Most full-sized Android tablets tend to fall into one of two camps: the inexpensive models with last year’s CPU and a low resolution display, or the pricer flagship models that offer fast, quad-core processors and high resolution displays that are now pushing beyond HD. Kobo, the company best known for its impressive line of e-readers (like the Aura HD, my current fav) has been working on its tablet chops too and its line-up this year includes the Kobo Arc 10HD, a full-sized Android tablet with a powerful quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and a brilliant 2560 x 1600 display. This tablet offers an affordable price that puts it in the first camp, but impressive specs that have it firmly in the second. The Arc 10HD has some weak spots, but for many people its performance, price and reading chops make it well worth considering over more expensive Android competitors.
I’ve recently reviewed several Windows 8 tablets, both the RT variety (Microsoft’s own Surface 2) and a Windows 8.1 version in the form of Sony’s VAIO Tap 11. While Windows 8 and its touch-friendly tile interface shines on a tablet, one of my primary complaints about Windows tablets has been their size and weight. Because of their focus on productivity, Windows tablets embrace the larger form factor —makes sense. Still, I think the platform suffered for not having a smaller option to compete with 7-inch Android tablets in terms of cost and portability. Dell has stepped up to fill that need and with a full Windows 8 (as opposed to RT) tablet no less, The Dell Venue 8 Pro. If you’ve been holding off until you could get a tablet running Windows 8.1 you can hold in one hand, with an HD display, 32GB of built-in storage, all-day battery life —along with Microsoft Office pre-installed— look no further than Best Buy, where you can try out the compact yet powerful Dell Venue 8 Pro.
Stuck on your holiday gift list? Getting down to the final weeks and panic is beginning to set in? No worries, technology can bail your out. The hottest gifts of 2013 can be found at Best Buy and whether you’re shopping for someone who finds a smartphone too small and a tablet too big (the perfect phablet candidate!), a video game aficionado looking for the best of the next generation video game consoles or a home automation fan, we’ve got you covered with these high tech gift suggestions.
If you happen to be a fan of comic books –and judging from the number of superhero movies tearing up the box office in the past decade, that covers a lot of people— you can turn your Android tablet into the ultimate mobile comic book reader, library and storefront. The big, high resolution display of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, Sony Xperia Tablet Z or a new Kobo Arc 10 make comics come to life in brilliant colour and detail. You can carry literally thousands of titles around with you, buy new ones on demand (even at 3am on a Sunday if you need your Hulk fix) and unlike the dead tree, paper versions, no matter how many times you read a digital comic book, it remains in mint condition. Even if you eat pizza while doing so! Advantage digital.
It’s hard to beat the convenience of a tablet as a mobile entertainment and casual computing device. Games, movies, photos, music and even work files (like documents) are all available at your fingertips. While tablets have become more powerful and more common that ever, one thing hasn’t changed much: onboard storage limitations. Windows 8 Pro tablets like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 are available with built-in storage of 256GB, but most tablets picked up by consumers have 16GB —the same as 2010 era versions. Now, more than ever, storage is becoming a concern. The cloud is a great option, but for speed and peace of mind (not to mention avoiding fees), knowing your digital life is backed up locally is tough to beat. That’s why external hard drive storage solutions for tablet owners are more popular than ever. We’ve got a plenty of ideas for backing up your tablet contents.
byBradMoon11-21-201307:09 AM - edited 11-21-201307:09 AM
Not everyone loves Microsoft’s touch-centric, tablet-friendly Windows 8 operating system, but regardless of how you feel about the new Windows, you have to admit that it’s led to some very interesting new products from PC manufacturers. Convertible laptops, tablets running Windows and various hybrids abound these days. The new Sony VAIO Tap 11 Tablet PC is one of those interesting devices made possible by Windows 8. The machine is basically Sony’s take on Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 2. It’s a tablet powered by an Intel Core i5-4210Y CPU, with a big and bright 11.6-inch display that wouldn’t look out of place on an Ultrabook. It runs Windows 8, it’s compatible with standard Windows PC software like Microsoft Office and packs a fast 128 GB SSD for storage. It has a keyboard —one that’s wireless instead of attached and doubles as a protective cover. In short, in the VAIO Tap 11 Sony has released a Windows 8 device that packs the power of a PC in a tablet form factor, that’s less than 1 cm thick. Read on to find out if it fulfills the promise of covering off both your tablet and portable PC needs.
