Gadgets of the month: Latest products from the biggest trio in tech

29 Jun 2012

Go-go Google gadgets! The Nexus smartphone, tablet and player

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month, with exciting reveals from Apple, Microsoft and Google, and we look ahead at what’s to come as Amazon tries to keep up and Nokia has a musical treat for Lumia 800 customers.

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

This month…

Apple packs the pixels into the MacBook Pro with Retina display

What a month it has been for gadgets, with three of the biggest names in tech all revealing great new products that we can’t wait to get our hands on.

First up, we had Apple’s WWDC, where the company revealed its upgraded Mac Pro from 8-core to 12-core, introduced a new family of MacBook Air machines, and confirmed the release of new operating systems OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6.

But all eyes were on the new ultra-thin MacBook Pro – a 15-inch laptop with Retina display, packing more pixels than the Irish population at more than 5m (that’s 3m more than a HDTV). Less than an inch thick and weighing just 4.46 pounds, the new Pro is almost as thin as the MacBook Air and comes with the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors, NVIDIA GeForce GT discrete graphics, flash storage up to 768GB, and two each of Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports, all for a hefty price starting at €2,349.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Some tech-heads were so excited to see the new MacBook Pro that they couldn’t wait to tear it apart and see how it all came together, but once the excitement of the launch abated fanboys were disappointed to hear that a shortage of machines could mean a three to four-week wait.

Microsoft scratches the Surface of the tablet market

Not to be outshone by Apple’s developers conference, Microsoft had a big reveal of its own this month, unveiling two own-branded tablet computers called Surface.

One model will feature an ARM processor running Windows RT, and the second will have a third-generation Intel Core processor running Windows 8 Pro. Available in a range of vibrant covers reflective of Microsoft’s new Metro environment, the Surface comes with a Touch Cover that clicks into place via a magnetic connector, and a similar Type Cover that gives you an optional keypad.

Microsoft Surface

The presentation drew comparisons with Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPad two years ago – some of which were unfavourable as Microsoft president Steven Sinofsky suffered through a technology presentation’s worst nightmare when the tablet froze mid-demo.

Further details on the Surface, such as pricing and a release date, is yet to come, and the project was kept so secret by Microsoft that it didn’t even let any mobile operators in on the act, so rumour has it that the first-generation of Surface tablets will be Wi-Fi only.

Google’s new gadgets

Which brings us to the latest gadget announcements this month – so recent, in fact, that the event is still ongoing.

Google I/O, the company’s developers conference, began on Wednesday and wraps up today. In the meantime, we’ve been given plenty to get excited about from Google.

Ahead of the conference, we were teased with leaked details of a 7-inch tablet manufactured by Asus, and these rumours were confirmed with the unveiling of the Google Nexus 7, a US$199 tablet featuring a 12-core GPU, 1,280 x 800 HD display, a Tegra 3 quad core CPU, front-facing camera, and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.

Google Nexus 7

But wait, there’s more!

Those clever clogs in Mountain View, California were hardly going to let us get away without some surprises up their sleeves. This came in the form of Project Tungsten, revealing the Nexus Q.

This spherical Android-powered hub can interact with mobile Android devices, the web, and other home entertainment hardware, bringing movies and music to life in the living room. Essentially, a cloud-connected Android computer, the Nexus Q lets users share software, music and movies via NFC. Simply tap your device and you’re away.

Google Nexus Q

I/O also brought us the latest iteration from Project Glass, Google’s augmented reality eyeglasses. Co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrated them at the conference, assisted by a video of a Google+ Hangout conducted mid-air as some of the Google team went skydiving wearing the technology. As you do.

Coming soon…

Amazon rumoured to be working on two new devices

BGR reports that Amazon is working on two new Kindle Fire devices, to launch in the coming months. Seeing that the new Google Nexus 7 is a tough new competitor edging into Amazon’s world, some flash new hardware can’t come any sooner.

The rumour is that dual-core 7-inch and 10-inch devices powered by a quad-core processor are in the works, featuring metal casing and an improved overall appearance. BGR also says the devices will have a micro-USB port and on additional jack (perhaps a HDMI port), as well as a front-facing camera for the 10-inch model.

Nokia’s headphone offer sounds good

In a bid to boost sales, Nokia is offering a free pair of Purity on-ear headphones by Monster with every Lumia 800 purchased in July. The HD stereo headphones are worth €240 and come in black, white, cyan and magenta.

Optimised for use with Nokia smartphones, the ControlTalk Universal on-cable remote and in-line mic lets you use the system as a hands-free kit for calls, and allows voice control for your phone and your music. The headphones also come with a tangle-resistant cable and a hard shell carrying case.

The offer is available from Vodafone, Meteor, O2 and eMobile stores nationwide.

Nokia Purity headphones

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.