Samsung announces budget 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3 Lite

Samsung

In its never-ending quest to bring out gadgets to cover all possible screen sizes, price points and design styles, Samsung has announced a new, slimmer version of the Galaxy Tab 3 tablet. The new 7-inch slate is aimed squarely at the budget tablet shopper, putting it in competition with Tesco’s popular Hudl device, among others.

The original Galaxy Tab 3 is by no means a world-beater, but the Tab 3 Lite cuts the specs back even further: there’s a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU under the hood, 1GB of RAM and a display running at 1,024 x 600 pixels. The bezel is smaller than on the original Tab 3, though the 7-inch screen size is the same. You get a measly 8GB of internal storage (though you can pop in a memory card if you like). There’s a single 2-megapixel camera around the back, and the device comes with Android 4.2 Jellybean pre-installed (complete with Samsung’s usual collection of tweaks and add-ons). Black and white editions will be available to potential buyers.

Nothing to write home about then, but perhaps something cheap that might suit the kids (though there are enough tablets that fall into this bracket already). Engadget’s Jamie Rigg rightly points out that the new device doesn’t bring much to an already crowded market: “If Samsung hopes to sell these things en masse, anything but seriously cheap is going to put a stop to those plans,” he writes.

CNET’s Lance Whitney also reserved full judgement until the price is announced: “The full 8GB Galaxy Tab 3 retails for $200, so the Lite model will have to sell at a more appealing price to win over buyers,” Whitney says. His UK colleague Nick Hide wasn’t blown away by the specs on offer, describing the screen resolution as “abysmal” and the design “old fashioned looking”.

So what is the newly official Galaxy Tab 3 Lite up against? The Tesco Hudl is heavier, but has a much better display and a front-facing camera. It’s also faster, though a full comparison isn’t possible until Samsung lets us know just how much its latest piece of kit will cost. There’s also the Asus MemoPad HD, a similar bargain-basement 7-inch tablet that has a slightly better display and a slighter faster CPU. In terms of bang-for-buck, Google’s own Nexus 7 remains the best choice for Android slabs at this size — it’s not the cheapest option, though, which is why other companies have tried to muscle in.

It’s all down to the price as to whether this will be a budget option for users or a complete non-starter, then — some UK retailers have it listed for slightly less than the £119 Hudl, but stock hasn’t yet arrived so these prices may be estimates. If we hear officially from Samsung, we’ll update this post accordingly.

ASUS’s slew of Windows 8 gadgets: Intuitive and impressive but what about the price?

VivoTab-TF600T

The run up to Christmas is traditionally a time when the techno manufacturers have a field day in launching and feverishly marketing their latest wares. This year’s pre-festive season gadgetry marketing hype is especially banal as in coinciding with the arrival of the ultra-anticipated Windows 8, means that the gadgets arriving between now and Christmas have been honed to compliment to the widely-hyped Windows 8.

And none so more than ASUS’s latest range of devices, created somewhat predictably with Windows 8 at the core. Here’s a snippet of four of the best from ASUS’s latest range.

VivoTab

ASUSVivoTab RT

ASUS has launched its first Windows RT tablet, which in featuring a mobile dock, transforms the tablet into a notebook, for, ASUS assure us, increased productivity and longer battery life.

A close collaboration between ASUS and Microsoft has resulted in the arrival of one of the first Windows RT tablets on the market. Whilst internally the VivioTab RT is powerful and robust concealing a potent NVIDIA Tegra3 quad-core processor and 63GB of onboard storage, aesthetically the VivioTab RT is sleek, streamlined and lightweight.

Its spec, capabilities and design certainly sound impressive, although ASUS have not yet mentioned any pricings for the VivioTab RT.

Taichi

TAICHI

Bragging a novel back to back design by simply lifting a finger, users can switch, we are assured, ‘seamlessly’, between a multi-touch tablet and a fully featured tablet.

In featuring a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with 4GB of memory, Intel HD 4000 graphics and a choice of 256GB SSD storage, dual-band Wi-Fi with Intel WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0, we can’t deny that the ASUS TAICHI certainly sounds impressive, although ASUS have once again failed to provide us with any hints about the cost of its uniquely fused notebook and tablet creation.

