Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Members of the creative class, your input options have arrived. Wacom, maker of the tablet you've spent countless deadline-driven, bleary-eyed nights slaving over, has outed a trio of updates to its Bamboo line -- each targeted to a particular user profile. At the low-end of this newly introduced range, home office / business users can opt-in for the company's pen-only Bamboo Connect, which'll set you back about $80 for the base goods. But the real enhancements to a graphic designer's best friend comes via the wireless-capable (courtesy of a separate $40 RF dongle) Capture and Create models -- available for $100 and $200, respectively -- that add multi-touch functionality for "gesture-based input such as scrolling [and] zooming." While the latter entry is essentially a luxe, double-sized (and double-priced) version of the Capture, all of the tabs come bundled with a specific suite of PC and Mac-friendly software, and a pressure-sensitive, eraser-tipped pen. You can snag these latest Wacom family members right now, or if your wallet needs more convincing, feel free to peruse the PR after the break.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
The Swedish-designed Penclic Mouse has already been making the rounds in Europe for a little while, but it looks like it's now finally ready to make the jump to North America. While there's still no firm word on pricing or availability, Prestige International has confirmed that it will be bringing the device to both the US and Canada, where it will be available at Best Buy, Walmart and other major retailers. As you can probably surmise, the device itself is quite literally a combination pen / mouse (the two pieces remain attached), which the company says provides a "relaxed working position and advanced precision." As in Europe, the device will be available in both wired and wireless versions, and it's Mac and PC compatible. Check out the gallery below for a closer look.
Gallery: Penclic Mouse
As if a $199 Kindle Fire wasn't enough, Amazon's also launching a Kindle e-reader that'll dip below triple-digits for the first time. You heard right -- a $79 Kindle. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the company's Kindle line will "start" at the aforesaid price as of today, a marked decrease from the $114 being charged for its lowest end unit earlier in the week. If anything, that's a huge blow for Barnes & Noble, and we're surmising that a reactionary drop will be coming soon in the Nook family if it hopes to keep pace. We've also learned that this guy has ads built right in -- not a shocker given the price, but notable for those who aren't keen on buying a device that continually serves up commercials to justify the lower up-front tally.
Keep up with the unveiling at our liveblog of the Amazon event.
Update: We've added the first commercial video after the break.Permalink | Bloomberg Businessweek | Email this | Comments
Oddly enough, the Kindle Fire already feels like yesterday's news. Why? Because Amazon won't stop launching new products. Jeff Bezos just revealed the Kindle Touch here in New York City, noting that this guy's using an IR touch system, similar to the latest Nook and Kobo, and there's no keyboard (physical, anyway) to speak of. It's slimmer, smaller and lighter than the existing Kindle, with a muted silver chassis that looks almost nothing like the Kindles of today. The entire user interface has been re-thought out, with "taps" being used in place of buttons. Need another reason to buy? We're told that it's using the company's "most advanced" E Ink display yet, and while no specifics were doled out, "extra long" was the term used to describe battery life. A 3G-enabled model ($149 with free global roaming!) will also be available, with the duo up for pre-order later today and shipments going out on November 21st.
Keep up with the unveiling at our liveblog of the Amazon event. Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Okay, so it wasn't much of a surprise, but Amazon finally has a tablet, and as expected its name picks up where the Kindle left off: Fire. Of course, rumors of an Amazon tablet date back to this time last year (if not before), but it seems that Jeff and co. have wisely chosen to get this thing out on the open market before having yet another wild and wacky holiday quarter. Bloomberg has curiously reported on some of the details before the event itself kicks off, noting that the 7-inch device will run a version of Android while acting much like a "souped-up Kindle." The real kicker, however, is the price -- at just $199, it's bound to turn heads, regardless of whether you were interested in a slate before. Naturally, that bargain-bin sticker explains the lack of an embedded camera and microphone, though consumers will find WiFi (no 3G, sadly) and a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime. It's also quite clear that Amazon's hoping to make a bigger splash on the content side of things than has been made already by Apple, and with the deals flowing like wine, we wouldn't be shocked if it does just that.
