Weekly high-tech product releases: Android tablet, e-reader with handwriting recognition

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The Independent Tech

High-tech product releases announced the week ending March 3 include an Android-powered WiFi tablet, a touchscreen e-reader that can decipher your writing, an ultra-sensitive Wacom tablet for professional digital artists, a hard drive with an always-on e-ink display, a compact and affordable smartphone that comes in the shape of a feature phone, and an 18-carat gold-plated phone that will knock your socks off.

An Android-powered tablet that bridges the gap between smartphones and desktop PCs
While the brand is not that well known outside of France, Archos is a firmly established player in the tablet device market. The Archos 7 Home Tablet is a mid-sized connected touchscreen device that fits in the market between a smartphone and a laptop. The 7" touchscreen device is big enough for movie watching and at 12mm thin is also portable enough to slip in your bag when you head out for the day. The Android-powered tablet comes in 2GB and 8GB versions and is equipped with WiFi, social-networking applications, onboard MP3 and movie player, and can be completely customized with a host of compatible Android applications. The Archos 7 Home Tablet should be on the market by summer 2010 and range from €149 to €179.

A slim ePaper e-reader with a touchscreen display and handwriting recognition
ASUS unveiled its first e-reader at CeBIT 2010 on March 2. The ASUS DR-900 e-reader is a lightweight device measuring just 9mm thick. The device is equipped with a 9-inch,  ePaper display with 16 shades of grey and a resolution of 1024 x 768. It is touch-sensitive and, unlike most touchscreen readers on the market, is able to decipher handwritten text input. The ASUS DR-900 provides users with up to two weeks of battery life on a single charge, and has a removable battery so you can carry around a spare if you are thinking about doing some heavy web surfing on the go. ASUS DR-900 pricing and availability information is expected to be released shortly.

A pressure sensitive interactive pen tablet that boosts creativity
Wacom has redesigned its interactive pen displays to create the new Cintiq 21UX (DTK-2100) tablet. The 21" tablet offers artists, animators, photographers and graphic design professionals "state-of-the-art pen performance" on a digital drawing tablet - making you feel like you were drawing on a sheet of paper. The LCD display offers 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity for the most refined drawing control and rear-mounted user-defined touch strips for easy access to controls while creating. The Cintiq 21UX will be available in April for $1999.

Portable hard drive that uses e-ink technology
Digital storage company Western Digital (WD) unveiled the My Passport Studio portable hard drive for Mac users that comes with its own customizable e-ink labelling system. Its constantly-on e-ink display shows you what's stored on the drive even when it is not plugged into a power outlet. WD's My Passport Studio drive comes with user-selected password protection and 256-bit hardware-based encryption to keep your digital files safe. It is also fully compatible with Apple's TimeMachine software. The drive comes in 320GB, 500GB and 640GB configurations and has a 3-year limited warranty. The drives are priced from $149.99 to $199.99 and are available now.

A social networking smartphone that looks like a feature phone
Nokia's C5 is the first phone to be launched under the banner of Nokia's newest device category, the Nokia Cseries. The C5 looks like a feature phone but comes with full smartphone functionality. It runs on Nokia's Symbian OS and is specially crafted for heavy social networkers. New features enable the phone to integrate your friend's status updates both on the home screen and within your contacts list. The C5 has a 2.2 inch display, 3.2 megapixel camera and can direct you to your next destination with its onboard GPS Ovi Maps navigation system. The phone is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2010 and is priced at €135.

A phone so gold you'll be shielding your eyes from the bling
Nokia has gold-ed up its N97 mini for consumers who just can't get enough shine in their lives. The N97 mini, Gold Edition is almost completely encased in 18-carat gold. The hardware is a standard N97 mini affair with a 3.2 inch touchscreen, 8GB memory, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, microSD slot, 5 megapixel camera, WiFi and Bluetooth and compatibility with the full range of Ovi apps. The phone should be released in the second half of 2010 at an approximate price of $850.