iPad vs. Kindle Fire

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Now that Amazon has announced the Kindle Fire, the inevitable questions about how it stacks up against the iPad are being raised. The Fire costs about $300 less, but has these disadvantages compared to the iPad:

• Smaller screen (7 inches compared to the iPad’s 10 inches)
• No camera or microphone
• No creative or business apps
• Limited onboard memory

The bottom line is that you want a tablet to watch movies or read books and find the iPad to be too expensive and too large to be truly portable, the Kindle Fire could be you’re best bet. If you want to edit photos, manage a spreadsheet or perform some other functional task, the iPad is probably the better choice.

Read more analysis of the iPad vs. Kindle Fire question on the MSNBC GadgetBox blog.

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Windows 8 Could Mean Greater Productivity

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Windows 8, which will features a new interface called Metro, is due for release in late 2012. It will offer a new Windows paradigm for running, switching and working inside apps. Apps are represented as tiles rather than icons. When an app is running, it occupies the full screen with no menu buttons showing until you right-click your mouse (or swipe your finger on a touchscreen device). Many tech experts are predicting that Windows 8 will be an excellent OS for non-Apple tablets.

Read more details about Windows 8 in this Fast Company article. You can also see it a demo from the BUILD conference in this YouTube video.

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Monitor Your Power Usage with Modlet

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Did you know that some gadgets and appliances continue to draw power even when turned off? This waste of energy is sometimes referred to as “vampire power.” Now there are devices that help you monitor and control this energy drain. One of these is ThinkEco’s Modlet, a wall plug that continuously monitors the energy usage of any device plugged into it.

Using an interface installed on your computer, you can shut off devices connect via Modlet or set a schedule for turning them off and on. Modlet communicates with the computer through a wireless connect or USB dongle.

ThinkEco claims that the Modlet can reduce overall energy usage by a household by 6 to 10 percent. It retails for about $45. You can find out more about Modlet on the official ThinkEco website.

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IFA Consumer Electronics Show

Friday, September 09th, 2011

The IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin has just wrapped up (that’s show icon Miss IFA pictured above). This year, visitors to the huge expo had the chance to see a variety of iPad competitors, state-of-the-art television sets (some with 3D displays and touchpens), smartphones, kitchen appliances and hundreds of other useful and not-so-useful gadgets and gizmos.

Check out a summary of some of the best gadgets on the Huffington Post website.  You can also find out more on the official IFA website.

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WiFi Beer Can Hack

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

If you love a good hack that improves your productivity, then you’ll want to try this do-it-yourself WiFi booster.  According to Discovery.com, this boost can increase signal strength by 2 to 4 bars.  Best of all, the main piece of equipment you’ll need is an empty beer can.  After washing out the can, you cut it open and attach it to your WiFi router.  For complete instructions (with pictures) visit Discovery.com.

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Designer Gadget Covers

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

As personal gadgets proliferate, the demand for gadget covers also grows.  Some of the world’s top designers have recognized the market for gadget covers that make a statement and have introduced their own lines of signature covers for tablet, e-readers and smartphones.  Marc Jacobs, Jonathan Adler, Gucci and Burberry are just a few of the designers and high-end accessory companies that are now selling “tech clutches.”

The potential market for unique gadget covers is huge, with millions of personal gadgets finding their way into the hands of consumers each year.  Like other accessories, designer gadget covers are viewed by many as an extension of their personal style. 

The Jonathan Adler iPad case shown here has the same retro appeal as many of his home furnishings.  Read more about the new trend for designer gadget covers in this Florida Today article.

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Spotify is Here!

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

After months of anticipation in the U.S., Spotify is finally here. This website from Sweden which is already popular in Europe is a free music service that lets you stream from a library of 15 million songs. You can also integrate your own tracks into the Spotify environment and then use a drag and drop interface to create custom playlists. With one click, share songs and playlists with friends who have registered for Spotify. You can also access Spotify from your mobile phone for music on the go.

Spotify is free for the next six months, after which there will a cap on the number of listening hours per month, so try it out now. Find out more on the Spotify website.

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Create your own Gadgets with .NET Gadgeteer

Saturday, August 06th, 2011

If you’ve ever wanted to create your own electronic gadget, then you should be interested in Microsoft’s .NET Gadgeteer, an open-source toolkit that supports the quick and easy construction of prototype electronic devices. A central processing unit (CPU) motherboard is provides along with a variety of pluggable modules that provide communication, control, display and sensing capabilities. The toolkit uses the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express and you don’t need to be an electronics expert or even know how to solder.

Find out more on the .NET Gadgeteer website and in this YouTube video.

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Acer Honeycomb Tablet Rumored to Have $300 Price Tag

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

acer honeycomb tablet

Acer’s 7-inch Android Honeycomb tablet, the Acer Iconia A100, will make its debut in August and is rumored to have a highly competitive $300 price tag.  It is also rumored to feature a 1024-by-600 resolution, a 1 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra processor, 8 GB of internal storage and front and back cameras.  This will be the first 7-inch tablet to come to market. 

If you prefer a 10-inch tablet and are looking for a low price, there is another rumor floating around that Acer will slash the price of the 10-inch Iconia A500 tablet from $450 to $395.

Read more about the Acer Iconia A100 tablet on the Time Magazine Techland website.  This article about the future of tablet computing is also a must-read.

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MIT Studies the Second Life of Gadgets

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

MIT Backtalk project

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the gadgets in the world when their users are done with them? Researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab did more than wonder about it – they came up with a project to find out. The Backtalk project used GPS tracking devices embedded in cell phones, netbooks and hundreds of other gadgets in the Seattle area. Then they turned their data into art in the form of a video that tracks many devices to their second life in a developing country. Many of the new gadget owners were filmed with built-in webcams.

The Backtalk project has created an exhibit called Talk to Me that is now on display at the New York Museum of Modern art. You can view the Backtalk video on YouTube.

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