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1
Sep

Philips 901F 4K OLED TV with Ambilight is as beautiful as it is capable


Philips wowed us all with the unveiling of its latest 55-inch 4K OLED TV set at its IFA 2016 press conference, and wowed us for good reason. On first impressions the brand new 901F telly, which features Ambilight edge illumination to spill the image onto the surrounding walls, is the perfect balance of subtle design and all the tech you could possibly need.

There’s a growing list of great OLED TVs launching in 2016, but the Philips 901F has a couple of neat tricks. For starters the 55-inch 4K set is the company’s first OLED-based television; and no other maker offers the eye-catching Ambilight technology, which has us hooked.

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Being OLED means the 901F exudes bright, vibrant and saturated colours as well as really inky blacks. That’s down to OLED’s ability to switch off individual pixels, avoiding halos that you might get from backlit LCD tellies.

The 901F also has a very wide colour gamut, to ensure that every shade of each colour is covered, and subtle shades are easy to see – a must-have for the highest-end 4K content. And when we say “very wide” we mean it – Philips says it has a 17-bit colour system capable of reproducing 2,250 trillion colours. Now that’s some top tech jiggery-pokery.

The 4K sets we saw here at IFA certainly convinced us of the company’s claims that the 901F is among the best panels out there. Pictures weren’t just colourful and super sharp, you could see them from virtually any angle and movement on screen was stunningly smooth. So it won’t matter how fast the on-screen motion is, or what you’re watching, the picture should remain very sharp at all times.

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To add to the experience of watching movies and TV shows on the gorgeous display, Philips has equipped the 901F with its Ambilight technology. The lights around the back of the set create an ambient lighting effect to mimic the colours on the screen, and react in real time to any changes. However, it’s opted for three-side illumination here, not the full-on four-sides that we’ve seen before now.

Design is what Philips would call “European”, which means it’s pretty understated – but with a number of elements that give you confidence that the company cares about how its product looks.

The frame around the edges is a simple, dark affair that’s not too thin and not too thick, with a subtle chrome trim. The feet are extend out from the bottom of the set in a traditionally modern triangular shape, almost leaving the illusion that the TV is levitating.

Even the sound-bar running along the bottom edge, with its deliberately visible drivers and micro-machined holes all across the front, have a purposefulness and aesthetic charm.

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We didn’t get to sample the sound quality properly in the context of the IFA stand, but the Dolby-powered 6.1 surround spec suggests the 901F should be as good (if not better) than a separate sound bar. With 30W of power, an integrated bass port and six front-firing speakers, it promises to be very, um, sound.

On the whole, the Philips 901F is a TV that seems to offer everything. It also runs Android TV, so you’ll have access to all the games, apps and streaming services that your heart desires.

The only question remaining is how much it costs, and that information hasn’t been announced. Yet.

1
Sep

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 delayed in UK, here’s why


It could be storm in a teacup, Samsung’s own minor bendgate, but the reports of a few Galaxy Note 7 phones exploding seem to have put a kibosh on its UK release.

Tech Radar claims that UK stock of the critically-loved smartphone is being held back, at least until Samsung can check devices and ensure that they are safe.

Over the last couple of days there have been a few separate reports of Note 7s catching fire. Two of them seem to have been when attached to a third-party USB Type-C cable, but another from an owner claiming that he used the official charger.

He alleges his phone still caught alight and he posted a video of the end result.

Since the instances were revealed, Samsung has been tipped with a recall, either locally or globally, but it seems to want to investigate the claims and devices first.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review: Take note, this is the big-screen phone to beat

That has resulted in a temporary delay, according to Tech Radar’s sources. The worse news is that the same sources say it could be months before it goes back on sale.

UK retailers are now posting that the phone is “out of stock”.

We asked Samsung for comment and recently received the following: “In response to questions on Galaxy Note 7, we are conducting a thorough inspection with our partners. We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers,” it replied.

While that might not be great news for some, we commend the company for putting the safety of its customers first.

We’ll be sure to update you if there is any further comment or news.

