So ladies and germs, yesterday was IFA and there were all kinds of goodies unveiled and announced like usual. Some amazing stand outs and some "dafuq were they thinking?" stuff. The latter unsurprisingly in my opinion came from Samsung, who naturally continues on their "let's throw everything and the kitchen sink at the wall and see what sticks" approach to things.
Normally, I'd include pictures but lately some of my more FML OCD-like tendencies have come out and the formatting issues that would arise from posting the pics would drive me nuts. So I'll just link to them and you can see stuff for yourself at your convenience.
These are going to go in order of what I feel is awesomeness. If you don't agree...
Also, fair warning, this might be a relatively lengthy post. That's mostly cause I know some of you don't read all the gadget sites and blogs or understand all the whatchamacallit this and that terms they'll use. So I'm sparing such people numerous page clicks and "can you break down what I just read elsewhere for me" questions and comments. That and on top of IFA there were a few app updates and new releases worth mentioning, so those will go in here too.
So this one was kind of in the works and already known about to some degree, but the actual reveal has kind of blown my mind.
Android Wear devices are a thing and what's come out so far hasn't exactly been mind blowing but it's been very interesting (and I for one have enjoyed having and using my LG G Watch). Well, a lot of us in the know have been dying to see the Moto 360 (more on that baby in a bit) and more importantly its price point. That may now be a moot point for some.
ASUS has come out of nowhere seemingly with a very interesting take on Android Wear. They've brought to the table an in between mix of the square and round designs everyone else is going with. For the most part it's a square watch and watch face, albeit with rounded corners. Where it differs from current offerings is its overall look. It doesn't look like a black slab only the uber geeky (like me!) would wear or like something Samsung threw together from spare parts of something else (that is what they actually did).
The amount of features that baby has is far too many to list without overlooking something, so I'm not even going to bother. I can do all of you one or two better and just throw up the YouTube videos associated with the device. Watch them, you won't regret doing so.
Very intriguing, right? I certainly thought so. As for price, well ASUS is supposedly shooting for under $200. Availability will be sometime in October. (Some of you might hear that and instantly perk up given what we know about certain devices and OS updates/releases that tend to drop in October. For those unaware, the new Nexus phone tends to drop in October. In conjunction with the latest version of Android. Squee! October is going to be a very interesting month for all of us!)
Android Wear 2.0
I was not going to post this one, but a few sites have already mentioned it and it seems logical enough (given what I mentioned at the end of that last bit above) that it deserves some discussion and info on.
There is going to be an OTA update to Android Wear. In passing yesterday on a few sites it was brought up that there are two notable things coming to Android Wear devices sometime soon: GPS and Bluetooth headphone support. Well, this looks like it'll bring support for those to our respective wrists.
The one thing we're definitely not sure of yet is which devices will be getting this update. On the bright side, we have a date for the OTA update. Mark your calendars, folks. October 15th can't come soon enough.
Sony, Sony, SONYYYYYYY! [he writes in his best monster truck announcer voice]
Sony like usual has come out swinging at IFA with a number of devices, some being more mainstream than others. But like usual you can't help but admire what they brought to the table, even if some of it is very pricey and niche.
Up first, in my opinion, are the more mainstream and sleek offerings they unveiled this year.
The Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia E3 and Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. That's a lot of Xperia, isn't it?
The Xperia Z3 is set to be Sony's flagship offering for the year and what an offering it is.
First and foremost is the fact that this puppy is coming in with a 5.2" 1080p screen, matched with a Snapdragon 801 processor and a 20.7MP rear camera. Most of that being similar to last year's Z2, but in a much thinner and more rounded package.
Where Sony has stepped things up is the camera and the display. The camera now has a wide-angle lens and it'll do pics and video in 4K. On top of that is a new "Triluminous display", which purportedly can adjust brightness and contrast on a pixel-by-pixel basis. That sounds ridiculous and intriguing. (I personally almost picked up the Z3 the moment T-Mobile got it in-store, but the locked down bootloader turned me off of it. If that is avoided this time around, since I am a huge fan of tinkering with my devices, then I'm all but certain "this is my next...")
