CES 2016: What to Expect

CES 2016: What to Expect

Every year, tech press from the world over sets up camp in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (which has now changed its name to simply CES). The event started in 1967, and in the last decade or so, has become one of the most important events on the tech calendar. By now, it’s significance is (somewhat) on the wane, as the big phone launches have mostly shifted to Mobile World Congress, which takes place about a month later, but you’ll still see big news about TVs, driverless cars, and this year there will almost certainly be a fair sprinkling of companies showing of VR headsets and VR accessories.

The show starts on Wednesday, and will continue till Saturday, but there are already some indications of what you can expect from CES 2016 – apart from news that Netflix will be announcing its India launch at the show.

Lots of cars
Cars are slowly transforming into gadgets – no doubt auto makers are also hoping that smarter cars will be replaced as frequently as other tech buys – and at CES, you’re going to see just about every major car brand have a presence this year.

Ford has long had a presence at the show, and Volkswagen and General Motors will both hold keynote sessions according to the official schedule.

Apart from the big carmakers who will be there to show off their latest and greatest, there are also some new and exciting players in the field. Expect interesting announcements about electric cars from the likes of Faraday Future, which focuses on the development of intelligent electric vehicles. There will also certainly be announcements regarding autonomous vehicles – Google is apparently in talks with Ford to do this, and other carmakers will not want to be left behind.

google_car_124_scrsht.jpgA record 10 automakers will be showing at CES along with at least 115 automotive tech companies, according to the Consumer Technology Association, which organises the show.

It’s still the Year of 4K in CES
Ever since 4K TVs first burst on the scene, there’s been a lot of optimism around the category at CES. Each year, you’ll see a new slate of 4K TVs that are all set to take the world by storm. The UHD (ultra HD) has a press conference scheduled for Monday before CES officially starts, which will also feature speakers from Disney Dreamworks, Sony Pictures, Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios, and Warner.

LG_OLED_4K.jpgExpect to see lots of 4K TVs, a smattering of 8K TVs, and a lot of models with a number of “smart” features or visual upgrades that you probably don’t need and can’t really see.

(Also see: LG to Launch webOS 3.0 for Smart TVs at CES 2016)

Netflix also has a big announcement coming up, which will possibly include its plans for India, and YouTube also has an announcement, which could include everything from its content plans, to 4K distribution, and more.

Smarter everything
From smarter televisions to fridges to homes, expect more and more devices to get connected, for better or for worse.

Companies like LG, Samsung, and Apple and Google are all taking a bigger interest in this space and we might see some more progress along this front, but the big issues of standardisation, safety, security, and privacy all remain.

(Also see: LG SmartThinQ Hub for IoT Devices Unveiled Ahead of CES 2016 Launch)

Still, there will be a number of products that are compatible with things such as Google’s Nest Thermostat, and Apple’s HomeKit, which should at least help address the issue of standardisation.

samsung_smartthings.jpg(Also see: Samsung Says 2016 Smart TV Lineup Will Feature SmartThings IoT Support)

Drones, drones everywhere
The US has set rules and deadlines for registration of drones, but that’s not going to cast a dampener over enthusiasm for the category of drones, or unmanned vehicles. Drones are getting more sophisticated, and you can be certain that we’re going to see more of these developments at CES 2016.

amazon_prime_air.jpgFrom four exhibitors in 2014, to 27 in 2016, the amount of space on the show floor for drones has gone up significantly, and now that the technology has evolved, it’s not just going to be quadcopters with cameras either. Tracking, smart sensors, and more intelligent features will drive the category.

VR and wild wearables
CES is always home to the weirdest gadgets, many of which fall in the wearable category, but there will also be a number of cool wearable gadgets that you would probably wish were on sale right now.

