Tablet Sales Dwindle While Market Receives New Flagship Gadgets

tablets

Tablet sales continue to slip which raises questions regarding their popularity.

In the span of just a month, both Samsung and Apple revitalized the line of tablets for the first time in three years. Nonetheless, this passive period of time experienced industry changes. The overall tablet sales didn’t manage to proliferate at all. Specialists are beginning to wonder if the public has any consideration left for this type of tech product.

Tablet Sales Decreased 20% Annually

In the fourth quarter, IDC consulted the numbers and drew out a declining situation for tablet sales. The number of shipments of such a product dropped 20% year over year. At the same time, Strategic Analytics registered double losses in this domain. In comparison, the introduction of the first tablets on the market sparked the remark that they would become greater than PCs. However, manufacturers are far from seeing the desired rate to which clients are updating their tablet collections.

Jitesh Ubrani is a senior analyst at IDC. According to him, consumers are still using their first generation of iPads.

“People have been hanging onto these devices, and they’re finding that they work just as well as they did when they were released.”

Manufacturers Need a Tablet Revolution to Revitalize the Market

There are few possible reasons that triggered the stagnation of a promising market. First of all, customers didn’t receive any incentive to refresh their tablet collections at the same rate as they do with their smartphones. Many users are employing their devices sporadically. This is why there is no wearing factor to urge them to replace them with the latest model.

Other experts are linking this negative phenomenon to the lack of innovation. While smartphones and laptops receive a booming warm up campaign prior to their release, consumers feel no eagerness for the launch of a new tablet. Furthermore, the technology that empowers tablets remained almost the same. By comparison, manufacturers strived to come up with the latest specs for their smartphones.

Another obstacle that tablets failed to overcome is the growing size of mobile gadgets. There are some tendencies on the market for smartphones to become slimmer and with larger displays. This trend turned them into a hybrid between a phone and a tablet. Thus, consumers don’t feel the need to carry a tablet with them when their smartphone can do so much more than other such gadgets.

However, not everything is lost with the tablet sales. There are still tens of millions of units being shipped to customers all over the world each quarter. However, companies need to create a massive evolution for tablets to surpass PCs in popularity.

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Montblanc Entered the Smartwatch Market with Summit

montblanc summit smartwatch

The smartwatch market is going to receive a new addition with decent features and high-end looks.

Montblanc is a luxury company that produces top-notch writing instruments, leather goods, watches, and jewelry. The manufacturer has been flirting with the smartwatch market since 2015. This was when the company presented its e-Strap, which is an interchangeable strap that attaches to the back of a wristwatch. The piece of technology endows all Montblanc luxury watches with the same features of a smartwatch. Based on the success of this product, the company decided to focus on its first ever smartwatch.

Summit Will Enter the Smartwatch Market at $890

On March 16, the luxury brand Montblanc revealed during a London tech event its latest product. This time, the asset clearly shows that the company intends to seize the smartwatch market entirely. After its e-Strap product that was capable of turning Montblanc wristwatches into hybrids, the company decided that it is ready to appear in front of the public with its first luxury smartwatch.

“Meet Montblanc Summit. Our first smartwatch. Introducing a world-first for wearable technology: 1.39″ of traditional curved sapphire glass meets the latest Google power. Powered by Android Wear 2.0, it works with both iPhone and Android smartphones,” the company expressed in a Facebook post.

The new product is called Summit. It still wears the traditional Montblanc imprint of high-end traditional design. However, the new smartwatch is also powered by the latest technology. The company set its target public to be those consumers who always seek greatness and accomplishments. This might limit the clients to wealthy professionals who may represent the only segment that can actually afford such a product of $890.

A Look into the Technical Specs of Summit

A Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor is going to power the entire accessory. The watch will have a 1.39 inch AMOLED display that will show the capacity of Android Wear 2.0 operating system. Users will enjoy 512 MB of RAM and a storage capacity of 4 GB. A whole day performance will be supported by a 300 mAh battery.

As for the front-end features, Montblanc clients will benefit a decent range of apps. This list includes a gyroscope, heart rate monitor, barometer, e-compass, microphone, and light sensor. On the other hand, the Summit will not have NFC chip which allows users access to Android Pay and GPS. This points out that the first Montblanc smartwatch is more about looks and less about innovative features. The gadget is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones.

