Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Verizon's 4G/LTE Motorola Droid Razr arrives November 10

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Summary: The ultra-thin Motorola Droid Razr is coming to Verizon, but will you be able to tell the 4G/LTE phone from its slightly older brother, the Droid Bionic?

Verizon is adding to its Motorola Droid brood with the Droid Razr on November 10, but how do you tell two 4G/LTE smartphones apart?

While they both have a 4.3-inch display, the Droid Razr is slightly more powerful with its dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, has a higher quality Super AMOLED Advanced screen, and hence a higher price tag. The Droid Razr dares to command $299.99 with a two-year contract (or $650 without), while the Bionic is slightly more economical at $250.

For an extra $50 over the Droid Bionic, the Droid Razr actually comes with the slightly older build of Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3 but will be among the first to get Ice Cream Sandwich), but has a higher resolution 1.3-megapixel front camera that can shoot 720p HD videos, and is thinner and tougher. The Droid Razor’s back cover is made of Kevlar, which is a steel substitute that is used in body armor according to Wikipedia, and its “water repellent nanocoating” means it can withstand some water (but I wouldn’t go swimming with it to test my luck).

Other specs are below:

Display: 4.3” 540×960 Super AMOLED Advanced touchscreenRAM: 1 GB DDR2Internal Storage: 16 GB with a 16 GB micro-SD Card pre-installedConnectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Version 4.0 LE+EDR, DLNAPorts/Connectors: 3.5 mm headphone jack, HDMI (for mirror mode), USB 2.0HS, micro-SD Card slotCameras: 8 MP rear camera; 1.3 MP front camera; LED flashSensors: aGPS (assisted), eCompass, sGPS (simultaneous), GLONASSBattery: 1780 mAH Li–IonBattery Life: Voice = up to approximately 12.5 hoursDimensions: 5.15?(h) x 2.71?(w) x 0.28?(d)Weight: 4.48oz

Features that are unique to the Droid Razr:

Smart Actions app: Helps you conserve power and maximize each chargeMotoCast app: Remotely stream or download files from your computers to your phoneMobile HotSpot: Tether up to 8 other devices on 4G, or 5 on 3G to this phoneFIPS 140–2 compliant; Government–grade encryption for Email, Calendar, and Contacts

Still prefer the Droid Razr over the slightly cheaper Droid Bionic? Verizon is taking pre-orders for the Droid Razr online now for release on November 10, which means it will definitely arrive under someone’s tree this Christmas — as long as you don’t confuse the two Droids…

[Source: Verizon, Motorola]

Updated: The Droid Razr’s Android 2.3.3 is actually slightly older than the Droid Bionic’s version (Android 2.3.4) so I’ve corrected the sentence to reflect this in the post.


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here

HP Slate 2 is a Win 7 tablet for road warriors, $699 (video)

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Summary: HP’s new tablet trades webOS for Windows 7, and consumers for businesses/professionals — meet the Slate 2 Tablet PC.

HP may not be making any more TouchPads with webOS for consumers, but it certainly isn’t willing to be left out of the tablet party.

With a new Slate 2 Tablet PC running the full version Windows 7 due out later this month, HP believes it has the device that businesses and professionals will need to get things done. Is HP onto something or simply delusional that any tablet can challenge the best-selling iPad 2?

The Slate 2 will look familiar to HP fans as its predecessor, the Slate 500, made quite a splash at CES 2010. If you don’t remember, well that’s because it didn’t really take off post-launch, which is why it’s perplexing for HP to try again with the Slate 2.

Essentially, the Slate 2 has the guts of a netbook but in the form factor of a tablet, complete with a 8.9-inch capacitive multi-touch screen that also works with a stylus (included) as well as a virtual Swype keyboard. The Slate 2’s Intel Atom “Oak Trail” Z670 processor clocks at approximately 1.5 GHz according to NotebookCheck, has a 64GB mSATA drive as well as a SD Card slot for extra storage. Unfortunately, its rear camera is still the same 3-megapixel one as in the Slate 500 but comes with a front-facing one for video conferencing. Most importantly, the Slate 2’s battery is now good for 6 hours of use, and its dock provides two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI connector.

