One of the most viral initiatives all over the world right now is the Ice Bucket Challenge which started as an awareness campaign for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. While the campaign has done wonders for awareness and a lot of good has come out of it, it’s almost at the saturation point where some are using the core concept to their own advantage. Exhibit A: Samsung. Samsung Mobile UK posted up a video yesterday of the Galaxy S5 taking the Ice Bucket Challenge:
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While there’s probably nothing malicious in the video, it’s pretty clear that the primary focus of the video is not awareness of Motor Neurone Disease but rather the waterproof properties of the Galaxy S5, something that is missing from the “iPhone 5S, HTC One M8 and Nokia 930″. While it is a clever bit of marketing, it seems almost too opportunistic to piggy-back of a charitable awareness campaign, especially when they haven’t mentioned any monetary contribution to the cause.
What do you think about the Galaxy S5 taking the Ice Bucket Challenge? Do you think Samsung’s missed the point? Let us know your thoughts.
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We’ve heard precious little about the Samsung Gear VR in recent weeks, but with IFA 2014 bearing down on us and a rumoured release of Samsung‘s virtual reality hardware at the event possible, it was only a matter of time before it was spotted somewhere. These leaked photos appear to come from the production floor of where the Gear VR is being made and they looking, for lack of a better description, shiny. It’s a bit hard to picture exactly where this piece of the puzzle fits into what we know of the VR headset, but it definitely looks like production is underway.
The headset is being developed in tandem with Oculus VR, the VR experts behind the Oculus Rift, however while the Oculus Rift is self powered (and allegedly uses a Galaxy Note 3 screen inside its headset), the Gear VR will instead use the route of the Google Cardboard and use a device as its interface. It’s this dependence on an interface device that is fueling the rumours that the Gear VR will be making its first official appearance at IFA 2014 next to the Note 4, but we’ll only have to wait a few weeks to find out if that is true.
Is the Samsung Gear VR something you’re looking forward to seeing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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It’s not often that we get to see intimate details about the manufacturing processes involved in making smartphones, but Samsung seems perfectly happy to reveal how the metal Galaxy Alpha is manufactured during the development phase. As Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha serves as somewhat of a change in design language for the Galaxy line, ditching plastic for metal, something which Samsung appears to be quite proud of. As Samsung describes, the process involves plenty of CNC (computerized numerical control) work to machine the frame of the device down to the shape we now recognize.
Next comes an anodizing process which colours the frame to the desired colour, be it blue, gold, black, silver or white. Following this, the frame is diamond cut and then has the display melded to it to create seamless integration. Samsung also talks about the quality tests they put then Galaxy Alpha through, including drop tests, bend tests and twist tests which challenges the device’s physical strength which Samsung says is necessary to “produce high-quality devices that meet the needs of consumers worldwide”. Can’t complain with vision like that, right?
Source: Samsung Tomorrow
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If you’ve owned a handful of portable gadgets in recent years, you’ve probably managed to build up a healthy supply of micro-USB cables. Spending 40 bucks to acquire another might sound absurd — unless this is the cable you’re looking to buy. While a bit pricey, this Multi-Charging Wall Charger from Samsung packs three connectors at the tail end, letting you power multiple devices from a single USB port. There’s a 2-amp charger included in the box, which outputs two amps of power when charging one device, one amp per device when you have two attached or 667mA each when you’re using all three ports. Samsung hasn’t announced a ship date yet, but you can pre-order the cable today.
Today, we take the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook for a spin, round up a few of our favorite phones, learn about transparent solar panels, and more! Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
The Nook tablets were seriously under appreciated. And while Samsung certainly makes some nice devices, there’s something a little sad about seeing the Nook name slapped on a rather generic looking slate from the Korean manufacturer. But it was inevitable, I suppose. After years of hemorrhaging cash as the market for physical books dried up, Barnes & Noble had to find ways to save money, and outsourcing the manufacturing of its slow selling slates to a third party made perfect sense. The first device to result from this new approach is the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. And, while it might sound a little glib, it’s basically just the Galaxy Tab you already know with few software extras baked in. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Samsung has gotten very good at making affordable, powerful devices with high-end features — even if the build quality doesn’t always live up to its premium aspirations. The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is no different. Inside is a 1.2GHz quad-core processor that makes easy work of web browsing or reading — the primary function of any Nook device. The screen is bright and beautiful with great viewing angles. And while I could potentially complain about the pixel density (or lack there of), it’s hard to come down that hard on a $179 tablet. Samsung even stuck with the same faux-leather back found on the rest of the Galaxy Tab series. Seriously, the company hasn’t changed a thing about its hardware.
That leaves the Nook to distinguish itself on the software front. At fist glance it actually seems to fail in that regard. The basic Android experience is the same you’ll have on any other Samsung device. The homescreens, icons and features are all practically identical. Multi-window mode even survived the transition should you feel like multitasking on your e-reader-tablet hybrid. But then you start noticing the details. The default homescreen has dedicated widgets for your library and the Nook Shop. In the bottom left-hand corner is a shortcut to the last thing you were reading. And of course, everything pushes you towards Barnes & Noble for your content purchases, rather than the Play Store or Samsung Hub.
Of course the actual reading experience is the biggest feature here. And I won’t pretend that you can’t get an excellent reading app on your standard-issue Galaxy Tab or a Nexus 7, but the Nook software is quite impressive. All the features you’ve come to know and love (if you were lucky enough to use a previous incarnation of the Nook Tablet at least) are present. Including Article View for magazines, which strips away all the distractions and lets you focus entirely on the text. The other major element is content discovery. Without a way to push you towards new books, movies or magazines Barnes & Noble would have no way of making money (especially since it’s hard to believe the company is making any profit on the hardware). Nook Today delivers personalized recommendations attached to your profile. Obviously, in my brief time with the device I couldn’t really get an impression of how good those suggestions are. But the company has never offended us in the past. Oh, and you can have several people set up profiles on a single device, so you won’t have to worry if your significant other decides to download Ann Coulter’s latest book when clearly your preference is for Al Franken.
