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The Techday Weekender - Oct 1st 2011

01 Oct 11

Gadget geeks will have been salivating this week with the unveiling of some seriously cool mobile toys.

Perhaps the most important is the Kindle Fire from Amazon, picked by many (and as many others have been picked before) as the device which could finally break the iPad’s stranglehold on the tablet market. Amazon is actually competing by offering something completely different – an entry-level device that does the basics but has none of the bells and whistles like front-and-rear cameras, GPS, Bluetooth, or memory and connectivity options. Even with this limited functionality, analysts say at US$199 Amazon is probably still selling the device at a loss, counting on increased sales of its web-based content to balance out the cost (the most basic iPad is more than twice as expensive, at US$499).

Although we don’t know when the Kindle Fire may be available here, two manufacturers have announced new devices which will be on sale by the end of October. Toshiba is adding a 7-inch tablet to its 10.1-inch offering, pricing the new device at $699, while Kobo will offer its latest electronic book, the eReader Touch, for $179. The Kobo device is particularly nifty, with function-specific features like an e-ink screen that can be read in varying lighting conditions, and a display that shows the cover of the last book the user was reading when the device is turned off, so it can be left on a desk or coffee table as a talking point.

In smartphones, Microsoft finally started rolling out its new OS, Windows Phone 7.5 (aka Mango), on Wednesday. If you have a Windows phone you may still have a few weeks to wait – Microsoft is determined not to hit any snags so has set a very conservative release schedule.

As always, though, the big news was from Apple, with the company finally confirming the date on which it will reveal its new iPhone. Details are sketchy – the invitation to the media unveiling says only, ‘let’s talk iPhone’ – but Apple is reported to be denying employees leave in the week following, specifically October 9-12, as well as 13 & 14, suggesting the gap between unveiling and release will be a short one.

In other news, the government opened its new National Cyber Security Centre on Tuesday, as part of its cyber security strategy. The opening came at the same time as an unrelated technical error knocked out 14 government websites, including the Companies Office and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. The outage occurred during an attempted server upgrade, and lasted for several days.

Finally, Vodafone was found guilty of breaching the Fair Trading Act on Tuesday, less than two months after it was fined $400,000 for the same charge. The breaches took place around the same time, and reports have stated there are four more cases to come. Sentencing for the latest case will take place on November 10.

So, this could be a long weekend for Apple fans! Hope it’s a good one. See you Monday.

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