[OPINION] Why Google have started the Real Tablet War

Since the launch of the iPad, about three years ago now, competition has been springing up from every corner. Sony lunched their tablets which, while elegant were certainly the more unusual in the design spectrum. Samsung also threw a half dozen tablets into the market, with names no one can really remember and no discernible strategy of formula (The Note seems unsure whether it’s a phone, or a tablet). Amazon was the first real competition to the market, with the Fire. A low price point helped it clean up the Android tablet market. But, enter Google and everything changes.

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[NEWS] iPad 3 set for March 7 launch

It appears that the rumors may actually be true, today it has been announced that a new product will be launched on the 7th March at 10am Pacific Time in San Francisco at the traditional Yerba Buena Centre. This goes against an earlier suggestion that the event was going to break with tradition and instead be in New York.

Apple launch invite

Apple's launch Invite

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[OPINION] My top 3 productivity apps for the iPad

As a gadget freak, I’ve pretty much got every gadget going, but when the iPad came out, I genuinely didn’t know where it would fit into my life. Sure, it’s great for magazines and newspapers, but was that worth €500? What I have found however, is that the iPad does fill the role traditionally my notebook held; an ultralight portable which I use to write articles and work on, out of the house. While my MacBook Air now only leaves the door when it needs to, instead being more of a desktop.

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Sony’s Slanty Stab at a Tab

Today I’m having a look at the Sony Tablet S. One of the newest Android tablets on the market, this device really sets itself apart from the competition in so many ways. Let’s look at some of the best and key features on the Sony Tablet.

At first glance, it’s one of the most uniquely designed tablets, with a nice folded and slanting design which creates a much more comfortable usability and browsing experience. The slanted design cleverly hides the huge host of ports, which allow you to connect more devices and share data seamlessly. These include; volume buttons, data ports, SD Card slots, mini USB port, IR Port, headphone jack and power port. This all gives the device a nice seamless look, without distracting you with various buttons and slots from the screen. The screen itself is a gorgeous 9.4″ gloss screen with a 1280-800 resolution.

Sony Tablet S

Smooth, sleek and slanted...

Under the (very) sleek hood, this tablet is packing a lot, with; 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an impressive NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, gyroscope, DLNA technology and a front and rear facing camera not to mention a solid 8 hours of battery life with standard usage. You really can take everything with you wherever you go. The true black, 9.4″ screen also means that you can browse websites, magazines, newspapers, photos and movies with a crystal clear image in stunning quality.

But it isn’t just the hardware that’s impressive. Running Android’s powerful 3.1 Gingerbread, with the option to upgrade to 3.2, this is not only a well designed tablet, it’s also easy to use for a host of different things to suit whatever you need to do. The user interface is sleek, clear and easy to navigate, offering all of your most important apps right where you need them. There’s already a lot of handy apps natively installed on the tablet, including YouTube, Gmail (with an improved interface) and the Android Marketplace which allows you to download any of the thousands of apps available there such as the Universal Remote Control app, allowing you to take control of any of your home devices. The build-in browser offers a web experience, which is second to none, offering full Flash support so that you can see the web as it’s meant to be seen.

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony Tablet is also Playstation certified, meaning that you can play your favourite titles with ease from the online store. This is probably one of the biggest selling points for the app, and really is the big draw for Sony to play on. The iconic and powerful brand really adds weight to what this tab really is all about and helps attract some of the more serious gamers away from the likes of the iPad, which already has a growing reputation for more and more advanced games.

While the Sony has made a really solid attempt at a tablet, there are a few drawbacks; my big one is the shape. While I genuinely find it actually quite attractive, the teardrop slant means that portrait is very uncomfortable, and I like my tablets (along with a lot of people) in Portrait mode, for magazines and newspapers particularly. The other is the overall interface, coming from iOS to Sony’s Android interface; I found it comparatively messy, lacking the organized simplicity that comes naturally to Apple products.

While I won’t be ditching my iPad anytime soon, as the app environment is still that bit ahead of Android, the Sony Tablet isn’t a bad start. But with Amazon having jumped in the game, Sony really have lost out, and it’s a shame as this really is a nice product.

iPhone 5 cometh…

With Apple’s conference confirmed on the 4th October, and the iPhone 5 all but a certainty, just what can we expect the new CEO Tim Cook to unveil to us? Here’s some of what we can be expecting from the conference next week.

iPhone 5

Maybe? Probably not...

