Pebble 2 + Heart Rate Smartwatch Is Now Available for Pre-Orders

Pebble 2 + Heart Rate Goes Up for Pre-Orders; Pebble 2 SE to Become Available in NovemberPebble’s first smartwatch created more than just ripples in the tech industry when it was launched back in 2012. However, with the release of other smartwatches over the years, the initial charm of the wearable has been lost to quite an extent. After introducing the Pebble 2 and Time 2 on Kickstarter in May the Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2, the company has slightly re-branded the former and launched them for regular buyers. The Pebble 2 without a heart rate sensor is being called the Pebble 2 SE (or Standard Edition) while the variant with a sensor is being called the Pebble 2 + Heart Rate.

The Pebble 2 + Heart Rate is priced at $129.99 (roughly Rs. 8,700) and the and Pebble 2 SE at $99.99 (roughly Rs. 6,700) respectively. While the former is available to pre-order in five colours, with shipments beginning this month, the latter will go up for pre-orders soon in Jet Black, and start shipping in November. The Pebble 2 + Heart Rate, as the name suggests, comes with a heart rate sensor that allows you to monitor your heart rate while doing various physical activities. The smartwatch is optimised for use with company’s Pebble Health app and comes with an inbuilt Workout app.

“Pebble Health automatically detects long walks, runs, and naps, feeding you a performance summary when you’re finished. Dive deeper into your stats with beautiful in-app graphs. Tap and drag on your mobile graphs for targeted views of your step and heart rate stats at specific times. Sync with Google Fit or Apple’s HealthKit to paint an even clearer picture of your overall wellbeing,” company said in its official blog.
The company claims that the battery life on Pebble 2 can last up to seven days, making it possible for the watch to track your sleeping patterns. The smartwatch further allows you to choose the apps that are able to send notifications to your phone. It provides water resistance up to 30 metres.

The Pebble 2 SE is otherwise identical to the Pebble 2 + Heart Rate, but forgoes the heart rate sensor.

Honeywell’s Electronic Essentials Accessories Launched in India

Honeywell's Electronic Essentials Accessories Launched in India

Global consumer electronics major Honeywell on Thursday launched its electronic essentials range in India that includes products like surge protectors, cables, car chargers and adapters. The company is launching the products in collaboration with distributor Secure Connection.

All the products are offered with a three-year warranty and an easy replacement policy.

Starting at Rs. 339, the product range will be available for sale from September 22 across the country, the company said in a statement.

“Everybody wants better connectivity and operability for their gadgets on-the-go, so this launch will expand Honeywell’s presence in the consumer market in India. We’re excited about this licensing partnership because it will put a Honeywell Electronic Essentials product in every consumer’s pocket,” said Vikas Chadha, President, Honeywell India.

“We aspire to be the most trusted go-to brand for electronic essentials. We are excited to launch our new line of Honeywell Electronic Essentials, which will provide consumers a rich and seamless connected experience with their electronics,” added Mohit Anand, CEO, Secure Connection.

“Today, four screens dominate people’s digital lives – the smartphone, the television, the PC/laptop, and the tablet. Our range of products will help consumers derive a much more meaningful and deeper experience out of their core device or screen, regardless of whether they are home, at work, or on the go,” he added.

 

Alcatel Unveils ‘Vision’ Standalone VR Headset and a 360-Degree Camera at IFA

Alcatel Unveils 'Vision' Standalone VR Headset and a 360-Degree Camera at IFAAlcatel on Thursday at IFA 2016 has unveiled a standalone VR headset called Vision, as well as two models of the Alcatel 360 Camera.

The Alcatel Vision VR headset is based on the Android platform and comes with two 3.8-inch 1080×1020 pixels resolution Amoled screens. The device is powered by an octa-core processor coupled with 3GB of RAM.

The company claims that the wireless VR headset offers best-in-class field-of-vision of 120 degrees and lowest latency that is currently available, 17 milliseconds. Interestingly, the device also adjusts for myopia and thereby removes any need for corrective glasses or contact lens.

Alcatel’s Vision comes with 32GB of inbuilt storage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor. The device packs a 3000mAh battery that company claims will last up to 3 hours of continuous use, reports Pocket-Lint.

Even though the pricing of the headset has not been announced by the company, it did say that the device will be offered with “entry-level pricing” that is readily affordable, and is expected to be between EUR 499 and EUR 599 at launch early next year.

“Alcatel partnered with Jaunt VR, Magic Interactive Entertainment and Fraunhofer, which will provide preloaded content and hardware to enable Vision users to immediately benefit from its enhanced capability and so get a better experience,” the company said in its release.
Along with the VR headset the company also announced its Alcatel 360 Camera that comes in two shapes, round and rectangle, and plugs into company’s smartphones. Both the camera models come with dual 210-degree fisheye lens. The company has not revealed the price or availability of the camera as well.

