MacBook Touch: Concept Video Shows What Touchscreen Apple Laptop Might Look Like

Macbook Touch

After Apple introduced the iPhone’s touchscreen technology in 2007, it was only natural that fans would start speculating as to whether it would ever be incorporated into the company’s massively popular MacBooks. But with characteristic conviction, Steve Jobs’ put at end to those rumors in 2010 when, at an unveiling for the OS X Lion, he declared that “Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical.”

For the Lenovo Yoga’s sake, let’s hope Jobs was wrong about that. And also because a new concept video, posted on YouTube earlier this week by French architect Olivier Terrisse, shows how awesome a ‘MacBook Touch’ could be, combining the MacBook’s sharp display with a flip-and-fold design.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look we can be looking forward to a MacBook Touch anytime soon. But if the latest rumors are true, Apple fans should have enough to get excited about over the next year: In addition to the 4G iPhone 5, which a number of sources have said will be released in October 2012, the company is also rumored to be developing a mini 7.5-inch version of the iPad as well as an Apple TV, which could be here in time for the holidays.

 

HTC Working On iPod Touch Competitor?

It looks like HTC may be working on their own device to take on Apple’s iPod Touch, according to some patents which were discovered by Patentbolt, and can be seen in the photo below.

The device is described as a ‘handheld electronic device’, and it looks like HTC aren’t planning a new smartphone, instead the device is reported to be an iPod Touch competitor.

HTC Working On iPod Touch Competitor?

Amazon Kindle Touch Lands In The UK Next Month

Amazon has announced that their new Kindle Touch will go on sale in the UK in April, the device will be available in the UK from the 27th of April and will come in two flavors, a WiFi only model and a WiFi and 3G model.

The WiFi Kindle Touch will retail for £109 and the WiFi and 3G Kindle Touch will retail for £169, and both devices are now available to pre-order from Amazon here in the UK.

Amazon Kindle Touch

Wacom Intuos5 touch review

It’s no secret Wacom has a firm grasp on what it takes to make great graphic input devices. Fresh off of its introduction of the Inkling last fall, the outfit recently unveiled the latest member of its high-end pen tablet line, the Intous5 touch. Essentially, Wacom took what made the Intuos4 a great addition to any designer or illustrator’s workflow and refined it, with this latest iteration sporting a new rubber-coated shell. It also implements touch gestures — much like those on the fresh Bamboo models — which can be customized to speed up tasks you need to complete on the regular, preferably without the aid of a mouse.

Sure, a new matte black suit and the ability to navigate Adobe Creative Suite without a pen seem impressive at first glance, but is the new model worth investing northward of $229? Are you better off sticking with the Intuos4 you splurged on a while back? Let’s see.

 

Hardware

 

We’re going to go ahead and get this out of the way early: the Intuos5 touch is a mighty dapper device. Seriously, it looks amazing. The outer frame is coated in a rubberized matte black finish with no text indicators or printed markings interfering with the paint job. The medium-sized version we tested is crowned with an 8.8 x 5.5-inch (224 x 140mm) active area that offers a whopping 48.4-square-inch work surface. Backlit bracket indicators delineate the boundaries of the input area to keep you from swiping a tad too far while working on Illustrator files. The input portion of the topside is coated in a semi-gloss finish, which allowed our hand and fingers to glide along with a bit more ease.

We’re going to go ahead and get this out of the way early: the Intuos5 touch is a mighty dapper device. Seriously, it looks amazing.

The so-called ExpressKeys and Touch Ring are just to the left of the work surface (if you’re right handed, of course) but can be easily configured to work from the right side too. Four of these programmable buttons lie above the ring, with another four just beneath it. Here, too, Wacom has done away with any printed text, leaving only some backlit indicators around the Touch Ring to show which of the four commands you’ve selected. We think the absence of text is a nice touch, and the choice to keep everything on-screen a wise one. Take a closer look at the ExpressKeys and you’ll notice the middle two in each set of four have a raised dot and raised bar, respectively. These allow you to navigate the controls by feel, so that you don’t constantly have to look away from your PC toward the device.

 

It’s not surprising that most of the action takes place on the device’s front face, but there’s still more to see as we tour the hardware. Hopping around to the side opposite the ExpressKeys, there’s a mini-USB socket for plugging into your work machine. To the left of said port is the resting spot for half of the wireless kit. After removing two small covers on the bottom of the device you’ll gain access to both the wireless components and battery slots, both of which allow the kit to be used sans cable (up to nine hours on the medium-sized unit, according to Wacom). Also worth a mention here is the clip attached to the miniature end of the included USB cable. It’s a small, but nice touch to keep the excess cable length from getting in your way.

