SomeGadgetGuy’s 2013 Holiday Tablet Buying Guide!

ipad miniTis the season for shiny new glowing rectangles! Tablets are proving to be all the rage this year, and if you were thinking of shopping one for a loved one (or for yourself you cheeky bugger you), here’s the scoop on our favorite computing slabs.

Apple: iPad Mini ($399)

Ok. This one’s easy. The iPad Air is the big dog, but the Mini now sports a proper retina display and pretty much the same processor guts as its big brother. The Mini is a touch easier to leave the house with thanks to its smaller form factor, and you’ll save yourself a cool $100 opting for the little iPad over the bigger one. Thankfully that wont come with a performance deficit. This is likely going to be one of the hottest sellers of the year, so make sure you get that pre-order in before it goes on sale later this month if you want to secure a place in line.

Apple announces iPad Mini.

Microsoft: Nokia Lumia 2520 ($499, available later this month)

WP_20131024_19_19_31_ProWe’re restricting our discussion here to Windows RT powered devices. Microsoft is doing a great job of blurring the lines between proper PC’s and consumer tablets, but keeping the playing field equal here, we’re looking at ARM powered portable devices not X86. Sorry Surface Pro and Sony Tap.

The Surface 2 might be Microsoft’s example of what Windows RT should resemble, but Nokia looks like they might take the cake. The Lumia 2520 runs $50 more than the Surface 2, but it comes with LTE built in. Activate it on a carrier which supports it, and you can count on ultra-fast data anywhere you have cell service. To put it into perspective, for $499 you could get a WiFi only iPad Air with 16GB of storage (and no ability to add more storage), or you could get a Lumia 2520 with LTE, 32GB of storage, MicroSD card slot, and a proper USB port.

Microsoft’s OS is still geared a little more towards “work” than “play” but we should see the app ecosystem improve radically once Windows Phone and Windows RT merge early next year (Power Keyboard shown in this pic sold separately).

Hands on with the Lumia 2520!

Android: Tie – Samsung Note 10.1 2014 Edition ($599) vs Asus Google Nexus 7 ($229)

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-10.1-2014Sorry folks. I really tried. It was just too much of a Sophie’s choice to declare one clear winner. Thankfully these two exist at POLAR OPPOSITES of the Android spectrum. Samsung takes an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to their devices and the Note 10.1 is audacious.

An incredible WQXGA (2560×1600) display exceeds the iPad by almost a million pixels, 32GB of on board storage plus a memory card slot, the ability to use two apps at the same time, Samsung’s excellent S-Pen stylus, and an IR port to use it as a huge universal remote for your TV. It’s a premium experience at a premier price point.

nexus 7 FHD side angle 2013Contrast that with with Google’s market disrupting Nexus 7. Asus helped Goog build out a high end mini-tablet with solid specs, and the two are offering it up at a price usually reserved for “disposable” gear. A 1080p HD screen paired up with a mid-range Qualcomm quad-core and 16GB of storage. You wont get some of the bells and whistles like expandable storage or an IR port, but it’s hard to be disappointed when you consider the bang for buck.

Honorable Mention: Kindles Galore

kindle paperwhite second generation ereader review somegadgetguy (3)So each ecosystem has its strengths and weaknesses, and there’s a lot of overlap.

If you’re an Amazon junky however, a Kindle Fire might be the content consumption platform for you. Powerful specs, great screens, and Amazon prices them low to encourage you to buy music, books, apps, and movies through their online shopping portals.

Lastly, if books are your thing, never underestimate the value of a proper digital ink eReader.

Those are our picks for the year! Did we miss your favorite slate? Is there another tablet which you think is better? Leave us a comment below.

Nokia Now Fourth Highest Shipping Smartphone Manufacturer in United States

Q3-2013-USA-Market-Share-Counterpoint-Research2[Golf clap] Well done Nokia.

