iPad 3 Rumor Roundup

After months of speculation, it’s looking likely the third generation of the iPad is imminent. Here’s your guide to what’s known and rumored about what will likely be the hottest gadget of 2012.

What’s the timetable and how do we know?

Apple has just announced a press event for March 7th, teasing journalists with the line “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” If this is the launch of the iPad 3, the device would likely be on sale within a few weeks.

 

Is this definitely a new iPad?

That’s the most likely explanation. It’s unlikely to be a new iPhone given the last model only came out a few months back. One other possibility could be a rumored new device that’s around the five to seven inch mark, though most analysts believe this would be a poor compromise between a smartphone and tablet.

What are the most likely changes in the new iPad?

One likelihood is a quad-core processor. That means a chip that can literally do four things instantaneously. This means the device will be able to do a much better job of carrying out demanding tasks without slowing down other features. For example, the iPad could use three of the cores to carry out video editing while still letting the user access the web. Quad-core would allow more intensive gaming and other tasks previously thought of as restricted to full-blown computers.

Another expected change is a screen with a 2048 x 1536 resolution, nearly double that of a full-HD screen. Taking account of the bigger screen size, this would be similar to the “retina” display on the latest iPhones. Apple uses this name with the argument that, at an ordinary viewing distance, such a resolution means the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels, effectively making the image identical to reality.

What other new features could debut?

It’s thought the US model will support LTE, one of the new generation or 4G mobile data technologies. When it works to its full potential, 4G allows users to get the same speeds as home broadband from anywhere with a good mobile signal. Unfortunately LTE is still in the test stages in the UK.

The new iPad could also have a Near Field Communications chip, a technology similar to Bluetooth that only works over a few centimetres but connects almost instantly. It’s mainly used for contactless smartphone payments at the moment, but it could allow quick wireless syncing with compatible computers.

Less likely-sounding rumors include a 128GB model (double the current highest capacity) and a change to the Apple-specific charger and data socket.

How certain is all of this?

You can never be 100% certain about Apple rumours. The company loves to keep an air of mystery about its plans and techies tend to get caught up in their imagination and dreams when predicting what’s going to happen, the most embarrassing recent example being when the widely-hyped iPhone 5 turned out to simply be the slightly tweaked iPhone 4S. That said, there are a lot of credible sources, including in the South East Asia electrical engineering industry where large component orders by Apple often uncover its future plans.

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Fast and Fluid Future at Mobile World Congress 2012

The biggest names in the fastest-moving industry gathered for the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, in what has been another eye-opening telecommunications industry event. From 27 February to 1 March, more than 3000 industry CEOs joined 60,000 attendees to see the latest products and ideas from the likes of Microsoft, Google, Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

With tablets and smartphones taking centre stage in recent mobile technology, many of the latest apps and products catered for these users, although mobile and laptop technology is also seeing some major developments.

Microsoft had techy hearts a-flutter with the launch of Windows 8. The company’s two-hour conference presentation featured the phrase “fast and fluid” enough times to drive home their new focus on the latest operating system model. Windows 8 will allow users to access multiple apps at any one time, and, keeping current user trends in mind, is synchronised for social media. Users will also enjoy smoother functionality for both touchscreen and mouse/keyboard.

Meanwhile Nokia had several new mobile phones to showcase, including the Luma 610, an simple, affordable smartphone designed for the youth market. Yet what is really creating a lot of Nokia buzz is their new high-res smartphone, the 808 Pureview. This is the first mobile to take photos at up to an extraordinary 41 megapixels, and cutting-edge Carl Zeiss optics to boot. This is one to lead the way in the evolution of smartphone photography.

Google is making waves with their latest additions to the Android family, despite pressure from their Apple competitors. As well as revealing plans for more affordable smartphone, their Android Honeycomb sees a brand new app for budding movie makers. Movie Studio is a slick app designed to enhance the 3.0 Android’s current video and image technology. Users can create their own short videos, using music, text and other such features, much as you would with other video-editing software. Except this can all be done from your smartphone.

High-definition seems to be the big trend at the moment; LG, HTC and Huawei all have big, high-def mobile screens in their latest releases. Certainly HTC was keen to preview their latest smartphone, the HTC One X. This super-slim mobile is less than 1cm thick and weighs a mere 130 grams. An impressive camera, dual core processor and 4.7inch screen makes it one to watch.

Sony Ericsson revealed their new Xperia Play, a mobile phone/game console hybrid. Despite being one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry this year, it has managed to impress the critics so far. This is an interesting design, yet it does do both the gaming and mobile sides justice. It has a slide-out gaming control pad, much like the Playstation hand control, while the phone itself also features a 5.1 megapixel camera with flash and auto focus, video-recording, Bluetooth, GPS, and the usual mobile features you’d expect from Sony Ericsson.

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Write, compose and catalog all of your original music with TuneSmith

As an aspiring musician, at least in my day, I wrote over 150 different songs, including lyrics for a musical. However, back when I was writing, during the 1980’s and 1990’s, I didn’t have any of the computer-based music writing tools that exist today. Songwriters have a lot to be thankful for, especially in tools like TuneSmith. It’s a tool that helps you write, compose and catalog all of your original music.

