Sennheiser Announces Urbanite Range and Momentum In-Ears

Sennheiser has been busy over the past few days announcing two new products, Urbanite headphones and Momentum In-Ear earbuds, both of which look outstanding.

Sennheiser Urbanite HeadphonesThe new Urbanite headphones are aimed at the fashion-conscious Gen Ys, with a high quality product that emphasises bass.

“Sennheiser Urbanite headphones are for the generation of Millennials who know more and demand more. They love their tunes heavy and love to look good, but are smart consumers who won’t compromise on quality. They want bass but want it done right,” says Tim Voelker, Director of Sales and Marketing. Ok, so Sennheiser are taking the fight to Beats. Good luck.

The Urbanite range has two models, the standard on-ear and an over-ear, the Urbanite XL, with larger earpads. There’s a wide choice of colours, including denim, with some colours exclusive to each model. To control music on the go, the Urbanites have an in-line remote with microphone, and there are versions for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

Priced at GB£149.99 and GB£199.99 for the standard and XL respectively, the Urbanite headphones are available now.

The Momentum In-Ear buds extend the Momentum range from over-the-ear, through on-the-ear to into the ear and if they’re anything like the Momentum On-Ears that I tested earlier in the year, they should be both amazingly well designed and sound fantastic.

Momentum In-Ears

Available in black and red and made in stainless steel with chrome detailing, the In-Ears use proprietary Sennheiser transducer technology which “carefully replicates the sound signature that characterises the Momentum range: a powerful bass response, detailed vocal projection and a great sound stage.”

The Momentum In-Ears have a three button in-line remote with integrated for both controlling the music and taking phone calls. The earphones will come in two versions, one for Apple iOS devices and one primarily for Android devices, though it should work with Windows too.

The Momentum In-Ears will be available in time for Christmas for €99 and US$99.95.

Atari 2600, Colecovision Comes to the Internet Archive

xenophobeThe Internet Archive is a database of websites, media and more to try and preserve the past. The archive houses a lot of content you might not be able to find otherwise. Now you can add arcade games to the list as the Internet Archive is bringing console gaming to your computer.

The archive has added 70’s and 80’s video games from Atari, Colecovision, and Magnavox Odyssey. It’s part of Archive.org’s Console Living Room. The games currently don’t have sound, but Archivist Jason Scott stated that will be added shortly.

Don’t throw away your MAME console just yet. The archived games are only home-console versions. So Pac Man and Donkey Kong will look and run like your Atari 2600 system version.

Still, there were a lot of games I played a lot in my younger days which never went past those gaming systems. These games on the archive fell into disarray, which puts the game into a grey area – legally. Tablets and smartphones can run these emulated games, which can bring new life into what we played as kids.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just have to find that one game I played on the Coleco as a kid but don’t remember the name…

 

First Firefox OS smartphones hitting the market

firefox phoneFor a year now we have known that Mozilla was developing its own mobile operating system. There has even been a preview version you could run with the Firefox web browser and developer handsets available, though these sold out very quickly.

Now the launch is at hand, as the first handset will be going on sale through Telefonica in Spain. “Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, today announced that the regional launches of Firefox OS smartphones will begin soon. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica will release the first Firefox OS devices, the ALCATEL ONE TOUCH Fire and the ZTE Open, soon. Individual partners will announce specifics about launches in each market soon” says Mozilla.

Mozilla boasts that Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies. The handsets will have the basic — calls, messaging, email, camera. There are also things you wish a smartphone offered. Firefox OS also includes built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with offline capabilities and smart walking, driving and public transit directions, much-loved features like the Firefox Web browser, a new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace and much more.

Other markets will be coming soon, as Mozilla boasts of more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, the organization hopes to fill a niche market with low-priced smartphones.

Sony Connects Up At CES

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.

Laptop, Netbook, Smart Phone, Tablet – An Interactive Graphic

A new interactive infographic posted today gives a quick overview of the features of four different devices – a laptop, netbook, smartphone, and tablet.  If you are shopping for one of these devices this holiday season, and wondering which you should get, then the infographic linked below will give you a good starting point.  To get a general overview of what features are included with each type of device you can just hover your mouse over a device and the features it includes will be highlighted.  Hover over a feature and see which device it requires.

The infographic was posted by Chris Byrd, Corp Comm Social Media Team to the Dell blog.  Dell, of course, has a horse in this race – they make devices in all four categories.  However the graphic isn’t brand specific, but just gives an overview of features.  This by no means will tell you exactly what to buy, but it’s a cool, fun way to get you started in your shopping research.

Laptops, Netbooks, Phones & Tablets Interactive ComparisonLaptop, Netbook, Tablet, & Smartphone Comparison Interactive by Dell

Stats on 60 Seconds of Mobile Use in October 2011

Did you ever wonder what everyone around you is doing with their constantly-out smartphones?  Well, Mobclix did some research about what cell phone users are clicking and came up with a snapshot of what goes on in a single minute of usage.  Some of the results may surprise you – like 4,111 ads were clicked on.  Some may not – like that Angry Birds is simply in a category of usage all by itself.  You won’t believe how many people are looking for song lyrics or slicing fruit in Fruit Ninja.

All of this data was put together into one cool infographic.  It’s posted below, so have a look and see what you think.  Does it reflect what you expected?  Do you find anything really surprising?  What would an infographic of your usage reflect?

mobile in 60 seconds

Source: Mobclix

Will Smartphones Make Harmony Remotes Obsolete?

