Choosing the right tablet when doing your holiday shopping

Ever since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to much fanfare and the product took off and started a whole new product category, the market has been flooded with competing products as the country has basically gone tablet crazy. Even young kids basically expect some sort of tablet these days, making things very tough on parents trying to monitor what they do online. People of all ages enjoy these devices as they can be used for so many different purposes, and computer companies like HP that didn’t come up with a good competing product are getting crushed as PC and laptop sales have struggled.

With all of this in mind, here’s a great article from the NY Times that lays out many of the different options. For starters, you should simply avoid the ultra-cheap knockoff options. It’s tempting to go that way, but in many ways you’ll be wasting money.

After that you really need to consider who will be using the tablet. Kids are obsessed with games and texting. Many women and adults like to read books. Others like to surf the web for funny videos, interact with others in social media, play casino games at sites like partycasino.com, or just read the sports page. Some on your gift list may not use computers much, so you sometimes need to think about how they would love to use these devices once you point out uses for them.

E-readers have become more popular and frankly more articles, so the article linked about deals with those options as well. Consider traditional e-readers versus the new color options. Then you have the most basic choice between Apple and Android. Microsoft has also entered the debate though it remains to be seen if they can get beyond a sliver of the market.

There are tons of choices, so do your research online before you hit the stores.

Concept features for the new iPad

The new iPad 3 won’t have these features, but here’s a glimpse of what the future could hold.

iPad wish list

With the buzz surrounding a new iPad, here’s the wish list from consumers.

A new iPad from Apple is expected in early March, and consumers are quite opinionated about improvements they’d like to see in one of the best-selling tech devices of the past few years.

We reached out to consumers for feedback. In a nutshell, they want a USB port to connect the iPad to other devices, faster processor, expanded memory, better resolution and a lower price.

The USB seems like something Steve Jobs would never agree to, but hopefully the new Apple will add this feature.

CES kicks off

The biggest technology and gadget show, CES, just kicked off in Las Vegas, and as usual much of the talk surrounds Apple:

Apple is the only company that consistently gets big buzz out of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — without even attending.

This year will be no different.

Connected TVs — TVs that connect to and can access content from the Internet — will be a big part of CES this year. And just about everyone in tech expects Apple at some point to launch such a television — an iTV — that easily consumes and shares with other Apple devices content served from the company’s media-storing iCloud.

Microsoft made news earlier by saying this was the last year they would attend CES/ Why attend if Apple gets all the buzz anyways? Maybe Microsoft should focus on new products instead of protecting its Windows/Office cash cow? Or maybe not . . .

Weather Doodle now available for the iPad

The Apple iPad may already come pre-loaded with a pretty handy, no-frills weather app, but for those that want their weather forecasts delivered with a bit of style, Tiny Mammal’s Weather Doodle is just the app for you. Although it’s been available for the iPhone since late 2010, the app has finally made its way onto the iPad, and it’s currently on sale for only $0.99 (normally $1.99) through May 23rd.

Weather enthusiasts won’t find too much to get excited about — using individual weather stations within cities across the world, you can access basic info like current conditions, the 5-day forecast, and wind speeds and humidity — but it’s in the presentation where the app really shines. Instead of just seeing a static image of the weather conditions, Weather Doodle depicts it using animated art, whether it’s the moon glowing, snow falling, or lightning striking from storm clouds. There are three different art themes to choose from (with more on the way), but only one of them comes installed with the app. The other two can be purchased for an additional $0.99 each, which is perhaps its biggest shortcoming. Fortunately, the one theme that is included (titled Paperscape, which looks like a grade-school art project using construction paper) is undoubtedly the best of the bunch.

Still, for as appealing as the simple yet beautiful presentation may be (it certainly makes checking the weather more interesting than usual), the lack of any really cool features prevents Weather Doodle from being a must-have app. It’s a great deal at its current sale price, but at its usual $1.99 price point, there’s just not enough there to make it worthwhile.

The ultimate baseball app – Bill James Baseball IQ

If you’re a baseball junkie, this app will blow your mind. Bill James is the king of baseball stats, and now you can get an app for your iPad or iPhone called Baseball IQ that gives you an unbelievable about of information. Check out the video above and you’ll get a feel for all the possibilities with this app, but it just scratches the surface.

One of the best uses will be for fantasy baseball. Right now, you have access to tons of stats if you play fantasy baseball, so it’s hard to gain a real advantage over the other teams. But with this baseball app from Bill James, you get a level of information on stuff like match-ups that goes way beyond what you can find on the web.

So check it out and get that edge!

Engadget catches iPad 2 case at CES

iPad 2 case.

The first iPad 2 case has peeked its head above ground at CES. The case is even sporting a mockup iPad 2 model, giving us a chance to see what the next piece of hardware might look like.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, there are dual cameras, supporting the FaceTime platform of course. It’s also interesting that the current generation iPad wouldn’t fit inside the new case because the new model will actually be a bit slimmer. The case Engadget found also had a fairly large speaker cutout. The home button has also moved a bit closer to the bottom edge, which could mean a slighter slimmer bezel.

You can read all about the original find and see more pictures at Engadget.

Bullz-Eye’s Holiday Gift Guide is out

Holiday gift guide.

If you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect holiday gift this year, we have something that could help you out. Our annual Bullz-Eye Holiday Gift Guide is out, including a section (written by yours truly) specifically devoted to gadgets.

Of course, you can also check out the rest of the guide, which includes games, movies, and virtually any other category of gift you might need help with. Happy shopping!

iSkin Back-to-School contest offers $1000 in prizes

iSkin BTS Contest

I’ve covered some iSkin products here in the past and been very pleased with them, so I’m happy to pass along the news about this upcoming Back-to School contest from iSkin. By entering your name and the school you’re headed for in the fall, you could be eligible to win up to $1000 worth of iSkin products to furnish that new dorm room.

Here’s what you win:
- Apple iPad 64GB 3G
- iSkin Vu for iPad
- iSkin silo Messenger Bag
- iSkin Eartones
- iSkin Cerulean RX

That’s a hell of a prize package if you ask me. The contest is only available to US and Canadian residents.

Booq makes a purty iPad bag, too

Boa push iPad bag.I haven’t really tried to hide the fact that I love Booq’s line of products. The bags are stylish, classy, and functional in a way that makes your laptop bag never want to show its face at laptop bag school ever again. Booq’s gone and made a slick little iPad bag for all the tablet lovers in the world, too.

Here’s the official feature list:

booq: Boa push features include:
• Elegant and compact way to carry your iPad, iPhone, credit cards, and other necessary items
• iPad compartment lined with non-scratch fabrics, exterior pocket sized perfectly for the iPhone
• Equipped with easy to use snap button flap closure and super-comfy seatbelt nylon shoulder strap
• Made from genuine Nappa leather and durable booq Twylon
• Equipped with Terralinq service, helps reunite you with your lost and found bag
• Available in sand or gray

The Boa push iPad bag is available for $89.95 at www.booqbags.com.