The Tech News Blog

November 23, 2013

HP, Intel Team Up On $89 Tablet for Black Friday

HP Mesquite 7 Tablet

Hewlett-Packard is set to start selling an $89, 7-inch Android tablet powered by an Intel processor, the chip giant revealed Friday.

HP's Mesquite tablet is one of several Intel-powered slates providing "lightning-fast Web browsing and extraordinary battery life" that will be available in time for Black Friday, Intel said in a blog post.

The Mesquite reportedly packs one of Intel's "Medfield"-class Atom processors and it will be available at Walmart when the holiday shopping season officially kicks off on Nov. 29.

Intel also listed several more Android- and Windows-based tablets being offered in Black Friday sales and promotions, all of which have Intel chips under the hood, naturally.

"Whether you're looking for a small 7-inch or 8-inch tablet or a larger 10-inch tablet running Android or Windows 8, there are lots of choices this holiday powered with Intel processors," Intel's Inside Scoop blogger Marcia Hansen wrote.

There's Dell's 8-inch Venue 8 tablet running Android, which can be had for $99 at Costco with the purchase of a PC priced at $599.99 or more. The Venue 8 is also available on for $129.99, a $50 savings from its normal price.

November 19, 2013

Microsoft Plans Surface, Xbox Black Friday Deals

Microsoft Black Friday

Microsoft is getting in the holiday spirit with some Black Friday discounts of its own.

Redmond will offer its 32GB Surface RT tablet for $199, down from $349. The 64GB version will also be on sale at $379, a $20 discount. The newer Surface 2 begins at $449, while the Surface Pro 2 starts at $899.

A Windows 8-based Dell Inspiron 15z touch-screen laptop, meanwhile, will be $399, a $450 discount. The 15.6-inch device, which can be upgraded to Windows 8.1 for free, runs an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of memory, and a 500GB HDD.

Microsoft will also have a number of game discounts. For those who can't spend $499 on the new Xbox One console, a 250GB Xbox 360 Stingray will be $199.99, down from $300. Stingray is the redesigned Xbox 360 unveiled at E3, which has a design similar to the Xbox One, with a shiny, rectangular black profile. The 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect, meanwhile, will be $179.99, down from $249.99.

Redmond will provide discounts on a number of games for its consoles, including Call of Duty: Ghosts for $39.99 (Xbox 360) or $49.99 (Xbox One), down from $60. Grand Theft Auto 5 will be $33.99, while Battlefield 4 will be $38.99, also down from $60.

Other popular games getting a price cut include Madden 25 ($24.99), Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ($33.99), and FIFA 14 ($24.99). Skylanders Swap Force for Xbox 360 will also be $38.99, as will Disney Infinity, while Minecraft will land at $9.99.

Microsoft will also offer $15 off Skull candy earbuds, bringing them down to $9.99. Expect deals on Beats by Dr. Dre equipment, too.

Redmond also plans to drop the price on the Samsung Ativ Book 5 ultrabook, and several Windows Phones, including the Nokia Lumia 1520 and 1020 for AT&T, and Lumia 520 off contract for AT&T, though prices have not yet been revealed.

November 12, 2013

Apple’s Retina iPad Mini Now on Sale

Hands On With the iPad Mini With Retina Display

Without much fanfare, Apple on Tuesday started taking orders for the new iPad mini with Retina display.

The device is now available on, with the 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi model shipping in 1-3 business days and all other models shipping in 5-10 days, in both colors.

Apple unveiled its new iPad mini and iPad Air at a press event last month. The iPad Air went on sale on Nov. 1, but Apple would only say that the Retina iPad mini would land later in November.

Pricing for the newest small form factor iPad starts at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version and goes up to $829 for the 128GB cellular plus Wi-Fi version. All four major U.S. wireless carriers now offer the iPad, with T-Mobile serving up 200MB of free monthly data to entice customers to the "un-carrier."

The original iPad mini is still on sale; the 16GB Wi-Fi version is $299 while the Wi-Fi plus cellular model is $429.

November 5, 2013

T-Mobile Snags 1M Customers, Explains Free Tablet Data Confusion

T-Mobile logo

T-Mobile's "un-carrier" approach helped the mobile firm add more than 1 million customers during the quarter, which ended with a total 45 million users and $6.69 billion in revenue.

The "un-carrier" strategy ditched traditional wireless contracts in March in favor of a one-time down payment and monthly payments.

"T-Mobile's Un-carrier approach is resonating with customers," CEO John Legere said in a statement, adding that "we are fixing the things that drive customers crazy."

In July, T-Mobile also unveiled its "Jump" trade-in program, allowing for early device upgrades. The carrier has since garnered more than 2.2 million Jump enrollments, T-Mobile said today.

But one area in which T-Mobile hasn't yet excelled is tablets. Recently, though, the carrier added the Apple iPad to its lineup, the last major U.S. carrier to do so. In an effort to attract tablet customers, the carrier announced that it would offer 200MB of free monthly tablet data to all customers for the life of their device.

The "free" part of the deal, however, caused confusion for some. Over the weekend, CNET reported that those who opt to finance the purchase of their tablet will be required to sign up for a service plan, which starts at $20 per month.

October 23, 2013

Walmart Launches Tablet Trade-in Program

The 10 Best TabletsWalmart on Wednesday announced it is adding tablets to its store trade-in program.

Starting today, customers can trade in their tablets at more than 3,600 Walmart and Sam's Club stores nationwide. Like its new smartphone trade-in program, customers can receive up to $300 for their current tablet, which will then be applied toward the purchase of a new tablet.

