Showdown in Tablet Town: Apple, Microsoft and Nokia Tablet Wrap-Up

By October 23, 2013
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A crap-ton of tech was announced yesterday (which was dubbed #AnnounceATabletDay by many) and we’re issuing the TL;DR quasi-condensed version. We did all the research so you don’t have to!

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I’ll start with a summary, so you know what you’re in for…yesterday, all of these big new things were unveiled/announced/released:

From Apple: iPad Air (iPad 5th generation), iPad Mini (2nd generation), MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, free software updates, and the next big update to OS X

From Microsoft: Surface 2, Surface 2 Pro

From Nokia: Lumia 2520 Tablet, Lumia 1520 & 1320 phablets,  Asha 500 phone, Asha 502, Asha 503, and a bunch of app surprises

A dozen new gadgets and some cool software news. I’m aiming for all the high notes here, so don’t expect a full spec breakdown this time around. Are you ready?

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Apple event wrap-up:

As expected, Apple announced the refresh of both the iPad and iPad Mini. The purpose of this year’s model was to show that “thin is in” (not that it was ever out, but you know what I mean). The new iPad, dubbed the iPad Air, weighs in at just one pound and is the thinnest yet at 7.5mm. Outfitted with their new A7 chip and 64-bit architecture, it also promises to be the fastest as well. The iPad Mini got its own big upgrade in the form of a Retina display. It too has the A7 and the snappiness to prove it.

Also unveiled was the curiously cylindrical Mac Pro, a powerhouse in the form of a space-age tube from the future! It has quad and six core flavors, both of which have Intel Xeon E5 CPUs and AMD FirePro GPUs. All that power comes at a hefty price, though. The quad core will set you back nearly three grand, and the six core adds another Grover Cleveland to the cost.

The MacBook Pro has also received a Retina display and a big CPU boost, running either a 2.4+Ghz dual-core Intel i5 or a 2+Ghz quad-core Intel i7. It’s also loaded with the newest release of OS X, known as Mavericks. (Side note: It’s the first non-cat-named OS X version in quite a while.) Speaking of Mavericks, it’s free, and it’s ready for immediate download. Need to upgrade? Go get it now!

Finally, they’ve made their popular iLife and iWork suites free with any new purchase of a Mac or iOS device.

Oh, also: Apple’s Phil Schiller is apparently a Martin Lawerence fan.

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Microsoft Surface 2 family release wrap-up:

MS didn’t announce tablets, they released them. The Surface 2 (son to the ARM-based Surface RT) and the Surface 2 Pro hit the streets to a decent amount of fanfare. Both slates got spec bumps, including the addition of a full HD screen to the RT version, greatly improved battery life, and a step up to USB 3.0. There’s also a ton of new accessories, two of which are improved versions of the keyboard covers. Also released are a wireless adapter for the keyboard covers and a docking station for the Pro and Pro 2.

Windows 8.1 in both x86 and RT flavors is included with the new Surface family, and it fixes a good number of annoying software bugs while adding a good deal of extra functionality. Some of the additions are rather forward-looking, including baked-in Miracast and 3D printer support.

It remains to be seen if the new iteration of the Surface will fare better than the previous one. There have been big steps forward, but an equal amount of accidental stumbles. Time, as always, will tell.

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Nokia World event wrap-up:

In likely the last big event before the official Microsoft merger, Nokia went all out, announcing a tablet, two phablets, three budget-minded phones, and wrapped up with a bundle of software surprises.

The biggest part of the event was the not-very-secret Lumia 2520 tablet. It’s sleek, thin, loaded with Windows 8.1 RT, and gives the above mentioned Surface 2 a run for its money. Aside from having a more “fun” look to it, it also has exclusive Nokia apps (thought that’s probably a moot point, since said apps will be available on all Windows products once the MS/Nokia acquisition is complete), has a Carl Zeiss camera, built in 4G LTE support, and is available in a handful of playful colors. Expect the Surface 2 vs Lumia 2520 shootouts to start hitting the wire in short order.

On the phablets: The two announced models, the Lumia 1520 and 1320 look almost the same, with very different guts. They both sport a 6″ screen, colorful shells, and Windows Phone 8.1…and the similarities end there. Where the 1520 has a FullHD (1080P) screen, the 1320 has 720P. The 1320 is the lower end phablet, holding only half the RAM and a quarter of the flash memory space, as well as a good deal less computing power. The dip in power also means a dip in price, of course.

Nokia added to their Asha budget line of phones with the Lumia-esque Asha 500, 502, and 503. They run an OS apparently unique to the Asha series, and were created with emerging markets in mind. There’s a pretty decent chance that we won’t see this series here in the states.

Finally, they dropped a few software bombs: Instagram, Papyrus, InNote, and Vine are finally making their way to Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 in their true forms…and the Lumia series will get them first. Sounds like it might be time for some of us (read: me) to consider an upgrade!

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If you want to know more about any of the products, just click on their names throughout the article, and hopefully all your questions shall be answered! Of course, much of it is marketing speak and pretty graphics, but you’ve already picked a favorite, I’m sure. I know I have!

Do you plan to replace any of your current kit with any of this new gear? Sound off in the comments below!

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Bryan is a tech and gadget geek, as well as a fan of media in all its forms. Film, music, games, you name it. He also has a deep love for nearly all things indie, because sometimes the little fish have the biggest adventures. You can find him as @DieselBT pretty much anywhere on the internet.