1
Sep

Netatmo Smart Radiator Valves offer room-by-room heating control and HomeKit compatibility


Netatmo has expanded its smarthome portfolio with the addition of Smart Radiator Valves, offering its Smart Connected Thermostat users the ability to control their heating on a room-by-room basis.

Designed by Philippe Starck, like the Smart Connected Thermostat, the Smart Radiator Valves connect to the Netatmo Energy app and allow you to remotely set a schedule for each room in your home, according to what suits you best.

The valves will also be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit meaning iOS users will be able to ask Siri to turn the heating up in the living room by two-degrees or turn the heating off in the bathroom, for example. The compatibility with HomeKit also means you’ll be able to create customised scenes and connect your smart devices together, such as getting your hallway heating and lighting to turn on ready for when you get home.

Each valve features an e-Paper display that presents the temperature and users can customise them with one of four colours included in the box. They also have three smart features.

The Smart Radiator Valves can detect when a window is open and stop heating the room to ensure no energy is wasted, while a Manual Boost option allows you to increase the temperature in a particular room temporarily either via the app or the valve itself.

Netatmo

The valves will also adapt to your habits and analyse external elements in real time, including the weather outside, the insulation and the number of people in the room, adjusting the temperature accordingly.

The Netatmo Energy app allows you not only to schedule and customise the temperature in each Smart Radiator Valve-equipped room, but you’ll also be able to track energy consumption for each room and turn the heating on for all radiators featuring the valves in one click.

The new valves replace your current radiator valves and they are said to be compatible with 90 per cent of European water radiators. According to Netatmo, it’s simply a case of unscrewing your old thermostatic valve and screwing on the new one, with no need to bleed your radiators.

The Netatmo Smart Radiator Valves will cost £59.99 each and they will be available by the end of 2016. You must have the Netatmo Connected Thermostat for them to work. The Netatmo Energy app is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

  • Tado third-gen system adds multi-room control, plus HomeKit and Echo compatibility
  • IFA 2016 hub
1
Sep

Withings Activité Steel HR preview: Stylish heart rate monitoring


Withings has announced a new addition to its activity tracking devices at consumer electronics show IFA in the form of the Activité Steel HR. 

The new device is the first to come from the company since it was taken over by Nokia. It joins a plethora of beautifully-designed and well-built devices from the original Swiss-Made Activité to the more recent Activité Steel that debuted in January this year.

The Withings Activité Steel HR borrows from its predecessor in that it is a stylish analog watch, made from premium materials offering a stainless steel casing, chrome hands and a interchangeable silicone strap. It still offers the secondary dial we’ve come to know and love from the Activité family, displaying the percentage of the user’s step goal but it is positioned in the centre rather than to the right on the face. There are a few other changes too though, as you may have guessed from its name.

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The new device has a circular digital display that sits at the top of the analog face, directly in line with the secondary dial. This display shows smartphone notifications for emails, calls, texts and calendar reminders, along with health data. Users are able to flick through various metrics using the button on the side of the watch, from calories burned and steps taken to distance travelled and floors climbed. The display is black and therefore blends in well with the black watch face. It stands out a little more on the white face, but we are still big fans.

That’s not all that’s new however. As its name suggests, the Activité Steel HR offers heart rate monitoring and Withings claims it is the first analog activity tracker to do so. The company also claims the new device offers the best battery life for a heart-rate monitoring tracker. Apparently it has a 25-day life for heart rate monitoring but it will switch into a power-saving mode after this period and continue to track basic activity including steps taken and swimming data for another 20 days. 

We weren’t able to test this during our time with it of course but if true, that would be roughly four times that of the Fitbit Charge HR if based on the heart rate monitoring life.

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The Activité Steel HR uses a technology called photoplethysmography (PPG) to monitor your heart rate. Green LED lights situated on the underside of the casing are used to detect variation in the level of blood in the wrist in order to provide a reading. The Activité Steel HR will automatically measure continuous heart rate during workouts, like the Fitbit Charge HR, as well as deliver an average heart rate during the day, measuring every 10 minutes, and a resting heart rate while you’re sleeping.

Continuous heart rate can be read using the multifunctional button we mentioned previously, but the Activité Steel HR will automatically display heart rate while running. Following a workout, users will be able to see their maximum heart rate, calories burned and a time-in-zone graph in the Withings Health Mate app, much like Fitbit offers. 

