iNews Review

iPhone 4S Introduced, iOS 5 and iCloud Come Wednesday, iPhone Trade-in Options, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.10.10

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Electronics Trade-In

The Competition

Apps & Services

Accessories

Presentation & Protection

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Apple Unveils iPhone 4S, iOS 5, and iCloud

iPhone 4SPR: Apple on Tuesday announced the iPhone 4S, packed with new features including Apple's dual-core A5 chip for faster performance and enhanced graphics; an all new camera with advanced optics; full 1080p HD resolution video recording; and Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. With the launch of the iPhone 4S also comes the launch of iOS 5, Apple's advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features; and iCloud, a breakthrough set of free cloud services that work with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices.

iOS 5 devices"iPhone 4S plus iOS 5 plus iCloud is a breakthrough combination that makes the iPhone 4S the best iPhone ever," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "While our competitors try to imitate iPhone with a checklist of features, only iPhone can deliver these breakthrough innovations that work seamlessly together."

iPhone 4S comes with iOS 5, which includes over 200 new features including Notification Center, an innovative way to easily view and manage notifications in one place without interruption, and iMessage, a new messaging service that lets you easily send text messages, photos, and videos between all iOS 5 users. iOS 5 will also be available as a free software update for iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS customers allowing them to experience these amazing new features.*

iPhone 4iPhone 4S also introduces Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. Siri understands context, allowing you to speak naturally when you ask it questions, for example, if you ask "Will I need an umbrella this weekend?" it understands you are looking for a weather forecast. Siri is also smart about using the personal information you allow it to access, for example, if you tell Siri "Remind me to call Mom when I get home" it can find "Mom" in your address book, or ask Siri "What's the traffic like around here?" and it can figure out where "here" is based on your current location. Siri helps you make calls, send text messages or email, schedule meetings and reminders, make notes, search the Internet, find local businesses, get directions and more. You can also get answers, find facts and even perform complex calculations just by asking.

iCloudiCloud is a breakthrough set of free cloud services, including iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream and Documents in the Cloud, that work seamlessly with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices. When content changes on one device, all your other devices are updated automatically and wirelessly.

The iPhone 4S includes an all new camera with the most advanced optics of any phone. The 8 megapixel (MP) sensor has 60% more pixels so you can take amazing high quality photos with more detail than ever. The iPhone 4S includes a new custom lens, a larger f/2.4 aperture, and an advanced hybrid IR filter that produce sharper, brighter, and more accurate images. The Apple-designed image signal processor in the A5 dual-core chip is built for performance, and coupled with the features built into iOS 5, makes the camera one of the fastest on any phone. With iPhone 4S, the Camera app launches much faster and the shot to shot capability is twice as fast, so you'll never miss another shot.

iPhone 4SNew features in the Camera and Photos apps give you instant access to the camera right from the lock screen, and you can also use the volume-up button to quickly snap a photo. Optional grid lines help line up your shot, and a simple tap locks focus and exposure on one subject; and the new Photos app lets you crop, rotate, enhance, and remove redeye, and organize your photos into albums right on your device to share them on the go. New iOS 5 features include built-in Twitter integration and iMessage, so you can instantly share your photos via Twitter directly from the Photos app and send photos via iMessage to individuals or groups. And with iCloud's innovative new Photo Stream service, a photo you take on your iPhone is sent to iCloud and automatically pushed to your iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC. You can even view your Photo Stream album on your Apple TV.

iPhone 4SThe iPhone 4S can also now record video in full 1080p HD resolution and with the new video image stabilization feature, you can take richer, smoother videos. Other iPhone 4S video camera improvements include increased sensitivity, sharpness, and an increased ability to capture video in low light conditions. With the new iMessage service in iOS 5, you can now instantly share videos with family and friends.

iPhone 4S has the same beautifully thin glass and stainless steel design that millions of customers around the world love, while being completely redesigned on the inside. Apple's dual-core A5 chip delivers up to twice the processing power and up to seven times faster graphics than the iPhone 4, all while maintaining incredible battery life - now up to 8 hours of 3G talk time.

Improving on the innovative stainless steel external, dual-antenna design of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S is the first phone to intelligently switch between two antennas to send and receive. The iPhone 4S now supports twice the download speed (up to 14.4 Mbps) with HSDPA, and is is a world phone, so both CDMA and GSM customers can now roam internationally on GSM networks.1

Pricing & Availability

The iPhone 4S comes in either black or white and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32 GB model, and $399 for the new 64 GB model.2 The iPhone 4S will be available from the Apple Online Store, Apple's retail stores, and through AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. It will be available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK on Friday, October 14, and customers can preorder their iPhone 4S beginning Friday, October 7.

The iPhone 4 will also be available for just $99, and the iPhone 3GS will be available for free with a two year contract. Siri will be available in beta on iPhone 4S in English (localized for US, UK, and Australia), French, and German. iOS 5 software will be available on October 12 as a free software update via iTunes 10.5 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch customers.

iPhone 4S will roll out worldwide to 22 more countries by the end of October including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

  1. Carrier roaming policies apply. HSDPA availability and network speeds are dependent on carrier networks.
  2. Qualified customers only. Requires a new two year rate plan, sold separately.

iPhone 5: Apple 4S, Pundits 0

The Register's Tony Smith observes that Hell hath no fury like a hack spurned, noting the huge numbers of column inches being devoted to Apple's "failure" to meet journalist expectations and announce the iPhone 5 - and not a hint of an apology that all the breathless prose ink-slingers devoted to iPhone 5 rumors proved to be wrong.

