Tech: Tablets, Google Glass, Pheed, VLC

Buying a good tablet computer doesn't mean having to spend a lot

They are PC replacements, "surfboards" for the sofa and playing devices for videos: tablets are becoming ever more popular and one does not need to spend a lot to get a good one.

Even with the cheaper tablets, the consumer can expect good battery life and a high-resolution screen, a recent test by German computer magazine Chip showed. Battery life of five hours and more is no longer a rarity, even in devices costing 300 euros (410 United States dollars) or less.

Often the battery can last even longer if the tablet is used only for playing videos and not web surfing. A HD resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels is now standard, regardless of the size of the tablet.

Chip magazine tested a total of 13 tablets, with the best marks going for the latest iPad models from Apple. Competitors like Google's Nexus 7, devices from Asus and the latest Galaxy Note 10.1 from Samsung were also rated highly.

When buying a tablet, price and features are not the only things to be considered, the experts advise.

What is important is what does the user plan to do with the device. If someone wants to use it as a PC replacement or to play elaborate games on they'll need a powerful processor. The leader here is the Intel chip found in the current Surface tablet from Microsoft, but the processors found in Apple devices are not much slower.

If the tablet is to be used primarily to play films and other media, one with a closed operating system and good downloading capability is the best choice. That doesn't necessarily have to mean an iPad - Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets also offer decent specs.

People who like to tinker around are likely to be happiest with a tablet that runs the Windows 8.1 or Android operating systems, as they are easiest to adapt to a user's individual needs.

Google adds sunglasses, prescription lenses to Google Glass 

Google is adding some high fashion frames to its nerdy-looking Google Glass wearable computers, as well as sunglasses frames and prescription lenses.

The face-mounted device is currently available only on a limited basis, but has already become popular with tech first-adopters - and a symbol of ridicule for their detractors. Google said that the gadgets would go on general sale toward the end of 2014.

The new titanium frames will cost an extra 225 dollars on top of the 1,500-dollar base price of Google Glass and come in four different styles and eight different colours. The sunglasses version will cost 150 dollars over the base price.

Google said it had partnered with vision insurer Vision Service Provider to help defray the cost of the frames and prescription lenses.

"People want lots of preferences for how their eyewear looks, from loud to subtle," said Steve Lee, who has been the product director of Glass for almost three years. "This is where we are headed. You can start to see how the core design of Glass can accommodate lots of different styles."

Google Glass is the most advanced wearable computer currently on the market and allows users to control and interact with voice commands and finger-swipes on the eyeglass frame.

Samsung has introduced a wearable wrist computer called the Samsung Gear which works in conjunction with its Galaxy S4 smartphone, while Apple is also said to be working on a wearable device.

Pheed app is a new kind of social network 

Instagram creates pictures, Twitter does short messages and Tumblr collates your blog entries. Now a new network mixes all three.

Pheed, a free app for iOS and Android, allows users to set up a channel where they can post text, photos and audio clips. Other users can then comment on the content or distribute it on their own channels - the so-called Remix.

It is also possible to earn money on the network - if someone has a lot of fans they can set up their channel so that it's only accessible to paying users. Any price can be chosen but the user gets only half of it - the rest goes to Pheed.

VLC media player for iOS gets touch control 

The iOS version of the popular media player VLC now comes with touch control. Users are able to swipe to the left or right to go forwards or backwards in a movie or can pause it using two fingers.

The feature is part of an update now available on the App Store.

Other new features include the ability to stream videos from the cloud service Dropbox or download them from Google Drive. In addition co-operation with other devices on the home network has been improved.

The new version, numbered 2.2, is compatible with all iPhones and iPads with iOS 6 and 7. Devices such as the very first iPad, which only runs iOS 5, are not supported in this release.

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Writer: dpa
Position: News agency