Huawei is getting into the wearables game. The Chinese hardware manufacturer today launched the TalkBand B1 at Mobile World Congress, a wrist-worn device with an intriguing 1.4-inch flexible OLED display.
The device is catered towards fitness enthusiasts, as it gives owners the ability to track steps, distance traveled and calories burned on a daily basis. Similar to other fitness trackers such as the Fitbit One, the TalkBand B1 will also monitor sleep phases to ensure owners wake up in tune with their body clock.
To stand out from the crowd, Huawei is also equipping each unit with a Bluetooth 4.1 earpiece to help people take calls while they’re on the move. It’ll support Android (version 2.3 and higher) and iOS (version 5.0 and higher) devices and sync wirelessly over NFC.
The wearable isn’t a surprise, however. One of the company’s executives posted a photo of the TalkBand B1 on the Chinese social network Weibo, with the caption: “My new toy. Do you like this color?”
The Talkband B1 will be available in China, Russia, the Middle East, Japan, Latin America and parts of Europe from March 2014.
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Image Credit: Aaron tam/AFP/Getty Images
This has to be one of the most uniquely disruptive uses of 3D printing I’ve seen: an ink refill company has successfully 3D-printed a Kodak ink cartridge, refilled it, and printed with it. Using a Makerbot Replicator 2 and some PLA, the company created an exact replica of the Kodak cartridge casing and stuck in an ink bladder of their own devising, thereby creating a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of ink delivery.
To be clear the company, InkFactory, is fooling no one here. The ability to print an outer casing for an inkjet printer cartridge is fairly limited and is useful only if you have a nice supply of bladders or you break your cartridge. This holds doubly true for cartridges with chips and delivery systems built-in. Until we can make high-resolution, soft prints using a 3D printer, there is no real way to make an entire cartridge on a home printer and there is almost no way to replace the cartridges that have proprietary circuitry built in.
That said, the ease with which they replicated the casing and placed their own ink in is heartening. The fact that you can now measure, design, and build a proprietary object should strike fear in the hearts of ink merchants everywhere and there are plenty of people out there who would, in a fairly unscrupulous manner, supply the proper ink bladders to home makers who simply want the nozzle and ink container and will make their own PLA or ABS cartridges.
As a proof of concept it’s great. It’s a perfect storm of righteous indignation – ink refillers stick it to public enemy #1, ink salesmen, by using the tools of mass production. If Marx had a tech blog, he’d be all over this. It’s a cute, if sensational, way to get the word out about ink replacement and I’m sure it will send someone at what’s left of Kodak scrambling to type up a cease and desist letter.
Analog camera and film specialist Lomography is taking its first steps in the digital photography space today with a Kickstarter campaign hoping to fund a new version of the iconic Petzval lens, designed specifically for Canon ED and Nikon F mount cameras.
The stylized piece of glass is a sight to behold, blending the original look and feel of the iconic portrait lens – developed by Joseph Petzval in 1840 – with a smaller, sleeker and contemporary package.
The lens was a popular choice with portrait photographers because of its artistic and dream-like effect on images. The subject at the center of the frame is sharp and in-focus, while the extremities are blurred with a surreal, circular ‘bokeh’ effect.
It’s far removed from almost anything else on the market, but the photos produced by the new Petzval lens are in-keeping with what Lomography has long stood for – warm, creative and unique images that can’t be replicated with a bunch of filters in Adobe Photoshop.
The compatibility with Nikon F and Canon EF mounts ensures that a pretty wide range of photographers with both analog and digital SLR cameras can take advantage of the new piece of glass.
Given that the Petzval lens is now pretty hard to find – it was designed to work with cameras in the 19th century, after all – Lomography’s incarnation is a pretty unique chance to experiment with an older and rougher style of portrait photography.
The analog camera and film firm is looking for $100,000 over the next 30 days to put the lens into full production. The first lenses are expected to be delivered in February 2014, although Lomography says they’re confident the first 1,000 units can be shipped by December this year.
The lens will retail for $499, but there’s an opportunity for the first 100 backers to snatch it up for $300. That figure slowly increases inline with the number of backer slots, eventually hitting $2,000 for a trip to Vienna with one of the first Petzval lenses off the production line.
Lomography has always pioneered analog photography, so to see it produce a lens compatible with digital SLR cameras is surprising. Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see a company step away from the usual onslaught of high-end black and silver prime lenses and develop something with a little more heart.
Now, can we expect something similar for micro four thirds cameras?