Smith concedes that The Reg covered the iPhone 5 speculation because readers want to read about it, but they're not going to beat up on Apple because it didn't do what they said it might, accurately self-perceiving that they are the tail and not the dog.

Is the iPhone 4S a product launch fail? Smith allows that it may prove to be, but he suspects not, noting that Android's increasing market share being ballyhooed by many comes not a jot from technology but solely because the OS can be found in not only pricey smartphones but cheap ones too.

iPhone 4S Anything but Disappointing

MacTrast's J. Glenn Künzler notes that many were disappointed at Apple's release of the iPhone 4S - not because it wasn't good enough, fast enough, or didn't contain awesome new features, but because it didn't come with a complete redesign and wasn't called the iPhone 5.

Künzler thinks the iPhone 4S announcement was anything but disappointing, observing that for all intents and purposes, the iPhone 4S is the iPhone 5 that everyone was expecting. It includes a significantly improved 8 MP camera that can shoot 1080p video, gains the awesome dual-core A5 processor that delivers up to 7 times the graphics performance, and features the amazing new Siri personal assistant technology. Künzler suggests that if you're so disappointed that Apple didn't release a flashy new design or include a slightly larger screen that you aren't able give credit for all the amazing improvements that Apple did make, perhaps you should reevaluate your reasons for buying a smartphone.

Upgrade to iPhone 4S Now or Wait for iPhone 5?

Macworld's Lex Friedman says that while the iPhone 4S arrives this month, some users may hold out for the iPhone 5 release - most likely next year.

If you're in need of a new iPhone, should you hold out for a (still-hypothetical) iPhone 5? Friedman's short answer is "no."

At greater length, he cites three reasons not to dismiss the iPhone 4S in favor of a future iPhone 5, noting that iPhone 4S offers plenty to get excited about.

10 Top Tips for Taking the Best Bite Out of the iPhone 4S

Jonathan Zschau, a Boston-based attorney, a consumer rights advocate, a regular columnist for a popular Mac blog site Cult of Mac, and author of the new book Buying and Owning a Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn't Want You To Know, offers ten tips on how to get the best out of the iPhone 4S buying experience.

  1. Be prepared to act fast. If you want the new iPhone, be prepared to act fast on the date of release. After the announcement of the iPhone 4, preorders sold out within a matter of hours, and those who procrastinated got left out in the cold. Pay attention to Apple news sources and preorder your new iPhone as early as possible.
  2. Avoid the lines: order online and deliver to your home. There are going to be lines around the block for the new iPhone. Don't let fear of expensive shipping fees or late deliveries stop you from buying online. Apple has a great track record for getting new iPhones delivered to customers on time, and delivery is free.
  3. Buy from alternative sellers. If Apple's pre-ordering system gets bogged down, buy from Verizon or AT&T. Whenever you buy from authorized retailers, your new iPhone will come with the same one-year limited warranty and will be fully serviceable at Apple locations. Be aware, however, that return policies and procedures may differ from Apple's so you should take a moment to read the retailers return policy.
  4. Sell your old iPhone. If you're upgrading from an old iPhone, consider selling your old one for cash on eBay, Craigslist, or other channels such as sellyourmac.com (see below for more options). There's plenty of demand, and a used iPhone can fetch as much as a few hundred dollars. You can also trade in your iPhone with companies like Gazelle.com, which offers hundreds of dollars for well-kept models.
  5. Buy with a credit card that offers additional protection. Many credit card companies (such as American Express) offer additional protection plans on purchases made with their cards. As long as you pay off your card balance so you don't accrue interest or other fees that offset the benefit, it may be a good idea to take advantage of this service.
  6. Hold off on AppleCare. AppleCare is Apple's own service plan, which it offers for most of its products. The iPhone AppleCare plan currently costs $69 and can be obtained at any time for up to one year after purchase. Apart from the additional telephone technical support available beyond the 90-day complimentary period, there is little benefit to buying AppleCare before the one-year limited warranty is about to expire. Consider saving a date 11 months after you purchase your iPhone and decide then. Its a waste of $69 if your phone gets lost, stolen, or damaged in a way that would void coverage (for example, by water damage).
  7. Invest in a good case. Whether or not to equip your iPhone with a case is a matter of personal preference and risk assessment. If you do decide to buy a case, take some time to read the reviews and choose one that is both aesthetically pleasing and offers sufficient protection for the types of environments you envision taking your iPhone into.
  8. Learn iOS 5. The iPhone 4S's operating system, iOS 5, is just as important - if not more - than the new hardware features in the iPhone 4S. All smartphones, not just the iPhone, are capable of far more than most users give them credit for. Take time to read up on the capabilities of the iOS and pay particular attention to the new features.
  9. Do your research and read the reviews. It's important to research whether a new iPhone is really right for you. Online Mac sites are a great place to start, because writers will be covering Apple's release and sharing ideas and opinions for weeks before and after the announcement.
  10. Look out for defects and be an informed consumer. Always be on the lookout for defects and get them addressed when they first arise. Stay informed by keeping up to date on problems, issues, bugs and breakdowns other Mac users may be having through Mac web sites (such as CultofMac.com).