ZENBOOK

Expanding its range of sleek ZENBOOK ultraportables, ASUS has announced the arrival of the expanded ZENBOOK range, which features models with 11.6”, 13.3”, 14” and 15.6” full HD displays. Boasting a choice of 3rd generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, ASUS’s latest ZENBOOK range promise outstanding multi-tasking performance, up to 10GB of memory and powerful NVIDIA GT graphics.

PadFone

ASUS PadFone 2

We also can’t deny that ASUS’s original PadFone, which combines an Android smartphone with a dockable tablet was a blinding, award winning success, so why shouldn’t the digital era giants build on the success of its successes?

Doing just this is the PadFone 2 which, ASUS inform, consists of a higher specification quad core, LET equipped smartphone and a completely redesigned tablet. What does sound particularly impressive about the PadFone 2 is its mega long battery life which provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, a far cry from the iPhone which seems to require charging after spending a few minutes on Facebook.

“It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and, best of all, it’s intuitive,” ASUS’s chairman Jonney Shih brags at an ASUS press conference in Milan, and who are we to argue, but what about the blinkin price!?

See more on the PadFone 2 here.

Back to School: 5 Must-Have Student Gadgets

Summer might still be hanging around, but it’s not long until the days will start to cool off again, and students will be back at college or university. If you’re hitting the books this autumn, or you know someone who is, here is a list of 5 must-have gadgets that will help you through the academic year ahead.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones used to be the territory of the gadget elite, but market competition and cheaper technology has made them a popular choice among the general population too. If you have a long commute to university, or simply need to block out the sound of noisy flatmates, noise-cancelling headphones like the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint® Active Noise-cancelling Headphones are a sturdy, budget choice. Noise-cancelling headphones start at around £25, but the cheaper versions can vary in quality. Audio Technica’s headphones retail for around £70.

iPad

The Apple iPad has become a must-have accessory for students and professionals alike. There isn’t much you can’t do on an iPad, and its portability makes it perfect for reading, writing and browsing online. You can also purchase a wide range of apps through the Apple Store to enhance your studies – and make the most out of your down time. The new iPad starts at £399, or £499 with built-in 3G capabilities.

HP All-In-One Printer Scanner

Save multiple trips to the library and spare change on photocopying with an all-in-one printer and scanner, like the HP Deskjet 3050A. Scan and copy pages, and enjoy the convenience of wireless and e-mail printing. The HP Deskjet 3050A’s e-printing capabilities means you can email documents from any device, including iPad, iPod Touch and smartphones. Despite its multi-purpose design, the printer is small enough to fit almost anywhere. The HP Deskject 3050A retails for £40.

Kensington Laptop Lock

The Kensington laptop lock slots into your computer, and enables you to attach your machine to a nearby table, pipe or similar sturdy object. The principle is similar to that of a bike lock, and it can prevent opportunistic theft of your most valuable items. Several variations of the Kensington lock are available. You can also purchase slot adapters to use with flat-screen monitors, docking stations, tablet PCs, printers, and any other compatible device. Locks start at around £14.99.

GadgetTrak

GadgetTrak isn’t technically a gadget in itself, but it will help protect your much-loved devices. You can install this software on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android, and use it if your device gets stolen. Once installed, GadgetTrak will locate your device, and even sends you a photo of the thief. GadgetTrack have different products for iOS, other mobile devices and laptops. Protection starts at £2.50 for the iOS app.

Top Ways To Rainproof Your Gadgets

The one problem with the smartest gadgets is that they’re still at risk if the weather’s not looking too clever. The latest pieces of kit can’t afford to be fair-weather technology and with autumn looming, we explore the rainy-day solutions promising to safeguard our gadgets against the Great British elements.

