New Computer Products from Microsoft and Apple

This past week was indeed a big one for tech news, since two of the most iconic companies of the PC-era, Microsoft and Apple, both had major announcements about multiple products.

MICROSOFT

Microsoft Windows 8 operating system - Windows 8 start screenWindows 8
Microsoft is making one of their biggest operating system changes in the move to Windows 8, which will be officially available tomorrow (October 26). The new OS is a radical departure that some people really love and others… not so much.

CNET’s review of Windows 8 praised its fast boot time, gorgeous apps, Sync feature, security improvements, and affordable $40 upgrade price (only $15 if you bought your PC after June 2 this year). They did warn users about a steep learning curve. Read the full Windows 8 review here. 

Or check out this CNET Windows 8 buying guide for the pros and cons of various product configurations.

Surface
The other big Microsoft news is the Surface, the first ever computer (a tablet) made by Microsoft. Most reviewers praised Microsoft for its bold new ideas for a tablet. Th most common critique was the disappointingly small number of available apps (no Facebook, Instagram, Angry Birds, Spotify, etc.). Surface prices range from $499 – $699 depending on configuration. It will be available in Microsoft Stores tomorrow but you can pre-order the Surface from Microsoft now.  Read a round-up of Microsoft Surface reviews on the Wall Street Journal website or this in-depth review from Wired.com.

 APPLE

Apple’s press event on Tuesday was anticipated as an announcement of a smaller version of the iPad. It was that. But Apple also announced an upgraded version of its full sized iPad, a new all-in-one iMac, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, and a new Mac Mini. You can read the New York Times’ live updates from the Apple product event here. Mashable also has a good round-up of all the new Apple products here.

New Apple iPad MiniiPad Mini
The mini is, not surprisingly, a mini version of the regular iPad. More specifically, it’s 7.87 in. x 5.3 in., and .68 pounds. If you held off getting an iPad because it was just too big, the mini may be perfect for you. It costs less, too. Though at a starting price of $329, the expense of the mini has generated the most negative comments. Read a review of the iPad mini on techradar.com.

iPad 4
The previous version of the iPad came out just last spring, so some recent buyers are miffed that Apple decided to release the new iPad 4. That said, it’s not that much different than the last one. The processor is faster, the Wi-Fi connectivity is more reliable, and there’s a new Lightning connector. But then again, the IPad 3 was already considered a pretty great tablet, so a few additional improvements make it that much better. Read a review of the iPad 4 on techradar.com.

iMac
Apple’s all-in-one desktop is getting a major refresh. Most notably, the new iMacs are now a lot thinner. Inside, they’re faster. There are some new hard drive options, including a hybrid SSD/traditional hard drive called Fusion Drive. And the displays are better than ever. They’re still available in 21.5-inch (from $1299) and 27-inch (from $1799). See a video demo of the new iMac on theVerge.com.

13-Inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
The new 13-inch is thinner and lighter than the current 13-inch model. But the headline feature is the stunning Retina display, with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, which Apple introduced on the 15-inch MacBook last spring. DigitalTrends.com compares the Retina MacBook Pro with Sony’s Vaio Z and the old MacBook Pro.

Mac Mini
Mini is Apple’s only PC without a display. The new one is faster, has more memory, new hard drive options, and other upgrades. See CNET’s video review of the new Mac Mini.

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