Update, 4/16/13: Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, added its support to the call to restore the legal protection that had permitted consumers to unlock their mobile devices for use on other wireless communications networks. In letters to the FCC and leaders of the House and Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees, the consumer group urged regulators and lawmakers to take action, whether through legislation or through Commission rulemaking. Read more at ConsumersUnion.org.
Alongside other innovations we've seen in new Windows 8 computers comes the Transformer AiO from Asus: It's an all-in-one desktop computer with a detachable screen that you can use as an 18.4-inch tablet. If that's not enough, it's also the first dual-OS hybrid desktop that's switchable on the fly. We tried out a press sample (the AiO will be available to buy on April 12 for $1,300). The AiO display is small for a desktop and large for a tablet—but we like its unique versatility.
The Microsoft Surface Pro delivers on its promise to provide the most laptop-like performance yet from a tablet. But like most groundbreaking devices, it has flaws—including limited storage and hefty weight and size—that mean it's suited mainly to road warriors who can't wait for a better super-tablet device to come along.
They may say they'd rather read on paper, but one study found that for adults between the ages of 60 and 77, reading on digital devices such as tablets causes less strain on the brain.
Last year was the first time the Super Bowl was streamed live online. This year, the Big Game in the Big Easy moves from NBC to CBS, which plans to offer a live stream of the game to desktops, laptops, and tablets on NFL.com and CBSSports.com. Those with mobile devices can also view a live stream of the game, but only via Verizon's exclusive NFL Mobile app.
Casual games like Angry Birds and Where's my Water? are fun and work well on smart phones and tablets. But more complex games (such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour) that we used to see only on larger platforms are also being released for mobile devices, and touch-screen controls aren't really adequate for playing those games. The Moga Mobile Gaming Controller for Android (version 2.3 and up), is a fine solution to that problem.
Emblematic of one trend for smart devices this year, we saw at CES that tablets are growing: Vizio announced a 16-inch tablet, and Panasonic has went even bigger, with a 20-inch tablet.
Gesture controls have been around for some time, but the few computers we've tested with them failed to impress us: Gestures weren't always picked up, and the motion was very jerky. At CES, Intel demoed software that it says will let developers integrate better controls into their apps, so they can move beyond the simplistic Windows 8 controls of scrolling, raising volume or opening or closing applications.
You've probably handed your tablet or smart phone to your children to entertain them more times than you'd care to think about. But what if you could give your kids a tablet or phone of their own that actually helps them learn, following a real educational curriculum? That's what Vinci has in mind with its new Vinci Tab MV.
The Swype keyboard, which lets you compose words on a smart phone or tablet keyboard by swiping your finger from letter to letter instead of typing, is being upgraded to stay up to date with the latest words and phrases. Think of Swype Living Language as a crowd-sourced way to keep up with the way people are speaking in the 21st century.
Remember those great Fisher-Price toys, like the barnyard and all its animals, from your childhood? Now the toy maker has re-imagined those favorites, bringing them into the age of tablets and touchscreens with its Apptivity line.
I had a chance at CES today to get my hands on Asus's intriguing Windows 8 convertible, the Taichi. What's unusual about the Taichi is its two-sided display, one of which is a touch screen. One minute you can be typing away on its keyboard as on a conventional laptop. And immediately after pressing a button and folding down the regular display, you can use the touch screen as a tablet.
If you're looking for a tablet for kids, you probably don't want to put too much strain on your wallet. Acer's new Iconia B1-A71 might be just what you need. Priced starting at $150, at 0.7 pounds, it's lighter than many of the 7- to 8-inch tablets in our Ratings.
IGZO: the name doesn't exactly roll off your tongue, but this new technology promises to make your tablet run a bit more smoothly. IGZO is a new technology from Sharp, and it's also an acronym for indium, gallium, zinc, and oxide—a new compound that will be used to replace the silicon materials traditionally used in thin-film transistors. IZGO will be used in TV, smart phone, and tablet displays.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: