Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Apple to Unveil New MacBook and Other Hardware This Year

Apple is planning to release a new low-cost MacBook laptop later this year that features a high-resolution 13-inch Retina display. The laptop will reportedly look much like the MacBook Air but with thinner bezels. Apple will target consumers looking for an affordable laptop and schools that purchase computers in bulk. The company is also expected to introduce a professional-focused upgrade to its Mac mini desktop, the macOS Mojave operating system, three new iPhones, Apple Watches with larger screens, and new versions of the iPad Pro tablet. Continue reading Apple to Unveil New MacBook and Other Hardware This Year

Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Lenovo has begun shipping smart displays integrated with Google Assistant that will allow users to visually interact with the voice assistant. The device was first shown at CES 2018, where it was demonstrated instantly displaying maps and sending them to the user’s phone. Assistant can also show step-by-step visuals of a recipe, present a visual weather summary, manage to-do lists — all capabilities similar to those of Echo Show. A three-month YouTube Premium subscription comes free with the purchase. Continue reading Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Increased Business Demand Fuels Strong Q2 for PC Industry

According to data from Gartner and International Data Corp., Q2 2018 marked the best quarter in six years for PC shipments. Increased demand from business customers is credited for the jump in numbers. “With sentiment looking improved for the second half of the year, the U.S. could deliver a strong market performance for the year,” said IDC analyst Neha Mahajan. However, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa points out that business demand is expected to “weaken in two years when the replacement peak for Windows 10 passes.” Continue reading Increased Business Demand Fuels Strong Q2 for PC Industry

Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Over the last ten years, Facebook inked agreements with at least 60 phone and device manufacturers to share access to troves of users’ personal information. Among those manufacturers are Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, in addition to several Chinese electronics companies. These data-access partnerships started before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones. As a result of these deals, Facebook increased its influence as a social media platform, and device makers offered popular features including “like” buttons, messaging and address books. Continue reading Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Red Hat and Lenovo Entice Startups to Join Anti-Troll Network

Four years ago, Google and Canon founded the non-profit LOT (License on Transfer) Network to combat litigation by trolls — companies that don’t make products, but seek profits from challenging patents. Now, Red Hat and Lenovo Group, two of LOT’s 224 members, are offering free patents to any startup that joins the group. When the dotcom bubble burst 20 years ago, bankrupt firms sold their patents, which were bought by speculators. Patent suits are declining, but are still an issue for companies of all sizes. Continue reading Red Hat and Lenovo Entice Startups to Join Anti-Troll Network

CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Facebook is getting ready to release Oculus Go, a new phone-free VR headset at a price point of $199. According to CNET, the standalone Oculus Go represents “entry-level accessibility” to virtual reality, an area of technology innovation they hope to see grow at a consumer level. While the games and apps available on Oculus Go seem similar to what’s already available via Samsung’s Gear VR, the design is “less clunky, and the integrated, cleaner, softer and smaller construction here is better,” writes CNET.

Continue reading CNET Review: Oculus Go, Facebook’s New $199 VR Headset

Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Google is stepping up its competition with Apple in the smartphone market. The company inked a $1.1 billion deal with Taiwan-based HTC, which added more than 2,000 smartphone specialists. Google will now be able to design more of its own hardware and may position itself to manufacture more custom silicon chips. Up until now, Google has focused on software, and purchased hardware from Samsung Electronics and HTC. Newly added HTC staff will help Google control more of the design and production. Continue reading Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Virtual reality made a strong showing at CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week. Among those highlighting products were Facebook, which promoted new features in its $200 upcoming Oculus Go, a Google/Lenovo designed headset that will sell for half the price of an iPhone, and HTC, which will debut a new-gen Vive headset with more robust graphics. All of this, however, is a prelude to what many companies are planning: an entrance into augmented reality. One of those companies is Amazon, which sources say is exploring AR headset technologies. Continue reading Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Engadget to Unveil its Best of CES Winners Onstage Tonight

Engadget posted finalists across 16 categories for its annual Best of CES awards. The winners — including the People’s Choice Award — will be announced during a 5:00 pm PST ceremony from the Engadget CES stage. For those interested in a list and brief description of all the nominees, visit Engadget. Our audience may find the following categories of particular interest: Best Home Theater Product — Optoma 4K Alexa Projector, Hisense 150-inch Laser TV Projector, Channel Master SMARTenna+; Best PC or Tablet — Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, Acer Swift 7, HP Spectre x360; Best Phone or Mobile Device — Lenovo Miix 630, Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra; and Best TV Product — The Wall by Samsung MicroLED TV, LG 2018 C-Series OLED, TCL 6-Series Roku TVs, Nvidia 65-inch Big Format Gaming Displays. Continue reading Engadget to Unveil its Best of CES Winners Onstage Tonight

Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Disney, Lenovo Introduce AR Headset and ‘Star Wars’ Games

Disney, with Lenovo, just released a new augmented reality kit for “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges,” which retails for $200 and includes the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, AR-powered lightsaber controller and LED puck for motion tracking. The headset relies on a phone for graphics rendering and can work with the most recent Android and Apple iOS phones. The phone is placed above the user’s field of view, and the image then mirrored on a transparent plane, allowing her to see the environment combined with “Star Wars” games. Continue reading Disney, Lenovo Introduce AR Headset and ‘Star Wars’ Games

Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Microsoft and Samsung have partnered on a new virtual reality headset, HMD Odyssey, that relies on the former’s Windows Mixed Reality, Windows 10 software for immersive computing on devices and headsets. Samsung is not the first company to base its VR headsets on Windows 10: Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo Group are all building such VR devices. But Samsung is Microsoft’s most important partner thus far as the computing company faces Apple, Google, Facebook and other major rivals in the virtual reality/augmented reality arena. Continue reading Samsung Takes on Rift With Windows Mixed Reality Headset

China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

China wants to become the most dominant nation in artificial intelligence, and it’s got three advantages that might help that become a reality. In addition to strong government support, which includes a willingness to share data about its citizens, China also has an immense number of engineers to write software and 751 million Internet users who can test out the work they do. As China seeks to gain market share, President Xi Jinping seeks to strengthen intellectual property laws to give its startups an advantage. Continue reading China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

Meta AR Headset May Help Reimagine the Traditional Office

San Francisco-based startup Meta makes augmented reality headsets that its founder/chief executive Meron Gribetz wants to use to remake the traditional office. With his headset, the user can use a virtual floating screen to control 3D models, browse web pages, write code and send emails. Gribetz — who studied neuroscience and computer science at Columbia University — is now using his own employees to test the headset and its software to figure out how to improve it, an experiment described in a Bloomberg News “Decrypted” podcast. Continue reading Meta AR Headset May Help Reimagine the Traditional Office

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