.

Want to know what the rest of the Amazon e-reader line looks like today? In addition to the Kindle Paperwhite, the latest generation OG Kindle is still hanging in there. A slightly updated new model ships September 14 with 15 percent faster page turns and at a lower price point, $69 (ad-supported). Also still available is the Kindle Keyboard with 3G for $139 (ad-supported) and the giant Kindle DX with 3G at $379.

Get a closer look at the new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader and Kindle Fire tablets in the galleries below (in order Kindle Paperwhite, Fire HD 8.9″, Fire HD 7″, OG Fire). After the break, video and PR.

[Via Amazon 1, 2, 3] (Click here for more…)

Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on July 4th, 2012

Google announced a slew of new hardware and software at this year’s I/O event for developers. From tablets to a funky-looking media streamer, to the next version of Android and even the futuristic Project Glass, the boys of Mountain View covered it all so let’s dive right in.

Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 serves the same purpose as the Nexus smartphone lineup: it provides a pure Android experience, but on a tablet. The 7-inch slate was made in collaboration with hardware manufacturer Asus, and it packs a 1280×800 back-lit IPS display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs an impressively light 340 grams. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVIDIA and 1GB of RAM power the tablet, and a 4325 mAh battery 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours of standby time. As far as sensors go, there’s an accelerometer, GPS, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and NFC are also on board. Ports include Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both located on the bottom of the device. There’s rear-facing camera, but you’ll find a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video chatting. 8GB and 16GB storage capacities are available to pre-order today through the Google Play storefront at $199 and $149, respectively. The tablet ships later this month and comes with a $25 credit for the Play store plus a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and other media-related extras. It runs the latest version of Android (that is 4.1 Jelly Bean, more on this later) and Google says it was “made for Google Play.” On the homescreen you’ll have quick access to games, your music, movie, and TV show libraries, and your book and magazine collections. In related news, the Google Play store has been updated and now sells magazines, TV shows, and movies can be rented and purchased.

(Click here for more…)

Apple announces the new iPad, updates iOS, Apple TV & iCloud, and intros a mobile iPhoto

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 10th, 2012

On Wednesday Apple announced the next generation iPad. No, it is not called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD; it’s simply the new iPad. In addition to updating what Apple CEO Tim Cook calls “the poster child of the post-PC world,” the March 7 keynote also introduced enhancements to iOS, iCloud, Apple TV, and the mobile versions of iWork and iLife. First let’s focus on the most talked about news at hand, the new iPad; then jump after the break to read about everything else.

First and foremost, the new iPad features Apple’s Retina Display technology. They’ve managed to pack four times more pixels into the new iPad’s 9.7 inch multitouch screen than the tablet’s predecessor. The new iPad sports an impressive 2048 x 1536 resolution with a 3.1 million total pixel count (264 pixels per inch) and 44% greater color saturation over the iPad 2. This means that the new iPad contains more pixels than your average HDTV (1920 x 1080)! Packing all of these pixels in a relatively small space means: razor-sharp text, richer colors, and when viewed at a normal distance iPad owners will not be able to discern individual pixels and this makes for a better overall user experience.

Powering the new iPad is the Apple A5X high-performance low-power system-on-a-chip. It serves as a dual-core processor with quad-core graphics. The new chip will help the iPad run faster and support the millions of pixels glaring out of the Retina Display. It will also manage the tablet’s equally impressive battery life. The new iPad boasts the same longevity as the iPad 2: 10 hours of use on WiFi and 9 hours on a cellular network.

The camera on the backside of the iPad has been upgraded to iSight Camera status. It’s a five-megapixel shooter and full HD 1080p video recorder. The camera features backside illumination, f/2.4 aperture, a 5-element lens, a hybrid IR filter, an Apple-designed ISP (Image Signal Processor) that allows for auto exposure, auto-focus, auto face detection, auto exposure lock and auto focus lock, and auto white balance. In video recording mode, you’ll notice video stabilization and temporal noise reduction. On the front you’ll still find a FaceTime camera that takes VGA-quality stills and also shoots video at up to 30 frames per second.

