Ashton Kutcher is back, pushing another tech product. But it’s not a Nikon camera or a Steve Jobs movie. Rather, it’s a new tablet from Lenovo.
The actor joined Lenovo onstage at a Wednesday night event in Los Angeles to unveil the Yoga Tablet. The Android Jelly Bean (4.2) device comes in eight-inch and 10-inch models, and will be available Thursday for $249 and $299, respectively.
Lenovo said that it wanted to design the Yoga Tablet to stand out from the “sea of sameness,” referring to the fact that all tablets look pretty much alike. As a result, it features a cylindrical handle that allows you to use the tablet in several different modes – a concept Lenovo borrowed from its line of Yoga convertible laptops.
In “hold” mode, you can simply grip the handle for a more comfortable experience when reading e-books and messages. Rotating the cylinder 90 degrees will expose a stand, so you can prop the tablet on a desk for watching movies or video chats. Finally, you can lay the device down with the stand out to angle the screen for easier typing and viewing.
One other benefit to the cylindrical handle, said Lenovo, is that it allowed a larger battery. The Yoga Tablet is powered by dual batteries, similar in power to those used in laptops; Lenovo estimates battery life to be around 18 hours in reading mode.
Both sizes of the Yoga Tablet have 1,280 by 800-pixel touchscreens, quad-core processors from MediaTek, and 16 gigabytes of internal memory with microSD expansion options. There’s also a five-megapixel rear camera and a front-facing 1.6-megapixel camera.
The eight-inch Yoga Tablet will be sold exclusively at Best Buy, and directly from Lenovo. The 10-inch model will be available at Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg and Lenovo.
As for Kutcher’s part, not only will he be helping market the devices, he’s also been named a “product engineer” at Lenovo. In his role, Kutcher, who studied engineering at the University of Iowa and has invested in several startups, will provide input on the design, software and specs of the company’s future products.
Facebook just launched their updated Facebook app for Android, which the social networking giant claims is “now quicker and easier to view photos, get messages and navigate around the app”. What does this actually mean? Basically put, it’s inherited the interface from the recently updated iPad and iPhone versions of the app. The UI has also been redone for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with the upper-right drop-down menu instead of the previous hidden menu interface.
From what Facebook says, photos and albums are up to twice as fast than the previous Android app (not surprising, for those of you who’ve used the old app, it’s nowhere near as smooth of an experience as on, say iOS or Windows Phone 7). Sharing photos, viewing comments and editing captions on the go have all been made easier, too. As long as everything is faster, than I think users will be content. The Facebook app on Android at the moment is incomparable in terms of overall user experience to the one on the iOS app.
The updated Facebook app puts messages and notifications at the top of the screen, and you can respond to friends and stay updated without leaving the page you’re on. Furthermore, you can also quickly access the News Feed, Groups, games and apps from the new left-side menu. The Facebook app update isn’t out live on the Android Market yet, but Facebook has just promised that it will be available soon. I’m probably speaking for all Android users when I say that hopefully happens very soon.
Incoming January 2012
Online retailer Clove has priced up the eagerly anticipated Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime – a tablet will not only serve up a slice of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich but also Nvidia’s five-core Tegra 3 chip.
Clove wants 551 for the 10in tablet, which incorporates 64GB of solid-state storage, 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, an 8Mp camera, (mini) HDMI out and a Micro SD card slot.
That’s without the Transformer series’ hallmark clip-on keyboard and battery combo, which has a hinged dock, turning the gadget into a laptop. If you want the Qwerty deck, you can pay the same price, but you’ll only get 32GB of storage.
Clove said it expects to receive stock in January 2012.
I recently purchased a Sphero robot for my iPhone/iPad, now I want to preface this by saying this is not a sponsored post I paid all $130 with my own cold hard cash. I was instantly intrigued by the Sphero when I first heard of it as I am with just about anything iOS related. I knew that with all the technology packed into the little ball and the ability for open programming Sphero would go a long way. Hit the break for my review.
