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iPad mini: Price, Release Date, Features and New Apple iMac

Apple introduced the world to its new iPad mini, the miniature-sized version of the best-selling iPad tablet computer. Apple unveiled the 7.9-inch tablet at a San Jose press event, telling the crowd that the new device is featherweight—tipping the scales at only 0.68 pounds.


According to Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, the iPad mini weighs about as much as a pad of paper.

The iPad mini will compete with other small tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook and Google’s Nexus 7.

Less is More
The iPad mini’s sleek aluminum-and-glass design (which is 23 percent thinner than the previous iPad) makes it only as thick as a pencil. In addition to being 53 percent lighter than the iPad 3, the iPad mini features 10-hour battery life power.

The iPad mini has an A5 chip “under the hood,” and features a FaceTime HD camera and a 5-MegaPixel iSight camera. Wi-Fi models go on sale on November 2, with the cellular versions appearing two weeks afterward.

iPad mini Pricing
$329 – 16GB wi-fi
$429 – 32GB wi-fi
$529 – 64GB wi-fi
$459 – 16GB wi-fi, cellular
$559 – 32GB wi-fi, cellular
$659 – 64GB wi-fi, cellular


An iPad mini in comparison to the original, larger iPad.

Industry analysts have figured that Apple would try to find a way to court the smaller tablet market, which supports smaller, less functional tablets offered at a lower price. Apple already securely owns the larger tablet marketplace, with its powerhouse iPad dominating the niche with sales topping 84 million units.

Those iPad sales have taken place within less than three years, too – the first iPad introduced until April 2010. With the iPad mini’s heritage, it’s extremely well positioned to take on the Kindle’s of the world this holiday shopping season.

More than the Mini
But Apple was only getting warmed up with the iPad mini. The company also announced the rollouts of several other Apple products, including a beautiful new update to the iMac.


Also announced…A new iMac, which is drastically thinner and faster than previous iMac’s.

  • A new 4G iPad that boasts a 9.7-inch Retina™ display, a newly designed A6 chip and a FaceTime HD camera. This iPad will be equipped with iOS 6. On sale Nov. 2, the 4G iPad will also be available in a Wi-Fi and Cellular version. The Wi-Fi version is available in 16 GB ($499), 32 GB ($599) and 64 GB ($699) formats. The Cellular version is available in 16 GB ($629), 32 GB ($729) and 64 GB ($829) formats.
  • A sleek new 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s 20 percent thinner and a full pound lighter than previous MacBook Pros. Tricked out with a 2.5 GHz Intel processor, this new model features a Hi-Res Retina™ display with 4 million pixels. The new 13-inch MacBook starts at $1,700.
  • A new iMac, which will also start shipping in November. The new razor-thin model will start at $1,299.

 

Online ordering for several of the announced products will begin Friday, October 26th at the Apple Store.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced that Apple had recently reached an amazing milestone related to why you should become an app developer, with Apple stating that it had delivered more than 35 billion app downloads.

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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Should I Buy A Kindle Fire?

This holiday season tablets are dominating shopping lists – but which tablet should you buy? One tablet that has been getting a lot attention lately is Amazon’s Kindle Fire. But for $200, is it a worthy tablet? Well, we brought one and tested it, here’s our review:


Like the iPad and other tablets, you can watch movies, reads books – and play games on the Kindle Fire. 

Kindle Fire
Cost: $199.99
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

We ordered our tablet like you will – through Amazon. Shipping was free for the $10 Gift Card (we bought it to buy apps and not have to give Amazon a credit card, more on that later), and the standard free shipping took the five days Amazon promised. The Kindle Fire arrived in Amazon’s plain cardboard box, but the inner carton, containing the Amazon Kindle was equally bland.

Amazon is actually losing money on the Kindle Fire (industry insiders say it costs around $219 to make each Kindle Fire), so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they spent absolutely no money on packaging.

After opening the box, we removed the tiny tablet from the protective plastic sleeve and plugged the device in per the instructions (which were also almost non-existent) with the included charging cable. The cable, is longer than the iPad’s, but it’s still extremely short. There was also a flash card sized instruction card – which basically told us to plug the device in and where the power button was – beyond that, not much else was in the box.


Amazon’s package is simple and clean – but may disappoint those that want to wow the gift getter on Christmas morning.

With your purchase of the Kindle Fire, buyers also receive a free one-month trial for Amazon Prime (a $79 annual fee), Amazon’s streaming video service and free shipping on Amazon orders. If you’re already an Amazon customer or have considered becoming one, it’s a great way to test drive Prime.

The Hardware

For $200 the Kindle Fire stacks up pretty well against the iPad. Amazon’s 7.5 inch tablet full color tablet has full touch screen functionality – but there’s no camera or microphone. At 414 grams, it’s one of the lightest tablets out there, but still feels good in your hand. Pressing the power button on the end started the Kindle Fire up almost instantly.

The screen resolution is crisp and vibrant – that is when you’re reading books or viewing media in the HD format. The case has a black rubbery back (with the Kindle logo on it) and is both comfortable and easy to hold. The device has two speaker ports on the top for stereo sound, a micro USB port and a 3.5 mm audio jack too, but the device doesn’t come with headphones.