Although Siri has yet to make her way to the iPad, Apple has included a piece of the personal assistant in the new slate. The virtual keyboard now features a new Voice Dictation key (it’s a microphone icon) that translates what you say into the text you want to type. Dictation supports English and other languages like British, French, German, Japanese, and Australian. It’s also compatible with third-party apps meaning you can dictate your Tweets or Facebook status updates if you like.

With the new iPad, Apple has embraced 4G LTE data speeds. Again they are working with AT&T and Verizon to bring these ultrafast speeds to consumers in the US. The new iPad features the most wireless bands ever shipped in a device; check them out: the AT&T model includes 4G LTE (700, 2100 MHz), UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); and the Verizon model includes 4G LTE (700 MHz), CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). Rate plans can be viewed here. Elsewhere Apple is collaborating with Bell, Rogers, and Telus to bring these speeds to other countries around the world. Additionally, the new iPad can act as a personal hotspot to share its data speeds with up to five devices over WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB. And speaking of which, the new iPad also packs Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 technology.

At 9.4mm thin and 1.4 pounds, the new iPad will come in black and white variants and maintain the same capacity and pricing scheme as its predecessor. It’ll start at $499 for the 16GB WiFi-only model and will reach up to $829 for the 32GB WiFi + 4G model. The iPad 2 will remain on the market at one Benjamin cheaper; it will only sell in the 16GB capacity at $399 for the WiFi-only model and $529 for the WiFi + 3G model. The new iPad will release on March 16 in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. One week later it will come out in 25 more countries making the new iPad the fastest product rollout for Apple. It’s available for preorder today at Apple’s website.

Jump after the break for more on iOS, iCloud, Apple TV, and updates to the mobile versions of iWork and iLife. (Click here for more…)

Motorola’s Xoom 2 Honeycomb tablet releases in the US as Droid Xyboard on December 12

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on December 11th, 2011

In early November Motorola unveiled the successor to the very first Honeycomb tablet, the Xoom 2. More recently plans were made to ship the curvaceous device stateside. US customers will see the Droid brand crossover from smartphones to tablets when the Droid Xyboard (Xoom 2 internationally) releases December 12 on Verizon Wireless. The device will come in five distinct variants. The Droid Xyboard 10.1 (boasting a 10.1 inch screen) comes in three models: 16GB for $529.99, 32GB for $629.99, and 64GB for $729.99. The Droid Xyboard 8.1 comes in two models: 16GB for $429.99 and 32GB for $529.99. All of these tablets are 4G LTE-ready and the prices are set at these marks so long as you agree to a 2-year contract with Big Red. And don’t forget–although this dual-core tablet will ship with Honeycomb 3.2, Motorola promises the Xyboard will support Ice Cream Sandwich when Google eventually releases it. Head over to VZW to browse and shop for the Droid Xyboard today. Peep the gallery below to eye the Xyboard from various angles. PR after the break.

In related news, the Droid RAZR is getting a new coat of paint. See it in white below.

[Via Motorola] (Click here for more…)

Barnes & Noble announces Nook Tablet, updates and drops prices of Nook Color & Nook Simple Touch

