The Hewlett-Packard Stream line of tablets and notebooks shows that the company is still willing to take chances and make major new investments in the mobile device and PC markets that haven't been very kind to the company in recent years. After all, HP has watched its efforts in the mobile space fail on a couple of occasions even as its place as the dominant force in the PC market slipped out of its hands, with Lenovo taking hold of that prize. Still, HP presses on in hope of changing its luck and increasing its standing in those markets. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the company's new line of Stream devices. While the focal point of the Stream lineup is its rash of notebooks, HP is also redoubling its efforts in the tablet business with slates that run Windows. This slide show looks at how HP is positioning the newly announced Stream models in an increasingly crowded market. While the Stream products are not necessarily the most powerful or groundbreaking, for anyone who's looking for new tablets or notebooks for personal or business purposes, they are worth checking out.
BlackBerry's newest device—the Passport—is aimed at a specific market: managers in the C-suites of the enterprise. Apparently the company assumes that these executives need access to lots of data at a single glance, which explains the unusual width of the device. But the company also apparently assumes that these managers aren't frequent typists, which explains the unusual shape of the physical keyboard. The result is a device that's the same size and shape as a passport. In reality, it appears that a Canadian passport was used as the model, since the BlackBerry Passport is actually slightly larger than a U.S. passport. The Passport runs BlackBerry OS 10.3, which adds several new features to the QNX-based mobile operating system. Most of those new features are aimed at taking advantage of the greater screen width, including ones for the BlackBerry Hub that improve convenience for handling messages. The new features are nice, but even after several days of use, the form factor takes a lot of getting used to.
As a proud new iPhone 6 Plus owner, I've had the opportunity to test out Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 8. Although I've only spent a few days with the new operating system, I have found a number of nice new features here and there. Overall, I've also been pleased with its design, which doesn't stray too far from iOS 7. But like anything else, the operating system isn't perfect. The Health app's lack of real usability and the few improvements to Apple Maps keep iOS 8 from being the perfect operating system. But there are enough modifications to what was already a solid OS to make it a worthwhile upgrade for many iPhone owners. Apple's iOS 8 has some slick new features, important upgrades to existing apps and zippy performance. But it also has some quirks that Apple will need to address over time. Taken altogether, iOS 8 is a microcosm of what we've come to expect from first-run Apple products. It isn't perfect. It will need some updates. But overall it delivers a fine experience for those who are part of the Apple world and like being there. Read on to learn more about what I've discovered in Apple's new operating system.
Apple might not have the most mobile market share or sell the most units, but it can get more attention than any other mobile device maker. Year after year, it's able to build anticipation for its latest products to a fever pitch. That has become abundantly apparent in the wake of the iPhone 6 launch. While there are still countless devices available that might in one way or another top the iPhone 6 in terms of features or price, it's Apple's product that generates the most hype. But now that the iPhone 6 is shipping, consumers who aren't already totally committed to Apple's products will go back to calmly considering in the clear light of day which product offers the best deal—the iPhone or one of the many handsets that run Android. This eWEEK slide show looks at 10 Android smartphones ranging from lower-cost units to the top-of-the-line flagship models that might prove to be suitable alternatives to the iPhone. From the Samsung Galaxy S5 to the Amazon Fire Phone, there are Android handsets that can suit any mobile phone buyer's needs.
Fitness tracking has become a hot topic in the technology industry. Samsung and Nike, in addition to smaller companies like Fitbit and Jawbone, have been competing in the space for some time. And, now, with new smartwatches launching with health-related features built in, a new class of products has entered the market to change how people view fitness tracking. As a result, the market has gotten crowded. Trying to sort through the sheer number of fitness trackers and find something that best suits your needs will be a chore. While it was once easy to find products that focused solely on fitness, there are now a wide range of products that do much more in addition to personal fitness. Those devices can't be overlooked; they include the latest smartwatches, which can be considered fully capable fitness trackers in today's world. This slide show looks at dedicated fitness trackers as well as the new health-tracking features in the new smartwatches, and suggests which devices should do a decent job of helping users stay healthy and on-track with their fitness goals.
