Amazon dives into tablet market
Amazon's Kindle Fire has finally arrived on the market, officially bringing the retailer into the tablet arena. Electronista has taken a look at the new device, which faces stiff competition from Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.0 plus in the seven-inch category, along with the iPad and other Android tablets in the 10-inch group.
Temperatuer updates sent via Bluetooth
It is not quite grilling season in most of the country, but iDevices is already showing off its iGrill system for iOS devices. MacNN stopped by the company's Macworld Expo booth to check out the impressive system, which helps to eliminate the need to constantly run outside and manually check meat temperatures for the perfect doneness.
Mic brings higher recording resolution
MacNN had a chance to check out Blue Microphones' latest offering, an upgraded version of the Yeti. The updated design, named the Yeti Pro, brings the same form factor as its predecessor, but with several features that may prove appealing to musicians. Both mics share the same arrangement of three condenser capsules, but the Pro variant adds stereo XLR outputs alongside the existing USB option.
Projector offers decent brightness for its size
MacNN has previewed Optoma's Neo-i iPod/iPhone dock, which also doubles as a projector. The system, which was announced in November and brought to CES, integrates a pico projector that allows users to play videos or pictures from docked devices. Like many other small projectors, the Neo-i's picture became slightly washed out when viewed under the bright lights at the Macworld Expo.
A fresh look at music education
Macworld Expo has served as the launch venue for a variety of new iOS apps, including a new utility, Jammit, that aims to help musicians learn how to play popular songs. MacNN took a closer look at the upcoming title, which quickly surpassed our meager expectations for a "play along" app designed for music education.
Design reverts to second-generation form
Although Apple has focused recent iPod marketing on the new Touch, the entry-level offering has not been forgotten. The company has yet to settle on a form factor for the Shuffle, as the design seems to bounce between a vertical stick and a squarish shape. The fourth-generation model brings back the click wheel of the previous three editions, while reverting to a shape similar to the second generation.
Updated version brings welcome improvements
Electronista has taken a closer look at the third-generation Kindle, Amazon's latest attempt to cement its dominance in the e-book reader market. We found that the company followed through with its promise of an improved display paired with a lighter housing and ergonomic design. Page turns appear to be slightly quicker, while the "experimental" browser shows potential for basic tasks such as Wikipedia research.
Open-source browser takes on Firefox, Safari
Google has finally released a beta version of its Chrome browser for the Mac platform, following a year of availability for Windows users. The open source software is designed to compete with other popular browsers such as Safari and Firefox. The latest release offers many of the same features as the Windows version, although the early Mac beta still lacks several capabilities.
First Look: Bento iPhone
With its tiny keyboard, the iPhone might not seem like the best platform for building a database. But FileMaker says it has found a way to exploit the iPhone's interface, multi-touch gestures and Wi-Fi capabilities to make Bento for the iPhone as useful as its desktop counterpart. The result is an app that has many, but not all of the capabilities of its full-sized sibling.
First Look: Livescribe Mac
Taking notes can be a real chore. While writing down an important point or copying a diagram, it can be easy to miss a speaker's next topic. Livescribe's Pulse Smartpen is designed to solve these problems, by recording both a user's notes and the corresponding audio. Previously available only for Windows users, Livescribe has just released its Desktop software for the Mac, giving users the ability to view, share and search their handwritten notes, drawings and audio recordings.
iMovie ‘09, video editor
Two versions ago, iMovie HD 6 offered powerful video editing for novices. For iMovie ‘08, Apple completely rewrote the program to focus on making video editing simpler, but at the sacrifice of its more sophisticated editing features. When users howled their disapproval, Apple quickly made the original iMovie HD app available as a free download. Now with iMovie ‘09, Apple has combined the simplicity of iMovie ‘08 with the powerful editing capabilities of iMovie HD.