The iPhone 5 is largely expected to undergo some kind of redesign in terms of the hardware. While it’s expected to look very much the same as the iPhone 4, the internals are expected to address the hazardous antennae issue which gave Apple so many headaches not long ago among other things which aim to generally give the new iPhone a bit more Oomph. Some speculation over the thickness of the handset has arisen, suggesting that the actual handset will be thinner and lighter than previous models. There has also been some comments over the phone’s screen size which is expected to increase to match the growing displays from rivals like Samsung and HTC. Personally I think Apple did well with the iPhone 4 in terms of design, it’s a usable size with little weight and feels good to hold so I can’t see any hugely outlandish overhauls in this field.

Some of the internal changes however aside from the antennae fix, will be big ones. It’s expected that thus iPhone will be made even faster, getting rid of the already short lags present in the current range of iPhones. It’s expected that with the larger screen, Apple will need to invest in much punchier processor power as well as some updates to the excellent Retina Display. Another internal change which would be welcome is the inclusion of an NFC chip, which would allow for contact-less payments to be made. Google already allows this in their own Nexus handsets, and last week activated the feature allowing people to pay for items with Google Wallet, through their smartphone and it’s expected that more and more Android handsets will begin carrying this soon. With PayPal already working on their own apps it makes some sense to do this. But we’ll have to see, Apple tend to wait until a method is more tried and tested.

There has also been some discussion around the possibility of the new iPhone being 4G, I personally don’t really see this as being a major deal breaker, most people won’t have anything above 3G connection and really don’t care much about 4G. So while this might be a bit of Future-proofing on Apple’s part, like the Thunderbolt connection on the new MacBook Air, it’s really not something to get excited about yet.

It will be an intersecting presentation, marking the first major product launch that Jobs hasn’t helmed. iOS5 will also be released to customers in and around, which looks set to add a host of new features to the iPhone. I for one, won’t be buying the new iPhone, I think the iPhone 4 with iOS5 will be able to do much of what the iPhone 5 will be packing.

If you can’t get an iPad, what can you get?

iPad accounts for 89%, but what’s the other 11%

Recently it’s been announced that the iPad accounts for an incredibly impressive 89% of global tablet usage. While it had always been expected that the iPad would be the major tablet in use around the world, the shear volume has been somewhat surprising.

Ever since the iPad hit the Market two years ago, competitors have been quick to jump on the bandwagon (quicker than the handset one). So what exactly are the alternatives?

Samsung offer the best alternatives, with two tablets; Galaxy Tab and v10.1 which are both very impressive devices running android. The original Galaxy is small at about 7inch screen space and is a pretty nice tablet to give the light users. It’s flash enabled and the nice screen is great for magazines and newspapers. 10.1 which is a larger, newer version of the Galaxy tab is for perhaps a more advanced user, running the latest Android OS, it’s slim with a nice big screen. Probably the closest competitors to the iPad.

Samsung tablet

The Samsung Galaxy Tab, one of the best alternatives to the iPad

HTC who produce probably the best Android and WP7 handsets have tried their hand at tablets with the Flyer, it’s a nice little 7inch tablet running Android 3.0 Gingerbread. Slightly bulkier than the iPad, it feels like a solid device, and also looks pretty good in the hand. Unusually for a modern tablet, it comes with a stylus pen, while it’s nice to have as an option it does make the otherwise swish tablet feel quite dated.

HTC Flyer tablet

HTC Flyer tablet from one of the biggest Android manufacturers

The BlackBerry PlayBook is really the last of the big competition to the iPad, the HP Slate just never caught on after being pulled a few times, and the Acer Iconia runs the whole Windows OS, making it awkward. But the PlayBook has been recently released, it’s slim, smooth and overall a very nice tablet. Running the same OS as the International Space Station this tablet is a very reliable sort, with an easy to use operating system and. Multitasking natively.

BlackBerry Playbook

If it's good enough for astronauts... the BlackBerry Playbook

There’s a good selection of other tablets available on the Market, with probably many more going to be released, but for the time being the iPad corners the Market, and it’s easy to see why. All of the above tablets are available in Ireland either through mobile operators or PC World and HMV.

iOS 5, OS X Lion and iCloud but no iPhone 5?

Apple’s WWDC promises to bring in many new features to the range, but just what can we expect?

There’s a lot of buzz at the moment around next week’s World Wide Developer Conference. Steve Jobs, who is still on sick leave from Apple will be announcing a new line of products including the much anticipated OS X Lion and iOS 5 for iPhone and iPad along with a brand new service called iCloud.

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