The smartwatch battle has officially begun. While a number of companies have released smartwatches in the past couple of years, none of them have really been such a hit with buyers to set a standard for design or features. It's time to see if that will change now that Apple has entered the market. But which of the current smartphones on the market does the Apple Watch match up with best? You can take your pick. But the Moto 360 has caught the attention of many consumers who don't like the typical square or rectangular design found in other products. Given the attention both products are receiving, it makes sense to compare the two now to see which one might do better in different feature categories. While Apple won't ship its smartwatch until early 2015, it's still the device that many consumers want to know more about. Motorola Mobility released the Moto 360 in early September, and it's just starting to make its way into the market. So this is as good a time as any to compare them head-to-head. Check out this side-by-side comparison of the Moto 360 and Apple Watch and decide for yourself which device wins out in each category.
Apple's iOS 8 is launching on Sept. 17, just two days before the company plans to release its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones. The operating system was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and in typical Apple fashion, the company argues that it's the "biggest iOS release ever." While Apple has done a solid job in the past of getting consumers to adopt each new version of its mobile operating system soon after launch, some iOS users—especially the enterprise users—hesitate to adopt a new OS before they fully understanding what it offers and whether it will have all the bugs worked out. The enterprise is also concerned about productivity and how the new features will affect business users who need to get work done on their iPhones and iPads. This slide show focuses on the important features in iOS 8 as Apple prepares to launch it on Sept. 17. While there is a lot that is familiar in iOS 8, there are quite a few enhancements that users will need to get acquainted with.
Apple took the unusual step of introducing two significantly different iPhone models to respond to the growing competitive demand for smartphones with larger screen sizes. The Phone 6 will come with a 4.7-inch display that is slightly larger than the iPhone 5S with its 4-inch display. But the iPhone 6 Plus will come with a 5.5-inch screen, the largest that Apple has ever built into an iPhone model. Some mobile market analysts have noted that Apple's decision to increase the screen size was more a response to pressure it's facing from similarly sized Android devices than a desire on its own to deliver something new or to respond to actual customer demand. However, iPhone fans see it as a logical progression for Apple. But there is a lot more in these new smartphones than just larger screens. In this slide show, eWEEK digs into the iPhone 6 Plus and discusses the features that set it apart from both its predecessors and its competitors. There are enough interesting features in iPhone 6 Plus to make it worth a second look before preorders start on Sept. 12.
Despite the attention garnered by the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, it was Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch that stole the show at the company's big product rollout Sept. 9 in Cupertino, Calif. As usual, the mobile device maker managed to outfox the media by dubbing the latest addition to its mobile product line the Apple Watch rather than the iWatch, which is the name that had been bandied about in news reports for months. But now we finally have a clear view of Apple's plans for the smartwatch market. Apple is making sure that to take advantage of all of the Apple Watch's features, the smartwatch has to be closely integrated with the iPhone. But it's also clear that Apple decided to emphasize the watch in smartwatch. In this slide show, eWEEK discusses some of the important features in the Apple Watch that might make the device a strong alternative for those customers looking to purchase Motorola's Moto 360, the Samsung Gear 2 or other recently released smartwatches. Read on to learn more:
As it is inclined to do immediately following each Labor Day weekend, Apple held its requisite fall launch event Sept. 9 and introduced a pair of new iPhones—the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and a maxi-version, the 5.5-inch-screened iPhone 6 Plus. It also finally introduced the Apple Watch (which is not called "iWatch"). The company also touched briefly on the new iOS 8 operating system but didn't go into great detail. Everything introduced looks very promising, but perhaps the most abiding news Apple unveiled on a sunny day at the Flint Center in Cupertino was about a new service: Apple Pay. Using the near-field communication (NFC) capability embedded in the upcoming iOS 8, users with an iPhone, Apple Watch and an Apple banking app won't need to use credit or debit cards any longer to buy products and services at businesses supporting the app. Details are in this slide show. Bono and U2 showed up at the end of the event to enliven the already big party. (Photos by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)
With Apple's iPhone 6 reaching the market in the weeks ahead, it's time for many current iPhone owners to decide what they should do with the devices they've been using for the last several years. The easy answer is to simply hand it over to a friend or family member or save it in the event something goes wrong with the iPhone 6. But for many of us, getting some cash back on a device that's already an expensive investment is a sensible move. There are a number of companies that are willing to buy used iPhones and handsets from other mobile device makers. Small companies like Gazelle specialize in mobile device trade-ins, while big retailers like Walmart want to do business with as many current handset owners as possible. Current iPhone owners have no shortage of options if they want to sell off their used units to get their hands on something new. This eWEEK slide show looks at some of the reputable options in the market that will allow handset owners to get some residual value out of their well-used cell phones.