Google’s highly anticipated new Nexus 7 tablet was unveiled to the masses yesterday, but it looks like consumers in the UK will need to wait until September before they can get their mitts on a unit.
AndroidCentral spotted today that Currys and PC World, two high-profile brick-and-mortar retailers owned by Dixons Retail, are already listed with an expected release date of September 13. That’s considerably later than July 30, when consumers in the US can purchase it from the Google Play store, Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, Staples and other retailers.
Currys and PC World are pricing the 16GB model at 199.99 and the 32GB variant at 239.99, considerably higher than the $229.99 ( 150) price tag offered in the United States.
Both the price and date could be subject to change, but it’s an early indicator of when Google’s new flagship tablet could hit markets outside the US.
The slate, unveiled yesterday, boasts a 1080p (1920 1200 resolution) 7-inch display with a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset and 2GB of memory. It’s considerably thinner and lighter than its older sibling and boasts a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera alongside a 5-megapixel snapper on the back.
It ships with Android 4.3, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, as well as dual speakers for higher-quality audio.
Spanish mobile startup Geeksphone has started selling a new version of the Firefox OS-based Peak, called the Peak+, which is aimed at consumers, rather than developers as earlier models were.
The device was announced on Thursday and will set back wannabe Firefox OS device owners 149 (excluding taxes) to add their name to the day one pre-order list.
The first handsets are set to start rolling out in mid-September, although if you wait until then to buy one the price will likely be higher as the company is touting the 149 deal as a time-limited offer, though it wasn’t saying exactly what the full price will be when they go on sale from September 15.
Key specs include a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 4.3-inch qHD screen, 8-megapixel camera on the rear and a 2-megapixel on the front for video calls or ‘selfies’. It also has 1GB of RAM to keep it all ticking along, pretty much the only under-the-bonnet spec change .
Things aren’t so hot on the storage side of things, with only 4GB on board, but it does have a microSD slot for cards up to 32GB and also includes 25GB of online cloud storage, delivered through a deal with fiabee.
The device follows the release of the Keon and Peak handsets a little earlier in the year, both of which run the open source, HTML 5-based Firefox OS.
However, while both devices sold out of the online store very quickly, they were in fact intended for developers that wanted to start building and testing apps for devices using the platform before the first retail handsets made it to market.
In announcing the Peak+, Geeksphone has recognized that consumers also want to see what all the fuss is about with the new platform, but not compromise on consumer-friendly features like a decent camera or processor, or in this case a slight jump in RAM.
While the specs might not scream high-end (they’re not), Firefox OS is primarily aimed at emerging markets and there are very few handsets available. For a mid-range handset, it’s essentially the best-specced Firefox OS handset you can order today.
Update: After publishing this, a Mozilla spokesman got in touch with the following message:
“Today, Geeksphone announced the pre-sale of a new device based on Boot to Gecko technology. We want to clarify that this new phone that was announced is based on Boot to Gecko technology with pre-release software, but is not a certified or supported Firefox OS device.”
Well, that clears that up then.
Featured Image Credit – Getty Images
Sky’s NOW TV service might not be as well known as others under its auspices, such as Sky Go, for example, but at under 10 for a little white box that promises to make your boring old TV an internet-connected one, it sounds like a no-brainer. Plus it introduces the option to pay for on demand access to Sky’s sport and movie channels too.
The one thing that’s critical for an internet-connected TV is….yep, an internet connection. This is where my experience with NOW TV started: with a failure to connect.
Opening up the box, you’ll find the unit itself (which will be very familiar if you’ve seen or used Roku’s little streaming player), an HDMI cable for connecting it to the TV, a remote (plus batteries) and a power pack. Naturally setting it up is as easy as plugging all those things in.
Once you’re ready and the unit is switched on, you’ll see a welcome screen asking you to connect to a WiFi network. Despite trying several times, having double and triple checked that I’d put in the correct password, it simply wouldn’t connect to my (Virgin Media) router. I tried disabling security on the router altogether, to no avail.
However, tethering it to my phone worked no problem at all. First time, in fact.
Once connected, the software will update itself and then ask you to sign in to NOW TV. If you don’t have an account you’ll need one, and you can’t set one up from the box, so you’ll need a laptop or tablet or something.
Once that hurdled has been safely cleared you finally get to the NOW TV menu screen which provides access to all installed channels (apps) and the settings menu.
Navigation is simple enough, all performed via the arrow and enter keys on the remote and it’s responsive enough to keep you from being frustrated at having to wait around.