Oh yeah, the speakers on this bad boy are now on the front. Seems like HTC has done something worth emulating for a change and more OEMs are making the move to put the speakers on the front of all their devices. That is definitely not a bad thing.
Like is usually a staple of all things Sony, this device will be waterproof. WaterPROOF, not water resistant. Since a lot of people seem to confuse, conflate and interchange the two let me clarify. Waterproof means you can jump into the pool in your jeans and shirt and shoes with the phone in your pocket and have a blast and not worry about things (for at least half an hour). Water resistant means you can get caught out in the rain with it and you'll be okay, but don't you dare go diving into any random bodies of water. You'll regret it and look foolish when you emerge with a now $600 paperweight in your pocket.
As to price point, if previous offerings are any indication to go by then this is going to cost between $600 and $700. As for those of us in the U.S., well unless you're with T-Mobile then you're SOL. This one is going to be a one carrier exclusive. I'm with T-mobile though. : P
For those thinking a 5.2" phone is too big, there is the Xperia Z3 Compact. Everything I wrote about the Z3 applies to this one, except in a smaller more manageable package.
I'd rather not discuss the Xperia E3, it'll be a more than likely affordable device but the specs and everything on it are mostly ancient and I'd recommend something like the Moto G LTE or the next version of the Moto G (more on that soon I promise) over this one. If you want to know more anyway though, you're online and a big boy/girl. Let your fingers do some walking and give Google something to do.
Last but not least is the Z3 Tablet Compact. This one is basically the Z3 in tablet form, literally. Same specs and everything, albeit in a bigger screen and form factor. Oh and with a bigger battery, duh!
On top of all that, each of those Z34 devices will be the ability to do remote gaming in conjunction with the PS4 come November. A custom mount will be released about the same time so you can pair any of these onto your controller and get your game on. (And I for one am in need of both a new phone and new game console, so this might just work out pretty well for me come fall.)
Sony Smartwatch 3 and E-Ink SmartBand Talk
Sony is not new to the wearable devices game, they've been releasing such devices for some time now. What they are new to is the Android Wear game and their first foray into it leaves a lot to be desired. Or that's what I think at least.
Their latest Smartwach 3 is on par with current Android Wear offerings from LG and Samsung as far as specs are concerned and those are such a non-issue for the average person I won't bother mentioning them. Suffice it to say the device is more than capable of doing what you need and want it to.
My only real issue with it is the look, it's very plain. That might appeal to some, but it doesn't to me. Although I can't bring myself to say it's ugly, it just doesn't pop to me the way ASUS's device does. It does at least look slightly sleeker than my LG G Watch, but you can have my Casio calculator watch look alike when you pry it off my cold dead wrist! (I used to love those watches as a kid twenty some years ago, which was the last time I wore a watch and I've only just this past week finally gotten used to wearing one again. That's with owning my new one for a little over a month. Took long enough to not try shaking it off like a dog with a new collar.)
Then there's the Smartband Talk. I have no idea how I feel about this device, but I think the e-ink display is neat and will likely result in battery life for days. It's essentialy the Smartwatch 3 without the Android Wear part of it and with the ability to handle phone calls through the device itself via a built-in mic and speaker. Although talking at your wrist for a phone call might be a bit much for some, including me.
Sony QX1 E-Sires Lens Mount and QX30 Zoom Lens
This is that very niche stuff I mentioned earlier on. The long and short of it is that these are lenses that mount onto your smartphone and basically give you a nice camera out of a device that only has a decent one (and not even that from some OEMs).
What I know about cameras and lenses and what have you could be written on half a post-it. So rather than try bullshitting you I'll just let Sony do some show and tell and you kids who are into this sort of thing can speak up or research further on your own.
Samsung, oh that Samsung
I honestly don't even know where to start with what Samsung has announced for release in the next few months or so. Sigh. I've been cracking jokes for the past day with some of my more tech enthusiasts friends. Not funny jokes mind you, well sorta funny but only to us. But still. Let's see why, shall we?
I wanted to save it for last, but up first you've got the Note Edge.
You know how I said Samsung is a fan of "let's see what sticks"? This would be an example of that.
No, that is not your brain playing tricks on you. Neither is it an imminent sign of a stroke or aneurysm or anything of the sort. The side of that phone is completely curved.