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 7th, 2011

Kindle Fire, meet your head-to-head competition. Today Barnes & Noble announced their latest e-reader, the Nook Tablet. On the outside, the Nook Tablet looks nearly identical to its predecessor the Nook Color. This time around, it’s almost entirely what’s on the inside that really counts. The Tablet is fast, packing a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. The 7-inch multitouch screen (1024 x 600) displays 16 million colors ultra-bright and features full IPS lamination to reduce reflection and glare and offer extra-wide viewing angles and clarity. The display can play full HD 1080p content. Battery life is quite impressive, too. The Tablet offers up 11.5 hours of reading time or 9 hours of video viewing. There’s 16GB of onboard storage, and this can be expanded with an SD card. Built-in WiFi allows for web surfing and downloading books, magazines, newspapers, comic books, apps and other content. (Note that though the Tablet runs Android Gingerbread, users will not have access to the Android Marketplace.) It’s thinner than the Color weighing in at 14.1 ounces and it features a soft touch back design. A built-in microphone allows users to take advantage of the new Read and Record feature which allows parents to record narration and let their kids play it back when they’re reading their favorite stories. The newest Nook also sees an upgrade in entertainment selection. It comes preloaded with Netflix and Hulu Plus apps for movie and TV show selections (Flixster with UltraViolet is coming soon) and Pandora, Rhapsody, Grooveshark, and MOG are available for streaming music.

During their press event, B&N highlighted their Tablet’s advantages over Kindle’s Fire. In addition to featuring a better display with superior viewing angle, more than 2X the memory, a lighter design, more RAM, and better content rendering, Nook Tablet owners will also have the assurance that if they ever need product support they can visit a local Barnes & Noble store to resolve their issue. That is something Amazon sadly can never offer as it is strictly an e-tailer. The Nook Tablet is now up for preorder at $249 and it releases next week on November 18. That is a fat $50 more than the direct competition coming from Amazon, so be careful when you’re shopping this holiday season.

Besides announcing the Nook Tablet, B&N also took time to refresh and make cheaper their other e-readers. The new and improved Nook Color will ship with B&N’s “largest software update ever” that will bring Netflix, Hulu Plus, and music streaming apps to the device, as well as a refreshed library and enhanced shopping experience. The new Color ships this December at $199. Existing owners of the Color will automatically receive the update at no cost over WiFi next month. And finally there’s the tried and true Nook, now renamed the Nook Simple Touch. It will also come preloaded with a software update that will enable better battery life (users can read for up to 2 months for one hour a day). The update, which is now available for existing Nook owners to download, also makes the screen crisper and the page turn rate faster. The rebranded Nook Simple Touch is available to buy today at a low $99 with “no annoying ads.” Stings a bit, doesn’t it Amazon? Game on.

[Via Barnes & Noble] (Click here for more…)

Amazon unveils new e-Reader lineup: Kindle, Kindle Touch & Kindle Fire

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on October 4th, 2011

On Friday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the e-tailer’s brand new e-Reader lineup: the $79 Kindle, the $99 Kindle Touch, and the Kindle Fire at $199.

The latest generation base Kindle is lighter, smaller, faster, and cheaper than ever. It features a new design that is 30 percent lighter than its predecessor at 5.98 ounces, 18 percent smaller, and it turns pages 10 percent faster. Its still got a 6-inch electronic ink display. The device has four buttons on its front: back, on-screen keyboard, menu, home, and a directional pad. On either side are buttons for page-turning. But there’s no physical keyboard and no touch. There’s a reason why it’s being sold at such a low price–this Kindle is the definition of bare bones. If all you need to do is read (and you don’t mind using a directional pad to navigate through menus) this is the e-Reader for you. The Kindle is available for purchase today.

An extra $20 will get you the Kindle Touch, a slightly upgraded version of the e-Reader that boasts a touch display. You won’t find any buttons or a physical keyboard on this bad boy; the user interface is solely based on touch. Like the base model, this Kindle is  lighter and smaller than before and it has an “extra-long battery life.” The Kindle Touch (also available with 3G built-in for $149) is now available to preorder, and it releases November 21.