The iPad as a Camera

Agenda blogger Colin Charles says that walking around Paris recently it's becoming quite common to see the iPad being used as a camera. He's seen tourists do the same thing in Munich as well, but not as common as in Paris.

Charles reports that beyond just taking photos with a larger screen, people are doing entire tours, with video and audio, noting that he's always thought the iPad's large screen makes a perfect back for a camera, so why does the iPad 2 come with an inadequate camera/video camera? He expresses confidence that the iPad 3 will improve on this, as will future revisions, and suggests that Apple simply had no idea people would embrace using such a device as a camera.

Rumors of iPod classic's Death Prove Exaggerated

The Register's Rik Myslewski notes that despite rumors to the contrary, the venerable $249 160 GB iPod classic lives on for at least another refresh cycle.

So does the iPod shuffle, Apple's $49, 2 GB bare-bones digital music player. However, neither of these models received updates, which were reserved for the iPod nano and the iPod touch.

Tablet Users Bigger Online Spenders than Conventional Computer Users

The Register's Anna Leach reports that the Wall Street Journal has found proof that e-shoppers on tablets are more likely to buy the things they see on their shiny touch screens than people looking at the same sites on traditional computers.

Text Messaging: The Kids Are Wearing Out Their Thumbs

PR: A PewInternet.org survey by Aaron Smith finds that text messaging leveled off between 2010 and 2011, but users still send or receive more than 40 texts per day on average, tying text messaging with taking photos as the most common non-voice applications Americans use on their mobile phones. Some 73% of adult cell owners use the text messaging function on their phone at least occasionally (nearly identical to the 72% of cell owners who did so at a similar point in 2010). Text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day, with the median user sending or receiving 10 texts daily. Each of these figures is a notable increase from late 2009.

Number of text sent/received per day, by age groupHowever, young adults are by far the most prolific users of text messaging, with fully 95% of 18-29 year olds using the text messaging feature on their phones and sending or receiving an average of 87.7 text messages on a normal day.

The youngest adults (between the ages of 18 and 24) are even more proficient in their texting habits, with both cell ownership and text messaging nearly universal among 18-24 year olds, among whom 95% own a cell phone and 97% of these cell owners use text messaging, with the number of daily text messages this group creates averaging of 109.5 per day or more than 3,200 messages per month.

Median 18-24 year old texters send or receive 50 texts per day (or around 1,500 messages per month). One quarter of 18-24 year old text messaging users (23%) report sending or receiving more than 100 texts per day.

Just over one in ten (12%) say that they send or receive more than 200 messages on an average day - that equals 6,000 or more messages per month.

Health Canada Encourages Parents to Reduce Kids' Cell Phone Use

PR: A new Information Update from Health Canada has strengthened the federal agency's previous caution about cell phone use.

The update says the number of cell phone users in Canada rose from 100,000 in 1987 to more than 24 million by the end of 2010, and with the devices' growing popularity, questions have been raised about their safety. Cell phones emit low-levels of radio frequency (RF) energy. The RF electromagnetic energy given off by cell phones is a type of non-ionizing radiation. It is similar to the type of energy used in AM/FM radio and TV broadcast signals.

Cell phones in Canada must meet regulatory requirements that limit human exposure to RF energy. Health Canada has developed guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy.

Who is affected:

The update notes that there are a small number of epidemiology studies that have shown brain cancer rates might be elevated in long-term/heavy cell phone users. Other epidemiology studies on cell phone users, laboratory studies, and animal cancer studies have not supported this association. The International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) recent classification of RF energy as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" is an acknowledgment that limited data exists that suggests RF energy might cause cancer. At present, Health Canada observes that the scientific evidence is far from conclusive and more research is required.

In the meantime Health Canada reminds cell phone users that they can take practical measures to reduce RF exposure. The department also encourages parents to reduce their children's RF exposure from cell phones since children are typically more sensitive to a variety of environmental agents. As well, there is currently a lack of scientific information regarding the potential health impacts of cell phones on children.

What consumers should do:

  • Limit the length of cell phone calls
  • Replace cell phone calls with text messages or use "handsfree" devices
  • Encourage children under the age of 18 to limit their cell phone usage

What Health Canada is doing:

Health Canada has developed guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy. The limits specified in Health Canada guidelines are based on an ongoing review of published scientific studies on the health impacts of RF energy. Using data from these studies, Health Canada set the general public exposure limits 50 times lower than the threshold for potentially adverse health effects.

Health Canada scientists continually review scientific studies in this area to ensure safety guidelines are sufficient for the protection of the health and safety of Canadians. The guidelines were updated in 2009, and the next update is planned for 2012.

Background

The radio frequency (RF) energy given off by cell phones and cell phone towers is a type of non-ionizing radiation. It is similar to the type of energy used in AM/FM radio and TV broadcast signals. Unlike ionizing radiation (as emitted by X-ray machines), RF energy from cell phones cannot break chemical bonds in your body.

Cell phones are designed to operate at the minimum power necessary to connect and maintain a quality call. Cell phones transmit and receive radio signals from a network of fixed, low-power, cell phone towers. These towers are usually located on rooftops, towers and utility poles. The RF energy exposure levels around cell phone towers are typically well below the safety limits and are not considered a health concern. The transmitting power of a cell phone varies, depending on the type of network and its distance from the cell phone tower. The phone transmitting power generally increases the further you move away from the nearest cell phone tower.