Xiaomi Amazfit Smartwatch With Heart Rate Sensor Launched

Xiaomi Amazfit Smartwatch With Heart Rate Sensor Launched

  • The smartwatch has been priced at CNY 799
  • It will go on sale in China from Wednesday
  • It bears a 1.34-inch circular display

Xiaomi on Tuesday launched its latest wearable in China, the much-anticipated first smartwatch from the company. Made in collaboration with partner Huami, the Xiaomi Amazfit smartwatch has been priced at CNY 799 (roughly Rs. 8,100) and will be available to purchase in the country from Wednesday.

The Xiaomi Amazfit is claimed by the company to be the world’s first smartwatch with a 28nm GPS sensor. The smartwatch is also dust and water resistant with IP67 certification. It sports a ceramic bezel, which is said to be scratch resistant, while the smartwatch comes with a 22nm band that is user replaceable.

The Amazfit bears a 1.34-inch circular display with a 300×300 pixel resolution. It is powered by a 1.2GHz processor that’s coupled with 512MB of RAM. Coming with 4GB of storage, the smartwatch also features a heart rate sensor on the rear panel with continuous tracking. The company has also partnered with Alibaba to offer mobile payment support for the AliPay service.

Xiaomi says the Amazfit will work with any Android device that supports the MiFit app and has it installed.

 The Chinese company announced the Amazfit is powered by a 200mAh battery that’s rated to deliver up to 5 days of battery life. With GPS enabled, this figure drops to 30 hours, and while using just the pedometer function, the battery is said to last 11.6 days.

Tuesday’s China launch of the Xiaomi Amazfit smartwatch was first reported by PhoneRadar.

While we’ve mentioned above the Xiaomi Amazfit is the company’s first smartwatch, that’s not technically correct – the company launched a kid-focused smartwatch back in May.

 

First Ubuntu Linux tablet: Aquaris M10 ready to buy now, first deliveries ‘mid-April’

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Fans of Ubuntu Linux can now place pre-orders for the Aquaris M10, a tablet that can also be a PC.

Nearly two months after Canonical announced the Aquaris M10, the first official Ubuntu tablet is available for pre-order through the online store of its Spanish maker, BQ.

The company is taking orders for the cheaper €260 ($290) HD display model and the €300 ($336) Full HD display version. Would-be buyers who place an order now will get a 10.1-inch display tablet running Ubuntu 15.04 as well as a cover and screen protector.

The Ubuntu-powered device can be used either in tablet mode or, when connected with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, can run as a full PC.

In PC mode, it can use the tablet’s display or a larger display connected to the device’s Micro HDMI port, which is similar to Microsoft’s efforts with Continuum.

The HD version, available only in white, has a screen resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels at 160 pixels per inch (ppi), while the Full HD version, which is available in black, has a resolution at 1,920 x 1,200 pixels at a respectable 240ppi.

Besides the display resolution and case color, both devices’ components are identical, featuring a 7,280mAh battery, an eight-megapixel (MP) main camera, and 5MP front camera.

There’s not much internal storage available, and the 16GB built-in space is reduced to 11.2GB after factoring in the operating system. However, the microSD card slot supports up to 200GB additional storage.

The devices both share the same 2GB RAM and an up to 1.5GHz MediaTek quad-core CPU with a MediaTek GPU.

Canonical has long pursued the goal of one OS for all devices, and the new tablets round out that effort.

According to BQ, deliveries of pre-order tablets will commence in the second week of April.

Microsoft’s HoloLens is super limited — and hella magical

Microsoft’s HoloLens is one of the most magical pieces of technology I’ve ever seen. It could change the world. But if you bought one today, for your own personal use, I guarantee you’d hate it.

For over a year, journalists have written breathless descriptions of the amazing things they’ve seen inside the HoloLens headset, but they’ve never been able to give you the full picture. Microsoft planned it that way. The first time I tried HoloLens, I actually had to surrender my camera and phone, only to walk through a set of scripted experiences in a secret bunker underneath Microsoft’s Redmond campus.

It was exciting stuff. And still is, honestly. Have you seen our video yet?

But this week, Microsoft let us see what it’s actually like to use HoloLens for real. I spent 90 minutes with an actual $3,000 Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition on my head, watching as computer-generated objects popped into existence in my real world. I walked around an ordinary hotel suite, with no Microsoft supervision, and saw what these holograms were capable of. It made my mind swirl with the possibilities.

It also made me very, very glad that Microsoft has no intention of ever releasing the current developer kit to regular, non-developer people. It’s not even close to ready.

