Throwing this one up now because MWC happened yesterday and I kinda feel like taking a break from the internet and my phone and a few other things in general for a bit. So you get this post early and I get my break in.
Plus I can't get Hakuna Matata out of my head and that's just gonna throw me all kinds of off.
So let's just get to it then.
HTC M9 is official and kind of a let down...
Like seriously, there was no way it would live up to the hype and the "leaks" that had been taking place for awhile now. As such I was very "meh" about the whole thing.
So what's changed with this model? First off the big difference is the camera, they've done away with the "ultrapixel" and "Duo" nonsense. Buzzwords and gimmicks. You've got a nice single-sensor 20 megapixelk cam and a dual LED flash.
Beyond that you've got an update to Sense which is now at Sense 7 and running on top of Lollipop. Purportedly this new version of Sense has some built-in theme customization options, we'll have to wait til the phone is released to consumer hands though to know more about that.
The screen size and type remain unchanged, you've got a 5" 1080p display there. You've also got the amazing Boomsound front facing speakers, although now it has "Dolby 5.1 surround sound". How that works on a tiny device with only two speakers is beyond me? Magic? Maybe? Most likely.
As for specs, that's where things really get interesting. This baby is rocking the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of built in storage space (on the base model) and a microSD card slot.
Honestly, I'm blown away by the memory more than anything else. My Nexus S a few years ago had an astounding 512 MB of RAM. Now we've got phones coming out with 3 gigs of RAM! This excites me in the geekiest of ways, which none of my offline friends can get. The dorks!
Being an HTC phone it'll come in a few different colors, natch. Also, I'm not sure why I just said "natch" instead of "naturally" or where I heard that recently but I'm now disappointed in myself for having done so. "Natch". Wtf. I want to tell myself to get off my own lawn now. Sigh.
There's also going to be an update to the DotView case, which will now come with some more customized display options.
And of course he's a little video to kinda sum things up.
The phone is listed as coming in "early Spring", so expect it within the month or sometime next month.
But wait, there's more! From HTC AND Valve!
HTC has partnered with Valve to release the Vive Virtual Reality Headset.
Not gonna lie, I like the look of it more than I do of the similar device from Samsung.
Although that could be partially because it reminds me of the mask worn by Lord Humungus.
There's not much known at the moment about the device. So I guess we'll have to wait and see what more comes of it and the specs and what devices, if any, it'll work with.
Best I can do is share the video that came with the announcement and I am intrigued.
What does it say about me that in addition to being blown away by virtual reality still (cause I will never get over how cool I thought it was as a kid) I can't help but think "man, I can't wait to get drunk or smoke or something and try messing with that then"?
Samsung has really outdone themselves with the S6 and S6 Edge
And I mean that as sarcastically as possible and you'll see why shortly.
So first off, it looks like Samsung is sticking to their guns and releasing multiple versions of their phones still. It's like they go out of their way to not learn their lessons. Last year they released something like 140+ different devices, most of which were multiple variants of one device. Which is why so many of their devices do not get updates, they simply can't update them all. But whatever, Samsung. Keep on keeping on.
So we've got the new S6.
And the S6 Edge.
So besides the new version of its flagship non-phablet phone what's changed?
So many things, some of which are great and some which are not so great.
First off, Samsung has finally done away with plastic. The devices now feature a metal frame. This is great news! Finally that slightly "cheap" feeling you get when you pick up a Samsung device is gone and now you've got seemingly a "premium" built device. Although this isn't without a trade-off, that being scratches and scuffs. But you can't have your cake and eat it too. Well, you can, but you get what I mean.
Beyond that the screen remains the same as that found on the S5, 5.1" and an AMOLED panel at that which has been bumped to 2560x1440 (QHD). This brings it in line with other high-end devices.
The speaker has been moved, now it's at the bottom of the phone. Taking its place among everything else (charging port, headphone port, microphone).
Battery is roughly the average for a phone this size, 2,550mAh, although there is one notable change from previous Samsung devices. It's not removable. That may make it a deal breaker for many Samsung fans, as the thought of replacing their own batteries is something they enjoyed. Oh well. Welcome to the club, people. (Best I can say for you is that if you don't like it you can hang onto your old Samsung phone or start your own OEM. Way of the future, kids. Phones that meet all your exact needs and specs are a pipe dream.)