Cell phones are regulated by Industry Canada. This Department also oversees the licensing and placement of cell phone towers, considers the effects on the environment and local land use before towers are installed, and ensures that these towers comply with their regulatory requirements. Industry Canada has adopted part of Health Canada's RF exposure guidelines to protect the general public by ensuring that exposures from cell phones and cell phone towers do not exceed the specified limits.

Consumers and health professionals wanting more information about this advisory from Health Canada can contact the Public Enquiries Line at 613-957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

Kindle, Nook, or iPad: Which Ebook Reader Should You Buy?

CNET Crave's John Falcone has posted an update to an earlier comparison of three e-reader devices to reflect the latest product announcements and address upcoming rumored products.

Falcone notes that Amazon pretty much invented the mainstream ebook market, so it's no surprise that the company's recently announced fall product lineup has turned the market - and his buying guide - on its head. Meanwhile, imminent new products from Sony, a big new iPad software update, and rumored products from Barnes & Noble are altering the landscape for the consumer ebook reader market as well.

TSMC Team Visits Apple for More A6 CPU Talks

DigiTimes' Cage Chao and Jessie Shen report that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has sent a 60-member team, which includes staff from its IC design service partner Global UniChip, to Apple at Cupertino for more talks about its forthcoming A-series processor, according to industry sources, with issues such as TSMC's 28nm process yields and patents to be discussed.

The visit to Apple is thought to be in aid of assuring TSMC and Global UniChip's full support, DigiTimes' sources indicated, noting that TSMC has a commitment to providing Apple mass production yields on 28nm for manufacturing the next-generation [presumably A6 quad-core] mobile CPU used Apple's iOS devices, while ensuring licensed ARM IP to prevent infringement disputes.

Chao and Shen note that previous reports quoted industry sources as saying that Apple has signed a foundry partnership agreement with TSMC. Global UniChip reportedly will help TSMC handle printed circuit board designs for Apple's future processor.

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20111005PD225.html">TSMC to Visit Apple for More Talks (subscription required)

Electronics Trade-In

iPhone Trade-ins Increased 5x in Anticipation of iPhone 5

Forbes' Elizabeth Woyke reports that trade-ins of old iPhones reached unprecedented levels in anticipation of Apple's anticipated iPhone 5 announcement, which instead turned out to be the iPhone 4S.

Woyke observes that companies like BuyMyTronics and Gazelle, which buy and sell used electronics, are a key barometer of the anticipation surrounding a new gadget launch and typically receive an influx of gadgets prior to and immediately following major announcements, but notes that gadget resellers reported that the lead-up to this latest iPhone prompted far more trade-ins than previous iPhone introductions, with BuyMyTronics projecting possibly five times the number of old iPhone trade-ins as with the iPhone 4 announcement in June 2010, and Gazelle also has been processing more iPhone trade-ins than ever.

Link: iPhone Trade-ins Seen Increasing 5x with Launch of iPhone 5

Apple Will Pay Up to $200 for Your iPhone 4

Apple offers ways to reuse and recycle electronic equipment, including iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC computers, and displays, and you may even get an Apple Gift Card for the value of your old equipment.

Turn that iPhone, iPad, or Mac or PC computer you're not using anymore into something brand new. Send it to Apple, and they'll determine if it qualifies for reuse. If it does, that means your device has monetary value that will apply to an Apple Gift Card, which you can use for purchases at any Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. If your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC doesn't qualify for reuse, Apple will recycle it responsibly at no cost to you.

Here's how to (possibly) get your gift card:

  1. Tell Apple about your device. Only iPhone, iPad, and Mac or PC desktop and notebook computers qualify for the Apple Reuse and Recycling Program.
  2. Get your estimate and ship your device. Apple contracts with PowerON, who will estimate the fair market value of your product. PowerON will provide convenient prepaid options to package and ship your product to their facility for evaluation.
  3. Receive your Apple Gift Card.

After a short time, your Apple Gift Card will arrive in the mail. Use it for purchases at any Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store.

Link: Apple Reuse and Recycle Program

But Walmart Might Give You $250

However, Walmart.com's Electronics Trade In program currently offers customers up to $250 for 32 GB iPhone 4 models.

Walmart.com's program allows customers to trade in a variety of used electronics &endash; including older iPhone models, mobile phones, laptops, cameras, and more &endash; in exchange for Walmart.com eGift cards ranging from $5 to $1,000. The program is powered by Gazelle, a large consumer electronics reCommerce service, that focuses on reuse and recycling to minimize the number of used electronics that end up in landfills. So, customers get added spending credit at Walmart.com while protecting the environment.

To trade in used electronics on Walmart.com:

  • Customers visit www.walmart.gazelle.com, and the online calculator will determine a value for each item being traded in
  • Customers ship the items to Gazelle for free &endash; Gazelle provides prepaid shipping labels online
  • After Gazelle receives and inspects the items, Gazelle will email the customer an eGift card loaded with the value of the items within 7 days

Thousands of used items are eligible for trade-in, and customers can use their eGift cards on any purchase on Walmart.com, including the latest HDTVs and tablets, Blu-ray disc players, toys, movies, games, and more.

Link: Walmart Electronics Trade In Program

The Competition

Whatever Happened to the iPad Challengers of 2010?