In terms of other features, the Withings Activité Steel HR is waterproof up to 5ATM and it will automatically recognise when you are taking a dip, offering calories burned and time spent swimming at the end. It will also measure steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned for other activities, along with sleep, like its predecessors, again displaying past and present information within the Health Mate app.

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The Heath Mate app is available for iOS and Android users and on top of activity data, it offers challenge leaderboards, personalised advice and compatibility with MyFitnessPal for food logging capabilities. It’s easy to use and navigate, offering plenty of data in a simple layout.

The Withings Steel HR will be available in two sizes of 36mm and 40mm, which isn’t something the company has done before. The standard 36mm case, which is the same size as the other Activité devices, will come with an 18mm strap and it will be offered in black and white. The new 40mm model features a 20mm strap and will only be available in black. The larger device has a slightly more masculine look, with numbers etched into the bezel around the face. Both models are lovely, offering a fabulous design.

The two devices will be available exclusively through withings.com at the beginning of October, with retailers following at the end of October. The 36mm model will retail for £169.95 and the 40mm for £179.95. Retail availability for both versions will follow at the end of October. Based on what we’ve seen, this is one activity tracker we are very excited to try out properly.

1
Sep

Best of IFA 2016: The hottest gadgets to get excited about


IFA in Berlin is Europe’s largest consumer electronics trade show and is the launch bed for many a gadget, whether that’s the latest in smarthome advancements, new smartphones, TVs, laptops or other hugely exciting gizmos.

But with so many products being announced and debuted at the show, it’s sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. If you look closely enough, there are plenty of gems that you should be saving up for or looking to upgrade to. And that’s our job, to bring those to the forefront for you to see and read about.

READ: IFA 2016: All the smartwatches, smartphones and smarthome gadgets at the show

Take the new super slim laptops from Acer, for example, or the rather impressive looking Samsung Gear 3 smartwatch. There are also concept devices that are as stunning as they are unobtainable at this moment in time. 

No matter the tantalising tech delight, the Pocket-lint team has been scouring the halls, stands and off-site events at IFA 2016 to discover the best gadgets of the show.

These, therefore, are the crème de la crème of what’s been announced. 

Just have a flick through our gallery above to find out what our IFA highlights are, accompanied by a few reasons why.

We’ll also be updating this round-up as we see more devices so make sure you keep coming back throughout the show. 

Enjoy the best of IFA in our Best of IFA gallery. 

1
Sep

Nintendo finally increases the 3DS StreetPass limit to 100


The ability to share information via StreetPass with other players has always been a fun reason to carry your 3DS everywhere. But you can only capture up to 10 users’ Miis at a time, and going through them is a time-consuming pain. On this morning’s Nintendo Direct the company announced a new “Quick Plaza” to make the process a lot smoother, as well as a new premium feature that can increase your number of potential encounters to 100.

The Quick Plaza runs a little faster (like the normal plaza does when you hold down the right trigger), but it’s also been streamlined: Each Mii character only gives you their name and location, skipping details like their personal greeting and last game played. It’s also a lot easier to boot up the StreetPass games, with their icons moved to the bottom screen instead of living in a separate menu as they do now.

The increased StreetPass limit definitely seems aimed at people who do most of their StreetPass action at large events. At conventions like San Diego Comic-Con or PAX West (happening this weekend) it’s common for the in-game queue to fill up in minutes or even seconds due to the large number of players, instead of days (or even weeks) it would take in the rest of the US. It’s included as part of StreetPass Premium, which means you’ll have to pay for the service if you haven’t done so already.

Nintendo also announced five new games for StreetPass, promising that they’re all “bite size” so users don’t have to worry about overstuffing their 3DS’ storage. Slot Car Rivals, as the name says, lets players compete in a slot car race against the best times compiled from other players they’ve exchanged info with. Market Crashers is a stock market game where you predict stock prices based on advice from other Miis. Feed Me is a cooking game where you’re tasked with preparing dishes fit for a king. The step counter in your 3DS gets a workout with Mii Trek, an exploration game. And Ninja Launcher involves launching half-naked Miis out of a cannon, just because.

