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More hot new gadgets to fill second half of year

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Courtesy photo The new iPad mini from Apple, which goes on sale Tuesday, Nov. 12.

By Vince Horiuchi

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jun 25 2013 09:05AM
Updated Dec 7, 2013 11:34PM

The first half of 2013 has been nerd Nirvana for the tech lover.

In the first six months, there’s been the simultaneous introduction of the two best Android phones ever — the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One — the release to developers of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality gaming headset and the Google Glass virtual-assistant headset, and the better-version debut of the Microsoft Surface tablet, known as the Surface Pro.

But as Bachman-Turner Overdrive sang long, long ago, "You ain’t seen nothing yet."

The second half of the year promises a parade of gotta-have gadgetry that is sure to push consumer technology forward and ignite the imagination of users everywhere.

Here’s a list of the most-anticipated products heading to retailers by the end of 2013:

Razer Blade ($1,799 to $2,299, in release) • We’re starting off with this sleek, powerful PC laptop, which began selling this month but still won’t ship for another two to four weeks if you order one online from Razer Inc.

Why should Apple be the only computer company to boast a sexy, thin laptop? The Razer Blade is a beast of a computer based on its technical specs but housed in a case that is no thicker than a standing dime when closed.

It’s billed as a gaming laptop, and with an Intel core i7 quad-core processor, a powerful Nvidia GeForce graphics card and 14-inch LCD screen, it certainly has the power to compete against meaty desktop computers. And because it uses the new Intel processor code named Haswell, the battery life should be exceptional.

BlackBerry Q10 ($199, in release) • You have to sympathize with BlackBerry users. They’re a loyal if not stubborn bunch. You couldn’t take away their BlackBerry phones unless you pried them from their cold dead fingers. Despite that, the company remains in financial freefall, and it has introduced an updated operating system this year in hopes it will bring BlackBerry back to greatness.

The first phone to sport the BlackBerry 10 OS was a handset that didn’t have a physical keyboard (how dare they!). But the BlackBerry everyone wants is the Q10, which has a keyboard and the new OS. It’s available for T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T.

Google Edition phones ($599 to $649, released in summer) • The new HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 are widely considered the best Android phones on the market. One big problem, however, is that both are loaded with useless apps from the handset manufacturers and carriers who each also tweaked the Android operating system. The result is bloated software that can make the phones buggy or slow.

Both of these popular phones will be getting so-called Google Editions, or versions of the handsets with nothing but the pure Android operating system so it doesn’t cloud the user’s experience. The downside is they are being sold directly from the manufacturers, so you will have to pay full price for the devices.

Mobile operating systems (free, released later this year) • Apple and Google are releasing new versions of their operating systems for mobile devices, OS7 for the iPhone and iPad, and Android’s Key Lime Pie. Both promise big changes.

We already know that iOS 7 will bring a huge style redesign with few additional features. There is little known about "Key Lime Pie," which is Android version 5.0, but the changes could be more pronounced than iOS 7.

Apple stuff (prices unknown, released in the fall) • The most anticipated new products from Apple do not include the new iPhone 5S or 6, whatever it eventually will be called. Speculation suggests that any update will look exactly like the current iPhone 5 and have few new hardware features (perhaps a fingerprint reader?). Expect mostly a speed increase and camera upgrade, and little else.

No, the first of two anticipated Apple products is an iPad mini with a Retina Display. That means the 7.9-inch screen will be a higher resolution, imitating its big brother, possibly sporting a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel screen for crisp, detailed graphics. There’s no reason to doubt the higher-resolution screen, given that similarly sized tablets from Barnes & Noble and Amazon already have them.

The second likely product is the new line of MacBook Pro laptops. The biggest change expected is that they will come with the new Haswell Intel chip, whose main advantage is lower power consumption. The Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this month was thought to be the coming out party for the new line of Pros but instead marked the debut of the updated MacBook Airs, thinner and sporting the new chip but less powerful than the Pros.

If the new Pros get the new chip, expect a huge increase in battery life. The Airs already get an amazing 12 hours on a single charge.

iWatch (price unknown, released in the fall, maybe) • Put this on the "very tentative" list, which is why it’s a separate item from Apple’s products. But speculation about it refuses to die, and some say there’s strong evidence that the company will introduce it in the fall.

The device is a watch wirelessly connected to your iPhone that reportedly would show your notifications, give you caller ID information, allow you to remotely control your music, and perform other functions from your wrist.

Of all the things Apple could be introducing in its fall media briefing, this could be the big shocker.

Gaming consoles ($499 and $399, November release) • After seven years of giving customers the same old battles with aliens and evil terrorists on the same old gaming consoles, rivals Sony and Microsoft are finally coming out with new systems to usher in a new generation of gaming.

Microsoft’s Xbox One for $499 is expected in November, while Sony will start selling the PlayStation 4 for $399 sometime before the holidays.

Both consoles will have better, more detailed graphics, and the Xbox One will have new interactive television features. The difference in the price is because the Xbox One will be sold with the Kinect motion camera included in the box.

vince@sltrib.com

Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi

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