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Matt’s Favorites: Dueling Tablets, Delivery By Drone, Smart Bra, And Much More

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So what else is new and cool in the wild, wacky world of science and technology? Well, here goes…

* First, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two, where you will find much worthwhile news. Not to mention our latest reports on tech-related events in Michigan (tons today, go look!) and our latest on tech-related HR announcements in Michigan.

* Can’t decide between Apple’s iPad Air, Kindle Fire HDX, Samsung Galaxy Note, Microsoft Surface or Google Nexus? Whew! Just five years ago, consumers didn’t have all those options. And now, tablets are on millions of wish-lists this holiday season. With so many options to consider, CBS News took a trip to Consumer Reports‘ headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y., to compare five of this season’s hottest tablets side by side. So which one is right for you? Which one is right for the tech lover – or the technophobe – on your gift list? Watch this video and find out.

* On 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos showed off the company’s latest research and development project: delivery by drone. The “Prime Air” system of octocoptors could someday deliver packages of up to five pounds using GPS coordinates to find their drop-off spot, Bezos explained to CBS’s Charlie Rose. “This is early, this is still years away,” he said. “It can’t be before 2015, because that’s the earliest that we could get the rules from the FAA.”

* It appears there will be no once-in-a-lifetime celestial light show this month as Comet ISON streaks past Earth trailed by a glorious tail of ice, water, rock, and dust. On Monday, one of the leading ISON watchers, Karl Battams of the U.S. Navy’s Sungrazer Comets citizen science project and the NASA-sponsored comet ISON observing campaign, posted a eulogy for ISON, which is now believed to have disintegrated into millions of fragments as it swung around the sun, coming within a million miles of the star’s surface.

* The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to Amazon and Overstock, declining to hear an appeal by online retailers seeking to throw out a New York state law that requires their customers to pay state sales tax on online purchases, according to The Associated Press.

* Microsoft researchers aren’t just thinking about operating systems. They’re thinking about undergarments with a purpose, specifically a smart bra that monitors the wearer’s mood with the aim of preventing stress-related overeating.

* But yes, they’re also thinking about operating systems. The successor to Windows 8 has been officially code named Threshold. 

* The United States Department of Justice has given its approval to Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Nokia’s mobile devices and services business. The transaction got the DOJ nod on Nov. 29, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition notification Dec. 2.

* Launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite is now targeted for Tuesday evening, company officials said Monday, giving engineers more time to review data in the wake of a Thanksgiving Day launch abort and work over the weekend to clean and inspect the booster’s engines.

* A Long March-3B carrier rocket carrying China’s Chang’e-3 lunar probe took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Xichang, China on Monday. The rover is to look for good locations for a manned Chinese landing on the moon sometime between 2020 and 2025.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, is testing new advertising technology that inserts up-to-date commercials into past episodes of TV shows that are available on demand, a development that could help television networks generate additional revenue.

* Phytophthora root rot, a water mold, is now threatening U.S. Christmas tree species.

* In a ceremony befitting royalty, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington said Sunday it was naming a rare, female giant panda cub “Bao Bao,” after a public online vote that drew more than 123,000 submissionsBao Bao (rhyming with Pow Pow) translates as precious or treasure in English, thezoo said. It was one of five Mandarin Chinese names offered in the online vote that ran from Nov. 5-22.

* Twitter users are young and LinkedIn users are a bit older, according to new data from JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth. In an analyst note sent Monday to All Things Digital, Anmuth showed that while Twitter has users across every age spectrum, its core group in the US is made up of those between the ages of 13 and 44. That stands in stark contrast to Facebook, which has a much broader range of users. And LinkedIn skews much older, with its biggest user base professionals ages 45-54.

*An original Han Solo blaster from “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” is up for auction. If you have $200,000 or more, you could soon be taking on any Stormtroopers in your area.

* Tumblr will start the new year off with a new way to make money from its mobile audience, but it’s giving members an early preview of what to expect. Monday, the Yahoo-owned blogging platform soft launched a new ad unit called “Sponsored Trending Blogs” that pushes advertisers’ Tumblr blogs in front of people checking out the Explore tab in the Tumblr for iOS and Android application. The unit marks Tumblr’s fifth ad product and its second tailored just for mobile.

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