Europe left waiting for 3G iPad – Apple want to replace notebook/netbook

International users, including our good selves in Ireland and Europe will have to wait a little longer for the iPad 3G version, assuming that we get the WiFi version on time, that is.

Jobs announced at his keynote that Apple were working on international contracts with various networks to cover data plans and being able to use the internet on the go.

AT&T have already managed to bag the contract for the States, and many expect O2 to seal the deal on this side of the Atlantic, however with the iPhone recently being made available to Orange and Vodafone, it really could be anyone’s game.

Although the iPad 3G is going to come unlocked, and use new GSM micro SIMs, Apple are set to be beginning talks for various data plans. However the pads should work on WiFi alone and Jobs said that there was a ‘high probability’ that the devices would ‘just work’.

Internet on the move, but do we have to wait much longer for the privilege?

It would just be easier to buy the WiFi only version in this case, given that without a data plan, there would be little point in spending the extra few hundred and having what few features extra it offers without being able to take advantage of 3G’s mobile internet.

Apple seems to see the iPad, not as a device which is meant to fit in between your phone and your laptop, but instead to be a replacement for your laptop. Apple’s thinking could be that most laptops are vastly overpowered for what most people would use them for and netbooks are quite awkward and clumsy.

Most of the computer consumer market never really use the full potential of their computers – whereas the iPad will allow users to read papers, surf the web, view YouTube, write documents and listen to music without spending money on endless storage spaces and heavy(-er) notebooks and netbooks.

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Three E-Readers which will shape 2010… if Apple don’t get there first.

This year’s CES show in Las Vegas has produced a host of mouth watering gear, not least of all, amongst e-readers. Three companies have released new readers, with the intent of breaking both Sony and Amazon’s strangle hold on the current market.

Firstly and slightly surprisingly, perhaps is Samsung’s attempt at venturing into new waters, far from its netbooks and phones; the E6 and E101 readers, with six and ten inch screens respectively. The new e-reader line comes with anywhere up to 8GB of memory for all the books you’ll ever need, and a stylus for note taking, and doodling.

Is it a phone, is it a Kindle? No, it's an E-Reader

The readers, which more resemble phones than books, also pack WiFi abilities and allows users to take advantage of Samsung’s content deal with Google to access over 1million+ free titles available through the search engine in the public domain.

The reader feels sturdy, and looks it too; being similar size to the Kindle, but does look noticeable bigger.

The E6 is expected to retail at $399, and the E101 at $699, and will be available in early 2010, nothing said yet about how much the product would cost in Europe, so we’ll have to wait and see for now.

A complete show stopper at CES was the Skiff, an impossibly thin, and flexible e-reader.

The Skiff sports an 11inch screen, making it bigger then most e-readers currently out there, and is almost completely touchscreen. The device itself is housed in a thin, metal frame which really is barely noticeable.

Flexible, light, like something from the future; today!

The touchscreen is designed to take input from both finger and stylus, which makes it feel much more natural then the Kindle, or some other models out there which make reading feel more like being on a computer than curling up with a good book.

The Skiff also packs a lot into it’s 7mm thickness, such as a USB port, 4GB memory for enough books to put a librarian out of a job, SD card slot, and wi-fi and 3G wireless abilities.

All in all, the Skiff combines the wireless joys of the Kindle, with the flexibility of real books and magazines which is really what it’s aiming for, and versatility of any of its competitors.

Not currently available in shops, the Skiff is rumoured to make a debut sometime in mid-2010 in US, again not a peep about a European release date.

Another flexible E-Reader brought out at the CES, was the QUE, from UK based; Plastic Logic.

Almost equally as thin as the Skiff and packing similar memory, the Que also represents another glimpse into a more, flexible future. Encased in plastic, instead of metal thereby making it shatter-proof, the Que aims to expand the now jam-packed E-Reader market, by introducing itself into the workplace, and replacing the many messy documents which might be lying around, rather like a notepad that will never fill up.

Presenting; (Drum Roll...) The Paperless Office!!!!!

The Que boasts the largest touchscreen of all the readers, coming in at 8.5”x11” along with 3G and WiFi inbuilt as standard, and a choice of 4GB or 8GB, depending on how many books or documents you might want to be bringing with you.

The 4GB version comes with WiFi only, and costs $649 while the 8GB version has both WiFi and 3G and will set you back by $799. Currently only available in the US, with AT&T providing the 3G coverage, Plastic Logic is expected to roll out the Que over the coming year.

Of all the E-Readers being churned out, it seems the CES has finally begun to spark the market widening into new fields, whether it be the office, or dedicated magazine and broadsheet displays.

Depending on what you’re looking for; there’s an E-Reader to suit you;

Samsung would probably suit best if you were a hardcore bookworm, offering a nice comfortable sized screen, with buckets of memory and connectivity. While should magazines and newspapers with some books thrown in be more your thing; then it looks like the Skiff might be right down your alley; thin, flexible, sturdy, clean and big you can take whole news-agents with you everywhere! Finally if you’re just a high flying exec, then surely there’s nothing better then having your desk with you without the pain of skimming a laptop screen for hours, you can sit back and read a report as if it were a piece of, slightly plastic feeling, paper.

Whether the Skiff and Que will be affected by Apple’s iSlate remains to be seen; the new device that everyone is talking about could well change the E-Reader market while it’s still in its infancy, but we’ll have to wait and see. It will be interesting to see how colourless e-ink displays stand up to the might of Apple.

Ford brings the future, and Twitter to the streets.

Famous for revolutionising the way we move about the world, Ford after a century is due to change the way we move about the web; by bringing the internet on the road. Ford plans to move us into the Minority Report future we always dreamed of by giving drivers internet access on the move as showcased in the CES in Vegas this week.

Future of driving means you'll never have to drive around looking for things, just search for them...

Announced in it’s new line of cars which are to be released soon comes internet radio, web searches and even twitter messages from the dashboard.

The company aims to bring to our cars, what we expect from our phones, or computers. The system, called Sync MyTouch, is centered around two touchscreen displays on the dashboard which will offer a driver the cars new features such as web search using the car’s 3G connections and is able to sync with mobile media devices, such as the iPhone, or iPod.

The technology will probably be Window’s based, given that the project is a joint effort by Ford and Microsoft. Although the pair of companies released the technology originally in 2007, it’s currently not widely available, and limited to a few models in the States, however both companies expect that most cars, in the US anyway, will be fitted with the Sync My Touch systems within five years.

We here in Europe should be expecting to see the system launched sometime in 2010, with any luck.

Ford was one of the biggest hit by the financial downturn last year, losing an estimated €9.5bn, however it hopes that the new system, which seems like something out of Star Trek, will turn the companies fortunes around and do away with messy stand alone gadgets like Tom Tom’s and car adapters strewn over the passenger seats.