Starting today, you can download any of the five games in the eShop for $3 each. As a special deal, you can grab either Slot Car Rivals or Market Crashers for free, and then snag the rest as part of a discounted bundle for $9.

1
Sep

Play ‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’ on Wii U today


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is available to purchase and download on the Wii U via Virtual Console today. This is the original version of Skyward Sword with no remastering or updates, Nintendo announced during its 3DS-focused livestream this morning.

The Zelda franchise celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and Nintendo is bringing the presents: Special Zelda Amiibo hit stores shelves this winter and a new art book about the series from Dark Horse Comics is available for pre-order now. The Amiibo function the same as the Super Smash Bros. Link and Zelda figurines, and they’ll unlock special functions in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which lands on Wii U and Nintendo’s new console, the NX, next year.

During today’s livestream, Nintendo revealed a handful of games heading to the 3DS, including Wii U titles Yoshi’s Woolly World and Super Mario Maker, plus new games like a 3DS-only Pikmin adventure. Nintendo is quietly phasing out the Wii U before it launches the NX, while the 3DS is still going strong. The company recently revealed the New Galaxy Style 3DS XL, a version of the handheld that’s covered in deep purple swirls and cosmic dust.

ICYMI, the New Nintendo #3DS XL now comes in a slick New Galaxy Style design! pic.twitter.com/1bRnxPC5bn

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 1, 2016

1
Sep

TP-Link’s latest Neffos smartphones are its most ambitious yet


Though TP-Link is a pretty well-known maker of networking equipment in other parts of the world, the brand hasn’t made much of a dent in the US. Recently, however, it’s been working on a rebranding in an effort to do so. It’s pivoting more toward the smart home market and has also released a couple of smartphones earlier this year under the Neffos name. At IFA today, the company is continuing that consumer trend with the announcement of the Neffos X Series of smartphones, which consists of the Neffos X1 and the Neffos X1 Max.

Both phones are made out of a unibody metal exterior, featuring a dual curved back that tapers towards the sides. The X1 Max has a stunningly slim edge of 2.75 mm while the X1 comes in pretty close at 2.95mm. At their thickest, the X1 Max is 7.75 mm while the X1 is 7.95mm. Both are clad in 2.5D scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. The X1 has a 5-inch IPS HD display while the X1 Max has a 5.5-inch IPS Full HD display. Both phones boast edge-to-edge displays, with a 76% screen-to-body ratio. On one side are the power and volume buttons while the other features a slide-to-mute key.

Now on to the features. Both the X1 and the X1 Max have a 13-megapixel camera sensor that boasts backside illumination, fast phase-detection autofocus and f/2.0 aperture. There’s also a dual-tone flash LED on the back. TP-Link says that it has something called real-time night shooting, which promises great performance in low light. It also has HDR and time lapse photography. Both phones have a front 5-megapixel shooter complete with something called real-time beautify mode, so capturing the perfect selfie is that much easier. Oh, and also on the rear of the phone is a fingerprint sensor, located right underneath the camera lens and flash.

As for the internals, both carry octacore MediaTek Helio P10 chipsets, which claim blazing fast speeds. The X1 comes in both 16GB and 32GB models while the X1 Max comes in 32GB and 64GB varieties. Both have dual SIM slots, dual-band WiFi and multiple LTE band support. What’s even more impressive is that the X1 has a 2,250 mAh battery while the X1 Max has a 3,000 mAh battery. TP-Link says this gives the X1 300 hours of standby and 10 hours of talk time while the X1 Max has a rated standby time of 400 hours and 13 hours of talk time. Both phones ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

I played around with the X1 and the X1 Max a little at TP-Link’s event in Berlin and came away impressed by how solid the build quality was on both phones. The chamfered edges look gorgeous and that curved metal back makes it feel really nice and smooth in the hand. The display is stunning too, with colors that pop and blacks that look true and deep. An assistant showed me that he was able to unlock the phone pretty quickly using the sensor, which matches TP-Link’s claim of 0.2 second. There’s also a gesture awakening mode, which is useful when you’re out in the snow and rather not take your gloves off to touch the phone.

