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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tote your laptop in fashionable pink

knomoaurora.jpgLadies, are you tired of carrying your laptop computer in a standard black or gray gender-neutral case? Blah. If you want something that's more feminine with a punch of color and texture, try the new Knomo Aurora zip tote bag. This bag has a quilted nylon exterior with sturdy "Saffiano" (faux leather) double handles. It's a solid build with metallic buttons and zipper handles, plus heavy-duty lobster claw clasps for the removable shoulder straps. It's definitely strong enough to handle the typical weight of a computer. 

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Roundup: Sandy watch, high-tech costumes, resurgence of the flip phone, more

Sandy watch: Do you have friends or family in the Northeast, and you want to keep track of how the storm is affecting that area? Here are some ways to monitor what's going on.   CNet

High-tech costumes: Apps give costumes a new dimension of spooky.  Huffington Post

Flipping out again: With the popularity of tablets, many users find having a smartphone is redundant. So they're going to a simple, no-frills flip phones for their calls.   CNet

Streamline your to-do lists: Want to manage your tasks easier? Here's a roundup of some of the best to-do list apps that are integrated across devices.   Huffington Post

Workout soundtrack simplified: No more fumbling around with your music player during your workout. Here's a device that will select music from your playlist depending on your heartrate.  New York Daily News

Google ventures onto road less traveled: Google is taking the Street View technology to a whole new level. Its taking three of its Trekker packs to map the trails, ledges and alleys of the Grand Canyon.   Wired

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When worlds collide: Windows 8

Microsoft's new operating system, believe it or not, is reborn with two new PC operating systems -- two different worlds within Windows 8. one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard. Results? New York Times' David Pogue thinks it's a muddled mishmash.

Not scared away yet? Then here's a cheat sheet for how to navigate Windows 8.

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Microsoft launches Windows 8 today

Have you downloaded Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system that's available today? Or are you still hesitant to commit (with flashback to Vista)? 

To help you decide, PC World used a "guinea pig" PC to show you the step-by-step of the download so you'll get an idea of what goes on when you upgrade. Product-Reviews.net also has a set of videos taking you through the process. 

Meanwhile, here's the buzz on Windows 8:

Gizmodo: Using Windows 8 is pleasant, especially if you don't have to do anything in a particular hurry.

PCWorld: Windows 8 isn’t for everyone. If you’re mostly a desktop PC user comfortable with Windows 7, upgrading to Windows 8 is probably not worthwhile. If you’re a mobile user who needs easy access to the complete Microsoft ecosystem, including SkyDrive, Windows 8 is definitely a good fit. 

CNet: Microsoft makes an aggressive, forward-thinking, and bold statement for the future of PCs with Windows 8, and vast security and speed improvements more than justify the $40 upgrade price. …

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Samsung Galaxy S3 available at MetroPCS; deal at Best Buy

Hot deal: If you've been waiting for a deal on the S3, here's one for you. Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile store will have a one-day sale Friday (10/26) where the 16GB model will be discounted $100 with a two-year contract. 

S3 at MetroPCS: If you don't want to tie yourself down with a long-term contract, the Galaxy S3 is now available at MetroPCS online, and starting this weekend in some stores. It's $499 plus tax, and the 4G LTE service range from $30 to $70 a month.

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Apple announces iPad Mini and other upgrades (but sadly no new Maps app)

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Apple announced a long list of upgrades to the products in their lineup, and added a new one -- iPad Mini -- during their special event Tuesday in California (which was streamed live for the first time). Here's a highlight: 

ipadmini.jpg

iPad Mini

This much anticipated iPad Mini is the smaller version in the lineup, with a 7.9-inch screen (vs. the iPad's 9.7-inch) and small enough to hold with one hand. The 1024x768 resolution is the same as the bigger iPad, and all of the apps created for the tablet will work fine on the Mini. It's 7.2mm think (as thin as a pencil) and weighs .68 pounds. Other features:

Prices: 

Wi-Fi: 16GB $329, 32GB $429, 64GB $529

Wi-Fi and Cellular: 16 GB $459, 32GB $559, 64GB $659

Preorders begins Friday Oct. 26. The Wi-Fi version will start shipping on Nov. 2, and the cellular version two weeks later. 

 

4th Gen iPad

Big brother is getting improvements as well, with a faster A6X chip that's twice as fast for CPU tasks and graphics performance, new image processing, updated to FaceTime HD front camera, twice as fast Wi-Fi (802.11n), all-digital Lightning connector, graphics performance that's twice as fast. Prices remain the same as the third-generation iPads.  …

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Battle of the minis: Who's the best?

Now that Apple officially has introduced the iPad mini, it's time to take a closer look at what it can do with an early review of the device.