Not ready

The HoloLens developer kit already looks like a consumer product, sure — a futuristic one, anyhow. The headset is composed of a pair of concentric circles that unfold like two rings of a 3D solar system. The inner circle goes around your head, with a bicycle-helmet-style ratcheting dial to tighten it down. The front is supposed to stick to your forehead, while the back rests underneath the back of your skull.

Beneath a visor worthy of “Star Trek” engineer Geordi La Forge are a pair of lenses that glint with rainbow light. When you look through them, you can see additional objects appear around you that don’t exist at all. Things only you can see. Things as small as a little CG bird perched on top of your television, or as big as the surface of Mars suddenly appearing underneath your feet. You can select apps from a Windows-like menu, but you can also just place them in your real world.

They’ll be there, waiting for you wherever you left them, whenever you put the headset on.

But you don’t see these holograms all around you. They’re only in the center of your view. They only exist within a box, roughly the size of a smartphone, held a few inches away from your head. Look away, even a little bit, and they’re gone (though, thanks to built-in 3D speakers, you may still be able to hear them as you turn.)

If they’re large, like a virtual person, maybe you only see the top of them. Until you look down, their bottom half is invisible. Which means there’s no point in blowing up a virtual Web browser or virtual TV screen to cover a wall, because you’d only be able to see a small chunk of it at a time.

It feels nothing like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, which completely surround you with worlds that don’t exist. HoloLens is more than that, but right now, it’s also much less.

Then there’s the matter of controlling the experience. To activate, grab and resize virtual objects, you need to reach out and bend your index finger in a very specific way to “airtap” them. Often as not, I missed tapping what I meant to, or failed to tap it at all. You can also just speak to the headset, issuing voice commands, but Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant often had a tough time recognizing me.

I got pretty frustrated very quickly, and I’m generally fairly patient with technology.

Another problem I had was keeping the damn thing on my head with its amazing holographic images centered in my field of view. I had to constantly adjust it, cinch it ever tighter until it had my skull in a vice-like grip before it would stay put. I later found out that it comes with a pair of optional straps that go over the top of the head like a baseball cap. I wish I’d used those from the beginning.

While we’re talking caveats, you should also probably know that the HoloLens has a meager 2 to 3 hours of battery life, and it won’t work nearly as well outdoors. In dim rooms, the holograms feel like they’ve got some substance, but in bright light they’d appear ghostly.

But it’s still amazing

Have you watched our video yet, the one at the top of this post?

Regardless of the technology’s current limitations, it blows my mind that a completely wireless headset can do what this one does.

Microsoft’s not trying to hide the HoloLens’s current flaws. The company knows the technology isn’t ready, and it sounds like Microsoft won’t set a price or release date for a consumer version until it’s a product that people will actually want to use.

The just-released Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset had two developer kits before it became a real product. I spent plenty of time with each, and they had lots of flaws as well. It was hard to wear the first one for long without feeling sick. Both the software and the hardware needed years to mature — but the potential was there from day one.

The HoloLens feels like it could have the same potential. I can’t wait to see if it pans out.

My three kids tried the Oculus Rift. Here’s what happened

“This is awesome!”

“Oooh, I like the ocean!”

“Can I have a second turn?”

Would you want to do this forever? “Yeah!”

That’s how my three kids, ages 8, 7 and 5, reacted to their first experience with the Oculus Rift. When one of CNET’s virtual-reality experts needed a couch for the night, he brought the new headset for my family to try. Now I’m wondering if my kids will be the first generation of VR natives.

Seeing their amazement and delight and listening to their giggles, I knew something special had happened.

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Nothing I’ve experienced in my three and a half decades using computers and playing video games has been as breathtaking as VR. When I got my turn, it was nothing like my first time guiding Pitfall Harry across the crocodiles (hated them!), or helping Link rescue Zelda. It felt far more transformative. But watching my kids experience it was even better.

“I want to try to reach that leaf.” (My son takes a step forward.)

“I’m going to fall into the water!”

“I’m off the kayak.”

What’s it like to play a game like this? “Cool.”

How cool?Cool cool.”

My 7-year-old son stood in front of the couch in the living room, but inside the headset, he was experiencing a lazy ride on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He seemed most interested in the virtual kayak itself: moving around in it, trying to “touch” the controls.

He tried jumping to grab a branch. (Nope.) He tried to see if he could “get out” of the kayak by walking a few feet to either side. (Nope. Well, sorta.) He sat down on the floor, as if there were an actual kayak in our living room.

I noticed how rapidly all of my kids took their immersive worlds for granted. They “got it” intuitively, focusing on the environments themselves. VR actually seemed to come more naturally to them than the video game controls. (My eldest, already the family tech expert, was happy to tell his siblings which buttons to press.)

Of course, as a child everything is new and possible. Virtual reality can be reality, at least as long as the headset is on.

“A person. I’m touching it!” giggles

“I wanna go to the top of the mountain!”

