Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch Goes Official With Rotating Bezel!

Galaxy Gear S2

After teasing it a couple of weeks ago, Samsung finally spilled the beans on the hotly anticipated Gear S2 smartwatch. The high-end Tizen OS wearable device with rotating bezel and IP68 rating will be on display during IFA in Berlin in two different variants – Gear S2 and Gear S2 classic.
Galaxy Gear S2

The sportier Samsung Gear S2 will be available with dark gray case with black silicon band, or silver case with white silicon band. The classic model on the other hand, will feature a black case and matching leather band.

Specs-wise, Samsung Gear S2 features 1GHz dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal memory. The display of the smartwatch is a 1.2” fully circular Super AMOLED unit with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels and 302ppi.

Connectivity options for the smartwatch include Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, and NFC. A variant with 3G network connectivity and e-SIM will also be available.

Physical measures of Samsung Gear S2 are 42.3 × 49.8 × 11.4mm, while its weight tips the scale at 47 grams. The classic model is a tad more elegant with measures of 39.9 × 43.6 × 11.4mm and a weight of 42 grams. A 250mAh battery will power both devices – it is rated to last for 2-3 days of regular usage.

The 3G variant of the smartwatch will pack a larger 300mAh battery, which will last for two days of regular use. The measures of this particular variant are 44.0 x 51.8 x 13.4mm, while its weight comes in at 51 grams.

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Montblanc Announces e-Strap Timewalker, A Smart Bracelet For Your Fancy Watch!

In a last-ditch effort to save themselves, watchmakers are now turning to the band in order to ensure that timekeeping remains well in the realm of the mechanical.

The new band, part of the Montblanc Timewalker Urban Speed collection, is a little metal screen that can receive notifications and messages. From A Blog To Watch:

The e-Strap features a high-end leather strap that has a carbon fiber texture to it that Montblanc calls “Extreme Montblanc Leather” and is produced by them in Florence, Italy. At the bottom, sitting under your wrist is an electronic module made from DLC (diamond like carbon) coated steel or in gray steel. Apparently, there are a few color and size options.

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Don’t worry, though: you can buy the Montblanc band separately for about $300 (the mechanical watches are about $3,000)

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What to Expect from CES 2015 Next Week: Smart Appliances, Smart Cars, Drones and much more Weird Stuff!

The next Consumer Electronics Show is right around the corner. We will provide you with in-depth news and videos on the latest tech from the show floor. But since we’re already super excited about the show, we thought we would give you our top 15 predictions for what you can expect to see at CES 2015.

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New Oculus Rift headset will be revealed: It seems like Oculus revealed its new Crescent Bay prototype just yesterday, but by the time CES 2015 rolls around, it will be six months old. Crazy how time flies. Since then, the company has acquired camera/hand-tracking company Nimble VR. While the acquisition was recently made, Oculus told us at last year’s CES that the company was working on technology that would allow you to see your hands in-game. Could the new prototype finally offer this capability?

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More VR peripherals: Speaking of Oculus Rift, expect copycat VR headsets at the show. In addition, expect more VR controllers. Everybody’s trying to find the best solution to allow you to control VR, so expect to see many wacky endeavors in that space.

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The Internet of Things things: As much as we hate the term “The Internet of Things,” you can expect to see smarter appliances like microwaves, fridges, and more that are hooked up to the web.

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Smarter cars: A lot of people seem to gloss over the fact that cars are a big part of CES. As a matter of fact, they usually take up an entire hall of the convention center. While you shouldn’t expect driver-less cars for sale anytime soon, you can expect to see a more robust system of driver-assisted cars with online integration.

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Wearables: Last year, we saw a slew of wearable devices. As a result, many people thought 2014 was going to be “the year of the wearable.” That hasn’t exactly panned out, but we’ll probably see a maturation of many of those products this year. One added benefit of wearables is that they allow you to closely track your fitness. As a result, you can expect many of these devices to cater to the health sector.