And how does it stack up to its main competitors: Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. CNet a breakdown of the specs, and how they compare.  

Meanwhile, if you're set on getting the iPad mini, which configuration should you get? The price starts at $329 for a 16GB Wi-Fi, and climbs as high as $659 for a 64GB with Wi-Fi and cellular. Gizmodo has some recommendations. 

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Apple unveils iPad Mini, upgrades (but no new Maps app)

Apple announced a long list of upgrades to the products in their lineup, and added a new one -- iPad Mini -- during their special event Tuesday in California (which was streamed live. Here's the video of the keynote.). Here's are some highlights: 

ipadmini.jpg

iPad Mini

This much anticipated iPad Mini is the smaller version in the lineup, with a 7.9-inch screen (vs. the iPad's 9.7-inch) and small enough to hold with one hand. The 1024x768 resolution is the same as the bigger iPad, and all of the apps created for the tablet will work fine on the Mini. It's 7.2mm think (as thin as a pencil) and weighs .68 pounds. Other features:

  • A5 dual-core chip
  • FaceTime HD
  • 5 megapixel iSight camera
  • LTE capable for cellular version
  • faster Wi-Fi
  • Lightning connector
  • 10-hour battery
  • Comes in black with slate backing, or white with aluminum backing

Prices: 

Wi-Fi: 16GB $329, 32GB $429, 64GB $529

Wi-Fi and Cellular: 16 GB $459, 32GB $559, 64GB $659

Preorders begins Friday Oct. 26. The Wi-Fi version will start shipping on Nov. 2, and the cellular version two weeks later. 

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Watch Apple's announcement today on live stream

Departing for its usual protocol, Apple is live-streaming its event today, likely announcing its new mini iPad. The event begins at 1 p.m. Eastern time.  But you have to have an Apple device with Safari 4 or later on Mac OSX 10.6 or later, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later, or second- or third-generation Apple TV with 5.0.2 or later. 

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Roundup: Microsoft Surface, bigger Nexus 7, Google Calendar app, improved Ooma

surface.jpgUnder the Surface: Microsoft's Surface, the new tablet-laptop hybrid, is now available for preorder with the 32GB model for $500 and the 64BG for $700. Take a look at what went into the development of this new device.   Gizmodo 

32GB Nexus 7: Google is expected to announce a bigger 32GB version of its Nexus 7 tablet Oct. 29. Leaked information indicate the price will be $249 (same price as the 16GB version), and should start shipping also on Oct. 29.   Gadget Insiders 

App-finding apps: You smartphone is as good as the apps you have installed on them. But finding he right ones can be overwhelming with so many available. Here are some apps to help you discover the best and cheapest apps to get the job done.    New York Times

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Great tips: how to apply screen protectors without bubbles

Screen protectors for your mobile devices can keep permanent scratches at bay, but if you get bubbles under the film, it's a major eyesore. CNet has a breakdown of the types of available screen protectors, and tips on how to install them yourself without any bubbles. There's even a solution for getting out dust that snuck in during installation. 

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Payment using mobile phones may become the norm

A variety of mobile payment devices on the market are changing the way we pay for things. Instead of credit or debit cards, many retailers -- including Starbucks, Groupon, and Google -- are increasingly adopting these devices. Merchants say they get charged cheaper swipe fees, and are faster and easier to use. Other major retailers have announced they'll begin incorporating this form of payment.

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Apple has "a little more to show" us on Oct. 23

invite2.jpgApple has set the date for 1 p.m. (Eastern time) Oct. 23 to announce  of what many expect it to be the iPad Mini. Gizmodo points out some clues seen on the invitations, beginning with the title "We've got a little more to show you." The word "little" is a hint to the smaller iPad, the site says. The invitation also is in vibrant colors, which might mean color options. 

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Nintendo drops Wii price in anticipation of Wii U launch

Associated Press

Nintendo  Co. is dropping the price of its 6-year-old Wii gaming console ahead of the launch of its successor, the Wii U. Nintendo said Monday that the Wii will cost $130 in the U.S., down from $150. The Wii U game machine goes on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 18, starting at $300. It includes Nintendo TVii, which lets people who pay for other services, like cable TV and Netflix, watch movies, TV shows and sports through the Wii U. The original Wii cost $250 when it launched in 2006. 

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Google Doodle's ode to Little Nemo comic strip

googlenemo.jpg

Google's home page became a comic strip wonderland on Oct. 15 as it celebrates the 107th birthday of the "Little Nemo in Slumberland" comic strip by cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay. Check out this interactive strip for a trip through Google-land. Click on the tab at the bottom right for the next panel. 

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