Samsung Galaxy Tab review

Review made by Engagdet By Joanna Stern posted Nov 1st 2010 1:15PM


The story of the Galaxy Tab has been quite a saga, to say the least. In fact, it was actually back in Maythat we first heard rumblings of Samsung’s plans to unleash a 7-inch Android tablet much like its Galaxy S phones, but it was only after months of painful teasing — including a cruel look at just its packaging onthe Engadget Show — that Sammy finally unveiled the Galaxy Tab to the world at IFA. The Tab certainly packed the specs — a 1GHz processor, full Flash support thanks to Android 2.2, dual cameras, support for up to 32GB of storage and WiFi / 3G connectivity — to put other Android tablets to shame, and ourinitial hands-on with it only had us yearning for more. Without pricing and availability, however, the story was at a cliffhanger. Of course, those details trickled out over the next few months, and here in the US, Samsung finally announced that all four major US carriers would be getting Tabs to call their own.Verizon then finally took the lead in announcing pricing, and revealed that its Tab would hit contract-free for $600 — Sprint followed with the same no-contract pricing along with a $400 two-year contract option.
Indeed, it’s been quite a long journey, but even after all of that, some of the major questions are still left unanswered. Does the Tab provide a more complete and polished experience than all the other Android tablets out there? How are Samsung’s specially tailored apps? And ultimately, has a tablet finally hit the market that can rival Apple’s iPad? We think it’s about time we answer those questions and finally open what might be the most important chapter of the Galaxy Tab story — the official Engadget review. We knew you’d agree, so join us after the break.



It’s getting increasingly hard for manufacturers to differentiate the look of these all-screen gadgets, but Samsung’s done a commendable job distinguishing the Tab from the others with its contrasting front and back surfaces. The back of the rounded-off device is coated in white shiny plastic (whether it will remain ghost white over time remains to be seen), while the front consists of a familiar flush black bezel and glass screen. (Note: we were sent the Sprint version of the Tab and there may be slight aesthetic differences amongst the carrier versions.) The screen and bezel do appear less glossy than the iPad — you’ll still want to keep the Windex (or Brasso gadget polish) and chamois close by, though. Speaking of clean, that’s exactly how we’d describe the rest of the design — there are four touch buttons on the front side, a headphone jack on the top edge and a volume rocker, microSD card slot and power button on the right edge. However, we don’t see why Samsung couldn’t have made room for a micro-USB port — you have to charge it and sideload content using Samsung’s proprietary charging cable.


To be honest, our real appreciation for the device’s design comes more in terms of its form factor. Unsurprisingly, 7-inch tablets are much better for one-handed use than larger-screened ones (i.e. the 9.7-inch iPad or 11.6-inch ExoPC), and the 7.4 x 4.7-inch Galaxy Tab is no different. Steve Jobs may not think the size is optimal, but we loved being able to wrap our smaller hand around the 0.83-pound / 0.47-inch thick Tab when reading a book or hold it like a phone and use our thumbs to type on the on-screen keyboard. Sure, it’s not as light or thin as the 0.53-pound / 0.33-inch Kindle or 0.48-pound / 0.4-inch Dell Streak, but it’s still light enough to hold up in bed without fearing that you’ll drop it on your face.
The overall build of the device is top-notch, and though it may appear to some like an enlarged Captivateor Fascinate, it feels more solid than those plasticy phones. We’re not saying it’s a rugged device by any standard — although it does have a Corning Gorilla Glass screen — but it does feel incredibly durable, and we didn’t worry too much when it mistakenly fell off the couch. By the way, the Tab’s smooth back causes it to slide off things every so often — so we’d suggest keeping this little guy in a case or nabbing a stand for it. We do wish the Tab had a built-in kickstand like the Evo 4G and Archos 7. Think about it, Samsung.



