Gadgets of the month: November 2012

30 Nov 2012

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news from November and also check out some new gadgets on the market. This month, we’ve seen the 40th birthday of Pong, the Surface’s lukewarm reception, and plenty of news for games consoles and smartphones.

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This month…

Competitive consoles

Nintendo’s latest games console, the Wii U, hit Irish retailers today, but earlier this month it was its rivals making the headlines. Xbox Live celebrated its 10th birthday, clocking 442m hours spent on the service in one week following the release of Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Amid rumours of a Surface-style 7-inch Xbox tablet and an Xbox set-top box, we also heard that PlayStation 3 sales reached 70m worldwide – making the Sony console equal to the Microsoft system. We were also excited to see leaked specifications from a new Orbis dev kit from Sony that hints at specs for an upcoming PlayStation 4, expected next year.

Is the smartphone market about to be disrupted?

With the success of the iPhone 5 sparking reports that iOS has overtaken Android in the US, it’s easy to start thinking that the smartphone market is a two-horse race. However, with Firefox OS handsets coming next year, an exciting shift could be on its way. Mobile and telecoms analysts CCS Insight agree, citing BlackBerry OS 10 as a potential agent of disruption, too – and perhaps, even, an Amazon smartphone. With the 4G spectrum auction now complete and LTE-based technology coming to Ireland, we are likely to see increasing demand for mobile devices in the coming years, and CCS predicts the average household in Western Europe and North America will have seven connected devices by the end of 2013.

Microsoft takes on the tablet market

It’s now more than a month since the tablet with Microsoft’s name to it, Surface, came on the scene. While the high-spec Windows 8 Pro version is yet to come, the Windows RT device has so far had a modest debut. That said, the new device did reach sold-out status in its early days, though there are now rumours spreading that Microsoft is looking to scale back production due to underwhelming demand. I wonder will the marketing department blame Oprah’s iPad slip-up?

Happy 40th birthday, Pong!

Classic arcade game Pong celebrated its 40th birthday this week and, to celebrate, Atari released a free Pong World app for iOS, the latest chapter in the Pong franchise. But even more exciting than that is the custom-made portable Xbox created for Pong play.

Atari 2600 Xbox 360

A custom LCD screen mounted to an Xbox 360 console disguised as an Atari 2600 is up for grabs in a Pong challenge on participating sites. Find out how to enter on the Atari Facebook page. The competition closes on Sunday and the winner will be announced on 4 December.

New gadgets…

Zooka Wireless Speaker now ships from UK

This cylindrical silicone Bluetooth speaker is a Kickstarter success story from Carbon Audio. The Zooka Wireless Speaker slides onto the top of your tablet or laptop to deliver HD Audio Sound with A2DP Streaming – and no, it won’t obscure your webcam as it has been designed to avoid that, plus there’s a built-in stand to convert it to a stand-alone audio system. There’s also a 3.5mm input jack for non-Bluetooth devices, control buttons on top to adjust the sound, and a built-in microphone for hands-free conversations.

Zooka Wireless Speaker (image by Neil DaCosta)

Image by Neil DaCosta

The Zooka is lightweight, so easy to transport, charges via micro-USB for up to eight hours of battery life, and it looks good in a range of eight colours, which doesn’t help the sound but certainly helps its appeal. Though the speaker is not yet available from Irish retailers, it did launch in the UK this month, meaning we can get our hands one through


Toshiba’s new tablet

Toshiba Ireland has expanded its tablet range with the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean-powered AT300SE starting at €359. The 10.1-inch tablet features a 16:10 wide-angle IPS display and comes with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB RAM and 16GB storage. The 10.5mm thick, 625g tablet has a textured design and dotted pattern on the rear for better grip, and it claims up to 10 hours of battery life. It also features a 3MP rear camera, 1.2MP front-facing camera, micro-USB port, micro-SD card slot (up to 64GB) and Bluetooth 3.0.

Toshiba AT300SE

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

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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.