Technologizer's Harry McCracken documents how the ditches of the touchscreen computer road that's been hogged by Apple's iPad for going on two years are littered with the carcasses of most of the 32 early "iPadversaries" in an article updating a story he posted in August 2010 briefly profiling all of 32.

He notes that some of the products he wrote about shipped in more or less the form he'd described. Others evolved further or failed to show up at all, and two of the most interesting rumors of August 2011 - a webOS tablet and a BlackBerry one - turned into the two highest-profile flops to date.

His verbatim profiles from the original piece are cited, including whatever image McCracken could procure back then, with a "whatever happened to" update on each one.

Makes cautionary reading for would-be iPad challengers.

Link: Whatever Happened to the iPad Challengers of 2010?

Do Consumers Want to Play with (Kindle) Fire?

SodaHead.com has announced the results of a consumer poll detailing the public's thoughts on the latest entrant into the tablet wars - the Amazon Kindle Fire. Overall, the results indicate that some segments of the population are eager for a new/cheaper device, while others are still devoted to the iPad.

With the Kindle Fire announcement last week, there was significant marketplace buzz that the device may be the first tablet to have a serious chance of threatening the dominance of Apple's iPad. However, the SodaHead poll found that 61% of respondents believe that the iPad will maintain its leadership position, while only 39% think that the new device from Amazon will catch "fire" and become the tablet of choice.

SodaHead iPad vs. Kindle Fire Poll Results

The SodaHead-sponsored poll also revealed some surprising results based on consumers' age and income level. Specifically, those aged 45 and below favor the iPad over the Kindle Fire by a 66% to 34% ratio, while respondents who are over 45 believe the Kindle Fire may be the device for them by a 51% to 49% ratio. This indicates that the Kindle Fire's low price point of $199 may be appealing to those who are on a tighter budget as they get older.

Where income levels are concerned, the poll indicates that those making over $100,000 per year are not even considering the Kindle Fire. In a landslide, 94% making more than $100K still want an iPad, while only 6% in that high income bracket want a Kindle Fire. On the other end of the income spectrum, for those making $25K or less per year, 73% want an iPad, and 37% prefer the Kindle Fire. For those in the middle income range of $25K to $100K - which encompasses the majority of the nation - the results were much closer with only 54% still wanting the iPad while 46% are ready to try the new, and less expensive, Kindle Fire.

SodaHead.com is currently asking whether Apple should make a gaming console, with roughly a 60/40 majority for those why say no.

Link: Public Opinion Picks the iPad Over the Kindle Fire

RIM Slashes BlackBerry PlayBook Price to $299

It looks like the Amazon Kindle Fire announcement (see last week's iNews Review) will oblige the Research In Motion folks to finally blink and face the reality that their PlayBook tablet is a market flop. While they haven't announced a fire sale like HP did a month ago with its ill-fated TouchPad product, CNN Money Tech's Julianne Pepitone reports that a few hours after Amazon unveiled its Kindle Fire tablet for $199, Best Buy slashed its BlackBerry PlayBook price by $200 - the 16 GB PlayBook dropping precipitously to $299 from $499.

Pepitone notes that Office Depot and Staples also began offering their own PlayBook discounts this week, dropping prices by $100, and observes that the PlayBook may be following the TouchPad's trajectory to oblivion, which the reality so far being that when offered a choice between an Apple iPad for $499 or another tablet for the same price, 93% of consumers are choosing the iPad, and now Amazon is attacking the low end of the market with the $199 Kindle Fire.

Link: RIM Slashes BlackBerry PlayBook Price to $299

Samsung Reveals 5" Galaxy Note Tablet/Smartphone

The Register's Caleb Cox reports that Samsung on Monday announced its new 5" tablet-phone thingamajig, the Galaxy Note, a sort of hybrid smartphone cum mini-tablet with a 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 5.3" 1280 x 800 display, an 8 MP camera, and choice between 16 GB and 32 GB versions.

Link: Samsung Reveals Release for 5in Tablet

5.3" Samsung Galaxy Note: Bigger than a Smartphone, Smaller than a Tablet

The Register's Tony Smith spent some time with the Galaxy Note and report:

"...the Note is too big for a phone and too small for a tablet. The Note's 5.3in OLED screen runs to 1280 x 800, and it is wonderfully crisp."

Link: Hands on With the Samsung Galaxy Note

I-slate Designers Prep for Early Adoption of Low-cost Educational Tablet

PR: The US- and Singapore-based creators of the low-cost I-slate electronic tablet are preparing for full-scale production now that a yearlong series of tests has shown that the device is an effective learning tool for Indian children.

I-slate electronic tabletThe I-slate, an electronic version of the handheld blackboard slates used by millions of Indian children, will eventually be solar-powered for use in classrooms that lack electricity. It is being developed by researchers at the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID), a joint program of Rice University in Houston and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. When mass-produced, the solar-powered I-slate is expected to cost less than $50 (64 Singapore dollars).

"Our study clearly shows the I-slate is an effective learning tool for all students, regardless of their learning ability," says computer scientist and I-slate creator Krishna Palem, director of ISAID. "The first production I-slates will be preloaded with lessons for mathematics, science, and social studies."

