For the past month, ASUS has been heavily teasing its newest line of flagship devices, promising their debut at CES 2015. Just a few minutes ago, they did just that, and introduced the world to the ASUS Zenfone 2.
Of all the newest specs this smartphone has to offer, the biggest attention-grabber is that this is the first mobile device to feature 4GB of RAM. That’s right, we’ve finally crossed that threshold and will be putting those 64-bit CPUs to good use. The RAM will be dual-channel, giving the smartphone a 2x increase in performance.
Shih meticulously dived into all of the newest features and specifications of the Zenfone 2. As mentioned above, this smartphone will come with 4GB of RAM, which will be managed by a 64-bit, 2.3 GHz Super Quad Core Intel Atom Z3580. This processor, Shih claims, delivers 2x-3x better performance than the Cortex 853. As far as the display, it is a standard 1080p Full HD IPS at 5.5 inches.
In terms of battery power, the Zenfone will be packing a 3000mAh battery. The best news related to this is that ASUS claims it will charge from 0% to 60% in a mere 39 minutes.
Another main focus of Shih’s was the camera technology of the Zenfone 2. This makes sense as the new camera technology had been the main focus of many of the device teases leading up to CES 2015. The Zenfone 2 will be sporting a 13MP shooter on the back with a dual-tone LED flash and a 5MP camera for the front side. These two cameras will also be featuring ASUS’ PixelMaster tech.
The PixelMaster technology is showcasing some very decent abilities. One of its best attributes is its low light mode, which will allow for a 400% increase in brightness while in low light settings. Additionally, Shih claimed that PixelMaster will be delivering the world’s best backlight photos with its HDR mode.
On the software side, photos will go through a real-time Beautification enhancement. Accompanying that is ASUS’ Creative Studio, which will allow you to alter your photos before you send them off to your social media of choice.
Another important topic covered on the software side was ASUS’ ZenUI. Perhaps taking a note from CyanogenMod’s playbook, the newest ZenUI will bring a lot of personalization, including the ability to customize your phone with themes and icons. This interface will be, of course, sitting atop Android 5.0 Lollipop.
On the matter of aesthetics, ASUS is really offering a brilliant selection of colors, as well as some color themes it calls Transfusion series and Illusion Series. Variety is the spice of life and these definitely look great.
Finally, what is all of this going to cost you? How about a low price of $199 USD! Though, this may not be for the model that has 4GB of RAM, so the devil will be in the details on this one.
Come comment on this article: Jonney Shih unveils ASUS’ newest flagship, the Zenfone 2
It’s impossible to convey in a photo how light Lenovo’s new ultraportable, the LaVie HZ550, is. So instead I’ll say this: When I first picked it up, I was sure I was handling a prototype; some sort of dummy unit without any actual components inside. In fact, though, the HZ550 is very real, and at 1.72 pounds, it’s stupidly, record-breakingly compact; in fact, Lenovo claims this is the world’s lightest 13-inch laptop. What’s more, the company just announced what it says is the lightest 13-inch convertible notebook: a machine called the HZ750, which has a 360-degree hinge that allows it to fold back into tablet mode. At 2.04 pounds, it’s lighter than any laptop with a touchscreen and rotating hinge has the right to be. Either way, even in a field of increasingly skinny notebooks, both of these stand out.
But let’s back up for a minute. If the name “LaVie” rings a bell, it’s because it was originally the brainchild of Japanese computer maker NEC, which is already known in its home country for making some pin-thin noteoboks. For four years, the two companies have been building laptops together as part of a joint venture, a deal that has allowed Lenovo to take a bite out of the Japanese PC market, the fourth largest in the world. What we’re seeing now, though, are the first machines NEC and Lenovo are planning to sell outside the land of the rising sun. So while laptops this thin might already be commonplace in Japan, they’re likely to be received in the United States as something of an oddity.
And odd they are. Not just because they’re thin and light, mind you, but because they’re actually quite powerful. Under the hood, you’ll find surprisingly muscular parts — none of this low-powered Core M business, but full-fledged fifth-generation Intel Core processors. Battery life, meanwhile, is rated for somewhere between seven and eight hours of video playback, which, if true, would put it on par with some significantly thicker and heavier laptops. An impressive thing, that — especially since both machines will be offered with 2,560 x 1,440 screens. It isn’t easy achieving long battery life when you have to light up quite that many pixels.
