We've come to the end of another year, and as we wave goodbye to 2011, we figured it was only fitting that we share the most popular stories published on Gear Live this year, as determined by our readers (we've also got the top ten most read stories regardless of publish date, as well as the ten most popular Gear Live videos of 2011!) These are the ten stories that were read the most, and when you consider that fact, it's pretty surprising to see what made the list. Let's kick it off with our most read story of the year:
Here's something you don't see every day. The webOS Nation blog has done a hands-on review of a tablet that will never see the light of day—Hewlett-Packard's unreleased TouchPad Go. The 7-inch webOS-based device was supposed to be released in the fall of this year, but HP's decision earlier this year to pull the plug on webOS and its TouchPad line of consumer tablets put the kibosh on those plans.
So what are we missing? According to webOS Nation, a pretty nifty little tablet (see a video review above). The blog got its hands on a rare prototype TouchPad Go and ran it through its paces recently.
In giving the TouchPad Go an 8-out-of-10 rating, webOS Nation raves about the tablet's "smooth and sleek" design, "solid" feel, and "fast and relatively stable" performance. Reviewer Derek Kessler actually seems to think the more compact TouchPad Go is a better performer than its full-sized, 10-inch cousin.
"Despite going smaller, HP does not seem to have gone cheaper," Kessler writes. "The Go is still just as powerful (if not more so), and it certainly feels better than the bigger TouchPads."
If you've got a Kindle Fire and have been waiting for the opportunity to to install a full-on version of Android, you may want to look into the newest hack that's just been released that allows you to install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Amazon tablet. Yep, you read that right - thanks to an early Ice Cream Sandwich port based on CyanogenMod 9 that was put together by JackpotClavin, you can turn your Kindle Fire into a real Android tablet, with some caveats, as you'd probably expect.
As 9to5Mac noted, Apple typically unveils its gadgets at press events on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and launches those products on a Friday or Saturday. Feb. 24 is a Friday, so if there's any truth to the rumor, the iPad 3 would probably hit stores that day but be introduced earlier in the month.
The iPad 2 hit stores on Friday, March 11; it was unveiled on Wednesday, March 2. Jobs, who at the time was on medical leave, returned to show off the new tablet. "We've been working on this product for awhile and I didn't want to miss today," Jobs said at the time.
I've been using my Kindle Fire since it came out, and while I'm still waiting for CyanogenMod9 to come out and let me actually put Ice Cream Sandwich on my Kindle Fire, I've been relatively happy with the performance.
The main interface tweak added to the Kindle Fire is the ability to remove items from the carousel on the home page. This is a small but useful way to keep your most commonly used apps organized and, if necessary, make sure other users don't see whatever naughty things you might have been perusing.
That's the only change to the main screen; you still can't organize your apps into categories or customize your menu beyond adding and removing items from favorites and the carousel. I use my Kindle Fire for several different things, and it would be great to organize my apps by categories like Online Content, Books, Network Tools, and Games. The Fire still has Amazon's default seven tabs and single app list organized alphabetically or by date.
The iPad 3 rumors are in full swing and many of them are focused on a new device possibly arriving as soon as the first quarter of 2012. But a new bit of information has just emerged that makes the next generation of iPads even more enticing, and it has to do with a smaller form factor.
Chinese tech site Digitimes has gone on record with a source that says Apple will introduce a new iPad size in 2012. According to the source, the new size will be 7.85 inches, a size specifically designed to compete head-to-head with the newly popular Kindle Fire from Amazon. The current generation of iPads are 9.5 inches tall, while the Kindle Fire measures just 7.5 inches, making it easier to tuck into a spare pocket or hold for extended periods of time while reading an e-book.
According to the report, the smaller iPads wouldn't arrive until later in the year. The report states, "In addition to purchasing 7.85-inch panels from LG Display, Apple will also buy panels from AU Optronics (AUO), indicated the sources, adding that makers in the supply chain are likely to begin production of the 7.85-inch models at the end of the second quarter of 2012."
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted American Airlines pilots approval to use iPads during flights, without having to power them off during takeoff and landing.
"What we did was we gave them approval to use iPads as an 'electronic flight bag,'" FAA spokesman Les Dorr confirmed, noting that the official OK was given on Dec. 1.
An electronic flight bag is the paperless version of the traditional flight bag, which weighs about 38 pounds and is comprised of operating manuals, navigational charts, handbooks, checklists, logbooks, weather information, and just about anything a pilot needs to fly a plane. By contrast, the iPad-based flight bag weighs under a pound and a half and has all the necessary materials loaded in app form.
Apple iPads have been used in American's cockpits since June, but because they're considered a "Class 1" device, pilots have had to turn them off during takeoff and landing since then, absent FAA approval.
Barnes & Noble on Monday rolled out what it said was the biggest software update yet for its Nook Color e-reader, including the addition of Netflix streaming, Nook Comics, and more customized reading options.
The retailer has added 100 new features to the Nook Color, including access to movies and TV shows via Netflix and Flixster apps. Thanks to the Ultraviolet standard, which provides users with a digital copy of physical media, Flixster will allow movie access on-the-go.
On the comics front, Nook Color customers will now have access to high-resolution comics, graphic novels, and kids' comics. Barnes & Noble promised the "largest digital collection of Marvel's graphic novels available through a third party – including Halo Uprising and other Marvel greats like Ultimate Spider-Man, The Astonishing X-Men, and Hulk: Planet Hulk, among others."
A new feature known as PagePerfect looks to preserve the look and feel of image-heavy books like cookbooks, craft, and art books, and allows users to zoom in and fluidly scroll through a book's pages.
The Kindle Fire ($199 on Amazon) is undoubtedly a success in terms of the sheer amount of sales that the tablet has seen since its launch. However, many customers have complained about the various small issues that, when added up, can make for a frustrating experience. Things like unresponsive touch gestures, and lagginess in the UI. The good news is that Amazon's been listening, and its set to release the first over-the-air update for the Kindle Fire in under two weeks to address many of these issues.
Kindle Fire is the most successful product we’ve ever launched – we’ve already sold millions of units and we’re building more to meet the strong demand. As with all of our products, we continue to make them better for customers with regular software updates – in fact, in less than two weeks, we’re rolling out an over-the-air update to Kindle Fire that will improve performance, touch navigation, and give customers the option to choose what items display on the carousel.
Sounds good to us. In the past, Amazon hasn't really been the best in terms of Kindle software updates, but the Fire is a full-on tablet, and thusly people expect more out of it than they do its e-Ink couterparts. Anything you're hoping gets fixed in the update?
In what is the latest bizarre turn for HP's WebOS and related tablet business, it's reported that Whitman and board member Marc Andreessen told TechCrunch that the company would manufacture a WebOS tablet perhaps in 2012, and definitely in 2013.
An HP spokesman, asked to conform the report, said that a WebOS tablet would be made only if the market was "viable". He said that he preferred to focus on the decision to release WebOS as open source, which will give it an immortality that it otherwise might not have.
However, the schizophrenia on HP's WebOS operating system and tablet hardware continues, as HP reportedly plans one last fire sale for the tablet on Sunday, in what has become a long and winding road. Months after the TouchPad was launched in March using HP's WebOS operating system, HP decided to kill it in August, as part of a decision to kill the WebOS hardware business after sales failed to meet expectations. But after HP discounted the TouchPad to $99, sales began to take off, even prompting HP to make another batch.
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