After the holidays and just before the start of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of my favorite times of the year. Companies are prepping announcements, and in turn leaks (intentional or not) happen.
The latest leak comes from a familiar source. Early Tuesday morning @evleaks posted a photo of what appears to be a fitness tracker made by LG. The name is apparently the LG Lifeband Touch.
Without knowing more about the device, it’s hard to say for sure what exactly it will or won’t do. However, I think it’s safe to assume it’s LG’s entry into the activity tracker market, taking on the likes of Fitbit, Nike and Jawbone.
Luckily, CES is just around the corner and we can either expect additional leaks to shed light on what exactly this thing is and how it works, or an old-fashioned announcement from LG itself confirming and detailing the device.
Yesterday, it was reported that the National Security Agency was able to capture live data from compromised iPhones including live camera, GPS, cell tower location and more.
Apple has now issued a statement denying that it ever cooperated with the NSA, according to AllThingsD.
Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.
According to yesterday’s report, the NSA could install special software onto iPhones as part of a program called DROPOUTJEEP, that provides significant access to user data and other relevant information. The leaked documents describing the program were from 2008, so it is unknown how effective the NSA’s current iPhone efforts are.
The new premium line of smartphone may show up at same time as the flagship device
Samsung may introduce the rumored Galaxy F smartphone at the same time as the Galaxy S5, says Korea’s ETNews. Reportedly, the new line will be a premium series of Android handset that features metal or aluminum materials.
A Galaxy F has been tossed around the rumor mill a time or two in the past however we’ve not heard of a launch date. Samsung allegedly has multiple smartphones and devices salted for the first half of the year; it’s not much of a stretch to consider that both could debut in spring. While CES could make for the prime arena to introduce new stuff, we might look for an Unpacked event around Mobile World Congress.
Take it for what you will but Digitimes reports that none of Samsung’s typical manufacturing partners have started building a metal smartphone case yet.
External Compliance Monitor: Apple is Blocking Interviews, Disrupting E-Book Antitrust Investigation
Michael Bromwich, the external compliance monitor assigned to Apple as a result of its e-book antitrust case, has filed papers in a U.S. District Court accusing the company of being uncooperative and obstructive in his investigation, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The lawyer stated that Apple characterized his team’s activities as a “roving investigation“ with no worthwhile purpose, even going on to say that individuals within the company purposely blocked him from interviewing top-level officials and senior executives.
On Monday, Mr. Bromwich said he routinely met with top management at the three organizations he previously monitored and had “never before had a request for a meeting or interview in a monitoring assignment rejected or even deferred.”
“This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted,” Mr. Bromwich said.
According to the emails filed by Mr. Bromwich, his relationship with Apple was rocky from the start. After Mr. Bromwich sent Kyle Andeer, Apple’s director of competition law, an email detailing his rates and the contours of his oversight, the wide gaps between the two party’s expectations came into focus.
The news follows a formal complaint filed by Apple last month over Bromwich’s handling of the case, stating that the lawyer charged exorbitant fees that the company was unhappy with. Following two weeks of work, Bromwich sent Apple an invoice of $138,432, which the company described as “unprecedented in its experience.” Apple also spoke out against Bromwich’s requests for interviews with high level officials, stating that the lawyer was overstepping his bounds.
In July, Apple was found guilty of of conspiring with five publishers to raise the retail price of e-books, following a lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice. As a result of its punishment, Apple was ordered to hire an external compliance monitor to ensure that the company complies with all antitrust requirements in the future.
Apple also continues to deny that it engaged in price fixing and filed a notice in October to appeal the case, with the company likely to submit its formal arguments in early 2014.
iFixit has performed another one of its traditional high-quality teardowns on the new 2013 Mac Pro, revealing a host of very powerful components and a design that allows the computer to be surprisingly accessible and repairable.
The new Mac Pro includes a rear lock switch that allows the device’s cylindrical casing to be removed with ease, allowing the user to easily access and replace components such as memory modules, SSD drives, and more. A teardown performed by Other World Computing (OWC) earlier this week also revealed that the Mac Pro includes a removable CPU, which may be useful to users who want to upgrade their machines in the future. Non-proprietary Torx screws are also found throughout some parts of the machine as well, which makes for easier repair.
Another internal to note in the Mac Pro is its power supply, which appears to be located in between the I/O panel and the logic board. The power supply itself appears to be rated at 450 Watts, and relies solely on Apple’s highly touted single fan cooling system in the Mac Pro to keep a low temperature. This, in unison with the triangular heat sink that cools the graphics card and GPU, allows the Mac Pro to idle at a quiet 12 dBA.
