A bunch of world firsts this issue – the slimmest tablet, the first Chromebook, the smallest swappable-lens digital camera, and a 3D TV with a difference.
Nothing beats the feeling of writing with ink on paper. It feels more natural and we still mostly learn about words and cursive writing this way in school before we start our jobs behind a desk and in front of a PC.
The Livescribe Echo smartpen, unlike tablet devices – be it PCs or connected devices – does not just mimic the feeling of writing on paper with ink, you actually are. It works in two ways. The pen features solid state memory storage which records key strokes and memory stamps these strokes with audio recordings. It does this with the aid of special notebooks or paper (dot paper), which have microscopic markings which is virtually invisible to the naked eye. You can buy special notebooks or print this using an ordinary ink jet or laser jet printer.
Galaxy Tab 10.1
Apple's iPad 2 has a serious rival. The Tab 10.1 beats its rival on one key spec – it's the "world's thinnest mobile tablet". Other than that, it's a high-end mix of Android Honeycomb OS, 1GHz dual-core processors and a USB port to make Apple fans angry. User-interface still lags iOS, though.
The Tab 10.1 features a 1GHz dual-core chip, Android Honeycomb 3.1 OS (with added Samsung "TouchWiz" features) and, vitally, is the "world's thinnest mobile tablet", coming in at a mere 8.6mm. On top of that it's got, unsurprisingly given the name, a 10.1" 1280 x 800 screen, 3MP 720p HD video-shooting camera and 2MP front-facing video-conferencing camera, and to top it all, weighs a mere 565g. Of course, there's also all the usual stuff – Bluetooth, Wi-Fi n (and optional 3G), and a USB port just to make iPad fans turn green with envy. Still won't touch Apple for user-friendliness, though.
The "world's smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera". Beating off other rival lens-swapping compacts (see also Sony's NEX range and the Micro Four-Thirds standard) it's a mere 98 x 57.5 x 31 mm, 180g body only. And crammed into that space is 12.4 MP, loads of functions and Full HD video recording.
Although they claim it’s the world's smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera - you have to add the caveat: "as of June 15 based on Pentax's research". But really, what you need to know is that the aptly-named Q is the tiniest of the new tiny breed of lens-swappable compact cameras (see also Sony's NEX range and the Micro Four-Thirds standard). It's a mere 98 x 57.5 x 31 mm, 180g body only. And crammed into that space is 12.4 MP, loads of functions (incl. HDR and Bokeh settings) and Full HD video recording.
When it launched it was the "world's first laptop powered by Google’s Chromium OS". It's still the cheapest way to get your hands on a Google Chrome OS laptop in the UK. Everything, really everything, needs to be run from "the cloud" on a "Chromebook". That means fast boot-ups, but it's only ideal for simple demands in always-connected locations.
The key difference to Google's approach to an OS is that everything, really everything, is stored in "the cloud". Without an Internet connection, that renders a "Chromebook" as much use as a melted chocolate doorstop. But with it, you get fully-featured browsing, Google Docs, Calendar etc. There is a rudimentary file explorer – and as the updates hit, no doubt there'll be better uses for the built-in solid-state hard drive than just running the OS off. For now, the Chromebook is for super-simple, always-connected users only. But at this price, you can comparable netbooks with all the functions you need in off-line mode as well.
PlayStation 3D TV
This Sony PlayStation-branded (and as yet not properly named) 3D TV has a unique trick if run with a Sony PS3. Using standard "active shutter" glasses, it lets one player see one thing and a second player see something entirely different. That means two-player games on one TV, without splitting the screen.
Shown first at E3, the world's largest videogame trade show, the 3D TV has a unique feature if you run it with a Sony PS3. Standard 3D TVs use "active shutter" glasses to let you see one of two sets of images in one eye, and another in your other eye. This uses the same trick to display one set of moving image to one viewer and an entirely different set to a different viewer. The result being that you can now play two-player games on one TV at home, but without splitting the screen (and both players being able to sneak glances at what the other person was doing). But in single player mode, the 3D games effect looks great.