Gadgets

Paul Taylor

Is Apple’s iPad media tablet the “Magical & Revolutionary Device at an Unbelievable Price” that Steve Jobs claims it is? Or will it be an embarrassing failure like the Apple Lisa, the Newton and Pippin?

We will have to wait until the iPad goes on sale in the US towards the end of March for the definitive answer to that question. But based on the iPad’s specifications, Apple’s new baby does appear to avoid many of the pitfalls that have plagued earlier tablet and slate-style devices. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony has been thrilled with sales of its eReaders over the Christmas period, but could their comparative success be about to be eclipsed by the arrival of an Apple tablet?

We’ll know better later today but, in the meantime, I have been trying out the new Sony Reader Daily Edition for the past three weeks to see if it is as hot as the news it provides. Read more

Paul Taylor

It is over a decade since I dumped my Sony Walkman mini-disc player in favour of one of the first portable digital music, or MP3, players – a device called the Rio PMP300 manufactured by Diamond Multimedia.

It had a small LCD screen and a circular pad with control buttons, and could store 12 tracks on its 32MB of internal memory. One AA battery provided power for eight hours or more.

Devices such as the Rio paved the way for a slew of innovative portable digital music and multimedia players, including Apples iPod, launched in October 2001, and a huge accompanying ecosystem of add-ons, ranging from cases and chargers to docking stations and speaker systems. Read more

Chris Nuttall

I peered through 3D glasses, read the eReaders, stroked the smartbooks and smartphones and touched the tablets. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is over for another year – and what a realm of the senses it was.

Instead of the usual vapourware, the future was close enough to touch, from smartphone screens to images that leapt out of TV sets. Read more

Paul Taylor

At school I would smuggle a transistor radio into the playground so we could keep up with the cricket scores. Years later, I bought a pocket-sized portable television for the same purpose, which ran on batteries and had a huge and unwieldy extendable antenna – but still could not deliver a half-decent picture.

Today, you can watch television while out and about thanks to an expanding variety of services on a mobile phone, using digital or analogue capabilities built in to the phone or added via a small device. Recently, however, I have been exploring another option, in the form of a neat little device called the Qualcomm Flo TVPersonal Television – or PTV. Read more

Paul Taylor

Hundreds if not thousands of new gadgets made their debut at  the Las Vegas CES last week, including some that will have little or no impact on the CE market. In contrast, the arrival of the latest version of the USB data transfer standard –  dubbed SuperSpeed USB 3.0 – was largely overlooked although it is likely to have a big impact on the consumer electronics industry.

It is five years since the USB 2.0 standard was rolled out, providing a common high speed data transfer protocol for a swath of CE devices ranging from external hard drives to smartphones.  Since then however, read/write speeds have continued to climb and USB 2.0, which has a maximum theoretical throughput of 480Mbps, has become something of a data transfer bottleneck. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The2010 Consumer Electronics Show , which closed in Las Vegas on Sunday, was arguably the best in years in featuring products ready for primetime rather than the vapourware often on display.

Sony impressed with its 3D-readiness, there were plenty of appealing eReaders and smartphones on show, while new netbooks, smartbooks and tablets galore are on their way to the PC market.

Our round-up of the best of CES is after the jump with links to the announcements, our coverage and reviews from other tech sites. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The latest technology in Las Vegas was not confined to the Consumer Electronics Show this week.

I stayed at the Aria Hotel , part of the new CityCenter complex, whose guest suites feature the most hi-tech gadgetry of any hotel room in the US. However, the hotel has been open for less than a month and its systems were suffering from more than their fair share of bugs. Read more

Chris Nuttall

It’s the year of 3D if you believe Sir Howard Stringer, Sony chief executive, it’s the year of the tablet, according to Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia CEO.

Judging by the products unveiled at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, it could also be the year of the eReader, the year of the smartbook, the year of internet TVs and many other new devices.

Our correspondents at CES have been donning their 3D glasses to discuss the week’s announcements in a special edition of FT Techtalk. Chris Nuttall and  Paul Taylor had some of the bad internet connections and logistical holdups that typify CES, but you can read a transcript of their conversation earlier today below. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony had a bestseller of a Christmas with its Reader devices  in the US, according to executives here at CES in Las Vegas,  and Qualcomm is expecting to spice up the market with colour displays in 2010.

