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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Look for bonus Angry Birds Space rounds in Walmart

Can't get enough of the new Angry Birds Space released last week? Game creator Rovio teamed up with Walmart where its customers can find  “Golden Eggsteroid” clues that open up four bonus levels. The first of four clues is available to Walmart's Facebook fans at The remaining clues will be embedded in select limited-edition Angry Birds merchandise available in Walmart stores, including apparel, plush toys, mobile phones, snacks and more.

“Walmart is bringing fun back to the shopping experience, with interactive merchandise that brings the best of digital gaming together with in-store retail,” said Seong Ohm, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for entertainment, Walmart U.S. “By partnering with Rovio, we’re able to give millions of avid bird slingers bonus content by coming into our stores and shopping our broad assortment of Angry Birds Space
merchandise. This is just one of many exciting partnerships Walmart is forging to give our customers access to exclusive content.”

Hidden game clues can be hidden on pricetags, snack boxes and even on a T-shirt design on Angry Birds Space-themed items.

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4G LTE? Battery life? More tips on choosing a smartphone

What exactly is 4G LTE? What should a person look for in a smartphone? Mike Riley, vice president and general manager of MetroPCS's Central Florida Region, shares some insights. MetroPCS, which offers unlimited 4G LTE plans, was the first to launch the service in the United States.

4G LTE: Long Term Evolution, or LTE, is a globally adopted wireless communication standard that provides faster upload and download speeds than older mobile networks -- up to 10 times the speed. "4G" stands for the fourth-generation of mobile broadband Internet access. In a nutshell, 4G LTE makes web browsing, streaming multimedia like audio/video and playing online games easy and quick. Not all wireless carriers have 4G LTE.

Processor speed: Does a mobile phone processor (the brains of the phone) really matter? Yes, depending on your mobile usage. Talk-and-texters can get away with smaller processors (500 or 600 megahertz), while multitaskers who love using apps and multimedia features more than one at a time could benefit from a speedier processor, like a 1.2-megahertz dual-core found in the LG Connect 4G. …

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Hulu Plus expands to seven android tablets

Hulu Plus viewing had been limited to two Android tablets -- HTC Flyer or a Vizio 8-inch tablet -- or on your phone. Now, the new Hulu Plus app (from Google Play) will stream shows to seven other tablets: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Motorola Xoom, Motorola XYBoard 10.1, Toshiba Thrive, Acer Iconia and LG G-Slate. And more should be on the way in the near future.

Hulu Plus also redesigned its interface with "a clean, visually rich design to create an engaging way for you to discover content."

We’ve improved the user experience with horizontal “trays” so you can naturally swipe while browsing through TV shows and movies. The pages feature large thumbnails with beautiful visuals to show off your Android tablet’s graphical prowess.

The app is free to download, but subscription to the service is $7.99 per month.

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Activision releases trailer for 'Transformers: Fall of Cybertron'

When I was a kid, I watched to old sweatshop-drawn Transformers cartoon. It's pretty unreal Activision's upcoming Fall of Cybertron, due Aug. 28, looks as amazing as this. 

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GM phone app may replace in-dash navigation system

General Motors announced that it will soon sell a $50 smartphone application that could replace the in-dash navigation system. The GoGo Link will connect the smartphone navigation app to the dashboard touch screen. Drivers can control the system with the touch screen, listen to voice directions on the car's speakers, and see the maps on the display. The app works with iPhone or Android systems, and will be available later this year on Chevrolet’s 2013 subcompacts, the Spark and Sonic.

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Cadillac safety feature will give you a jolt

cadillac.jpgCadillac's new XTS luxury sedan will give you a jolt on your bottom when it senses danger. The sedan's driver's seat will vibrate to warn of crash threats while driving or parking. Called the Cadillac Safety Alert Seat, it vibrates pulses  on the left and/or right side of the lower bolster to alert the driver of potential dangers.

“It’s good to see automakers experimenting with new technology to help communicate to drivers when their driving is about to get them into trouble,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “We commend GM for their innovative use of haptic feedback and hope that drivers find it helpful.”