Waterproof-gadgets

Make your tablet watertight

One of the newer faces in our personal gadget inventory; the touchscreen tablet PC / iPad is becoming an evermore present element. But don’t let monsoon conditions get in your way of your precious portable processor. Slip on an Overboard iPad case and your trusty tablet will enjoy complete submersion down to 6m / 19ft. Ideal for checking your emails at the swim-up bar or posting a frantic Facebook status from the middle of a soggy festival moshpit. Use its patented “Slideseal” technology to lock your device into this thermoplastic polyurethane pouch, you can still access every touchscreen function and slip your hand into the back hand loop to switch your orientation between landscape and portrait. Overboard has just added a marine mount to its line-up, so you can even strap your daredevil device on to the hull of a boat if you really can’t prise yourself off your computer even when out on the water.

Safeguard your smartphone

No more ducking into doorways to save your prized smartphone when a call comes through on a drizzly day. Simply slip on a LifeProof Life Jacket and go about your business (or pleasure) without fear of a flash flood drowning your device. This fully submersible iPhone 4/4s (also fits other smartphones) case is made from high-density foam and even floats – ideal if a downturn in the weather inspires you to actively take the plunge and pursue a career in professional watersports.

Don’t drown your digital camera

If you’re still pursuing the purity and complexity of snap not achievable on your smartphone, don’t let your digital camera hold you back from getting right to the heart of the action. Treat it to a DiCaPac waterproof case and treat your portfolio to the most dramatic, gritty action shots whether you’re braving the rain-sodden high street or hope to launch a glittering photography career by capturing that long-pursued snap of the Loch Ness Monster by sneaking up on him underwater.

Drizzle-proof your digital music

Don’t let your prized mp3 player go out on a song when the weather’s iffy. Instead, swathe in the latest wet-weather gear and get to the heart of the action to the beat of your best rainy-day playlist. Why not try the Grace Digital ecoExtreme? This portable, waterproof speaker stores your mp3 player and broadcasts out your tunes; ideal for soaking up the last days of summer on the beach, when out on the kayak or persevering with a damp barbecue and need to run a summery soundtrack to brighten up the mood.

It’s clear that as technology becomes evermore portable, valuable and central to our worlds, there’s a mounting need to make it British-weatherproof. With the droves of accessories clamouring to clothe our every electronic device, there’s no need to restrict the use of our kit to drier days.

mophie duo and mini: Power for the 1%

I love shiny electronic devices, which is handy for a job reviewing shiny electronic devices. But they can be so demanding ,both on my attention span and on power levels. I’m often in rooms with people fretting over battery levels and oft-times constrained by their devices. I’ve heard “I’d love to … but I’ve only got 6% on my battery so I should probably head home.”

Mophie-Powerstation

However mophie have come to rescue my social life. Firstly they told me to stop wearing denim shirts. It hasn’t been the 80s for a very very long time. And it looked bad then. And secondly they’ve brought out two new powerstations, a duo and a mini; universal battery backup devices for your smartphone or in the case of the duo, your tablet too.

The mini is a compact little power house with enough juice to charge an iPhone one and a half times. And if you want to be the life and soul of the recharging party, you can rock the duo, which has two USB ports so you could charge two phones, or a tablet and phone together. Imagine the love you’d get in social settings as you boost your friend’s device. It could be the new “Hey need a light” method of meeting amazing new people.

“Our original powerstation has been incredibly successful due to its ability to charge virtually any portable device with a USB output, and we’ve been working aggressively to offer a wider range of solutions for those carrying USB-enabled devices,” said “The duo and mini deliver a huge amount of power and round out our juice pack universal line of external portable power solutions to keep consumers charged up when they need it most.”

Ross Howe, vice president of marketing at mophie.

The duo packs 6,000 mAh, just short of a full charge for the iPad one or two (6,600 mAh), or half charge an iPad 3 (11,560 mAh). They were both released yesterday and prices are £49.95 for the Mini and £89.95 for the Duo.

Archos Elements line of entry-level tablets

Electronics firm Archos has added a new member to the tablet club as they release the Archos 97 Carbon this month.

Archos-97

The model is the first in a range called “Elements”. Designed as an entry-level device, the tablets are affordable, stylish and portable. The 97 Carbon is available in three different sizes: 7, 8 and 9.7 inches. Each tablet has full access to Google Play and comes pre-loaded with a full suite of Google apps, including Office Suite Viewer, which lets you view office documents on the go.

