Samsung, Motorola, Asus, and Huawei Announce New Smartwatches

For the most part, 2015 has been the year of the Apple Watch with some Pebble sprinkled in. That may change with this week’s announcements with a trio of new Android Wear Watch families from Motorola, Asus,and Huawei and a new Tizen-based entry from Samsung. The announcements coincide with another announcement that Android Wear devices would be gaining compatibility with the iPhone. Let’s take a look at the new watches.

samsung-gear-s2

Samsung Gear S2

The Gear S2 is Samsung’s latest entry into the wearable space. Unlike other members of the gear family, the S2 features a round body which is very watch-like. It comes in two flavors, the S2 with a more modern flair and the S2 Classic for those who want traditional watch styling. Whatever flavor you choose, the features and specs are the same. It runs Samsung’s Tizen OS giving them more control over the platform than allowed under Android Wear. It also allows tighter integration with the Korean device giant’s skinned Android phones.

The AMOLED screen is 1.2 inches and round with a 360 x 360 resolution. That equates to a near-Retina 302 PPI. The CPU is 1.0ghz and dual core. If you were looking for smaller version for more petite individuals, you will not find it here. Its one size fits all, with the exception of whether you want 3G connectivity or not. There is 512mb of memory and 4GB of RAM. All in all, its pretty standard for a mainstream smartwatch.

What sets it apart is its integration with Samsung’s services including Samsung Pay with the watch’s NFC chip. If you’re more invested in Samsung than Android or iOS, this is a strong contender. If not, the next family of watches may be for you.

2015-moto-360

A Family of 4 Moto 360s

For all intents and purposes, the 2014 edition of the Moto 360 was the Android Wear device by which all others were judged. This year’s model looks to carry on this tradition. The 2015 Moto 360 comes in two sizes: 46mm and 42mm with the 42mm coming in both Men’s and Women’s versions. The previous version only came in the 46mm variant. The new Moto 360 is slightly thinner at 11.4″, but not by much. The original Moto 360 had a 320 x 290 pixel display and this has been given a small boost in resolution to 360 x 330 in the 46mm version and 360 x 325 in the smaller size. The single core Cortex A8 SoC has been replaced by a Quad-Core Snapdragon 400. The battery is bigger and Moto promises 2 days battery life. Overall, its a fairly hefty upgrade over 2015. The 2015 Moto 360 is also fully customizable in Moto Maker for a custom watch designed for the wearer.

There’s also a second Moto 360, the 360 Sport. Also running wear, the 360 Sport is designed for those with active outdoor lifestyles. It features a rugged enclosure that will definitely not be welcomed in a black tie affair, but feels right at home in a Kayak. The sport has it own built-in GPS and associated software allowing the wearer to know exactly where he or she is. It display is very interesting being designed to reflect direct sunlight to make the display more visible than a traditional LCD display.

The 2nd Gen Moto 360 will start at $299 and go up from there. It’ll ship later in September. The price and release date for the Sport is TBA.

zen-watch-2

Zen Watch 2.

Also coming in on the sequel path is the Zen Watch 2. This new watch may be the best overall value in Android Wear watches. The Zen Watch 2 is square in design and comes in a pair of sizes. You can add 3 colors: silver, gold, and gunmetal grey and several watch bands. The Zen Watch aims to bring traditional watch styling into the 21st century and like the Apple Watch, it makes use of the crown for the interactive experience.

The Zen Watch 2 comes with 1.63″ and 1.45″ screens with a 320 x 320 resolution.. Specs are similar to the Moto 360 with a Snapdragon 400 CPU, 512mb of RAM, and 4GB of storage. Those are roughly standard for an Android Wear Watch. What isn’t is the price. The Zen Watch 2 starts at an insanely low $129.

huawei-watch

Huawei Watch

Huawei is not known for being a premium watch in the west, but the Huawei Watch may change this. The Huawei Watch tends towards the more premium end of Android Wear watches. It has a 400 x 400 1.4″ AMOLED display. The Hauwei watch has very traditional watch styling and comes in 6 distinct variants. However, non of them in a smaller size.

The base Huawei watch starts at $349 and goes up to $799 for a gold plated version.

Source: Samsung, Google
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Samsung Announces Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ smartphones, Launches Samsung Pay

Samsung’s fall event has been traditionally been the big launch of the company’s big screen phones. This year did not disappoint with the launch of not just one, but two different phones. These phones build off the launch of the GS6 earlier in the year when it comes to styling with the metal frame and glass faces. Let’s take a look at the new phablets.