“It’s akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention,” said, General Motors Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer. “Using the tactile sense to communicate crash threat direction provides an effective and intuitive way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory sensory information that drivers routinely experience.”

The seat is part of the Cadillac Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages.

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Harry Potter and the Digital Age

wands.jpgMuggles rejoice! J.K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter novels are now on sale as e-books for the first time. The digital books -- priced $7.99-$9.99 each -- were released Tuesday morning on Also available are audiobooks from $29.99-$44.99. The books are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Google, but not on iBookstore because of licensing agreements.

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The Daily Drivers: Nissan GT-R is premium rocket at 'bargain' price


We had only a few days to test the Nissan GT-R, rather than the week we usually get, but that was long enough to tease us into wanting much more. So these are our initial impressions, and this is a car that makes big ones. Its nickname, after all, is "Godzilla."

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What to look for when you test-drive a phone in stores

You're in the market for a new phone, and you visit a store to see what's available. But how do you select one that's right for you? PC World offers a few tips on what to look for and test. First tip: Shop at stores that offers you a chance to play with functioning devices, not just a display model.

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What's the fastest-adopted gadget in the past 50 years?

Smartphones? Color televisions? A study "observed penetration rate at the end of the seventh year" of tech products using research data from the Consumer Electronics Manufacturing Association found that Americans embraced the boom box the fastest. 

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Angry Birds Space may come to Windows phones after all

When the new Angry Birds Space was released last week, Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Rovio Entertainment, told Bloomberg that a Windows Phone version of the game will not be available. However, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed told Reuters that "Space" will be coming for WP7, but he didn't offer a launch date.

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Keep kids entertained with apps on your smartphone

If you're a parent who owns a smartphone or a tablet, most likely your kids have asked (or even begged) you for some apps to play with. Some are just for fun, some educational. But there are tons to wade through to find the gems. Here's USA Today's roundup of five iTunes apps for kids preschoolers and up. For Android users, check out recommendations from For other ideas, check out Best Kids Apps where you can get recommendations by age and type, as well as best free apps.

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Angry Bird goes orbital, shooting to No. 1 in app store

angrybirds.jpgRovio's release of the new version of its Angry Birds game quickly shot into the No. 1 spot of app sales charts. Angry Birds Space -- which costs $.99 for the iPhone and $2.99 for the iPad -- topped Apple's App Store charts in almost 30 countries within hours of becoming available on Thursday, according to Inside Mobile Apps.

Google Play hasn't updated its charts yet, but the app has collected more than 20,000 "5 star" reviews. It's free for the ad-supported version, $.99 for paid app, and $2.99 for Kindle Fire.

Rovio's prerelease advertising blitz included a video with NASA's Don Pettit, explaining and demonstrating the physics of gravity from the International Space Station, which comes into play in the new version.

Not everyone will get to enjoy the new game, however. Rovio chose to skip the Windows phone platform.

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Repurpose your old smartphones

What do you do with your old smartphones? If you can't get much from resellers or trade-ins, there are other ways to repurpose them. Here are some ideas from

Another idea, also on, is to keep it around just in case. Any cellphone, with a phone service or not, can still make emergency calls. So keep it charged and tuck it into the glovebox of your car.

Old phones can also help those in need. You can donate your phones to nonprofit organizations including, abuse shelters and others. You can go to to find a group to donate to, or start your own drive to help out.

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New iPad users heat up, hit "the wall,"

Fans were giddy when Apple announced that the new iPad will have the 4G LTE network for super fast connections. But after getting them in hand, many soon realized they hit their data limits much sooner than in 3G. The Wall Street Journal reports that users are finding it's easy to get carried away. Brandon Wells, a Web developer, told WSJ:

"It's kind of a Catch-22. It streams really fast video, but by streaming really fast video you tend to watch more video, and that's not always best."

Another issue that cropped up: Consumer Reports tests confirmed users' reports of the tablet getting noticeably warmer than previous iPads. Heat sensor tests showed the new iPad warmed up to 116 degrees, 13 degrees hotter, when running action games. 

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