Counterpoint Technology Market Research did a tally of shipped phones for Q3 2013, and the numbers were somewhat surprising. Behind Apple (33.7%), Samsung (33.6%), and LG (8.6%), Nokia has clawed its way up to number four with 4.1% of the USA smartphone market. Not bad at all considering how slow the consumer response has been in warming up to Windows Phone. Great news for a company which had less than one percent of the market’s share this time period last year, as it even manages to unseat Google owned Motorola.

We can probably count on the $100 Lumia 520 for a good chunk of those sales, but mind share in general is up for the brand as people have praised Nokia’s cameras. With the entry-level market healthy, we might see even more growth for the brand at the premier level as they prep the Lumia 1520 for a holiday release. Plus the Microsoft ecosystem is improving, with apps like Vine and Instagram joining the fold later this year.

Even more startling however is the continued slide of HTC, as the brand falls to ninth behind companies like ZTE and Huawei. Its likely that Apple and Samsung will continue occupying the top two spots for a while to come, but that last 30% of the pie is completely up for grabs this holiday buying season.

(via Reddit)

 

AT&T Holiday Bundle: Free Galaxy Tab 3 With Purchase of Select Samsung Phones

GALAXY-Tab-3-7-inch_001_WiFiWho likes getting free stuff? We do!

AT&T is helping you kit out your collection of glowing rectangles this holiday season. Starting today and running through the end of the year, if you sign up for a two year agreement or AT&T NEXT, and you get a Galaxy S4, GS4 Active, a Note 2, or a Note 3, you will also receive a fun larger screened extra. AT&T is going to throw in a Galaxy Tab 3 to help keep the season bright. Not a bad little value add, grabbing a  little 7″ tablet for yourself… Or give it away as a gift… OR keep it for yourself…

Just imagine if you also snagged a Galaxy Gear. You could literally cover yourself in Samsung.

Running concurrently, AT&T is also running a trade in program for your old phone. Promo cards start at $100 for select devices, but it’s a decent way to recycle your old gear and save a little cash on your next purchase.

Full details after the jump!

 

Continue reading “AT&T Holiday Bundle: Free Galaxy Tab 3 With Purchase of Select Samsung Phones”

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Samsung Fined for HTC Smear Campaign

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (5)Dammit Sammy. You should know better than this.

I know you’re the top dog right now, and the idea of slipping even a little can be terrifying considering how fast our current tech darlings become yesterday’s old news. I get it. Combined with the fact that the smartphone market is cooling off a little, I can totally see why you might want to shake things up a bit.

But not like this Samsung.

See I write about tech online. I have relationships with PR and with vendors and agencies. I have a small but loyal following of similarly-minded tech enthusiasts, and over years of producing in this space I’ve built up a little credibility. What you’ve done here Samsung is undermine all of that.

The internet is a skeptical place. I can’t praise or criticize anything without being accused of being a “fanboi” or being on a company’s payroll. The fact that you paid and organized writers to post negative commentary on your competitor’s products hurts our entire industry. The fact that you got caught is as unsurprising as it is tragic.

ATT HTC One Mini software update jelly bean 4_3This story just takes a somewhat insidious turn knowing that you’re picking on a MUCH smaller company. HTC is fighting to stay out of the red. Remember a time not long ago when Apple was the Big Bad, and you were fighting to get Galaxies into consumer hands. You were the underdog. It was charming when you were plucky. You aren’t anymore. You’re the new Big Bad. This just makes you look like a jerk, a bully.

I don’t even know if the FTC’s fine of $340,000 even registers on your bank sheet. That’s a blip in a market where you proudly announce 40 MILLION Galaxy S4 sales. All I know is that this makes me skeptical of anything nice written about your products. It makes me skeptical of negative reviews against your competitors.

If it makes me skeptical, I can only imagine how my readers must feel…

TAIWAN BODY FINES SAMSUNG FOR BLASTING LOCAL RIVAL (Associated Press)

Samsung confirms future Galaxy Gear compatibility with Note 2, GSIII, and GS4

29 gearThe Galaxy Gear has garnered a lot of attention for smartwatches, but the fact that it’s only currently compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 is a little limiting. Samsung officially announced today that they’ll be expanding the line up of phones that can talk to Gear.

