October 27, 2013 in Business

Tech review: Apple delivers for holidays

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

An Apple employee shows off the new iPad Air on Tuesday in San Francisco.
(Full-size photo)

Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air along with a slew of new Macs ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The company also said that its latest computer operating system, Mavericks, is available free of charge.

The iPad Air weighs 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the tablet a “screaming fast iPad.” He said it is eight times faster than the original iPad that came out in 2010.

The iPad Air goes on sale Nov. 1 and starts at $499, while the iPad 2 will continue selling at $399.

A new, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is thinner and lighter, Schiller said, adding that the laptop has up to nine hours of battery life, enough to “watch the entire trilogy of ‘The Black Knight’ on one charge.” The notebook’s new price is lower: $1,299.

A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch monitor and 256 gigabytes of storage, starts at $1,999.

The Mac Pro, a high-end desktop computer aimed at what Apple calls “power users,” will be available in December for $2,999.

The company sold 14.6 million iPads in the June quarter, down 14 percent from the same time last year.

Nokia unveils products

Nokia is expanding its lineup of Windows phones and introducing its first tablet computer, all sporting the powerful camera technology found in its flagship Lumia 1020 smartphone.

The struggling cellphone maker is turning to the camera to differentiate its phones from rivals. The Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera with technology designed to produce better low-light shots and offer greater manual controls than most smartphones.

Nokia’s new Lumia 1520 will have a larger screen, measuring 6 inches diagonally, compared with 4.5 inches on the 1020.

The 1520 will also come with new apps designed to organize photos based on where you take the shots and to give you more flexibility in determining — after the fact — where the image should be focused. The phone will cost $740, though wireless carriers are expected to offer it cheaper with two-year service contracts.

Nokia will also make a cheaper version, the Lumia 1320, for a contract-free price of $339. Both run the latest version of Windows Phone 8.

Nokia’s first tablet will be the Lumia 2520. It will run Windows 8.1 RT, meaning it shares the tile-based interface of the phone software, but can run various apps designed for Windows tablets. Regular versions of Windows 8.1 can run apps for older versions of Windows.

All versions of the 2520 will come with built-in 4G LTE cellular access. By contrast, iPads and most other tablets make cellular access optional, with their cheapest models capable of using Wi-Fi only for Internet access.

The 10.1-inch base tablet will cost $499.

Samsung thinks small

Samsung is making a smaller version of its flagship Galaxy S4 phone available in the United States next month.

The screen is 4.3 inches diagonally, compared with 5 inches for the regular S4. Nonetheless, the Mini version is still larger than the latest, 4-inch iPhones.

Phone companies have been making their flagship devices in multiple sizes to appeal to a broad range of consumers. Some may prefer a smaller device that fits nicely in a pocket, while others want the larger text that comes with the bigger screen.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular will sell the Mini. Prices weren’t announced, but they are likely to be about $100 with a two-year agreement. Samsung says a software update will make the Mini compatible with its new Galaxy Gear computerized watch.

TiVo reveals new feature

TiVo is enabling a feature that lets people watch recorded movies and shows while they’re away from home.

The feature comes with higher-end models of TiVo’s Roamio digital video recorders, but wasn’t working when the devices launched in August.

TiVo touts its DVRs as gadgets that offer both streaming services and recorded shows on the same device. The ability to watch recorded shows remotely helps TiVo differentiate its machines from generic cable company DVRs.

TiVo said users will be able to download a free app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.

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