We’ve come to that time of the year when major manufacturers unveil the latest versions of their flagship products. In other words, the holiday shopping season is upon us. But this is not just about offering you something new and shiny to buy. Technology never sleeps and there are always improvements to be made. These companies went to work upgrading your favorite products to provide the best version possible—that is until next year rolls around.
Jawbone: Back Down a Size
When Jawbone first upgraded the Jambox—its popular Bluetooth speaker—it went with a larger model, but the latest version went in the opposite direction. The Mini Jambox ($179) comes in at 6.06 inches by 0.96 inches by 2.28 inches, only weighs nine ounces and still provides a powerful sound with LiveAudio technology that delivers an immersive, three-dimensional listening experience. This is also a smarter speaker with the updated Jawbone app that gives you one-touch access to all your saved and streaming music.
Amazon: Beyond The Standard HD
Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX comes in a seven-inch version ($244 to $424) and 8.9-inch version ($379 to $579), but both offer a superior viewing experience with a high-pixel density display. The seven-inch version sports a 1920×1200 resolution and 323 PPI while the 8.9-inch version offers 2560×1600 and 339 PPI. Both devices also make your tech crises more manageable with the “Mayday” button, which connects you with customer support with a simple click. The new Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito” is both faster and more convenient—there is even an 1-Tap Archive feature that quickly eliminates the apps you rarely use.
Sony: A Quick Upgrade
Yes, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 was just released the beginning of this month, but its higher end sibling—the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 ($500)—will already be available by month’s end. Neither of these devices, however, is meant for your DSLR camera—they actually clip right onto your smartphone. This lens turns virtually any smartphone into a professional-grade camera with powerful 3.6x zoom, Optical Steadyshot image stabilization with Active Mode, and a 20-megapixel one-inch EXMOR R CMOS sensor. The lens can even be used uncoupled from your phone while you still use your phone’s screen as the viewfinder.
Microsoft: Feedback Leads to More Back
Microsoft heard you and applied your suggestions to the next generation of Surface tablets—the Surface 2 ($449) and Surface Pro 2 ($899, pictured above). For starters, a dual-angle kickstand lets you chose the angle optimal for you. The Surface 2 also has up to 10 hours of battery life, touch-optimized Office 2013 RT (which now has Outlook) and a NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor. The Surface Pro 2 packs more of a punch with an Intel i5 processor and 512GB of flash storage—plus, you can run two apps side-by-side. Both are also compatible with the updated keyboard covers, including one with backlit keys.
Apple: More Color or More Power?
Even though Apple only unveiled two new versions of its iPhone, there are plenty more options to choose from. The iPhone 5C ($99 to $199, pictured above) gives your phone a little personality. Not only does iOS 7 offer a more vibrant interface, but the phone itself comes in one of five available colors. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5S ($199 to $399) is dubbed forward-thinking by Apple due to the fact that it is the first 64-bit smartphone with an A7 chip, which means developers will be forced to play catch up to match the graphic and power potential of the phone. The 5S also has a fingerprint scanner to give you a little more security.