First Look Arcade Maniak
The iPhone -- and the iPod touch -- are fast becoming popular handheld gaming platforms. Most of the available games put more emphasis on eye-hand coordination, but a few, like Arcade Maniak, are more intellectual challenges that require thinking instead of raw reaction time.
First Look iPhoto '09
The flagship title in the iLife '09 suite is arguably iPhoto '09. The original 2002 version helped to shape the way people store and organize digital photos, and the newest version carries on the tradition of making it fun and easy to generate personal libraries.
First Look iWeb '09
There are plenty of options for creating webpages. Professionals typically opt for editors like DreamWeaver, while hardcore designers may choose to dive into the HTML code. It's theoretically possible to use ordinary word processors, but the resulting pages are often too simplistic. For the average person who wants to create professional-quality pages without taking design classes -- or learning the vulgarities of HTML code -- Apple offers the much simpler iWeb '09, a part of the new iLife '09 suite.
First Look NPR Mobile
Even if you're a regular National Public Radio (NPR) listener, there's a chance you won't catch your favorite shows during the day. Many NPR stations offer podcasts, but if you're not keen on manually hunting for files and loading them onto a media player, you can let a program like the NPR Mobile iPhone app do the work for you.
Thunder Pro A/V Drive
External hard disks are inexpensive enough that ideally, everyone would have one to backup their data. At the low-end it's possible to just cram a hard drive into an external enclosure, but if you prefer a more sophisticated solution, you’ll probably be happier with a dedicated drive. One such device -- marketed towards audio and video professionals, but usable by anyone -- is EZQuest’s Thunder Pro Drive.
First Look iWork.com
The iWork suite may be good, but it's not the most popular office suite for the Mac; many Mac users are forced to use Microsoft Office to maintain file compatibility with Windows counterparts. To improve iWork's file sharing capabilities, Apple is now beta-testing an online sharing site dubbed iWork.com.
First Look Keynote 09
Keynote is the oldest and most mature program of the iWork suite, which has regularly bested Microsoft PowerPoint in features and ease of use from its inception. With the latest version, Apple has continued innovating to keep Keynote '09 the star of the entire iWork suite.
1st look-Sony P-series
First look: Sony at CES announced the VAIO P, which was on display and garnering interest from huge crowds milling around the Central Hall of the 2009 CES show. The notebook features an 8-inch LED-backlit screen and weighs in at 1.4-lbs, with an Atom 1.33 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. The notebook size is comparable to a letter-sized envelope, just 9.6-inches wide by 4.7-inches deep and measuring only .78-inches high, with four color choices including black, white, red and green. The device runs on the Vista platform and offers an integrated GPS receiver with voice navigation. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 802.11 B, G and N, along with wireless EVDO technology for Verizon's network.
First Look Numbers 09
As the last new application for iWork, Numbers introduced superior features, but lacked calculating firepower when put head-to-head with Microsoft's Excel. Numbers '09 attempts to remedy this problem, while building on the unique paradigm of a canvas where you place objects like tables, charts and shapes to create a visually-pleasing spreadsheet.
First Look Pages 09
Pages has always been a decent word processor, but it’s never been powerful enough to replace Microsoft Word. Apple has, fortunately, boosted Pages '09 with more features in order to make it a better word processor, and an easier desktop publishing program. It may still not match Word feature-for-feature, but that could be a good thing, as what it does offer may be what you really need.
First Look at iWork '09
A First Look at iWork '09: Apple's senior marketing VP Phil Schiller announced iWork '09, with new templates across the board, support for sharing documents across the Internet via the new iWork.com, and numerous new features for Pages, Numbers and Keynote, which make up the suite. Schiller also announced a combo package of iWork and iLife. Keynote has added support for managing presentations from an iPhone or iPod touch.