 

And then there’s the pen. That piece of the kit that you’ll be touching day in and day out is as comfortable to hold as ever. We didn’t notice any change here, as the grip, click buttons and eraser features have all carried over from the previous generation. Another feature Wacom’s chosen to bring back this go ’round: 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The included desktop stand houses ten different nibs (also brought back from the previous model), which the company recommends you switch out regularly in order to protect your tablet from unnecessary wear. As we noted in our hands-on, both the Intuos4 and Cintiq pens work just fine with the new tablet. You know, just in case you’ve broken in that pen just how you like it over the past year or so.

 

Setup

 

About 15 to 20 minutes passed from the moment we inserted the installation CD until we were ready to fire up Creative Suite. Of course, this depends on how fast your internet connection can download the latest drivers from Wacom’s site. We were then able to use the software to program the ExpressKeys, Touch Ring and touch gestures just how we like ’em. Also, we went ahead and set up mapping so that our dual-display workstation would play nice with the active area of the tablet.

 

Software

 

Using a series of menus, much like what you’d encounter in the preferences window of other applications, we were able to set up custom commands and gestures in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t hard to find exactly what we needed and to lay our tools out on the workbench, so to speak. The second ExpressKey from the top brings up the Settings display, and from there we were easily able to navigate to both critical and touch-centric settings without having to open a separate program.

Worried about the absence of OLED indicators on the tablet’s surface? Don’t be. Sure, there was a bit of an adjustment period for us, but once we got used to the on-screen heads-up display, things progressed nicely. If you forget which ExpressKey did what, resting your finger on top of one will bring up an on-screen reminder for the entire set. When clicking through the Touch Ring’s four programmable tools, you’ll also see an indicator pop up letting you know which option you’re currently using. Honestly, this is a great improvement, and it sped up our workflow nicely once we got the hang of things.

 

Another nifty feature is the Radial Menu. Access to this HUD can be attached to an ExpressKey for quick and easy task selection. The Radial Menu can house up to eight tasks that you would normally grab from a menu or toolbar with sub-menus for each as an added perk. You can also adjust the pen’s sensitivity to your particular workflow. Doing so will ensure that those swipes across the active areas do exactly what you want them to and with the intended pressure for the task at hand.

 

Touch gestures and general use

 

Overall, the Intuos5 performs just as well, if not better than its older siblings. The active surface / pen combo is incredibly sensitive and responds nimbly, and accurately, even to quick motions. And throughout our testing, we never suffered a bit of lag either.

Here’s where one of our lone issues with the pen tablet lies: the touch gestures. Don’t get us wrong, the ability to use our fingers on the active surface is a welcome addition and works quite well in some instances. Pinch to zoom, scrolling and simple navigation work great using multitouch. It was wonderful to carry out some tasks with our non-pen hand to keep things snappy. We were also happy that we never ran into a situation where the tablet got confused between our fingers and the pen. Touch capabilities are automatically disabled when the device senses its native pen is ready to jump in the driver’s seat.

However, things like selecting text to be copied or modified and more precise selections / movements left a bit to be desired. This is most likely due to the surface of the tablet being not quite as touch friendly as what you’d encounter on a tablet PC or a Magic Trackpad. The surface isn’t quite as slick as those aforementioned devices either, so our swipes were met with some slight resistance. It’s clear that Wacom chose to add touch to the active area instead of forgoing a proven technology some other touch-friendly surface. And we can’t dock it too much for that.

The ability to program these multi-touch gestures almost made up for their shortcomings.

That said, the ability to program these multitouch gesturesalmost made up for their shortcomings. Not only could we customize the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring, but we also made programs like Corel Draw carry out tasks with just a three-finger swipe. By default, the gestures correspond to stock OS X or Windows functions — again, similar to Apple’s Trackpad. Currently, the software only supports five simultaneous points of contact, but the tablet itself is ready for up to sixteen — should you need to use both hands (and some toes) at some point in the future.

 

Accessories and size options

 

One of our biggest gripes with the Intuos5 is that the Wireless Accessory Kit is sold separately. Sure, we get that the ability to go wireless usually comes with some added cost ($40 in this case), but we’d at least like to see a bundle so that we don’t have to make two separate purchases. We’re also well aware that unless you can keep your workdays under eight hours, you won’t go far without a USB cable. And for yours truly, at least, those are few and far between. However, if you’ve already sprung for the wireless kit for your Bamboo tablet, it should work with the Intuos5 as well.