Nook’s software isn’t just laid on top, though; it’s baked right in. And while there are still a few rough edges, it appears nicely integrated with the Samsung experience. Plus, if you grow bored with Barnes & Noble’s offerings you still have full access to the Play Store.
The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is available now for $179 and it comes preloaded with tons of free books, TV shows and magazines. We just walked away with a test unit, too, so stay tuned for a full review in the coming days.
Dana Wollman contributed to this report.
If you’re in the market for a new handset to accompany you on campus this fall, your timing’s just right. You couldn’t ask for a better selection of choices, and plenty of the phones in the gallery below are downright budget-friendly. That said, if you can hold off for a bit, you might want to see what Apple and Samsung have in store — both companies are expected to announce new smartphones within the next month. Note that we’ve listed devices based on their unlocked and contract-free prices, though you’ll pay less up front if you sign up with a carrier. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our Back To School guide for more product picks.
Barnes & Noble has officially kicked off a new era — one in which it doesn’t manufacture its own tablets. The struggling book outlet announced last summer that it would work with other manufacturers going forward and Samsung is first in line. The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is the fruit of this partnership. It’s a tablet built for reading first, as opposed to gaming or web browsing. While the device is undeniably Samsung, the software still retains some of that Barnes & Noble flair. Anyone who’s used the previous Nook tablets will immediately recognize some of the features baked in here. The default homescreen has a widget showing recommended and recently read titles. Naturally, too, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store is the primary content source, rather than the Play Store or Samsung Hub. But it’s obvious that Sammy is in the driver’s seat. Key features like multi-window mode are even included for some multi-tasking (say, if you want to tweet a quote from your favorite novel). B&N is pitching it as “the first full-featured Android tablet designed for reading.” Then again, the company has said the same about every other Nook tablet.
To be clear, it’s the same hardware as the existing Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, which is to say it’s exceptionally small, even for a 7-inch tablet. In fact it doesn’t appear to be that much larger than your average e-reader. To give you some perspective, an executive stashed the device inside his suit pocket during an onstage demo — something this editor would never dream of trying with a Nexus 7. All told, it’s only 0.35-inch thick, so it’s quite the svelte little device.
Obviously, though, content is king here. The company is including what it claims is $200 in free content with the latest Nook. You’ll get copies of Freakonomics, The Wanderer, and I Am Number Four, along with trial subscriptions of Sports Illustrated and Cosmo among others. Oh, and free episodes of shows like Orphan Black and Veep. We’ll be testing one out in the coming days but in the meantime, stay tuned for our hands-on post.
Dana Wollman contributed to this report.
Both Netflix and Amazon stream in 4K. Cameras like the Sony a7S and the Panasonic Lumix GH4 can shoot in 4K. Even smartphones have been getting in on the act, with handsets like the LG G Pro 2 and Sony Xperia Z2 capable of recording 4K video. So with the amount of 4K content available increasing every day, you may have been thinking about buying a 4K set so you too can bask in the glow of 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. But 4K sets don’t come cheap, and you’re going to want to do a bit of research before dropping that much cash. While we don’t really review televisions here at Engadget, we’ve done the next best thing, compiling the opinions of trusted critics from across the web. Which set offers you the most bang for your buck? Do bells and whistles like a curved screen make a difference? Check out a few members of the 4K Class of 2014 below.
Price: $2,300 and up
Walk into a room and the first thing you’ll notice about the Samsung U9000 is its curved screen, which CNET says adds a “unique, futuristic look” to a set that is overall “drop-dead gorgeous.” It says the picture is equally stunning, offering “deep black levels, accurate color and great bright-room viewing qualities.” But what about that curve? Though it’s meant to create a feeling of depth and immersion, CNET found it “didn’t have any major effect on the picture aside from reducing reflections somewhat,” and Reviewed.com found it actually made some reflections worse, such that “lamps and lights are occasionally stretched across the entire arc of the screen.” It’s worth noting that the U9000 also includes an improved Smart Hub experience, but you can also find other Samsung sets that are a lot cheaper (and less curvy).
Price: $3,297 and up
The Samsung U8550 is a set that eschews the curved screen of its high-end sibling U9000 in favor of “trim bezels and a very narrow panel” that Reviewed.com says “lend this television a modern air.” The picture also does it credit, with LCD TV Buying Guide complimenting its “brilliant images in 4K,” while Sound+Vision was impressed with the “crisp detail and the clean, smooth clarity” of its upconversions. As on the U9000, the Smart Hub has been upgraded with “subtle improvements” that “hit the mark” according to LCD TV Buying Guide, and Reviewed.com says it provides “all of the streaming content and web-browsing functions you’d expect for the price.” And that’s a price that undercuts the competition by $1,000, leaving you some extra cash for an awesome sound or gaming system on the side.
Price: $1,597 and up
Price: $2,998 and up
No gadget — besides a smartphone, maybe — is as crucial to a college student as the laptop. Regardless of your major, you’ll want a solid machine with a well-crafted keyboard to see you through term papers, class presentations and more. From a sub-$400 Chromebook to sleek models from Lenovo and Samsung, our roundup has something for everyone. Click through the gallery below to see all 11 picks, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our guide for other gadget recommendations.