Asus showered its high-end smartphone and notebook lineups with performance injections and design makeovers today at the Computex electronics show in Taiwan, adding three ZenFones and the ZenBook 3 to its mobile offerings. The ZenBook 3 an ultralight ultrabook. It weighs just 910 grams (almost exactly 2 pounds), compared to the 12-inch Macbook1‘s 2.04 pounds. At 12.5 inches, the ZenBook 3’s screen is also slightly larger than the Macbook’s. Its Corning GorillaGlass 4 coating makes it tough, and the extremely thin bezel makes it stand out from the rest of the notebook. Asus says the ZenBook 3 has a 82 percent screen-to-body ratio.
Speaking of the body, it’s made of aerospace-grade aluminum alloy instead of the magnesium alloy of other notebooks. The quest to save weight likely motivated Asus’ decision to use aluminium alloy, which is also found in several other portable devices like the HP Elite x22 tablet.
Underneath the aluminum is an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of 2133MHz RAM and you guessed it a USB Type-C port. That’s the same port that gave MacBook owners some consternation due to a lack of things to plug into it, though many more peripherals3 are now Type-C compatible. Hard drive options max out at a 1TB PCIe x4 SSD. The battery lasts for nine hours, and can be recharged up to 60 percent in less than an hour. It’s worth noting that Asus loses both the screen size and weight competitions to the Lenovo LaVie Z HZ5504‘s 1.87 pounds and 13.3-inch display. Pricing for the ZenBook 3, which Lenovo didn’t announce today, could therefore be a key differentiator, especially if it comes in somewhere between or below the Macbook’s $1,599 and the HZ550’s $1,699 price tags.
Joining Asus’ smartphone lineup are three new models, the ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe, and ZenFone 3 Ultra. The base model has a 5.5-inch Full HD display and is powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 6255 processor, introduced in February. The Deluxe is roughly the same size, but comes with more photography prowess. Its 23 megapixel camera has a Sony IMX318 image sensor, a f/2.0 aperture lens, and optical image stabilization. It can also shoot 4k video. The Ultra has a larger 6.8-inch Full HD screen and the same camera as the Deluxe. Its 4600mAh battery can also be used as a power bank to charge other deviecs. All three phones have USB Type-C charging ports and fingerprint sensors mounted on the rear for unlocking.
Less than a decade ago, most people used either a Blackberry or Nokia as their mobile device. They were the two hottest telecoms in town. Today, however, Blackberry has effectively admitted failure with barely 1 per cent of the handset market and the launch of an Android phone. Nokia was snapped up by Microsoft and its name has disappeared from the mobile marketplace.
The big players are changing
The body blow was dealt when the iPhone arrived and Blackberry was too slow to react. Mike Lazaridis, who was then co-CEO of Research in Motion, was asked in 2007 about the threat from Apple s phone. How much presence does Apple have in business? It s vanishingly small, was his reaction, and he was dismissive of the idea that anyone would want a phone without a keyboard.
The response from Nokia s executives was similar. Only in recent times have they given up on the Symbian software and moved to Windows-based devices. The fastest sales growth in 2014 was in sales of Windows phones. Microsoft has acquired both Nokia and Skype and is clearing focusing on the telecoms market. In addition, sales of Lync are also expanding meaning they can make a challenge in both the fixed and mobile space. Samsung also play in that space but it is an area where Apple is weak. As devices become more integrated, will Apple s dominance fade?
Future mobile trends
One challenge all devices face is battery life. Samsung is strong here and as more energy sapping applications are developed this will become even more pressing. Possibly solar or motion based charging may help to extend use. Modular smartphones are another potential option. And this is a concept that Google is working on.
It will allow users to create their own phone, from clickable components, to their own personal specifications. Their idea, Project Ara will mean if you are using energy consuming elements you can put in a larger battery or carry a spare that is clicked in. It also means less waste if a component breaks just replace it not the whole phone
Another future trend could be roll up phones. Imagine rolling up your iPad and popping it in your pocket Apple has already filed patents. With the increase in the use of mobile devices as a means of payment, security becomes more important. Fujitsu is developing prototypes for Iris recognition and I suspect this will be the way forward as existing devices can monitor eye movement.