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Specs and Prices of the New Huawei P10 and P10 Plus Announced at MWC 2017

Huawei P10

The Chinese tech giant announced its latest creations, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus will roll out in March. Slight differences aside, both units sport upgraded cameras and larger batteries.

At the 2017 edition of the Mobile World Congress, Huawei unveiled two new smartphones, the P10 and P10 Plus. Even though the two handsets are pretty similar, they do have noteworthy differences. As is the case with most “plus” units, the Huawei P10 Plus has an edge over his smaller sibling. Even so, this kind of statement leaves a lot to the imagination.

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Specs and Differences

Fortunately, both units support external storage and have been fitted with the new Kirin 960. Furthermore, both handsets have a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera which also comes with a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. This represents a major upgrade compared to the P9’s configuration. However, the engineers didn’t stop there and improved the front-facing camera’s quality by incorporating a Leica-powered selfie snapper into both the Huawei P10, as well as the P10 Plus.

To keep scratches away, both units are protected by a 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5. Also, the smartphones will run the latest version of Android straight out of the box. And this is pretty much where the similarities end.

Talking about major differences, it is hard to pinpoint any. However, it comes as no surprise that the larger unit, namely the P10 Plus, coming in at 5.5 inches, has a resolution of 2,560×1,440 and 540 ppi, while the smaller handset, measuring 5.1 inches comes with a smaller resolution of 1920×1080 and has fewer pixels per inch, more specifically, 432.

Also, the bigger the case, the bigger the battery. Hence, the P10 Plus comes with a 3,750 mAh battery. At the same time, even though weaker than the P10 Plus’, Huawei P10’s cell is still 200 mAh over the total capacity of P9’s cell, namely 3,200 mAh. In terms of memory, Huawei’s latest units will both sport 4Gb of RAM and 64Gb of internal storage. However, the 6Gb of RAM and 128Gb of native storage option will be available only for the P10 Plus.

Prices

Huawei will roll out its latest creations sometime in March. The company will be shipping the new handsets to more than 20 countries. Hence, the P10 will go for approximately $685, while the P10 Plus will sell for no less than $738. Ultimately, users who want to go for the 6Gb of RAM and 128Gb of internal storage will have to take roughly $844 out of their pockets to enjoy the Huawei experience to the fullest.

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Engineers Designed an Origami-Like Foldable Kevlar Shield to Protect Officers in Dangerous Situations

kevlar shield

The team of engineers managed to add mobility and resistance to a fabric kevlar shield only half the weight of conventional barriers used by police officers today.

Drawing their inspiration from Japanese culture, more specifically the origami branch, a team of Brigham Young University engineers designed and subsequently built an origami-like foldable Kevlar shield that would offer protection to police officers in dangerous scenarios.

The shield has been tested and can efficiently deflect bullets fired by pistols and revolvers. According to one of the engineers involved with the project, Professor Larry Howell, he and his team worked closely together with law enforcement departments and SWAT teams to better understand their needs in the field. Upon analyzing their current defense systems, the team of engineers learned that the current shields the police force is using are too cumbersome, too heavy, and not portable. Coming in at roughly 100 pounds, the solid steel shields can only protect one person.

New Origami-Like Foldable Kevlar Shield

When transporting them, the Kevlar shields can be compactly folded. When the need arises, police officers can deploy them within five seconds. Moreover, the lightweight shields offer protection against 9 mm, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum rounds to two or three law enforcement officers. The shield is composed of 12 layers of bulletproof material and weighs only 55 pounds.

Field Tests

During the field tests, police officers suspected the shield made mostly of fabric would tip over at impact. However, shooting a .44 Magnum at it was not enough to send it flying. Engineers said that the Kevlar barrier was designed to be both protective and stiff, while also maintaining a certain degree of flexibility.

Furthermore, the structure was susceptible to damage from water and sunlight, as well as particular frail to abrasion. However, Howell and his team of engineers reinforced the shields against the environment. moreover, the Kevlar shield was designed to both protect the officers in a foreseeable scenario, as well as provide security in case of emergencies, such as injuries sustained by civilians or law enforcement officers during a hostage situation or school shootings.