And finally there’s the Kindle Fire, what Amazon describes as a “new class of Kindle.” It’s a tablet, really. So I betcha want to hear specs? The 14.6 ounce Fire packs a 7-inch LCD multitouch display with IPS and Gorilla Glass strength, 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Does that number seem low to you? Worry not! Amazon promises you’ll never have to think about storage space since you can save virtually all of your content in the cloud via the Amazon Cloud storage that’s connected to your Amazon account. All Amazon digital content is automatically backed up for free. Movies, TV shows, music, magazines and newspapers, Android apps and games, and of course books can be purchased and downloaded right on the device. Though the Fire runs on Google’s OS, Amazon has tweaked Android so much that it’s totally unrecognizable. In other words, it’s an experience you’ll only get on this device. One feature users will be privy to is the Fire-exclusive web browser called “Amazon Silk.” The company describes it as a “split browser” architecture that makes for a faster web browsing experience. And just like its E-reader brethren, the tablet uses Amazon’s Whispersync technology to automatically sync your Kindle library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across a variety of devices. The Kindle Fire will sell for a low $199 when it hits the market on November 15.

Inspect the devices in the galleries hanging above. Read through the beefy press release after the break. (Click here for more…)

HP TouchPad out July 1 starting at $499.99

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 10th, 2011

HP is ready to take on Apple, Android, and RIM in the tablet market with the WebOS-enabled TouchPad. The WiFi version of the HP TouchPad will be available in the US on July 1. The official press release, in full after the break, specifies that it will become available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany “a few days later,” in Canada in “mid-July,” and it’ll make its way to Italy, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore “later this year.” Americans will have the option to purchase 16GB or 32GB models for $499.99 and $599.99, respectively. Preorders begin June 19. The TouchPad will sell at most leading local and regional retailers including Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club, OfficeMax, Amazon.com, Fry’s, Microcenter A 3G model is coming later this summer with data provided by AT&T.

Read all about the HP TouchPad right here!

Update: HP has uploaded a bunch of TouchPad videos to their YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure.

[Via HP Blog] (Click here for more…)

BlackBerry PlayBook comes out April 19, starting at $499

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 23rd, 2011

RIM’s ready to enter the heated tablet market with their BlackBerry PlayBook. The device, exhaustively detailed here, releases April 19 and will come in three storage capacities: 16GB ($499), 32GB ($599), and 64GB ($799). These prices line up nicely to Apple’s iPad offerings. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are the wireless carriers planning to carry the PlayBook. Note the models listed here are WiFi-only. These are up for preorder today through Best Buy, and RIM says that once the release date rolls around it’ll be available to pick up at many retailers including RadioShack, Office Depot, and Staples. Official PR’s sitting after the break.

Update: Though it’s not powered by Google’s Android OS, the BlackBerry PlayBook (and any QNX-based BlackBerry smartphone, for the matter) will support both BlackBerry Java and Android apps. BlackBerry users will not have access to the Android Market, however; the apps will be sold in BlackBerry App World. Before the transition to the other app store can happen, Android developers must port their apps to have them run properly on these new foreign devices.

[Via Engadget; BlackBerry; BGR] (Click here for more…)

Samsung details its first foray into the Honeycomb tablet market with 10.1″ & 8.9″ Galaxy Tabs

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 23rd, 2011

In mid-February Samsung teased the followup to its first major tablet the Galaxy Tab. The 7-incher is loaded with Android 2.2 and honestly it just doesn’t compete with the king (Apple’s iPad, duh). So Samsung went back to the drawing board to come up with a new version of the Tab, designing it around Google’s made entirely for tablets OS called Honeycomb. The result is the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Since February, however, Sammy has retooled the slate making it thinner, sleeker, and adding a customized software layer to it. Also, they’ve introduced a slightly smaller version dubbed the Galaxy Tab 8.9 (yep, it’s got an 8.9-inch display).