My first impression was more than I expected as I unboxed Orbotix’s Sphero. The packaging is tight and clean, very Apple-esque and includes everything you need. One Sphero Ball, charging dock and power cable. After downloading the app and syncing Sphero up to my iPhone it automatically prompted me to standby as Sphero was due for a firmware update. That was my first wow of many as I researched the update to find out the group over at Orbotix was able to send over a Firmware update that greatly improved the maneuverability and turning radius of the ball. After the update and a quick tutorial I was ready to go and so was my son who was beyond curious now after seeing all the flashing colors. Though not as agile as a RC car it was extremely responsive to the directions I gave it and after a few minutes of playing around with it I had it racing all over the place as my 9 month old chased after it in his walker.
However running the little ball around with your iPhone is just the tip of the iceberg. Sphero has over 20 different available apps for it though two of which really stood out for me. One is The MacroLab App which allows you to set up a list of commands for Sphero to autonomously execute. Each command can be as detailed or basic as you want it to be. You can put in a command for Sphero to turn at a certain angle for x amount of time. I did one setup that allows me to place Sphero on my desktop and he moves forward, strobes his lights, spins in place and then circles back to his starting point. It’s fun to watch and the more you play with it the more advanced commands you can learn.
The other App is SpaceParty with Nyan Cat oh yes that’s right are favorite PopTart, Rainbow Farting cat now has bacon blasters to shoot dizzy sheep and drooling ghosts in space. Best part is you completely control your Nyan Cat with Sphero. Full control functions take a little getting used to but is very similar to a Wii controller.
Sphero has a long road ahead of it, I believe with app developers working on projects to use it with and the group over at Orbotix not only creating new software and firmware but Sphero accessories to. One rumored accessory is a cage with a camera that Sphero can troll around, though Sphero is both durable and waterproof I’d love to see some type of tight fitting clear rubber, shock absorbing shell that would maybe allow Sphero to battle with other Sphero’s or just make it more durable. No matter the case Sphero is a great product, at a $130 it’s pricey but well worth it! You can grab yours now from the Geeks over at ThinkGeek.
Korea’s finest have been very coy on the dual-core and Honeycomb update to the Galaxy Tab 7, the 7 Plus. We knew that Austria and Indonesia would get it by the end of October but didn’t know when it was likely to land in the States, or how much it would cost when it got here. Fortunately, it has now been spotted at J&R.com, where you will be happy to know that the 16GB version will cost $400, while the 32GB costs a bit more at $500. Now they just need to tell us when the thing will actually arrive.
Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle may have made all the headlines this week, but the folks in Mountain View aren’t the only ones working on curious gadgets that plug into your TV’s HDMI ports.
Dell showed off its Android-powered Project Ophelia dongle all the way back in January, and it managed to turn a few heads… until its tentative launch window came and went without much fanfare. Now, though, it looks like early devices are finally on their way to testers ahead of a full launch in the coming months.
Not exactly familiar with Project Ophelia? Let’s flash back to CES 2013 when Dell showed it off for the first time – long story short, you plug Ophelia into your TV (any other display with an HDMI input) and Android 4.0 fires up so you can mess around on the web and download apps from the Google Play Store. Of course, that concept isn’t exactly new: Countless tiny Android devices that plug straight into your television have popped up on crowdfunding sites and Chinese bulk ordering sites for what feels like ages now.
Ophelia’s big differentiator, though, is its support for Dell’s Wyse cloud computing tech, which allows users to (among other things) remotely access files stored on PCs or servers and connect to Citrix or VMware-powered virtual machines. The company’s eagerness to show off Ophelia’s enterprise chops could go a long way in justifying the device’s roughly $100 price tag, but what’s even more interesting is the very fact that a huge PC manufacturer is moving to embrace such a strange little segment of the market.
Considering the state of the PC market, though, it’s not hard to see why a company like Dell would put together something as peculiar as Ophelia. PC players have been feeling the squeeze that comes with declining demand over the past months since people are starting to give up more traditional computers for mobile devices. Dell definitely isn’t immune to this sea change, either – its most recent earnings report revealed that its end-user computing division (which accounts for PC sales to consumers) dipped 9 percent from last year. Dell’s Ophelia may just legitimize what is now a largely underwhelming class of gadgetry, thanks to its potential prowess as both a consumer and enterprise device, but it may take more than an aggressive price point and some nifty new features to make Ophelia into something worth owning. For Dell’s sake, here’s hoping Project Ophelia doesn’t meet the same fate as its Shakespearean counterpart did.