HP has also come up with some business-friendly accessories for the Slate 2:

Bluetooth keyboard and stand integrated into a carrying case so you won’t have to carry multiple accessories when you hit the road (see video).
HP Retail Point of Sale case (pictured below) with integrated slot for swiping credit cards without directing your customer to the cashier line

HP is positioning the Slate 2 as the mobile solution for non-cubicle work environments: as electronic charts for doctors and nurses in hospitals, servers in restaurants to take orders/seat guests and allow them to pay at the tablet, and any other professionals who are tied to the Windows ecosystem who need a full computer in a tablet wherever they work. I’ve only used Windows 7 by touch controls very briefly on an all-in-one so I know it works, but I do wonder how well the Atom chip on the Slate 2 handles Windows 7 because even Win 7 Starter can be laggy on a netbook.

Considering the Slate 2’s rather high price tag of $699.99 — you can get a pretty powerful i5 laptop at this price these days — I’m not sure the tablet’s combination of (software) power and portability is worth the cost. But your line of work may well require something like this and the relative lack competing tablets for professionals (Sean mentions the Dell Latitude ST as the closest competitor to the Slate 2) could bring HP some business after all. What do you think?

[Source: HP's Blog, HP, NotebookCheck, The Verge; Photo: SlashGear; Video: HP's YouTube Channel]


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Gifts for gadget girls

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Summary: What gadgets would a girl want this holiday? You can’t go wrong with these stylish picks that pack a technical punch.

ZDNet 2011 Holiday Gift GuideWhether you’re shopping for the gadget obsessed lady in your life or just want to impress her with your tech wisdom, you can’t go wrong with something chic and easy to use that she won’t want to leave home without. Here are 10 gadgets (plus two honorable mentions) that have caught my eye this year for both their wow factor and technical punch. While these gift ideas may not be the most economical or are exclusive to women by any means, they certainly make this gadget girl swoon. Hopefully they will have a similar effect on your lucky lady.

Nokia N9
I know, I know. The Nokia N9 runs the almost dead OS MeeGo and is not available at your local Best Buy, but a lady who knows her phones would want one of these polycarbonate beauties with curved glass in her hand this year. Unlike its almost identical twin the Windows Phone 7 Lumia 800, the N9 has a front-facing camera for video chats, NFC (works with some slick accessories), and is an unlocked world phone with pentaband support so your recipient will be able to use local (micro) SIM cards when traveling to save on roaming charges. Not sure she could manage with minimal apps? MeeGo is designed to minimize the need for apps so it features centralized messages, emails and contacts between email and IM accounts and SMS, and offers Nokia Maps and Nokia Music out-of-box. The biggest hurdle will be bringing one of these N9s to America as they are only released in select countries worldwide. Available in Magenta, Cyan or Black, the 16 GB model retails for approximately $658 US and $776 US for the 64 GB. [Review]

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Gold Remote Bundle (Nintendo Wii)
It’s the 25th anniversary of the Zelda franchise for Nintendo this year and the company is celebrating in grand style. Not only has Nintendo just wrapped two symphonic performances of the Zelda score in London and Los Angeles last month, it will be launching the new The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii on November 20. But why get just the stand-alone game plus a music CD featuring some of the iconic pieces performed at the concerts (available in only the first production run of the game), when you can get the game in a limited edition bundle that comes with a gold, Triforce-powered Wii-Mote?  This is a must-have bundle for the life-long gamer girl who would cherish a piece of Nintendo history this holiday. The bundle is available for pre-orders from mass retailers now and will retail for $69.99. [More]

Phosphor Appear
Don’t underestimate the technology that powers these Swarovski crystal-covered Phosphor Appear watches. Beneath their sparkly faces are a number of miniature rotors and magnets that rotate each individual crystal to display the correct time and date in digital format, using the company’s proprietary Micro-Magnetic Mechanical Digital (M3D) technology. This is simply a gorgeous gadget that your lady will be proud to wear on her wrist. Available with (glossy and matte) black, white, red and pink leather straps, the model with the crystal-adorned rim will set you back $249, while the more understated stainless steel rim design is $199.