It’s been just over a year since Microsoft made the move of getting into the tablet business, releasing a mobile version of Windows that supports ARM-based processors (Windows RT) and its own line of tablet hardware: the Surface RT and Surface Pro. A few months ago, the company introduced new versions of both tablets. I’ve spent the past week using the new Surface 2 (Microsoft decided to drop the “RT” from the model designation this time around) and I can report that it’s an attractive device with good performance. But so are dozens of competing tablets. Is the Surface 2 worth considering over its rivals? Read the full Surface 2 review to find out.
byBradMoon11-13-201310:21 AM - edited 11-13-201310:22 AM
All signs are pointing to tablets being the hottest gift this holiday season. Chances are, there’s someone on your list who has a tablet on their wish list. But which one to choose? Android is the dominant tablet platform (it now represents 65 percent of all tablets sold and Google’s app store is officially the world’s biggest), while Microsoft’s Windows has made big gains —especially for those who want a tablet for productivity. Here are four picks to cover off some of the most common tablet user types: the gamer, the worker, the casual user and the bargain shopper.
There’s a rumour that’s been going around for, oh, I don’t know —a few centuries at least— that says men don’t listen when their wives drop hints about what they’d like as a gift. Personally, I don’t think this is usually intentional. It’s just as likely to be a case of misinterpretation. It’s entirely possible that your wife, girlfriend or partner has been trying to offer up hints for the holidays, but they’ve been so subtle that you’ve either missed them or just plain guessed wrong. We’re here to help you out with five examples of holiday gifts for women that show you listened, including Kobo’s Arc 10HD tablet for the woman who says she loves to read.
byBradMoon09-27-201311:15 AM - edited 09-28-201303:44 PM
When I reviewed the Kobo Aura HD back in May, I loved that e-reader’s ClarityScreen display, ComfortLight screen illumination and the TypeGenius feature that made fonts seem infinitely adjustable. Kobo has now released another new e-reader, the Aura, that retains key features that made the Aura HD the best e-reader on the market, while addressing that device’s primary drawbacks: price and a smooth plastic back that could be a slippery fingerprint magnet. It’s also much more compact than the super-sized Aura HD, employing a traditional 6-inch display size for a pocketable form factor. Look for the new Kobo Aura to be available at Best Buy any day now. And only one day after publication, the Kobo Aura is already available online and in store at Best Buy.
Your smartphone is an amazing device. If you bought it recently, you’re looking at a piece of technology with a display resolution that rivals your HDTV, computing power that would beat a high end laptop from only a few years ago, enough battery capacity to run most of the day without being near an electrical outlet and it’s small enough to fit in your pocket. But smartphones —and tablets, for that matter— get even better once you start adding apps. There are free apps and premium apps, but few cost more than a dollar or two so starting a collection isn’t expensive. The tough part is choosing which ones to go with, especially now that some app stores are closing in on the one million mark. “Must-have” is a personal thing, but here’s our crack at a collection of 10 apps that virtually any smartphone (or tablet) owner will benefit from installing.
It was just over a year ago that Microsoft dropped the surprise announcement that it was getting into the tablet business, introducing the Surface RT and Surface Pro. Since then, Microsoft has focused on filling out its app store, working on updates to Windows 8 and Windows RT and —it turns out— revamping that original Surface hardware. The new tablets were unveiled today. Both the Surface 2 (the consumer-focused model dropped the “RT” from its name) and the Surface Pro 2 retain the same form factor as their predecessors, but gain significant spec upgrades. The innovative Touch Cover and Type Cover that Microsoft introduced alongside the new tablets have also been improved for 2013 and new accessories have also been introduced, including a dock for the Surface Pro.