New apps can be installed by pressing the apps button on the controller and then navigating to the desired option, whether that’s dedicated channels like BBC News 24 or things like Spotify or the Facebook photos and videos app.
Actual streaming performance, which will undoubtedly vary depending on your connections – tethered to 4G in this instance, was without problems and it didn’t balk at the BBC iPlayer HD content, though it only supports output at up to 720p.
Obviously, Sky’s hoping you’ll shell out for its on-demand Sky Sport and Sky Movies. Pricing has been set at 9.99 per day for all six Sky Sports channels and subscription to the movies channel is being offered on a 30 day free trial for new customers, followed by a one month introductory price of 8.99, which then rises to 15 per month.
Essentially, the unit is a rebranded Roku unit with Sky’s software on board and a few services removed. While Roku devices tend to retail for a little more than the price of the Sky branded-offering (which is around $15), Sky’s not really in this for the hardware cash. To it, the value of those ad-hoc daily sports, or monthly movies are far more important.
Personally, I’m not that interested in Sky’s movie or TV offerings, and with no access to services like Netflix, LOVEFiLM, ITV Player, and 4oD (for obvious reasons – as competing on-demand streaming platforms) it’s slightly less smart than I’d like, but to be able to turn a normal HD TV into an at least semi-smart TV for 10 has got to be worth anyone’s money. Providing it’ll play nicely with your router. I’ll let you know if I get it working with mine.
Update: After much wrangling the WiFi connectivity issue was eventually resolved by accessing the hidden menu (press home button 5 times followed by fast-forward, play, rewind, play and then fast-forward again) and selecting “disable network pings” in the options.
Let’s talk about Bluetooth speakers for a moment. The simple fact is that most of them suck. A lot. There are some notable exceptions, such as the Jambox and Big Jambox from Jawbone, but they’re definitely the exception and not the rule. I’ve tested no fewer than 20 different Bluetooth speakers for TNW, and most of them never see the light of day on the site, so you can understand my hesitation when the guys from Boombotix got in touch to ask me to review the Boombot Rex. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised, so I thought it was time to tell you why.
A couple of things set the Rex apart from the competition. The first thing is that it’s considerably more durable than other speakers I’ve tested. That’s done so that you can clip the Rex onto your backpack, belt or even your bike so you can take sound with you. I’ve thrown my demo unit around quite a bit, and I’ve not had any durability issues with it. I even went so far as to “accidentally” leave the Rex on top of my car when I was driving off, and then I admired the fact that it survived a 15 mile-per-hour impact onto the road.
The next factor is that it has a built-in microphone, so that essentially means that it’s a Bluetooth speakerphone. Boombotix touts this as “Siri integration”, but chalk that up to marketing speak. At any rate, it works well and the microphone sounds plenty good enough for telephone conversations.
The final factor that sets the Rex apart from the competition is the biggest one – It sounds good. It’s easily on par with the Jambox, but not quite up to the Big Jambox. You’re not going to replace your home stereo with a few Rex devices chained together (though plugs on the back would allow for that), but you’ll be more than happy with it in a hotel room or while riding down the street.
The clip is heavy duty, allowing for secure placement of the Rex anywhere that it will attach. With the wealth of accessories, you can replace the clip, the grille, add even more protection and get a mount for your bike’s handlebars. The Rex ships with a 3.5mm audio cable, as well as a micro USB charging cord. Replacements for either of these will only run you about $6, and kudos to Boombotix for not using proprietary cabling.
At $119, the Rex isn’t the cheapest Bluetooth speaker on the market, but its performance matches its price. I’ve not found a better one for less money. It also has the distinction of being featured in Apple retail stores, which should help boost sales and keep the company on its toes. If you want to pony up $10 extra, there are some limited edition Rex designs that you can grab as well.
In all, I’m duly impressed with Boombotix and the Boombot Rex. Great sound, a rock-solid design and customization make for a killer combination.
The Boombot Rex, from Boombotix
Melanoma, for those who may not know, is a form of skin cancer that is often discovered via cancers moles and skin legions that look like nothing out of the ordinary to the untrained eye. More than nine thousand Americans die each year to skin cancer; many because they didn’t know they had skin cancer until it was too late.
MelaFind is a device created by Mela Sciences to help dermatologists decide whether a mole is cancerous or not. Cancerous moles, if caught in time, can be biopsied before the patient ever actually develops skin cancer.
Sounds like a life saving device right? Well there’s a bit more to it.