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Xiaomi phone teaser leaves much to the imagination, save for its lack of girth

Posted by wicked January - 13 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

CES may be old news already, but that doesn’t mean January’s new tech train has slowed to a stop. In fact, given the increasingly large significance of key Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi, Huawei, OnePlus, and Oppo, it may not be too long before the world starts to pay closer attention to trade shows that will take place inside the world’s largest populated country. Xiaomi may have been off-the-radar for CES, but that hasn’t stopped it from teasing a tantalizing new product this week. Take a look:

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Quite literally nothing is officially known about what this product might be, but Xiaomi clearly wants everyone to know what it isn’t: thick, heavy, or mediocre. The key use of the word flagship in the text indicates something potentially big is in-hand, at least significance-wise.

As far as unofficial word goes, rumor has it this product could be the Mi 5 or Mi 4s, and is said to contain an all-aluminum chassis. French-language site, Nowhereelse has alleged pics of the chassis, along with some rumored specs:

Dimensions-Xiaomi-Mi5 Nowhereelse

The device is said to be 5.1mm thin, possibly have a 5.2 inch 2560X1440 QHD display, a rear camera ranging between 16-20 megapixels, and a front facing one allegedly boasting a whopping 8 megapixels. CPU rumors can’t decide between a Snapdragon 805 or 810, however, suffice to say whichever is included the device will be packing some major power.

Assuming the display specs actually pan out, one might begin to wonder just how good battery life could be given the thin size. While it’s certainly possible Xiaomi will have done some software optimization to make things work, it would certainly be nice to see some major advancements in battery technology to go along with the announcement.

Another theory claims Xiaomi will introduce two devices tomorrow, and this second teaser image seems to support this prediction:

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While all eyes have been on a potential successor to the Mi 4, Xiaomi could also unveil tomorrow a second generation of the Redmi Note. Regardless of who will end up being the star of the show, everything will become official tomorrow at 1AM EST, at Xiaomi’s Beijing event.

Xiaomi’s new hardware comes amid a major push among Chinese OEMs to release impossibly thin phones. It seems like just a short while ago Oppo had taken the cake for the world’s record, only for it to immediately be dethroned by the Vivo X5 Max.  While nothing is yet official, it looks like the world’s third largest OEM may be making some big headlines of its own soon, for something scandalously slim.

CES 2015 Roundup: Android in full throttle

Posted by wicked January - 13 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

The dust of CES 2015 has finally settled down, so now we can take a more holistic overview of what went down at the world’s largest consumer electronics event. Unsurprisingly, Android is at the center of many of the new, and some old, devices we’ve seen. But while wearables, particularly smartwatches are still somewhat of a hot topic, we’re now seeing Android’s growing presence outside of its usual form factors, in particular in cars and in TVs. Join us for Android Community’s recap of CES 2015.

Smartphones

Of course, smartphones are Android’s core market, so it’s not surprising to see a lot of new ones this year. And by “a lot”, we really mean a ton. Of course, you have new ones from top OEMs, like Lenovo’s new P90 and Vibe X2 Pro, along with its rather quirky Vibe Xtension Selfie Flash accessory. ASUS’ smartphones may not have the dual cameras we were hoping for, but the ZenFone Zoom‘s 3x optical zoom and the ZenFone 2‘s 4 GB RAM definitely pique our interest. HTC tries a Desire EYE repeat with the Desire 826, but those with a more limited budget might want to turn their eyes towards the Desire 320 instead. LG does out a new G Flex 2, but happily this second curved smartphone sports some specs that make the odd shape a bit more bearable.

Equally interesting, however, is the flood of smartphones from other brands. Alcatel is on the scene not only with the OS-agnostic PIXI 3, it also has a bunch of new LTE-enabled POP smartphones and one tablet as well. It even has a OneTouch smartwatch now. BLU Products also unleashed as much as seven new smartphones, some of which bear uncanny resemblance to some Chinese OEM models. Camera companies are also game, with Kodak revealing its first smartphone, the Kodak IM5 and Polaroid announcing the new Selfie, which might be in legal trouble for its imitation of the OPPO N1′s core feature.

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But perhaps the Saygus V2 (V-squared, not V two) takes the cake when it comes to hardware features, boasting of almost every high-end feature you can think of. 320 GB storage (64 GB internal plus two 128 GB microSD slots), a 13 megapixel front camera, Harman Kardon 3D audio, fingerprint scanner, IPX7 waterproofing, Kevlar edges, are just some of the juicy things this smartphone has. Hopefully, Saygus can make it to the market this time.