I-slate creator Krishna PalemPalem, a Nanyang Visiting Professor at NTU and Rice's Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor of Computing, first conceived the power-saving educational tablet in early 2009. Late last summer, Palem's Rice-NTU team began working with the Indian nonprofit Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL) to test I-slate prototypes in a class of 10- to 13-year-olds at Mohd Hussainpalli village, about 70 miles southwest of Hyderabad.

In March, the researchers examined whether the I-slate helped students' improve in mathematics. Students use a stylus to tap and write out mathematics problems on the I-slate. They get immediate feedback about correct and incorrect answers. When answers are incorrect, the machine gives hints and tips about how to correct mistakes.

Using a series of sophisticated measures, the ISAID team analyzed each student's performance and improvement. Students were also surveyed about the features of the I-slate that were most and least useful. Palem said the tests and surveys confirmed the I-slate was effective and provided the ISAID team with valuable information needed to finalize the I-slate's design.

"We know more than 90% of what we need to know at this point," Palem says. "We've settled the hardware questions, and that is central to the manner in which the lessons are taught and the manner in which the students interact with the I-slate."

The hardware and graphic content for the I-slate must be developed in tandem, because they will ultimately use a revolutionary new low-power computer chip - another of Palem's inventions. The new chip will cut the power requirements for the I-slate in half and allow the device to run on solar power from small panels similar to those found on handheld calculators. The current I-slate hardware, which uses conventional chips, was designed by ISAID's Vincent Mooney, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

ISAID team members in Switzerland, Singapore, and the US are developing the first production version of the low-power computer chip. Solar-powered I-slates containing the new chips are due for production in mid-2012.

Palem said a Los Angeles-based consortium of media and content developers headed by Marc Mertens is putting the finishing touches on the math, science, and social studies curriculum. Both the content and the finalized I-slate design will be rolled out with traditional chips this fall. About 50 students in Mohd Hussainpalli and other nearby villages will receive battery-powered versions of these slates for a six-month trial.

"Working with Marc, we're planning to bundle a social-networking element into the software that will allow the students to work collaboratively on writing assignments," says Palem.

"We are at an exciting stage and based on rigorous testing, we have achieved quite a few firsts in this early phase of adoption," says Rajeswari Pingali, ViDAL founding chairperson. "Soon students will be able to take the slates home for use and improving their learning outcomes. We spoke to all parents of the children; they too are equally excited about the I-slate. We are particularly happy about the potential benefits for young girls, who otherwise might be married away at a very early age."

Link: Low-cost Electronic Tablet Proves Worth in Indian Classroom (video)

Apps & Services

Dragon Go!, a Siri Alternative for the Rest of Us

PR: Nuance Communications, Inc. has announced that its Dragon Go! app for iPhone and iPod touch now features the ability to launch popular movie and TV streaming services; get direct access to more of the most popular names in mobile content, like Spotify; get answers to the toughest of questions from Wolfram|Alpha and Ask.com; and, find friends on Google+.

Dragon Go! accessing AskThe company says that since its release in July, Dragon Go! has continued to rapidly evolve and revolutionize the way consumers access and experience mobile content taking them directly to the mobile destinations they know and trust - just by using their voice.

"The response to Dragon Go! has been nothing short of amazing, proving that consumers demand a fast, easy way to find and experience mobile content via the best destinations and sources available not a list of preferential properties owned and controlled by one company," says Nuance Mobile senior vice president and general manager Michael Thompson. "With these latest enhancements, were giving people open direct access to streamed movies and shows, more music, more social networks, and the ability to ask a question and quickly have it answered."

Dragon Go! accessing Wolfram AlphaDragon Go! is built on Nuances innovative language understanding technology that not only hears what people are searching for, but understands what they want. The result is a revolutionary app that gives direct access to relevant results from nearly 200 of the most trusted and reliable content providers, including AccuWeather, Bing, ESPN, Facebook, Fandango, iTunes, Last.fm, LiveNation, Milo.com, OpenTable, Pandora internet radio, Rotten Tomatoes, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yelp, YouTube, Yahoo! and now Spotify, Wolfram|Alpha, Ask.com, Dictionary.com, Google+ and others. Users can forget endless scrolling through pages of blue links and now just speak a query, and the app automatically determines and then delivers the best content destinations on the Dragon Carousel.

With these latest Dragon Go! content enhancements, people can simply say:

  • Play Give Me Everything if you're a mobile Spotify Premium user to listen to Pitbulls hit instantly and on-demand, as well as pull up the video on the Media tab.
  • Watch Mad Men to instantly launch and stream the show from one of the most popular TV show and movie streaming services available, with the ability to scroll along the Carousel to see show reviews and actor profiles.
  • Find John Smith on Google+ and be taken to John Smith's Google+ profile quickly and easily.

Additionally, Dragon Go!'s new question and answer feature lets people ask virtually anything, such as:

  • What is the square-root of 10? to instantly compute the answer using Wolfram|Alpha's vast knowledge in thousands of subject areas.
  • Who is the highest paid actor in Hollywood? and instantly get the answer from Ask.com.
  • What is the definition of nuance? to see the definition, origin, and synonyms of the word nuance from Dictionary.com.

"Dragon Go! understands users spoken questions, and Ask.com has the answers," says Dave Amato, Director of Business Development and Partnerships, Ask.com, a Dragon Go! partner. "The new Dragon Go! app provides mobile users even faster access to the information they want while on the go, whether they are looking for an answer around the best steakhouse in San Francisco, or how to fix a tire on the side of the road. By layering voice recognition on top of rich content and expert answers, Dragon Go! helps Ask.com leapfrog just blue links to deliver direct access to great content in a matter of seconds."