For a while now augmented reality has been touted as the next big thing in mobile technology and it is getting closer. Forget QR codes the camera will be used to scan something e.g. a street view and the screen recognises it and makes suggestions about where to eat from what it sees, with price options and online reviews. Using the phone will be less intrusive than iGlasses and the technology is most robust
Finally the other area for development is the move from 2D to 3D smartphones. Some 3D devices are already available and are likely to become the norm. So the next step is likely to be holograms and projective devices.
Samsung already filed a patent for a light emitting device that could be built into the front of a smartphone case but it s still very power hungry.
Ultimately, the company that addresses the frustration of failing batteries may be the ultimate winner.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/nenetus
Teasing the future, electronic giant Samsung has unveiled a smartphone display screen with 4K resolution. At San Francisco’s Display Week conference, Samsung1 showed off a 5.5-inch 4K Amoled display for smartphones meant especially for virtual reality, or VR.
Virtual reality has really got a boost it needed after Google unleashed its Daydream project at I/O this year2. In the meanwhile, more and more smartphone-based VR headsets are also hitting the market, where users can just slip their smartphones in and experience immersive viewing.
However, virtual reality viewing is limited to the resolution that the smartphone provides. Most of the smartphones today have a full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, and some go so far as QHD (1440×2560 pixels) providing better experience in VR.
However, 4K (2160×3840 pixels) resolution display will elevate the viewing experience in virtual reality, and judging by Samsung’s small display in San Francisco, 4K display on smartphones may soon become reality.
The company claims (via3 UploadVR) that the 4K UHD display at Display Week was just a prototype. It boasts of 806ppi pixel density, 97 percent colour gamut, and 350nit brightness. Samsung was rumoured4 to bring 4K display with the Galaxy Note 55, but that didn’t happen, and the phablet adopted a QHD (1440×2560 pixels) display instead. Even the Note 6 has been tipped off to come with 4K display, however contradicting reports of a 2K QHD display6 have also surfaced.
Needless to say, all rumours must be taken with a pinch of salt until the official release.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 6 is expected to include a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 32GB storage for base model with storage expandability via microSD card, and 12-megapixel rear camera with a Dual Pixel setup.
- ^ Samsung (gadgets.ndtv.com)
- ^ unleashed its Daydream project at I/O this year (gadgets.ndtv.com)
- ^ via (uploadvr.com)
- ^ rumoured (gadgets.ndtv.com)
- ^ Galaxy Note 5 (gadgets.ndtv.com)
- ^ contradicting reports of a 2K QHD display (gadgets.ndtv.com)
- ^ 6GB of RAM (gadgets.ndtv.com)
- ^ Android (play.google.com)
- ^ iOS (itunes.apple.com)
Opinion: PayPal is the latest company to join a long list to ditch support for the fringe phone operating systems: Microsoft s Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Amazon s Fire OS. This decision comes on the heels of Microsoft s announcement of getting rid of a further 1,850 jobs, most of them from what remains of the staff that came to Microsoft from its acquisition of Nokia.12
Microsoft s purchase of Nokia wasn t simply a very bad business decision from a company that is fighting its slow slide to irrelevance, the side-effect of this singularly bad business idea, was to put nearly 25,000 people out of work, most of them in Finland. Microsoft CEO can simply shrug his shoulders and blame his predecessor, but an entire country is now coping with the fallout. Microsoft may be talking about focusing on business and still supporting the concept of a Microsoft phone but this just echoes the BlackBerry s CEO John Chen who still maintains6 that people will want to buy their particular brand of phone. Nobody believes him either.
Part of the reason that Microsoft, BlackBerry and any other potential new phone OS has little chance of succeeding in today s market is that we have reached a peak in the evolution of mobile phone operating systems and hardware in much the same way as we have done in the personal computing market. Whilst analysts and the markets may express disappointment in Apple s and Google s inability to come out with a radically new innovation in the mobile space, the realisation will dawn on them eventually that there is nothing more to innovate . Every possible angle has been explored and different versions of input, output and processing combined into every possible form factor that customers would want to buy. The iPhone 7, or 8 will not be substantially different from the iPhone 6S because there is no way it can be radically different and serve the same function.
