It’s been the week of the tablet—both Microsoft and Amazon announced new offerings. Also this week: Nest Labs may be revolutionizing another mundane home tech device; Evernote and 3M are pairing up to digitize sticky notes; the first edition of D&D gets re-released; check out a few cutting edge tech products changing life for those with disabilities; plus get some tips of the week.
Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 2 tablet
On Monday, Microsoft showed everyone its new Windows 8 compatible tablet, the Surface Pro 2. It comes with a stylus and apparently displays color with 50% more accuracy, has better graphics and speaker placement, and also offers some speed gains. It sounds great, but it won’t come cheap—pricing starts at $899. Yeah, you could argue it’s basically a full laptop in tablet form, but wow. With consumers used to seeing tablets from competitors much more cheaply, it’ll be interesting to see whether many consumers jump. Engadget covered the release.
But if you want a cheaper tablet option, check out Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX
There were actually two new tablets with the HDX name announced by Amazon this week. One has a 7-inch screen, and one has an 8.9-inch screen. Amazon is saying these have three times the performance with its Snapdragon processor, double the memory (up to 2GB), and an 11 hour battery life. Check out these prices—$229 for the smaller one and $379 for the larger. If you don’t care about having the latest-and-greatest model, Amazon also announced that the Kindle Fire HD’s price is being slashed to $139. Wow. The Verge has a really great overview and photos of the new Kindle Fire HDXs.
Nest Labs takes on another ubiquitous home device—the smoke detector
The tech blogs were ablaze this week (pun intended) due to new reports saying that Nest Labs is developing a smoke detector. Rumor has it that the device will be called Protect. TechCrunch points out that current smoke detectors are dumb devices saying, “If it smells smoke, it yells. But what if you’re out of the house? What if you know you’re going to burn bacon and the smoke detector is located on a 15-foot ceiling? What if you want to check the status of the batter? A connected smoke detector makes a whole lot of sense.” Agreed. We’ll see if the rumors are true and if the new Protect is as sexy as their Nest.
Digitized sticky notes
Yesterday 3M announced its partnering with Evernote to digitize your real-world sticky notes. You’ll be able to save them, share them, and view them anywhere. How are they going to do this? With a new “Post-it Note Camera” feature in the new iOS 7 Evernote app. Mashable is reporting the sticky notes will be searchable and can be organized by color—and you can add a reminder or due date to a note. The pairing of two leaders in note technology seems like a natural, so it’ll be interesting to see if the functionality is truly handy. If you give it a try, let us know what you think in the comments.
Geeky holiday gift alert: the original D&D reissued as a deluxe boxed set
Wired is reporting that on November 19, the original Dungeons & Dragons will be re-released in a lovely boxed set. D&D is almost 40 years old and this new edition harkens back to the look of the original (wood grain box and all). It will retail for $149.99 so it could make a fun gift for that D&D fan in your life.
New tech for the disabled could be lifechanging
Two stories caught my eye this week about tech that could truly change the quality of life for people with disabilities. First, The Verge had a story about the Liftware spoon. It’s a “smart spoon” that helps Parkinson’s suffers eat more easily by compensating for the tremors. It won’t work for every tremor (2-inch or less), but it’s still pretty amazing. I had someone in my life who could have really benefited from this!
Second, I saw multiple articles this week about an amazing new prosthetic leg. It’s the world’s first mind-controlled prosthetic limb—it picks up on the impulses in the damaged nerves that are re-routed to healthy muscles nearby. The researchers who developed the technology say the leg can naturally switch between types of movements (and the guy who has been testing it agrees). You can see it in action here: following video:
Tech tips of the week
Mashable had two good ones this week:
1. What to remove first when your phone storage is full. They offer five tips (and I’m seeing why my phone is always full because I’m bad about #1 and #2).
2. Six tricks for instantly looking better in Photoshop. Now you can successfully tweak your profile photo: