Bite-sized news, views and updates from the global tech industry, by Anne Whelton.
STYLE AND AFFORDABILITY
Also at last month’s Mobile World Conference – in its first mobile launch since officially dropping the Nokia brand late last year – Microsoft introduced two new smartphones, the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.
“Our newest Lumia devices build on our momentum in the affordable smartphones space,” said Jo Harlow, corporate vice president for Phones at Microsoft. “With the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL, we continue to make innovation accessible to more people. We have packaged competitive hardware with innovative Windows software and Microsoft services to help you achieve more, wherever and whenever you want.”
The global rollout of the Lumia 640 XL has already begun, with prices ranging from €189 for 3G and €219 for LTE, depending on operator. The 640, once rolled out will be priced between €139 and €159.
AT THE CUTTING EDGE
The highly anticipated launch of the latest phones in the Samsung S range – the S6 and the S6 Edge – was met with great fanfare in March, when the phones were officially ‘unpacked’ at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Going head-to-head with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the new generation of Samsung S phones offer a full metal body – previous generations used a plastic casing – greatly improved charging speeds, a 16MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, curved-edge display in the case of the S6 Edge and, in a first for the market, wireless charging.
As part of the company’s move towards wireless charging, Samsung has teamed up with IKEA to produce universally compatible embedded wireless charging technology with IKEA’s new home furniture range. The range will be rolled out in Europe and North America immediately, followed by a global rollout in the coming months.
In September, Microsoft entered the competitive world of media streaming with the launch of its Wireless Display Adapter. The adapter, which has just launched on the Irish market, goes head-to-head with products such as the Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, and is compatible with both Windows and Android devices.
The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is available bow to buy online or at Harvey Norman, DID, Soundstore (Munster Only) and Power City for €69.99.
GET A GRIP
In March, HTC unveiled its first high-performance, smart fitness tracker – HTC Grip. Compatible with Android and iOS devices, as well as Bluetooth-enabled accessories like heart-rate monitors, Grip is powered by UA Record, the new health and fitness network from Under Armour designed for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Capable of tracking and recording a variety of workouts – from running and cycling to time spent at the gym –Grip is waterproof and offers up to five hours of battery life when the integrated GPS is turned on or over two days on a single charge.
HTC Grip will also monitor sleep patterns, allow users to see incoming call and message notifications, control music playlists and allow you to engage with friends and other Grip users.
PLUG IN BABY
Researchers at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, DCU, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Texas in Dallas recently announced a three-year US-Ireland collaborative scientific project, entitled UNITE, which aims to reduce power consumption and increase battery life in mobile devices.
UNITE researchers will create and test the properties of atomically-thin, two-dimensional layers of semiconductors called Transition Metal Dichalcogenides. These layers are 100,000 times smaller than the smallest thing the human eye can see. The properties these materials have displayed to date suggest that they could facilitate extremely efficient power usage and high performance computing.
The application of these materials in transistors could prolong the battery charge life of portable devices and phones, as well as having applications in larger more power intensive operations like data storage and server centres. So in the near future your mobile phone could run without a charge for weeks rather than hours, exciting stuff indeed!