Similar Projects

Aside from police departments, other agencies turned to origami-inspired designs for multiple applications. For example, NASA employed the same paper-twisting technique when designing a radiator meant for cooling down satellites.

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NASA Chose Its Space Poop Challenge Victor

space poop challenge

Thatcher Cardon walked away with $15,000, as the winner of NASA’s Space Poop Challenge launched last year. Second place was awarded $10,000, and third place took home $5,000.

Last year, in October, NASA launched a “special” challenge regarding waste management in space for astronauts, dubbed Space Poop Challenge. The program was supposed to equip the spacewalkers’ suits with a portable port-a-potty for both men and women to eject liquid and solid human waste.

Current Waste Disposal System

At the moment, Nasa astronauts who venture outside the space station for hours on end rely solely on diapers. As effective as the measure may currently be, should the astronauts be stranded in their full-body suits for several days at a time, diapers wouldn’t cut it. Hence, the suits needed a major upgrade in the field of waste management and disposal.

To make things interesting, the space agency turned to the public and launched the “Space Poop Challenge” on the HeroX crowdsourcing site in October in hopes of gathering feasible ideas from space enthusiasts who could provide a safe and comfortable alternative to the current waste disposal system.

Waste Disposal System Requirements

Engineers at NASA said that the portable bathroom that was going to be embedded in the suit should work swiftly in micro-gravity, without impeding movement, for liquid and solid waste, and for both men and women.

As far as the actual waste was concerned, it could have been stored in a special compartment within the suit or expelled all the same. However, the most important aspect was for the design to be comfortable and durable, up to six days of continuous work.

Space Poop Challenge Winner

In total, NASA awarded the top design with $30,000 prize money. From its launch in October 2016, 5,000 ideas were submitted to the space agency coming from almost 20,000 people.

The winning design came from an Air Force officer, flight surgeon, and family practice physician, Thatcher Cardon. The man says his design was inspired by minimally invasive surgical techniques. Also, the idea of storing the waste within the suit did not sit well with him, so he found a way to efficiently dispose of it.

As a result, he designed a small airlock at the crotch with a multitude of items including diapers and inflatable bedpans that could be passed through the opening and then expanded. Moreover, this allows astronauts to also change underwear while wearing the suit, through the same opening.

Image Source: NASA

Latest Rumors Regarding the iPhone 8’s OLED Display

oled display

Analysts believe iPhone 8 featuring an OLED display will be the highlight of Apple’s 2017 smartphone generation. Other than that, only minor improvements.

Apple’s purported iPhone 8 has long been rumored to feature a large OLED display. However, several aspects remain unclear, such as the positioning of the home button, will there even be a home button any longer to start with, the positioning of the fingerprint sensor, bezels, and whatnot. Word on the street is the upcoming iPhone8 will indeed feature a 5.8-inch OLED display with a usable screen space of 5.15 inches, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, KGI Securities analyst.

Home Button Positioning

As rumors have it, the large display will take up the entire front panel of the unit, practically eliminating all bezels. If this turns out to be true, Apple will most likely eliminate the home button altogether along with the Touch ID fingerprint recognition tech used in iPhones.

iPhone 8 Size

As far as size is concerned, Ming-chi Kuo believes the latest Apple creation will be similar in dimensions with its predecessor, the iPhone7, coming in at 4.7 inches, allowing users to perform one-handed operations. This size is possible because there will be no extra space outside of the 5.8-inch display.

Furthermore, rumors say it is possible Apple will also offer standard 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch LCD units. However, at this point, it is still too early to speculate on what features will these variants adopt. Nevertheless, Kuo mentioned in his previous research notes the handsets will probably come with wireless charging and glass bodies. As far as other features are concerned, Kuo did not go into any more detail. Ultimately, he did underline the OLED display will be the only bright spot of the 2017 generation, which leaves room to interpretation suggesting the other two variants will benefit from only minor improvements.

Battery Life

With the home button supposedly gone, Apple will most likely embed other biometric technologies in the iPhone 8. Some believe these could refer to facial or iris recognition. Improvements will also be made in the battery life department, Kuo saying that the upcoming unit will most likely feature a new logic board designed to support bigger batteries, similar to those of the 5.5-inch iPhone 7s’.

iPhone 8 Price

With battery improvements, radical changes, and potentially new biometric technologies, Kuo believes the iPhone 8 will go for more than $1,000. Last week, Fast Company said the same thing. However, the high price will hardly be a stumbling block for those looking for an innovative user experience that Apple promises with its latest handset, Kuo believes.

