Review: Logitech Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover will kickstart your transition from consumption to creation

The one standout feature of the Microsoft Surface Tablet in our eyes was the keyboard cover. But is it that great? No one outside Redmond knows because Microsoft did not let anyone touch it at the press event.

But, if you can handle a paltry extra 4mm of thickness with the addition of real keys, an iPad aluminum-matched protective cover, and a built in stand, Logitech already has Microsoft beat in my eyes.

Enter the $99 Logitech Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover for iPad 2 and the new iPad. It uses the same magnets as Apple’s “smart” accessories to clip on and activate the iPad, but it is a rigid enclosure that matches the back of the iPad and turns it into the proverbial Apple netbook. It offers screen protection, but the back and sides are not protected.› So, you will not want to drop test this setup.

This is not just a repurposed PC/Mac keyboard either. It has dedicated iPad keys across the top including the very useful home button, volume keys, editing keys, and play/pause.

I have been using it since it unveiled two months ago. Here is my take:

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Apple rescinds: New Mac Pro is no longer ‘new’

Apple’s website listed the refreshed Mac Pro as “new” after the opening keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday, but complaints from critics, including an ex-Apple engineer, likely spurred the company to remove the alerting icon.

Former Apple engineer and current Google employee Andy Hertzfeld expressed his disappointment in the new Mac Pro through a Google+ post this morning. He said the high-end desktop “seems like it’s stuck in time in 2010″ and only received an “inconsequential processor clock bump.”

Apple unveiled an all-new MacBook Air and Pro lineup during its keynote, but the company did not announce any updates to its Mac Pro. The blogosphere jumped online to gobble up the notebooks, where they finally discovered the Mac Pro’s minor spec-bump listed under the familiar “new” notation. Since then, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Company has been under-fire for displaying the machinery as new when it only boasts a few slight changes.

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Apple to include Facebook integration in iOS 6

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook hinted this past week during his interview at D10 that we could expect closer ties with Facebook and to “stay tuned” when asked about Twitter-like integration in iOS. Now, according to a report from TechCrunch, the much-anticipated integration of Facebook will happen in “the latest version of iOS.” There are not many details provided by the report, but it did note Apple is still trying to decide “exactly how sharing will work” and that things could change before iOS 6 is unveiled:
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Amtrak ditches hole puncher for iPhone, new service tool scans tickets (Photos)

Government-owned railroad service Amtrak is set to use Apple’s iPhone and a new app as an electronic ticket scanner.

The New York Times reported that train conductors have been training to use the tech during select routes since November. The addition allows passengers to load a specific bar code on their smartphone screens that the conductor can scan for tracking purposes. Of course, passengers can still print their tickets per usual for Amtrak’s iPhones to scan.

Amtrak said 1,700 conductors would use the iPhone on routes across the country by late summer. The iOS device will come with a case containing an extra battery and a bar-code scanner. It will also come equipped with an app for scanning and indicating special conditions, such as whether passengers are disabled— and when and where they are departing— for coordinating a wheelchair lift. The app will even enable conductors to report the train’s mechanical failures.

The NYT article does not mention it, but 9to5Mac discovered mobile and emerging technologies developer Übermind claims to be the brain child behind the app’s shiny, new features. It’s website provided a few images (below) that depict what Amtrak described when detailing the iPhone’s case, battery, and app:

“Paper tickets are so 19th century. We ushered Amtrak’s conductors into the 21st century with our workforce automation solution. The bottom line for Amtrak: better customer service, better labor relations, and real-time business intelligence. Riders, taking the train just got fun again. [..] We worked with Amtrak to design and implement the engaging Digital Passport feature within Amtrak’s passenger iPhone app. With the personalized passport, riders can earn stamps for travel, share achievements to social networks, and view a map overlay of personal ridership stats. Train Masters, wanted.”

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Senator Tom Coburn says he’s ‘absolutely livid’ about Apple’s tax practices

Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma appeared on “Morning Joe” earlier this morning to talk the debt crisis. During the interview, a question came up about a piece The New York Times ran this weekend that discussed Apple’s tactics of legally skirting billions in taxes each year by using tax havens like Nevada, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. Keep in mind: These practices are perfectly legal and other large companies are doing the same. However, when the Senator was asked about the topic, Coburn sternly replied that he’s “absolutely livid.”

As a solution to the issue, Coburn said that the nation needs to “reform the tax code,” which he said will lead to economic growth. The senator also said he has begun work with Michigan Senator Carl Levin to look into how Apple is doing this. The big thing it looks like the senator wants to do is bring the funds from these larger companies back into the United States to help put more money back into the economy—obviously through large taxes.

Apple currently has $74 billion of its money off-shores, and it is pushing, along with other companies, for a tax-holiday where it could bring its money back into the U.S at a cut tax rate. Apple responded to the NYT piece on Sunday:

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Don’t hate the player, hate the game -NYTimes’ ‘How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes’

The New York Times delves into a divisive subject in American politics right now: Tax avoidance. Apple, like most international companies, sidesteps many California, United States, European, etc., taxes by using tax havens like Nevada, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands.

The problem for the protagonists is that this is all very legal and practiced by just about every multi-national company in the interest of remaining competitive and maximizing stockholder share. Like most matters of this sort, the problem lies with the laws and loopholes that allow this to happen. Big companies spend a lot of money on lobbyists making sure that those loopholes do not get closed.

What may not be terribly patriotic are Apple, Google, Cisco, and other’s lobbying efforts against paying U.S. taxes on repatriating their overseas earnings. Apple currently has $74 billion overseas and a “tax holiday” on bringing that money and over $1 trillion from other companies back into the U.S. could cost the U.S. federal government $79B, according to the report. (Great Graphic at Bloomberg on why the $1 trillion holiday is likely going to happen.)

Apple responded to the NYT below:

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