“I’m flying!”

My 5-year-old daughter became so enthralled with “The Rose and I,” a VR excerpt of The Little Prince, that she walked into a wall. Not once, but three times — giggling uncontrollably throughout. She wanted to see things up close and from every angle. I don’t think it crossed her mind that this wasn’t something she, or anyone, had really ever done before.

My older son is already asking if he can incorporate VR into his upcoming birthday party. He asked if we could sell our PS4 to get an Oculus, though he backed down when I told him a similar product would be available for PlayStation soon. (And neither of my boys would give up iPad time for VR, they told me.)

New update for the Samsung Gear S2 is now available for download

Last week, Samsung released an update for the Gear S2 smartwatch and now owners of the watch are treated to another one. The latest update weighs in at 20.39 MB and is available from the Samsung Gear app.

Sadly, the company didn’t update the changelog of the latest update and you can find the same bullet points from the one from a week earlier. We can only guess what changes the new update brings, but it’s safe to assume that some bugs needed ironing out and there are no new features this time.


A screenshot from the new update shows an old changelog

The size of the update also points in that direction with the new release costing just over 20MB, while the previous one exceeded 80MB. Still if you notice anything make sure to drop us a line in the comments.

Oculus Rift Offers the Best VR Experience Yet, Reviewers Say

The first reviews of the Oculus Rift surfaced Monday, and reviewers praised the potential of the virtual reality system while pointing out some obvious concerns.

The headset display is well-crafted and durable, but drawbacks include the cost — US$600 — and the fact that it requires a powerful gaming system to run it, according to some reviews.

“Just as with every new technological milestone, it has the potential to change the world. But at this early stage, only a few can afford it,” Devindra Hardawar wrote for Engadget.

The cost will come down and the quality will improve, but one overarching issue may remain for the foreseeable future: the fact that VR requires bulky hardware.

“When you first put on a Rift, you are all too aware of the headset. It’s somewhat comfortable, but the way it envelopes your head can make it feel like a helmet,”Peter Brown noted.

Gameplay on the Oculus Rift

The games are simple, yet far from being just proof of concept, Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar said. While unimpressed by the early development builds of the system and its games, he said he found himself being sucked in by the first wave of titles for the finished hardware.

Not every VR game is going to be an instant hit, Gamespot’s Brown said, noting that EVE: Valkyrie is littered with microtransactions that detract from its initial appeal, while Lucky’s Tale unnecessarily pads out levels.

“These issues can’t take away from the fact that Rift delivers on its promise to enable more immersive and personal gaming experiences than we’ve ever seen before, Brown noted.

Outstanding Issues

The Oculus Rift shipped with its headset and a single Xbox controller, while a motion-supported controller is still in the works.

An upgrade may be in order for a fully immersive experience, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“It plays best with two external cameras and two VR controllers. It ships with one external camera and an Xbox controller, which cripples the experience,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This will get fixed later in the year with a more expensive version.”

The greater issue is that the Oculus Rift is a young system, so its developers have little in the way of data on what folks will do with it and how best to use it, suggested Enderle.

Cutting the Cord

Another common complaint is that gamers are very much tethered to the computer, limiting the VR experience.

“Once this connects with gaming stations designed for it and with 2D treadmills, this will likely change,” added Enderle.

“Folks are also recognizing that the idea of being able to actually integrate the room, like with Microsoft’s HoloLens, might be a really good idea now,” Enderle noted.

“You have to realize that the ecosystem hasn’t yet come up around this product, so it is best for those that like being on the cutting edge and are willing to do a little experimentation and troubleshooting,” he added.

Zuckerberg’s Big Bet

Oculus Rift started out with a Kickstarter campaign, but it took investment by Facebook to make it a reality. That gives the system an advantage, according to Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

“Rift is out in front of the pack; it’s the one to beat,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Remember, Oculus is one of Mark Zuckerberg’s big bets, and he paid $2 billion for a company with no revenue,” Kay said.

VR vs. Augmented Reality

“To understand the development of the virtual reality market, it’s helpful to consider the augmented reality market,” he added. “Virtual reality is entirely immersive, but the market will develop more slowly.”

That means that there could be a big hurdle to immediate adoption.

“Leading-edge segments, like gamers, are ready to accept this level of involvement/commitment, and there will be others over time,” Kay said.

Future applications could include real estate sales or, as Volvo and Microsoft hope, auto room sales; it also could lead to personal videoconferencing and, of course, entertainment.

“Augmented reality, by contrast, has an immediate and easy-to-adopt benefit: overlay on your physical world,” Kay suggested.

“Anyone can use that, so augmented reality [could] be more widespread than virtual reality in the initial market development,” he noted. However, “Oculus has set the VR market pace with the now-available Rift.”