The two LaVies also surprisingly sturdy, considering how insubstantial they feel in the hand. That’s largely thanks to a magnesium-lithium alloy, which makes the machine light, but nigh on impossible to bend in your hand. In addition, Lenovo had to get creative with the display. According to the company, the HZ750’s touchscreen is directly bonded, and uses film instead of cover glass. Additionally, Lenovo used one of Sharp’s IGZO displays, which at least partially explains those big battery life claims — after all, Sharp panels are known for being energy-efficient.
On paper, then, at least, the LaVies seem like the ultimate no-compromise machines: super thin, super light and still very powerful, with long battery life, to boot. If there are any tradeoffs we can glean just by looking at the spec sheet, it’s that the HZ550 — the 1.72-pound machine — doesn’t have a touchscreen. Meanwhile, the HZ750, the one with the 360-degree hinge, can’t pull off quite as many poses as the Yoga line. In this case, you can use it as a notebook (natch), or fold it back into tablet mode, but you’d be putting it into Stand or Tablet mode at your own risk. The reason: The HZ750 is missing the sort of rubber bumpers you’d typically find on a Yoga. Because rubber bumpers make a machine thicker than it needs to be, don’tcha know. Interested? These arrive in May, and yes, they’re priced like the no-compromise machines they are: $1,299 for the HZ550, and $1,499 for the HZ750.
Just over a month after sparking discussion of a possible new 4-inch iPhone in 2015 based on supply chain sources speaking to Taiwanese media, Chinese site Feng.com now claims [Google Translate, via G for Games] its own sources are seeing no indication of such a device.
Feng.com‘s sources claim the Cupertino company has not placed any orders with its supply chain related to a new 4-inch version of the iPhone for release in 2015. While the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have sold well in the few months they’ve been released to the public, some users continue to prefer the smaller 4-inch display seen on models of the past few years.
Wei Feng network today through Apple’s supply chain has learned about the 4-inch screen iPhone 6s argument is just a hype.
Supply chain sources said that Apple has not made any new production tasks iPhone 4 inches to parts of the supply chain, and therefore will be launched on 4-inch screen Apple iPhone 6s argument is not true – at least so far.
Since the original report by Taiwanese media last month, rumors of a new 4-inch iPhone have been picked up by a few other sources including analysts in the region, but it is unclear how independent those follow-up reports truly are. As such, there is so far very little to support the existence of such a device.
Apple of course continues to sell 4-inch iPhones in the form of the iPhone 5s and 5c, and if the company holds true to form the iPhone 5s will continue to be sold as an entry-level option even following the expected late 2015 iPhone update. Without direct support for technologies such as NFC for direct Apple Pay usage, however, the device is missing some key features and if Apple does want to continue offering a smaller device beyond the 2015 lineup, it will need to develop an updated model.
At CES 2015, iDevices has announced a HomeKit-enabled connected plug, called Switch. The iDevice Switch lets you schedule and control various products throughout your home with the iDevice app, and plugs right into an electrical outlet. You can manage lamps, stereos, and other appliances while at home or remotely, and the Switch itself connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network. From iDevices:
The iDevices Switch provides users ultimate convenience, comfort and security for their home. Through the free iDevices Connected app, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can effortlessly control, monitor and schedule products around the house. Hundreds of appliances, such as lamps, fans, humidifiers, Christmas lights and stereos can be intelligently managed through the iDevices Switch.
The Switch can be used with HomeKit’s Siri integration to control your appliances. You can even create your own custom voice commands. Through the iDevices Connected app, the Switch allows remote access, custom events and schedules, and more.
Pricing and availability for the Switch have not yet been announced.
So CES is underway and the announcements are coming thick and fast. If you remember back to just before the holidays, Asus released some teaser videos about its new flagship device. It teased us with pictures of a phone with some special optics and tagged the videos with the slogan, “See what others can’t see.” Now Asus has officially released the ZenFone 2, and the surprise ZenFone Zoom, a camera-centric device featuring optical zoom!