Overall it feels pretty substantial for such a small tablet – and that’s one of the problems. The Kindle Fire gets a bit heavy after using it for it while.

The OS & Web Browser
Amazon’s dual core processor makes accessing apps quick and easy. Even after loading it with apps the device was still responsive although doesn’t scroll as gracefully through the apps as Apple’s iPad. When the device changes screen orientation it just snaps to the new orientation, again without the animation or grace Apple’s iPad has. Web browsing is klunky – as other reviewers have also noted. When the Kindle Fire versus the iPad in these regards the Kindle Fire falls short.

In almost every case, games, books or movies, the display was better and more enjoyable when oriented vertically. Movies stream quickly from Amazon’s cloud and using Amazon’s proprietary Silk web browser – surfing the internet was ok, although the screen size makes web browsing incredibly difficult in the vertical orientation.


Apps are just 1 click away…Or are they?

Setting up the Kindle Fire 
Before you do anything, you’ll also have to set up a Amazon account, which is free. Remember, we bought a gift card so we could buy apps without giving Amazon a credit card. Unfortunately, Amazon REQUIRES you provide a credit card to access their digital content – even the free stuff. This is a huge fail for Amazon who are trying to go toe-to-toe with Apple. If you buy an iPad and an iTunes Gift Card you can use the gift card instantly – and without giving Apple a credit card.

Calls to Amazon’s customer service indicated that they’ve heard this complaint more than once, but the customer service experience was also laborious and time-consuming, not to mention just bad – and this issue was so annoying – we seriously considered returning the device. Equally frustrating and disappointing was that we couldn’t activate the gift card we bought (at the same time we purchased the Kindle Fire) through the device.

The Bottomline
For $200 the tablet is a great deal, especially when you factor in Amazon’s store, the incredible amount of content it offers and cloud support. We should also note, while Google Android Game Development has become more popular, there are very few HD Android apps, the regular Android apps work fine on the Kindle Fire, but even the best Kindle Fire apps like Monkey Preshool Lunchbox look blurry on the Kindle Fire screen.

It’s no iPad, not by a long shot, but it is a cheap, capable and study little tablet – if your gift getter hasn’t seen an iPad they won’t be disappointed.

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posted by DMA Jordan in App Development,News Blog and have No Comments

iPad 2 vs. Kindle Fire vs. Xoom & Others: A Tablet Buyers Guide

Entertaining the idea of getting (or giving) a tablet computer this holiday? Why not? Tablets like the iPad 2 will be the hottest hi-tech gift this holiday season. Tablets give you the world on a platter, compressing all the processing muscle of a laptop computer into a handy-dandy slate that you can hold in your hand — and which is light and portable enough to take anywhere.


Santa’s not the only one putting smiles on faces this Christmas; the iPad 2 will again light up the holiday.

The real question is which tablet computer is right for you? Apple’s iPad 2 is the market leader but other tablets have come along that solidly compete with it. It’s debatable if these contenders match the iPad’s grace and power. Still, these other devices may prove attractive to consumers since they are priced well below the iPad.

We’ve evaluated the leading tablets and have a side-by-side tablet-comparison chart below for your holiday shopping, but we’ve also listed our picks in order of preference:

1. iPad 2
 
Pros: Apple’s iPad 2 expands upon the original iPad in several ways. For starters, it has two cameras for FaceTime (video chat) and HD video recording. It’s powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip and features a 10-hour battery life. The latest iOS 5 adds more than 200 new software features. With the iPad 2 you also have access to Apple’s iCloud. Apple’s App Store showcases games and productivity. Apple has also added more apps (some 140,000 in all) to the store, making it the largest library of content for any tablet. It’s the market leader — and our top pick — for a reason. The interface is graceful, intuitive, easy to use and beautiful. If you’ve never owned an Apple product, this one will make you a lifelong fan.

Cons: The iPad 3 is scheduled for release next year.

Overall Dimensions: 9.50 inches (height) x 7.31 inches (width) x 0.34 inches (depth)
Weight: 1.33 pounds
Display: 9.7-inch diagonal LED-backlit glossy widescreen
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 pixels; 132 pixels per inch
Screen Display: Multi-Touch display with In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology. Screen treated with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
Manufacturer: Apple, Inc.
MSRP: $499—$829

2. Kindle Fire

Pros: Incredibly compact (small enough to slip in a purse), the Kindle Fire is as small as its price. Enhanced with Amazon Silk, a “split browser” that divides the tablet’s web-browsing chores between the tablet and the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), the Kindle Fire boasts its own dual-core processor. And since it’s made by Amazon, it’s backed with an incredible amount of content,  including 18 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, songs, books, newspapers, magazines and more (with comics provided by DC Comics). The Kindle Fire offers 8 GB of internal storage; Amazon figures that’s enough for some 80 apps plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.

Cons: No camera for video chat or taking pictures.