Samsung just wrapped up its Unpack event at IFA 2013 in Berlin and along with refreshed versions of its Galaxy Note “phablet” and Note 10.1 tablet —the Galaxy Note 3 and Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), respectively— the company unveiled one of the most eagerly anticipated gadgets of the year. The Galaxy Gear Smartwatch is real and we’re hoping to see it in Canada in the October timeframe.
byBradMoon08-30-201310:47 AM - edited 08-30-201310:48 AM
With kids of all ages heading back to school, the question of a laptop is on the minds of many parents. Do they need one? How powerful should it be? Does it need to be a Mac or a Windows PC? Would a tablet do instead? The technology can be overwhelming, there are seemingly endless choices to make and the wrong call can be expensive. I’ve put together a FAQ about back-to-school laptop shopping that covers off some of the most commonly asked questions. And if you have one that’s not in the FAQ, put it in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out.
When Microsoft launched Windows 8 last fall, it knew it was running the risk of alienating some users. Windows 8 —with its tablet-inspired interface– was designed to bridge the gap between PC and mobile operating systems and this meant upsetting the status quo. If you’ve installed Windows 8 and found some of the features aren’t quite to your liking, or if you’ve been scared off of making the switch after reading about the confusion some users have experienced, take heart. Microsoft has been listening. The preview version of Windows 8.1 is available now (a free upgrade for Windows 8 users is schedule for an October release). The latest Windows version improves on some features, adds some brand new functionality and yes, Windows 8.1 features the long-awaited return of the Start button.
byhootie08-25-201310:41 PM - edited 08-26-201308:30 AM
Dorm rooms are very tight spaces so it is important to not only figure out the essentials of what to bring, but also find space-saving versions of those essentials. I am not qualified to talk about linens, clothes, furniture and the like, but I can give you some ideas on what electronics to be considering, and some pretty good choices.
I just wrapped up a week with the 2013 edition of the Google Nexus 7 and it’s better than last year’s version in every way.
When Google first waded into the small tablet fray with 2012’s Nexus 7 (manufactured by ASUS), the tablet garnered great reviews, the initial stock quickly sold out online, and in many stores, and the device helped to turn consumers’ attention from full-sized tablets to these smaller devices.
Today, smaller form factor tablets are incredibly popular thanks to their portability and affordability. The next generation Google Nexus 7 has now been released —you can pick one up in Best Buy— and Google has turned its attention to fine tuning that first offering. Lighter, more compact, faster, with an incredibly sharp IPS display and running the latest version of Android.
Even after so many years of owning an iPad, I find it’s the one gadget I have that just never gets old.
If you find yourself searching for something to do, you can download a new app, edit a movie, or teach yourself animation.
And when you want to take your tablet and turn it into a thin, light, computer with very little effort, all you need to do is pick up the perfect stand and it becomes a device that’s almost without limits.
Fall is always a great time to be the owner of an Apple mobile device. Why? Because fall is when Apple traditionally launches the newest version of iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This year, Apple fans are particularly eager because iOS 7 represents the biggest change to the system in years, what Apple is terming “the start of a new chapter for iOS.” When iOS 7 is installed, expect your Apple gear to look familiar, yet different —simpler to use, stripped of extraneous ornamentation, loaded with useful new features and dynamic interactions. Put simply, it’s not only the most advanced mobile operating system Apple has ever released, it’s also the simplest to use and most engaging.
You’re heading back to school, clutching your favourite mobile device. Maybe it’s an iPad Mini, an iPhone 5, Galaxy S4, Lumia 900 or a Z10. Whatever the device, you can make the most of your high tech investment by downloading free apps for your Android, iPhone or BlackBerry. Productivity, gaming —even cheap food— we’ve got you covered with this list of the best free apps for students.
A funny thing happened on our way to the paperless office. Not only did paper not go away, but it’s just as popular as it ever was.