Before we look at the ZenFone 2, let’s deal with the whole “see what others can’t see” thing. Actually it is nothing more than the “see what others can’t see” thing from last year’s ZenFone 5, in other words a PixelMaster camera with a Low Light mode.
However, the rest of the phone certainly does seem to live up to the hype.
This mode, which “gives your phone a nightlife,” uses “pixel-merging technology” to capture photos at night or in low light, and are up to 400-percent brighter, without the need for a flash. Probably Asus has improved the tech since the ZenFone 5, but personally I was expecting more.
However, the rest of the phone certainly does seem to live up to the hype. There are several key features to this phone that make it quite interesting. The first is its ergonomically-curved design with ultra-slim edges, which taper down to just 3.9mm. Related to this are the ultra-narrow 3.3mm bezels, which give the ZenFone 2 a 72% screen-to-body ratio. Third is the price. The version with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage costs just $199. That is a great price for a 4G LTE, 64-bit device with a 5.5 inch Full HD display that runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.
There is also a model with 4GB of RAM.
The reason I mentioned the 2GB/16GB model is because there is also a model with 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 32 or 64GB of internal storage. And if 64GB isn’t enough, all the models support micro SD cards.
So here are the full specs:
|Display||5.5-inch IPS display with 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution. Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3.|
|Processor||64-bit Quad Core Intel® Atom™ Z3560/Z3580 processor (running at 1.8 or 2.3GHz).|
|RAM||2GB or 4GB.|
|Storage||16GB/32GB/64GB, microSD card slot, up to 64GB.|
|Camera||Rear: 13MP, f/2.0-aperture, 5-element, auto-focus lens with dual-color Real Tone flash. Front: 5MP, f/2.0-aperture, wide-angle 85-degree lens with Selfie Panorama.|
|Battery||3000mAh lithium-polymer with fast-charge technology.|
|Connectivity||802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS|
|Networks||GSM, 3G, 4G LTE|
|Software||Android 5.0 Lollipop|
|Dimensions||152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9-3.9mm, 170g|
To date the ZenFone range has proven to be a success for Asus. The company sold 1,500,000 units per month during the fourth quarter of 2014. That is 4.5 million units for the quarter or 18 million units per year. Asus wants to build on the success of the other handsets in the ZenFone range with the ZenFone 2, the first ZenFone with a new version of ASUS ZenUI for Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone also includes Trend Micro security software for safe web browsing.
The passion behind the design of ZenFone 2 is our never-ending desire to empower luxury for everyone. We have drawn on our considerable engineering expertise and experience with our popular ZenFone to create a smartphone that embodies this ambition. That device is the incredible new ZenFone 2 — luxury that everyone can enjoy.
Jonney Shih – ASUS Chairman.
The 5.5 inch Full HD IPS display, which has a pixel density of 403-ppi and a viewing angle of 178 degrees, is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 along with an anti-fingerprint coating that Asus says reduces friction by 30-percent. Also, Asus has followed LG’s lead and placed the volume control key on the rear of the phone, “within reach of the user’s index finger.”
As for the battery, the ZenFone 2 has a 3000mAh unit that Asus says is enough to provide “more than a full day of use on a single charge.” Since it is a 3000mAh unit, that sounds highly probable. However what is more interesting is the bundled fast-charge technology which can quickly recharge the ZenFone 2 to 60% battery capacity in only 39 minutes!
See what others can’t see
Although I feel that Asus has over-hyped the PixelMaster camera on the ZenFone 2, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile addition to the device. The ZenFone 2 comes with a 13MP sensor and a wide F/2.0 aperture lens. It is also equipped with a Real Tone flash which is designed “to ensure warm skin tones and accurate color when a flash is needed.”
For those into selfies, the ZenFone 2 comes with a 5MP front-facing camera with a wide, 85-degree field of view.
