We're trending toward the end of what's been a generally slow August in the world of consumer tech. You might think that would change given that this week we saw not one, not two, but three new devices launched. Sadly, none really made much impact.
First up was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, a content-focused flavor of Samsung's low-cost slate. Barnes & Noble has made it clear that it has no interest in continuing to build Nook tablets, and so Samsung is going to help shoulder some of the load. This first entry is a $179 7-inch Android-powered tablet with some Nook-flavored enhancements layered over top.
Most are in the form of additional desktop widgets or the like, nothing particularly special, but if you prefer the Nook reading experience to those offered by Amazon's Kindle app or Google's own Reader, this is your slate. Barnes & Noble is also throwing in a few random free books and TV shows, plus five whole dollars of store credit for buying something you might actually want.
HTC One M8 for Windows
In its latest guise, the HTC One M8 had a name that was already getting too long, and now it's even longer. Meet with HTC One M8 for Windows, basically the same hardware that we know and love on the Android side of things but now filled up with Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. The 5-inch, 1080p display looks like a great fit for Microsoft's mobile OS and as ever we're a big fan of HTC's hardware aesthetics. However, it remains to be seen whether the phone will light the world on fire offering an even less popular OS than before. It is, at least, priced right: $99 on-contract at Verizon in the US. An AT&T version won't be far off. (International pricing and availability was not announced.)
Sharp Aquos Crystal does budget with style on Sprint
If you're looking for an Android smartphone on a prepaid account, without any burdensome contract or the like, you're usually stuck with budget-friendly devices with all the aesthetic sensibility of a discarded food wrapper. Big credit to Sharp and Sprint for breaking the trend, the pair debuting the Sharp Aquos Crystal, available for just $150 on Sprint's prepaid service. The 5-inch, 720p display is the highlight, with Sharp cleverly hiding the edges to make it look nearly bezel-free. Power comes from a modest 1.2GHz Snapdragon chip and 1.5GB of RAM -- hardly a fire-starter, but what do you want for $150 off-contract?
Flappy Bird creator returns with Swing Copters
If you've been hanging on to that Flappy Bird icon like your precious, making sure to never uninstall it lest it could become unavailable again, there's a new game this week you may want to try out. Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird who famously flipped out after its success, has recovered his senses and come back with a new game. Called Swing Copters, this time you'll be flying up instead of sideways, trying to pilot a googly eyed copter through a series of swinging hangers. Yes, it's even harder than the original. Godspeed.
YouTube music service reportedly gets a name, price
Google's not happy sitting on the sidelines while services like Pandora and Spotify dominate the streaming tunes market. Rather than build on top of its Play Music service, the search maven looks primed to launch a new premium service called, if reports are correct, YouTube Music Key. Like others it'll offer unlimited streaming for about $10 a month, including offline playback, but one of the extra hooks here could be offline video playback, too. Indeed we've seen hints of offline YouTube for ages now, and that could certainly be an appealing selling point to help this nascent service stand out in what is a very, very crowded market.
Windows 9 gets a date?
Not in love with Windows 8? I'm sorry to say you're not alone. While the desktop OS has improved by leaps and bounds since its launch, it still isn't quite all things to all people -- something it must be as it tries to stretch across small tablets, big tablets, laptops, and, of course, desktops. Microsoft has been rumored to be rushing to get its successor out into the limelight, the potential Windows 9, and this week the rumored launch date of September 30 was thrown out there. That would probably mean an actual retail release somewhere toward the beginning of the following year, but signs are pointing to some sort of beta or preview release dropping right after the announcement. As a long-time Windows user, I can't wait to see it.