A little behind the scenes action on how we survive media events and trade shows.
Up, up, and away! It’s a long trip, but Berlin is a hell of a town. Heading out to cover IFA 2017, play with some cool new gadgets, but I have to get there first. Man I wish I could sleep on airplanes…
MeMO Pad was on display, their line of affordable tablets, in both eight and ten inch form factors. Both Android tablets use 1280×800 resolution screens, 1.6GHz quad-core processors, and come with 1GB of RAM. Interestingly enough the MeMO Pad 8 has a higher resolution rear camera at 5MP than the MeMO Pad 10 which only has a 2MP shooter. However, you should be mocked if you’re using tablet cameras out in public.
FonePad 7 is getting a refresh for 2013. Still sporting a 7″ 1280×800 screen, this BigPhone/LilTablet hybrid aims to take a shot at devices like the Galaxy Mega. On board is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom with Hyper-Threading and 1GB of RAM. You can choose between 8GB/16GB/32GB for storage, and it will have MicroSD card support good for another 64GB. Asus touted their front facing stereo speakers, similar to those found on the HTC One, so hopefully this will rock as a speaker phone too. Asus hasn’t been known for great tablet audio in the past, so this will be a welcome improvement.
Moving up the food chain, Asus finally took the wraps off of the Transformer Book T300. Similar in design to their line of Android Transformers, the T300 is a full Windows 8 computer powered by an Intel Haswell Core processor with a 13.3″ screen rocking a full HD (1080p) screen. Optional SSD choices can push storage up to 256GB, and you can pick between an i3, i5, or i7 for your CPU. USB3 and Micro-HDMI are included, and all those proper computing guts are stuffed into a slate 11.5mm thin. Of course, the thing we love about Asus Transformers is the incredible keyboard dock functionality. Popping T300 onto the dock gives you a real Ultrabook experience, plus the dock houses an additional battery. Asus claims the combo should be good for 8 hours of run time. Plus the dock has magnets. Magnets are cool.
Sony was a busy bee today, unveiling all kinds of goodies in Berlin.
For those wanting to rock some HD video with great audio, the HDR-MV1 might be just the trick. Pairing a small HD camera to a pair of stereo mics, this looks to be an improvement over previous Flip-style cameras. A wide angle lens is built into the front so you shouldn’t have to stage it too far away to get the whole band in the shot. NFC and WiFi are also built in allowing you to quickly tap and share pics and vids to your favorite online destination. No current pricing info or availability.
If you need something a bit more “pro”, the FDR-AX1 Handycam might be more your speed. Sony’s first 4K camcorder records video at 60 frames per second in four times the resolution of HD TV. Pro mics are built into the front, with the ability to plug in XLR cables for additional audio options. Sony is using a 20X zoom lens (31.5mm-630mm) so you should have most shooting situations covered in that range, and built in ND filters can help you cut bright light out of your frame. $4499 is the pre-order price and it’s expected to ship early October.
Speakers and Headphones
Portable wireless speakers are hot right now, we’ll be covering a few audio solutions in the coming weeks here on SGG. Sony showed off their Splash-Proof Bluetooth wireless speaker today. Looks like a great solution to bringing audio to small gatherings and spaces. Plus you don’t have to fear a trip to the pool or beach as they’re water resistant. Available now in six colors for $129.99 each.
If you want to keep your tunes to yourself however, Sony is also dropping a new pair of noise cancelling headphones. The MDR-10R feature a comfortable looking on the ear design which should help with isolation, and active noise reduction will sample the background audio around you and block it. $269.99 pre-order and they should ship the middle of October.
Laptops and Tablets
Sony is moving into its Windows 8 strategy nicely.
The Vaio Tap 11 is Sony’s response to the Surface Pro and Asus Transformer Books of the world. It’s an 11″ slate running a full version of Windows 8. Built into the rear of the Tap is a kickstand like the Surface, which allows the tablet to stand and interact with a wireless keyboard cover accessory. Folded up together, the keyboard and Tap 11 are about as thick as the Surface pro alone, and Sony might just be telling us the truth when they boast this is the world’s thinnest PC.
