Posted by: The moderator | October 20, 2009

A Techie Christmas

Looks like a big week for the technologically savvy (if they have any money after this recession). Barnes & Noble takes a shot at Amazon while Apple rains on Microsoft’s parade. Oh, and General Motors doesn’t want to be left out of the technology extravaganza, even if they haven’t got anything to sell yet. It should make for an interesting Christmas shopping season.

Barnes & Noble's Nook

Barnes & Noble's Nook

BN released it’s Nook, an e-book reader directly inspired by Amazon’s successful Kindle with a few elements borrowed from Apple’s iPhone. It’s currious how closely BN followed Amazon’s lead, not just in the similar design but also in creating a new name for the thing. Amazon’s Kindle tells you it’s a “kind” device for the not-so-savvy user. BN’s product spells things out even more directly: a Nook is a book.

Luckily for Amazon, the Nook and the Kindle are different enough that they can’t really be compared side-by-side, with each sporting various features the other neglected. The Kindle is lighter, has a longer battery, includes a text-to-speech feature, and has been around longer giving it all sorts of selection and tech support advantages. The Nook provides AT&T wireless, a MP3 player, and a color touchscreen (iPhone anyone?).

A chubby little MacBook

A chubby little MacBook

Speaking of Apple… guess who upgraded their line of computers today? The iMac, Macbook, and Mac Mini all received some beefier hardware and the first two even received some mild cosmetic changes. It’s not something to write home about and I actually think the new MacBook looks silly with its exaggerated curves. In many ways these hardware upgrades match their modest software update released earlier this fall, Snow Leopard.

Windows 7

Windows 7

If Apple’s offering isn’t the most exciting thing all year, at least they managed to position the release to take some wind out of Microsoft’s sails. The Big M is releasing its new operating system this week. Windows 7 replaces the much-maligned Windows Vista, returning Microsoft’s release schedule to a more frequent cycle reminiscent of the 1990s. Windows 7 comes with everything Vista had to offer… just faster, prettier, and with fewer bugs. The lengthy and open beta testing period has given techies more confidence in this version and hopefully it will surpass Vista’s slow adoption. Unfortunately, Microsoft has added a couple hurdles for hold-outs planning to upgrade from Windows XP just so Big M can have the last laugh.

Lastly, GM wants to remind you that they’ve been sinking lots of money into designing an energy efficient battery-powered car named the Volt, even if it’s still not cost-effective. Sooner or later, the Japanese will figure out how to make it work for less money… and then Detroit will have nowhere else to go.

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