The Tab doesn’t have a Super AMOLED screen like its Galaxy S smartphone brothers, but the 1024 x 600-resolution LCD is still stunning. It’s notably better than most other tablet screens we’ve seen of late, which, of course, means that the first thing we noticed was its stellar viewing angles. (You know us and our hang-up with viewing angles.) Tilting the screen off-axis doesn’t cause color distortion and sharing it with a friend didn’t require us to make any adjustments.
The display itself is extremely bright and colors appear extremely crisp. While some have complained that it looks a bit oversaturated, you can adjust the color saturation in the display settings to your liking. As with the iPad, it’s hard to make out what’s on the glossy display in the sun, but when we took to shooting some video around New York City on a sunny day we were still able to make out all the controls. While the Tab’s resolution isn’t as high as the iPad’s 1024 x 768-resolution IPS panel, the screen does have better pixel density, which translate to a crisper e-book and webpage reading experience than the iPad. (You know how some of us feel about pixel density.)
Just like the Galaxy S phones, the capacitive screen is extremely responsive, and as we said in our preview, easily matches the iPad in terms of sensitivity. Not once in the last few days of testing did we have an issue making selections with a light tap or scrolling down the length of a long page with a light flicks. Similarly, the four-way accelerometer is quite responsive in most applications (it tends to be slower in the browser) and quick to adjust when turned. As with the iPad using OS 4.2, there’s no physical button for turning it off, but you can do so within the screen settings menu. The two speakers on the bottom of the tablet are noticeably louder than your average smartphone (okay, maybe save for theHTC Surround), but if you’re planning to have the Tab rock out a party you’ll want to connect a set of speakers.

Software: TouchWiz and Android


As we’ve said throughout a number of our previous tablet reviews, that nice screen is only as good as the software that runs underneath it. And in the case of the Tab, the software is going to be extremely familiar to anyone that’s ever used a Galaxy S phone with Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0 Android layer. As you probably already know, we’ve never been particularly big fans of the cartoony design of the interface — it just feels rather kiddie-like — but it does provide some nice polish for average consumers and on a tablet it adds more to the generic Android smartphone experience.
"Android isn’t ready for tablets." Everyone’s heard it, and while we’ll get into some of that in the next few sections, the Tab’s central UI — the panes, app drawer, home screen, Swype keyboard — lends itself nicely to the 7-inch screen. Similarly, the sightly re-skinned Android browser scales nicely to the 7-inch display. Is it just an enlarged version of Google’s smartphone OS? Yes, but we’ve never seen anything wrong with that.

Samsung apps


On the other hand, that doesn’t mean there aren’t core parts of the OS that require tweaks to take advantage of the added screen real estate, and unlike the many others making Android tablets, Samsung has done more than just throw on the stock applications. Below is a rundown of the core apps Samsung has developed specifically for the Tab.
EMail — The core of the email app looks like those on the Galaxy S phones, but when you flip the display into landscape mode you get a Microsoft Outlook-like pane that displays your Inbox on the left and the messages on the right. We preferred managing and responding to mail in this app over the Gmail app, which is just the smartphone version.
Calendar — The calendar app is equally as attractive. In landscape mode you can adjust it so your calendar takes up the entire screen or with a similar two pane view that shows a listing of upcoming events.
Messaging, Contacts — These are pretty self-explanatory. Even though the Tab isn’t technically a phone since all the US carriers have restricted its calling ability, you can use the messaging app to send SMS or MMS messages or e-mails to other contacts. Like the others, you’ve got a two pane view in landscape mode — you can look at your contacts on the left side and message from the right.


Media Hub – This one has started to pop up on some Galaxy S phones as well, but the Tab is perhaps the best suited to take advantage of Samsung’s new movie and TV store / player. At this point there’s over 1,000 videos from MTV, Universal and Paramount, and while there is a decent selection of current titles — we downloaded the Jersey Shore episode of South Park for $1.99 — you’ll come up empty when you start searching for older flicks. Nope, E.T nor Terminator, just to name a few, aren’t available. Of course, everything here is DRM-protected so we had zero luck trying to drag it to our desktop. However, you will be able to log into your Media Hub account on up to five other Samsung devices to watch any previously purchased content. Media Hub isn’t a bad over-the-air alternative, but at this point we’d recommend buying content through Amazon’s Unbox and sideloading it for use on multiple devices.
Note: Samsung also has a Readers Hub app, which contains access to Kobo’s e-book store and other reading content, but Sprint’s decided not to preload it.