Nintendo 3DS
With the Sony PlayStation Vita delayed until 2012, this holiday is all about the Nintendo 3DS. Available in the festive Flame Red color (as well as the original turquoise and black), the 3DS packs a lot of technology into a DS Lite-like package. It boasts an adjustable 3D display for comfort, a camera for 3D photos and videos (via a November update), support for Netflix and Hulu Plus (coming soon), Augmented Reality games, and most importantly — access to 3D games. Some of the most anticipated titles that Nintendo is rolling out for 2011 include: the multiplayer Pokemon Rumble Blast, the multiplayer Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land , and Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic that uses the 3DS’ gyroscope sensor as part of its gameplay. The system is also backwards compatible with all the DS titles and offers new downloadable content every week, so your gadget girl will hardly be bored. The 3DS and games are sold separately at mass retailers; $169.99 for the console and the games range in price.

Juicy Couture Faux Fur Ear Muffs Headphones
Ear muffs are an essential part of a woman’s winter wardrobe, especially if she hates getting hat hair from static-inducing beanies. But it’s not comfortable wearing ear muffs on top of earphones, and the earphones embedded into ear muffs are almost always of poor quality. Luckily, Juicy Couture’s Faux Fur Ear Muffs solves this very conundrum by allowing the user to insert her own earphones into the ear muffs so she can use her preferred audio equipment while extending the life of her furry accessory. Available from Juicy Couture stores in Angel (picture left), Black or in a knit pattern, each pair costs $98.

Sony Alpha Nex 5N
Sony’s new and improved Alpha Nex 5N is arguably the best-in-class interchangeable lens camera to get this year. With a DSLR-sized Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, the Nex 5N captures images at 16.1-megapixel resolution, with a shutter release lag that is just 20 milliseconds (like the NEX 7) capable of 10 fps in burst mode, it actually offers a higher maximum ISO than the more expensive NEX 7 at 25600, which makes this model a great choice in low-light situations. Its tiltable touchscreen display and larger grip than the Nex C3 means this model is comfortable to use even if your gadget girl has small hands or is vertically challenged. There is an external OLED electronic viewfinder, flash and of course other lenses to augment the Nex 5N’s compact body. Word on the street is that stores are selling out this model as soon as they receive more stock from Sony, so if you have your sights set on the Nex 5N this year, you need to act fast. The Nex 5N is available with a 18-55 mm kit lens for $700, or $600 for just the body in silver or black. [Review]

Mimobot USB Drives
If your gadget girl has a favorite comic or pop culture character, chances are Mimobot already makes a USB thumb drive of it. Not only do Mimobot drives mimic the physical shape of characters, they also come preloaded with corresponding sound effects, desktop icons and wallpaper art that appeal to serious fans. The company goes so far as to sell ProtoHoodies keychain accessories for Mimobot drives which are mini “suits” that protect the device from dings and scratches. A 2 GB Hello Kitty USB drive starts at $15.95 (pictured above) and can increase to $119.95 for a 64 GB of a popular character like Star War’s Darth Vadar Unmasked; ProtoHoodies are priced at $5.95 each.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
Any user-friendly device that makes traveling with a computer less cumbersome will definitely impress, especially for women who tend to overpack. This award-winning wireless mouse from Microsoft powers off automatically when flattened, and powers up when it is arched. It offers a soft rubber back for your gadget girl to rest her hand, and touch-to-tap rather than button clicks to control the computer. Although the suggested retail price is $69.99, if you shop around you can probably find it for less (Amazon is offering the mouse at just $34.85). [Review]