Overall Dimensions: 7.50 inches (h) x 4.7 inches (w) x 0.45 inches (d)
Weight: 14.6 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Display Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 169 pixels per inch
Display Screen: Multi-Touch display with IPS technology and anti-reflective treatment
Manufacturer: Amazon
MSRP: $199

3. Nook

Pros: When you’re the world’s largest bookstore, it’s assumed that content won’t be in short supply and Barnes & Noble estimates its book holdings at more than 2.5 million titles. And at 16 GB of internal memory, the Nook Tablet has twice as much storage as its closest competitor, the Kindle Fire. (We still like Kindle Fire’s resemblence to the iPad.) The Nook Tablet also contains a microSD card slot that offers extra storage, which is noticeably lacking in other tablets, like the iPad 2. Interested in the Nook Tablet for reading purposes? You’ll be happy to know the adjustable fonts customize your reading experience (eight text sizes and six font styles). In addition to what B&N calls the largest digital collection of newspapers and magazines, the Nook Tablet is the tablet home of Marvel Comics.

Cons: No camera for video chat or taking pictures. Interface is sometimes clunky.

Overall Dimensions: 8.1 inches (h) x 5.0 inches (w) x 0.48 inches (d)
Weight: 14.1 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 169 pixels per inch
Screen Display: VividView Touchscreen, fully laminated for remarkable clarity and reduced reflection and glare-read indoors or outside
Manufacturer: Barnes & Noble
MSRP: $249

4. TIE: Xoom / Galaxy Tab
Xoom

Pros: Sporting a hefty 10.1-inch display, the Xoom is able to take advantage of hundreds of thousands of apps from the Android Market. Through Google eBooks, the Xoom is able to draw upon a library that ups the ante at more than 3 million titles. To enable video-chat capabilities, the Xoom has front and rear-facing cameras. It’s powered by Google’s Android and has plenty of horsepower. A MicroSD card slot allows for addition storage or moving your media, and it performs more than adequately.

Cons: At 1.6 pounds it’s one of the heaviest tablets out there. Google’s operating system has stability issues and it has other issues like images displaying properly in the Gallery viewer. An added insult, almost all of the Android games in the Android app store aren’t optimized to run on the tablet. (FAIL!)

Overall Dimensions: 9.81 inches (h) x 6.61 inches (w) x 0.51 inches (d)
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Display: 10.1-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels; 150 pixels per inch
Manufacturer: Motorola
MSRP: $499

Galaxy Tab

Pros: Like the Xoom, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 also boasts a 10.1-inch diagonal screen. Samsung claims faster and more stable online connection thanks to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 having both HSPA+ and Wi-Fi access. Also on-board: front- and rear-facing cameras that support video chat functions. Also powered by the Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) platform, which Samsung claims allows quicker processing times because the platform excels at multi-tasking. And speaking of multi-tasking, the Mini Apps used with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 let you perform multiple key functions while working with other applications. It is one of the thinnest Honeycomb tablets available and it comes packaged with earbuds(!).

Cons: The App selection is subpar. During our tests, even with a full Wi-Fi signal the online video playback had issues.

Overall Dimensions: 7.48 inches (h) x 4.74 inches (w) x 0.47 inches (d)
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Display: 10.1-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels
Manufacturer: Samsung
MSRP: $499—$629

5. Kobo Vox

Pros: Love to read? The Kobo Vox has a library that exceeds 2.2 million books.The Kobo Vox is focused on the reading experience and Kobo claims a total library of more than 2.2 million books, as well as more than a million free titles. Magazine content is supplied via thousands of popular magazines from Zinio and newspapers from around the world. Kobo is marketing the Vox as a “free reader,” meaning that once you purchase a Kobo Books title, the user/owner can then enjoy it on any opened reading device. Should you need more external stimulation, the Vox offers unlimited web browsing and open access to Android 2.3, including more than 15,000 apps. It’s a new entry to the tablet world.

Cons: It’s a cheap alternative to the big boys by a relatively unknown tablet maker, which could make for technical-support nightmares. Kobo’s books are more expensive than Amazon’s.

Overall Dimensions: 7.57 inches (h) x 5.06 inches (w) x 0.53 inches (d)
Weight: 14.2 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 150 pixels per inch
Screen Display: Multi-touch screen optimized for reading outdoors. Features extra-wide viewing that its makers say is ideal for shared reading.
Manufacturer: Kobo, Inc.
MSRP: $199

Side-by-Side Comparison

Apps Make the Tablets
In the end, it comes down to two things: a good operating system and (just as important, if not more so) apps. Making apps for the iPad isn’t easy but it is fun. Creative app developers are really driving tablets. Ultimately, buyers should decide which applications or what they intend to do on the device first, then find the tablet that fits their needs.

Bottom line: If you already own Apple products, like the iPhone 4S, you will probably want to get the iPad, mainly because of the App Store, iTunes and iCloud support. If you prefer the Android operating system then the Xoom might be best for you. If you want a much cheaper tablet that kind of feels like an iPad,  then Amazon’s Kindle Fire is your best bet. Whatever you choose, one thing is for certain: you’ll most likely be giving or getting a tablet this holiday season.

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posted by DMA Jordan in App Development,News Blog and have No Comments