Market and third-party apps


The Tab also comes preloaded with a handful of third-party applications, including Facebook, Amazon’s Kindle, and Qik. (There’s a "Free Games" shortcut on the main screen which is nothing but a link to Gameloft’s site. Uh, not cool, Samsung.) All of those scaled the 7-inch display quite well — there weren’t any formatting issues or pixelation — however, that experience really depends on the app at the moment. For instance, Angry Birds looked beautiful on the larger screen. Seriously, it looks so incredibly awesome on the larger display that we spent the last four days replaying the game! Apps like Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, TweetDeck, YouTube also scale well, but other apps like USA Today, Engadget, Raging Thunder 2 Lite, and Speed Test don’t. The latter apps are still usable, but you’ve got to deal with an incredibly large border of blank screen around them.
Samsung claims that any app that abides by Google’s coding and design standards should work just fine, but even the apps that do scale obviously weren’t built or optimized for tablets, so the experience really is like having a larger smartphone. We don’t need to tell you how many of these companies could build better tablet apps if given the right SDKs — we’ve seen them all do it with the iPad. Of course, the iPad was in a better situation at its launch: Apple had rolled out development tools for creating larger screened apps and a few of them we already available in the iPad app store, but Google has provided no such direction yet. We’ve heard that engineers at the Googleplex are in fact working on optimizing apps for tablets with the Honeycomb release and possibly rolling out a separate section of the Market, but until that happens it really comes down to trial and error and living with smartphone-sized designed software on a larger display.

Browsing and Flash


For the most part, the browsing experience on the Tab is rock solid — pages loaded quickly over WiFi and scrolling / zooming on most pages was snappy. When loading a few sites — like this very technology site — we did notice the scrolling to be a bit jittery and not as smooth as on the iPad. However, we do like that there’s the ability to change the brightness within the browser. But, obviously, the Tab differs from that other tablet with its full Flash support. So, is it everything you’ve been waiting for? Thanks to its 1GHz processor, the experience isn’t as slow as we’ve seen on other Android 2.2 devices, but we can’t really say we took advantage of the feature all that much — in fact we decided to disable it eventually to speed up browsing.

While it’s nice to be able to load videos within sites and not have to battle that blue lego block, we were repeatedly given the "this video is not optimized for mobile" message when we hit play. Overall, videos played just fine, but Flash definitely slowed down the rest of the browsing experience. What about other Flash heavy sites? Well, as you can see above, Hulu is a dead end — we got the same error message even when we logged into our Hulu plus account in the browser.(Hulu, please release a Plus app for Android ASAP!) On that same vein, we had no issues loading a Flash game site like Canabalt, but because it was built for mouse and keyboard environments we couldn’t figure out how to jump and avoid death by bricks. What does it all mean? The Tab’s Flash capability is a nice fallback, but if you’ve been thinking it’s the killer tablet app you should think again. Not to sound like Steve Jobs or anything, but scaled-up smartphone apps and Flash compatibility alone don’t create a well-rounded tablet platform — it’s going to take native apps for the Tab to be truly competitive.



The Tab’s dual cameras are a big differentiator against the iPad, and we do have to say they both came in pretty handy over the last few days. We warn you: people will look at you oddly when you pull it out and take shots with its giant viewfinder! The 3 megapixel cam with LED flash on the back aren’t going to replace your point and shoot, but it did take some decent still shots. There’s a few samples in the gallery below: the flash was helpful when nabbing some stills on a darkly lit street and the outdoor pics are quite sharp. The camera interface consists of the standard Android controls, and per usual it handled auto-focus and white balance. Oddly, there’s no macro mode, but the panoramic mode was great for taking wide-angle shots — just make sure to hold it extremely steady to avoid blur. There is also a continuous mode, which will take a sequence of nine shots — it took us a while to figure out that you’ve got to hold down the camera button to get it snapping. We should note that the panoramic and continuous modes are limited to taking 800 x 600-resolution photos.

It’s a bit of a bummer that there’s no HD video recording — the Tab shoots at 720×480 — but motion capture is quite smooth, and there were no stuttering issues like we’ve seen on Galaxy S phones. We should mention here that the Galaxy Tab requires you have a micro SD card inserted to use the camera, so it’s a good thing Sprint tosses in a 16GB card. Oddly, we couldn’t save anything to the 2GB of internal memory or access it when mounted to our Mac or PC. (If you’re interested in the European version, our UK review unit has 16GB of internal storage, which is accessible when mounted.)

The 1.3-megapixel front facing cam obviously doesn’t take as crisp or detailed shots, but it’s perfectly fine for video chatting, awkwardly posing with a friend, or checking your teeth for leftover lettuce. As you can see from the picture above, we were able to get a video call going using Qik over WiFi, although there was quite a lot of delay and in some cases a serious amount of pixelation. We did attempt to use Fring, but the app hasn’t been optimized for the tablet yet, and we couldn’t get two-way video calling working. Fring’s audio was much better, however.