In an additional departure from the Samsung norm is the lack of a microSD card slot. Yep, those have gone bye bye with these phones, which likely means it'll be that way going forward. The base model device now comes with 32 GB of built-in storage, with 64 gig and 128 gig options also available. The latter being just plain insane. (I'm still of the opinion that you honestly don't need your entire music collection with you at all times. I have tons of music, I usually end up listening to the same few dozen albums or playlist though. The cloud, baby. The cloud. But seriously, do you really need 64 or even 128 gigs of music with you at all times?)
Beyond that the other change is relying solely on Samsung's own Exynos chipsets within the devices. Done is a mix of Samsung and Qualcomm hardware. The rumored overheating issues of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 not helping to keep Samsung using said hardware in their devices. The phone also features 3 GB of RAM (using the new DDR4 standard), which means it'll be able to handle anything you can dish out and then some.
Beyond that the hardware in general has received modest spec bumps for everything else, nothing worth mentioning.
Lollipop is naturally present, of course you've got Samsung's TouchWiz skin running on top of that. I for one am not at all surprised to have learned that despite being less heavy than it has been in previous years it isn't the clean "Nexus-like" experience rumors said it was going to be. My exact reaction was as follows, "You mean to tell me that Samsung didn't de-TouchWiz their phones? I for one am shocked. Shocked I tell you." It was said in the perfect deadpan voice.
Beyond that there's also Samsung Pay, because Samsung will always be a fan of the "us too!" approach to things. So now we have Google Wallet and Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Because more "standards" is never a bad thing. /s
You knew I was going to post the relevant XKCD, didn't you?
Honestly, how could I not? It totally applies in this case!
Of course there is one difference. Samsung Pay has two ways or working at terminals, it has Near Field Communication (NFC) and Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST). I won't explain the former, since I hope we all know what it is and how it works. (Magic!) The latter though, which I'd never seen explained before or even heard of to be honest, uses a "special inductive loop that generates a magnetic field that can be picked up by the mag stripe reader inside of standard credit card terminals".
So to summarize that I'll let Col. O'Neill do the talking.
On a very related note, Window of Opportunity is probably my favorite Stargate SG-1 episode ever. And because this is my post and I can do what I want with it, here's a clip of some of the funnier scenes in said episode.
Samsung's partnered with MasterCard and Visa for this, which means you should probably be able to use it anywhere one or the other is accepted, and because MST basically simulates a physical card that means you should be able to pay anywhere. Although if my experience with Google Wallet is anything to go by you should still carry your physical card. WHY INSTALL THE TERMINALS FOR ALL THIS FANCY TECHNOLOGY AND THEN HAVE THEM ALWAYS BE BROKEN?!?! Although there are few things as "yeah, I know, I'm bad" as paying for your breakfast tacos at the convenient store by putting your up to the card reader. "That guy paid with his phone! That's fucking cool!" I know, random citizen. I know.
Back to the phones though, they'll be available on April 10th in 20 countries. Prices at yet were not mentioned, but considering these are flagship products expect them to go for around $649.99 off contract. The S6 Edge will likely cost a bit more than the regular S6.
For you serious spec freaks, check out the screenshots below.
Have some videos while we're at it!
Edit. Oh and of course I just learned some very intriguing news.
So the S6 and S6 Edge come with McAfee installed/built-in on them. Because if there's one things Samsung devices need more of it would be more bloatware. McAfee bloatware at that. Because when you want security everyone knows McAfee is awesome! /s
Sigh. Phones that I barely had any interest in just got a lot worse in my opinion.
I mean seriously? McAfee?! On phones?!
I shared news of the new S6 and S6 Edge with a non-techie friend yesterday when it was announced. Despite being a Samsung fan he was very unimpressed, I feel like his reaction to this news about the McAfee bloatware would be a quote from The Waterboy. "Last game of the season, Brett. Can't hold anything back." We know, Dan. We know.