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No Steam Machines: Last year, Valve debuted its Steam Machines at CES 2014. If you’re thinking Valve will be there again this year, you’re likely mistaken. Valve told us that it won’t have a presence at this year’s CES. Luckily, the company did tell us that it is “planning to be at GDC in a big way.” The company also added that this announcement will pertain to the Steam Machines. GDC 2015 happens March 2–6 , so you won’t have to wait too long after CES to hear more from Valve.

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Beyond 4K: Dell initially revealed its 5K monitor to us back in September, and Apple has since released its 5K iMac. With that in mind, expect more 5K (and higher) displays at the show.

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More sophisticated 3D Printers: With each passing year, 3D printers are picking up steam. Expect a new wave of 3D printers to take advantage of the burgeoning market. We could see faster printers, printers with integrated scanners, or printers that can print using a wider variety of materials.mpc_build.jpg

Faster components: This one’s a given, but you should expect to see faster computers, parts, processors, and everything else at CES. Intel and Nvidia will be on the show floor, so it wouldn’t be a big leap to suppose both companies will be showing off new products.

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New chassis/PCs: Pretty much all of the desktop vendors are going to be there, and that means you should expect to see some new computer designs/cases. Small form factor PCs were pretty big last year, and you should expect to see more of those, along with perhaps a few quirky surprises.

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Lack of Microsoft: We asked Microsoft if it will have a presence at this year’s CES, but the company said that it wouldn’t. If you’re looking to hear more about Windows 10, however, you won’t have to wait too long, considering Microsoft is planning its own Windows 10 event January 21.

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More PC peripherals: Expect more variations on mechanical keyboards, gaming mice, and headsets to be on display at the show. RGB devices will be big this year, but hopefully, we’ll see new, interesting devices like Roccat’s wireless Sova mechancial gaming keyboard.

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Drones: Drones are the new hotness. You can thank Amazon’s Prime Air faux advertisement for that. Whether or not these drones actually take off (pardon the pun), expect to see a new wave of remote-controlled drones at this year’s CES. Let’s just hope no packages fall on people’s heads.

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More media streaming devices: We all know media streaming boxes aren’t new, but with physical media reaching a point of near obsolescence, you should expect to see more of these devices. Hopefully, they’ll be able to stream more than just Netflix movies.

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Weird stuff: The truth is, CES tends to showcase the good along with the ridiculous. A lot of quirky products like Razer’s Project Christine, for instance, never actually see the light of day. Expect to see a bunch of other wacky doodads that will either go nowhere or simply find a small niche.

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LG teases upcoming Android Wear-based ‘G Watch’

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LG has posted a teaser clip this weekend for its upcoming G Watch, which is an Android Wear-based smartwatch. The video doesn’t offer up much in the way of specs or feature details, but it gives you a good look at its design and function.

The G Watch will apparently be the first watch powered by Android’s new wearables platform it introduced back in March. It has a metal body, which is both dust and water resistant, and is compatible with a stout number of Android devices…

Here’s the promotional teaser:

And from the March press release:

“The opportunity to work with Google on LG G Watch was the perfect chance for LG to really pull out all stops in both design and engineering,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “With the LG G Watch, LG is continuing the milestones we’ve set in wearables following in the footsteps of the world’s first 3G Touch Watch Phone in 2009 and the Prada Link in 2008. We’re confident that a well-designed device has the potential to take the smart wearable market by storm.”

LG certainly seems confident that the G Watch will be a hit, but I don’t see how this will be much better than Samsung’s Gear smartwatches. Sure, LG’s watch is running on Android Wear, but give it a few months and I bet a new Gear will too.

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But perhaps more significant than the G Watch itself is the fact that LG is making a smartwatch at all. It’s becoming very clear that wearables is the next big market in mobile electronics, and it seems like every major tech firm is working on one.

Apple, for its part, is rumored to be working on a so-called ‘iWatch‘—a wearable accessory with various sensors capable of tracking health and fitness activities. We’ve heard a few potential release dates, but the consensus is it’ll be this year.

There’s no word yet on when the G Watch will be available, but LG has a big event coming up in London on May 27.

Nike gives up on the FuelBand, making more room for the iWatch!

Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.