Worried the stock pen just won’t get the job done for every project? Three additional ones (Art, Classic and Airbrush) are on offer too. The Classic offers a slimmer profile than the stock pen and will set you back $70. Art and Airbrush offer the feel of felt markers and a digital airbrush, respectively, complete with ink / spray simulation. Those cost $100 apiece. If you’re looking to stay mobile, Wacom offers cases for each tablet size, with accessory pockets for cables and such.

Honestly, we’re not so sure the non-touch version would be worth the investment

As we mentioned before, we tested the medium-sized Intuos5, which costs $349. If you’re in the market for something a little more petite (or expansive, even), small and large options are also available. The littler pen tablet offers an active area measuring 6.2 x 3.9 inches (157 x 98 mm) and will set you back $229. Looking to give yourself plenty of room while working in CS5? You can opt for the large Intuos5 with a 12.8 x 8.0-inch (325 x 203mm) pen pad and an 11.8 x 7.5-inch (299 x 190mm) multitouch area. You’ll pay $469 for the privilege of such spacious real estate. All told, that’s comparable to what Wacom charged for the last-gen Intuous4. There’s also a fourth option reportedly on the way: a medium offering without multitouch gestures. Honestly, we’re not so sure that would be worth the investment; however, we expect it to be the least expensive of the bunch.

Not that it’s our place to guess your preferences, but after spending a week with this thing, we suggest you think twice about grabbing the smallest tablet if you’re running a dual-screen system, especially if you’re mapping the tablet to both displays. The medium size worked great for us, but we can’t imagine being comfortable with fewer square inches.

 

Wrap-up

 

Overall, we’re quite pleased with the improvements that Wacom has made between the Intuos4 and the new Intuos5. Its dashing good looks are just the tip of the iceberg, er, pen. The feel of the tablet is much more inviting than the plastic finish of yore. This outer shell makes you want to touch the slim device, which is something you’ll be doing plenty of, thanks to those multitouch gestures. Moving the ExpressKey labels to the on-screen HUD was also a solid move. It’ll take some getting used to, but we realized it ultimately cured our habit of constantly looking down to find our bearings.

Sure, we have some gripes concerning the need to purchase a wireless kit separately and its imperfect response to touch input. For us, though, those two demerits are hardly deal-breakers. The multitouch features aren’t flawless, but they add great functionality to the workflow for Photoshop and other design software, and can be used to access tools that without digging through menus. If you’re still clinging to an older Wacom model or feel the Intuos4 hasn’t run its course, we don’t think you’ll regret splurging on a new model, especially if you already have the wireless kit lying around. Well, at least you won’t mind the expense after you get your hands on one, that’s for sure.

Sony outs Xperia sola: 3.7-inch LCD, 1GHz CPU, ‘floating touch’ navigation

Sony outs Xperia solaSo, it turns out the sola isn’t a US-specific version of the Xperia S after all, but a new handset in its own right — albeit one we’ve already seen under the “Pepper” codename. In some ways, it’s a budget version of the S, with a similar appearance minus the glittery translucent strip along the bottom and with various other reductions, including a 3.7-inch 854 x 480 LCD, 1GHz dual-core processor and 5-megapixel rear camera. On the other hand, it’s a fully hazed member of the Xperia gang, with NFC SmartTags, an xLOUD “surround sound” speaker, Mobile BRAVIA image processing and, of course, full access to the Sony Entertainment Network. As expected, the sola will ship with Gingerbread but be upgradeable to ICS soon after launch. There’s also one completely new spec: “floating touch” navigation for “magic web browsing without touching the screen.” What is it? Does it work? We should have answers pretty soon — the handset is due for a global release in black, white and red colors in Q2. Check the source link for full specs.

iPod touch review (2010)

At Apple’s last event, Steve Jobs called the iPod touch the company’s “most popular iPod,” and it’s easy to understand why. In just a few short years, the iPhone-with-no-phone has kept in lockstep with Cupertino’s halo device, benefitting from the same kind of constant hardware and software updating that has helped turned the iPhone into an iconic gadget. The touch has been right alongside the iPhone’s meteoric rise in popularity, becoming the go-to second-pocket slab for millions. There are good reasons, too. Apple boasts about gaming on the device — claiming it beats out both Nintendo’s and Sony’s offerings in sales… combined. While we can’t concede that the device is a dedicated game console, it most definitely games. And it’s still an iPod, an internet device, and a thousand other things thanks to Apple’s vastly populous App Store. Now the player has once again reaped the rewards of iPhone updates, boasting a new Retina Display, the A4 CPU, two cameras which allow for FaceTime calling and 720p video recording, and all the new features of the company’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 4.1. But despite all of the plusses, we still have to ask: is the little do-everything box still worth the premium price tag? We took a deep dive on the latest model and have the verdict, so read on to find out.