Asus Zenbook UX31 (UX31E-­-DH52)
Ultra light, thin and powerful laptops with impeccable designs are finally coming to Windows users, thanks to the introduction of the Ultrabook category earlier this year. The most compelling model so far has to be the Asus’ Zenbook UX31, which is powered by the second-gen Intel Core i5 2557M chip, with a 128 GB SSD, a 13-inch display that is higher resolution than the MacBook Air’s, and has many built-in ports like a SD Card slot, 2 USB ports, a mini-VGA and a mini-HDMI connector. At just over 3-pounds, the UX31 would be easy to slip into your gadget girl’s bag to tote from the office to the coffee shop. Its high-end, spun metal finish particularly on the lid is a show-stopper and unlike any other gadgets on the market right now. This entry variant of the UX31 retails for only $1099, which is $200 less than the MBA with comparable specs and is therefore the Ultrabook with the best value — for now. [Review]

HP TouchPad
Now that the last of Best Buy’s $150 32 GB HP TouchPads are back in stock, I feel it deserves a spot on this gift guide. The TouchPad was my first tablet and found it intuitive to use thanks in large part to the webOS’ multitasking abilities. For a gadget girl looking for a basic slate to surf the web, Skype, check her email, watch YouTube videos (yay Flash) in bed, the TouchPad won’t disappoint. I just found the device a bit sluggish when browsing through photos and the lack of a built-in SD Card slot rather inconvenient, but neither are deal-breakers, especially considering its firesale price tag. Unfortunately, to score one of these 32 GB TouchPads from Best Buy, you need to also purchase a HP or Compaq computer (laptop, desktop/all-in-one) plus pay an extra $150 for the TouchPad. Otherwise, the retailer is selling just the TouchPad for a whopping $599.99, at which point it may make more sense to buy a couple from eBay for the same price. [Review]

Logitech Wireless Bluetooth Headset
Although the Logitech Wireless Headset is marketed for iOS products, the fact that it is a Bluetooth device means it should be interoperable with other gear — and it is. I’ve been inseparable from my Logitech headset ever since I received my review unit: I’m able to use the same accessory between my laptop, TouchPad and Samsung Infuse, plus I can walk around my room while my video continues to run on my device. Other gadget girls will love that the headset is not as heavy as the large cans that are typical of gaming headsets, as this Logitech pair is subtle in color (pale blue and off-white plastic band, grey foamy ear pads) and has a microphone that tucks neatly under the plastic band. Unfortunately, the entire headset does not flatten like the Arc Touch Mouse, but is somewhat foldable so your gadget girl may not be able to leave home without this headset. Available from Logitech for $69.99, though its website seems to suggest it’s only available for pre-orders at the moment.Kate Spade Pocomo Gwen “Leica M9? bag
Photography connoisseurs will appreciate Kate Spade’s Pocomo Gwen leather bag, which pays homage to the iconic Leica M9 rangefinder with its flap design. This shoulder bag is by no means a proper camera bag but it looks to be large enough to fit an actual rangefinder inside. The Gwen was part of the fashion label’s Summer collection so it is now in limited supply. Zappos is one of the few retailers that still have the bag in stock for $202.99, which is high for a small bag stamped with a famous camera, but still just a fraction of the cost of the real thing.


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here

Sam's Club and Target bring pre-holiday deals this weekend

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Summary: Here are some sweet deals on HDTVs and video games/consoles from Sam’s Club and Target that start today, November 6.

Sam’s Club and Target are kicking off the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season with select games and gadget deals this weekend. Read on to find out whether you need to make a detour to your local store (or website) to catch these offers.


Target’s pre-holiday sale starts this Sunday, November 6, where you can bring home either an 11-inch Acer laptop or a 32-inch Westinghouse LCD HDTV for under $200, among many other deals (pictured below).