Furthermore, the logic board, dual graphics cards, and I/O port board found on the machine appear to connect to a single daughterboard, or interconnect board, found at the base of the machine. However, unlike the other parts of the computer, the daughterboard appears to use a tight cable routing system and various new proprietary connectors.
As is tradition for iFixit’s teardowns, the company has assigned a repairability score to the 2013 Mac Pro based on the accessibility of the various components. While iFixit disliked the inability to add additional internal storage and the tight cable routing system in some places, the new Mac Pro’s repairability scored a high 8 out of 10, with the firm crediting the computer for having non-proprietary Torx screws, an easily accessible case, and a user replaceable CPU.
Google is expanding its pool of Explorers, slowly but surely. First it was people attending I/O, then friends of existing Explorers, now its subscribers to Play Music All Access. To celebrate the release of Play Music on Glass (albeit a little belatedly), the tech giant is offering subscribers to its streaming service a chance to buy the fledgling wearable. Emails apparently started going out this morning (though, no Engadget editors have received theirs yet) inviting those eligible to request a place in the Explorer program. Of course, entry to the exclusive club still costs $1,500. Though, we’re sure you’ll been looking for something frivolous to spend your tax return on in a couple of months.
Source: Android Central
In general, we try to review just the top-tier gadgets, but even then, some of it ends up being forgettable. (Can you name-check everything we tested from memory? We can’t.) So, as the year draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at the last 12 months of reviews, and this time, we’re including only the products you’d have no trouble remembering. Across every category, we’ve noted the flagships everyone coveted — along with the duds that could’ve been so much better. Oh, and you might notice that we included some numbered scores throughout. That’s right; Engadget is bringing back numerical ratings, and they’ll follow the same format as the critic score gdgt has already been using for years. Which is to say, each rating takes into account various criteria for a given product category — things like battery life and portability. Wanna see how your favorite gadgets did? Meet us after the break for a walk down memory lane.
Engadget Score: 93
The “all-new” Paperwhite doesn’t really offer anything all that different from last year’s edition, but an improved frontlight and some software tweaks have made an already great reading experience even better. Unless Goodreads is a must-have app for you, it’s a tempting, but largely unnecessary upgrade if you already own last year’s version.
Engadget Score: 83
The Aura HD is packed with features specifically aimed at the power reader, including best-in-class specs like a 6.8-inch display with blisteringly sharp text and a robust 4GB of internal storage space. Unfortunately, its niche status is further cemented by a high price and a hard-to-hold form factor that escapes easily from those with sweaty hands.
Engadget Score: 73
Barnes & Noble giveth and taketh away with the Nook GlowLight. Sure, it’s the best Nook so far, with a better display, improved frontlight and a lighter form factor. But, all those improvements come at the cost of features like the microSD slot, physical page turn buttons and the contoured back, which all served to distinguish the line from its competition.
Engadget Score: 83
It doesn’t look like a PC, but underneath the PlayStation 4′s sleek black exterior is a powerhouse that rivals gaming PCs, with a user-friendly interface, a great controller and the ability to share your gameplay at the touch of a button. The next generation of consoles might just be getting started, but it’s one hell of a start with the PS4 at the head of the pack.
Engadget Score: 81
The Xbox One may not be the prettiest belle at the next-generation ball, but with the wonders of Kinect voice control, robust media features and the ease of switching between games and apps at the drop of a hat, it certainly is vying to be the center of attention. It just needs a few more exclusives to get consumers to look past that $500 price tag.
Engadget Score: 66
The initial backer editions of the OUYA shipped with a flawed controller and access to a limited games selection. But even after the retail release, the OUYA’s still a system best left to hackers and developers, as it’s likely to leave most gamers disappointed by its average smartphone-level internals and rehashed games library.
Engadget Score: 83
The NVIDIA Shield wants to be the Swiss Army knife of hand-held game consoles, and it largely succeeds as a product — but not as a handheld. Its size and weight mean you won’t be carrying it around much, but the larger screen, great battery life and the ability to stream PC games to the Shield mean you’ll still get a lot of use out of it.
Engadget Score: 84
The Chromecast might not be as fully featured as competitors like Roku or Apple TV, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. This palm-sized dongle is easy to set up and turns any modern set into a smart TV, all for the low, low price of $35. Its app selection is still experiencing some growing pains, but even now, you’re still getting more than your money’s worth.
Engadget Score: 89
The newest Roku doesn’t have analog AV support like its predecessors, but it does offer incredible ease of use and a wide selection of channels, all for a nice price of $99. Even users of older Roku boxes should look into the Roku 3, whose upgraded CPU and improved UI help future-proof against new, more demanding apps.