The Neffos X Series definitely falls in line with TP-Link’s new vision in trying to be much more of a global consumer brand, which is a departure from its humdrum router roots. “We were a low profile brand for nearly two decades,” said Thomas Bai, Neffos’ brand director. “We were a strong brand but we are quiet. The journey hasn’t been easy.” He adds, “Neffos brings us even closer to our consumers.”

Jeffrey Chao, TP Link’s CEO, said Neffos is part of the company’s new goal. “Our mission is connecting everything,” he said.

The X1 will retail for 199 euros while the X1 Max is priced at 249 euros. It comes in either a black front and a silver rear or a white front and a champagne gold back. Both phones are slated to arrive in store shelves in the fourth quarter of this year.

We’re live all week from Berlin, Germany for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

1
Sep

Withings launches its first watch with heart rate monitoring


Much like it was mandatory to wear Loom Bands in 2014, if a fitness wearable can’t track your heart rate then it’s dead… dead, ya hear? Withings doesn’t make fitness wearables so much as timepieces that just happen to track your activity, which justifies its decision to drag its feet on the heart rate sensor issue until now. That’s now set to change with the Withings Steel HR, a follow-on to the Activité analog watch that gains an optical HR sensor and a new digital sub-display for smartphone notifications.

It’s the digital sub-display that’s probably the most striking new addition, a round circle that’ll display your step count, heart rate and message notifications. The idea of cramming in a digital screen alongside an analog watch face isn’t a new one, although Withings’ version is significantly more elegant than Guess’ version. Users can determine what’s displayed on the screen via the company’s iOS and Android companion app. Then, they can cycle through those options by pushing the multifunction button that sits where the crown should be.

Withings has historically been resistant to add too much technology to its timepieces to avoid compromising style and battery life. As such, the Steel HR follows the Activité and is a French-designed watch with a stainless steel case, chrome hands and silicone straps. Integrated into the face, below the main dial, is a sub-dial that, as usual, will creep toward your daily fitness goal as you move about your day. As well as being stylish, that level of restraint had another positive: a battery life that’s measured in months, rather than days.

With the Steel HR, the company has managed to get 45 days of use out of its rechargeable cell, although that’s a bit of a fudge. The first 25 days will offer you continuous HR for workouts, average HR for your working day and your resting HR at night. After that, the watch will go into power saving mode, giving you 20 further days with just basic step and activity tracking, but nothing more.

The Withings Steel HR will be available from the company’s official website from the start of October and in stores by the end of that month. Available in both black or white, the 36mm edition will retail for $179.95/£169.95 while the 40mm version will set you back $199.95/£179.95.

1
Sep

Jabra’s truly wireless earbuds track your heart rate during workouts


Jabra just announced a two revised sports headphone models last month, but the company is already back with more portable audio news. This time around, the in-ear headphones are truly wireless without a short cord to connect the two buds. Following on the heels of the Bragi Dash and Samsung Gear IconX, Jabra’s Elite Sport is two separate wireless earbuds that offer heart rate tracking.

In addition to keeping you free of cord tangles during a workout, the in-ear headphones analyze physical activity by keeping tabs on your pulse (with 90 percent or greater accuracy) and VO2 Max levels. More specifically, you can expect details on distance, pace, route, calories, and more. Like previous Jabra models, the Elite Sport also works with the Sport Life app for coaching tips during your session. They’re also IP67-rated for water resistance and Jabra tacks on an extra 3-year warranty to protect against sweat damage.

In terms of battery life, Jabra claims up to three hours of music and calls before you’ll need to recharge. That can be done with a portable charge case that’s included with the headphones. While Samsung noted that battery life took a major hit when fitness tracking was turned on, Jabra doesn’t mention it. That’s not to say battery life doesn’t take a hit when the heart rate monitor is being used on the Elite Sport, Jabra just didn’t clarify. For comparison, the $199 Gear IconX can be used for 3.4 hours or music or during a 1.5-hour workout if you’re listening to tunes at the same time. Jabra’s Elite Sport will also cost your $50 more, but if that doesn’t deter you, they’ll go on sale at Best Buy October 30th.

We’re live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

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