Tablets

Android tablets aren’t as many, but they do still have a commanding presence. Aside from Alcatel’s 4G POP tablet and Archos’s budget tablet, there are also a few notable ones at CES. There’s E-FUN’s convertible Lollipop tablet and Polaroid’s new L line, some of the first Android 5.0 tablets outside of the Nexus line. Lenovo also announced a few new Yoga Android tablets along with its new crew. And although it’s somewhat hard to still call these “tablets”, Fuhu revealed a few new large, child-friendly nabi Tabs. And by large, we mean devices that range from 32 to 65 inches!

Cars

Automobiles have always been present at CES, but this year, they are even more interesting for the Android crowd with a good number of them either sporting Android integration, connecting to Android Wear smartwatches, or promising Android Auto support in the future. Drone maker Parrot, for example, unveils its take on Android Auto with the RNB6. Pioneer and Kenwood are also collaborating on bringing the Android car platform to OS-agnostic systems. Hyundai shows off its BlueLink app now running on Android Weaer smartwatches while Volkswagen reveals details about upcoming Android Auto support in its smart cars.

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Perhaps one of the biggest stars in this space was Audi, who not only showed a rather dashing dashboard, it also revealed some smartwatch integration as well. Sadly, its more interesting smartwatch that was custom-made by LG ran on the Korean OEM’s webOS incarnation for smartwatches, but Android fans need not despair as the car maker does have support for Android Wear as well.

Gaming

Gaming and Android TV go hand in hand, and CES 2015 is testament to that. Accessories maker Mad CATZ just revealed its transforming L.Y.N.X. hybrid controller that can support both smartphones and tablets in different and weird combinations. Sony and Sharp have also brought along their new line of UHD Smart TVs, some of which run Android TV. But the gaming spotlight for CES 2015 most likely goes to Razer, not for its Nabu fitness band, but for its Android TV-toting Forge TV microconsole. Along with it, Razer has also revealed the Turret wireless keyboard and mouse combo, the Serval controller for both smartphones and Forge TV, as well as the promise of a more inclusive PC game streaming coming soon via Cortex: Stream.

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Wearables

Of course, wearables are still here, whether they be in the form of a fitness band, smartwatch or glasses. As mentioned, Alcatel has teased some details of its OneTouch smartwatch. Sony, on the other hand, doesn’t have a new smartwatch per se, but does have a steel-clad SmartWatch 3 available for purchase. Razer also reveals its Nabu X smartband follow up, while Lenovo has its VIBE Band VB10 to show off. Sony also has a different kind of wearable on display, with the new SmartEyeglass Attach! that can, well, attach to any eyepiece to turn them into smart eyewear, at least in theory.

Wrap-up

These are just some of the highlights of this year’s CES show, so be sure to check our CES 2015 tag portal for the whole shebang. And once you’ve had your fill, it’s time to take a breath as we prepare for the Mobile World Congress 2015 in February.

Jide unveils Remix Ultra Tablet

Posted by wicked January - 12 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

New startup Jide Technology is determined to enter the Android tablet arena. Why wouldn’t it especially its founders were from Google. Three former Google engineers left the search giant to build a startup that would develop a mobile device solution that takes care of productivity and entertainment needs. These ex-Googlers believe that “tablets are great at media consumption and mobility but painful at content creation”. The engineers thought that virtual keyboards can be frustrating so they’re adding a magnetic full-sized keyboard to a tablet for a more convenient mobile computing.

A laptop is more ideal for content creation whether for work and play but it is not exactly as portable. You still need to bring the power adapter cables with you all the time. Good thing the Jide team is showing off the Remix tablet–a new Android-powered mobile device that reminds us so much of the Microsoft Surface tablet.

Jide describes the Remix as a the world’s first true “ultra tablet”. It runs a customized version of Android which the team calls as the Remix OS. Main features of the mobile OS include productivity apps and the usual functions you’d find in a laptop or PC.

Specs of the Jide Remix tablet include an 11.6-inch IPS touchscreen display, Full HD high resolution, 2GB RAM, Nvidia Tegra 4+1 processor, Tegra GPU GeForce ULP 72, 5 megapixel front and back cameras, duo mics, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and an impressive 8100 mAh battery. Tablet weighs only 860 grams.

The Remix Android tablet also comes with a full-size magnetically connected ultrathin keyboard cover and an integrated dual position kickstand (very much like the Microsoft Surface tablet). The Remix OS software is based on Android 4.4.2, complete with a Windows 8-like design, windowed apps, and an app-switching taskbar.

The $349 16GB unit and the $449 64GB model will be ready for sale in the emerging market China. The UK and the US are expected to receive the ultra-tablet during the 2nd or 3rd quarter this 2015. Available in various colors.