Fitness tracking is well defined by now, and expect to see many products on this front, and the same is true for smartwatches. Beyond that, expect to see more virtual reality headsets; Samsung and Oculus are both expected to demonstrate controllers for the Gear VR and the Rift respectively, and we can expect other companies like HTC and Sony also making their presence felt. Expect to see the VR category outside of gaming this year as well, something that hasn’t really been showcased too much so far.

oculus_touch_controller.jpg(Also see: Samsung to Reveal 3 Creative Lab Projects at CES 2016)

There will almost certainly also be developments around Augmented Reality (AR) which has progressed since Google Glass and then Microsoft HoloLens. It’s unlikely that we’ll hear about entirely new solutions, but we might see companies that are working in this space.

This is just a sampling of the kind of things we’re hearing about CES 2016 so far, and of course, there will be a lot more coming once the show officially starts, so stick around to know more.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note: Top 5 New Features

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note: Top 5 New Features

Lenovo on Tuesday launched the Vibe K4 Note in India, the successor to last year’s sleeper hit the K3 Note. For the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer has updated the hardware specifications while also adding some features that we usually find on high-priced premium handsets.

(Also see: Lenovo Vibe K4 Note Full Specifications)

But that’s not all. Lenovo has made all the inclusions while maintaining an affordable price tag range, a factor that ushered Lenovo K3 Note’s popularity in the country. The company told Gadgets 360 last month that it sold over 1.2 million units in less than six months since the launch. Here are some of the best features of the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note.

1. TheaterMax
The Lenovo Vibe K4 Note comes with a feature called TheaterMax which, as per company’s claim, can convert regular content to its immersive VR counterpart. Powered by Lenovo Virtual Reality (VR) technology, the idea is to give users a virtually large screen cinematic experience. It should work with any virtual reality headset. At the event, the company assured that popular head-mount VRs such as the AntVR for Lenovo, Google Cardboard, and Oculus will work with Lenovo Vibe K4 Note.

2. Front-facing stereo speakers
The Lenovo K4 Note also comes equipped with two front-facing speakers (1.5W each) alongside Dolby Atmos audio. Thanks to the addition of stereo speakers, the handset now offers a significantly better and louder sound output.

Stereo speakers setup is a feature more common in high-end handsets such as the Google Nexus 6, and many of HTC’s high-end handsets that offer BoomSound speakers. It’s nice to see Lenovo bring this feature to an affordable smartphone like the Vibe K4 Note.

lenovo_k4_note_official_speakers.jpg3. 3GB of RAM
The Lenovo Vibe K4 Note also has more memory than the K3 Note. Compared to the 2GB of RAM the K3 Note shipped with, the Lenovo K4 Note has 3GB of RAM. Again, it’s a nice addition and will help the device handle resource intensive games and apps more efficiently, especially with the 64-bit MediaTek MT6753 SoC on board.

(Also see: Lenovo Vibe K4 Note vs Lenovo K3 Note)

4. Fingerprint scanner
The Lenovo Vibe K4 Note also houses a fingerprint scanner. Placed below the camera module on the back panel, the scanner lets you unlock your smartphone and facilitate purchases on the phone. The fingerprint scanner, a feature that largely became popular after Apple put Touch ID on its iPhone, has made its way on a number of Android smartphones in the past year. Though, the hardware capability is still mostly available on high-end handsets.

5. NFC
The Lenovo Vibe K4 Note also supports NFC sensors. The near field communication protocol allows two electronic devices to communicate when they are within 10cm of each other. The feature can be used to transfer files, contact information, or play multiplayer games, among others use cases.

lenovo_vibe_k4_note_metal_body.jpgNoteworthy mentions
The Lenovo Vibe K4 Note also comes with a larger battery, going up from the 2900mAh as seen on the Lenovo K3 Note, to 3300mAh in the K4 Note. The handset also has a metal frame that gives it a premium look.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note

DISPLAY

5.50-inch

PROCESSOR

1.3GHz

FRONT CAMERA

5-megapixel

RESOLUTION

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 5.1

STORAGE

16GB

REAR CAMERA

13-megapixel

BATTERY CAPACITY

3300mAh

See full Lenovo Vibe K4 Note specifications
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Tags: India, Lenovo, Lenovo K3 Note, Lenovo Vibe K4 Note, Lenovo Vibe K4 Note Features, Lenovo Vibe K4 Note Launch,Lenovo Vibe K4 Note Specifications, Mobiles
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Does Your Battery Life Stink? Try Some High-Tech Workarounds

Does Your Battery Life Stink? Try Some High-Tech Workarounds

It’s enough to make you want to drop everything and race for the nearest power outlet: Your workday isn’t even done, and your smartphone or laptop battery is already in the red zone.