Laptops and Hybrids
Engadget Score: 77
The Surface Pro 2 retains its predecessor’s durable body, but it’s equipped with a Haswell processor, boasts faster performance and has longer battery life. Microsoft has yet to find the perfect balance for a hybrid device, though — its weight and thickness make it a better notebook than a tablet, so you may want to look elsewhere for an everyday slate.
Engadget Score: 90
With a starting price that’s $400 less than the 2012 model, the new MacBook Pro with Retina display is a much better deal. In addition to its speedier SSD and better graphics, its epic battery life and thinner, lighter body might make you reconsider if you’ve been in the market for the slightly wispier MacBook Air.
Engadget Score: 79
Google infused the Chromebook Pixel with sophisticated looks and high-end specs, including a 2,560 x 1,700 touchscreen display and LTE connectivity. Even so, its $1,299 price tag might not be worth it unless you’re always connected to the web — hard to do with its poor battery life — and plan on storing huge files in the cloud.
Engadget Score: 88
The Moto X doesn’t have the specs to compete with heavyweights like the Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One, especially at the same price. But, with user-friendly enhancements to the UI and the magic of customization with Moto Maker — now available for all major carriers — this truly is a phone for the people.
Engadget Score: 92
Apple continues to improve on the iPhone line with the 5s, and while the phone maintains the same body as its predecessor, it packs in enough upgrades to appeal to hardcore and casual users of iOS alike. However, even with future-proofing measures like 64-bit support and the M7 coprocessor on board, only the most forward-looking Android power users will find incentive to switch.
Engadget Score: 92
The HTC One is a top-shelf smartphone, boasting a unibody aluminum shell, a gorgeous display and a fast Snapdragon 600 processor that runs buttery smooth. The Sense 5 UI didn’t thrill us, but a solid battery and excellent call quality, among other things, made this one of the best phones to buy this year.
Engadget Score: 88
With a familiar chassis and some impractical features, Samsung’s newest flagship isn’t exactly turning heads. Market-topping specs and minimal learning curve make this worth considering if you’re due for an upgrade from an older Samsung device, but anyone looking for something fresh would be better served by the more polished HTC One.
Engadget Score: 87
With its bright 5.2-inch screen and phenomenal battery life, the G2 is a great phone for taking photos, watching videos or just general everyday, all-day usage. That is, if you can get used to its other standout feature — all three of its buttons are on the back, better to make room for the gorgeous screen, but not so friendly to those who like to hold their handset in a death grip.
Engadget Score: 86
Not only is the Nexus 5 gifted with a great 1080p display and a fast quad-core processor, but it also heralds the release of a leaner and meaner iteration of Android, 4.4 KitKat. Take all that and offer it to consumers at an outstanding off-contract price of $349, and the Nexus 5 not only succeeds, but also puts rival handsets on notice to deliver more bang for your buck.
Engadget Score: 87
Those with small hands still need not apply, but for the third iteration of the Galaxy Note, Samsung has packed in a robust processor, a solid battery and even more useful S Pen features. The display has also gotten bigger and better, though those who want to watch videos on this thing shouldn’t depend on the built-in speakers.
Engadget Score: 62
The Z30 was supposed to be the phone that would make BlackBerry relevant again. And while the comfortable hold and large screen will more than please the BlackBerry faithful, an average battery, poor call quality and crash-prone software mean few, if any, will be making the switch from Android or iOS anytime soon.
Engadget Score: 83
The G Flex’s top-to-bottom curve means it’s very comfortable next to your head, but not so much in your pocket. That curve comes with a chassis designed to be pretty durable, with a flexible body and screen, and a self-healing back that resists scratches. Does it work? Somewhat. Is it worth the $900 price tag? Not really.
Engadget Score: 90
The price may be (slightly) higher on our returning favorite tablet, but the Nexus 7 is still an obscene value. That this year’s model got a noticeable boost everywhere it counts and sells for significantly less than a comparable iPad mini is nothing short of impressive — even though Apple’s tablets still have more apps designed for bigger screens.
Engadget Score: 85
The Kindle Fire HDX may be the most compelling case yet for Amazon’s tablet ecosystem. Advanced users might scoff at the device’s somewhat limited capabilities, but the display’s gorgeous color accuracy could make Bezos’ Prime directive an easy sell for just about everyone else.
Engadget Score: 92
The iPad mini is an inexpensive way to join Apple’s tablet family, but it remains more costly than its similarly sized competition. Besides the striking Retina display, what makes the minuscule iPad so attractive this year is it’s essentially a shrunken-down version of its powerful bigger sibling. Very few sacrifices were made to accommodate the smaller stature — something the competition can’t quite claim.