Performance and battery life


Perhaps the best part about the Tab is that you don’t have to worry about the sluggish performance we’ve seen on other Android and Windows tablets. The entire experience is snappy, and it kept up with us even when we had four or five applications open. Of course, there were times when it would freeze up — notably when we had a game of Angry Birds running and we were attempting to test a 720p video — but chances are you won’t be taxing the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and 512MB of RAM that much. As we mentioned earlier, Flash videos within the browser took a few seconds to appear and did slow down the general browsing experience, but once we were able to hit the play button they ran smoothly. As we also mentioned, disabling Flash altogether speeds things up drastically. General video playback on the Tab was also quite smooth — high quality YouTube videos and local 720p content played beautifully at full screen. Similarly, graphics heavy games like Raging Thunder 2 had no issues running and taking advantage of the accelerometer. If you’re looking for how the Tab fares on Android benchmarks, it scored consistently over 14 MFLOPS in Linpack.
So, how about that battery life? It’s pretty good. After periodically surfing the web and reading on the Tab for about a day and a half with just 3G on, the battery is at about 20 percent. On our taxing video rundown test, which loops a standard definition video at about 65 percent brightness and 3G off, but WiFi on, the Tab’s 4000mAh battery lasted for 6 hours and 9 minutes. That’s around the same as some of the other Android tablet’s we’ve tested, but not as long as the iPad’s 9 hours and 33 minutes.
Update: Well, this is a bit crazy. It was brought to our attention that the Tab cannot be charged via a laptop or desktop. And that is in fact the case — when plugged into a USB socket the Tab will maintain its charge, but won’t be recharged.

3G speeds and pricing

We’ve been testing the Sprint version of the Tab in New York City and have been experiencing fairly standard upload and download speeds: download throughputs have averaged around 1,043kbps and the uplink around 521kbps. Of course, we’re day dreaming that Samsung and Sprint are whipping up a 4G Tab as we speak, but for now you’re stuck with 3G versions.
Sprint offers two 3G plans for the Tab: 2GB for $29.99 a month and a 5GB option for $59.99 a month, but is it worth attaching a 3G plan to this device? It certainly makes sense to have mobile broadband baked into the Tab, and the Sprint Hotspot feature, which adds an extra $29.99 a month, could be useful for connecting other gadgets to the interwebs. However, we’ve always had a hard time recommending netbooks that require a two-year contract, and tablets are a similar beast, which is why the $600 no contact version makes more sense in our minds. While it’s more money to pay up front than the contract deal (the hardware is only $400 when you commit two years of your life to Sprint), we think it’s a better option than committing to paying a minimum of $720 in data over two years. Compared to Apple’s offering, the $600 price is actually $29 less than the 16GB / 3G version of the iPad. Those that don’t need 3G connectivity whatsoever are better waiting for the WiFi version of the Tab, which we keephearing will arrive soon.



After spending the last couple of days with the Galaxy Tab, we can confidently say it’s the best Android tablet on the market. Now, that’s not saying much given the state of the Android competition, but we can also assuredly say that the Tab is the first true competitor to Apple’s iPad. Its crisp display, compact form factor, touch-friendly software and dual cameras undoubtedly have what it takes to win over the average tablet seeker. However, we still have some reservations right now. Google hasn’t yet provided any direction on Android as a tablet platform, which means that the Tab is held back by lagging application support and software that doesn’t fully take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Remember, that when the iPad launched many developers were already working on tablet specific apps and Apple had an iPad app store in place. Put simply, without that ecosystem and support from Google, Samsung is left to its own devices — literally. Just today Samsung rolled out an emulator for the Tab that uses the Android SDK and the company says it’s working with Google and plans to use future iterations of Android, so we’ll have to see what happens — but for now it looks like the saga of the Samsung Galaxy Tab still has several chapters to go.

Unboxed: Samsung Galaxy Tablet [Video]

In less than week, you can go out and buy what will essentially be the first major competitor to Apple’s iconic and briskly selling iPad. The Samsung Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch tablet powered by Google’s Android OS is likely to hit the stores in days and will be available from four major U.S. carriers. Folks from Sprint are selling their version of the device for $399 plus two different 3G data plans — $30 a month (2 GB/Month data) and $60 a month (5 GB/month data) — and they sent me one for review.

