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Mike Elgan: Microsoft’s Tablet is “Pure Fantasy”



Tech columnist Mike Elgan comes out swinging against the Microsoft tablet concept, codenamed Courier. It’s pure fantasy, says Elgan, and will NEVER be built.

“… you’ll never own a Microsoft Courier device,” he writes in his latest column. “It’s not real now. It’s not going to be real in the future. And even Microsoft does eventually make it real, it will fail in the market and you won’t buy one.”

As Elgan points out, the “leaked” photos and video of the device are pure CGI; Hollywood-style special effects that look great as mockup photos and demo videos, but may not be possible to build.

“Everything is awesome when it doesn’t have to actually be manufactured, sourced or developed at an affordable cost,” he writes. “It’s special effects wizardry, not software or hardware design.”

In edition, Elgan notes that a pen-based tablet is doomed to failure. He calls Microsoft’s repeated attempts to force pen-based devices on the market “crazy,” citing Windows for Pens in the 1990s, pen-based Tablet PC and Ultra Mobile PC, and Windows Mobile devices with pens. “I don’t think pens have any role in mass-market devices of the future — certainly nothing that could compete with an iPhone-like Apple Tablet,” he says. We agree – pens are a throwback. The future of multitouch tablets and PCs are finger-controlled.

Read the whole thing here.

Daily Deals: Two iPod touch Offers Go Head-to-Head




Now that Apple has released a new version of its iPod touch, the floodgate of first- and second-generation units offer some good bargains. Today, we include two options – refurbished touch’s from the Apple Store and a MacMall deal. Weather you’re into leather or metal, we have an iPod/iPhone case for you. Plus, in our drive to offer you choices, today’s other lead-off hitters give you two discounts on Mac hardware or screen protectors.

For details on these and other products (like a portable solar charger), check out CoM’s Daily Deals page.

Palm Gets the Official Smackdown For Hacking Pre to Sync With iTunes



In an embarrassing turn of events, Palm has gotten the smackdown from a USB industry group over a software hack that enables Palm’s Pre smartphone to sync with iTunes.

When Palm released the Pre earlier this year, the company cleverly spoofed Apple’s unique USB identifier to fool iTunes into thinking the Pre was an Apple device, allowing it to sync songs and playlists. It was a sneaky but daring move for Palm, ensuring the Pre was compatible with the market-leading music software.

But Apple repeatedly disabled the hack with a series of iTunes updates, so Palm sent a letter to the USB Implementers Forum, an industry group that oversees the USB standard, claiming Apple is “hampering competition.”

But in a response to Apple and Palm on Tuesday, the group sided with Apple, saying Palm’s spoofing of Apple’s ID likely violates USB-IF policy.

“Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage,” “the group said in a letter obtained by Digital Daily.

“Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy,” the letter continued.

Embarrassing. Clearly not the response Palm was hoping for.

The USB Forum asked Palm to clarify its position and respond within seven days. Palm told Digital Daily it is reviewing the Forum’s letter and will “respond as appropriate.”

Daily Deals: MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Laptops On Sale




If you’ve wanted a MacBook for so long, but have held off waiting for the right moment, wait no longer, because we lead off today’s caravan of Apple bargains with deals on MacBooks, MacBook Airs and two offers on MacBook Pro laptops. Of coursem no hardware extravaganza would be complete without a deal of Time Capsules.

For details on these and other items (such as the Gogo iPod and iPhone case), check out CoM’s Daily Deals page.

Microsoft Also Has a Secret Tablet Project, But Get This — It Has a Pen!



Un-fuckin-believable. Like Apple, Microsoft is also secretly developing a multitouch tablet, according to this report on Gizmodo.

But where Apple’s device will be designed for your fingers, Microsoft’s includes a pen! WTF? Is this the nineties? Has Microsoft learned nothing from the iPhone at all?

Yeah, Apple’s tablet will also support a pen. For detailed graphics work, and maybe even text input, a pen will work better than your fingers, but the primary input device?

Says Giz:

“The Courier user experience presented here is almost the exact opposite of what everyone expects the Apple tablet to be, a kung fu eagle claw to Apple’s tiger style. It’s complex: Two screens, a mashup of a pen-dominated interface with several types of multitouch finger gestures, and multiple graphically complex themes, modes and applications.”

Microsoft’s tablet is actually a dual-screen booklet, very much like the OLPC XO-2 design concept that made the rounds last year (and I personally was hoping would be Apple’s secret “Brick project).

Codenamed Courier, it has two multitouch 7-inch screens joined by a central hinge, which has a single iPhone-like “Home” button. It’s a late prototype, Giz says, and may have nifty hardware features like inductive pad charging.

But if you have to use a pen to control it, it’s fucked.

Sony Ericsson Introduces Motion-Sensitive Earbuds



The scenario is familiar: you’re rockin’ out to your favorite tunes and you have to answer a phone or converse with someone, requiring you to pause the iPod, remove an earbud, then the reverse to get back to the music. Apple took a stab at easing this annoyance by including a pause and volume switch on the earphone’s cord. However, Sony Ericsson has come along with an even more intuitive solution: motion-sensitive earbuds.

The MH907 ($55) automatically pauses music when one earbud is removed, restarting when the SenseMe technology detects human contact. The technology sounds fantastic, except it requires Sony Ericcson’s fast port connector, currently not available for the iPhone.

[Via Gadget Lab]

Daily Deals: MacBooks, Spore and Mobile iPod Security




It’s fall in the U.S., the leaves are beginning to turn color, but the deals keep coming. Today we highlight hardware, software and a discount duo for iPod touch owners. Apple is selling MacBooks starting at $849, while iPhone owners can grab Spore Origins for just a buck. Meanwhile, you can take a stroll through Mac hardware history with deals on early iMacs, PowerBooks and more.

For details on these and other products, check out CoM’s Daily Deals page.

Gallery: Gelaskins’ Coolest New Designs


Gelaskins put fine art protection on your iPhone.

Among the many dozens (hundreds?) of companies in the cottage industry that makes cases and other protective doo dads for your iPhone, Totonto-based Gelaskins probably produces the most arresting and beautiful of them all.

Actually, just saying they produce protective devices for the iPhone is selling the company way short since they adapt fine art from a deep roster of global artists working in a broad range of styles, putting photo quality prints on thin, but tough, scratch-resistant polymer with a patented 3M adhesive, allowing you to personalize and protect everything from iPhone to the full range of Apple iPods and laptops.

The iPhone covers go for about $15, while iPod protection runs a little less and laptop protective art will set you back about $30. Not that Apple’s industrial design isn’t beautiful itself, but all the Gelaskins art is distinctive – and any of it is guaranteed to make your device stand out from the crowd.

Hit the jump for a gallery of 10 of the newest designs that we think are among the coolest.

Contest Winners: Naughty LOADED Dice Giveaway


Get your laws off of my iPhone App!
Get your laws off of my iPhone App

As a result of this Cult of Mac interviewTrichotomy Media attributed our coverage of the iPhone app promo code refusal as instrumental in their reinstatement. In celebration, we posted a weekend giveaway contest where the winner gets a single download code of the controversial app.

On second though, naughty dice are more fun for two, so let’s give away two codes!

Freebies go to  Freddys Garcia and CG for their randomly chosen comments.