Instead of running through all of the specifications here (most of them remain the same since the February tease), I will list the changes that have been made. First and foremost, the Tabs have been redesigned and made incredibly thin. They both measure 8.6mm (or .33-inches) thick. Sammy touts them as “the world’s thinnest mobile tablets.” And it’s true; comparatively the iPad 2 is 8.8mm thick. They are also extremely light; the 10.1 and 8.9 weigh just 595 grams and 470 grams, respectively. Because of the thinner design the Tabs have been forced to ditch the 8 megapixel rear camera for a slightly lesser 3 megapixel variant; the front-facing 2MP camera remains in tact, as does the ability to shoot 1080p HD video. Another change lies in the software. Previously Samsung was contemplating shipping the Tab with plain ol’ Honeycomb. This time around they’ve decided to incorporate a new version of their customized skin called TouchWiz UX. The software layer brings a Live Panel menu and Mini Apps Tray to let users browse and manage apps in new ways.

Competitive pricing and availability have been spilled, too. The one with the bigger display will hit the market first on June 8; the 8.9-incher will arrive shortly thereafter in “early summer.” Strictly WiFi-enabled models have been detailed. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 will go for $499 (16GB) and $599 (32GB) and the Galaxy Tab 8.9 will also come in 16GB and 32GB SKUs at $469 and $569, respectively. For those of you in the market for a tablet, the Galaxy Tab just became a hot item worth anticipating. Jump after the break for the official PR.

Update: According to Pocket-lint, the original (thicker) Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will ship afterall in the UK only on Vodafone. It will be known as the Galaxy Tab 10.1V.

[Via Gizmodo] (Click here for more…)

WiFi-only Moto Xoom releases March 27 at $599

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 16th, 2011

The post title says it all, really. Come Sunday, March 27 you’ll be able to buy a 3G/4G-less Motorola Xoom that solely relies on a nearby WiFi signal to connect to the Internet. Everything else remains the same: 10.1-inch display, 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of memory, Honeycomb, etc. The MSRP is set at $599 and it’ll be available for purchase at the following stores: Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Staples, and Walmart. Full PR after the break.

[Via Engadget] (Click here for more…)

iPad 2 coming March 11: faster, lighter, thinner w/ iOS 4.3 & cameras

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 5th, 2011

On Wednesday Apple revealed the next generation iPad. The iPad 2 is very much an evolutionary iterative device. It is faster, lighter, and thinner than its predecessor, packs back and front-facing cameras, and comes preloaded with a new version of iOS. Take my hand and let’s discover everything that makes iPad 2 the next extraordinary tablet, or as Steve Jobs calls it the “third blockbuster post-PC product” joining the iPod and iPhone.

Specs are important to you, hm? Then let’s start there. iPad 2 is faster. It features Apple’s new 1GHz dual-core A5 processor that is up to 2X faster than the A4; it boasts up to 9X faster graphics and somehow still maintains the same low power as the A4. Battery life remains the same at 10 hours with over a month of standby. iPad 2 is lighter and thinner. It is a mere 8.8mm thick, that’s 33% thinner than the original iPad (13.4mm). In fact, it is even thinner than iPhone 4 (9.3mm). It also lost some weight dropping from 1.5 to 1.3 pounds. On the front you’ll find a VGA camera that takes pictures and records video at 30fps; the camera around back shoots video in 720p HD also at 30fps and can do 5x digital zoom. The built-in gyroscope will assist the device in locating itself in space and orientation; higher precision in gaming will result. Last, Apple has hooked up with AT&T and Verizon to bring 3G data to the tablet.

iPad 2 is coming sooner than you think. It will be made available for purchasing March 11 in two color options: black and white (thankfully the latter ships “from day one”, teehee). Pricing remains the same, too; iPad 2 will come in various capacities (16, 32, 64GB) and models (WiFi, WiFi + 3G) starting at $499. After releasing on the 11th in the U.S., the new iPad will make its way to an additional 26 countries (including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and the UK) on March 25.