The device arrived in my hands yesterday evening, and while I didn’t have much time to review the hardware, we put together an un-boxing video. My very brief impression of the device so far: it is fast, easy to use and actually feels a lot more responsive than your typical Android smartphone, thanks to the Samsung 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird application processor and 2GB of onboard memory. It is quite handsome and definitely easier to hold than an iPad. At 13.5 ounces it’s almost half the weight of the iPad. More importantly, it is a good device to tap into Google’s services.

To watch the video follow this link:

Hope you enjoy the video and come back for the review later this week.




Seven Reasons to Choose the Galaxy Tab over the iPad

Samsung Galaxy Tab vs Apple iPad

The Samsung Galaxy Tab will be available soon in the United States through all four major wireless carriers. The Apple iPad has already sold millions and has a significant head start on tablet competitors like the Galaxy Tab, but the Galaxy Tab has a variety of compelling features and functions that could sway the decision between the two.

1. Size. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a 7-inch display. The display is smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inches, but is still large enough to be functional and differentiate it from simply being a large smartphone (like the Dell Streak).

2. Weight. At just over 13 ounces, the Galaxy Tab is about half the weight of the iPad. When holding it one-handed for extended periods of time, the Galaxy Tab will be less strenuous and more comfortable than the one and a half pound iPad.

3. SD Memory Card. The Galaxy Tab only comes in 16Gb and 32Gb models, compared with the iPad’s 16Gb, 32Gb, and 64Gb models, but it has an SD memory card slot that can add an additional 32Gb of storage and bring it up to 64Gb. The memory card option also adds versatility and endless storage because it can be swapped out and provides a means of transferring data between the Galaxy Tab and other devices.

4. Cameras. While few will adopt the Galaxy Tab as their portable camera of choice, having the option to snap photos is a plus. More importantly, having a front-facing camera and video chat and Web conferencing capabilities is a benefit from a business perspective. There is a reason that cameras were one of the most speculated features before the iPad launched without them, and why they are the most rumored feature of the upcoming next-generation iPad.

5. Flash. Apple has recently softened its position slightly on Flash, but there is still no direct Flash Player compatibility within the iPad. For those who feel Flash is an important element of the Web surfing experience, the Galaxy Tab is the way to go.

6. RAM. The Galaxy Tab has 512Mb of RAM–twice as much as the Apple iPad. More RAM means more apps can be actively run in memory without bogging the system down.

7. Multitasking. Android has true multitasking. Currently, the iPad has no multitasking other than the core apps like the iPod player that Apple chose to allow to run in the background. When the iPad gets iOS 4.2 in November, it will get the iOS 4 multitasking, but that is still a limited pseudo-multitasking that isn’t as robust as what the Galaxy Tab has to offer.

Bonus Reason (at least for me): It’s not an iPad and it’s not from Apple :p

There are a number of reasons to consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Galaxy Tab is only the first in what will be a long line of iPad rivals. Apple is diligently working on the iPad 2.0 which will at least catch up–if not raise the bar.

Things are about to get interesting. Game on.

Omnia HD: The World’s First HD Mobile


The Samsung Omnia HD, set for release later this year, will be a GSM quad-band phone with a set of powerful multimedia features. It will be the first phone to offer 720p HD video recording.
Additionally, it will be equipped with an 8 megapixel camera, TouchWiz user interface, GPS receiver, and FM radio.

Quick Specs

Operating System: Symbian S60 5th Edition
Screen Resolution: 3.7" QHD AMOLED Touch Screen
Keyboard Type: On-screen
Communications: Bluetooth, GPRS, GSM, EDGE, HSDPA, Wi-Fi, UMTS
Meda Type: microSD
Camera Resolution: 8.0 megapixels
GPS: Yes
Dimensions: 4.84 x 2.28 x 0.51 inches
Battery Type: Lithium – Ion, 1500 mAh
Release Date: 6/30/2009

Amazing product, I think this is the long-awaited iPhone-killer 🙂

Microsoft Renames and Revamps its Phone OS

Don’t call them Windows Mobile phones anymore. In announcing the latest revision of Microsoft’s OS for handsets at Mobile World Congress today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that henceforth, the devices will be known as Windows phones.

"It’s a mouthful to say, ‘You want a Windows Mobile phone?’" Ballmer said when asked about the decision to once again re-brand the OS, which has over the years been known as Windows CE and Pocket PC.