What did shake things up was mobile, though. With smartphones, tablets and an increasingly connected world, being able to print from a mobile device no matter where you are is a big thing. You might receive a critical document on your smartphone while in a meeting, need to print out a contract from your laptop while in a coffee shop or want a hard copy of a product brochure you’re looking at on your tablet at home —being able to print wirelessly and easily makes things much more convenient. That’s why HP’s ePrint is such a big deal. It lets you wirelessly print on the go from your mobile device, sending your print job to HP network printers, ePrint-enabled printers and even thousands of HP public printer locations.
on 07-29-201306:19 PM - last edited on 11-01-201304:24 PM by BBYJorge
With the current emphasis on convertible laptops —devices that slide, twist, bend and otherwise transform between the usual laptop form factor and a touch-friendly tablet configuration— you’d think there wouldn’t be much room for yet another contender. However, the Acer Aspire R7 15.6-inch Touchscreen Laptop does its multiple configuration trick in a way that’s more useful than many other hybrids. Thanks to a large display, a very stable “Ezel” hinge and solid feeling aluminum construction, the Aspire R7 is a laptop that easily adjusts to virtually any work or viewing preference, while offering a pivoting touchscreen that makes it more comfortable to take advantage of Windows 8’s touch interface. An oddly placed trackpad is really the only thing that prevents this from being close to the perfect portable workstation.
Students five years ago thought they had it made with laptops. They could bring their portable PC into class and use it to type out notes instead of having to deal with loose pages of paper that always seemed to degenerate into indecipherable scrawl or get lost. Plus, they had wireless Internet access for looking up supplemental material. But diagrams still had to be copied by hand with pencil and paper, laptops were heavy, had limited battery power and they were expensive. Tablets offer all the advantages of a laptop for students at a fraction of the price, without having to lug a heavy computer around, without worrying about running out of power and with the added ability to integrate diagrams and pictures with typed text. They can even be used as eReaders with eTextbooks to avoid heavy paper textbooks altogether. You just need to know how to use a tablet for note taking and assignments to make back to school more productive than ever.
There’s nothing like sitting around a pool or relaxing on a chair in the back yard with a cool drink and a good book. Today, the “book” is increasingly a digital one and that means using a device to read with. But which one? There’s a decent chance that you carry a smartphone or even a tablet with you pretty much every where you go but trust me on this, you do not want to be reading outdoors on one of these. Reflections, washed out display, poor battery life, weight —and then there’s the fact that you’re sitting by the pool holding what may well be a $400 or $500 device. The best eReader is not a tablet, phablet or smartphone, it’s an E Ink eReader, a device that absolutely excels in the outdoors. There are many good choices at Best Buy, including Kobo’s Mini, Touch, Glo and Aura HD, or Sony’s T2, ensuring there’s an eReader that fits every preference or budget.
A year ago to the day, we were looking the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2, Samsung’s affordable and compact tablet entry. Now Samsung has introduced the bigger and more powerful 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 (they have also released a smaller model the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3 has also joined the roster at Best Buy and a larger 10-inch model too). At 8-inches, the display is just slightly larger than it’s smaller sibling, but the resolution has been increased, an additional camera has been added for video conferencing capability, it packs a much faster processor and the new Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is running Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2). Despite the all round beefier specs and larger display, the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 is still a very svelte tablet, weighing only 309 g and coming in at just 0.7 cm thick, with a thin bezel keeping overall dimensions down and making it easy to hold in one hand. With its size, capabilities and affordable price, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 makes an ideal tablet to carry for reading, web browsing, gaming, catching up on work or snapping a quick photo.
on 07-09-201302:30 PM - last edited on 07-17-201308:55 AM by BBYLaura
If you weren’t convinced that online security is something you should never take for granted, then the news over the past month about government monitoring of web activity and e-mail probably made you take notice. However, it’s not the government security agencies that most of us should be worrying about, it’s our day-to-day web use. We’re on PCs, tablets and smartphones doing everything from sending e-mail to updating Facebook, paying bills and buying stuff. The problem is, we’re often doing so through insecure networks, taking advantage of free Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, mall, hotel room or quickly plugging in at work. Doing so leaves us vulnerable to everything from credit card theft, to having accounts hacked and online history tracked. The good news is effective security for all your web browsing needs, on all your devices, is available by running SurfEasy’s VPN (the same company that offers the SurfEasy Private Browser USB Key).
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