The week in gadgets, featuring a look inside the iPad mini and iPad 4, and WP8 availability

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discusses Windows Phone 8 hardware at launch

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A look at gadget happenings, as Irish operators ready themselves for Windows Phone 8 device releases, iFixit delves deep inside the iPad mini and iPad 4, and ‘Gangnam Style’ comes to Just Dance 4.

Windows Phone 8 availability in Ireland

Windows Phone 8 is here, but where and when will Irish consumers get access to new devices using the latest mobile platform from Microsoft?

O2 and Carphone Warehouse are stocking the Samsung ATIV S and HTC Windows Phone 8X and 8S, while Three is offering both the HTC devices only. Meteor also has the new HTC smartphones and will be adding the ATIV S and Nokia’s Lumia 820 to its offerings in January.

Eircom’s eMobile will have all of these devices come January, while Vodafone plans to add the HTC pair plus the Lumia 820 to its range in the new year.

We’ve no word yet on whether Nokia’s higher-spec Lumia 920 will be offered by any carriers in Ireland.

The iPad mini and iPad 4 spill their guts to iFixit

The folks over at tech repairs website iFixit have certainly been keeping their spudgers and screwdrivers busy, taking apart the slew of new products released in recent weeks. Last week, they prised open both of Apple’s new iPads to explore their inner components and see how easily they can be repaired.

iPad Mini Teardown -- iFixit

From top: iPod touch, iPad mini, third-generation iPad. Image via iFixit

Turns out the iPad mini is all mini, even the screws. Inside, the smaller iPad was comparable with the iPod touch, as well as newer and older iPads. The A5 processor inside the iPad mini is the same as that in the latest iPod touch, with 512MB RAM, while the battery capacity is far lower than the iPad 3 (43Whr) and iPad 2 (25Whr) at 16.3Whr.

While many of the iPad mini’s hardware specifications match up with the iPad 2, its cameras are in line with the newer iPad with Retina display, yet that still leaves it with a 5MP front-facing camera – a step down from the 8MP that comes with the iPhone 5.

A crucial unique point for the iPad mini discovered by iFixit is that it is Apple’s first mobile device with stereo speakers. While the iPhone 5 sports dual speaker grilles, the iPad mini is the first device to back this up with the right hardware for stereo sound.

Delving inside the iPad 4, iFixit played spot the difference with the previous model, noting that the LCD panel in the new device was manufactured by LG. While Apple is known to use multiple suppliers for the same components, this discovery could mark Apple’s reported shift away from Samsung-manufactured components.

iPad 4 Teardown | iFixit

A look inside the iPad 4. Image via iFixit

Like all of Apple’s latest devices, the iPad 4 features a Lightning connector. But while the shift to a smaller connector should have afforded more space for other components, this opportunity has been wasted as the new connector is housed in the same-size frame as the old 30-pin connector.

A key difference in the newest iPad is an improved front-facing FaceTime camera, jumping from 0.3MP to 1.2MP capable of shooting 720p HD video.

While the iPad mini scored points for not fusing its LCD panel and front glass, enhancing the device’s repairability over the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7, both new iPad models scored just a 2 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale, owing to the amount of adhesive used to secure many components into place.

Gangnam Style for Just Dance 4

November brings us cold weather, moustaches, and – from Ubisoft – ‘Gangnam Style’ for Just Dance 4.

We’ve seen how much Ireland’s digerati enjoy partaking in K-pop sensation PSY’s song-and-dance routine, and now we can all learn the moves in a competitive fashion as the track is set to be released as downloadable content for the popular dance game this month.

‘Gangnam Style’ will be available on PlayStation 3 from 13 November for US$2.99, on Xbox 360 from 15 November for 240 Microsoft Points, and on Wii and Wii U from 15 November for 300 Wii Points.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com