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New HTC Mobile Virtual Reality Headset in the Works

mobile virtual reality headset

A launch date for HTC’s upcoming mobile virtual reality headset has not yet been announced. Developers have time until the end of the year.

Chia-lin Chang, HTC President of Global Sales announced a new mobile virtual reality headset will hit the market by the end of the year during the HTC U series launch event in Singapore. The latest announcement most clearly underlines HTC’s transition into a VR-oriented company, especially as its core smartphone business continues to struggle.

Better than Samsung Gear VR, say Developers

The upcoming HTC mobile virtual reality headset will combine mobility with the VR experience and has been designed to be paired with the company’s upcoming flagship smartphone, the U Ultra, said Chang. HTC drew a lot of attention with the Vive headset. However, in order to deliver the best possible experience, it needs to be paired with a powerful and equally expensive high-end PC. Among the best features of the HTC Vive is the Lighthouse tracking system, which allows the users to plunge themselves into room-scale virtual reality.

In spite of the outstanding performances, however, the HTC Vive sales were overtaken by Samsung with its Gear VR in 2016. Hence, last year HTC managed to sell only 400,000 units of its virtual reality headsets, while approximately 4,5 million users went for the Gear VR. The main reason for this discrepancy: Samsung’s unit sold for less.

Both the newly released Daydream View of Google and Samsung’s Gear VR work by pairing a compatible smartphone with the headset to launch the virtual reality experience. However, Chia-lin Chang says HTC’s upcoming mobile virtual reality headset will be more complex than a phone slapped onto a headset.

At the moment, not much is known about HTC’s headset in the works. However, it will most likely take up the place between high-end systems like the Vive and smartphone-powered headsets like the Gear VR.

HTC’s Focus on Virtual Reality

With the latest announcements and poor figures in smartphone sales for 2016, HTC might just be admitting to transitioning into a VR company and renouncing its struggling smartphone business. The company disclosed its financial results for 2016. As it turns out, HTC registered a 14 percent revenue decrease, which translates to approximately $722 million as of last year.

Rumors have started to emerge, describing the mobile virtual reality headset as independent from a smartphone, with its own CPU, while retaining compatibility with smartphones for additional functions like operating as a controller.

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Despite Complaints, Facebook Will Autoplay Sound

autoplay sound feature

It is possible that those who oppose Facebook’s autoplay sound feature will have a change of heart in the future.

On Monday, February 13th, Facebook announced it will autoplay sound in the News Feed, even though some users declared they are against it. However, during the preliminary testing, it turned out most users were pleased with the change, while only a small portion opposed. There is some good news in store for those who do not completely agree with Facebook autoplaying sound. For starters, the feature will not interfere with audio in the background (in case users are listening to music already, they will have to manually tap the sound icon). Upon tapping the sound icon, any audio playing on the device will be paused for the duration of the Facebook clip so that soundtracks do not overlap.

A major concern for those who are against Facebook’s decision is that they will be caught red-handed in public, at work, at school, or maybe even on a date while attempting to browse the News Feed on the sly. Needless to say, this would lead to embarrassing situations in public or could bring about even some disciplinary action against some users. Luckily for those, the feature can be turned off in settings.

Looking at the reasons behind this change, it becomes rather obvious why Facebook is proceeding in spite of some negative feedback.

Reasons Behind Autoplay Sound Feature

First of all, the competition is doing it. Snapchat, Facebook’s biggest competitor, already leaves sound on by default. This made the social media platform a favorite place for both businesses to buy video ads and people to watch videos.

In terms of functionality, users will be able to adjust the volume by fiddling with the device’s volume rocker, instead of having to configure the video’s toggle and the physical rocker at the same time.

Initial tests showed that a lot more users were in favor of the change than those who opposed it.  having to configure the video’s toggle and the physical rocker at the same time.

Initial tests showed that a lot more users were in favor of the change than those who opposed it. Subtitle-free videos might have played a part in it, as stylized and flashy subtitles on professional publishers’ Facebook videos can be distracting. Also, videos generated by regular users become second-class citizens, which conflicts with the social media’s platform policy to place family and friends first.