Hardware

 

If you own the last version of the iPod touch, the design of the latest version shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Instead of aping the iPhone’s new glass-sandwich looks, the touch hews close to its roots with a super thin profile made up of one part glass screen and one part all-metal back. The device still bears the smudge inviting chrome rear panel, and continues the trend of shrinking the thickness as far down as possible. We thought the iPhone 4 was crazy thin, but the new touch looks like a toothpick by comparison. In our large hands, we might even argue that it’s a little too small — but it should be just right for the legion of teens and tweens that will clamor for this come holiday time.

As with earlier version, hard buttons come in the form of a single home key, a power / sleep button (finally moved to match the iPhone’s placement at the top-right of the device, as opposed to the opposite side on previous versions), and two volume buttons on the left. Around back there’s now a small camera lens in the upper corner of the device, while a single, VGA shooter peers out from behind the glass on the front of the player. A quick note: we had a little trouble consistently finding the sleep button when using the device — it’s a bit buried in the housing.

All told, we think it’s break even in the looks department. The thinness is certainly welcome, but not a game changer. While we like the iPod touch design overall, there’s nothing present in the new version that makes it significantly more lust-worthy than previous generations.

Internals

 

Inside the new iPod touch is Apple’s A4 CPU, the same engine used to power the iPhone 4 and iPad (and that new Apple TV as well). We assume the device is sporting the same 512MB of RAM that the iPhone has, but we won’t know for sure until someone like iFixit gets their hands on it. The 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen is called a Retina Display, which means it had equal resolution (960 x 640) and pixel density (326 ppi) as the iPhone 4, but it’s not the same IPS panel that you’re used to on the touch’s big brother. What does that mean in real world terms? Well in our testing we could see noticeable difference in viewing angles, but only at pretty extreme positions. We also felt like the touch’s display was slightly darker than the iPhone 4 screen. In general, we don’t see this as a major detractor for the device, but there’s no question that the iPhone 4 is sporting a qualitatively better display. It may be an “iPhone with no contract” in many regards, but not when it comes to the screen.

Aside from that you’ve got WiFi (802.11b/g/n to be exact), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and Nike + support built in. No GPS here, and obviously no cell radios.

We’re a little confused by Apple’s reluctance to add a GPS chip to these devices. Since the App Store is litered with navigation software, and this could easily take the place of a TomTom or Garmin device, it seems like a short walk to paradise for the company. The touch checks a lot of boxes on the list, but true navigation is still blank, and we can’t really understand why.

Cameras

 

Just like Apple wanted, much has been made about the touch’s camera capability. It seems like the idea of a touch with cameras has been a long time coming (and based on what we’ve seen from case manufacturers since the last fall Apple event, we’re actually about a year behind schedule). But the cameras on this device aren’t quite the same pair that you get on the iPhone 4, and there should be no mistaking one for the other. The rear camera on the device is capable of 720p video, but that means that its maximum resolution is 1280 x 720 — and when it’s used for still photos, that resolution becomes 960 x 720 (that’s a 720p at a 4:3 ratio). Obviously this is not the same lens or sensor as the iPhone 4, and when we asked Apple about it, they said it was more a consideration of size rather than cost. According to Greg Jozwiak, using something closer to the iPhone 4’s sensor would have made the casing for the touch considerably larger. The camera is also fixed-focus rather than auto-focus, which means that tapping on the screen has no discernible result except for altering the white balance and exposure. Oh, and there’s no flash to be found. Around front, the phone sports a VGA camera (similar to that of the iPhone), but again this is a fixed-focus lens.

We really would have liked to see a higher quality shooter on the back of this device — maybe the iPhone 4 has spoiled us, but even something like 3 megapixels wouldn’t have felt out of place here. And we’re pretty sure Apple could figure out a way to keep this thing thin and light in spite of it.

In our side by side shots with the iPhone 4, it’s obvious that the touch’s performance for still images is far below that of its big brother. For taking quick shots (which don’t require tight focus), you’ll be fine, but if you want to grab printer-ready pics, the touch definitely will not be a reasonable stand-in. However, when it comes to video, the 720p performance was actually quite surprising, and the device seemed to have no problem capturing smooth HD content. See the clip below (and check the raw file here) for a look at what kind of results it can produce.