“We wanted to introduce a new series that not only combines affordability with a new slim design, but features the best that Google has to offer. With the ELEMENTS series we have done just that. It’s the perfect balance of hardware, software optimization and content through the Google Play ecosystem.”

Henri Crohas, ARCHOS Founder and CEO

Features and Specifications

Weighing in at only 618 grams, with a thickness of just 11.4mm and a premium aluminum finish, the Archos 97 Carbon is designed for ease of use. Front and back cameras give users the flexibility to take photos and make video calls.

The Archos 97 Carbon is powered with a 1GHz processor and comes with 1GB of RAM. With a 5x iPS multi-touch screen, users get wide viewing angles and a sharp, vivid picture. The device comes with 16GB of internal flash memory, which users can increase using the microSD slot, or via a USB flash drive.

Software

Running on Ice Cream Sandwich, the 97 Carbon comes with the latest Android operating system. Using Google Play, users can access over 600,000 apps and games, the world’s largest collection of eBooks, and thousands of movies, directly through the device. Users also get up to 5GB of storage for free with Google’s cloud storage service, Google Drive.

As well as Office Suite Viewer, the device comes with popular puzzle game World of Goo, News Republic, and personal organizer Brief Me, which manages users’ world news and customised social media feeds.

The Archos 97 Carbon is available in July and has an RRP of £219.99.

The New iPad (3): Review of reviews

The iPad 3/iPad HD/”iPad” (we’ll stick to the first option to avoid confusion) is out, and so are the reviews. While the aesthetic differences between the first iPad and iPad 2 were obvious, one look at Apple’s newest version of its beloved tablet will show that not much has changed. Until you activate the screen…

New-iPad

The Name

Apple’s newest iPad is called The iPad. “Didn’t they already release ‘The iPad?”, you ask. Yes, and in a bold branding move, they’ve decided to rewrite history and make this version of the iPad “The iPad”. Not that this has stopped everyone calling it the iPad 3, the iPad HD, or the new iPad. For David Phelan from TechBeta, however, Apple’s brazen rule-breaking (never give two products exactly the same name) shows that the newest iPad has permanence.

Retina Display

The new iPad’s selling point has garnered rave reviews from gadget-loving writers on some of the world’s biggest websites. T3 reviewer Luke Peters points out that the quality of the new iPad’s screen is clear when compared with that of the iPad 2: “apps in folders are just blobs of pixelated colour; on the new one you can almost make out text.”

Processing Power

Reviews across the board have commented on how the iPad 3’s faster processing power has not diminished its battery life. As John Gruber remarks on his blog, Daring Fireball, the battery life of an iPad far exceeds that of even the Macbook Air – even with the extra processing power needed for the improved graphics display. He also makes the interesting observation that Apple’s priorities lie with screen quality and user experience, and that they are willing to make the iPad 3 slightly heavier and bulkier to include a battery that will power the retina display and a 4G connection.

4G

Along with its stunningly detailed, crystal-clear screen, a lot of review chatter focuses on the iPad’s 4G capabilities. “Put simply: it’s fast. Really fast. Faster-than-my-WiFi fast” says MG Siegler from TechCrunch. Due to revolutionise the UK before the end of 2012, 4G is the next step beyond 3G. It’s not available yet, but you can still use the new iPad with a 3G connection and wait for our mobile networks to roll out 4G further down the line.

5MP iSight Camera

Previous incarnations of iPad cameras have been laughable, producing a picture quality that made us wonder why Apple bothered including a rear camera at all. The new iPad changes this, with a rear camera that matches the latest iPhone offering. The front of the device still carries a VGA, which offers poorer quality, but is still good for FaceTime. Joshua Topolsky from The Verge goes into more camera-related detail:

The auto-focus and face detection work excellently here (though tapping to focus is sometimes impossible due to the size of the thing). Thanks to that improved sensor, pictures you take on the iPad now look relatively respectable, with a depth of field shallow enough to pull off rather artistic looking images.

