Barnes-Noble-logoMove over Kindle, Barnes & Noble wants a piece of that ebook reader pie.

A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal (registration required) broke the news that well-known bookseller Barnes & Noble was about to launch its own ebook reader.  This is no huge surprise as the company launched an ebook store back in July, and it has been rumored for some time that the company wanted to take on Amazon’s Kindle.

This all has remained rumor since the announcement as the company wouldn’t comment, but The New York Times is now reporting that Barnes & Noble has a press event for an unknown announcement set for October 20th.  It would make sense to launch this new item before the all important holiday shopping season, but don’t get too excited quite yet.

Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable, my former employers, spoke with a Barnes & Noble representative at the CITA show in San Diego this week, and he confirmed the device, but with a drastically different release date.

According to this short interview, the device isn’t due until spring 2010, and no price is known, but the big news here is that it will be a color screen.

I have long said a color screen would be the game changer when it came to ebook readers as it means that they will now be able to handle textbooks with ease.  The only question remaining now is the price.  Some rumors indicate there will be low-end and high-end models, but if the price is still too high for your average consumer, this will remain a niche product.  If they can get it down to a manageable price, get it into universities due to its color screen, and you could have a major hit product on your hands.

Categories: Gadgets, News   
 

hp dreamscreenHP has announced two new devices that may look like digital photo frames, but they certainly take that style of product one step further in its evolution.

Digital photo frames have been gaining in popularity the past few years, but as technology allows you to access Internet applications with less and less system resources, it only seems natural that wireless frames would eventually morph into other products.  The new DreamScreen line from HP is exactly that sort of product.

The DreamScreen is a almost like a tablet computer, but not quite.  Besides offering you the ability to display photos and videos, it gives you the options of expanding its memory via memory cards and thumb drives, accessing Facebook from the screen, streaming music from Pandora and a lot more.  While the screen ins’t a touchscreen, it can be navigated via controls in the bevel of the frame, or by the included remote that tucks into the back of the device.

The DreamScreen 100 has a 10.2-inch display that is suited for nightstands or dressers and will retail for $249.  The DreamScreen 130 has a 13.3-inch screen and is designed for use in kitchens or on coffee tables, and will retail for $299.  Both versions of the device has 2 GBs of memory built-in, but can be expanded as you see fit with other devices.

Categories: Gadgets   
 

iPod Family 2009With new iPods out in force, how do you judge if it’s time for you to upgrade your current model, buy new or which one to give as a gift this upcoming holiday season? Hopefully we’ll be able to help you with all of those questions.

The new iPods for 2009 were announced yesterday, and while there weren’t a tremendous amount of upgrades to the overall line, it can still be difficult to pick one out.  Our first recommendation would be to go back and read our post from last year, How To Choose An iPod, as all of the questions it asks are still relevant.  After you read that, come back here and we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of this year’s models and what we recommend for each.

-sips coffee while he waits for you to read the other article-

Done reading the other article?  Good, here we go!

iPod Shuffle 09

iPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle is a bit of an odd duck in the iPod family of devices because it is the only one to feature actual buttons on the body of it. All the controls are operated from the headphones, and you have no way of seeing what songs are next and so on. While it is certainly the “kiddie” version of an iPod, it would be a good choice for someone who is rough on devices, young children, good for the gym due to potential accidents with weights and so on. For anyone over the age of 12, in general we would recommend a different model as the Shuffle is just too small for most people’s purposes.

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? I wouldn’t bother, nothing has really changed, and if you have a Shuffle with buttons, I would be reluctant to give it up.  If you have an older Shuffle, and you do have a hankering to buy a new player, I would highly recommend moving on to a completely different iPod unless you have really serious reasons to have a Shuffle.

iPod Nano 09

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano got the most serious upgrades this year, and become a better all around solution for your casual music listner, and is also sure to be a hit with teens this year due to the addition of the camera.

Holding either 8GB or 16GB of media, the Nano is a great choice for those with a decent sized music collection of music, and the wherewithal to actually sort out what songs they want to take with them when they leave the house or office.