FL: HP MediaSmart Server
Many people own multiple computers, such as a notebook and a desktop, or a a Mac and a PC. The problem with multiple systems is backing up data from all of them -- while backing up a single computer is easy with an external hard drive, buying separate disks for several computers can become cumbersome and expensive. In the corporate world, businesses can back up multiple machines to a single server; HP’s MediaSmart Server makes this option available at a reasonable cost to individuals, as well as small businesses.
First Look: LifeCam Show
If you have one of the more recent iMac or MacBook models, you have a built-in webcam, embedded like a third eye into the top of your monitor. If you have a Mac Pro or a Mac mini though, you’ll need to buy a separate cam if you want to do video conferencing or chatting. Although designed specifically for Windows XP and Vista users, the Microsoft LifeCam Show is a webcam that also works flawlessly with any Mac. The most obvious difference between this one and others is its size.
FL: Verbatim TuneBoard
Many people use whatever keyboard happens to come with their computer. Apple’s standard keyboard may be acceptable, for instance, but you may want a more versatile keyboard -- say, one that lets you play and control your favorite songs through built-in speakers. An example of this comes from Verbatim, and is dubbed the TuneBoard.
First Look: MacPilot
You can customize any good operating system, and Mac OS X is no exception. While the System Preferences window lets you tweak components like the desktop or audio output, many more customizable features of the OS are hidden away. To get at these buried settings the most immediate solution is to enter cryptic commands into Terminal, but if you’d rather modify a Mac using a familiar point-and-click interface, take a look at MacPilot.
First Look: Little Snapper
When viewing webpages or programs on your Mac, you may want to capture some of the images to view later. Fortunately, every Mac lets you capture all or part of a screen image using one of the following commands:
- Command-Shift-3: Saves a screenshot of the entire screen as a file on the desktop
- Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Saves a screenshot of an area as a file on the desktop
- Command-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Saves a screenshot of a window as a file on the desktop
- Command-Control-Shift-3: Copies a screenshot of the screen to the clipboard
- Command-Control-Shift-4, then select an area: Copies a screenshot of an area to the clipboard
- Command-Control-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Copies a screenshot of a window to the clipboard
Memorizing these commands can be cumbersome of course, and storing screen images as files or in the clipboard can be clumsy. Worse, you still need to take time to organize and edit your screenshots. To capture, organize, edit, and share screenshots, you could use multiple programs, or you could try Little Snapper
First Look: WhatSize
No matter which Mac you have, you can never have enough hard drive space. Unlike PCs however, iMacs and Mac minis tend not to lend themselves to quick hardware upgrades -- when you buy a Mac, you’re usually stuck with the hard disk that comes with it. The moment you start running out of room, you’ll be forced to start deleting files. Finding which files to delete can be troublesome unless you use a tool like the shareware app WhatSize.
First Look: iAntiVirus
Many Mac anti-virus programs waste their time scanning for Windows contaminants. While this may be fine if you need to share files with Windows users, you may not want a program that gobbles up excess memory and processing time just to protect against malware that can never even hurt your own hardware. If you’d rather have an anti-virus app that focuses solely on keeping Macs virus-free, one option is PC Tool’s iAntiVirus.
First Look: VirusBarrier
The majority of worms, viruses and Trojan horses attack and infect Windows systems. While the Mac is theoretically more secure due to its Unix underpinnings, the growing popularity of Macs may only make them more enticing as a target. There are already a handful of Trojan horses for the Mac, and the threat will likely continue to grow. Anti-virus software may remain optional for Mac users, but if you want to play it safe, you can protect your Mac with something like Intego’s VirusBarrier.
First Look: Memeo Share
Nearly everyone has a separate digital camera, or one built into a mobile phone or computer. While taking a basic picture is easy, sharing pictures may not be. You can show them in person of course, but if someone lives far away, your choices are more limited. You can print and mail your pictures, which costs money and takes time; the alternative is e-mailing them or posting them to a website, but many pictures can be several megabytes in size, limiting the amount that can be sent. Posting on a website also risks exposing images to strangers. Fortunately, there’s a third alternative and that’s to use something like Memeo Share.
