Parents fret all the time about protecting their kids on Facebook, but many of the products and services I’ve seen that aim to help are intrusive, and inject the parents into the child’s normal, healthy online social life in a way that’s awkward for both.
With its iPhones and iPads, Apple has led people toward a new way of operating digital devices that relies on direct manipulation of items with finger gestures, not a mouse and scroll bars. App icons are arrayed front and center, not buried deep in a file system or limited to a strip at the bottom of the screen.
While Microsoft and Apple are working to bring aspects of tablet computing to the next versions of their computer operating systems, one big computer maker, Toshiba, is going the other way: It is introducing a tablet that emulates a laptop in some key respects.
Unlike other well-known tablets on the market, the new Toshiba Thrive, a 10-inch Android model available this month, sports a full-sized USB port that works with a wide variety of devices and files; a removable battery; and a file manager application like those on PCs. It also includes a full-sized SD slot for flash memory cards and a full-sized connector, called an HDMI port, that can use a standard cable for linking to a high-definition TV.
Tablet computers generally do a good job of playing videos and music, and displaying photos and documents. But they have limited capacity to store all these files, so you typically can carry only a fraction of your PC’s data on them.
You can get apps that allow tablets to access files you’ve stored in the cloud on services like Dropbox or SugarSync, but these require an Internet connection and can be slow.
A small army of multitouch tablet computers has been launched this year to take on Apple’s iPad, which has managed to sell 25 million units and attract 90,000 tablet-specific apps in just about 15 months, and is already in its second generation, the iPad 2. So far, none of these contenders has gained any significant traction with consumers or app developers.
Would you buy a laptop that comes with only one major program—a Web browser—and doesn’t allow you to install widely used software such as Microsoft Office, Apple’s iTunes, Adobe Reader, or, in fact, any other locally installed program?
Are you ready for a laptop that has almost no storage space to hold your personal files, photos and videos, and is designed around the idea that you’ll keep all that precious personal stuff on remote servers?
You might get dizzy staring too deeply into the Evo 3D, but Sprint Nextel Corp.’s newest flagship phone is worth risking a little motion sickness.
The Evo 3D, the first smartphone in the U.S. that can shoot and display 3-D pictures and videos, is the latest unconventional device from Sprint. The wireless provider has embraced its underdog role and introduced a number of unique products over the past few years in an effort to expand its portfolio and lure customers away from its much larger rivals.
The Evo 3D stands out largely because of its 3-D screen, but it’s a solid phone without the gimmick.
Some have paid off, including last year’s smash hit Evo 4G, which was the first phone able to connect to a speedier next-generation wireless network. Others, such as Kyocera Corp.’s dual-screen Echo, fizzled. If consumers enjoy the Evo 3D as much as I have over the past few days, the phone, which is due out June 24, should follow its namesake predecessor’s blockbuster success. The Evo 3D, which is made by HTC Corp., will be $199.99 with a two-year contract.
Watching movies and TV shows on an iPad is a pleasure. Deciding what to watch, and then figuring out which iPad app offers which film or show at that moment, isn’t.
If you place an Android smartphone and a PlayStation controller into a George Foreman Grill, you might cook up Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play.
The Xperia Play is Sony Ericsson’s latest bid to regain relevance in the U.S. Once a thriving handset manufacturer, the company was late in adopting Google Inc.’s Android software and didn’t manage to capitalize on the early success of the smartphone market. As a result, it has been forced to play catch-up around the world, and particularly in the U.S.
The Xperia Play’s buttons allow more control than a touch screen over Eli Manning on ‘Madden NFL 11.’
With so many Android handsets in the market, Sony Ericsson had to go the extra mile to set itself apart. The Xperia Play, which Verizon Wireless began selling a week ago for $199.99 with a two-year contract, does just that.
The big selling point: a slide-out bottom half that mimics the trademark PlayStation-controller layout. It includes a direction pad, physical control buttons on the upper corners and face, and two circular touchpads in the center that take the place of the twin thumbsticks found on Sony’s Dual Shock controllers.
The tablet-computer race is heating up. The latest entrant, Acer Inc.’s Iconia Tab A500, is the first to offer compelling competition to Apple’s dominant iPad in one crucial area: price.
The Iconia Tab has been keenly anticipated, if only because Acer, a Taiwanese company that made its mark by offering sharp but inexpensive laptops and netbooks, is the world’s second-largest PC maker after Hewlett-Packard Co. The Iconia Tab is Acer’s first to run Google’s Android operating system, and joins an increasingly crowded tablet field that features the PlayBook by Research in Motion Ltd., Motorola Inc.’s Xoom, LG Electronics Inc.’s G-Slate and Apple’s own iPad2, which went on sale in March.
A WiFi-only version of the Iconia Tab went on sale on April 24 for $449.99. A new model that works on AT&T Inc.’s 4G wireless network is slated for release this summer for an as-yet-undisclosed price.
Once again, the way to buy music is changing.
For years, the legal digital music world has seemed relatively simple to grasp. There were two basic models: the online stores, where you buy singles or albums and store them on individual computers or devices; and the subscription services, where you pay a monthly fee or listen to ads for access to an online trove of songs.
The pocket-size, point-and-shoot digital camera was once a standard part of many consumers’ electronic tool kit. But it has been challenged by smartphones with better and better built-in cameras and photo apps. While they lack some photographic capabilities, like physical zoom lenses, phones are carried everywhere all the time. Plus, they are wirelessly connected to email and the Web, where digital pictures often wind up.
Television programs, like music and books, are migrating from their traditional form of delivery to transmission over the Internet for consumption on computers, tablets and smartphones. A growing number of people, at least some of the time, are choosing to watch shows on these devices rather than on television sets.
For the many companies designing tablets based on Google’s Android operating system to compete with Apple’s dominant iPad, there are twin challenges. The obvious one is to convince consumers to buy something other than the iPad 2. The less obvious one is to differentiate their products from all the other slates based on Android.