If you’re hoping that techno-progress will dispel that depleted feeling, you may be in for a long wait. Battery life is constrained by limitations in chemistry, and improvements aren’t keeping pace with demands from modern gadgets.

We’re still dependent on the venerable lithium-ion cell, first commercialized by Sony in 1991; it’s light, safe and holds a lot of charge relative to most alternatives, but it isn’t getting better fast enough to keep up with our growing electronic demands.

So instead, manufacturers are doing their best to “cheat” their way around lithium-ion’s limitations. The CES gadget show in Las Vegas this week featured plenty of workarounds that aim to keep your screen lit longer.

Proceed with caution, though: Manufacturer claims of battery life improvement can fall short of real-world experience.

New chips
Not that long ago, computer-chip makers competed to make their chips ever faster and more capable, with power consumption a secondary consideration. But the boom in energy hungry smartphones and laptops means that companies like Intel need to put much more emphasis on power efficiency these days.

new_chip_laptop_ap.jpgIntel says its sixth-generation Core chips, known as Skylake, add a little more than an hour to battery life to laptops compared with the previous generation, according to spokesman Scott Massey. The chips utilize a more compact design, hard-wired functions that used to be run via software and fine-tuning how they ramp power use up and down.

Better-designed laptops
Laptop manufacturers are smartly sipping power, too.

HP says the Spectre x360 notebook it introduced in March gains up to 72 minutes of battery life, for a total of up to 13 hours, thanks in part to Intel’s new chip. Among other tricks, the PC doesn’t refresh the screen as often if the image isn’t moving. “If we can solve a bunch of small problems, they can add up,” HP vice president Mike Nash said.

Similarly, Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1 Yoga tablet turns off its touch screen and keyboard backlight if it senses its owner is walking and has the screen folded back like an open book. Vaio, the computer maker formerly owned by Sony, says its Z Canvas launched in the U.S. in October benefits from shrinking components and efficiently distributing heat to make more room for a bigger battery.

And Dell says it has worked with manufacturers to squeeze more battery capacity into the same space. It says its efforts recently boosted the energy storage of its XPS 13 laptop by 7.7 percent compared to an earlier version of the same model .

New chargers
Maybe it’s your phone that’s not keeping up. If so, you might check out new accessories designed to make it easier and faster to charge back up.

Kickstarter-funded Ampy uses your body’s kinetic energy to charge up a pager-sized device. Strap it to your arm or a belt and it can recharge a smartphone in real time; an hour of jogging or similar exercise yields about an hour of use. You could also just throw it in your bag and get the same extra hour of gadget life after a week of walking around – not an awesome trade off, maybe, but possibly better than nothing.

ampy_ap.jpgThe wireless-charging technology Qi makes it possible to charge a phone without plugging it in. Instead, you lay it down on a special pad and let electromagnetic field coupling do the work. Wireless charging has always been much slower than wired, although Qi’s backers say it’s speeding up. But wired charging is getting faster, too, at least for phones with the latest hardware- and with Qi, you still have to line up your device just right on the sometimes fussy pads.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

There’s a Serious Problem With Voice Control That We’re All Ignoring

There's a Serious Problem With Voice Control That We're All Ignoring

The other day, I received a text message that made me realize something big about modern etiquette and voice control and just how rude I’ve been without even thinking about it. I’d just flown a red-eye in from Las Vegas, my hands were full of luggage and I was not in the mood to drop everything to answer the text. So, I did what I tend to do at home when my hands are covered in soapy water or flour.