Hunting for some new video games or console bundles instead? Well you might as well get a Target GiftCard along with your purchase so you get more from Target without paying more. Note the start dates for the following deals:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC), available this Tuesday, Nov. 8, $59.99. Also available for Wii ($49.99) and DS ($29.99). Save $20 on a 12-month Xbox Live Subscription with purchase of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox 360.Receive a free $50 Target GiftCard with purchase of a 320GB Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Bundle which includes the COD: MW3 game, 320GB Xbox 360 game system, and two wireless controllers, $399.99.Receive a free $50 Target GiftCard with purchase of a 160GB PlayStation 3 for $249.99, which includes the game system and one wireless controller.Turtle Beach Foxtrot Headset on sale for $89.Black Eyed Peas Experience (Wii, Kinect), available this Tuesday, Nov. 8, $49.99Receive a free $50 Target GiftCard with purchase of a 4GB Xbox 360 for $199.99, which includes the 4GB Xbox 360 game system and one wireless controller.Get a free $10 Target GiftCard with purchase of Skyrim Elder Scrolls (Xbox 360, PS3 and PC) that is releasing on November 11, $59.99 or LEGO Harry Potter (Xbox 360, PS3 and PC), $39.99. Also available for 3DS ($39.99), and PC or DS ($29.99).

Sam’s Club
If you’re shopping for a new television this holiday, then have a look at Sam’s Club’s selection before November 7 as the following units are on sale and some qualify for free shipping (see *):

32? Philips LCD 720p HDTV $248*42? Vizio LCD 1080p 120Hz with V.I.A. $49846? Philips LCD 1080p 120Hz HDTV with MediaConnect $697*55? Philips LCD 1080p 120Hz HDTV with MediaConnect $998*

Keep an eye on the daily pre-Black Friday deals from Amazon, Newegg and Walmart in addition to these deals, so that you can be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck when you make a purchase or pass to wait for a better offer.


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here

Monday, November 28, 2011

HP already testing Windows 8 on TouchPads

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Now that HP’s new CEO Meg Whitman has committed to keeping its PC division,’s report from early last week that the company is currently testing Windows 8 on the TouchPad makes a lot more sense.

Although HP staffers say they are only doing “proof-of-concept work” by installing the Windows 8 Developer Release on the now extinct hardware, at least they are exploring what the next TouchPad could be like. According to Whitman, she hasn’t decided on what to do with webOS just yet but given that Richard Kerris, the former VP of Worldwide Developer Relations, just quit last week, the OS’ days seem numbered.

While I understand the logic for HP tablets (and its entire family of PC products) to support Windows 8 (because it will be a big deal when it is released), part of me fear the next-gen TouchPad will be missing that special sauce — webOS — that helped its predecessor stand out from competitors in the first place. Even Whitman acknowledged going Win 8 won’t save HP last Friday:

We expect HP to compete in the tablet space with Win 8 devices. This strategy is neither unique nor differentiated and is late (iOS and Android ecosystems / competitors have a multi-year lead). We believe HP’s Win 8 devices will have difficulty competing on both a cost and user experience standpoint.

At this rate, maybe HP needs to consider dual-booting Windows 8 and webOS to future-proof its product without alienating its Palm/webOS fans. Bonus points if the company would make such an update available for existing first-gen TouchPad owners.

Any requests on what the next TouchPad should be like?

[Source: ZDNet,, Engadget]


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Decide's new iPhone app helps consumers buy gadgets at the best time

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Summary: Decide’s new iPhone app aims to save consumers the trouble of buying a new device right before it gets refreshed or, even worse, drops in price.

Decide is making the jump from the web to the iPhone with its first app.

The app accomplishes much of the same tasks as its web cousin, advising users on when to pick up the latest gadgets. Devices are given a “wait” or “buy” status based on a variety of factors, including how likely they are likely to be refreshed in the coming weeks or months. Decide also gives users the names of retailers that are selling the device for the cheapest, which is sure to be a big help for those to rather spend less money than more of it.

