Wii U is latest to join holiday gadget lineup

By Anick Jesdanun

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Sept. 13 2012 3:30 p.m. MDT

Toys R Us, meanwhile, said Monday that it is making a 7-inch tablet aimed at children. The Tabeo will go on sale Oct. 21 for $149.99.

— MOTOROLA'S RETURN

Though it's a pioneer in the cellphone industry, Motorola hasn't had a hit since the Razr phone came out in 2004. Under new owner Google Inc., Motorola Mobility is trying to change that.

Last week, Motorola announced three new smartphones bearing the Razr name. The $99 Droid Razr M is now on sale. Two high-end models, the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD, are coming this year.

These are the first major products from Motorola since Google bought the company for $12.4 billion in May. Google, meanwhile, continues to sell a 7-inch Android tablet, the Nexus 7, made in partnership with AsusTek Computer Inc.

— CALLING ON WINDOWS

Microsoft Corp. will release a new version of the Windows operating system on Oct. 26, one that's designed to work on both traditional computers and tablet devices. A new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out, too.

Once-dominant phone maker Nokia Corp. has been struggling in the shadow of Apple and Android, and it's counting on the new Windows system for a revival. Last week, Nokia and Microsoft unveiled two new devices under Nokia's Lumia brand — the 820 and the 920.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says the new phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in "select markets." He didn't say what they would cost or which U.S. carriers would have them. Investors were disappointed, and Nokia's stock fell 16 percent on the day of the announcement.

Samsung, which surpassed Nokia as the world's largest maker of mobile phones in 2011 and overtook Apple in smartphones this year, showed off a Windows 8 phone late last month. It didn't announce an availability date either.

— SURFACE

Microsoft plans its own tablet computer, too. It's new territory for Microsoft, which typically leaves it to others to make devices using its software. Now, it will be competing against its partners.

The Surface tablet will come in two versions, both with 10.6-inch screens, slightly larger than the iPad's. One model will run on phone-style chips, just like the iPad, and will be sold for a similar price. A heavier, more expensive version will run on Intel chips and be capable of running standard Windows applications. The Surface will go on sale on Oct. 26.

— NEW BLACKBERRYS

A year ago Research In Motion Ltd. disclosed that it was working on a next-generation phone system for the BlackBerry, which now looks ancient next to the iPhone and Android devices. It was supposed to be out in time for this year's holiday season. That won't happen.

In June RIM pushed the release of BlackBerry 10 devices into early next year, saying it wasn't ready. That means RIM will not only compete with the new iPhone and Android devices out this fall, but it will also have to contend with the new Windows devices.

— PLAYING GAMES

Nintendo's new Wii U game machine will go on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 18, starting at $300. The GamePad touch-screen controller for it will offer new ways to play.

In "New Super Mario Bros. U.," for example, players holding the old Wii controllers control Mario, Luigi and other characters. The person with the GamePad can help them along by using a stylus to create stepping stones for the characters or stun enemies.

Players can also turn off the TV entirely and play on the GamePad.

The company also announced new entertainment features for the console. Called "Nintendo TVii," the service collects all the ways users have to watch movies, TV shows and sports. This includes pay-TV accounts along with services such as Hulu and Netflix. The GamePad works as a fancy remote controller and will let viewers comment on what they are watching.

TVii will be available Nov. 18 as well, at no extra cost.

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