All of this is not to say that mobile s impact on society has done all that it is going to do. As a society, the mobile phone will still be used as a vehicle for transformation in every aspect of our lives. This will be driven by the software that runs on these phones and to a far lesser degree by the specifics of the phones themselves. This fact hasn t been lost on Apple, Google and the other tech giants. Their focus has now shifted to cars, the home and the entertainment industry. Mobile phones have just become one facet of the Internet of Things which is the next iteration of technology still waiting to make the full force of its presence felt. The impact of the mobile phone will be through the software that runs on the phones and the continuing move to replace analogue or manual and paper-based processes with digital and software mediated ones.
The interesting aspect of all of this is that despite the emphasis that we place on the mobile phone, the major impact of technology on society recently has been in the march of robotisisation of the workplace. Foxconn, the major iPhone manufacturer has allegedly replaced7 60,000 factory workers with robots. It is not known how many of these workers will be retained and retrained in other jobs within the company. In all of this however, Microsoft is being left behind. Its impact, as evidenced by the fallout from the destruction of Nokia, being simply that of a large company taking out collateral as it flails during its last grasps at relevance.
It doesn t really matter whether it sells Windows for PCs or Surface tablets because the software that is being written for the new economy is going be written for an iPhone or Android device and on the other non-Microsoft platform Linux. As much as Microsoft tries to make its applications platform agnostic, the revenue for the company will continue to come from software supporting its own PC and server ecosystem. Time has shown that it has been impossible for Microsoft to get away from this and still generate the revenues that it has been over the years. In this way, it is no different from the other tech companies that are struggling in the new order like IBM and HP. Nokia may well have foundered without Microsoft s death blow.
The former employees of Nokia may well get back on their feet by starting their own companies and driving a new economy for Finland.
None of this would be by design of Microsoft s actions, but rather despite its desperation to shape the new economy.
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- ^ ditch (www.theverge.com)
- ^ announcement (www.theverge.com)
- ^ Microsoft/Nokia image via Shutterstock (www.shutterstock.com)
- ^ The Conversation (theconversation.com)
- ^ original article (theconversation.com)
- ^ maintains (www.ibtimes.com)
- ^ replaced (www.bbc.com)
- ^ email newsletter? (www.gizmodo.com.au)
- ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
- ^ Twitter (twitter.com)
- ^ Instagram (instagram.com)
- ^ YouTube (www.youtube.com)
30 May 2016
Save money and keep your white sheets pristine with our great value Best Buy laundry detergent
Three widely available laundry detergents have been awarded our Don’t Buy warning after they struggled to shift almost all of the stains we tested them on in our lab tests.
The trio of sub-standard stain busters include one which left visible drink, make-up and grease stains on clothes after washing. Others showed that they will leave your white shirts or sheets looking dull grey after several washes. Our test included laundry detergents from Persil, Ariel and Surf, as well as supermarket own brand products.
Best and worst laundry detergents
The good news is that three new Best Buy-recommended liquids or gels also emerged from our latest round of testing. The best product we tested scored 37 percentage points higher than the lowest rated liquid. These brilliant detergents proved themselves more than up to the task of getting clothes clean and keeping whites and colours bright. One of them is a great value supermarket product that won’t break the bank.
Bio vs non-bio laundry detergent
Biological detergents have frequently dominated the top spots in our previous laundry detergent tests, but despite this non-bio options remain popular. In a survey carried out in March 2015, 37% of Which? members told us they use only non-bio laundry detergent – so we pitched them against biological alternatives in our lab tests. One non-bio laundry liquid or gel stood out this time to be the best on test for shifting tricky drink spills, such as tea, coffee and red wine stains.
Across washing powders, laundry capsules, liquids and gels, we ve tested 13 non-bios. Their scores vary by a significant 21 percentage points, which shows it’s worth choosing carefully to ensure you get the best cleaning power for your money.
Save money on laundry detergent
You can save cash with one of our three new Best Buys. This great-value supermarket own-brand laundry detergent is around half the cost per wash of a branded Best Buy and doesn t compromise on getting clothes clean.
Our research also found that you can save more than 30 a year on laundry detergent by switching from a branded to an own-brand alternative that still scores well in our tests. Find out which products give the biggest savings in our full laundry detergent test results3.