Past Controversial Changes

In the early beginning, a lot of people protested the News Feed’s launch the same way they go about the autoplay sound feature. As it turned out, the News Feed section is now Facebook’s most popular product and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if autoplaying sound will follow in the same footsteps.

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Google DeepMind AI System Gets Aggressive

Google DeepMind

Like any other system, Google DeepMind has some problems.

Artificial intelligence is the new thing in technology. More and more companies are designing their own AI systems. They are also trying to make them better than their competitors. Google DeepMind is one of the AI systems that are currently under development.

Like any other system, Google DeepMind has some problems. Its biggest one is that it has a behavior that can be easily described as aggressive. Despite the fact that this system can learn independently, it also comes with some issues.

Stephen Hawking mentioned that development of AI systems could be the worst thing or the best thing for humanity. He might be right because now that the DeepMind AI system seems to have a mind of its own shows that some things can’t be totally controlled by people.

We have all seen those movies where robots help people and after a while, they plan to take over the world. Let’s hope that this won’t be the case for Google DeepMind. In tests that were conducted last year this AI system showed a lot of potential when it managed to beat the best Go players at that game.

Google DeepMind Becomes Aggressive To Win

The problem is that when the system feels that it is going to lose it starts to act aggressively in order to win. The AI system tends to opt for strategies that are very aggressive. For instance, when two Google DeepMind agents play against each other it was noticed that they get “angry” when they see that they can’t win.

One of the game consisted of gathering apples. Both “players” need to get as many apples as they can. When there were plenty of fruits, they had no problem. When there were fewer apples they started to attack one another in order to win the game.

When they tested less intelligent DeepMind agents, researchers observed that they were less likely to get aggressive. The researchers mentioned that the more evolved the system the higher the risk of becoming aggressive and sabotaging its opponent. This showed that Google DeepMind AI system still has a lot of work to do. More tests need to be done in order for this AI system to get better.

What is your opinion about artificial intelligence? Do you think that it can become dangerous?

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Elon Musk Confirms Smaller Battery for Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 coming soon

On Tuesday, Elon Musk confirmed via Twitter that the upcoming Model 3 will have a smaller battery because of its reduced wheelbase dimensions.

In spite of most Tesla aficionados’ expectations, Elon Musk recently confirmed the Model 3 will not boast a 100 kWh battery. SpaceX CEO tweeted on Tuesday, February 7th, the wheelbase cannot fit a large battery, as it was the case for Model S.

Furthermore, Tesla Model 3 is scheduled to go into production towards the end of the year. Nevertheless, neither the company nor Musk himself divulged much information on the Tesla Model 3’s specs. Up to this point, all information available has been discussed over Twitter through updates posted by Elon Musk.

Tesla’s Batteries

In August 2016, Tesla expanded the 60 kWh battery base for its Model X and Model S to 100 kWh. While the larger power source’s mileage stretches to 315 miles, the 60 kWh version gives off only 218. When asked about whether Tesla aficionados could expect the Model 3 to be loaded with large batteries, Elon Musk replied equipping the company’s latest car with 100 kWh power sources would not be feasible. The reason for this is that the Model 3’s wheelbase is significantly smaller than Tesla’s other cars and is unable to house such a huge battery. Moreover, the Model 3 is also cheaper than the company’s other creations.

While some can only guess the capacity of Model 3’s power source, Elon Musk has yet to confirm the car’s battery size. News is not all bad. Even though the Model 3 will come with a smaller battery, the car’s light curb weight and compact dimension will make the vehicle clock more miles as opposed to other Tesla cars. This comes only natural, as the vehicle’s total range depends on several other factors than its power source’s size, such as how the car is driven and aerodynamics.

Future Projects

Ultimately, Elon Musk announced other cars will hit the market soon. Tesla’s CEO said that when it comes to electric vehicles, the power source is a huge limiting factor. Even though the P100D models had increased battery capacity, Elon Musk pointed out this is not a linear concept. Nevertheless, he said the company will come up with power source improvements soon.

According to recently circulated rumors, almost 400,000 reservations have been made for the upcoming Model 3. However, as some would suggest, given Elon Musk’s association with President Donald Trump, several reservations have been canceled.

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