Posted on Samsung’s Google Plus profile:

Today we’re announcing that the #GALAXYGear will be compatible with the #GALAXYS4 , #GALAXYSIII and #GALAXYNoteII via the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update starting this month. In addition, the GALAXY S4 Mini, S4 Active, Mega 5.8, Mega 6.3 and S4 Zoom will also support the GALAXY Gear through a separate software update at the end of October.

Of course you have to filter updates through carriers too, but hopefully this means if you’re using one of the above phones and were thinking of trying Gear, your wait wont be much longer.

(via Samsung G+)

Samsung Galaxy Round – First smartphone with a curved display

Pulling up the press release and seeing the picture I was a bit surprised. Previous experiments with curving screens on phones like the Galaxy Nexus usually involved curving the display from top to bottom, contouring the phone for the side of your head. The Galaxy Round takes a different approach…

The Round’s 5.7″ screen is curved from side to side, and Samsung claims this side to side curving makes the phone easier to hold and use. It could also mean that this phone will feel narrower than traditional phablets.

I think it’s an interesting experiment in design, and I’ll be curious to see how consumers respond. One nice advantage, the phone’s screen is harder to scratch if the phone is ever placed face down on a table. That curve provides a little clearance.

Samsung Tomorrow spent a little time with the handset and shot this video of one of the new gestures:

Hardware on board seems to be current high-end, similar to what you might find in the Note 3. It’ll launch tomorrow in South Korea for a little more than $1000, but there’s no official word on pricing and availability elsewhere.

(via Samsung Tomorrow)

Review: Toast Wood Cover for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2

toast in portland wood phone case cover galaxy note 2 somegadgetguyI like finding quirky, new, and unique accessories for personalizing our technology. Toast in Portland is one of my favorite finds this year. Using wood and leather surfaces which are laser cut and engraved to precisely fit our phones and our personalities.

Let’s take a look at how I turned my Galaxy Note 2 into a wooden phone!

For more info check out: http://ToastMade.com
My interview with Toast CEO Matias Brecher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x1YOTRaFg0

Windows Phone hitting double digit market share in Europe

nokia lumia 920 windows phone 8 smartphone homescreen live tiles somegadgetguyI keep telling you people, the actual gadget matters less than the ecosystem of customers+hardware+software+accessories. You can’t fake that. Customers will not be impressed by one new handset no matter how good it is. Every manufacturer wants to jump into this market and sell as well as the iPhone does. It’ll never happen, and people forget that the iPhone didn’t just waltz into the smartphone market without some teething pains. Anymore, a company needs to show us at least three years of steady growth, refinement, and support before they’ll start to crack into consumer awareness.

Well wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft is getting to that three year point, and I’m starting to see the occasional Windows Phone out in the wild. Here stateside, MS is a distant third place competitor growing to only around 3% of the smartphone market, stealing the third spot from Blackberry. Recently announced by analysts at Kantar World Panel however, Windows Phone is cracking into double digit share in Europe. WP is within one percent of the iPhone in Germany, makes up 10% of the French market, and stands at 12% in Great Britain. Averaging the five largest European markets Windows Phone is currently at 9%.

The Nokia brand still counts for a lot in those markets, especially the blend of unique design and bleeding edge camera technology. Unfortunately Nokia somewhat abandoned us here in the States, so they’re pretty much rebuilding their consumer base from scratch. We do get to see some very general trends though, and from my anecdotal experiences, the push into entry level devices is serving Nokia very well. Doesn’t hurt that outlets like CNET can’t figure out the difference between a phone which costs $100 out the door, and a phone which costs $100 on contract. Surprisingly, Nokia’s 520 does a remarkably good job of competing against phones which cost four times as much.

Plus with a two faction war between Apple and Samsung, those consumers who want something a little different only have Microsoft to turn to. Never underestimate someone’s desire to go a little hipster. We live in an age where new smartphone consumers will know Apple like people from my generation saw Microsoft.

Read the full write up at Kantar World Panel.