Category Archives: Weekly Round-up

Techstravaganza! IFA and Apple Event 2015

IFA 2015, Europe’s largest tech show, has officially drawn to a close.  Close on its heels, as is the tradition, was the now annual September Apple Event.  We watched the Apple Event live and have been scouring the IFA reports to see what went down, what everyone loved and what flopped.  The verdict?  If last September (or should we call it Techtember?) was all about upping the ante on flagship smartphones (which it was) this year was all about…TVs, apparently.  4K, OLED, Creepily Intuitive, you name it, everyone had a new TV they wanted you to see.  Even Apple wanted you to get with TV.

Here are a couple of the best overviews, for a general rundown of what went on at IFA.

IFA 2015 logoEngadget coverage of IFA 2015

21 IFA 2015 Product reviews from The Verge

TechRadar’s weirdest things from IFA 2015 and IFA favorites

PCMag’s IFA 2015 photoblog 

You can also watch most of the press conferences and keynotes online:

stylized microphone imageApple Event

Sony IFA Press Conference

Philips IFA Presentation

Huawei IFA Press Conference

Samsung Pre-IFA Press Confrence

Microsoft IFA Keynote

Acer IFA PResentation

Lenovo IFA Presentation

Asus at IFA

Intel IFA Keynote

Internet of Things

The TV trend seems to be part of a wider focus on the Internet of Things, which ruled the day at IFA and which even last year seemed to be becoming Samsung’s consuming obsession.  Having gotten its releases of the requisite fancy new phones out of the way last year and earlier this summer, the Korean electronics company focused almost all of its considerable energy at its IFA press conference on its development of eye-widening, if at times uncomfortably omniscient, appliances and other household goods that observe, calculate, and react in accordance with your every move.

Samsungs’ SleepSense bed sensor  follows in the tradition of Fitbit and other on-body devices that track your sleep cycles, only this one covers your whole bed for super accurate…sleep monitoring.

Samsung’s Smart Things Hub, through which Samsung wants you to control your whole house via WiFi, ZigBee, Zwave, and now Bluetooth.

Wearables

IFA 2015 smartwatchesWrapped up in this IoT trend is a wealth of wearables, particularly watches, and this week saw new ones from pretty much everyone you would expect.  They were as follows:

Samsung’s Gear S2

Huawei Watch (Apparently, they like Apple’s Naming conventions.  It’s best feature? It can pair with Android or iOS phones.

ASUS ZenWatch 2

Motorola’s 2015 Moto 360

The New Moto 360 Sport

LG’s Watch Urbane Luxe Luxe = a watch face plated in 23-karat gold and an alligator leather strap.  And a $1200 price tag.

TomTom’s Spark  Available in October, this one is designed to let you leave your phone behind – it has its own GPS and music storage

Sony’s Wena Wrist This watch was actually crowdfunded through Sony’s First Flight platform for employee pitches and it’s not actually a smartwatch – it’s mechanical, but the band houses an NFC chip for mobile payments an whatnot, a pedometer for basic activity tracking, and a clasp that is triggered to vibrate and light up by smartphone notifications. “Wena”, incidentally, stands for “Wear electronics naturally”. Hmm.

Hermes-DoubleTour-HeroApple Watch: Watch OS2 (coming Sept. 16) will add all sorts of new functionality to Apple Watch, including public transit on Apple Maps, Facebook Messenger, iTranslate,and Go Pro viewfinder and control; but out favorite Apple Watch innovation is a HOT new series of Hermes leather watch bands and faces available in October.

As you can see, some of them are pretty dang slick.  Here is Tech Times’ handy comparison of the first four watches on our list.

Computers and Tablets

It seems that PC and laptop, and even tablet and phone, development is focusing a lot on the high-requirement gaming market – and to interesting effect. Digital trends was kind enough to provide this very handy overview of all the new laptops revealed at IFA, including one that’s liquid-cooled.  Some standouts?  Lenovo introduced a Yoga tablet with a built-in projector.  Acer displayed its new modular PC.  And then, at the Apple Event, we met the new iPad Pro, which boasts a 12.9″ screen and has a detachable keyboard case ($169) and the Apple Pencil ($99) as available accessories.  Looks like the Surface was giving them a run for their money.  We have to admit, the iPad Pro seems pretty slick.  We’ll be excited to beautify and protect it for you when it come out in October.