“As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities,” Nike spokesman Brian Strong said in an email. “As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters.”

The company informed members of the 70-person hardware team — part of its larger, technology-focused Digital Sport division comprised of about 200 people — of the job cuts Thursday. About 30 employees reside at Nike’s Hong Kong offices, with the remainder of the team at Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters.

Nike’s Digital Sport hardware team focused on areas like industrial design; manufacturing operations; electrical and mechanical hardware engineering; and software interface design. Products included not only the FuelBand but also the Nike+ sportwatch and other, more peripheral sport-specific initiatives.

Of those 70 employees, about 70 percent to 80 percent — or as many as 55 people — were let go, the person said, asking not to be identified because the information was confidential. Some of the employees will be staying on at Nike through May. It’s unclear how many current employees, if any, have been internally recruited to join other Nike divisions. Nike Digital Tech, responsible for Web software, was not affected.

As early as this fall, Nike planned on releasing another iteration of the FuelBand — an even slimmer version — but cancelled the project. And it appears to have shelved all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm, the person familiar with the matter added.

Nike will not, however, stop selling the second-generation FuelBand SE for now, the company confirmed. “The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business. We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future,” said Strong in a follow-up comment.

In fact, word of the firings made its way to Secret, an anonymous social network for gossip centered on the tech industry, as far back as a week ago. “The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed the FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn’t know what they were doing,” the post read.

As CNET reported on April 10, Nike had serious discussions in the last few months — after the release of the FuelBand SE tracker last November — about exiting the wearable-hardware market. The shoemaker isn’t throwing in the towel on technology. Rather, it’s turning away from hardware and realigning its focus exclusively on fitness and athletic software, a strategic shift that would still benefit the company in the long run, analysts said. Nike’s FuelBand SE currently sits at No. 35 on the CNET 100 leaderboard.

There’s increasing competition in the market for wrist-worn fitness trackers, and Nike’s digital app ecosystem, Nike+, has grown less reliant on wearables as smartphone sensors have improved. In other words, it makes less and less sense for Nike to stay in the hardware race when its physical wearables are not bottom-line needle movers, especially as companies like Apple and Google prepare to join the fray.

Just last week, Nike announced the launch of its San Francisco-based Fuel Lab. The testing space, born from its accelerator program, will join Nike’s slew of other innovation-branded R&D havens where companies will be able to design hardware products that incorporate the company’s proprietary point-based workout metric, NikeFuel.

Essentially, it will be a incubator for FuelBand successors, as long as they plug in to Nike+, for which Nike is publicly releasing an API this fall.

As Nike redirects its wearable efforts toward software, it’s avoiding the competition from a bevy of new devices that will further crowd the market, namely the Apple “iWatch” and devices running Google’s recently unveiled Android Wear operating system, designed exclusively for watches and other wrist-oriented wearables.

As Apple enters the fray, Nike has a potential partner. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was seen wearing a FuelBand at the company’s launch of the iPad Mini in October 2012, sits on Nike’s board, and has for the last nine years. That relationship has been fruitful, helping Nike enter the wearable market as early as 2006 — with the Nike+iPod shoe-sensor package — with a strong brand partner.

A partnership, say analysts, would be a no-brainer. “Apple is in the hardware business. Nike is in the sneaker business. I don’t think Apple sees Nike as competitive. It’s likely that an Apple hardware offering would be supportive of the Nike software,” Jim Duffy, a Nike analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, said when speaking with CNET last week. “Nike would be content to let Apple sell devices, as long as they would be supportive of the apps.”

“Partnering with industry-leading tech companies is nothing new for Nike,” Nike’s Strong said. “We have been working with Apple to develop products since 2006, when we introduced Nike+ Running, and Nike has since created iOS Apps including Nike+ Training Club, Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Move.”

Of course, it was always inevitable that Cook’s wrist would eventually sport an Apple-made device, and no other. Whether that particular device carries Nike software may be the next defining step for Nike in the world of wearables.

One might argue it never really made sense for a shoe maker to build hardware. Still, it’s an interesting move, at an interesting time, especially when you know Tim Cook is on Nike’s board.