Decide’s iOS app also takes advantage of the iPhone’s camera, allowing users to scan a product’s barcode instead of manually inputting its model number.

Along with the iPhone app, Decide has significantly expanded its initial offering of phone, laptops, televisions, and cameras. Now, the site covers nearly every kind of gadget, from tablets to home audio equipment. Even video games fall within its purview. Deal-hungry holiday shoppers: take notice.


Ricardo Bilton writes for ZDNet's The ToyBox. His work has appeared in The Japan Times, The New York Observer, and The International Business Times, among other publications.

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Nintendo 3DS Special Edition Zelda bundle available on Black Friday?

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Summary: Leaked Best Buy and GameStop Black Friday ads reveal the previously Euro-only Zelda 3DS bundle may be heading to our shores November 25.

Image from Black Friday 2011's GameStop ad. Image from Black Friday 2011's GameStop ad.

I first spotted the Special Edition ‘Zelda’ Nintendo 3DS bundle when I was putting together ZDNet’s Ultimate BlackFriday 2011 Guide to Steals and Deals last week, but I did not want to confirm until I got the official word from Nintendo. Of course, eagle-eyed ToyBox readers already saw this little gem buried in the GameStop and Best Buy flyers I linked to in my post.

Image from Black Friday 2011's Best Buy ad. Image from Black Friday 2011's Best Buy ad.

It looks like Kotaku’s sources at Best Buy has just confirmed the limited edition box set is coming to America after all. When the gorgeous gold-on-black 3DS was announced for just the European market last week (due for release on November 25 no less), many gamers in the U. S. were miffed that they were being left out of yet another piece of Nintendo history. (Let’s not even get into all the cool prizes Japanese Club Nintendo members get to win over there.)

As part of Nintendo’s year-long celebration of the Zelda franchise’s 25th anniversary, this 3DS bundle features the handheld console decked with the iconic Zelda trimmings, as well as a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 3DS. (There is also a separate Nintendo Wii bundle featuring a gold Wii-mote for $69.99 that is launching this weekend.)

GameStop is offering the set for $199.99 or a reduced price if you’re willing to trade-in your previous-gen DS (between $99.99 and $129.99), while Best Buy will just charge you a flat rate of $179.99. Considering the stand-alone 3DS is already $169, an extra $10 for a box set that includes a game that is worth $40 is quite a good deal.

At the moment, all signs are pointing to this 3DS bundle debuting in America on Black Friday, which is exactly a week from today. Unless I hear otherwise from Nintendo America, I know where I’ll be lining up to work off my turkey dinner next week. What about you?

[Source: Kotaku via The Verge, Black Friday 2011]


Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nintendo Wii launches Zelda bundle with gold controller, $69.99

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AppId is over the quota
Summary: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii goes on sale today. Will it be on your wish list this year?

Nintendo caps off a year-long Silver Anniversary celebration of the Zelda franchise with the official release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii today.

Photo Gallery: 25 years of Zelda and Nintendo systems

Designed to take advantage of the extra precision the Wii MotionPlus attachment and controller affords, Skyward Sword lets you play as Link and engage in one-to-one sword fights using your Wii-Mote. Better yet, you could be waving a Triforce-powered gold Wii MotionPlus controller…um…sword in front of your television — if you manage to grab one of the limited edition bundles before they sell out.

Whether you buy just the game or the box set, the first production run/shipment will include a music CD that features some of the franchise’s most iconic pieces, performed by an orchestral. After all, Zelda’s epic score is as much a part of the cannon’s DNA as its gold game cartridges.

The game plus music CD retails for $49.99 while the box set with the gold Wii-mote with MotionPlus, game and music CD will set you back $69.99. You could try your luck for these items on Black Friday to possibly shave a few dollars off but you would have to fight the crazy crowds for the minimal savings. Or you could already be playing Skyward Sword on Black Friday…

Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

View the original article here