Google Plans to Unveil Phablet and New Version of Android

Google’s new smartphone, expected to launch later this month, will be larger than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note. The high-resolution display is 5.9 inches diagonally, making it large enough to be categorized as a phablet. The handset, code-named Shamu, intends to compete in an emerging market of increasingly popular hybrid devices across the U.S. and abroad. Google also reportedly plans to debut a new version of its Android mobile OS at the same time. Continue reading Google Plans to Unveil Phablet and New Version of Android

Report: Apple and Google Battle for Top Spot in Global Brands

This year’s edition of Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands” report places Apple in the No. 1 spot as the world’s most valuable brand for the second year in a row. Apple and No. 2 brand Google knocked Coca-Cola to the No. 3 spot last year. The top three positions are the same for 2014. The report, which provides a ranking of the top 100 valuable global brands, list a growing number of technology brands. Microsoft, Samsung and IBM are listed in the top 10, while Intel, Cisco, Amazon, Oracle and HP are in the top 20. Continue reading Report: Apple and Google Battle for Top Spot in Global Brands

Chinese Tech Firm Makes Major Investment in TV Remote App

E-commerce giant Alibaba is taking another significant step beyond its core business by investing $50 million in Mountain View-based startup Peel, which makes apps that allow consumers to use their smartphones and tablets to control their TVs. The Android version works with TVs, cable boxes and streaming video boxes, while the iOS version can replace the remote for Dish and DirecTV boxes. Peel’s Android version also comes preloaded on some HTC and Samsung mobile devices. Continue reading Chinese Tech Firm Makes Major Investment in TV Remote App

Chinese Startup OnePlus Unveils $299 High-End Smartphone

Many of today’s top-tier smartphones can cost upwards of $650 (a price often hidden in a carrier plan), which hasn’t changed since Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007. Chinese startup OnePlus is aiming to change that. This month, the company will begin taking pre-orders for the One, a low-cost, high-end smartphone that runs a flexible version of Google’s Android called CyanogenMod. The $299 price tag is not part of a carrier plan, but the total cost, making the One about half the price of competing phones. Continue reading Chinese Startup OnePlus Unveils $299 High-End Smartphone

Google X Project: Building Large-Scale Modular Video Displays

Google X, Google’s secretive advanced projects lab, is currently developing large-scale video displays that are comprised of smaller modular screens intended to plug together like Legos to form a seamless image. According to people familiar with the previously undisclosed project, the displays can be configured in different shapes and sizes. The project is led by Mary Lou Jepsen, former MIT professor who co-founded the One Laptop Per Child project and three startups involving display technology. Continue reading Google X Project: Building Large-Scale Modular Video Displays

Vizio Undercuts Price with Launch of P-Series 4K LED TV Line

Vizio has announced the availability of its P-Series 4K LED HDTV line we first saw during January’s CES. The company is dramatically undercutting most current UHD offerings from competing manufacturers. The 50-inch model is priced at $999, which could help push 4K into the mainstream — while the top-of-the-line 70-inch model is priced at a reasonable $2,499. Despite the cost of the P-Series line, Vizio has not skimped on the specs, including features such as Full-Array LED backlighting and local dimming. Continue reading Vizio Undercuts Price with Launch of P-Series 4K LED TV Line

Oculus Debuts Crescent Bay VR Prototype at LA Conference

Oculus unveiled its latest VR headset, currently named “Crescent Bay,” at a Hollywood event over the weekend. Some 800 developers attended Oculus Connect, the company’s first conference, to check out the new device. While not yet commercially available, the prototype promises a more comfortable, natural experience. Crescent Bay features 360-degree motion tracking, integrated headphones and improved ergonomics. It is not the consumer version, but is “sprinting toward” it, explained chief exec Brendan Iribe. Continue reading Oculus Debuts Crescent Bay VR Prototype at LA Conference

Will Accessories and Apps Make Smartwatches Indispensable?