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SOURCE: Jide

AMPL powered backpack solves charging issues, debuted at CES

Posted by wicked January - 12 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

Modern society has been so reliant on its gadgets that running out of battery power is a very real – and in most cases, a very stressful – issue for most. That is why mobile power banks are in vogue these days. But the AMPL powered backpack presents a novel solution to the issue – a backpack with charging capabilities so that if you are not using your gadgets, they can be in your bag and charging at the same time.

The AMPL SmartBackPack as it is officially called is a bag and a charger, it is made by AMPL Labs to resolve all that anxiety you feel when your tablet, laptop, or smartphone is running out of juice and there is not a power outlet in sight. Instead of having another device in your bag to charge – namely a power bank – why not a bag that is in itself a power bank? The AMPL SmartBackPack has an internal 18.5 watt-hour battery that can charge a smartphone up to 3 times full charge.

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Aside from that, it can also support up to 3 more modular batteries as additional juice for your gadgets. These modular batteries come in two models – TabletBoost, which supplies another 18.5 watt-hour of battery power, and LaptopBoost, which adds a huge 55 watt-hour and can charge most laptops directly. The bag is in itself has protective shock absorbing dampers for the safety of your devices and rain-resistant coating.

The AMPL SmartBackPack will be available by middle of the year, starting at USD$299. Additional battery modules will be at USD$59 (TabletBoost) and USD$139 (LaptopBoost).

SOURCE: AMPL Labs

Polaroid intros new L series of Android tablets at CES 2015

Posted by wicked January - 12 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

Polaroid was not satisfied showing off the Selfie smartphone and the Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer. Why, the company also introduced a new line of Android tablets that boasts of quad-core processors and runs the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop platform. The L series consists of two tablets: the 7-inch L7 tablet and the L10 10.1-inch tablet. This makes the Android L7 and L10 now two of the very few Lollipop-running tablets in the market today.

Polaroid L7 and L10 are the brand’s fastest tablets to date, promising “super-fast quad core processing speeds” according to Scott W. Hardy, President and CEO of Polaroid. Faster speed means less waiting when browsing the Internet, loading apps, playing games, or watching movies. As with the past Polaroid Android tablets unveiled, the tablets are affordable and look very sleek in design.

The L7 and L10 Polaroid tablets boast of Bluetooth connectivity, extended battery life, front mounted speakers, front and rear cameras, and of course, WiFi. No 4G LTE here but they are really good for basic tablet computing. Tablets will be available in the US market this coming Spring for only $99 and $149, respectively. No word if they will be available in other regions.

Polaroid L7 Android Tablet CES 2015

Polaroid is more popular for being in the instant film business but it has ventured into Android devices. There’s the Android WiFi camera, Android camera with interchangeable lens (Polaroid iM1836 which was sadly pulled from the shelves), Polaroid M10 and M7, Kids Tablet 2, Polaroid Q series tablets, Polaroid XS100i Action Cam, and the Polaroid Cube. The Polaroid Android phones and tablets are nothing new but last year, the brand has entered the flat-screen and sports camera businesses. They’re not really the best in the industry but these innovations are good coming from a brand that was about to bid goodbye a few years ago.

SOURCE: Polaroid

Digital tattoo thermometer, smart pacifier unveiled at CES 201

Posted by wicked January - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Who says that only adults and older kids can benefit from the continuing evolution of technology and gadgets? At CES 2015, several products were unveiled that highlight how you can use technology to check up on your babies’ health. Okay, it’s also the parents that will actually be helped by these new products and babies will probably not have much fun using them, but it still is pretty cool to see technology being used for something other than selfies or games (not that those are bad things okay?)

VivaLnk, the guys behind Motorola’s cool digital tattoo, have come up with another product using the same technology, but this time with bears instead of cool ink designs. The eSkin Thermometer uses an NFC chip together with a temperature sensor in order to tell whether your child is running a fever or if they’re cured of the flu already. And it will be able to give you a reading in just under three seconds. It comes in a cute bear sticker, so taking their temperature will not be a scary or tedious thing for your young one.

Pacif-i meanwhile does the same thing but uses a pacifier instead of a sticker, probably making it the world’s first “smart” pacifier. Aside from being an actual pacifier that your baby can put in their mouth, it will send a temperature reading of the child to your paired smartphone through a special app. It even has a time-stamp to continuously monitor the readings, and it can actually show it in a graph that will show the daily progression. Not only will it tell you whether or not the baby has a fever, but the stored data can also be used later on to determine the best course of treatment in the eventuality of a recurring or unexpected condition. Oh, and in case your baby “escapes” from you or something, it emits a BLE signal so you can track him or her and it will send an alarm if the pacifier (and the baby) goes more than 20 feet beyond your smartphone.