Engadget Score: 92
Tablets went mainstream thanks to the original iPad, but thanks to economies of scale and Moore’s Law, the competition’s become rather fierce — maybe unexpectedly, from Cupertino itself. The iPad Air is the best Apple tablet we’ve reviewed, but it could be hard to justify when the iPad mini now offers nearly the same experience — Retina display, similar styling, A7 64-bit processor — for less.
Engadget Score: 78
If the Surface 2 existed in a world where only hardware mattered, its brawny battery and rock-solid construction might put it at the head of the tablet pack. In reality, though, Microsoft’s slate is hamstrung by the shortcomings of its OS, Windows RT, and its inability to run traditional desktop apps.
Engadget Score: 65
We’re not entirely sure what Samsung’s game is with the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. It hasn’t changed much in terms of specs from the GTab 2, packs a subpar display and severely lacks in features and power compared to the company’s line of Galaxy smartphones. Most damning? The $300 asking price.
Engadget Score: 65
It’s hard to justify paying $300 for the Galaxy Gear when it feels like an incomplete product and is only compatible with a handful of Samsung devices. Still, it stands out as one of the most feature-rich smartwatches we’ve tried, and as the company issues software patches and the app catalog grows, it could become better in time.
Engadget Score: Not Yet Scored
We’ve yet to see a consumer-facing Google Glass, but suffice to say the current version’s more of a research project — definitely not worth its $1,500 price tag for most folks. Mountain View still has to polish its features, address privacy concerns and entice developers before it hits the market. Until then, current Explorers will just have to deal with lots of confused stares when they wear it outside.
Engadget Score: 71
Unlike the Galaxy Gear, you can tell time on Sony’s SmartWatch 2 without having to interact with the screen, and it even costs $100 less. Unfortunately, few will be able to stand its buggy software and limited app selection. But, hey, at least it’s compatible with most handsets running Android 4.0 or higher.
Engadget Score: 80
Pebble doesn’t have as many features as other smartwatches: It can only read texts, skip music tracks and tell time. Unlike its competitors, though, it costs a more reasonable $150 and offers both great battery life and an e-ink display that’s easy to read in daylight. As an added bonus, it also works with both Android and iOS devices.
Mariella Moon, Timothy J. Seppala, Kris Naudus and Dana Wollman contributed to this feature.
The new Mac Pro’s highly customized design may look like it’s a pain to fix, but don’t be fooled — it’s friendlier than you think. An iFixit teardown of the workstation has revealed that it’s easy to take apart, and that several components can be replaced without going through Apple. It’s also more upgradeable than you’d expect. iFixit has confirmed OWC’s discovery that the Xeon processor is replaceable, saving buyers over $1,000 if they splurge on a 12-core chip. Other findings? The PCI Express-based SSD looks very familiar, and the entire system is very power efficient; despite the high-end CPU and dual graphics cards, the Mac Pro only needs a 450W power supply. No one will mistake Apple’s machine for an easily expandable gaming rig, but it’s clearly built with serviceability in mind.
How on earth are you supposed to fill your days after leaving the successful set-top box company you created? Well, if you’re TiVo co-founders Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton, the answer is to start all over again. You see, after Barton resigned from TiVo in early 2012, he and long-gone chum Ramsay set up InVisioneer, which has the pair “gearing up to do it again.” Domain registrations, online polls and a barebones Twitter account serving up YouTube links are among the footprints Zatz Not Funny has been following to see what the new company is up to. Job listings say the outfit’s crafting “a product that sits at the nexus of exciting trends in video, mobile, and social.” It seems to have already passed through the FCC in the form of Qplay, a small TV adapter with HDMI-out and an iPad app for controlling it (according to the user manual).
Most recently, a little more info popped up on InVisioneer’s site, but has subsequently been taken down. This included word that Qplay will provide “new ways to discover, play and share video content,” as well as imagery of an iPad app with YouTube and Vine among the tabs. With so many ways to get content from the web to your TV already, we’d hope for Ramsay and Barton’s sake that Qplay has an innovative hook. They probably don’t need reminding, though — they’re partly responsible for how saturated the market is in the first place.
[Image credit: Zatz Not Funny]
We love it when a leak and a rumor come together. LG’s Lifeband Touch (as claimed by @evleaks), pictured above, is most likely the wearable that was hinted at just last week. The fitness band is likely an evolution of that which we saw back at CES, and at a guess, we might see again in the next week or so (unless we’re made to wait until MWC). The name — and image — suggest a touchscreen component making this a swipe-friendly FuelBand competitor. Whether it’ll be an LG G2 companion (as rumored) or a standalone device is yet to be known (we’re hoping maybe a bit of both). Unless LG has had a change of heart, it’s also likely to include an altimeter, some mobile notification features and play nice with the firm’s Smart TV fitness/dance apps. What certainly is clear, however, is that there’s going to be even more competition for your wrist in 2014.