The included dynamic Backlight (HDR) mode allows the device to capture photos where the foreground subjects stand out clearly and free of shadows. It seems that Asus’ HDR solution is more than just your run-of-the-mill software HDR as the company says that the HDR shots use the same “pixel-enhancing technology,” with the corresponding increase in contrast, as the Low Light mode. For camera buffs, Asus has also included a fully manual mode which allows you to fully control the camera settings, including ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
For those into selfies, the ZenFone 2 comes with a 5MP front-facing camera with a wide, 85-degree field of view. There is also the ZenUI Selfie Panorama mode, which captures panoramic selfies with up to a 140-degree field of view. This can be used when taking group selfies or when you want to include lots of scenic background in the shot.
The ZenFone 2 will come with Android 5.0 Lollipop and a new version of ASUS ZenUI. According to Asus, the new version “offers a simpler and smarter user experience with a stylish new layout that utilizes white space for a cleaner design and places information front and center for a simpler and smarter user experience.”
Included in ZenUI are a number of new features including ZenMotion and SnapView. The former is a set of touch gestures that provide easy access to frequently-used features such as One Hand mode or Do It Later. While the latter is a security feature that ensures privacy for apps, photos and files.
ZenFone Zoom and wrap up
The ZenFone 2 isn’t the only ZenFone that ASUS is launching. There is another – the ZenFone Zoom. Details about the actual phone specifications are scarce at the moment, except for details of its optics. The ZenFone Zoom has a 3X optical zoom camera, along with optical image stabilization and laser auto-focus. The 10-element lens design also allows for 12X digital zoom. There is also a full manual mode which allows “professional-grade manual control of ISO settings, shutter speed and more.” I guess the ZenFone Zoom matches better the “see what others can’t see” slogan!
To wrap up, personally I would prefer a device with an ARM based processor rather than an Intel one, but there is no denying that the ZenFone 2 offers a lot of features, processing power, and a good camera package, for very little money. If the actual device holds true to what Asus has written in the release information then the ZenFone 2 looks like a guaranteed winner.
Plex is king for handling your media, and of note is the way it indexes your movies and tv shows.
Plex has just announced a new focus on audio with a whole host of new features:
- Audio Fingerprinting plus Enhanced Music Recognition and Artist Info via Gracenote
- HD Music Videos from Vevo
- Mood and Genre-Driven Playlist and Listening Recommendations
- Best-in-Class Format and Streaming Support
Utilising Gracenote, Plex will have the ability to pull in enhance music recognition and artist information, can compose Plex Mix playlists, and make use of audio fingerprinting.
Here’s the full press release:
Audio Fingerprinting plus Enhanced Music Recognition and Artist Info via Gracenote
Plex now uses Gracenote, the leader in music metadata and discovery technologies. Gracenote is the industry standard for music recognition and is supported by the largest source of metadata, featuring descriptions of more than 200 million tracks. Plex has added Gracenote’s world-class matching via audio fingerprinting to ensure the accuracy of the information associated with the music in your library, such as artist, album, and genre. Regardless of the original source and associated metadata (or lack thereof), songs can be appropriately tagged. Plex now also fully supports one-click import from iTunes, so you can easily import all of your iTunes playlists, smart playlists, ratings, and more.
HD Music Videos from Vevo
Now, Plex Pass subscribers can watch their favorite music videos matched with music from their personal library. Taking advantage of Plex’s rich audio and video streaming capabilities, these HD music videos can be streamed to any mobile or home device using the Plex app to create the ultimate music experience.
Mood and Genre-Driven Playlist and Listening Recommendations
Plex will now allow you to create personalized Plex Mix playlists with the click of a button based on Gracenote’s descriptive information about a song such as genre, mood, and tempo. It also features a robust recommendation engine for re-discovering songs in your music library.
Best-in-Class Format and Streaming Support
Plex natively supports all major audio formats, including full support for FLAC. Plex transcodes your music files on the fly, if needed, automatically adjusting format and quality based on bandwidth to give you the best playback experience from any chosen device.
|CES 2015 Coverage Sponsored By:|
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It seems like Android TV will not go in the way Google TV. Even though the launch has not been very smooth due to one device being on the market, things are looking up in 2015. Companies are realizing that Android TV is capable and, thus, adds value for consumers. Philips announced today that all televisions it releases this year will run Android TV. Both Full HD and 4K Ultra HD televisions will have the platform connected with access to Google Play and Philips-made software. Philips believes that developers are going to see the true potential in connected televisions and take advantage of the SDK’s similarities to mobile.
