Homo Tech: Latest High-Tech Must-Have Toys
Mobile World Congress (MWC), the biggest wireless technology show on the planet, managed to become bigger - and better - in Barcelona. From February 25 to 28, more than 1,700 companies showcased their wares in exhibition stands, eight halls, and outdoor spaces in the Fira Gran Via. New phones, tablets, back-end solutions, technologies, applications, accessories and plenty more were on display to the more than 72,000 visitors.
Here’s a look at some of the more intriguing items at MWC this year.
Does anyone really use a compact digital camera anymore? Whether snapping pics at a Circuit party or family portraits at reunions, techies reach for a phone. That’s not to say that phones take better photos than digital cameras. But in today’s world, we all instantly share our favorites via Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites and apps. Now that everyone has a mobile phone, it’s that spontaneity, along with not having to schlep around an extra device, that has helped make phones the preferred way of capturing images by non-photographers.
HTC’s revamped version of its One smartphone goes one better, with an Ultra Pixel camera and HC Zoe, a feature that allows users to shoot high-res photos that "come to life" in three-second snippets.
With a press of the shutter, HTC One automatically captures up to 20 photos and a 3-second video. Your photo album becomes a living, breathing gallery, turning those "you should’ve been there" moments into "you are there" moments.
The camera itself has an f/2.0 aperture lens and a sensor that gathers 300 percent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors. It supports 1080p video capture, and even a 360-degree panorama feature.
The phone has 4.7-inch full HD 1080 pixel display, a super fast processor, Bluetooth wireless streaming to a TV or computer and other goodies. HTC One can also work as a remote control on supported devices, so you can fire up the stove from it. There’s even a USB or HDMI hookup.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Tablets are quickly becoming the laptops of the ’10s. The never-satisfied consumer is now clamoring for an even lighter (and more durable) tablet - one you can drop on the subway. Sony’s new tablet is sharper, faster, more colorful and downright slimmer.
Since so many tablet owners watch movies and TV shows on their devices, Sony brags that its tablet offers the sharpest, most vivid TV picture available - as good as HDTV, the company claims. The Android tablet is also the world’s thinnest, at only 6.9 mm and weighs only 1.1 pounds (compared to the iPad’s 1.44 pounds). Oh yes: it’s water-resistant, perfect for those of us who keep drinking around our toys.
Sony Entertainment Network comes pre-loaded, putting thousands of music tracks and films at one’s fingertips. Or one can tap into Google Play for over 600,000 Android apps. Sony expects to launch the Tablet Z in the spring for $500 for the basic model.
The Nokia 105 is super-charged; in other words, it’s made for remote locations where consumers might not have electricity readily available. The mobile gives you up to 12.5 hours of talk time, and you can leave it on standby for up to 35 days.
Available in black or cyan, the durable, dust and splash-proof keypad is inured to the inevitable accidents that sideline so many phones. It has five programmable alarms, a speaking clock (not sure what it says) and a flashlight built in - oh yes, and an FM radio as well. Nokia Life is an SMS advice service that’s like having the Internet at your fingertips, sent straight to the phone whenever you need it. Currently, Nokia Life, only $20, is available in China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria.
OK, so you probably won’t be able to buy one. But at least you know that somewhere, someone is now plugged in.
Tagg the Pet Tracker
The Tagg Tracker looks a lot like a modern bark collar or electric fence collar, with a discrete white and grey body. What makes it indispensable for pet lovers is a GPS-enabled tracking device that comes with (for a recurring service cost) a tracking service.
As an added bonus, it is a neat way to make sure your pets are getting enough exercise throughout the day. Tagg has a system for quantifying activity by giving Tagg Points, from fetching and climbing stairs to napping. You can set a daily goal on the Tagg website and get real-time updates throughout the day.
Tagg Points are broken down into resting, lightly active, moderately active, and highly active, with a basic guide as to how many points your dog should be getting, based on breed activity level.
For $100, you get the Tagg Tracker, docking station, collar clip, and 90 days of tracking service. After the initial three months, you’ll automatically be billed $8 per month until you cancel your service. You can also add more pets with individual trackers for $90 each and an additional $1 per month per pet.
The New Generation Cane
Look, we get that it’s not the sexiest of new tech products available (or in this case, soon-to-be-available). But let’s face it: We all get old - if we’re lucky. That makes Fujitsu’s prototype of a smart cane aimed at helping the senior citizen community stay mobile one of the most forward-thinking tech toys at MWE 2013.
The New Generation Cane gives the elderly (and their loved ones) an easy way to track their location, heart rate and temperature. It can even send email alerts if it thinks the user has fallen.
According to the BBC, the device comes with technologies like GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, as well as an LED display on the handle. Users can plan a route in advance using a compatible desktop program that send directions to the cane, which then displays arrows and vibrates to warn the carrier when to turn.
Though built with a specific aim toward the elderly, Fujitsu hopes the cane will appeal to people with disabilities, or even hikers. Engadget, which tested the device at MWC, says the current prototype can last two to three hours on a charge, though a longer battery life will likely be needed as features are added. Right now, however, there’s no release date set.
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