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Pacif-i will cost you $40 each and can be bought from its maker, Blue Maestro’s website but on back order. Meanwhile VivaLnk plans to sell the eSkin Thermometer in packs of three from between $15-$20. Each sticker can last for 15 days and is washable. They are planning to launch sometime this spring.

SOURCE: VivaLnk, Blue Maestro

BRAVEN shows off BRV-PRO, new ultra-rugged Bluetooth speaker

Posted by wicked January - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

CES 2015 is about to close but that doesn’t mean we’d stop featuring great products we’ve seen at the tech event. Days after the show formally closes, we’d still be reporting and showing you what we’ve seen or held. One of the hundreds of products shown off this week is the BRAVEN BRV-PRO Bluetooth speaker that impresses with its rugged design. This seems ideal for those who like to stay outdoors but can’t live without listening to music. The tank-like design adds to the rough and ready feel you’d want to bring this everywhere you go.

The BRAVEN BRV-PRO is a modular Bluetooth speaker that offers HD audio playback with powerful bass. It can withstand drops, water, and dust (IPX7 certified). You can use different accessories with this one. Get a stack plate multiplier, a glow deck, solar charging panel, and an extended battery pack. Even without the extra battery, it can last up to 20 hours on a 2,200mAh rechargeable battery. You can also use this one as a portable power bank.

BRAVEN BRV-PRO’s material is aircraft grade aluminum so you know it’s really ready for rough use and extreme weather. It also comes with a GoPro compatible action mount and a Qi Wireless Charging Pad. Bluetooth speaker will be available for only $150 this coming second quarter. The accessories will cost anything between $20 to $50.

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SOURCE: Braven

ZAGG intros new Pocket Keyboard for your phablet

Posted by wicked January - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Smartphones are getting bigger. We recently noted that laptop growth and tablet sales are going nowhere so more manufacturers are focusing their efforts on smartphones. Screen sizes are getting larger but admit it, typing on a touchscreen display has not always been easy. More people still prefer real keyboard especially if you need to type a longer message. Since more and more people are using phones (phablets) as their main device, we can expect smartphones to transform at a more rapid pace.

I haven’t reached that point where my smartphone has replaced the laptop but I want a keyboard. With my phone’s 5-inch display, I know I can “work” on it. Give me a keyboard so I can type away as quickly as possible. This ZAGG Pocket Keyboard is just perfect for my large fingers. This is a fold-up portable keyboard that connects via Bluetooth and can be used with various platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows.

This fold-and-go keyboard measures on 9 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches when folded down so you know it’s really foldable but still offers an almost full-size keyboard feel. It comes with a built-in stand so your phone or tablet will stay in front of you. It’s also eco-efficient because the keyboard won’t turn on if it’s folded or closed. This means longer battery life for the new ZAGG keyboard. Actually, the Lithium-Ion battery inside can last up to two years between charges according to ZAGG.

The $70 ZAGG Pocket Keyboard will be available this first quarter. It’s not the first ZAGG keyboard we’ve seen though. A few years ago, we featured the ZAGG Keys SOLO Portable Keyboard for Android so this one should also be good.

VIA: SlashGear

Alcatel OneTouch to sell unlocked devices through new e-commerce site

Posted by wicked January - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

For the first time in North America, Alcatel OneTouch is opening an e-commerce channel where users will be able to purchase unlocked smartphones, tablets and accessories from the OEM. They previously launched a similar online channel in Europe last November 2014 and now it’s the turn of US residents (and later on, Canada) to be able to buy their preferred device at a more affordable price and not tied down with any carrier (if that is something they would prefer).

According to Steve Cistulli, Senior Vice President of North America for Alcatel OneTouch, they wanted to form a “more direct relationship” with consumers, hence the decision to open the online store. They also want customers to have the option and opportunity to choose the device they want at prices that are relatively cheaper than if you purchase it with a carrier. While the Europe online store only offered a full range of accessories for the French, German, Italian, Spanish, and UK markets (with more to come this year), the North American online channel will also be offering smartphones and tablets.

Among those that will initially be available in the alcatelonetouch.us will be the Idol X+, a 5-inch full HD 4G smartphone with a 13MP camera, available at $275, and the Idol 2 S, a 5-inch LTE smartphone. When it comes to tablets, both the Pop 7 and Pop 8 will be available. The bigger Pop 8, which is an 8-inch quad-core tablet will be sold for $199 while the slightly smaller Pop 7, which is a 7-inch dual-core device, will be available for $149. Device covers, NFC tags, 1800mAh powerbanks and Bluetooth headsets by Alcatel will also be sold on their digital store.