December sales of the Reader were four times the value of the previous year, eReaders were the biggest growth area for Sony Electronics in the run up to Christmas and had the largest unit volume of all its products, according to Steve Haber, president of its digital reading division. Read more

Richard Waters

It would be really nice to be able to believe in the success of the  Que proReader (and not just because the Financial Times is one of the publishers that has done a deal with Plastic Logic, the company that makes the device).

The history of the Que is one of those compelling technology stories that leaves you rooting for the people behind it, and the wide vision that it represents is infectious. Like all ambitious visions, though, this one relies on perfect execution.

Until the full reviews are in I’ll suspend final judgment, but my fear is that CEO Rich Archuleta’s claim that the Que marks the arrival of the “paperless briefcase” will end up being filed with all those similar promises of “paperless offices” we’ve heard over the years. Read more

Paul Taylor

Sony quietly announced yesterday that its latest Cyber-shot digital cameras will be the first Sony point-and-shoot models to support SD and SDHC cards. The new cameras all offer hybrid storage-card slots that can handle both SD/SDHC and Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick format. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony’s Dash, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show  on Wednesday, typifies the increasing number of hybrid products being made possible on small screens with internet connectivity.

Its mother is the digital photo frame (DPF) and its father could be a bedside alarm clock, but it has an elder brother in the Chumby , which seems to have had a big influence on the Dash. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Just to upstage all the other 3D TV announcements on Wednesday , Sony gave us a demonstration of dual 3D at its CES press conference.

Sir Howard Stringer, Sony chief executive, introduced his record label’s hottest artist Taylor Swift  and we all donned 3D glasses to watch her perform in real-life 3D against a 3D back projection of the broadcast of her and the band performing the song. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Skype has announced some major advances for the consumer in video calling – with high-definition pictures enabled and integration with TV sets.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it isunveiling partnerships with LG and Panasonic to offer Skype–enabled HDTVs  from the middle of this year. Their 720P HD webcams with built-in microphones are specially designed to pick up video and sound from couch distances. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Internet content will be arriving on televisions in a multitude of ways at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with the Popbox getting out ahead of the field as a smarter than average set-top box.

Announced today by Syabas, maker of thePopcorn Hour  streaming device for enthusiasts, the Popbox has more mainstream appeal in its looks and features and introduces the concept of internet apps for the TV. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The futurist Ray Kurzweil has come up with a major advance on eReader software that consumers can try out as early as next month.

Blio, available free for the PC and iPhone, offers features such as 3D page turns and a bookshelf where readers can rotate books to see backcover and spine. Read more

Joseph Menn

In its 33-year history, Apple has been at the forefront of technological design and innovation. From the Apple I to the iPhone, through the Apple Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the Nano and iTunes, the company has won over customers by bringing something new and exciting to the market.

However, among the winners, Apple has produced its fair share of losers: products that were either ahead of their time, not able to do what they promised, or just unloved by the tech-buying public.

Here’s a countdown of a top ten of these products:

10. Apple III
Lifespan: 4 years (1980-1984)
Introductory price: up to $7,800
The Apple III was built as a rival to IBM’s business model, but 14,000 had to be recalled early because of a problem with overheating. Despite a re-design and lowering the price, the Apple III was discontinued after four years. Read more

Paul Taylor

Ray Davies was not talking about personal technology when he sang: “It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world,” in the Kinks hit. But he might as well have been

Dell is going into smartphones, Google is getting into operating systems and Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, has launched a classy netbook, the Booklet 3G. This is, in fact, a re-entry into the PC market for Nokia. In the 1980s the Finnish company produced a range of desktops called MikroMikko, but left the PC market when it sold the Nokia Data business to Britain’s ICL in 1991. Read more

Chris Nuttall

While many will be queuing at cinemas for a look at Avatar on Friday through RealD’s 3D glasses, the same experience is not that far away on living room TVs.

Los Angeles-based RealD, whose technology is the most widely used for 3D in the cinema, announced a partnership with Sony today that will bring it to Bravia LCD TVs next year. Read more