Ballmer’s three main announcements to a crowd of journalists in Barcelona, Spain, had been widely leaked beforehand: Windows Mobile 6.5, a new version of the handset OS with a revamped, touch-optimized user interface; My Phone, an online backup and sync service for Windows phones, and the Windows Marketplace for Mobile app store.

My Phone and the Windows Marketplace will be accessible to Windows phones running Windows Mobile 6.5; Ballmer said support will be available via download, at the discretion of the vendor, to Windows Mobile 6.1 devices, but not to handsets running earlier versions of the OS.

Windows Mobile 6.5, which in addition to the new user interface sports an improved, more desktop-like browser, will make its debut later this year on handsets also announced on Monday, including the HTC Touch Diamond2 and the LG-GM730.

Interestingly, however, neither handset presents the new user interface unadulterated: Both HTC and LG have made changes they believe make the UI more user friendly. In fact, fiddling with the Windows Mobile UI is not uncommon, and Ballmer squirmed when asked how bothersome this was to Microsoft.

"It’s not the area where I would have aspired to see the first add-ons," he admitted. But he said that with the new UI, Microsoft hopes to get more vendors on board without significant changes.

Top 10 CES and Macworld Announcements

This year’s Macworld and Consumer Electronics Show offered dozens of new product announcements, but only a handful will actually change how you work, play, and live.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 gadgets, announcements, or software products that you don’t need an expense account to buy, and which promise some pretty cool things down the road.

10. iLife 2009 and iWork’s new features and tweaks

iPhoto, the core photo editing app for Macs, is getting built-in facial recognition, geo-tagging, Flickr, and Facebook integration. iWork rolled out a cloud-based syncing with GarageBand enlists Sting, Sarah McLachlan, and other music starts to give instrument lessons. And iMovie grows back into its former powerful skin with a host of editing and transformation features. Both iLife and iWork are $79 for any OS X user intrigued into upgrading, and requires a subscription fee.

9. Apple/Jobs won’t dominate Macworld anymore

Steve Jobs bowed out of doing his customary all-eyes-on-him Macworld keynote this year primarily for health reasons, but the company had already been looking to get out of trade shows entirely. Whatever their reasons—better media control, fewer crazy deadlines for software and engineering—it opens the stage up for third-party companies to get a bit more play with their own Mac products, and it removes the kind of artificial expectations and second-guessing—"I can’t buy a MacBook/iPod/iPhone now, what if they’re announcing something better?"—that surrounds such an event. Sure, Apple still has its World-Wide Developers’ Conference to gin up expectations every year, but here’s hoping that another firm with a killer app will use the empty slot next year to launch something great.

8. Palm is back in the game.

Until this week, discussion about web-enabled smartphones was mostly talking about the iPhone, the Others, and, okay, Google’s Android, once it’s on a few more phones. Then Palm—initially way late to the game, and dwindling in market share—launches a sleek, small, fully-loaded smartphone that even our seen-it-all siblings at Gizmodo were stunned by. Even if you’re not planning to throw down the (reported) $399 for Palm’s Pre, having another name-brand player in the smartphone game ups the stakes for just about everything—did we mention the Pre will reportedly run Flash and built-in copy-and-paste?

7. Built-in media streaming on TVs, DVD players

There’s so much great content out on the web, detaching the cable line and switching to streaming media can be a smart, money-saving move these days. But that also means buying an additional box for your home theater, whether a TiVo, a Roku Netflix player or a hacked-up AppleTV/Boxee combo. TV makers, however, are aiming to bridge the gap, putting Netflix, Amazon, Flickr, and other streams into a Vizio "Connected HDTV", or at least Netflix in LG HDTVs. Streaming media is also making in-roads into Blu-Ray disc players, and, while the offerings are pretty high-end at this point, it spells an eventual simplification of that mid-1990’s dream of the Internet As TV.

6. Better laptop batteries

No way to tell if other laptop makers will follow Apple’s lead—or if consumers will want them too—but the Cupertino company got serious about battery life at Macworld this week. By integrating the battery directly into a new unibody Macbook Pro, users get eight hour of battery life, with about 1,000 full recharges. At $2799, and $179 for a replacement battery installation (which Apple says won’t be needed for five years), it’s not exactly a boon for everybody, but laptop makers often look to Apple’s hardware gurus for innovations, and many buyers may be more inclined to invest real money in a laptop if they can truly use it while it’s unplugged.