Phones

Apple announced the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and it looks like they might be getting back on top of their game.  The most notale new feature is, by far the 3D touch capability, which allows the phone to sense pressure, creating a whole wealth of new funcitonality, including a sneak peek feature that allows you to peek at maps, links, emails, messages, etc., without actually having to open them.  We also love the Harry Potter-esque moving photo capability.  We’ll let them explain.

Marshall headphones released theLondon, a phone especially for music fanatics, with two front-facing speakers and two 3.5mm headphone jacks.

Acer revelaved a whopping 10 new smartphones, 8 in the Liquid series (6 “Z” series running on Android and 2 “M” series running Windows), plus a gaming-focused Predator and the Jade Primo, which runs Windows 10.

Sony launched a new “Z” series of Xperia phones, the Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium, the last of which boasts a 4K UHD screen, the first of its kind.

Huawei Announced its G8, a mid-range phone with an all-metal build and fingerprint sensor.  It also announced the Mate S, it’s higher-end iPhone competitor.

Lenovo introduced two phones so gigantic they almost don’t qualify as phones – the Phab and Phab Plus (yeah, that’s short for “phablet”, they just embraced it).  Their screens are just a nudge away from 7″.  The iPad mini’s screen is 8″.

Asus revealed five new camera-centered “Zen” phones, including the ZenFone Zoom with a 3x optical zoom lens and the ZenFone 2 Deluxe.

Samsung, of course, had already released its new Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and Note 5.

Also, this:

The Best “Best of 2014” Lists

As another year draws to a close, experts in every field have compiled lists of their favorite things from 2014.  Well, here at Mighty Skins, we decided to compile a list of our own.  We’ve rounded up our favorite lists in all our favorite categories for the Best “Best of 2014” Lists List.  Enjoy.

Best “Best Apps” Lists

The Guardian’s collection of The best apps of 2014 for Android, iPhone and iPad (demo videos!)
Gizmodo The Best Apps of 2014
Fast Company The Best Mobile Apps Of 2014
Android Authority 15 best designed Android apps of 2014
Google Play’s Must-Have Apps
PhoneArena Best replacement apps for iOS

Best “Best phone” Lists

Abstract Wood-Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen 2014)

Moto X

Aztec Blocks-Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6

Cross Hatch-Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Galaxy Note 4

No surprise, the Galaxy Note 4, iPhone 6 , and Moto X
made it the top of almost everyone’s list.

C|net Best phones of 2014
Digital Trends Best Cell Phones
Know Your Mobile The 10 VERY Best Smartphones of 2014
uSwitch Best cheap mobile phones of 2014

And looking into the future: Phone Arena’s The 7 best phones to expect in the first half of 2015 and Geek’s 5 upcoming Android phones that are worth waiting for

 

Best “Best Tech” Lists

Burnt Stripes - Pebble Watch

Who does’t love a good bit of gear?

Mashable Best Tech of 2014
Fortune 26 coolest gadgets of 2014
PC Magazine The 15 Best Fitness Tech Gifts
Gotta Be Mobile Best Tech of 2014
Paste Magazine The 10 Best Technology Advances of 2014 (a glimpse at our awesome near future)
TopTen Reviews 2015 Best Smart Watch Reviews and Comparisons

Best “Best Games” Lists

Kotaku’s twins The 12 Best Games for Android and The 12 Best Games on the iPhone
C|net The best games of 2014 (with pictures!)
The Verge staff picks The best video games of 2014
The Guardian The 25 best video games of 2014 (with video!)
IGN The Best-Reviewed Games of 2014
GamesRadar Game of the Year 2014 (pictures AND video!)
PCGamer Game of the Year Awards 2014

MarioKart 8

MarioKart 8 for the Nintendo Wii U was a popular game this year

Best “Best Laptops” Lists

PCWorld The best PC laptops of the year
PC Magazine The 10 Best Laptops (all laptops, not just PCs)
Digital Trends Best Laptops
Expert Reviews The 11 very best laptops to buy in 2014
Paste The 10 Best Laptops of 2014
Tech Brij 10 Best Laptops under 400 Dollars (December 2014)