"Once we launched our smartphone trade-in program earlier this fall, we quickly heard from customers that they also wanted a way to trade-in and up to a newer tablet," Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "We listened and are happy to add tablets to our trade-in program just in time for the holidays."

The amount you receive will be based on a number of factors like whether the device powers on, the condition of the display, and your wireless carrier. Walmart said that customers would, for instance, receive approximately $165 for an Apple iPad 4 (16GB Wi-Fi).

If you accept the offer, the trade-in value will be applied to a new tablet of your choice. If the new device costs less than the trade-in value of your old tablet, you will receive the balance on a Walmart gift card.

October 21, 2013

Tablet Shipments to Explode as Consumers Eye Smaller Devices

Laptops vs Tablets

PC shipments will continue their downward spiral through the new year as more and more consumers eye smaller tablets, according to data from Gartner.

Tablet shipments are expected to grow 53.4 percent in 2013 to 184 million unit shipments, Gartner said, while PC shipments - including ultramobiles - decline 8.4 percent.

"While consumers will be bombarded with ads for the new ultramobile devices, we expect their attention to be grabbed but not necessarily their money," Carolina Milanesi, Gartner research vice president, said in a statement.

Mobile phone shipments, meanwhile, will jump 3.7 percent to 1.8 billion, but high-priced smartphones will not be flying off the shelves. "Growth is expected to come from mid-tier smartphones in mature markets and low-end Android smartphones in emerging markets," Gartner said.

Instead, smaller tablets will have their moment. Based on a recent Gartner study, the average screen sizes of the tablets used in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., the U.S., and Japan range from 8.3 to 9.5 inches. Forty-seven percent of the 21,500 participants, meanwhile, own a tablet that is 8 inches or smaller.

"We expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite — the smartphone — loses its appeal," Milanesi said.

October 20, 2013

Bricked Your Surface RT With Windows 8.1? Let’s Fix That!

Unboxing the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

Uh oh.

Following reports that its recent major update to Windows 8 has adversely affected those running some of the company's Surface tablets, Microsoft has officially pulled the Windows 8.1 update for Windows RT devices until further notice.

Here's the official statement from Microsoft, posted to its community site:

"Microsoft is investigating a situation affecting a limited number of users updating their Windows RT devices to Windows RT 8.1. As a result, we have temporarily removed the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience. We will provide updates as they become available."

In other words, now would not the time to try and finagle some creative method for getting the Windows 8.1 update on your Surface RT tablet. And we should definitely clarify – unlike some reports from earlier today, which might have jumped the gun a wee bit in suggesting that Microsoft has pulled the Windows 8.1 update entirely, Microsoft is only actually targeting the Windows 8.1 update geared for Windows RT devices. That's not your traditional Windows 8-equipped desktop or laptop PC. On those, update away.

October 18, 2013

Survey: 35 Percent of Americans Own a Tablet

The 10 Best Tablets

Around a third of Americans aged 16 and older now own a tablet, up 10 percent since last year, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

As of September, 35 percent have a tablet, and 24 percent own an e-book reader. The figures come from the latest installment of Pew's ongoing Internet & American Life survey, conducted from July 18 to September 20 among 6,224 Americans age 16 and older.

Unsurprisingly, tablet ownership is even more prevalent among the wealthy and college-educated. More than half of households earning $75,000 or more now have tablets, up from 25 percent last year. In addition, 38 percent of those in upper-income households have e-readers, up from 19 percent last year.

"Those who own the devices are especially likely to live in upper- income households and have relatively high levels of education," the report states. "In addition, women are more likely than men to own e-readers. This has also been true in our earlier surveys, including one in May that produced similar results."

October 8, 2013

Report: Microsoft Prepping Office for iPad


An iPad version of Microsoft Office is in the works, according to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer.

As reported by The Verge, Ballmer told attendees at a recent Gartner symposium that Microsoft's Office suite would eventually land on Apple's tablet. But Microsoft is still working on a "touch first" interface for the iPad version of Office, so no word on when to expect an official release.

During a September appearance at Microsoft's financial analyst day, Ballmer talked about developing for non-Microsoft platforms. "We don't have our heads in the sand," he said. "We are working away on all the things you think we should be working away on." PC World interpreted that to mean Microsoft Office on the iPad and Android tablets.

Redmond has introduced its productivity suite for the iPhone and Android phones, but it has not yet been released for non-Windows tablets. Not surprisingly, Redmond's upcoming Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will support the company's Office suite.

Of course, chatter about Office for iPad has been making the rounds for ages, but hearing from Ballmer makes it a bit more official.

October 4, 2013

Microsoft: Surface 2, Pro 2 ‘Close To Selling Out’

Surface 2 Alt

Less than two weeks after Microsoft launched the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the follow-up tablets are flying off the digital shelves - at least according to Redmond.

A Friday post on the Microsoft Developer Twitter feed said that the "Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are close to selling out."

Just exactly what that means is unclear: Redmond has not released details about how many next-gen devices have been built or sold. Did it make a million or only a few hundred?

Microsoft followers might recall that the company also said that its 32GB Surface RT tablet sold out back in Oct. 2012, knocking shipments back three weeks.

Earlier this summer, however, we learned that Surface revenue was $853 million between Oct. 2012 and June 2013. That might not seem too shabby, but Microsoft also incurred a $900 million charge for Surface RT inventory adjustments, and boosted advertising costs for Windows 8 and the Surface by $898 million.

According to May data from IDC, Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface tablets during the first quarter, with reports of 1.5 million sold between October and March. For comparison, Apple sold 14.6 million iPads last quarter.

Recent regulatory filings, meanwhile, revealed that outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had his bonus docked in part being of lackluster Surface sales.