Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 120.
A lot of tech news this week. In Berlin, the IFA electronics expo is running at full throttle, and it seems that many companies skipped the CES and E3 in favor for Europe to announce their new products.
For me, the week was mainly involved with programming code and a lot of medical errands for both my wife and my father-in-law. He is having an eye operation next week, and with my wife's health issues, I am playing taxi for his appointments.
This week saw plenty of new, updated and interesting stuff being announced, so lets get started.
A big week for Samsung. As mentioned in last week's newsletter, the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Note 10.1 both received a refresh.
The Galaxy Note 3 went from a 720p HD screen to full 1080p HD, and of course received some major upgrades in horsepower, camera resolution and of course the features of the Galaxy S4 and more.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 also received a refresh, receiving a quadrupling in screen pixels, going from 1280x800 to 2560x1600, an 8-core processor and of course the same feature-set as that of the Note 3.
Lastly, the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch was announced. Mainly as a companion device for the Note 3 and new Note 10.1, it provides quick access to some basic camera and audio recording functionality, and of course has the ability to run (custom) apps for a variety of different purposes, such as news, fitness etc.
As a first-generation smartwatch, it is basically just testing the market and it is up to the users (and developers) to figure out what to do with it. The basics are there, but it still needs a killer feature for me.
Qualcomm stole a little of Samsung's Smartwatch thunder with its surprise announcement of the Toq.
Also a Smartwatch, with the ability to of course display information from a phone (or tablet) using bluetooth, but with a main focus on showcasing some of Qualcomm's technological advances in wireless charging, low power display and more.
But Qualcomm wasn't alone. Sony has been working on this for a little while as well, and used the opportunity to display its new Smart Watch 2.
Some pictures of the rumored nVidia Tablet showed up on a Chinese website. If the final product will look like that, I am expecting it would be something in the price-range of the original Nexus 7, $200, or possibly less. Specs are unknown, but it will be quite likely that
it will feature a Tegra4 processor. Will it feature the PC streaming abilities of the nVidia Shield, maybe, but without actual controller buttons, who knows.
XBOX One Release Date announced:
Microsoft has announced the availability (well, for the pre-orders) of the XBOX One to be on Nov 22nd. A week after the PS4 release in the US.
And, in line with Microsoft's consistent changes since the first announcement a few months ago, a speed-boost has been announced as well.
As mentioned a few weeks ago, I canceled my pre-order for the XBOX One. I am excited for what both the PS4 and the XBOX One will bring, but I am not sure which one will work best for me. In addition to that, since both consoles are mostly PC's, and the development kits used to create games for these systems are actual PC's, I think that the PC will be the actual winner this generation. Aside from brand-exclusives (Halo, Forza, Killzone, Uncharted) for developers, since they are using PC's, it will be quite easy to actually release their games on PC, either alongside the console version, or with a couple of months delay.
And lets not forget the indie market, small development teams releasing their own games, which has brought us successes such as Minecraft, Spelunky and more. Steam, the biggest online store available on PC's has been in front on this with its community-driven Green Light system. Both Sony and Microsoft are working hard to catch up, but still have a long way to go.
Amazon announced a new, long desired feature for ordering eBooks called Matchbook.
Starting next month, qualifying physical books will enable you to get the eBook version of the book for a discounted price.
I've been waiting for something like that for a long time, so I'm glad to see Amazon is doing it. I wonder how it will work though. If it works by scanning a barcode or ISBN number, a quick run to the library can result in a major discount on your Amazon purchases.
Barnes and Noble NOOK HD price reduction UK:
B&N is having a hard time. Amazon is continuously innovating with its Kindle and Kindle Fire devices, and all B&N can do is try and catch up. In order to expand the functionality of its NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets, it opened up Google Play alongside its own NOOKapps store recently, and while its Nook App was already available for "generic" Android, it now added its digital video store to Google Play as well.
A recent price cut on the NOOK HD and HD+ wasn't enough to increase sales, so this week, it lowered the prices yet again.
Android 4.4 is called KitKat:
Google named the next Android version. For quite some time, it was rumored to be Key Lime Pie, but (supposedly) because KitKat's are one of the favorite snacks of the main Android OS developers, they opted to name it KitKat instead.
Cross Plane Kickstarter:
If you have been reading the newsletter for a while, you have likely ran into some of my positive comments for the nVidia Shield.
The Shield's PC streaming ability is perfect for me, but the drawback is that it has some specific requirements.
This week, a project similar to the nVidia Shield appeared on Kickstarter that takes the requirements away.
Rather than using the video encoding capabilities of an nVidia GTX video card, the system will use wireless HDMI to get the video onto the WiiU like gamepad-tablet, enabling streaming from systems such as the XBOX and PS3, but also bluray players and the like, making it much more versatile.
Nymi security bracelet:
With digital security locks, locks that either operate by the bluetooth or wifi connection of a smartphone have been increasing in popularity these past years. With Smartwatches now heading mainstream, it is likely that their popularity will increase once the lock companies will start making apps for them.
A company called Nymi is coming out with a security system that uses your heart rate to open doors other than the emergency room in the hospital:
Earlier this week, I posted on my website and a couple of community forums an article regarding what to do with old Smartphones when you upgrade:
In the article I included a few suggestions, such as donation, sell, music/video player, spare etc, but on the forums I got a few additional suggestions:
* With Google Voice, Skype etc, you can use the old Smartphone to make calls whenever you have a wifi connection
* With Apps like SECuRET (link) or Lapse It (link), you can turn your old Smartphone into a security camera system, or a "Dash-cam" in the car.
* You can use your old Smartphone as a card reader or USB drive or with some modding and rooting turn it into a wireless drive.
* With Google Maps offline capability you can use it for GPS.
* And of course use it to entertain the kids so they don't "accidentally" change the language of your new phone to Russian or Chinese
Thanks for reading the 120th DVD Catalyst Newsletter. With all the announcements this week, it sure looks like tech-season has officially started. With Apple's turn next week, and Amazon soon there after, we got some good times coming up.
As mentioned earlier, while it is tech-season on the web, for me, its errand season with running around taking people to their doctor appointments, and it will be that way for a few weeks. The eye operation for my father-in-law is 2-fold, first one eye, and a few weeks later the other one, and of course multiple check-ups in between to make sure all goes well. I guess I will finally be able to finish "Under the Dome" (the book) on my Kindle this month, something I've been working on on and off for about 4 months.
Anyway, have a great weekend, and see you next week.
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