Huawei is jumping into the Android Wear game with a real looker
That looks slick as hell! Also, note the lack of the "flat tire" as found on the Moto 360. Although that lack of said flat tire means the watch is slightly bulkier than the Moto 360. Something a lot of people overlook. Motorola had to make a choice, either a sleek device with minimal bezel and a flat tire or something bulky with some serious bezel action and no flat tire. I think they made the right call. Anyone who mentions the flat tire in this post after this sentence will be dealt with severely. I'm talking "release the hounds with bees in their mouths so that when they bark they shoot bees at you" level severeness. Proceed accordingly.
Although the watch itself has the most bland name possible, folks you're looking at the Huawei Watch. Lol. I feel like they expended all their energy into designing the device and doing a kickass job of it at that that when someone said "guys, what do we call it" they all just looked around at each other like "oh shit, it needs a name?" And then one guy or gal just panicked and on the spot blurted out "Watch, the Huawei Watch" and everyone just ran with it from there.
When it launches, and who knows when that will be, it'll be available in the U.S. and 19 other countries. There's no word on price just yet though.
As for what it has, well you can see some of that in the pics above, but to break it down further: a heart-rate monitor, 6-axis motion sensor, plus a barometer.
It'll be available in gold, silver and black and numerous wrist straps will be available that'lll be easily changeable by the device owners/users as the device was made with "personalization in mind".
On a "suck it, Samsung" note, Sandisk has released a 200 GB microSD card(!!!)
Seeing as how I binged House of Cards season 3 Saturday and am still on the high I get from the show, minus the last episode which I saved for when I get out of work today as a treat for myself and making it through a Monday, let me start off by saying this announcement felt very much like that moment in Episode 12 near the end where Frank told Dunbar, "Go fuck yourself."
That is Sandisk's "go fuck yourself" to Samsung and their new flagship phones. I'm certain people who looked forward to the S6 all promptly died after the announcement of the 200 GIGABYTE MICROSD CARD. (Which is just insane in the best possible way. I say that as someone who sees no point of having a microSD card with so much storage capacity on it.)
Beyond that nothing much has been announced so far that's really exciting
Like nothing else. I mean there was some interesting stuff but nothing worth writing about in full.
Sony has updated their Xperia Tablet, it's the Xperia Z4 Tablet. 10." 2K display, Lollipop, and 17 hours of video playback. Not sure if I believe that last thing, usage tends to vary from user to user and depending on what they tweak their settings to. So that's likely very much "optimum" settings to get that kind of battery life. If you're interested in reading more about it and seeing some pics you can do so here
Sony also announced the Xperia M4 Aqua, which I'm going to assume has something to do with its IP68 rating. That rating meaning it's water and dust proof. It'll retail for 299 Euros(?) which means I don't know what in American dollars. I'd check but I'm half asleep. The joys/downfalls of falling to sleep in the break room during your lunch hour. (One of the few perks of being an insomniac. My ability to fall asleep anywhere is insane. When the urge to sleep comes I don't dilly dally about things like am I in a bed or lying on tile or outside on concrete in the sun or rain. I just pass right on out on command. I'm like Sam Fisher that way, a little Splinter Cell reference for those who have read the novels.) Anyway, read more about the phone here.
Lenovo announced a pair of LTE enabled tablets, but they use MediaTek chips in them. For those unaware that means pretty much no custom ROM support down the line. Also MediaTek in general is just so "ugh" in my book. Since most of you probably don't know jack about the processors inside these devices in general just let's just say if it isn't made by Samsung, Qualcomm or Intel then it's not something you want to have inside your phone. Full stop. Just trust me on that. But if you feel like checking them out and their price point makes them very appealing (talking $99 after all) then you can do so here.
Although I'm gonna say pass on this, it's got a MediaTek chip and Cyanogen OS on it. I've written about why I don't care for Cyanogen Inc. and their new Cyanogen OS software previously. If you haven't read that please do so, this is not a company whose software you want on your phone. Keeping in mind CyanogenMod, the custom ROM, is a separate thing entirely from Cyanogen Inc. and Cyanogen OS.
In news that happened last week, Silent Circle (the secure calling and texting and all that company, secure as in "uses encryption") bought Geeksphone to take complete control over their products for a cool $25 million. With that news came the unveiling at MWC of the updated Blackphone, the Blackphone 2. It has a larger 5.5" 1080 display, along with a larger battery, faster octa-core processor, 3 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of storage. All of that over last year's model.
