This was a big week for high-profile tech products, from the unveiling of the iPad Mini and Microsoft's Windows 8 to the debut of the latest in high-priced TVs with great picture quality. Here are the five things you need to know about this week in tech:
1) Apple event
Apple finally put the rumors about a smaller iPad to rest with the unveiling of the iPad Mini. USA TODAY's Ed Baig and Jefferson Graham were at the launch event to learn more about Apple's newest gadget.
In a quick column, Baig offered his first impressions of this lighter, different take on the tablet. Is it so different? Slightly wider than most small tablets, it was "just big enough that I couldn't stash it in my inside coat pocket when I got a chance to briefly hold it at Apple's launch event," he writes. In most respects, though, " there's nothing you can do with the new iPad that you won't be able to do on the larger iPad, and vice versa."
Graham asked tech experts to predict how many iPad Minis Apple will sell (5 million by year's end, projects Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster).
At its big event Tuesday, Apple first gave love to the Mac. Among the results are a brand new 0.75-inch thin MacBook Pro that is one-fifth thinner than its predecessor and nearly a pound lighter.
2) Microsoft Windows 8 launch
Microsoft held its big launch event for Windows 8 in New York on Thursday, a day before the operating system went on sale in stores and online. "Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC truly is," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in his keynote.
Microsoft's unified approach to the operating system is based on its belief that touchscreens will soon dominate PCs, says Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
High-definition TVs are getting a big upgrade. The Ultra HD TV is the newest innovation in television sets, with four times the resolution of a standard HD TV.
USA TODAY's Mike Snider says LG's 84-inch LED Ultra TV hit stores this week with a hefty price tag of $19,999. Sony is expected to debut its own Ultra TV, priced at $24,999, in November or early December. Both LG and Sony's Ultra sets will convert Blu-ray disc movies to a higher screen resolution and will display 3-D content more clearly.
Some industry experts are skeptical that customers will want to pay the high price for these super-TVs, but the holiday buying season always has a few surprises.
4) Video game roundup
This week's video game reviews included alien attacks and NBA slam dunks.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the latest installment in the XCOM series, builds on the original premise of the series (Aliens are attacking Earth! Stop them!) by introducing challenging gameplay. The game's action is turn-based rather than in real-time, and players must fight aliens that grow tougher with every mission. USA TODAY contributor Marc Saltzman says some of the game's graphics fall short, but overall the game is a fun diversion.
NBA 2K13 was produced in part by Jay-Z, and the rapper's influence is felt throughout the game. A soundtrack featuring his music, and shots of Jay-Z and other artists in pre-game montages, give the game an extra edge. USA TODAY's Brett Molina says the game itself feels like an authentic game of hoops, with improved controller features and added skills for every player. With the NBA Live series from Electronic Arts on hiatus, NBA 2K13 looks like an attractive alternative.
5) Neil deGrasse Tyson tweets for science literacy
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the "most high-profile public scientist in the U.S. today," is working hard to make science cool. The astrophysicist has become the media's go-to expert on space - he's appeared everywhere from PBS to The Colbert Report.
But what does Tyson think about all his newfound fame? USA TODAY's Dan Vergano sat down with him to discuss his public persona.
Tyson calls his high profile "an awesome responsibility," and says he wants to make people "think critically about the world." His popular Twitter feed has almost 800,000 followers and he will host a sequel to scientist Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage series on Fox in 2013.
Money quote: "Scientific literacy is an intellectual vaccine against the claims of charlatans who would exploit ignorance. That's why I am an advocate for science."
Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com
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