HERE’s a roundup of gadget releases in the past week.
Fitbit, Inc. desperately needs a hit.
The company unveiled its first smartwatch on Aug. 29, hoping that the health-focused features of the device will reverse the hardware maker’s declining influence in the wearables market.
The smartwatch, called the Fitbit Ionic, costs $299.95. It has a square touchscreen similar to the one on the Apple Watch. It includes a heart-rate monitor, GPS tracking and four-day battery life. The watch, which is water resistant up to 50 meters, can make wireless payments and store music offline from Pandora Media, Inc.
The smartwatch is the company’s first device to include a sensor that can estimate blood oxygen levels, called a relative SpO2 sensor. The Ionic will be pre-loaded with the apps for weather, payments, fitness, Starbucks Corp. and Pandora.
The company has started using the Fitbit Ionic to work with clinical researchers to measure sleep apnea. In the next several years, Fitbit aims to eventually deliver consumer subscriptions that predict health outcomes to move beyond hardware and into a recurring revenue stream, according to Joe Wittine, an analyst at Longbow research.
SAMSUNG’S FLAME-FREE NOTE8
The stakes are high for Samsung Electronics Co.’s rollout of the Note8, after the previous model’s exploding battery fiasco last year.
Like the Note7, which was scrapped and cost the South Korean company an estimated $6 billion, the new smartphone sports a big screen and advanced features to make it a more versatile device compared with Samsung’s main Galaxy S8 flagship product. Like its predecessors, it includes a stylus.
By keeping the same brand name, Samsung is making clear that the Note8 is an iterative (and better) device, and signals that it thinks it’s fixed the problems with the previous version. While the Note doesn’t command as wide an appeal as the Galaxy S line, both are premium devices in Samsung’s efforts against Apple, Inc. in the battle for global smartphone supremacy. The Note also helps the Suwon-based manufacturer keep pressure on its rival just before the release of three new iPhone models in September.
The most significant change in the Note8 is a larger display that curves at the edges like the S8. The 6.3-inch AMOLED screen, a variant of the organic light-emitting diode display used on many recent high-end smartphones, is noticeably bigger than the Note7’s 5.7-inch touchscreen and slightly larger than the Galaxy S8+’s 6.2-inch display. Although many phone makers are working on ways to get a fingerprint scanner built into the display, the Note8 — like many other models — will have one in the back.
The longer screen on the new phone lets users view more content, such as text messages and e-mails, without having to scroll, Samsung said in a demonstration. The Note8 also has new features for the stylus: users can write notes without unlocking the device, draw animated pictures that can be shared with contacts and words can be highlighted to be translated into different languages. The bigger screen also lets users swipe from the display’s edge to launch two paired apps at a time in a split view.
The new smartphone from Samsung will also feature an upgraded camera system that sports two lenses on the back for the first time. Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the advanced optics let users take pictures that can determine depth so that the background behind a person’s profile can appear blurred. The Note8 will also support Gigabit LTE, a faster networking technology for browsing the Web and downloading content, which the next iPhone won’t have, Bloomberg News has reported.
ACER PCS FOR GAMERS
Acer announced on Aug. 30 at the IFA 2017 in Berlin new additions to its premium Predator gaming line, which include the Predator Orion 9000 series gaming desktops with Windows 10, its most powerful to date.
Designed to inspire game play, the commanding aesthetics of the Predator Orion 9000 series feature a black-and-silver spacecraft-like exterior with customizable RGB lighting along the sides of the front bezel. A massive side window panel showcases the striking and powerful interior with a design that keeps electromagnetic interference (EMI) levels in check despite the size of the opening. Optional fans with customizable RGB lighting create a virtual light show for an even more arresting appearance. Outfitted with two handles and wheels covered with a carbon fiber pattern, the new rigs can be easily moved from one location to another. Tool-less side panels make component upgrades easy and the push-open top gives users a quick way to switch fans. A front-access headset cradle and cable management help keep the game area tidy.
The Predator Orion 9000 will offer up to a cutting-edge Intel® CoreTM i9 Extreme Edition 18-core processor and up to 128-GB quad-channel DDR4 memory, allowing it to handle compute-intensive tasks with ease while providing exceptional performance.
ZENFONE 4 MAX
ASUS PHILIPPINES unveiled last Aug. 19 its latest smartphones under the Zenfone 4 series, which included Zenfone 4 , Zenfone 4 Pro, Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, Zenfone 4 Selfie, and Zenfone 4 MAX. All feature a dual-camera system.
The premium models, the Zenfone 4 and 4 Pro, target mobile photography enthusiasts with improved rear camera specs such as 2x optical zoom (Zenfone 4 Pro), and bigger storage (Zenfone 4 at 4 GB RAM; 4 PRO at 6 GB RAM) compared to Asus’ previous flagship, the Asus Zenfone 3 (4 GB RAM).
The two Zenfone 4 Selfie series, on the other hand, comes with Asus’ “beautification” application called SelfieMaster. Its front-facing camera captures wide-angle shots and can be used when capturing videos, photos, as well as live streaming.
Lastly, the Zenfone 4 MAX features a 5000-mAh battery that Asus claims can last up to 46 days on stand-by. It doubles as a powerbank and charge other devices — otherwise known as “Reverse Charging.” For the latest iteration, however, the ASUS promises 2x faster reverse — which means whatever is being charged will gain 100% battery life in no-time. — with reports from Bloomberg