I said, in a clear and somewhat stern tone, “Hey Siri . . . . ”

Immediately, the woman in front of me turned around and started to open her mouth almost as if to reply, but then stopped. She looked both puzzled and almost offended. Was I talking to her? Was I, in fact, issuing an order to a complete stranger?

This got me thinking. As we look at new ways of controlling our gadgets, it’s becoming clear that some of them are more suited to being used in public and others are best left to more private use. To me, voice control which is becoming a big feature in many, many gadgets — falls firmly into this second category, because it’s something best done when you’re one-on-one with your phone.

After all, if you hate it when your dinner companion is bent over a screen, how much worse is it for them to be carrying on an entirely different conversation without you? Have you ever had a half-conversation with someone who turns out to be talking on the phone using a Bluetooth headset or headphones? Getting caught up in someone’s conversation with their inanimate assistant is just like that, only worse.

I’m not alone in thinking this way.

“I do think that there are places where having that speaker out loud isn’t appropriate: out on the street, in the subway, the elevator, in a car, standing in line to get a sandwich or coffee. Those are places I wouldn’t use it,” said Lizzie Post, the great-great-grandaughter of etiquette extraodinaire Emily Post and writer and podcaster on etiquette in the modern age for the Post Institute.

Post also noted that, even when you’re in a more private setting, there are still times when it feels odd to bring your technology into the conversation. She said that she’d once been brainstorming a project with someone who pulled out his phone and asked it to find an item for him online. It was off-putting, Post said.

“There was no reason not to type it in he had no reason to be hands-free,” she said. “It starts to sound like you’re dictating to a secretary when you don’t need to be.”

I’m not saying voice control technology is bad. In the car, it can be a literal life-saver if it keeps you from fumbling with a touchscreen behind the wheel. I’m as excited as anyone about reports that Apple’s working on wireless earbuds that let you control Siri, or that Amazon is working on a more portable version of its voice-controlled Echo. In your home, with your family, it feels kind of neat to speak to your gadgets to set timers or reminders.

But those are all situations when you’re either alone, or where it’s acceptable for you to pull your attention to the side for a moment. In other social settings many people tend to pitch their voices as if they’re issuing orders when talking to their technology, as I did at the airport. That makes people sit up and take notice, even if you think you’re being discreet. “Remind me to buy deodorant” is not something you want to bark into your phone on the bus. Ditto to dictating emails within earshot of your co-workers. (Bonus rudeness points if the emails are about your co-workers.)

Even if you’re saying something totally harmless “Hi sweetie, running a little late” saying it out loud in public still drops people into discussions in which they never asked to be participants. That can be uncomfortable, particularly if it comes out of the blue and makes those around you feel as if they’ve wrongly stumbled into a private conversation. And making the people around you uneasy is pretty much the definition of rude.

Which gets back to the notion of public technology versus private technology. I’ve come up with a basic way to categorize this: If it’s something you’d feel goofy doing at your cubicle, it’s probably a private technology. To define it even more clearly, here are some examples. Eye-tracking screens, for instance, are fine to use in public because they’re unobtrusive. Virtual reality is private, because you are literally cutting off all sensory inputs to the outside world. Augmented reality, which blends the digital and virtual worlds, walks a fine line but is arguably more public because you still interact with the world (and people) around you. Gesture control depends on the situation. If you’re having to make big arm-waving motions, that’s best done at home. If it’s more subtle, like a hand swipe to get to the next presentation slide, you’re probably fine.

This isn’t to say that either of these is more useful than the others, or even more social using VR with another person is surprisingly wonderful for conversation. The same is true of voice control: Using your voice to dictate messages can save you time or let you be more coherent than you could be in a fast, thumb-typed message. But those are situations when you’re using your phone to facilitate communication, not to step away from it.

So, yes, talk to Siri or Cortana or Google or Alexa, but think about the context. “The blanket tip we offer for all technology is to think about the people you’re with first,” Post said.

That’s good advice for using voice control, and for whatever other crazy and wonderful technologies may come down the pike.

[“Source-Gadgets”]