First Look: Cell Ranger
Every cellular phone network has weak spots in certain parts of town. If you’re constantly dropping calls in these areas, you could simply avoid making calls there, or you could plug the Cell Ranger into your car's cigarette lighter. The idea behind Cell Ranger is to boost any cellular network’s signals so you can connect and make phone calls in formerly poor-coverage areas. (Curiously, the manufacturer notes that this unit does not work with Sprint/Nextel cellular networks.)
Samsung Propel SGH-a767
Practically everyone has a mobile phones these days. While some people prefer the top of the line, latest gadget, others prefer less expensive, simpler phones. If you fall into this latter category, then you might be interested in the Samsung Propel SGH-a767.
Ever since Apple switched to Intel processors, Macs have been able to run the most popular operating systems for the x86 architecture including Linux and Microsoft Windows. Apple offers Boot Camp for free, which lets you create a dual-boot partition, but forces you to choose between Mac OS X or Windows each time you turn on your computer. For a solution that lets you switch between Mac OS X and any other operating system without rebooting, you need a virtualization program such as Parallels 4.0.
FIrstLook QuickBooks 2009
The growth of Mac market share is having some pleasant side effects -- especially for software. Instead of just releasing ported Windows versions, the economics of scale has made it practical for some developers to rewrite their titles to take advantage of Mac OS X features and ease of use. Intuit has made that investment in QuickBooks 2009, and the result is a much more "Mac-like" application. Simplicity is the key, the company says, and a host of new features have been added to reduce the learning curve for the venerable small business accounting application.
T-Mobile G1 First Look
When Apple released the iPhone, they set the standard for mobile phones with its innovative touch screen. While people have lined up to buy an iPhone, competitors have released various iPhone clones in hopes that lower prices and different features will appeal to consumers. Now Google has finally released their Android open source mobile phone platform and the first incarnation has appeared as the T-Mobile G1 phone. If you aren’t quite sold on an iPhone, but want a better conventional mobile phone, you’ll find the Android an intriguing option.
Lotus Symphony 1.2 beta
For the longest time, the only real office suite for the Mac was Microsoft Office. While not a bad office suite, many people dislike the high retail price (although the home edition is far lower at $149 compared to $399 for the retail version). In addition, other Mac users simply object to using any product created by Microsoft. Apple’s iWork is a less expensive option at $79 while the latest OpenOffice 3.0 is completely free. For yet another choice, take a look at IBM’s Lotus Symphony 1.2 beta for the Mac.
Handsfree iPhone speaker
In many places, it’s now illegal to drive while holding and talking on a mobile phone. Since chatting while driving can be so convenient, you have two choices. First, you can pull over to the side of the road every time you want to chat with your iPhone. Since this essentially negates the advantages of driving while chatting, your only real option is to get a hands-free device for your phone. If you have an iPhone, consider the Car Windshield Mount with Handsfree and charger for iPhone 3G with USB charging Port from USBFever.com.
Computers were supposed to give us the paperless office, but anyone who uses them knows that they create more paper than ever before. While paper can be convenient for storing information, it’s not always as convenient to store or share with others in large quantities. To solve this problem, Fujitsu offers a unique portable device called the ScanSnap S300.
One of the biggest flaws of Macs is that they don’t include built-in media card readers. This makes sense, given the bewildering array of different media cards available and the fact that media card readers offer more slots than anyone could possibly want or use, hence wasting space and marring the uncluttered appearance of the computer. Another problem with any computer is the limited number of available USB ports. If this problem of media card readers and USB ports sounds familiar to you, then consider Griffin Technology’s Simplifi.
Mind Habits game
Most people play video games for fun or to relieve stress or boredom in their life. While shooting radioactive mutants or driving a car through animated city streets at top speed may take your mind off your problems, the moment you’re done playing, reality smacks you in the face all over again. If you want to play a video game that can boost your self-esteem and improve your self-confidence both during and after you stop playing it, take a look at a unique stress relieving video game called Mind Habits.
