apple.com | up to $929 with 128GB: Apple’s fifth-generation iPad slims down with the new iPad Air, weighing just 1 pound (down from the fourth generation’s 1.44 pounds) and measuring just 7.5 millimeters thick (vs. 9.4 mm). If that’s barely noticeable, the new A7 chip and M7 co-processor make it eight-times faster, and render graphics at twice the rate of the previous iPad. The same chip powers the iPhone 5S. A 5-megapixel iSight camera on the rear, and updated FaceTime HD camera, and dual microphones, may not be the dramatic updates the Apple faithful may have wanted. But at 10 hours of battery life, the 9.7-inch iPad Air is a device that packs enough of a punch to still make it the one to beat.
LG’s All-Business G2
lg.com | $200 (with contract): LG clearly targets the business-minded with its G2, touted as the supercomputer of smartphones. As the first phone in the U.S. to feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM, the G2 blows away the iPhone and Galaxy S4 with the speed at which it plays games and loads apps and websites. The sharp 5.2-inch display mimics the best HDTV screens, and the slim size makes multitasking a breeze. That’s especially true with options like Clip Tray, which makes it easy to attach groups of photos or files to emails or texts; and QSlide, which can display content from multiple open apps, documents or emails. Battery life is a whopping two days between charges for normal tasks like emails and browsing the Web, and a full day if you’re streaming video or gaming.
Nokia Lumia 1520
nokia.com | $749: With its six-inch screen, the Windows Phone-powered Lumia 1520 is the largest smartphone Nokia has ever built. It’s also a doozy of a device, with a fast Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM that more than competes with Apple’s and Samsung’s trendier devices. While for many the 1520 may be too large — it belongs in the “phablet” category — it’s not cumbersome; it fits
perfectly inside a blazer or purse. A 20-megapixel camera and 1080p HD display produce impressive photos and videos, and outputs minimally processed RAW files, attractive to photographers looking for a mobile alternative to bulkier single-purpose cameras. The rectangular device comes in a glossy red, matte black, matte white and yellow.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
kindle.amazon.com | 7 inch starts at $229; 8.9 inch, $379: Amazon’s line of Kindle HDX tablets is faster (three times speedier than the older Kindle Fire, thanks to the Snapdragon 800 processor) and lighter than previous versions, boasting brighter, more colorful displays than the iPad. The device features an optional Origami cover (available in seven colors, and priced around $50). Two tablet sizes (7” and 8.9”) are offered, both sheathed in magnesium alloy. Add a Big Brother-like creep factor: It enables a live customer service rep to pop up in a window at the click of a button to help users troubleshoot problems — or to fully take over the tablet remotely.
BlackBerry’s Chatty App
BBM.com | free: Consumers may not be rushing to buy BlackBerry’s smartphones, but they like its BBM messaging feature. The company’s looking to boost the number of BBM users with a popular app on Apple and Android devices. Up next: BBM apps Video, Voice and Channels.
LinkedIn Friends Facebook
Apple App Store | free: LinkedIn has launched a refreshed app for the iPad that includes a Facebook-like activity feed, including options to like, comment, share and follow from posts. It has also released Intro, which shows profiles in the iPhone Mail app, meant to let users screen emails.