With the additions of the built-in video camera, pedometer, FM tuner, microphone & speaker and other new items, the Nano has quickly become a whole lot more than a music player.  Due to its small physical size, the Nano fits so many scenarios such as travelling, being carried in a purse, strapped to your arm in the gym, slipping in your pocket and a whole lore more.

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? I would say this would be tempting this year just due to the addition of the camera.  The size of the camera lens troubles me some, but if you just want to shoot party videos or the like, this thing is perfect!  You can entertain the party AND photograph it at the same time.  I would recommend to anyone who buys a Nano this year go for the 16GB version, though.  The 8GB version costs $149, and the 16GB is only $30 more at $179.  Not springing for the bigger one could be a decision you very, very quickly regret, especially with the video function in the mix now.

iPod Classic 09

iPod Classic

The Classic is the work horse of the iPod family.  Sure it can play videos and display photos, it’s number one job is playing music, and lots of it.

The Classic is the only iPod to retain the original form factor of the popular device, and it hasn’t changed in quite a while now except to get thinner and bigger hard drive.  That is the other thing about the Classic, it is the only iPod to still run on a physical hard drive as opposed to flash memory like all of the other members of its little family.

While the Classic first had a 160GB hard drive in 2007, it fell back in size to 120GB in 2008 to keep its thickness down.  Well, this year it is back to 160GB while retaining the 120GB price of $249.

This iPod is only for people with giant music collections and no desire to sort what they take with them while on the go.  (-cough- guilty, party of one over here)

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? Only if you’re older one is broken, otherwise there is about zero reason to buy this year’s model.

iPod Touch 09

iPod Touch

The iPod Touch was introduced in 2007, and since then it just hasn’t changed that much.

Introduced as a simpler version of the iPhone (or simply an iPhone for people who didn’t want to deal with AT&T), the fancy iPod just isn’t getting updated like other members of the family over the years.  In 2008 the Touch received an external speaker, a memory bump and physical volume buttons.  This year it received an increase in processor speed and an increase in the memory capacity.  Why it didn’t receive a camera is a mystery, but there was no sign of it in the newest information.  (some rumors say there were technical problems, but that has still yet to be confirmed, and doubtful it ever will be as Apple is a very secretive company.)

This particular iPod fits in perfectly with college students who have frequent access to Wi-Fi, and is also great dor business users who want some of the benefits of the iPhone while not giving up their current phone.

Should I upgrade if I have an older model? I wouldn’t.  If you have a first generation (2007), maybe consider it, but if you have a second generation (2008), it is really pointless to do so.  Here’s hoping something significant will happen next year with this product.

Categories: Apple, Gadgets, How To, Shopping   
 

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, finally came back to the spotlight today after his medical leave that resulted in him receiving a live transplant.  Far be it from Steve to return empty handed though, as he also brought along a complete iPod line update for the 2009 holiday season.

iPod Shuffle 09

iPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle is considered the entry level device, and as such, it rarely gets many updates. Last year it went to its current buttonless format, and nothing has changed about that this year.  The only difference is that there will be more headphone options available for it now that will include the built-in controls like those found on the currently included earbuds.

  • $59 for 2GB
  • $79 for a 4GB
  • $99 for a a silver special edition 4GB
  • Getting more headphone options this year

iPod Nano 09

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano was the big surprise this year with it receiving the most updates by far.

While it has been heavily rumored that the iPod Touch would receive a camera this year, it was actually the Nano that was bestowed with that particular gift.  For a “mid-range” device, it was surprising to see it full video shooting capabilities.

  • $149 for 8GB
  • $179 for 16GB
  • New video camera
  • Now with an FM tuner
  • Built-in pedometer
  • Built-in microphone and speaker

iPod Classic 09

iPod Classic

The Classic is the last iPod to still use a physical hard drive, and that had led many to believe that this particular model was doomed to not be produced this year.

Well, it still got produced, but the only thing to happen to it was that it increased from 120GB to 160GB, but retained the price of $249.

There is something to be said for the Classic and people that have enermous music collections (i.e. me).  Some of us don’t want to have to pick and choose what music we carry with us because it is such a subjective thing.  Your modds change, and with your moods, so does your choice in music.  I personally hope we will continue to see the Classic for some time, but my gut tells me that it is going away within the next 2 years for sure.

iPod Touch 09

iPod Touch

This was probably the biggest let down of the day.