So what’s the verdict? Unanimously, the new iPad has wowed critics, who are hailing it as a success. To sum up with the words of MG Siegler: “This is the best tablet out there right now that we’re talking about.”

What caught our eye at CES 2012 – Part 1

Having recovered from our jet-lag and sifted through the two dozen or so USB press kits we picked up, we can now present you with part one of our round-up of the gadgets and gizmos that caught our eye at this year’s CES.

Eers Custom Earphones

Developed by Canadian firm Sonomax, ‘eers’ are the “first earphones in the world that you buy off the shelf and custom-fit to your own ears, in 4 minutes.” Roughly speaking, the product works by putting the fitting mechanism on your head (see picture) and then two types of silicone flow down into a membrane and into your ear. You don’t get any silicone in your ear of course, as it’s contained inside the membrane.

After a few minutes the silicone sets and you remove the fitting device to, hopefully, find a perfectly cast set of earphones – custom moulded to fit your ear. The product is expected to be on sale in the UK in the 2nd half (update: see below) of 2012 and the current retail price for the US is $199 for the single driver headphone and $299 for the twin driver (better sound quality) version. To find out more about eers, visit http://sculptedeers.com/

Update on Jan 26: Eers are now available direct from Sonomax UK on this page, current price £199+shipping

Sony Tablet P

The next product that caught our attention, but perhaps not for the right reasons, was the Sony Tablet P. Our initial reaction was that it looked like a giant, silver, version of the popular Nintendo Donkey Kong handheld game from yesteryear! Nevertheless we decided to persevere and had a quick hands-on go the intriguing looking clamshell tablet.

The idea is that you can easily slip this tablet in to your handbag, backpack or even jacket pocket – although from our experience you’d need a pretty big jacket for people not to notice the bulge! The Tablet P is 18cm long and 15.8cm wide when fully opened. It weighs 370g and sports two 5.5″ TruBlack touch screens. The model on display is supplied in conjunction with AT&T and enables the ‘P’ to use 3G when on the move.

Alongside Sony’s more conventional ‘S’ tablet and their increasingly powerful XPERIA smartphones, we couldn’t really work out who the ‘P’ was aimed at. The form factor was quite bulky and the sizeable gap between the two screens can make for awkward reading of long pages (see our photo for an example of a split mid paragraph).

While the official press material from Sony states that pricing and availability is ‘TBD’, we found the Tablet P already for sale (at £499) on the Sony UK web site. Given this relatively high price (the iPad 2 starts from £399) we’ll be surprised if this becomes a hit product for Sony.

Penclic Mouse

Penclic, a Swedish based company, have been championing the idea of a pen-shaped mouse since 2002. However this year’s CES saw them launching their new and improved R2 (wireless) and D2 (corded) versions. The Penclic is designed to provide a more natural working position and to combat health related issues associated with a traditional computer mouse, such as repetitive strain injury (RSI).

The Penclic is intended to feel and move like a pen and the mouse buttons are mounted where you grip with your forefinger and thumb. From our quick test the product performed well, although we were initially a little confused about which part made the cursor move. The answer is that you move the whole unit, rather than just the ball/socket mechanism!

The R2 and D2 are already available via the Amazon Marketplace, priced at £59.99 and £49.99 respectively. Update: Check out our Penclic R2 unboxing video

Audi’s triple heads-up display

Over at the predictably stylish (and extremely bright!) Audi stand, they had a demo of prototype heads-up display. Audi’s HUD stood out from existing displays because it featured three ‘projections’, one directly in front of the driver, one in the centre and one for the passenger.

The driver’s HUD showed navigational arrows which can obviously be used in place of a traditional sat-nav unit. The centre screen was showing more details about the route and end destination. Meanwhile, the passenger screen (which is invisible to the driver), can be used to watch TV, etc. All of the screens are gesture controlled.

In a ‘real life’ demo, the guy from Audi showed us an example of an incoming video phone call. This was displayed on the centre screen as a static photo and the name of the caller, but the passenger could drag this across to their screen to view the video call – while the driver could concentrate on, er, …driving!

Our CES 2012 coverage continues…