Bento 2, personal database
For years, the most popular Mac database has been FileMaker. While FileMaker has a reputation for being powerful and easy to use, it’s also geared more towards commercial developers, cross-platform development, or people who need heavy-duty data processing. If your database needs are much simpler, you could still use FileMaker, but you might find the program a bit more complicated than necessary. You could also use the Address Book, which comes with every Mac, but you might find that too limiting. For an easy database that’s also powerful enough for more than trivial tasks, consider FileMaker’s Bento 2.
Samsung Rugby SGH-a837
Many mobile phones may appear aesthetically pleasing when seen on a store shelf, but they may prove too fragile to deal with the bumps and bruises from everyday life. That’s what makes the Samsung SGH-a837 mobile phone so different. With a flip-up, clamshell case that covers the keypad when not in use, this phone is designed to take abuse and keep on working.
Games have always been part of every computer from the simple Solitaire and Minesweeper program that comes with Windows to the more sophisticated chess program that comes with the Macintosh. Curiously, the iPhone/iPod Touch lacks any such built-in programs so if you want to play games, you’ll have to visit the AppStore and download them yourself. While there are plenty of games you can choose, one of the more interesting apps is PuzzleManiak.
If you need an office suite for the Mac, your choices used to be limited to Microsoft Office 2008 or Apple’s iWork. Unfortunately, neither option offered a complete solution. Office 2008 can share the latest file formats with Office 2007 for Windows, but the Mac and Windows versions of Office neither look nor work exactly alike. If you’re already familiar with Office 2007 on Windows, Office 2008 for the Mac will seem different enough to frustrate and confuse you. Apple’s iWork is the only other office suite solution, but it lacks a Windows version. For a true cross-platform office suite, you can now rely on the open source OpenOffice 3.0.
SideWinder X6 Keyboard
Video game consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation are easy to use because they offer special game controllers designed to play video games. Unfortunately, most computers are saddled with an ordinary keyboard designed for general use. If you prefer a specialized keyboard optimized for video game playing, consider Microsoft’s SideWinder X6 Keyboard.
PGP Desktop 9.9
Everyone knows that encryption is handy for protecting files from unauthorized users by denying access to their contents. Unfortunately, most people don’t use encryption, in spite of the obvious advantages, because it’s often too much of a hassle. To make encryption more transparent to the user, a new option is PGP Desktop Professional 9.9.
Laptop computers must rely on trackpads to save space. While many people are perfectly happy using a trackpad, many more prefer using a mouse for greater control and comfort. Carrying an ordinary desktop mouse can be cumbersome due to its size and cord length, while special mice for laptops are often compressed in size to make them easier to carry. If you prefer to use a mouse with your laptop without making any compromises, consider Microsoft’s Arc Mouse.
So many people store crucial names, addresses, phone numbers, and documents on mobile devices such as smart phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs). Storing this information on a mobile device is easy, but the hard part comes in synchronizing this data with your Macintosh. Sharing and synchronizing contact information with a Macintosh may be easy using an iPhone and the process isn’t too much more difficult when using a Palm device. However, the real problem comes when you use a Mac as your main computer, but use a Windows Mobile device as your mobile device. Since the Mac won’t recognize a Windows Mobile device, you need an additional program to link these two devices together. One such solution is SyncMate.
If you own stocks, or just enjoy tracking the market performance of major companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, you may glance at a financial website or The Wall Street Journal to see the latest stock prices. Of course rising and falling prices mean little if you don’t also keep track of which stocks you’ve bought, how many shares you own, and what price you paid. To track this type of information, many people type this information in a spreadsheet and then create charts and formulas to track their profits and losses. For a much simpler solution, consider tracking stocks using a product like iStock 1.5.