Galaxy Note 5

I’ll tackle the Note 5 first as many of the base specs are shared with the GS6 Edge+. The Note 5 is built around the same 5.7″ form factor as the Note 4 and also packs an AMOLED screen with a Quad HD 2560 x 1440 resolution. Where the screen may not have changed, Samsung slimmed down the casing around it. Its 2mm narrower and 1mm thinner than the Note 4 while maintaining more or less the same height. The sides on the back are curved for a more natural grip. Samsung want the Note 5 to feel like a smaller phone than it actually is. The phone itself look almost exactly like a larger GS6. With that it also has a fully sealed body. If you wanted a removable battery or mSD card, the Note 5 isn’t for you. Samsung has gone upmarket and plans to stay there.

New for 2015, the Note 5 makes the jump to 64-bit with a new Octacore cpu with 4 high cores at 2.1ghz and 4 low cores at 1.5ghz. That allows it more power when it needs it, but the phone can also use its slower, but more power efficient cores to save battery life. The Note 5 has 4GB of system memory. It needs it as Samsung has backed in some hefty multi-tasking features centered around the updated S-Pen. The back camera is 16mp, same as the Note 4, but has improved software capabilities. The front part is upgraded to 5mp. The Note 5 doesn’t make the jump to USB-C, but it now features much faster wireless charging.

All in all, the Note 5 isn’t a huge jump over the previous generation, but its a nice evolutionary advance over what was a very nice device.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

Don’t let the GS6 name fool you, the GS6 Edge+ is basically the Edge version of the Note 5. The two phones share almost all features save the S-Pen on the Note and the dual edge screens on the Edge+ Without the need to stow the Pen, the Edge+ is even thinner and narrower than the Note 5. When it comes to the Edge screens, it not that much different than the GS6 edge other than the extra screen real estate.

Availability

The GS6 Edge+ and Note 5 will come in 32GB and 64GB variants in White, Black, Silver, and Gold. The phone will launch August 21st with pre-orders starting on the 14th.

Accessories

The most interesting part of the keynote may have been the keyboard over. This physical keyboard works much like the keyboards on the old school phones the Blackberry. It covers part of the screen, but is fully reversible to the back when not in use. It seems a little out of place, but call me nostalgic, I like it.

Samsung Pay

Samsung’s entry into the mobile payments arena, aptly named Samsung Pay, is ready to launch. In fact, the first users will see it launch in beta on August 25th with a full release set for September 28th. Samsung pay uses tokenization and fingerprint security like Apple and Android Pay, but has the ace in the whole of being compatible with with Magnetic secure transmission in additional to the NFC used by its competitors. It already has the support of all 4 major card issuers and several larger banks. It’ll work with the GS6 series and Note 5.

All in all though, Beyond MST compatibility, the Samsung Pay portion sounded a lot like what Apple and Google said months before. One thing is clear though, the Phone payments game is on and with the added security, hopefully consumers are the winner.

Source: Samsung 1, 2

Samsung Announces Incredibly Thin and Light Galaxy Tab S2

A couple years back, Samsung released the Galaxy Tab S, a tablet that offered a little more style and flair than their typical tablet offerings. Since then, style has become more part of their line and they’re ready to try again with the Galaxy Tab S2.

Galaxy Tab S2 Features

The Galaxy Tab S2 can justly be called samsung’s new flagship tablets. They’re stylish and packed to the gills with features. The tablets are based around a metal frame that is just 5.6mm thin, even thinner than the 6.1mm iPad Air 2 or 7.5mm iPad Mini 3. The Tab S2 also backs that up by being light, with a weight of just 392 grams for the larger model and 272 for the Mid-sized version. The styling of the device is classy, but also very Samsung.

The heart is the tablets is its screen and the Tab S2 look to have a good a good one. The Tab S2 comes in two sizes, 8.0 and 9.7″ at 2048 x 1536. Yes, if this does seem familiar, it’s the same resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio as the current iPad line. Samsung has traditionally made its tablets in 16:9, but 4:3 is more preferred by consumers as its better for reading digital media and eBooks. Samsung admits as much and you’re seeing more Android devices adopt it. It’s definitely not the same panels as the iPads though; Samsung is using their own Super AMOLED technology. It features adaptive technology is make up for some of the disadvantages of AMOLED screens and there’s even a dedicated reading mode.

The Tab S2 features a Twin Quad-Core CPUs in its SoC in a high-low configuration at 1.9ghz and 1.3ghz speeds. That should give users power when they need it and save battery power when they don’t. The CPU is paired with 3GB of memory. Storage is 32 or 64GB and unlike some of their recent smartphones can be expanded with up to 128GB of mSD storage. The cameras are good for a tablet at 8mp rear and 2.2mp front, but don’t really offer anything to differentiate themselves. I/O is top of the line with Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11AC wireless. It’ll come in Wi-Fi and cellular versions with at least 8 bands of LTE for worldwide coverage. Like the GS5/6 and Note 4, the Tab S2 has Samsung’s built-in fingerprint sensor. However, one apparent omission is NFC support. Software is built upon Android 5.0 Lollipop and feature’s the multitasking functions you’d expect to see in a Samsung tablet. Using Android’s built-in pointer support, there is a very Microsoft surface like smart keyboard coverage available as an accessory..