The iPod Touch had been heavily rumored to receive possible a camera and a microphone, but in the end it received neither of these things.  The only things that did end up happening with this particular model was that it received increases in processor speed and bumps to its memory capacity.

There have been some rumors that Apple had problems getting the cameras to work in the Touch, but that seems hard to believe since that would have meant a quick retooling of the bodies.

  • $199 for 8GB
  • $299 for 32GB
  • $399 for 64GB
  • Faster processor upping the speed by 50 percent

We’ll be back with our annual How To Choose An iPod guide tomorrow so you know which one, if any, is right for you this year!

Categories: Apple, Gadgets   
 

usb graphics adapterEver seen pictures of a wall of monitors and gotten envious? Well, now you can be the one inspiring the envy in others with the HP USB graphics adapter.

We’re not totally clear on when the HP USB graphics adapter came out, but boy do we want one (or 6) right about now.  The HP device allows you to run up to seven monitors via USB as seperate screens or as one image wall.  SlipperyBrick (with a nod to Steven at The Iinquisitr for bringing it to my attention) decided to give it a shot and set up six 19″ monitors and one 20″ screen to see if it would really work.  While there have been USB monitor connections in the past, they have been known to be sluggish, so the thinking here is this would either over tax the 2 GB of RAM they had on the Vista desktop they were using, it would look horrible or it wouldn’t even work.

Oh, it works… it works really well.

While they did notice problems with videos under certain situations, they weren’t every day use.  SlipperyBrick opened a YouTube video in each window and was able to play all seven at the same time with no issues.  They were also able to run seen seperate occurances of Internet Explorer with each monitor showing a different web page with no issues.

Now, if you’ve always thought people only did this for gaming, there really are a lot of reasons to run more than one monitor.  You can look at oversized spreadsheets at once, run programs in seperate screens to keep your desktop clutter free, basically it is a multi-tasker’s dream.  While you can do it with certain video cards, it can be complicated, this appears to be easy and straight forward, and for a $59 investment in the adapter (monitors you have to provide), you can be set up to go in no time.

I’m seriously considering ordering one really soon so I can be just that much bigger of a geek.

Categories: Gadgets   
 

apple logoIt seems there is a lot more going on with this new Apple Tablet than a lot of people suspected at first.

According to the Financial Times (free registration required), not only is the tablet basically an over-sized iPod, but it is going to be an ebook reader.  Speaking to multiple sources, the paper found out that the device is codenamed “Cocktail”, and that Apple is in active negotiations with major book publishers about supplying the new device with content.

If these rumors prove to be true, this would be a direct, and probablys serious, blow to Amazon’s popular Kindle reader.  Seeing as Amazon is insisting on sticking with a gray scale screen at this time, the uses for textbooks and magazines has been somewhat limited.  The “Cocktail” would be launching with a multitouch color screen, and could be quickly adapted to serving up textbooks all across various school systems.  Imagine susbscribing to a paper like USA Today or Time magazine and having it delivered to a full color, zoomable, multitouch screen.  You quickly begin to see the distinct advantages this device would have over the Kindle.

There are also reports that timed to coincide with the launch of this new device will be a new music deal being struck with the four biggest record labels (EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group) that would give you bonuses for buying full albums as opposed to inividual tracks.  You could be treated to an interactive booklet, liner notes, lyrics, videos and more.

Word is that the new device will release in September with the traditional refresh of iPods, placing it in perfect position for the holiday shopping season.  Parents may as well start lining up now for what is sure to be one of the most in-demand items with consumers of all ages this holiday shopping season.

Categories: Apple, Gadgets   
 

ipod touch 2gIf the rumors are to be believed, the next generation iPod Touch will close even more of the gap with its bigger cousin, the iPhone.

According to Wired, Apple is in full production on the third generation iPod Touch, and it will be receiving some major changes.  How does it get there?  Well, basically they give you everything but the actual phone… oh wait… that isn’t totally gone.