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The U.S store is already open and available for shipping of your device and/or accessories of choice. Later this year but still during the first quarter, Canada residents will also get their own e-commerce channel for Alcatel OneTouch.

SOURCE: Alcatel

Razer Forge TV hands-on: Android living room gaming levels up

Posted by wicked January - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Razer revealed earlier at CES 2015 its own take as Android gaming in the living room with the Forge TV, but its take isn’t simply a box or controller that you hook up to a TV and press Play. Razer’s idea is more of a whole ecosystem that includes the Forge TV itself, a couple of surprisingly good controllers, and even the software that runs inside. We got to test all of these ourselves to see just how much promise this latest attempt really holds.

Forge TV

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Of course at the heart of the whole system is Forge TV itself, the Android gaming microconsole that is as nondescript as its accessories are flamboyant. Inside you will see a 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, sadly not yet the 64-bit Snapdragon 810, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of memory, and a cornucopia of connectivity options. That includes, naturally, HDMI for TV output, WiFi for networking, a lone USB 3.0 port for added storage, and a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired networks. The box itself is so unassuming that it almost feels like Razer wants you to just plug it in and forget about it, leaving the other parts to take center stage.

Android TV is, of course, what runs the whole show, making the Forge TV the second commercial box to offer it, next to the Nexus Player. But while Android TV on the Forge TV was a smooth experience itself, Razer has more to offer with its own software stack. In particular, Cortex: Stream, which will run on a Windows PC, promises the ability to stream almost any game from PC to Forge TV, no matter where your PC is hidden. That said, we will reserve our judgment once the feature actually rolls out the door. The Android TV functionality can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet app, complete with Voice Search. though it’s uncertain if you can use those same devices as game controllers. For that, Razer offers its own.

Razer Serval

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The Razer Serval is your tried and true Bluetooth game controller, though it also offers options for wired connections. The layout out of the buttons and joysticks should be familiar to gamers from other consoles, particularly the Xbox ones. In fact, you might say that the amount of buttons on the gamepad might be superfluous for most Android games, with shoulder buttons and triggers and all. But that’s because Razer also intends the Serval to be usable even for PCs, making it a multi-functional game controller. That said, it does have dedicated buttons for Android functionality, so there is no room for ambiguity.

The Serval, however, doesn’t serve the Forge TV only. It can also function as an independent Bluetooth controller for your smartphone. In fact, it comes with an adjustable clip that can hold your smartphone, not tablet, in place while you mash those buttons. The clip holds your smartphone securely with spring-loaded clamps but also holds on to it carefully with rubber padded edges.

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Razer Turret

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This wireless keyboard and mouse combo comes somewhat as a surprise. When you think of living room gaming, you mostly think about controllers. But the Forge TV seems to be quite designed to accommodate all types of use cases, both gaming and productivity, and so the Turret makes sense. But make no mistake, this keyboard is designed to really be used on your lap while you sit comfortably on the couch.

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They keyboard itself feels solid, heavy, and robust, which makes it suitable for the wear and tear of a living room warzone. The chiclet-type keys ala Macbook deliver a comfortable typing experience and the green backlight gives sufficient illumination for even the darkest of living rooms. The mouse is similarly illuminated with Razer’s iconic green color scheme. That mouse is strangely ambidextrous in shape, but the keyboard which it is used on seems to be designed for right-handed users because the “mousepad” flap only folds on the right.

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That flap is magic. Sort of. The mouse itself has magnetic bits that cling to the mousepad just a bit. It’s not too strong to hamper smooth gaming, but it’s strong enough to keep the mouse from sliding off. This is, beyond a doubt, designed with the unsteady couch in mind.

Wrap-up

On paper, Razer has a winner here when it comes to Android gaming, and our first brush with it definitely shows some promise, but there are still a lot of variables that can make or break this contender. Final build quality will definitely set it apart from others, particularly Kickstarter-backed products, who have attempted the same. Game selection, both from Android TV as well as exclusive ones Razer might have, will also be a dealbreaker. And time to market will also determine how warm or cool the public’s reception of the Forge TV et al will be.

One thing that isn’t unknown, at least for now, is the price. The Forget TV alone costs $99.99 but one can get it bundled with the Serval Controller for $149.99. The Serval can also be purchased independently for $80 while the Turret keyboard and mouse pair will cost you $130.