Smartphones are incredible tools and toys that make our lives easier, more productive, more social and more fun. All great things, right? But like anything in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. This is especially true with smartphones (Android, or otherwise): we can actually use them to our detriment. I discovered this the hard way…but thankfully found a solution: replacing my smartphone with a “dumb phone” and a tablet to set some healthy boundaries on my “tech time”. Read on past the break to hear my experience of disconnecting.
I spent a lot of time with the folks at Fuhu yesterday, and I was thoroughly impressed with what they are doing. Not only are they cranking out tablets that appeal to toddlers, kids and tweens, but they are getting into the educational game in a major way. I had a chance to get a first look at the Wings application, which is an adaptive educational learning system. It actually is a role playing game for elementary students, and it was developed with a board of educators and school district board members.
It wasn’t the final product, but it looked very comprehensive. It’s a complete lesson plan for children that will improve their proficiency with reading, writing, and math. As your child progresses through the levels, they will earn coins that can be used to buy apps from the nabi app store and you will get a report card as well. It will come pre-loaded with the upcoming nabi Jr. tablet and will be available as a package for the nabi 2 that will include the application, a stylus, and a bluetooth keyboard. It’s still in development, but you can get a good idea of how it works in the hands on video after the break.
Fuhu has really stepped up their game since the introduction of the original nabi tablet. The upcoming nabi XD will sport NFC and they have come up with a role playing game using Battle Kinabi figures. Each character will come with its own profile that will be tied to an NFC chip. By touching the characters to the XD tablet, it will load all the levels, defense/offense moves, and more that have been earned by playing the game. You will be able to change characters at any time or even share with your friends. Hit the break for a look at the characters and the concept.
Late last year, Fuhu announced the nabi XD tablet for tweens. This one is their largest to date with a 10.1-inch (1366 x 768) IPS display, and the rest of the specs should satisfy not only tweens, but the parents as well. It sports a quad-core Tegra 3, front and back cameras, 16GB/32GB of storage, microSD, 10 hours of battery life, NFC, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Nabi also created a new UI for this one called Kanzi, which has a Windows 8 type of look to it. Since this one is for the tweens, you won’t find the rubberized case, just a slim aluminum body that’s very appealing. They will also offer a really nice keyboard accessory and a cool game involving Battle Kanabis that utilize NFC. The tablet itself will be priced at $249 for 16GB or $349 for 32GB, which is pretty competitive based on the specs. We should see this one by the end of February, but for now, check out the hands on video after the break.
Late last year Fuhu announced the nabi Jr. tablet for toddlers. This one is the little brother (or sister) to the nabi 2. It sports a 5-inch (800 x 480) display, a dual-core Tegra 2 processor, a rotating camera lens, 4GB/16GB of storage, matching stylus, microSD, and Fuhu’s own UI built around Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It will be priced at $99 for the 4GB version and $129 for the 16GB version. I had a chance to play with it at CES, and I am not usually impressed with kids tablets, but Fuhu has done a really good job. The specs aren’t high end, but again this if for your toddler. They don’t need any more than this. I love the design of the protective case and that it’s easily removable. We should see this one by the end of February, but for now, check out the hands on video after the break.
A couple of days ago we reported on new wireless technologies from the Alliance For Wireless Power (A4WP). Wireless charging isn’t anything new, but one thing we can all agree on is that it hasn’t been widely adopted. Actually there is second thing we can agree on and that’s that we really want it. The problem is there really hasn’t been a standard and current pads are too clunky.
The Alliance For Wireless Power consists of key members from the tech community including Qualcomm, Samsung, Powermat, Texas Instruments, and others. Their goal is to bring a format along with marketing that will hopefully push wireless charging to the next level and then some. I had a chance to sit down with key members from the alliance as well as some of the top writers in the tech community to get a demo utilizing a newer technology that utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 LE. They chose it because Bluetooth is already widely adopted so it’s a natural fit.
Last year I had a chance to see what Qualcomm Vuforia was doing with augmented reality, and I was so impressed that I had to see where things are 12 months later. To refresh your memory, Vuforia was created by Qualcomm for developers that want to utilize augmented reality in their apps. Things are going pretty well as there are over 2,500 apps available (Android and iOS) from developers in 130 countries, and there are over 40,000 registered developers. Last year we saw an app from Sesame Street, and this year they are back with a really cool educational app that I know my son is going to love. They also showed off what can be done for med students and retail catalogs. Check out the video after the break
I had a chance to meet with Qualcomm Smart Labs to take a look at the Gimbal platform. It’s a context aware platform for Android and iOS that enables developers to deliver content in a more personalized way and more importantly, timely. It allows apps to be more of a personal assistant or a “sixth sense”. An example might be that when you show up at the mall, you could be offered deals or tips. That’s nothing new, but since it’s more of a personal assistant, it knows about you. So if you’re a male, you will get deals for stores pertaining to men, but it will also learn your likes so it will be further fine tuned. It’s kind of like Google Now, and we should see a lot more of these types of apps in the future. Qualcomm’s Gimbal can be utilized by any developer for any app, which makes the possibilities endless. Just check out the hands on video after the break.
PowerA released the MOGA gaming controller for Android phones late last year, which is the perfect on the go controller to turn your Android phone into a mini gaming system. Now at CES they are stepping it up a notch with the MOGA Pro gaming controller. PowerA built this controller around their Fusion controller for consoles, which is one of the finest gaming controllers available today. The MOGA Pro will cater to serious gamers and it includes higher quality sticks as well as a a second pair of triggers. It also has a rechargeable battery as opposed to the MOGA that runs on 2 AA batteries. Thankfully it charges using any microUSB cable, which will make things easier on the go. Just like the MOGA, the MOGA Pro will fit Android phones of various sizes including the Galaxy Note II. Now I know a lot of you like to play your games on a tablet, and MOGA put together a really nice foldable kickstand for your tablet. It will come with the MOGA Pro and it will prop up your tablet for easy gaming.
You will probably be able to buy the MOGA Pro within the next couple of months. No word on pricing yet, but hit the break to check out the hands on video. I think you will agree that this just might be the finest controller for Android.
In case you didn’t notice, the tablet space is becoming very crowded. Yet another entry into the market is EFun, who announced their new 7-inch tablet last week in the days leading up to CES 2013. EFun was on hand showing off both 7-inch and 8-inch versions of their tablets going by the model name “Nextbook.” In our interview with them, EFun indicated they are working on a 10.1-inch model as well. The 7- and 8-inch versions come with 1.5 dual-core processors, 8GB of storage, and run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. EFun expects the devices to be available starting in March 2013 with pricing set for $129 for the 7-inch model and $169 for the 8-inch model. Check out our hands on video after the break.