Some analysts are suggesting that we avoid underestimating smartwatches, which could eventually become indispensable as a wide array of useful apps come to market. Major players such as Samsung, Google and Apple will release wearables that can be used for health and fitness tracking, interacting with our phones and vehicles, and much more. The platform is expected to usher in a new frontier of accessories and apps, and the ability to develop them in a more sophisticated manner. Continue reading Will Accessories and Apps Make Smartwatches Indispensable?

Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Note 4 Phone and VR Headset

Samsung’s updated Galaxy Note 4 can serve as a screen in a new virtual reality headset accessory. The phone has a higher resolution 5.7-inch display and camera, and can snap into the Gear VR headset to provide users with an immersive video game or concert experience. Samsung has partnered with Facebook’s Oculus VR to develop a new headset, the Gear VR Innovator Edition. This wireless headset contains speakers and electronics to display the Note 4’s screen in a 360-degree experience. Continue reading Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Note 4 Phone and VR Headset

Ultra HD: Samsung to Offer 4K Amazon and Netflix Streaming

Samsung announced that it is partnering with Amazon to offer Ultra HD content. Samsung plans to offer Amazon’s UHD on-demand service in October, in addition to expanding its pre-existing Netflix UHD service in Europe. Samsung, in collaboration with 20th Century Fox and Paramount, converted 40 movies to UHD over the summer to increase the content collection. It should be in the interest of manufacturers to expand 4K offerings in order to spark consumer interest in the new TV sets. Continue reading Ultra HD: Samsung to Offer 4K Amazon and Netflix Streaming

Roku-Powered HDTVs are Coming Soon from Hisense and TCL

Roku, maker of set-top boxes that stream video from services such as Amazon, HBO GO, Netflix and Vudu, has partnered with Chinese manufacturers Hisense and TCL to offer its software directly in new HDTV sets. Both companies will offer four Roku-powered TVs each. TCL’s sets (ranging from 32- to 55-inches) are slated to ship this month, while Hisense’s H4 Series (40- to 55-inches) will be available this fall. Roku first revealed its integrated TV plans at January’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading Roku-Powered HDTVs are Coming Soon from Hisense and TCL

Bendable Displays Are Closer Than Ever to Hitting the Market

Samsung was one of the first companies to tempt consumers with the prototype of a bendable display at CES, but so far, Samsung and others have faced manufacturing challenges in bringing these displays to market. However, a California-based startup, Kateeva, has developed a new manufacturing process that it claims will save time, cut costs, and make bendable screens more durable. Another company, Canatu, has also developed technology to make bendable touch screens. Continue reading Bendable Displays Are Closer Than Ever to Hitting the Market

Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

ETCentric community member Lee Lanselle forwarded us news that Samsung has acquired SmartThings, maker of smart-home controllers, for around $200 million. While SmartThings will continue to operate independently under CEO Alex Hawkinson, its three facilities are expected to move to Palo Alto to become part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center (run by former Google and AOL exec David Eun). SmartThings, which is owned by Physical Graph Corp., began in 2012 as a Kickstarter project. Continue reading Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

Sony Planning to Debut a Pair of Curved 4K TVs Next Month

Sony will soon join LG and Samsung in offering curved 4K LCD television sets. The Japanese company is expected to unveil two models at 65- and 75-inches during next month’s IFA show in Berlin. While Sony has yet to announce pricing and availability, the curved sets will compete with Samsung’s HU9000 line, which includes a 65-inch model priced at $4,300 and 78-inch model at $8,000. Sony currently sells a 65-inch curved 1080p TV for $2,500. Continue reading Sony Planning to Debut a Pair of Curved 4K TVs Next Month

The Future of Tablets May Be Uncertain: iPad Sales Fall Again

Unit sales of the best-selling tablet, Apple’s iPad, fell again for the second straight quarter, leaving some industry analysts wondering whether the tablet can survive in a world of bigger smartphones and smaller laptops. Microsoft and Samsung are also both losing money on their tablet devices, but cheaper Android tablets produced by smaller companies may be taking away some of the tech giants’ business. Still, many consumers do not see tablets as a must-have gadget. Continue reading The Future of Tablets May Be Uncertain: iPad Sales Fall Again

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