Pricing and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is TBA on price and still no word on exact market availability. The general availability date is August.

Final Word

This is undoubtably Samsung’s best tablet yet. It borrows quite a bit from both Samsung’s other tablets and the iPad, but the specs and features. look very compelling. We’ll find out if it lives up to its promise in a month or so.

Source: Samsung
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Tech Hangout #68.99 – Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Paul Gans
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

Topic

Google Announces Lollipops, Nexus 6 & 9… no I’m not kidding.

Samsung profits drop 60%

Ireland to close double irish dutch sandwich

GTAT, the gift that keeps on giving

Use your iPhone has a sleep tracker

Apple event tomorrow

Picks

Tech Hangout #64 – The IFA Recap

Introduction

  • Kelly Guimont
  • Hal Sherman
  • Paul Gans
  • Andrew Rouch
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Ben Roethig

Topic

Samsung announces Note 4, Edge, Gear VR

2nd Gen Moto X, G

More Smart watches then you throw a stick at

Sony turns your phone into Mirrorless camera

New (underwhelming) Nokias

Acer Announces $149 full Windows tablet.

Drone video of Apple’s white building in front of Flint Center

Apple: Test Flight and new iTunes Connect released before Tuesday event

Picks

Tech Hangout #55 – New moves from the Uncarrier

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

Topics

Amazon Fire phone

T-Mobile UnCarrier 5.0/6.0

New low end iMac

Amazon launches Android appstore on Blackberry

Samsungs releases updated version of GS5, regular GS5 a flop?

Microsoft goes pay for play on IE

Tech Hangout #49 – The FCC is screwing us

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Hal
  • Paul Gans
  • Ricardo Garza
  • Ben Roethig
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Steve ‘Kinetic’ Roberts
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

New MacBook Airs with spec bump and price drop

Apple updates MacBook Air
MacBook Air is competing with the iPad

What the #@%@ is Tom Wheeler doing at the FCC???

The Verge article

Nintendo Developing New Console for emerging markets

Nintendo Developing new consoles

Moves promises not to share with new boss Facebook… then changes its mind

Move will share fitness data with Facebook

Samsung Fires mobile design head

Samsung fires design head

iMessage Chief leaves for startup

iMessage Chief leaves Apple

Angela Ahrendts starts with Apple

Angela Ahrendts
Katie Coootn retiring after 18 years

Picks

Tech Hangout #42: Android and rant special

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Patrice Brend’amour
  • Paul Gans
  • Ricardo Garza
  • Ben Roethig (Host)

Samsung Galaxy S Yawn and Gear 2/ Gear Fit

http://geekbeat.tv/samsung-launches-galaxy-s5-gear-fit/
http://geekbeat.tv/samsung-launches-galaxy-gear-2-series-smartwatches/
http://www.zdnet.com/top-10-gadgets-tech-out-of-mobile-world-congress-2014-so-far-7000026641/

Nokia goes Android.. sort of

http://geekbeat.tv/nokia-announces-its-first-android-based-smartphones/

Phablet? Tablet Phone? What the heck is this monstrosity?

http://www.androidcentral.com/huawei-mediapad-x1-hands
http://www.tabletpack.net/

Picks

Tech Hangout #40 – How to survive the next nuclear war with your tablet

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Paul Gans
  • Ricardo Garza
  • Patrice Brend’amour (Host)

Turn your Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 into a tablet. (Rick)

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/turn-your-samsung-galaxy-smartphone-into-tablet.html
http://youtu.be/qC2Lco05McA

Android & Google: Not so open after all

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052702304888404579378850231234912-lMyQjAxMTA0MDEwMjExNDIyWj.html

How the iPhone changed the way phones look

http://www.iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=19828

Scientist Calculates How To Survive First 30 Minutes of Nuclear War

http://gizmodo.com/mathematician-calculates-how-to-survive-first-30-minute-1502071825

Picks

Tech Hangout #33 – The drones are coming!

Introduction

  • Andrew Rouch
  • Ricardo Garza
  • Ben Roethig (Host)
  • Patrice Brend’amour

The Tech Hangout Plague

Gamers Public Enemy #1

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/09/nsa-spies-online-games-world-warcraft-second-life

Sammy tries to silence customer after phone fire

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/samsung-galaxy-s4-fire-letter,25341.html#xtor=RSS-181
http://sourcefed.com/samsung-tries-silence-customer-ends-poorly/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dwC6LAcqfM

LG G Pad 8.3, Sony Z Ultra Google Play

https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=lg_g_pad
https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=sony_z_ultra

Amazon’s Drone Army

http://geekbeat.tv/amazon-announces-prime-air-drone-service/

OCZ declares bankruptcy (Patrice)

http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/27/ocz-declares-bankruptcy/

Ricks Android analysis

Picks