Come comment on this article: Android TV will run on all 2015 TVs from Philips
For those of you who sit way too close to your television set, Sharp has just unveiled a prototype television at CES 2015 with a whopping 8K LCD screen. This prototype will be the world’s first 8K display with standards compliance and has a mind-boggling resolution of 7680×4320 with a 120Hz refresh rate. The 8K beast has 12 bits per pixel depth and delivers a blinding brightness of 400cd .
How big is this heavyweight television going to be, you ask? 85 inches. That’s like having a NBA basketball player laying across your wall.
Probably more important is the news that Sharp is updating its SmartCentral TV interface to version 4.0. This version will be a complete revamp for SmartCentral and will now be running off Android TV platform. This will also bring the Google Play Store to your Sharp television.
For further reading on Sharp’s new television releases, which include a number of 4K UHD televisions, follow the article after the break. To go back to Talk Android’s continuing coverage of CES 2015, click here.
Sometime in 2015, Sharp will begin selling the AQUOS Beyond 4K UHD television. This TV set will feature pixel-splitting and Quattron tech, bringing it 66 million subpixels. This pixel count is 42 million more than a traditional 4K UHD television. According to Sharp, this increase in pixel count will give the AQUOS Beyond a 167% greater resolution than other 4K UHD displays.
Sharp is also increasing the number of televisions in their 4K UHD line. It will be introducing three new series of 4K UHD TV’s: the UE, UB, and UH. It is the UB and UH series that will feature SmartCentral 4.0, which was discussed earlier. Other than that distinction, Sharp didn’t elaborate what the differences are between the three series.
To read the full press release from Sharp, check out the source link below.
Come comment on this article: Sharp moves on from 4K UHD with 8K LCD TV, also unveils Android TV based SmartCentral 4.0
CES 2015: Belkin and Elgato Announce New Home Automation Sensors for Windows, Doors, and More [Mac Blog]
Belkin and Elgato today used CES as a platform to expand their home automation lineup of products. Belkin is showing off five new WeMo products at CES, while Elgato is presenting two products from its previously announced line of “Eve” connected home sensors.
Belkin today announced an expansion to its WeMo line with the new WeMo Door and Window Sensor, the Keychain sensor, and an Alarm sensor to notify users when an existing home alarm goes off. It also introduced an improved motion detector with a new infrared option to detect heat signatures for even more precise motion detection. All four sensors will debut in the second half of 2015 at yet-to-be-determined prices.
Belkin also is working on a Water sensor with “Echo Technology” that will monitor household water usage. The new WeMo Water sensor will attach to the home’s plumbing system and analyze pressure changes caused by faucets and the flushing of toilets. The sensor can calculate consumption duration and even detect damaging water leaks. The WeMo Water is still in the field trial stage with no set availability date at this time.
Elgato is also at CES, presenting its previously announced Eve Energy and Eve Door & Window sensors along with the Eve app. The HomeKit-compliant products allow you monitor the energy usage and control connected appliances with the tap of the screen. The Eve Energy and Eve Door & Window sensors will debut in Q1 2015, and the company is also working on sensors for air quality, temperature, humidity, and water consumption.
IK Multimedia has been cranking out new versions of its iRig guitar adapter for phones and tablets for nearly four years. And at CES 2015, there’s yet another update. The iRig 2 still allows you to connect that axe to an iOS, Mac or Android device, but this time around, there’s a 1/4-inch output jack, so you can use the company’s mobile apps (like AmpliTube) alongside an amp with ease. It also means that, if you so choose, you could make that mobile device part of an effects loop, or replace it entirely. Sure, the sound of individual pedals is hard to beat, but this setup aims for connivence. There’s also a headphone jack to keep from annoying bandmates, and while the on-board gain control returns, a new toggle switch will bypass the connected mobile device entirely. If you’re considering giving it a go, the accessory will be available during the first quarter of 2015 for $39.99/€29.99.
Source: IK Multimedia