Learn all about iPad 2’s accessories, iOS 4.3, and new apps after the break. (Click here for more…)

Motorola Xoom goes on sale February 24 for $600 on contract

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on February 23rd, 2011

The wait for a worthy iPad contender has been tiring. Samsung’s Android 2.2-powered Galaxy Tab couldn’t compete with Apple’s iOS offerings (its successor, on the other hand, is anticipated). Android is finally ready to make the move to tablets, and Honeycomb looks scrumptious. The first Android 3.0-powered tablet out of the gate will be Motorola’s 10.1-inch Xoom, detailed here. Tomorrow, February 24 the Xoom will be made available on Verizon’s 3G network with promise of upgraded 4G LTE capabilities (at no additional charge) later this year (Q2 2011, somewhat more specifically). Here’s the pricing options you’ve got at launch. You can purchase the Xoom for $599.99 if you sign a new two-year contract with VZW; 3G data pricing starts at $20 for 1GB of monthly access. Or if you don’t feel like tying yourself to a carrier you can simply drop two additional Benjamins and rely on Internet access via WiFi hotspots. The pricer Xoom is currently listed on Best Buy, but it’s slapped with an in-store only pickup option. Verizon is also teasing it on its website, and their press release ambiguously says it’ll be available through them as well (online/in-store purchasing is not specified, unfortunately).

Update: We’re past midnight and tomorrow is now today. Verizon’s teaser site has transformed into an order page so there you go. Just to make things clear, Motorola is selling two SKUs: the $600 3G (upgradeable to 4G) model and the $800 non-3G (but still upgradeable to 4G) model. Apparently a cheaper WiFi-only version is in the works, but neither Moto nor Verizon have specified its arrival date.

Oh and there’s this. The Xoom will not ship with Flash support at launch. Crazy, right? At least the wait isn’t that long, and we know it is coming. According to Adobe, the makers of the ubiquitous video standard, “Flash Player 10.2 [will be] pre-installed on some tablets and [arrive] as an OTA download on others within a few weeks of Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) devices becoming available, the first of which is expected to be the Motorola Xoom.” A few weeks time, you can handle it.

Jump after the break to find the aforementioned PR and a super cool Xoom teaser produced by the carrier.

[Via Engadget 1, 2, 3] (Click here for more…)

LG lets loose G-Slate specifications, spring release window

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on February 14th, 2011

In early January at CES 2011 Motorola and T-Mobile took their respective stages to announce the upcoming Honeycomb-powered tablets. While Moto’s Xoom was almost fully fleshed out (exact release date and price are still up in the air), T-Mobile did not provide any details surrounding LG’s G-Slate besides saying it will be the “first 4G Android 3.0 powered tablet.” Well I happy to report that since then both the carrier and the manufacturer of the mysterious tablet have come out with hard specs and a release window. Lets get to it. The G-Slate (otherwise known as the LG Optimus Pad across the pond) packs a 8.9-inch (1280×768 WXGA) multitouch display and runs on a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor. Other specs include 32GB of internal memory, built-in WiFi, gyroscope, accelerometer, and adaptive lighting, and Adobe Flash support. But don’t let me bore you to death; the G-Slate features something the other Honeycomb launch tablets don’t have–2 cameras at the rear for stereoscopic 3D video recording. Working together the two rear-facing camera can capture 1080p HD content that can be viewed on the slate itself (the display is in fact 3D-capable, limited to 720p HD, however) and 3D video (in 1080p resolution) can be pumped out to an external 3D-capable HDTV through HDMI output. One of the rear cameras doubles as a 5 megapixel camera for standard photo capture (with flash) and there’s a third 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. It’s important (and rather unfortunate) to note that pesky glasses are required to view 3D content on the slate’s display. Oh well–but it still remains a differentiating factor when it comes to making a purchasing decision between this, the Xoom, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The G-Slate will release this spring (likely in March) exclusively on T-Mobile’s network in the States, and as mentioned before it will take advantage of T Mo’s “4G” HSPA+ speeds. To end things on an even brighter note, the slate’s expected to ship as a Google Experience device, meaning it will come preloaded with a fresh version of Honeycomb, free of any LG and T-Mobile bloatware. Cheers to that! Pics below, video and PR after the break.

[Via Engadget 1, 2]

(Click here for more…)