5. Smarter voice-activated car systems

Voice-activated, turn-by-turn GPS systems aren’t anything new in cars, but Ford and Microsoft’s 3.0 version of Sync, due to be in every Ford by 2011, gives users true hands-free control of their phones. In addition to making hands-free calls over a Bluetooth connection, Sync can manipulate any smartphone applications compatible with it. So if your phone maker got on board with Sync’s open API, you could, for instance, have your new email read to you (in that reassuring GPS lady voice), get feed updates, or have anything else voiced out for you. For anyone who’s been tempted to geek while driving, it’s also a safety upgrade.

4. Wireless charging, for real

Researchers have shown off prototypes of devices being charged by wireless, over-the-air power, but Fulton Innovation’s eCoupled looks like the real deal, as seen by Gizmodo’s eyes. Not to mention Powermat and Palm’s own charger. Those dedicated to maintaining a cordless workspace, or anyone sick of hurriedly hunting down their iPod/camera/cellphone cords before the beeping stops, will likely love a one-stop place to place their gear and rest assured it’s actually charging.

3. Picasa for Macs—FINALLY

For years, nearly every post about Google’s free tool for organizing, lightly editing, and sharing photos on this site leads to an inevitable cry from the commenter chorus: "When will we get a Mac version?" Google finally delivered at Macworld, offering a free download for OS X (which we took a look at). While not strikingly different from its Windows or Linux cousins, Picasa Mac adapts to the universality of iPhoto and doesn’t trample over its edits or changes, as well as offering free web album uploads. Choice is always a good thing, and Mac users now have two powerful photo organizers available to them.

2. Windows 7 Beta released announced

So, as you might have seen, Microsoft didn’t quite get a free beta, good until August, of Windows 7 out their web door on Friday. They did something similar with the Vista release candidate back in 2006, but the stakes are a bit higher this time ’round, and the testers will likely be, to put it mildly, more eager to leave feedback. Nobody’s going to be overly impressed with the ooh-shiny, and, to some irate users’ minds, the only mission of 7 is to fix the problems and issues of the upgrade many didn’t end up wanting. Here’s hoping those 5+ million eyeballs help the Redmond giant get a usable product out in late 2009/early 2010.

1. iTunes frees its music (and yours)

It wasn’t a new iPhone, or even a new anything, but Apple’s Macworld announcement that, from that day forward, everything in the store will be sold without copy protection is big news for two main types of people—anyone who’s ever wanted to scream at iTunes for making you authorize/de-authorize your tunes, and anyone who digs the iTunes Store but wants to play their music elsewhere. Whether you’re a fan of the open-source, infinitely-extensible Songbird, Winamp or MediaMonkey a non-Apple MP3 player, or anything else that handles music, Apple is stepping out of the way and become just a straightforward merchant of songs—and higher-quality songs, at that. The pricing structure changed a bit with the announcement, allowing current/popular songs to fetch more than 99 cents, but older tracks went down in price, and, well, most any reader of this blog (or any blog) can probably figure out where to get the high-charting tracks if they really want to.

MacBook 2008 Announcement


In case you just woke from some kind of a coma (or you are a certain older gentleman running for a particularly prominent public office), today Apple revealed new additions to the MacBook family: The totally redesigned aluminum 15" MacBook Pro and 13" MacBook, plus a slightly revamped MacBook Air and white plastic MacBook, "value" priced at $1000. Jobs and Co. also showed off the long-awaited iSight-endowed Cinema Display monitors. Here’s a rundown of the keynote and the announcements:

The News
MacBook Pro announcement and first hands on
Aluminum MacBook announcement and first hands on
24-Inch Cinema Display announcement and first hands on
MacBook Air update

Additional Coverage
MacBook Sizemodo, new and old
MacBook rumor roundup
Our liveblog of the Apple keynote
The "Brick" aluminum carving process
All about MacBooks’ new glass trackpad and multitouch
Apple’s Blu-ray woes
Comment: MacBook pricing is still too high

Latest iPod touch Rumors

From the blog of Kevin Rose comes rumors about future iPod including the iPod Touch. Here’s the rumors:

– Revamp of entire iPod line.
– Small cosmetic changes to Touch, Nano to see significant redesign (see pic below).
– iPods to see fairly large price drops to distance itself from the $199 iPhone.
– iPod touch 2.1 software, iPhone to get update very soon after.
– iTunes 8.0 (”it’s a big update with new features”).
– All of this coming in the next 2-3 weeks.
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