Lots of reveals at the IFA consumer electronics trade show
It’s the biggest electronics show in the land and it’s held in Berlin every year (but don’t ask me what IFA stands for – it’s something in German). Companies hauled out all their new pretties and here are some highlights:
• Sony Xperia Z3: It’s a 5.2-inch Android smartphone with a 1080p screen. It’s also waterproofed and has a faster processor than the Z2 (this time a Snapdragon 801). No pricing or release date is known yet, but the press is expecting it to launch this fall.
• Z3 Compact: it’s pretty much a “ditto” of the Xperia, only it’s smaller. It has a 4.6-inch display and a 720p resolution. It’ll probably be cheaper than the Xperia too, which could make it really popular (one tech site even suggested the Compact is really Sony’s new “flagship” because it’s such a strong entrant into the market).
• Updated Sony SmartBand: The SmartBand Talk is an update of Sony’s previous efforts. As the name suggests, it has a speaker and a mic so you can you use it to take calls from your smartphone.
• Sony SmartWatch: It’s got a 1.6-inch display, it’s waterproof, it has 4GB of local storage, a GPS sensor, and uses microUSB charging. Oh, and don’t forget the accelerometer, compass and, of course, a gyroscope – not to shabby for Sony’s first smart watch! Sony showed it off, but didn’t talk about launch dates of pricing yet.
• Samsung Gear S: this smartwatch joins the other 5 it’s introduced in the last year. The S is approaching Dick Tracy territory—you don’t need a smartphone to run it. In fact, you can actually make calls with it, thanks to its own nano-SIM card. Heck, it’ll even let you reply to emails thanks to a teeny-tiny on-screen keyboard.
• Galaxy Note Edge with a bent-edge display: According to Engadget, it’s basically a Note 4 but a bit sexier. The bent edge adds a little extra screen space, depending on the app. For example, it could be the sidebar with shortcuts and settings leaving the rest of the screen available for watching videos. Time will tell what developers do with it, but it looks cool, doesn’t it?
• Galaxy Note 4: It’s a phablet and, according to The Verge, Samsung’s best bet against what is sure to be the bigger new iPhones coming next week. It’s not a brand new device, but is being described as an “iteration” of the Galaxy Note 3 so it has improvements and refinements, but nothing drastically different…but that’s not to say that’s a bad thing. The reviews I read all felt the small changes were good ones and makes the Note 4 a very strong competitor in the market.
And if that’s not enough Samsung for you, here’s an amusing David Hasselhoff spot for Samsung’s Smart Home system featuring KITT (and if you don’t know it’s a Night Rider reference, you can skip it):
Facebook offers users a “privacy checkup”…but maybe do a more thorough check
If you’re a Facebook user, you know just how hard it is to understand exactly what privacy settings you actually have set. In response to this critique, Facebook rolled out a “privacy checkup” for users (if you missed it, you can go to the lock in the upper right of your FB screen to get it). Gizmodo thinks this is a great start, but offers their own “complete guide to locking down Facebook privacy.” You might want to take a peek because their explanations are simple, yet helpful.
Credible Apple rumors for this week
With the highly-anticipated announcement of new Apple items on Tuesday, the media is bursting with rumors. But, when the New York Times publishes something, you start to think maybe it’s more than just idle speculation. They said on Thursday that Apple IS going to introduce an iWatch (available in two sizes) in addition to bigger iPhones. The Times is saying it will have a flexible display with a synthetic sapphire face that’s stronger than glass. Only a few more days to wait until September 9th when all will be revealed. Speaking of which, Apple announced this week they’ll be live streaming the event so tune in if you’d like—but you have to run Safari 5.1.10 or later on a desktop machine or run at least Safari for iOS 6. If you’ve got an Apple TV, you can stream it too, as long as it’s a second or third gen device.
Dyson to release a robotic Roomba-style vacuum
It’s called the 360 Eye and the name is fitting—it has a camera that looks at the entire room and apparently better detects dirty spots. The vacuum, announced in Tokyo this week, has an entirely different brush system and a bigger dirt cup than its rival and Dyson says it’ll run for 20-30 minutes on its battery. It’ll be released in Japan in 2015, so we’ll see when and if they bring it to other markets. Also no word on the pricing, but given their other vacuums, it’s probably not going to come cheap.
Tesla battery factory coming to Nevada
Elon Musk made his selection and the so-called Gigafactory will be built in the Reno, Nevada area. This comes after months of speculation and I’m *sure* the$1.25 billion tax cut he got from the state didn’t factor in at all ;-). By 2020, the factory will produce batteries for about a half-million cars while maintaining a “net-zero” footprint meaning the factory itself will produce as much energy as it uses.
Afternoon reading: An interview with the Kickstarter potato salad guy
TechCrunch got a sit down interview with the infamous Kickstarter potato salad guy, Zach Danger Brown. If you’ve been following the story on this blog or elsewhere, you’ll probably enjoy hearing what he learned in the process of Kickstarting his first potato salad and getting about $50K to do so.
And in quasi-tech news, scientists find the biggest dino ever
Yeah, I know it’s not REALLY tech news (just like last week’s inclusion of the sailing stones story), but come on – giant dinosaur that weighed 65 tons (or about 7 T-Rex)? How can you resist?? The new species of dino is named Dreadnoughtus and had a 37-foot long neck and a 29-foot long tail…and was still growing when it died! The discovery was made in Argentina and it’s being declared as the largest land animal ever found. It was a sauropod, which as any 10-year-old dinosaur freak will tell you, means it was a four-legged plant eater. Here’s a video with a few fun facts and lot of perspective that will make you go, “wow! That was HUGE”
And, for all my fellow Whovians
This amazing Dalek relaxation tape (the good stuff starts at 0:28):