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Holiday Tech Roundup

By Stephen McDill

It seems like just yesterday we were all lining up at the shopping mall to check out the new app-loaded Android smartphones, nifty e-readers, and paper-thin netbooks. This holiday season look for much of the same merchandise along with a few newcomers in the hardware and software world.

Tech analysts are calling 2010 “The Year of the Tablet.” The widely popular touch-screen devices combine the best functions of the classic laptop and the up-and-coming smartphone and have been selling like hotcakes.

  • The most buzzed-about tablet this year is the Apple iPad, unveiled this past spring by the always enthusiastic Steve Jobs. More than 4 million units have been sold to date, according to an October financial report released by the company.
  • If you’re not up for the iPad, other new tablets this year include the Samsung Galaxy Tab ($549 at Best Buy). With a seven-inch touch screen and Android 2.2 software, the Galaxy can play HD movies with Adobe Flash 10.1 and browse the web using Wi-Fi and Sprint 3G networks. Best of all, it is connected to the Android Market application center (which includes a Kindle eReader app). The lowest priced tablet at Best Buy is the Archos 7 ($169), a PC- and Mac-compatible device that runs off Android and can play and store MP3 and JPEG files.
  • The Consumer Electronics Association is predicting that e-reader sales
    will double again this year. The New York Times reports that e-readers will be available at Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy at prices as low as $150. While the iPad has stirred the leaderboard, shoppers have settled with current retail favorite Amazon.com’s Kindle ($139), as well as the Barnes & Noble Nook ($149, Nook Color is $249) and the Sony Reader ($149 – $249). Each reader can hold hundreds of titles from George W. Bush’s new memoir to John Grisham’s latest legal thriller.
  • Apple and Android are still leading the way in the exploding market of smartphone sales according to tech research firm Gartner Inc. The iPhone 4, launched this summer, includes new features like FaceTime video calling software that allows iPhone users to video chat using Wi-Fi. The 16- and 32-GB models are available for $199-299 with an AT&T two-year contract.
  • For Android fans the HTC Desire ($469) from Cellular South comes with HD video recording, MP3 music capabilities, turn-by-turn navigation and voice guidance featuring Google Maps Navigation Beta. Verizon’s Samsung Fascinate ($299 with a two-year contract) includes social media organizing tools that unify Twitter, Myspace and Facebook streams with IM and email accounts. It also includes Swype optimized touchscreen typing and Skype mobile capabilities.

However, this reporter’s favorite new tech buy comes from the surviving members of the Beatles, who decided this month to give their entire catalog to iTunes. You can now buy all 13 digital albums for $149 or individual albums for $12.99 ($1.29/song). Behind-the-scenes documentary shorts and colorful iTunes LP slides come with each album.


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About Amy McCullough

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