Honestly, it's a very intriguing phone and the usage is geared towards people who care about their privacy and are security conscious. Given the Snowden related revelations over the past year or so that should be everyone, sadly as an American I can attest that almost no one in this country gives a flying fuck about something that should have them outraged. (My drunken rant on my birthday last year was a fucking thing of beauty about this. Especially given the fact that I said it to a friend while at a bar and grill and there was much alcohol involved. I don't drink very often or even much when I do, but it was my birthday and I got plastered and there was some serious hand waving going on. I talk with my hands, in case I never mentioned that.
The only issue with this phone is that a lot of the encryption related stuff that goes on in the background and out of the way only works best when you're conversing in whatever form with someone who's using similar software on their end. Otherwise your side of things might be secure and encrypted but their side isn't and that kind of defeats the point.
Oh yeah, they're making a Blackphone+ Tablet soon too!
I like the idea behind these devices, it just sucks that not enough people care about why these things are being made or their privacy in general to want to use stuff like this. As such it'll never really take off.
In Google related news
On a very related note, Google has kinda backtracked on its "encryption by default" stance that first came to be with Lollipop via the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. Basically, as of then and going forward devices are required to support encryption, but it's up to the OEMs to actually enable it. Full on encryption is expected to become a requirement in the future, but when that future is going to get here and what lovely devices we'll see when it does is anyone's guess.
Since we're on the topic of Google related news, everyone who is excited about Nova (their MVNO aka Google's own carrier) has some something to get even more excited about.
So to help out, you'll get some choice quotes from Sundar Pichai. The man himself.
When asked about Google becoming an MVNO he had the following to say.
Am I the only one who's reading that as Nova being the "Nexus of carriers"? That seems to be what it sounds like he's saying and frankly that has me even more "fuck yeah!" about this upcoming service than anything else or even the general fact that it's happening at all. Nexus of carriers. Mmmm. That sounds lovely.
When asked if companies like Verizon and AT&T would have a problem with this (i.e. likely more realistic to think it was phrased as "Are Verizon and AT&T gonna be assholes about you becoming an MVNO, since they're the only carriers who would be assholes about any additional competition?") he had the following to say.
I'm taking that to mean, "Yes. Yes they are. Or were. Until we paid them. Cause who don't they try and bully into giving them more money."
When asked if this meant lowering prices he had the following to say.
Overall, you've gotta look at his quotes with an incredibly open mind for the future and the technology that's on the horizon and you can't help but start getting excited about this. It sounds like Google is really focused on shaking things up in the best ways possible and advancing service and technology to that affect.
You can read about more about Nova and Project Loon and Project Titan, which is Google's network of balloons and drones, over on Ars Technica.
Oh yeah, Google's hosting the Play Store's 3rd birthday sale this week. You can find some really great deals on apps, music, movies, TV shows and books. Do so at this link here to see what's on there. Keeping in mind you should check throughout the week, more stuff tends to get added and right now things look pretty sparse compared to previous sales but it did just start awhile ago.
Speaking of sales, there's a great one for fans of the undead. The Ultimate Undead Collection: The Zombie Apocalypse Best Sellers Boxed Set (10 books) is currently on sale for $0.99. Picked it up myself this morning. As for what books are in it, here's some screenshots I took really quickly.
And that is all the news you'll likely get out of me this week
Cause like I said I need a break from it all. If I didn't have to be at work I wouldn't be. If anyone needs me I'll be available via something some how. Ask around, someone can find me. I'm good at disappearing and dropping off the radar (to the point that I've had people think I had died multiple times throughout my life now) but I'm always around if needed.
Beyond that here's some Pussy Riot with "Don't Cry Genocide". Which came out at the end of one of the episodes of House of Cards. I need more people to watch the damn season so I can have someone to discuss it with already!
Less than two hours to go til I can get home and reward myself for making it through a Monday by finishing the last episode of the season. I can't wait to see how it ends. This damn show is so ridiculous and good and great. Seriously, I binged the season in less than a day. Hooray for insomnia! It has some benefits!