Update: Itching for specs? How's about a 7-inch IPS (!) panel, Gorilla Glass coating, a dual-core CPU and a chassis that weighs 14.6 ounces. There's also access to things you'd expect to have access to: Android Appstore, Kindle books, magazines, etc. -- all stored for free via Amazon Cloud Storage. Per Jeff: "Delete it and get it back when you want." Oh, and Whispersync now works with movies and TV shows! "When you get home, switch to your big screen TV. Your movie will be right where you left it."
While it's clearly Android underneath, the actual UI looks effectively nothing like it -- considering TechCrunch's intel that Amazon went and did its own thing without Google's blessing, we guess that makes some level of sense. Oh, and pre-orders are set to start today, with shipments heading out on November 15th.
Update 2: We've added the first commercial video after the break.
Keep up with the unveiling at our liveblog of the Amazon event.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Converse ($4.99) by Riot converts text from one language to another.
The app uses an Internet connection to translate between: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portugese, and Dutch. The interface is about as simple as it gets. After the loading screen there is a single screen with two keyboards, each having a screen.
Select a language for each side. Typing a message on one side will translate it into the other side’s language. The field allows 60 characters for translation.
The ideal situation for using this app would be two monolingual people sitting across from each other at a table, with the iPad between them.
Life, however, is far from ideal, and the opportunities for using this app seem limited.
A better setup that I can see would be for those trying to learn a new language. The app could be a way to look up words or phrases in the other language, or as a quiz.
Added to the limited usefulness is the lack of user-friendliness.
Since the screen remains in portrait mode, the keyboards for both sides are smaller than if they were in landscape. A bluetooth keyboard isn’t a workaround, either.
Perhaps the biggest keyboard issue, though, is the functionality of the shift button. Don’t get me wrong, you can capitalize or select different punctuation; you just have to hold down the key each time you do it.
Obviously, physical keyboards require the shift button to be held, but this is iOS. Having the shift arrow turn blue is expected. At least you can hold down a letter to see variations for it.
This app could use some additional features, such as keeping a transcript, cut and paste functionality, and allowing for more than 60 characters. Oh, and a proper iOS shift key would be nice, too.
It has been a couple of months since 9to5Mac began teasing us with information on an unreleased “Assistant” feature for iOS that Apple is keeping warm for the launch of the iPhone 5. Born from Apple’s acquisition of Siri, the personal assistant app, and an alliance with Nuance, the new Assistant feature is rumored to be very similar, but built right into iOS and with more options. Today, in a well-timed post, 9to5Mac details what they claim is everything they know about it.
Essentially, the new assistant feature will be your own portable version of HAL. It will allow you to interact with your iPhone using your voice and some fancy waveforms on your screen. That is, similarly to Voice Control right now, you’ll be able to use a whole array of keywords and commands to interact with the core features of iOS. The exciting part about it is that your iPhone should be able to respond, and in a way, interact with you like an actual assistant. They point out the system’s ability to find GPS locations, and take you places (which might suggest a built-in GPS navigation app), as well as setting up appointments and reminders. It’s pretty much everything they have already said.
The complexity of the feature will require an iPhone 5 to take advantage of it. The device, they report, will feature Apple’s new dual-core A5 processor as well as, an entire 1GB of RAM. This will further allow for a much better experience with games, and browsing (your tabs will stay open longer).
Whether 9to5Mac is presenting us with actual insider information is questionable. Yet, the picture they paint looks credible enough, and sounds like an obvious evolution of the iPhone hardware, mixed with a couple of months of exciting discoveries from Apple’s developer tools. The hardware improvements, and especially an extended 1GB of RAM will be very beneficial, and really make your iPhone fly. As for “Assistant,” while I’m ready to believe it exists, it sounds very gimmicky at this stage. Without a doubt, it will take a lot of Apple magic to make it a compelling feature, especially knowing the current state of voice recognition engines.
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