The hype surrounding the Sept. 9 iPhone 6 event has hit a fever pitch. Unlike previous years, Apple has decided to hold just a few big product introductions in 2014. And aside from the Worldwide Developers Conference, where it typically announces software improvements, Apple will rely on lower-profile news updates revealed in press releases rather than make big splashes at major press events. The move has only increased the hype surrounding the Sept. 9 product introduction. Apple usually schedules such events shortly after Labor Day to introduce products that will be ready for the holiday shopping season. However, this schedule also puts more pressure on Apple to show off something major. After all, Apple has to show off something fresh, if not groundbreaking, if it wants its products to be among the season's sales leaders. This eWEEK slide show examines what might happen at Apple's special event, including the things that are most likely to make an impact when CEO Tim Cook hosts reporters and employees Sept. 9.
At Samsung's Unpacked event at the IFA Berlin show on Sept. 3, the company showed off a wide range of devices. However, those products, led by the Galaxy Note 4, were mainly devices for the consumer; this left enterprise mobile device buyers wondering if Samsung would introduce new hardware for business users. The answer came on Sept. 4, when Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Tab Active. But the Tab Active isn't a run-of-the-mill business tablet. While it has the typical features that will please CIOs and IT decision-makers, it's also a product that has been "ruggedized" to a degree that might make some wonder if it had been designed for scuba divers or mountain climbers for companies that are longing for a tablet that can handle rough-and-tumble use in the field and in corporate offices. Still, the Galaxy Tab Active is innovative, nice-looking and a solid device for businesses that want a reliable tablet that doesn't have the Apple logo on it. This eWEEK slide show examines the features likely to make the Galaxy Tab Active an appealing choice for enterprise buyers.
Sony's share of the smartphone market remains relatively small, compared with that of Apple or Samsung. Yet that hasn't stopped Sony from launching a steady stream of handsets with an impressive set of features and premium construction materials. At this week's IFA conference in Berlin, Sony added three smartphones and a tablet to its Xperia family, including the Z3 Tablet Compact tablet, Z3 and Z3 Compact smartphones, and the E3 smartphone. Sony focused not only on the in-house display, audio and gaming functions in each smartphone and tablet, but also on their dust-proof and waterproof capabilities, encouraging users to take their handsets poolside—or right into the water with them. Sony also unveiled its two latest smart technology devices; the SmartBand Talk is a so-called "lifelogger" that brings call-handling and voice control to your wrist, with an always-on curved 1.4-inch e-paper display. The SmartWatch 3 is the company's first smartwatch designed for the latest Android Wear updates. Android Wear organizes user information, suggests what he or she needs, and shows it to them. Here's a look at key features of Sony's new Xperia devices.
NEW YORK—Samsung, already known for its curvy HDTV displays, takes a new approach for its refreshed line of Galaxy Note phablets. During a Sept. 3 press event in the company's new office in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note Edge, a 5.6-inch smartphone with a display that curves over the device's right side. Unlike LG's G Flex smartphone, which bows in the center but adds little to the Android experience, Samsung's curved screen provides added functionality and a way for the company to further distinguish itself from Apple. Although it sports a more traditional form factor, the Galaxy Note 4 impressed with a slightly larger touch-screen (5.7 inches). The bright, saturated AMOLED screen provides enough visual real estate to multitask—with the included S Pen stylus, and without reaching for a tablet or a PC. Samsung also unveiled the Gear VR—the result of its collaboration with Oculus, the virtual-reality (VR) company Facebook snapped up in March. A companion device for the Galaxy Note 4, the Gear VR provides early adopters with immersive 3D experiences on the go, but will they make room in their bags for the bulky, attention-grabbing wearable? Read on for some first impressions.