No matter where you are – at home, on the road or in the studio – TuneSmith provides you with the tools you need to easily enhance your song lyrics and to effortlessly administer your growing song catalog. TuneSmith allows you to focus on your craft using a robust lyrics editor. With comprehensive text styles, a handy revision history and extensive search capabilities, you’re certain to insure that every new lyric can be the best it can be. Some of the most difficult rhymes and meters can be easily resolved with TuneSmith’s integrated version of Rhyme Genie. When needed, you also easily be able to rekindle emotions from past writing sessions from your complete clipboard history of previously selected rhymes for each song in progress.

Knowing that the creative juices don’t always flow in a logical order, TuneSmith allows you to keep a pitch journal, allowing you to keep track of your hot ideas, tracks and to breathe new life into classic songs. You can manage all essential information about your copyright registrations, cowriters, and potential cover artists. TuneSmith is a professional grade tool that works for the serious professional as well as thrill seeking amateurs. You can keep track of different demos, album cuts and capture memorable melodies, riffs, and runs with its easy to use audio recorder.

Read full review | Download TuneSmith for WindowsDownload TuneSmith for Mac

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Quickly and easily create industry compatible PDF’s with Nitro PDF Pro

Creating PDF’s is pretty common place now-a-days. There are a number of different products that you can download and install to quickly “print” to PDF. Having in one is important, as sharing information in a non-editable format is often important.  However, sometimes, you need to edit those PDF’s you get. It’s at times like those that I really like using Nitro PDF Professional. It’s on my short list of must have Windows apps.

Nitro Pro lets you quickly create, convert, combine, edit, sign, and share 100% industry-standard PDF files. It’s easy-to-use PDF tools make working with digital documents pain free. You can save time and effort with easy-to-use PDF creation tools that don’t require you to open a file before converting it.

One of Nitro PDF Pro’s best features is its tight integration with Microsoft Windows. This integration means you can create PDF files the way you prefer, such as drag and drop, right click, or within the application. The conversion process is very easy.  You simply drag files from within Windows Explorer or the Desktop into Nitro Pro. Its integration also extends to Microsoft Office.  You can print to PDF from the ribbon toolbar in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  If needed, Nitro PDF Pro also supports batch convert collections of different files – like reports, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations – all in one task. It’s easy to combine documents into a searchable, easy-to-share PDF file.

Read full review | Download Nitro PDF Pro

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Xfire – an instant messaging systems for gamers

My oldest son is 6, and he’s turning into quite the gamer. Without being able to read well at all, he was able to complete Pokemon Silver on his Nintendo DSiXL, much to the surprise of me and most of the Geek Squad at the local Best Buy. We don’t have a an X-Box360 or PS3 in the house yet, as most of the games that you’d want those consoles for aren’t age appropriate for my boys. They also don’t have a gaming class PC available to them…yet. However, for those that do, you really want to check out Xfire. It’s a must have gaming utility for Windows

Xfire is the kind of gaming utility that you were wondering would make its way on to the internet a decade or so ago, it’s that cool. With it, you find the games you play. It then tracks how long you play them; and allows you and your friends to find each other so that you can play together.

Once you finally hook up, you can use Xfire to coordinate strategy, strikes and game play. You can chat with other Xfire users, as well as your friends on AIM, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger without exiting the game. If you have a hoard to command or are trying to coordinate a multiplayer strike against the enemy, you can bring your friends into a group chat. Best of all, you’re not confined to texting or IM. If the situation requires you to keep your hands on the controls, you can bring everyone into a voice chat and bark orders without a hit to performance or ping.

Read full review | Download Xfire

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Office 15 Speculation

Okokokok…We may as well go here – With Windows 8 Consumer Preview due 29-Feb-12, and all the Office on a tablet talk, we may as well get out our Office 15 crystal balls and see what we can see…

My good friend and former co-worker, Paul Thurrott is probably one of the very few people I know of who has a good handle on what’s going on inside Redmond’s walled garden (the other is MaryJo Foley…)  When I’ve got a question or two that no one else seems to know the answer to related to Microsoft and what they’re thinking, Paul’s usually the one I ask. His Windows Super Site is probably one of the best resources on the internet.

Windows 8’s Consumer Preview is due out on 29-Feb-12.  Office 15 Technical Preview (due out to their technical beta team, or by invite only) will be released shortly after that.  Paul’s pulled together some interesting screenshots on both.

From what I know from my own work in the industry and from the contacts I do have, Office 15 is going to be tablet, or more appropriately put, more touch-screen-centric than previous versions of Office.  Look for a cleaner, less cluttered interface.  The final disposition of the Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar are undecided; or at the very least, I couldn’t find any corroborating information regarding their fate.

I’ve heard a lot of information regarding Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. I have heard ZILCH about any of the other suite components. Most notably absent is any real news regarding Outlook 15. Which brings me to the screen shots on Paul’s site…

You can clearly see full sized screen shots of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.  The interfaces that are shown are clean and provide a great deal of space in which to work.  However, without any real understanding of where the Ribbon is, how the individual app menus are structured and whether or not they’ve moved and reorganized everything, it’s difficult to say what level of improvement or value-add they offer over Office 2010.  The screens that Paul has displayed also linked to any larger shots or screen renders. We also don’t know if we’re looking at the WOA version of Office 15 or the full desktop client.

