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High-tech product announcements this fall
It’s high season for consumer electronics. Manufacturers of various gadgets are unveiling their holiday lineups. Add to that products surrounding a new version of Windows that came out Friday.
Here’s a recap of the announcements so far:
_ Sept. 4: Microsoft Corp. releases the first major update to its server operating system since 2009, a prelude to releasing Windows 8 to consumers in October. Microsoft says Windows Server 2012 adds features that make it easier to manage large clusters of servers in data centers remotely.
_ Sept. 5: Nokia Corp. unveils its first phones running the next version of Windows. The company didn’t reveal prices and says only that the Windows Phone 8 devices will be available in the fourth quarter “in select markets.” The two devices are under Nokia’s Lumia brand.
_ Sept. 6: Amazon.com Inc. announces four new Kindle Fire tablet computers as it steps up competition with Apple Inc. and its iPad. Two of the models have screens nearly as large as the iPad’s, at lower prices. Those will start shipping in November, while the smaller, 7-inch models start selling Sept. 14. Amazon also refreshes its line of stand-alone e-readers.
_ Sept. 10: Toys R Us says it plans to launch its own Android tablet computer aimed at children. Called Tabeo, it goes on sale on Oct. 21 for $150. The 7-inch touch-screen tablet will come with 50 apps selected for children, including such games as “Angry Birds” and “Fruit Ninja” and a book app called istorybooks. Toys R Us sells other electronics including the iPad, but this is its first store-brand tablet.
_ Sept. 12: Apple unveils a bigger, lighter iPhone, with an ability to connect to faster data networks known as 4G. The iPhone 5 goes on sale in the U.S. on Sept. 21. Apple also refreshes the iPod Nano and the iPod Touch and introduces a new type of headphone called EarPods, which are meant to fit comfortably in more people’s ears.
_ Sept. 13: Nintendo says its new Wii U game machine will go on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 18, starting at $300. It also announces an entertainment component called Nintendo TVii. The service collects all the ways users have to watch movies, TV shows and sports, such as through cable TV, Hulu and Netflix.
_ Sept. 26: Barnes & Noble announces an update to its Nook tablet with sleek new hardware and a sharper high-definition screen. A 7-inch model starts at $199, and a 9-inch one starts at $269. They will go on sale Nov. 1.
_ Oct. 16: Microsoft says its first tablet computer, the Surface, will start at $499 when it goes on sale Oct. 26. The signature hardware feature of the tablet, a cover that doubles as a keyboard, will cost another $100. The prices are for the Surface models with the type of chips common in phones and tablet computers. Microsoft plans a heavier version running Intel chips and a full-powered version of Windows. Availability and prices for that model weren’t announced.
_ Tuesday: Apple unveils a faster, full-sized iPad along with a smaller one called the iPad Mini. They will go on sale Nov. 2, with advance orders starting Friday. Apple also refreshed its lineup of Mac computers. It unveiled a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a sharper screen, available immediately. New iMacs with 21.5-inch screens will go on sale in November and 27-inch models will be available in December.
_ Wednesday: Samsung launches the Galaxy Note II, a smartphone with a 5.5 inch screen. That’s larger than the 4.8 inches on Samsung’s Galaxy S III and 4 inches on the iPhone 5. The Note comes with a stylus and runs the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, Jelly Bean.
_ Thursday: Microsoft kicks off campaign for Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet computer. Windows 8 is a major change and is designed to make desktop and laptop computers work more like tablets. Surface, meanwhile, represents Microsoft’s first foray into making a general-purpose computer.
_ Friday: Sales of Windows 8 software and devices, including Surface, begin. Apple starts taking advance orders for the new iPads. Initial shipments of the white iPad Mini model quickly sell out on Apple’s site; buyers will now have to wait two weeks for delivery. As of midday Friday, the black model is still available for normal delivery next Friday.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
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