Dragon Go! accessing Spotify"Wolfram|Alpha is pleased to bring precise, computed answers from data curated by experts to the latest version of the Dragon Go! app," says Wolfram|Alpha Executive Director Luc Barthelet. "We are excited to explore how Wolfram|Alpha can further integrate with voice recognition technologies in the future."

Dragon Go! has also taken the Yelp experience to the next level, with a new topdown Map View feature that makes it quicker and easier to view relevant Yelp listings near them. And Dragon Go! has added Google+ sharing capabilities to its popup toolbar.

"People love being able to just simply speak and watch Dragon Go! give them the content they are looking for right away it hears, understands and delivers, says Nuance chief technology officer Vlad Sejnoha. "We're deeply invested in continuing to evolve Dragon Go! with new features, more content providers and richer app integration, and ultimately opening new doors for the consumer mobile destination experience. This is another step towards the mobile semantic web, and we've just gotten started."

Dragon Go! combines Nuance's Dragon voice recognition technology with natural language understanding, unique analytical tools, and elements of artificial intelligence. Dragon Go! understands the intent of a query, and what a person wants to do be it getting restaurant reviews, buying movie tickets, shopping, finding directions, listening to their favorite music, and more. Dragon Go! always puts the most relevant pages front and center, and additional content from related providers is easily accessible on the Carousel with just a simple flick of the finger. Dynamic results are provided center and to the right, with additional results from Google, Bing or Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Twitter and YouTube available to the left.

Dragon Go! is available on the Apple App Store in the US in US English.

Link: Dragon Go!

iDevelopersLab Introduces Camera DSLR for iPad 2 and iPhone 4

PR: iDevelopersLab introduces Camera DSLR for iPad 2 and iPhone 4 1.0. Camera DSLR contains all of the features you may ever need for making photos with your iPad 2 and iPhone 4. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Camera DSLR offers ultra fast shot taking, just like a true DSLR and able to take advantage of the maximum resolution of the iPad 2's integrated camera. The user can apply unlimited effects simply by combining professional filters in various combinations.

Camera DSLRCamera DSLR contains all of the features you may ever need for making photos with your iPad 2 and iPhone 4.

To use Camera DSLR simply:

  1. Select. Take a new photo from inside the app or choose one from your library.
  2. Filter. Create unlimited effects by combining professional filters in various combinations.
  3. Save your photo to Photo Album
  4. Share. Sharing your photos: Twitter, Facebook, Email and other web services.

Features:

  • Simple user interface
  • Full compatibility with iPad 2 and iPhone 4
  • Ultra fast shot taking
  • Take picture or choose from device photos gallery
  • Use of maximum resolution. This app is able to use the maximum resolution of the integrated camera
  • Amazing Filters
  • Undo function
  • Unlimited effects (by combining professional filters in various combinations)
  • Save your photos with the highest quality possible
  • Photos can be rotated to match the screen aspect ratio ensuring that they fill the screen to the fullest extent
  • You can share photos with your iPad 2 and iPhone 4: Twitter, Facebook, Email and other web services
  • And many more

Made by professionals, with stylish and very handy interface it will certainly become the only app you will use for making photos with your iPad 2 and iPhone 4.

Device Requirements:

  • Compatible with iPad and iPad 2/iPhone 4
  • Requires iPhone OS 4.0 or later
  • 3.1 MB

Camera DSLR for iPad 2/iPhone 4 v1.0 is $2.99 (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Photography category.

Link: Camera DSLR for iPad 2
Link: Camera DSLR for iPhone 4

Accessories

Logitech Speaker Stand for iPad: Audio on a Pedestal

Logitech Speaker Stand for iPadPR: Listen to music while you cook. Watch a movie in bed. Your Logitech Speaker Stand moves easily around the house and lets you enjoy full, stereo sound.

More than a speaker, more than a stand, you've got a filling station for your iPad when its low on power. You can even dock and charge when the speakers are turned off.

What's your angle?

The versatile stand can be adjusted for comfortable viewing or to avoid screen glare. From flat to fully upright. Portrait or landscape.

Logitech Speaker Stand for iPadControl what you hear

Power and volume controls are up front, right where you need them. And around back is a 3.5 mm aux input for MP3 players and other audio sources.

Made for iPad

Logitech Speaker Stand for iPadThis product has been certified to meet Apple performance standards so you can be sure it will work with your iPad.

System Requirements

  • iPad 2
  • iPad

Tablets, smartphones, music players and other audio sources with 3.5 mm out (audio playback only)

1-year limited hardware warranty

$69.99

Link: Logitech Speaker Stand for iPad (currently available for $58.59 from Amazon.com with free super saver shipping)

Motorcycle/Bicycle Handlebar Mount for iPhone 4

Motorcycle Handlebar Mount for iPhone 4PR: You love your iPhone - you even want to keep it in sight when you are riding a motorbike? Or your bicycle's handlebar is extra big so that you need a mount for larger handlebar tube? No matter which reason, here is the way!

This robust threaded mount is specially designed for motorcycle (and also bike with large handlebar). It is tightened by a stainless steel thread that the clamp a handlebar up to 40mm (or 1.5").

