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Hottest Gadgets of Fall 2012
With the recent September 12th announcement of the iPhone 5, we thought we'd share our list of what we think is some of the coolest technology we've seen so far this fall and expect to see over the next couple of months.
Coming Soon: The iPad MiniAlthough the iPhone 5 was short on "revolutionary" features, it's still an amazing piece of technology with a host of improvements that add up to "I want one." For more details check out our article which mentions enhancements like an improved camera with a sapphire lens protector, five magnet transducer speaker for better sound, wideband audio for better quality phone calls, dual band Wi-Fi, and even some new earbuds called earpods.

A smaller Apple iPad is still officially only a rumor although it looks like a good bet that a $249 - $299, 7.85-inch iPad "mini" will be announced soon; just in time for the holiday season. We love the idea of a smaller, lighter and possibly cheaper iPad but we've heard it may not come with a Retina display and we're also still pretty impressed by the Nexus 7.

Update Your iOS for FreeOne of the great features of owning an iOS device is the fact that you get a free enhancement whenever Apple updates their mobile OS. Right now, you can download and install iOS 6 which has a huge list of very cool new features including:

  • FaceTime not limited to Wi-Fi, you can now use it over 3G and 4G
  • New maps with flyover mode
  • Reply to a call with a message
  • Passbook digital wallet
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Special do not disturb mode and custom vibrations
Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Backlit Kindle e-ReaderWe expected Amazon to offer a more subsidized (less expensive) tablet that might have been paired with a subscription to Prime but instead we got two iPad competitors with high resolution displays; a 7-inch Fire for $199 (16GB) and an 8.9-inch Fire for $299 (16GB).Considering you get a tablet with dual band Wi-Fi, Dolby Digital sound with stereo speakers and even a front side camera all for a less than an iPad it seems like a good deal. Throw in a subscription to Prime and you've got an all-you-can-watch entertainment device. On the negative side is a lack of apps and complaints of sluggish performance.
Picture Looks Brighter for PaperwhiteWhat some reviewers thought was a more significant announcement than the Fire HD was a new Kindle reader called Paperwhite. The new reader offers a backlight similar to Nook Touch With GlowLight. The new Amazon reader claims to have a higher contrast ratio than previous Kindles with a 212ppi E-Ink display. The new Amazon reader does away with all buttons in favor of a touchscreen while the Nook Touch still offers both buttons and a touchscreen. The Paperwhite is also reasonably priced with a Wi-Fi version selling for $119 and a 3G version for $179. The one thing the Paperwhite is missing is a speaker for "listening" to books.
October May Belong to Microsoft, Apple's iPad Mini NotwithstandingAlthough Windows 8 has been available to download for some time the official launch will take place at an event in New York on October 25th. For the first time, Microsoft will be offering a version of Windows that runs on an ARM processor which is a popular processor for mobile devices. The ARM version is called RT and could appear on tablets this fall. At the same time that Windows 8 becomes available, Microsoft's own tablet called the Surface is expected to be available possibly for a low price of around $200 although we expect it will cost a few dollars more than that.

Other Microsoft rumors say there may be Windows 8 phone announcements shortly after the Windows 8 computer announcement. Windows 8 phones will be quite different than current Windows 7.5 phones offering better performance and more ways to customize the user experience.

Samsung Strikes a New NoteWhen the Galaxy Note 5.3 smartphone first appeared many were skeptical about the size of the phone and the use of a stylus however to the surprise of those skeptics the Note has been a big success for Samsung and they are about to extend the idea to a tablet and a second generation Note. The Galaxy Note 2 will be powered by a quad-core processor in 5.5-inch device that will run the latest Android OS (Jelly Bean) It will be available overseas before it goes on sale in the U.S. later this year.
Samsung Slates and an AIO PCSamsung will also be introducing some new hybrid devices which combine the best features of a laptop and tablet; a good keyboard and touchscreen. The new Series 5 Slate features an 11.6-inch display that can use Samsung's pressure sensitive S Pen stylus along with a detachable keyboard. The Slate is powered by a new Intel Atom processor, will run Windows 8 and cost $749 (with keyboard). Samsung will also be offering a Core i5 version called the Series 7 which will sell for $1199.

We think users will get more out of Windows 8 on an All-In-One PC and we think we'll see many of these big touchscreen based desktop computers next year. The Samsung Series 7 AIO will come in a 23.6-inch ($1099) and 27-inch ($1699) version.

Here Come the HybridsWe're going to go out on a limb and predict 2013 is going to be the year of the hybrid. Yes, Windows 8 is going to face a lot of resistance (no one likes change) but as we transition to the post-pc era of tablets and smartphones the idea of a mobile device that combines the best of both worlds makes sense. A touchscreen/keyboard combo running Windows 8 with its Metro UI could become a popular combination. What could make these devices even more intriguing would be the use of a gesture controller like Leap Motion's. We'll have more to say about hybrids in a future article.

Follow me on twitter: @aeisner 


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