Paul Taylor

How best to judge Microsoft’s next-generation tablet, the Surface Pro 3, which was unveiled by its new chief executive Satya Nadella at an event in New York on Tuesday?

One way would be to compare it to its previous incarnation, which received a more positive critical response for its improved features, but still did not really make a dent in the market share of Apple iOS or Android devices – Microsoft has recorded about $2.64bn in Surface sales so far. For comparison, Apple sold $7.6bn worth of iPads in the latest quarter alone.

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As Apple launches the iPad Air, rivals such as Samsung, Lenovo and Amazon are coming out with their own challengers. Even Nokia has joined the fray with its first tablet. With so much choice, there is increasingly a tablet for everyone.

Images of the U.S. variant of the Galaxy Note 10.1 for business life

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Paul Taylor

A new mobile service operator called ItsOn aims to shake up the US smartphone business by offering users the ability to tailor their voice, text and data plans precisely, and – perhaps most interestingly – buy data by the app.

The company’s Zact service – a play on the word ‘exact’ – operates as a cloud-based mobile virtual network operator, buying capacity on Sprint Nextel’s 4G/LTE network and reselling it to its own customers via a smartphone app or web page.

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Paul Taylor

The speculation will soon be over. After months of waiting, Sony is set to announce details of its next generation PlayStation 4 at an event in New York on Wednesday evening, setting the stage for the next round of the console wars.

The company is likely to emphasise the wrap-around software and overall “consumer experience”, rather than the “speeds and feeds” of the hardware itself – though these will no doubt be impressive. Read more

Slumping sales of PCs in the fourth quarter last year are further evidence of a structural shift in the PC market rather than simply a weak economy, say Gartner analysts.

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 90.3m units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9 per cent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011 while PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell by 9.6 per cent, according to preliminary results from Gartner.

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Paul Taylor

Crowdfunding is by now a well established route for startups to raise the capital they need to develop, manufacture and market a new product.

But Olive Media, a seven-year-old San Francisco-based company whose high performance audio servers are a favourite among audiophiles, has adopted the crowdfunding model to launch the Olive ONE, which it claims is the first all-in-one high definition (HD) music player. Read more

iRobot Roomba 790

A decade after iRobot introduced its first Roomba vacuum cleaner, home robots not only sweep up dust but also clear gutters and cut grass. New designs launched this year have made the devices more useful than ever, but how do they compare with the traditional methods of getting the chores done?

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Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung Galaxy Note II
Rating: 5/5

I was dubious when Samsung launched the first Galaxy Note last year because it seemed to fit into neither the smartphone category nor the emerging tablet market. Its 5.3in screen was bigger than on most smartphones but it was only half the size of popular tablets. But then I began to appreciate its virtues, particularly the precision of the touchscreen and the electronic stylus (or “S Pen”), as well as the bigger screen for watching video or running navigation and other apps.

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Scottvest

Scottevest Fleece 7.0
Rating: 4/5

Last month Google Glass, the internet-connected headwear being developed by Google, made an appearance on the catwalk when Diane von Furstenberg incorporated the technology into her New York Fashion Week show.

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Paul Taylor

In an age when it is often a good idea to sit down before opening your monthly wireless invoice, FreedomPop is promising ‘bill shock’ of a different kind.

The US-based startup backed by by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstom and his venture capital firm Atomico, launched a potentially disruptive free wireless broadband service as a beta or trial service today. Read more

Paul Taylor

Motorola’s new Droid Razr M is the first smartphone launched by the company since it was acquired by Google in a deal that closed last month.

The Razr M was one of three new Droids launched on Wednesday at a splashy event in New York’s Gotham Hall by Dennis Woodside, a Google veteran and Motorola’s new chief executive. It is however the only one of the three which is available for pre- order immediately. (It will ship by September 13.) Read more

Neat Desk

Neat Company’s NeatMobile and NeatCloud (Rating: 4/5)

Neat Company, which makes the popular NeatDesk desktop scanner and the portable NeatReceipts version, highlights the trend for adding something extra to the humble scanner.

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Paul Taylor

It’s not all bad news for Research in Motion, the struggling Canadian maker of the BlackBerry family of smartphones and Playbook tablet.

A US district court judge struck down a $147.5m jury award against RIM,  ruling that the BlackBerry maker did not infringe patents owned by Mformation Technologies. Read more

Powershots x260HS

For anyone heading off to a major sports event, such as the London Olympics, here are three personal tech items – digital camera, iPhone add-on and binoculars – that may be worth space in your luggage along with, or instead of, the suntan lotion.

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Paul Taylor

Since its launch in 2007 ooVoo has helped refine the consumer video chat market with its free high definition app. In the process it has become a favourite with the teenagers and young adults under 25 who make up more than two thirds of its 46m users.

Now the New York-based company’s management team, led by executive chairman Robert Jackman, is trying to consolidate its grip on the youth market with a upgrade to its social video chat service designed to make it easier to use and available on more devices. Read more

 

HTC One

Smartphones have become the favoured web and social media tool for the “post-PC generation”. As well as being great communications devices, the latest crop boasts features designed to please the most discerning consumers – including better battery life, advanced digital photo apps and high-quality audio.

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Paul Taylor

Nokia’s Windows Phone-powered Lumia 900, available today in the US from AT&T, has broad shoulders – which is fortunate because Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T all need this new handset to be a big success.

The Lumia 900 runs on AT&T’s expanding LTE network and boasts a distinctive unibody design with curved side edges, a big 4.3 inch screen and an 8 megapixel digital camera sensor but despite these high-end specs, costs only $99. Read more

AKG Headphones

Harman’s AKG K495 NC headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones enable consumers to listen to music without the annoyance of background noise such as the drone of traffic on a busy road or the whine of aircraft engines. The three headphones featured here are the latest entrants in an increasingly crowded market for sophisticated noise-cancelling headphones that satisfy audio enthusiasts.

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For mobile gadget enthusiasts, the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona provides a smorgasbord of delights.

This year’s show, which ended on Thursday, was no exception. So here are three handsets which, for different reasons, stand out in an increasingly crowded smartphone market. Read more

Paul Taylor

It has taken Research in Motion 10 months to update the software running its PlayBook tablet and deliver features like native email that should have been there to start with.

Aside from email, RIM’s PlayBook 2.0 software, released as a free upgrade for users today, adds features including support for Android apps in a belated effort to address weaknesses that have attracted widespread criticism and rendered the PlayBook an afterthought in the fast growing PC tablet market. Read more