New and updated devices are coming out in fast and furious fashion as technology companies gear up for the all-important holiday shopping season. These are some of the gadgets to consider:
Apple has done well selling its full-sized tablet computer, and to maintain its dominance, it unveiled the iPad Mini. It has a 7.9-inch screen, making it slightly larger than its main rivals and about two-thirds the size of a regular iPad. The iPad Mini starts at $329, above the $159 starting price for Amazon.com's Kindle Fire and $199 for Google's Nexus 7.
Apple will make a version of the iPad Mini that can access cellular networks from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. That version will start at $459, compared with $629 for the full-sized cellular model. Apple is also refreshing its full-sized iPad.
Apple also has a 13-inch version of a MacBook Pro with sharper, “Retina” display, complementing the 15-inch version unveiled in June. Apple also updated its iMac line.
Last month, Apple began selling its iPhone 5. The new phone is bigger but thinner than previous models and works with faster cellular networks known as 4G.
Apple's leading rival, Samsung Electronics, came out with a new version of its flagship phone, the Galaxy S III, months ago. But for those who like to work with a stylus, it now offers the Galaxy Note II smartphone. The Note has a 5.5-inch screen, compared with the S III's 4.8 inches and the iPhone 5's 4 inches.
The Note runs the latest version of Google's Android system, Jelly Bean. Google announced a small update to Jelly Bean and said it will be included with its new Nexus 4 smartphone.
Amazon has an updated 7-inch Kindle Fire with a faster processor, more memory and longer battery life. It has cut the price to $159.
Amazon also is selling higher-end models under the Kindle Fire HD line, a 7-inch one for $199 and an 8.9-inch one for $299. There's also a $499 model that can use 4G cellular networks. A data plan will cost an extra $50 a year. The smaller HD model is already available; the larger ones will be available Nov. 20.
Barnes and Noble also is updating its Nook tablets. The new Nook HD comes in two sizes, one at 7 inches (starting at $199) and one at 9 inches (starting at $269).
Google is introducing a 10-inch Nexus tablet starting at $399. It is doubling the storage capacity of existing 7-inch models and introducing a version capable of accessing cellular networks. The new Nexus 7 is available now; the other devices are coming Nov. 13.
Microsoft released Windows 8, a new version of the Windows operating system that's designed to work on PCs and tablets.
It also released its own tablet computer, the Surface. 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.
One model will run on the same type of lower-energy chips used in the iPad. It will start at $499. A keyboard cover will cost an additional $100.
A heavier, more expensive version to be introduced later will run on Intel chips and be capable of running standard Windows applications.
A new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out this fall. Nokia, Samsung and HTC are launching a total of eight Windows Phone 8 smartphones by year's end.
Nintendo's new Wii U game machine will go on sale in the U.S. Nov. 18. A basic, white model will cost $300. A deluxe black version for $50 more comes with an extra game and more accessories. The GamePad touchscreen controller for it will offer new ways to play.
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 and 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, at no extra cost.
Coming Sunday in Money: A review of the Galaxy Note II smartphone