I was hoping to have a bit more, here kids; but solid information on what to expect with Office 15 is scarce.  I’m hoping that my TechNet subscription will get me access to the Tech Preview bits so that I can take a closer look at the software. If I can get a look at it, I’m certain I’ll develop an opinion to express…

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Windows 8 Part 1 – Repeating Windows 7 Success

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview (or Beta) is due out on 29-Feb-12 at Mobile World Congress. While it may be strategically important to Microsoft, consumers may not thing so.

I’ve been part of nearly every Windows Technical Beta Team since Windows 95. I’m used to being one of Microsoft’s go-to external testers. I also was part of their Windows 7 Launch, as I was chosen in 2009 to host a Windows 7 Launch Party at my home. I covered the event for a local paper as well, and spun off into a print column for them called, “Technically Speaking.” At the time of its release, Windows 7 was the right operating system for Microsoft’s ailing desktop operating system business – It provided enough of a reason to compel enterprise users to move away from Windows XP, and wasn’t the consumer-worrying, performance deprived, hardware consuming mess that Windows Vista was.

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is hoping to address two big issues.

1. Repeat the Windows 7 success
2. Address the tablet trend

In this two part series, we’re going to look at both of these issues and try to make sense of it all.

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 – Repeat the Success

There are a couple basic reasons why Windows 7 was so successful, and both of them are operating system related. Interestingly enough, both reasons have nothing do to with Windows 7.

Windows 7 wasn’t Windows XP

Windows 7 owes a lot of its past and current success to Windows XP. WinXP was released over 11 years ago. It stuck around in the enterprise for so long because it was solid. Even though it still has a number security issues, it’s still a huge player in the enterprise space because of XP’s longevity and familiarity with IT support staff. Simply put, they’ve been working with it for so long, they’re familiar with the pain it causes, know where the problems are, and know how to deal with them.

However, its time has come and gone. Many companies that are still running the aged OS are in the process of phasing it out of the enterprise and are making in the process of drafting or implementing approved Windows 7 migration plans. IT support staff members feel confident that their users will be able to effectively make the transition without too many use or support issues. It’s enough like XP that users will be able to make a smooth transition, and improved enough that the support issues encountered with XP have been successfully and effectively addressed. Microsoft had also clearly made its plans for sun setting the OS widely known.

Simply put, Windows 7 was a success because the need for an XP replacement was clear. XP needed a replacement and the enterprise and consumer public was more than ready for it.

Windows 7 Clearly was NOT Windows Vista

One of the biggest reasons why Windows 7 was such a success was that it clearly was NOT Windows Vista. While Vista may have introduced a new interface, desktop theme and new technology, it unfortunately came with a lot of problems.

Microsoft moved everything. Windows XP users moving to Vista had a huge problem using the OS. Many of the features and functions that they were used to going to in location X were now located in location Z (location “Y” would have made sense, but MS seemed to randomly move things to new locations that only THEY understood the reasoning behind…).

Vista was late to market. The OS, originally code named Longhorn, was well over 7 years late being released. Worse yet, it was riddled with performance issues. Correcting them was easy and after SP1 was released, it actually wasn’t a bad OS.

Its problems were marketing in and PR-based. Windows 7 didn’t have a hard time being a success. In fact, based on Vista’s bad PR and XP’s overly long longevity, Windows 7 couldn’t have been much else other than a success. Microsoft did what it needed to do to address some interface and user experience issues, further improved the underlying performance and put some marketing money behind the release. The result was instant success.

Come back next time, and we’ll address some items in the Windows 8 Developer’s Preview and what’s supposed to be happening with the Consumer Preview to address the increasing popularity of tablets at both home and at work.

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Create mind maps with CmapTools

Cmap Tools is a powerful software package that allows you to create “mind maps” or concept maps — graphical representations of interrelated data, items or abstract concepts. A concept map consists of “bubbles”, each containing a specific item, with each bubble connected to related concepts by a line. Concept maps can be very useful for teaching; they also make an excellent planning strategy. They’re ideal for many different situations — great for groups and organizations and also perfect for individual planning, project development and decision making. Whether you’re introducing a subject to a class of young children, coming up with a new product, organizing lecture notes, deciding on the decor for your home or writing a novel, concept maps offer a way of structuring information so as to aid comprehension and inspire new ideas.

Cmap Tools gives you everything you need to translate your idea, approach or topic into a graphical format that’s easy to understand. The software comes with pre-made graphics templates, tools for drawing, editing, linking and adding concepts. This versatile software is suitable for virtually any organization — schools, universities, large and small businesses, and charities. Cmap tools has powerful sharing and collaborative features. You can synchronize maps, allowing a group of maps to be edited at the same time. You can link maps together and share maps you’ve made with others. Cmap Tools lets you export your completed maps in web format, ready to upload onto the Internet. You can also distribute maps made with Cmap Tools via Cmap Servers.

read full review | download CmapTools

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