According to the source, the new iPod Touch will have a camera, a first for the iPod line, but not wholly unexpected.  When the iPhone 3G S added the ability to shoot video, people pretty much assumed the iPod version would finally be getting a camera.  However, if you’re going to shoot video, you need a way to record audio, so that’s where the addition of a microphone comes into play.

So it looks like the Touch will be doing a lot of new things, but… wait, if it has a microphone…

Well, it isn’t confirmed yet, but it looks like you could use the Skype app to make VoIP calls oer Wi-Fi, so the iPod Touch will indeed have phone functions it looks like.  The only difference will be the lack of access to a cellular network, but anywhere you are in the range of Wi-Fi, you’ll have a phone.  Imagine dumping your landline at home and walking around your house with a Skype-enabled iPod Touch in your pocket.  This could be a real game changer not just for Apple, but for cell phone companies in general.

An announcement will probably come in September at the suspected iPod media event.

Categories: Apple, Gadgets   
 

fireworks_projector

Ever wished you could have fireworks year round? Yeah, neither have I, but the Japanese have an even deeper love for the fiery displays than we do, and so Sega, best known for video games, has come up with a projector to give people some of the thrill of watching a fireworks display right in their own home.

According to Newlaunches, the device will sell for approximately $160 USD and goes on sale around August 1st. While it may not do you any good for this July 4th, that time frame makes perfect sense as that is just before all of the big summer festivals in Japan.  You will be able to design your own shows with 55 selectable different fireworks to choose from with sound effects.  The device runs on 3 AAA batteries, and while it may not seem that exciting to Americans, we can totally see this being popular in Japan with families.

For those of you in the United States, have a safe and happy 4th of July, and enjoy the video of the Sega projector below.

Categories: Gadgets   
 

12-volt Pizza ovenSometimes there are bad ideas, and other times there are really bad ideas.  Guess which one the 12-volt pizza oven is.

While we can see some possible uses to an oven you plug in to your dash outlets, say when you’re out camping, the marketing for this thing is pretty clear they are talking about trying to use it while you’re driving. We love gadgets at StarterTech, there is no doubt about that, but the idea of trying to cook ANYTHING while you’re driving is just about as idiotic as you can get.  Perhaps that is why it is being sold for $36 on a site called Stupidiotic.com.  This definitely ranks up on the idiotic scale.

Hey, if you have a use for it that doesn’t involve trying to cook while driving, go for it, but if you want to cook as you’re driving 70 mph… please leave us a comment on what highway you’re on and which day so that we can choose an alternate route.

Categories: Gadgets   
 

hp photosmart premiumHP unveiled the first “web-connected” printer today, the Photosmart Premium, and I am still trying to figure out who this thing is for.

HP is obviously trying to convince people that printers are still relvant in a world that is increasingly trying to go paperless.  Yes, we still need to print things, I really don’t see that ever changing, but this printer is… well… it’s overkill.

Releasing this September with a suggested retail price of $399, this printer is an all-in-one printer/copier/fax/scanner that will also allow you to go directly to certain partner websites via its touchscreen without the need for a computer being involved.  The printer simply needs to be hooked in to your Internet connection either by Ethernet cable or by a wireless connection to the router.

Once set up, you can go to web sites like Coupons.com, Fandango, Google Maps and so on, and once there you can do all of your work directly from the 4.33-inch front panel.  Print out your Google Maps, print photos from Snapfish, get your movie tickets and so on.  A computer does not need to be involved anywhere in the process if you don’t want it to be.

While this is an interesting concept, and it will work as a standard printer also, the price is way out of line.  You still need an Internet connection, and most probably a router, so you aren’t getting away for just $399.  Considering there are tons of computer deals every day with free printers, why pay for one if all you are doing is printing out maps and tickets?  Desktop computers can be had for this price or just a bit more, so why not get the full power of Internet connectivity?  Plus, do you really want to plot a route on Google Maps on a screen of that size?

Web_Panel550

It seems like an interesting idea, but what market this is targeted for alludes me. Simplification for older people? Well, have fun explaining to them what all they will need beyond the printer? College-aged kids to print movie tickets? Please name a college kid without a computer.

There is a full features list after the jump, but I still don’t know who the heck the market is for this.

Read More »

Categories: Gadgets   
 
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