 

Sound quality

As with the new nano, the touch did seem to sound a little better than previous versions, but it’s not such an astounding difference that you should toss your last gen model in the garbage. Overall, playback seemed solid to us — at least it didn’t leave us wanting for quality. If you’re planning on using the external speaker for listening, however, you might want to reconsider. We can’t remember the last time we heard something so tinny. Of course, it’s not surprising considering the size of this housing. Even though it’s located in a similar spot as the iPhone 4’s speaker, the volume and quality of audio it produces is not even in the same vicinity. Still, how often will you use this?

Software

 

If you’ve used an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4, there will be few (if any) surprises here. The touch performs exactly like any other iOS device, though admittedly you’ll probably notice faster performance if you’re upgrading from an earlier model of touch. Our review unit was loaded up with 4.1, which means we had access to a non-beta Game Center, as well as some of those proximity and performance fixes Apple told us would be coming — though without seeing 4.0 on this device, it’s hard to spot the differences.

Overall, performance was silky smooth on the touch — games didn’t lag, and getting around in the OS was as painless as it is on the iPhone 4. Multitasking worked flawlessly, and for those of you using the device heavily as a media player, it makes juggling playback functions along with the other “stuff” the touch does dead simple.

The new touch does come equipped with FaceTime, though now instead of using your phone number (and SMS) to connect, it asks for your email address as an identifier. Unfortunately, only other 4.1 devices can make a connection with the touch, so we were only able to make a handful of calls. In general, the application worked as effortlessly as it does on the iPhone, though we still had some freezes and breakups even on our strong WiFi connection. Ultimately, we still see this as a side dish and not the main course for these devices. With the iPhone 4, we complained that without 3G options for FaceTime calls, the feature remains limited in use, and that’s now doubly true with the touch — unless you’re carting around a MiFi, you’re stuck mostly indoors (and probably at home) for these calls. One thing to note about FaceTime on the touch — on our device the volume seemed extremely low even when cranked up (in keeping with our experience for music playback), though the New York Times’ David Pogue told us his device sounded loud and clear. “Like an iPhone,” he said.

As we said, Game Center is installed on the device, but no games seem to take advantage of the feature just yet. We did field a few friend requests, but all we could do was look at our list of contacts. We’ll likely take a longer look at this feature when it’s accessible to all iOS 4 users, but for now the most notable thing about the app is that Game Center looks nothing like any Apple product you’ve ever seen. That font!

Wrap-up

 

Reading through this review, it should be clear that there isn’t actually a whole lot to say about this device that hasn’t already been said. The new touch isn’t magical or revolutionary, or even unfamiliar. What it is, however, is a product without a peer; a media player that does far more than media playing. Besides the smaller screen real estate, the touch might be better compared to a tablet or netbook — it has many of the same functions (more, in some cases). So you’re not just dropping $229 (8GB), $299 (32GB), or $399 (64GB, also, ouch) on a music and video player — you’re buying into a mini-computer, a video camera, and a game system all with a massive ecosystem.

If you’re already carrying around a smartphone with the above functions, maybe the iPod touch doesn’t make sense, but for the legions of buyers out there who have yet to make the jump (or are stuck with an outdated handset), this device’s appeal is hard to deny. Don’t get us wrong, the touch isn’t without faults — the lack of GPS and a fairly low-quality still camera come to mind — but there’s nothing major here that gives us pause (and frankly, nothing else like it on the market). With the addition of HD video shooting, the new Retina Display, and a faster A4 processor, the touch has just gone from “nice to have” to nearly irresistible.

Georgia Tech researchers turn an iPhone into a Braille writer with BrailleTouch app

Georgia Tech researchers turn an iPhone into a Braille writer with BrailleTouch app

It wasn’t all that long ago that we saw a student turn a tablet into a Braille writer, and now some researchers from Georgia Tech have done the same thing for smaller touchscreens, too. The Yellow Jackets produced a prototype app, called BrailleTouch, that has six keys to input letters using the Braille writing system and audio to confirm each letter as it’s entered. To use the app, you simply turn the phone face down, hold it in landscape mode and start typing. As you can see above, it’s currently running on an iPhone, but the researchers see it as a universal eyes-free texting app for any touchscreen. Early studies with people proficient in Braille writing show that typing on BrailleTouch is six times faster than other eyes-free texting solutions — up to 32 words per minute at 92 percent accuracy. Skeptical of such speeds? Check out the PR and video of the app in action after the break.

Courtesy: engadget.com

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