Standard Ultrabook options are built in behind the 1080p display, and you have your choice of Core i3, i5, and i7 paired with up to 512GB of solid state storage. USB 3 and Micro HDMI are on board for connectivity, and the screen has a wacom tablet built in for pen touch computing. Front and rear facing cameras help with your video needs, and an IR blaster is built in to use the Tap as a universal remote for your TV and cable box. No pricing or availability yet.
The Sony Vaio Flip is an interesting twist on the convertible laptop (see what I did there). A hinge in the middle of the screen allows the display to flip outwards from the keyboard in a kiosk-like setup, or to fold flat on top of the keyboard to use the computer as a slate. And that display is a very high resolution 2880×1620, while the guts of this mobile work horse are also capable of driving a 4K display.
Screen sizes will come in 13, 14, and 15 inch flavors with your standard CPU and storage options. 14 and 15″ models will also have the option for discrete graphics, here an NVIDIA GT735M, a welcome option for graphics professionals really wanting to get the most out of that UltraHd screen.
Lastly, the Tap 21 is pretty much what it sounds like, a 21.5″ version of the Tap 11. Obviously more of a desktop replacement, it does only weigh eight pounds, which could make it an interesting semi-mobile solution for things like presentations where we would normally carry a computer and a monitor or projector. Improvements to the Tap 21 include a new hinge which allows the system to reach just about any angle from near perfectly flat to completely upright.
Well done Sony. I think I might need to take a nap now…
Sony has its work cut out for itself in scratching out a niche in the Android ecosystem. They’ve been releasing quality hardware, and their fan base, while small, is passionate. With the announcement of the Z1, they’re hoping to give the Galaxies and Ones a run for their (customer’s) money.
The Xperia Z1 sports a five inch 1080p “Triluminous” LCD utilizing the same color tech found in Sony’s TV lineup. Under the hood you’ll find a Qualcomm 800 quad-core CPU paired up with 2GB of RAM which should handily outperform the GS4 and HTC One. 16GB of onboard storage is lean these days, but you do have access to an SD card slot to expand. A non-removeable 3000mAh battery should perform decently, but we haven’t seen many real world battery tests of the Qualcomm 800, so the increased battery capacity might get eaten by the more powerful internals.
The camera is a huge 20.7MP job with a 27mm wide angle lens (good for group shots and landscapes) and a fast f2.0 sperture for low light sensitivity. The image sensor is the same size as those found in most point and shoot cameras. Hopefully that combo works out, as there’s no mention of image stabilization on board, and 20 blurry megapixels are no fun. If you pull the shot off however, Sony is including software to aid in sharing to your family and friends and favorite social networks.
Also of note, while not a rugged device, it will feature enhanced water resistance like that found on the original Xperia Z. So you folks who drop your phone in fluids (I don’t want to know what you drop your phone in, please don’t tell me) will have a little extra piece of mind that your handset might actually survive a two year contract.
the Z1 will ship with Android 4.2.2 alongside Sony’s custom skin and widgets, and availability is set for “later this month” No word yet on pricing and availability, but it will come in black, white, and purple, so that’s cool.
What’s the point of having a TV with four times the resolution of HDTV if you don’t have 4K content to watch? Sony gets it. They’re unleashing 4K films and TV episodes on Video Unlimited.
Thanks to a new video codec, Sony thinks they can pack more movie into a smaller data footprint and claims the upper limit download should be around 60GB. That’s still a terrifically large file however as most of the country struggles to adopt faster broadband. To stream a 4K film, you’d probably need a sustained 15+Mbps connection, which my “50 megs innernet” can sometimes struggle to provide. Damn you lucky people who live in a Google Fiber zone.
Individual TV episodes should run $3.99, movie rentals around $7.99, and $29.99 to buy the films outright. You’ll need to put a Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player under your TV. This large puck will house 2TB worth of content, which at 60GB per film might not be as many films as we’re used to storing. The FMP-X1 is going to sell for a hefty $700, making it a somewhat pricey home media server. I’m really hoping, for the sake of Sony’s ecosystem, that the PS4 will be able to engage with this content. I don’t want any more boxes under my TV than I need.
That said, I think 4K looks gorgeous, and hopefully we see some good transfers of our fave films. I’ll be much more inclined to give 4K a try than I was during the fight between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.
Of course what fun is talking about 4K content without a 4K TV to watch it on?