For a while now I have been controlling my Windows Media Center HTPC with a remote control app on my Android phone.  Recently I have been playing with…er reviewing…a DirecTV remote control on the same phone.  I control my FreeNAS home server from that phone.  I could also control Windows Home Server, a TiVo, a Comcast DVR, and probably many other set-top boxes as well.  All of this got me to thinking….will smartphones make things like the Harmony remote control a thing of the past?

For years now, Harmony has reined supreme as THE device to have for home theater geeks, and has even edged it’s way into the mainstream.  Sure, there are other “universal” remotes, some of them are even higher-end than Harmony, like Crestron.  Yes, Crestron can do a LOT more than the average universal remote, like control home security and lighting.  But now there are smartphone apps for those things too.

What can Harmony do that my Android can’t?  Well, there are a few things.  Some are due to the limitations of my hardware and some are due to the limitation of the apps.  For one, my A/V receiver isn’t networked and neither is my LCD TV, so they can’t be controlled from my phone.  For another, the “one-app-to-rule-them-all” isn’t there yet.  By that, I mean that Harmony can turn on my receiver, TV, and DirecTV HD DVR with a push of one button, even setting the receiver to the proper output and the set-top box to a particular channel.  By contrast, my phone requires me to open each app separately to do these things.

So, can Android, iOS, and the others replace these universal remotes?  Yes, but not quite yet.  The hardware exits already.  Virtually every home theater device available today can be found with network capability.  If a device can be networked then you can be sure that an app will exist for it.  What is stalling things right now is the “one-app-to-rule-them-all” part.  Nobody, as far as I know, has come close to creating an app that can control multiple devices, like my HTPC and DVR.  Until that happens, and I am positive it will, then Harmony and the others will continue to be survivors.

Deloitte Identifies the Killer App

If you are thinking of developing a mobile app, particularly one associated with a brand name, then you’ll want to read Deloitte’s latest research into killer apps. In less than a dozen pages, it has some great data, mini-case studies and plenty to think about.

Here are a few of the nuggets:

  • 45% of smartphone owners download an app at least once per week.
  • but less than 1% of the apps associated with a “brand” have been downloaded a million times (which seems to be the metric for success in the app world).

If you want your app to succeed, there are two broad areas that do well – “time killers” and “utilities”. Games are good examples of time killers but Audi and Volkswagen’s driving games are some of the few that have done well. In the utility space, Kraft’s iFood Assistant has also been a hit.

Looking at apps that do well and are successful, these typically employ five functions to engage the user – portability, the accelerometer, sophisticated touch screen use, location-based services (GPS) and the camera. Using these are no guarantees of success but they certainly help.

Of course, it helps if you know your user. Deloitte has broken down iPhone ownership by employment type revealing three big groups:

  • 25.2% – Professional and higher technical work
  • 22.6% – Manager and senior administrator
  • 19.3% – Clerical

In the end, Deloitte reckons that there are four ingredients for branded app success.

  1. Offer useful functionality
  2. Know how to manipulate app store ratings
  3. Target the platforms used by the brand customers
  4. Use additional smartphone functionality

The full report can be downloaded from Killer Apps – The Promises and Pitfalls of a Smarter World.

G Data MobileSecurity for Android

Continuing the battle with the bad guys, G Data has released its MobileSecurity product for Android smartphones and tablets. MobileSecurity is designed to protect the data on phone from viruses, malware and spyware. Apps have to gain authorisation from the user before the app can make calls, send text messages or transfer data. Other features include app blacklisting and app checking during installation. Of course, there are regular updates to the software to keep the protection up-to-date.

Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data commented: “Malware writers are entrepreneurs: always looking for the best return on investment. According to analysts, Gartner and IDC, Android seems to be the market leader in mobile operating systems, so it is logical that cyber criminals will target the platform. Android malware can be easily spread through apps, which is another reason the platform is targeted. Not only did the beginning of 2011 see the emergence of this trend, but it also saw Android take the lead as the most targeted mobile operating systems in terms of malware. So it is the perfect time to introduce a solution for the protection of Android devices, as we expect a large increase in this area.

Marketing puff aside, as we’ve seen in the past few weeks with the Mac malware and the Gmail spearphishing, there are criminals out there working out how to attack every major platform. And f they can’t beat the platform directly, they’ll go after the user, which is often the weakest link.

G Data’s MobileSecurity is available for £9.99 from a range of Android app stores or is free with G Data’s 2012 range of security products.

Carphone Warehouse Sells 1 Million Android Smartphones

In a press release yesterday, The Carphone Warehouse announced that it had sold one million Android handsets in Europe with a year-on-year growth of 2000%. The Carphone Warehouse has been a strong supporter of Android with exclusive arrangements on handsets such as the Samsung’s Nexus S and a similar deal on the forthcoming Motorola Xoom tablet.

CPW also has by far the best range of Android handsets on the High Street with HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG all featuring in its stores. CPW sells the iPhone too, so it’s a fairly level playing field for customers when it comes to choosing a handset.

“The speed with which Android has stormed the market is phenomenal,” said a Carphone Warehouse spokesperson. “Year on year growth is well over 2000%. It’s no surprise that Android smartphones have become the smartphone of choice for so many of our customers. Hitting one million Android sales in Europe is great as it proves that our dedication to offering an extensive range and securing top exclusives has really benefited not just us, but our customers too.”

The growth of Android is astonishing, especially as I don’t think it really has any cult appeal, compared to a certain other smartphone. It would be very interesting to see how many of the purchasers went into the store to buy an Android phone or did they go in to buy a smartphone? Maybe they just went in to get a phone.

The smartphone market seems to be very much a two horse race at the moment between iOS and Android. Can Microsoft and Nokia catch up to the leaders and will HP’s WebOS make it to the post? Interesting times ahead.