Lenovo and Lenovo’s Motorola are far from alone in rolling out new tech gadgets galore this week at the biggest tech show in Europe. The IFA extravaganza has plenty of the latest toys, computers, smartwatches and cameras – just in time for holiday shoppers.
WRAL TechWire has reported extensively about Lenovo’s latest moves:
- Lenovo’s product parades: smartwatches, dual selfies, and more
- Lenovo unveils a “Surace killer.”
Here’s a look at what else is happening:
Motorola, Samsung and other tech companies showcased new computerized wristwatches this week — all aimed at challenging Apple, a relative newcomer to selling smartwatches.
Apple Watch was the leading smartwatch in the second quarter, with an estimated 4 million shipped worldwide, for a market share of more than 75 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung was a distant second with 400,000 shipped and a 7.5 percent market share.
However, the market is still nascent, and Apple Watch isn’t an option for people who use Android smartphones.
Samsung’s Gear S2 will work on Android — and for the first time, not just Samsung’s Android phones. Meanwhile, watches running Google’s Android Wear software will now work with Apple’s iPhones.
Although Samsung has been making smartwatches for about two years, its previous models have felt like miniature phones. Apps are presented on the rectangular screen the way they are on phones. You swipe on the screen to flip through pages of apps.
The Gear S2’s interface is more fitting for a watch. The S2 has a circular frame that can be rotated to scroll through notifications and apps, so your fingers won’t tire out from endless swiping. The watch itself is also smaller — roughly the size of the larger version of Apple Watch. The original Gear S felt huge around wrists.
Samsung says about 1,000 apps should be available when the S2 launches. That’s promising, though less than Apple Watch’s 8,500 and Android Wear’s 4,000. So far, many leading app developers have focused on Apple Watch and Android Wear instead, as Samsung watches use a little-known system called Tizen. Samsung is letting app developers customize watch faces, so you can see baseball scores from ESPN or the latest posts from Twitter.
Availability: early October in the U.S., with prices to be announced. Later, Samsung will have a version with 3G cellular capabilities, which will let the watch do more without a companion phone nearby.
Requirements: In a surprise move, Samsung is making the S2 work with a range of Android smartphones, though some features, such as setting alarms, might not work with all phones.
Several manufacturers (but not Samsung or Apple) are making smartwatches based on Android Wear. Manufacturers can focus on designing the hardware, while letting Google worry about the functionality.
Consumers get choice, without compromising on app selection, as developers can write apps just once for multiple devices.
Among the choices:
- Motorola’s latest Moto 360 watches come in three lines — men’s, women’s and a premium “Sport” version for fitness enthusiasts. Sport will have GPS built-in, along with a screen that can adapt to bright sunlight, with high-contrast text and graphics for better visibility in glare. Mix and match sizes, bands and bodies for $300 to $430. The men’s and women’s watches will come out in late September. Prices and release plans for the Sport version will come later.
- Huawei Watch will have luxury versions, with bodies plated with rose gold, for $699 or $799. The bodies won’t be entirely made of gold, as Apple Watch’s Edition models are. But those go for $10,000 to $17,000. The Huawei Watch and the Apple Watch both start at $349.
- On the flip side, Asus’s new ZenWatch 2 will be notable for its price — starting at 149 euros ($167) when it comes out in October.
Requirements: Though these will now work with an iPhone, you get more functionality with Android.
Despite its late start, Apple Watch has been the one to beat in terms of design, functionality and app selection. Its 18 hours of battery life is still short of what others promise, though. The new Gear S2, for instance, promises two to three days on a single charge.
Some of the Apple Watch’s limitations will be addressed with a free software update this fall. With that, it will be possible for outside companies to write games and other apps that won’t need a phone nearby. Apps will also be able to interact directly with sensors on Apple Watch — permitting apps that analyze golf swings, for instance.
Requirements: You need an iPhone.
THE REST OF THE SHOW
With the exception of Apple, all major manufacturers have been announcing new devices in time for the holiday shopping season.
Apple is unveiling its latest products next week in San Francisco.
Here are five highlights and one teaser for tech enthusiasts.
PC ON A STICK
Tiny PCs powered by Google’s Android have been around for a while, but Windows is increasingly entering that market.
The ASUS VivoStick PC is among the most impressive of its kind to feature Windows 10 in a stick the size of a dongle. Plug it into any modern TV and you can use it as a computer. Aside from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, 2GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, it sports the latest Intel Cherry Trail chip, two USB ports and an audio jack.
The VivoStick will be available for $129 when it hit stores.
WEIGHTS FOR IT
Huawei launched its Mate S, billed as the Chinese smartphone maker’s first top-rangehandset with prices starting at $650 — though initially not available in the United States.
Along with some impressive specs comes an unusual feature: Huawei says the phone can be used as a scale to weigh objects.
This is made possible by the phone’s Force Touch capability, something Apple is expected to put in its next iPhone.
Acer is taking the traditional PC apart so users can put it back together again.
The Taiwanese manufacturer launched Revo Build, a module computer starting at under $200 and shipping this quarter.
Users can add to the black base unit by attaching a dedicated graphics card, a sound block, a portable hard drive and even a power bank to wirelessly charge certain smartphones.
Acer manager Sherlock Cheng says the idea is to provide a “mini-PC on demand.”
Japanese electronics giant Sony has updated its much-lauded Xperia Z line with three new models: standard, compact and premium. The latter features what Sony says is the world’s first 4K display.
All Z5 models have an impressive 23 megapixel camera with a 0.03 second autofocus so users will hardly ever miss a shot. The camera also has better low-light settings and algorithms which allow users to zoom in without losing too much picture quality.
Like the iPhone and Samsung’s latest Galaxy S handsets, the Z5 will feature a fingerprint sensor.
Polaroid is going back to basic with its latest instant camera.
By stripping away the LCD screen found in the previous models and halving the price to $99, Polaroid hopes to boost sales of its new Snap camera in time for the holiday season.
Each click will instantly print a photo, with 50 sheets of special paper costing under $30.
When Panasonic ditched the Technics brand in 2010, disk jockeys were aghast. Technics turntables, particularly the MK2 launched in 1979, had long been a favorite among professional DJs for their reliability and speed control.
A petition prompted Panasonic to announce last year that it would revive the brand.
At the IFA fair Panasonic teased the motor for a new Technics turntable in Berlin, but the needle is still being developed and the final product won’t be ready till next year.