Sony took the wraps off of theirX850A series 65″& 55″ XBR Ultra HD TVs. Not only featuring an insane screen resolution, this WiFi enabled set will also come with one year of Netflix and Hulu Plus out of the box. Not a bad little perk for a premium TV. Plus with all those pixels, gamers may appreciate local multi-player without having to go split screen.
The 55″ XBR is expected to ship this October, and you can pre-order now for $3499.99, which really isn’t too bad in terms of high end TV’s.
Thankfully this follow up Unpacked event was far more mature than what we saw for the Galaxy S4. None of that musical theatre train wreck, this time around Samsung largely let their new devices speak for themselves. Simple and straight forward.
As expected, we saw the official unveiling of the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and I was surprised to see a main stage announcement for the updated Note 10.1 2014 edition.
Galaxy Note 3
The Note 3 looks like it’s going to be another powerhouse phablet. A 5.7″ full HD (1080p) screen backed up by 3GB of RAM. CPU’s will change based on region a quad core in LTE areas (likely the Qualcomm 800) and Samsung’s Octa-Core in 3G zones. A new camera module is on board featuring improvements to lighting and image stabilization, but no mentions of proper hardware optical image stabilization were to be found. Video is going to get a huge shot in the arm however as the Note 3 will support 60FPS 1080p video recording -OR- 4K video for Ultra HD playback on supported 4K TV’s and monitors.
S-Pen is getting spruced up, now with even more ability to control actions and shortcuts on the phone. Smart Command can pop up almost anywhere on the screen to provide quick access to shortcuts. S-note is getting a face lift with more gesture support and a cleaner interface plus support for Evernote. Almost any content can be “Circled” to save in personal Scrapbooks, later to be retrieved via S-Finder universal search. Drawing a box allows users to customize the size of widgets which float on top of the app currently being used. For example, you need a calculator on screen, you draw how big that calculator should be so you can still see info on the rest of the screen.
Note 3 will come in three different leather clad back pates, black, white, and pink, and designers are working on numerous color and texture options for further customization. The Window Flip Cover accessory from the GS4 returns with an even larger window to support alerts on the screen when the screen is technically off.
Samsung is shooting for worldwide availability by September 25th. An ambitious release schedule. Pricing info to come shortly as carriers jump on the press circuit.
Sammy proudly showed off their smartwatch, ending all the rumors on what kind of tech we might see on board. a 1.6″ touchscreen AMOLED display will be paired with an 800MHz CPU and a host of sensors, gyros, mics, speakers, and a camera. Movement tracking will allow Gear to help you sort work out and fitness info, and gestures can be utilized. Answering a phone call happens by holding your hand up to the side of your head. That seems funny, until you see that the mic and speaker are built into the watchband. Not exactly handsfree, but easier to support than holding a Note 3 up to the side of your face, and less “crazy person talking to no one” looking than some of the smaller bluetooth headsets.
A 13MP camera is built into the strap as well, allowing Gear owners to snap pics and vids directly from the wrist. Lining up shots might be tricky holding your arm out sideways, but it’s nice to have an easily accessible camera which can shoot quickly from simple gestures. Custom apps are already available. to take advantage of the smaller screen, and it interacts with Samsung handsets, specifically the Note 2 & 3, the Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Galaxy S4. Smart relay will auto transfer what you see on the Gear screen simply by picking up a paired device. Plus Sammy is claiming 25 hour run time on the watch for all day and all night activity.
Expect a price of $299 when it’s released to the world, also shooting for a September 25th release.
Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition
Less time was spent on the Note 10 during the press event. Most of the new tech included in Note 10.1 was detailed during the presentation of the Note 3. Happily we are seeing a refresh on the screen. Now sporting a 2560×1600 resolution display, similar to the one found on the Nexus 10, this absolutely shames the 1280×800 screen on the last generation Note. The new Note 10.1 will have an 8MP rear camera (no word on 4K video so that’s probably not included), and the same CPU split will happen with LTE variants likely receiving Qualcomm’s 800 series CPU. I would expect WiFi and 3G variants to sport Sammy’ s Octa-core Exynos.
Huge news from Sammy today, and if you were holding off buying a new premier phone or tablet, Samsung totally justified your cautious shopping decision.