Motorcycle Handlebar Mount for iPhone 4No modifications needed to use this heavy duty mount, just mount it to your handler bar and put your iPhone to the cradle (see notes below), then you can go with your iPhone.

Features:

  • Mount firmly on your bicycle/motorcycle handlebar
  • Custom fit for your iPhone 4
  • Specially designed so you can set your iPhone to any angle that fits (horizontally 180° or left to right adjustable).
  • Suitable for iPhone 4
  • Suitable for handlebar sizes: 16-40mm (or 1-1/2") max.

NMotorcycle Handlebar Mount for iPhone 4otes:

  • to make it more safe, it is suggested to use a rubber band (included)
  • It is not suggested to watch any type of movie/picture during cycling/driving
  • This is also suitable for mountain Bikes with large handlebar.
  • This mount is not designed to use with aggressive or extreme bicycle riding/Motorcycle driving.
  • The manufacturer assumes no responsible of liability for the Camera/Video Recorder or operator of the Motorcycle/bicycle if the device is used while cycling/driving.

$19.99

Link: Motorcycle Handlebar Mount for iPhone 4

Presentation & Protection

WaterField Designs Launches Leather iPhone Wallets with Window to View iPhone 4S

PR: WaterField Designs, a boutique San Francisco manufacturer of custom laptop sleeves, bags and cases for digital gear, introduces the iPhone Wallet - a leather wallet with an innovative window to see and hear the Apple iPhone 4S, plus pockets for credit cards and cash - and the iPhone Hint - a slim leather sleeve also with a clear iPhone window and a pocket for credit cards. Both iPhone Cases are customized to fit the iPhone 4S in brown or black, naturally-tanned leather.

WaterField iPhone Wallet "Whenever I head out, I always need my iPhone and my wallet," says Gary Waterfield, company founder. "Rather than having to take two separate items, now I just put my iPhone into my wallet, and I'm off. As a bonus, I can see who is texting, calling, or e-mailing through the iPhone window. Life just got simpler."

The iPhone Wallet

  • Naturally tanned, US-produced, supple black or brown leather
  • Front iPhone window for view and use of the Apple iPhone
  • Rigid, Ultrasuede-lined divider separates iPhone from cash and cards
  • Internal pockets to hold bills, credit cards and receipts
  • Self-locking, quality, YKK zipper to keep contents safe and secure
  • Available in custom-fitted case size for the Apple iPhone 4S, 4 with or without bumper, or 3

iPhone HintThe iPhone Hint

  • Naturally tanned, US-produced, supple black or brown, slim leather iPhone sleeve
  • Front iPhone window for view and use of Apple iPhone
  • Stretchy back pocket to hold cash, credit cards and/or earbuds
  • Protective, Ultrasuede, scratch-free liner can be used to help clean iPhone
  • Available in custom-fitted size for the Apple iPhone 4S or iPhone 4

The iPhone Wallet:

  • Price: $39
  • One size: iPhone 4S or 4 or 3.
  • Black or brown leather.
  • Available now for preorder at WaterField Designs online store.
  • Shipping by October 31, 2011.

The iPhone Hint:

  • Price: $24.
  • One size: iPhone 4S or 4 (without Bumper Case).
  • Black or brown leather.
  • Available for preorder at WaterField Designs online store.
  • Shipping by October 31, 2011.

Link: iPhone Wallet
Link: iPhone Hint

Brikk Launches $3,000+ Pure Titanium Cases for iPhone 4

PR: Brikk have announced the launch of their limited edition product line of high-end, pure titanium cases for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. Themed Altruistic Precision, the collection launches with the Trim a case for iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, crafted from titanium for the luxury market. The Trim is a super precision case for the iPhone 4 and 5, and is available in genuine Gold, Platinum, Black DLC, and Gray Stealth finishes ranging in price from $3,000-$4,500. Each Trim sold will fund one metric ton of rice distributed by various NGOs to populations around the world suffering from hunger.

Targeted to the consumer seeking premium, luxury mobile phone accessories, the Trim is available in Los Angeles exclusively at Roseark locations. Additional product rollout in New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo will follow.

With the impending release of the iPhone 5 by Apple, Brikk is offering a trade-in to the Trim for iPhone 5, for all purchases of the Trim before the end of 2011.

Brikk's profit for philanthropy model funnels proceeds to assist populations around the world suffering from hunger. For each product sold, a specific amount of rice is allocated and distributed to those in need through select NGOs to areas in need such as Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Brikk's dream is simple; for other luxury brands to adopt a permanent profit for philanthropy model.

Brikk designs and manufactures jewelry and products for the technology, lifestyle, and fashion industries. Items are composed primarily of titanium and other exotic alloys and accented with precious materials including gold, platinum, DLC and sapphire. The metals and processes utilized are more commonly applied to scientific purposes such as space travel and exploration. Rarely, if ever, have they been used for the consumer market. Products coming later this year include the Heptagon (ring), Self (mirror), and Band (belt).

A percentage of the proceeds from each sale of a Brikk product are directly given to humanitarian aid in the form of rice. A vision of CEO Cyrus Blacksmith, a designer of ruggedized computer systems and hi-tech media installations, Brikk's team consists of elite experts in Industrial Design, Engineering, Physics, Marketing and Distribution. Brikk is headquartered in Los Angeles where all products are currently manufactured, with offices in Germany and future plans to manufacture in Europe.

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