Samsung claims this is so you can get some information from the device even if all you're seeing is the side. You can interact with it too and launch apps.
I say that is ridiculous, especially when you take into "similar" (and I use the term loosely) ways of getting access to apps or information at a glance from other OEMs. There's Motorola's Active Display (which is second to none of any of these "information at a glance" methods by the other OEMs), there's LG's Quick Circle case (which I recently discussed a bit more in depth) and HTC's Dot View case.
As for specs and all that good stuff, it's the same as the Note 4. Read on for that info!
Sony's ginormous to some flagship this year around is the Note 4. I'd say it's almost identical to last year's model with a bit more polish overall and a slightly less squared look, especially around the edges.
Both devices comes with a quad or octa-core processor (varies by location), 3 GBs of RAM, 32 GBs of internal storage (expandable via a microSD card slot), 16 MP rear camera and 3.7 MP front camera and will come running Android 4.4 (Kit Kat).
The differences between the device are found only in screen sizes, with the Note 4 having a 5.7" Super AMOLED display and the Note Edge having a 5.6" Super AMOLED display. Well, that and battery size. The Note 4 having a 3,220 mAh battery and the Note Edge having a 3,000 mAh battery. Both come with the latest fast charging feature though, something I think we all would like to see more of in other devices, which can take a battery from zero to fifty percent in half an hour. Can you say "schwiiiiing"?
No word yet on pricing or an exact availability date, but for the U.S. at least all the carriers have definitively stated they will carry both devices. AT&T and Sprint have stated they will also carry something else, which I'll get to here in a second. This one might blow your mind. I honestly don't know what to think about it.
Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition
You sensed it coming, right? Something so out there it was gonna potentially knock your socks off. Yeah, you did.
What we have here is a combination of things. We've got hardware created by Samsung, with software created by Oculus (of the Oculus Rift fame).
Before some of you get to drooling or shouting "shut up and take my money", there are a few important things to know.
First off is that this device is an early adopter edition, meaning it may be buggy and it will likely be pricey.
Secondly is the fact that this device requires a Note 4 to work with and is NOT compatible with any other device.
Those are two serious hurdles to any widespread adoption of the device.
If you're at all familiar with the Oculus Rift or ever played a game that required the use of a headset such as this then you know what you're getting here, if you haven't then maybe I should explain. Basically you strap this onto your head and see things as if they were there in front of you. Simple enough concept to grasp.
On the software side of things, like I said earlier, it's all Oculus. There will be Oculus Home (where you connect to the Oculus store to discover, download and launch VR content), Oculus Cinema (a virtual movie theater where you can playback 2D and 3D movies in various theater environments) and Oculus 360 Videos/Pictures (which is pretty self-explanatory).
For those wondering, you will indeed be able to get your game on.
Beyond that, I am ending this post here. But I'll be fielding questions and comments as I can. (Keep in mind, as I've mentioned to a few people on here, I am without DSL at home currently and have been for going on three weeks now almost. So I can only reply when I'm at work. I could while on my phone, but I'm lazy. If you're lucky I'll reply, if not wait til I'm back on the clock.)
Keep in mind one thing, IFA is still ongoing and there have been a few other things worth mentioning that have popped up throughout the course of today. But it's taken all day to write this one, since I am doing it at work and do have to do some work. : )
As for the Motorola mentions, it appears that the event is on the 5th and not the 4th. The livestream will be viewable here.
On a really quick end note, two things.
There is an official reddit AMA app now for Android. Very simple and actually not bad looking. This boils things down to what you really want and separates the wheat from the chaff, a phrase I have said far too many times today and I can't seem to stop myself from doing so. Qusetions that were answered are the only things you'll see in this app. No reddit craziness or silliness, sounds like a winner to me. Then again that reddit out there-ness can be fun and I certainly enjoy it!
Besides that, any fans of Chrome out there? What about people who like being on the cutting edge? Well, a certain app just got a certain Material update. The apk may or may not be available for instant download and installation here.
There will be a follow-up post to this one discussing everything else that came out today (and that gets unveiled tomorrow, goddamnit Motorola hurry up!) manana. Or for those who don't speak or understand written Spanish, "tomorrow".
And I'm officially spent!