Microsoft Surface: The second coming of the Tablet PC

Microsoft Surface front back side

Microsoft’s new Surface is aiming to reinvent the Tablet PC; but what separates it from the competition?

Since the arrival of the iPad, tablets have been used primarily for companion or entertainment purposes. However, the Windows tablets that came years earlier were built for productivity, but were plagued with a terrible touch interface; expensive, bulky, and with poor battery life. While iPad and Android devices quickly shed the bad rap of Windows Tablet PCs and rose to prominence, along with it they shed the potential to get serious work done. Sure, you can buy an add-on keyboard, but this is merely a stopgap measure that hits a roadblock as soon as you need powerful software such as Office and Photoshop.

Windows and the tablet form factor: Can they finally get along?

Microsoft looks to change all of this with the recent announcement of their Surface Tablet. At first I was skeptical – the clumsy Windows tablets of old are enough to bring back nightmares.

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Kindle Fire 2 to feature 8.9″ Full HD retina display?

Kindle Fire 2 Resolutionary

Amazon’s best selling 7″ tablet could be getting a larger screen and full HD makeover, with Taiwanese sources stating that an all new Kindle, featuring an 8.9″, 1920 x 1200 display, is in the pipeline. In total, there could be three new Kindle Fires in the works:

  • An entry-level 7″, 1024×600 model (reboot of the original)
  • Mid-range, large screen version, 10″, 1280×800 (similar to the Transformer Prime’s screen)
  • High-end 8.9″, Full HD (1920×1200) model (254 ppi)

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Zynga buys top Facebook spot, acquires Draw Something’s OMGPOP

Zynga OMGPOP Draw Something

While FarmVille and Mob Wars may no longer be the bee’s knees of Facebook social gaming, Zynga proved they’re still top dog for casual gamers by purchasing OMGPOP, the creator of Draw Something for $180 million, plus $30 million in employee retention payouts. Not a bad payday for OMGPOP employees (39 of them, according to LinkedIn), who just launched the game 6 weeks ago. The massively successful turn-based pictionary-style game took the crown away from Zynga’s own “Words With Friends”, racking up a total of 30 million downloads and over 1 billion drawings since its release. By comparison, all 4 years prior to Draw Something earned them a total of 20 million users.

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Mountek MT5000-C Review

The Mountek Universal CD Slot Car Mount puts your smartphone (or GPS) right where you need it, and away from your vents and windshield.

Mountek MT5000-C Universal CD Slot Car Mount

If you have a smartphone and drive a car, chances are you tried to use both together at some point, to varying degrees of success. This shouldn’t be a problem any more with the Mountek MT5000-C car mount ($19.95 + shipping from Amazon). It slides into the CD slot of your car and positions your phone in an ideal position, just above your audio deck and within arm’s reach at all times. See after the break for the full review.

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New iPad is “Resolutionary” – specs and comparison

New iPad 3 Resolutionary

Apple just released their latest and greatest version of the iPad at their March 7 event. Called the “new iPad” (not the “iPad 3″ as previously thought), it bumps up the display resolution to an astonishing 2048×1536 retina display (264ppi) in addition to improved color saturation. To put things in perspective, that’s more pixels than three 720p screens stacked together! Driving it all is a new dual-core A5X chip and quad-core graphics that, according to Apple, gives “4x the performance of Tegra 3″ (although Nvidia is challenging that claim). Gracing the tablet is a new 5MP autofocus, backside-illuminated sensor camera with 5-element lens, similar in technology to the iPhone 4s. Unfortunately, still no Siri. Apple has also added 4G LTE connectivity. All of the price points stay the same as before, while the iPad 2 gets a price drop to $399 / $529 for WiFi / 3G versions, respectively.

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Google to get serious with Siri; developing own “Assistant”

Apple Siri Google AssistantSoon we will have a Google Android voice that will have an answer to Apple’s Siri. Dubbed the Google “Assistant” (previously codenamed ‘Majel’), it is designed not only to compete with, but surpass Siri by giving developers access to build apps, websites and more that tap into its power, states TechCrunch. The project is headed by the Android team, with assistance from search engineer Amit Ainghal, and will be developed in three stages:

  1. Get the world’s knowledge into a format a computer can understand.
  2. Create a personalization layer — Experiments like Google +1 and Google+ are Google’s way of gathering data on precisely how people interact with content.
  3. Build a mobile, voice-centered “Do engine” (‘Assistant’) that’s less about returning search results and more about accomplishing real-life goals.

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Kindle Touch now in Canada; Nook stays south of border

With Barnes and Noble’s Nook E-reader still a US-exclusive, the e-ink Kindle Touch and Kobo Touch now can go head-to-head directly in Canada, thanks to Amazon recently opening up the floodgates to international shipping of their touch model. But with the Kindle reader costing $150 (shipped), currently $30 more than its Toronto-based Kobo counterpart, is the extra cost worth it? Or should you wait for the new Nook, set to be released this Spring, to make a trip across the border?

Ever since I owned a 1st gen Kobo reader that was painfully slow, and Nook Color, which needed to be charged daily and too heavy for extended reading, I’ve always been interested when new models hit the market. Now that 4th-gen e-readers are upon us, the feature lists are impressive: Continue reading

iPads in school: Will iBooks 2 kill the physical textbook?

Apple Education Event

Apple’s iBooks 2 app aims to fast-track us to an era of digital learning, putting iPads in high schools everywhere. But with a lack of university books and high cost of entry, how soon will kids be trading in their overweight backpacks for Cupertino’s flagship tablet?

All eyes were on Apple when they announced Textbooks for the iPad at their education event last month. Along with the likes of McGraw-Hill and Pearson partnering with Inkling  (the iPad textbook platform) and touting tons of interactive content, books were launched at $15; a huge benefit, since hard-copies can run up to $100. But with it came caveats, such as publishers tied to iBooks distribution (sorry, Android), as well as the obvious problem of getting a $500 iPad into every child’s hands. Continue reading

Tablet Wars 2012: Competitors size up Apple

Tablet Wars

With January in the books, it’s clear that the tablet wars of 2012 have yet to be fought. But who will emerge as King? It’s safe to say Apple’s iPad 3, rumored for a March 29th release date, will come roaring out of the gate. However, Android competition is just warming up. The full-HD Asus Transformer Prime TF700 (TF301?) and more affordable Lenovo IdeaPad S2, both with transforming keyboard docks, are looking to eat into the laptop / ultrabook market (and putting another nail into the coffin of Netbooks…are those still around?), while the Asus Memo 370T looks to continue where the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire left off; with an affordable, Tegra 3, 7″ model. Finally, barriers will be broken with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6, possibly unveiled at the Mobile World Congress later this month.

With so much happening in just the first half of 2012, what tablet size should you sink your hard-earned cash into? Here’s a breakdown of the contenders: Continue reading