Birch Wood Grain - Apple Macbook Pro 15

Apple MacBook Pro with Birch Wood Grain skin

Cherry Wood - Apple Macbook Air 13

Apple MacBook Air with a Cherry Wood skin

The Macbook Pro and the MacBook Air
are still making all the lists

IFA Pre-Party is fun fun fun

The IFA global trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances officially started today in Berlin, but pre-show announcements over the last couple of days have pretty much stolen the show.  

In press conferences throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday, major players unveiled their latest and greatest gadgets, and some of them are pretty great.  In order of appearance, here are some of the highlights.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Asus kicked things off on Wednesday morning (our time) with the announcement of a new super-thin ultrabook (Zenbook UX305), a laptop (EeeBook X205), the MeMO Pad 7 (ME572C), and the company’s first wearable device, a posh-looking android watch called the ZenWatch that looks like a proper watch but works like an awesome phone watch.  Here is a video of the Asus press event.

Next up, Acer announced several convertible notebooks, most with touchscreens, and three new tablets, two running Android 4.4 KitKat (Iconia One 8 and Iconia Tab 10) and the other its first Windows tablet (Aspire 8 W, around $150 coming in November).

 

Samsung was the winner of the poop-your-pants-excited contest on Wednesday (check out the press conference video), when it announced its highly-anticipated Galaxy Note 4 alongside the much-rumored Galaxy Note Edge, which, while not sporting the 3-sided display imagined by the masses over the past few months, does boast an entirely innovative curved display with a side-runner, the potential uses of which appear to be endless.  Here’s how the two new phablets compare.

As if twin Galaxy Notes weren’t enough, Samsung also revealed a pretty cool smartwatch (Gear S) and the Gear VR kit, a set of virtual reality goggles based on Oculus technology that pairs with the Galaxy Note 4.  The company also announced the Galaxy Tab Active, but no one seems that excited about it.  But remember Samsung doesn’t just make awesome gadgets.  They also spent a good chunk of its press conference talking about the smarthome of the nearer-than-we-think future.  So, maybe soon we’ll be providing you with skins for your Galaxy toaster.

Sony has a couple special things this year, particularly the Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 and the ILCE-QX1, essentially lens-shaped cameras that use your smartphone for the viewer and controls.  They also announced two Xperia Z3 android smartphones (Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact) and a tablet (Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact), all of which include PS4 Remote Play, which enables gamers to access and play PS4 games seamlessly on these devices.  But the fun’s not over.  Sony also announced a new smartwatch (cleverly named SmartWatch 3) that has interchangeable straps, a new fitness band (Smartband Talk), and a mid-range smartphone called the Xperia E3 Dual.  Here’s the video from the Sony press conference.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Compared to the Wednesday crowd, HTC’s showing on Thursday was a little underwhelming.  It was pretty much just the Desire 820 smartphone, which, with its 64-bit, octo-core Snapdragon 615 processor is pretty cool for its price range, doesn’t really carry the futuristic glamor of virtual reality goggles or lens-camera hybrid attachments.

Microsoft’s Nokia conference was not a lot more exciting than HTC’s.  They announced the Lumia 730 and 735, it’s new “selfie” phones, as the stars of it’s two-act show, with the Lumia 830, a more affordable alternative to the high-end Lumia 930, playing straight man.   Lumia phones will also be getting new software, including improvements to its Cortana talk-to-your-OS function and fixes to reportedly slow shutter times, as well as some handy new accessories like a wireless charging stand and a screen sharing device a la Chromecast, only not as slick.

If HTC and Microsoft were light on the new good stuff, Lenovo more than made up for it.  It announced a slew of new machines, from ultrabooks to towers, too many to name here.  These are the ones that seem most exciting.  The ThinkPad Helix is a 2-in-1 Ultrabook with a detachable keyboard; the Edge 15 is a new super-thin, but not ultrabook-thin, laptop; the HORIZON 2s and 2e are tabletop PCs (all-in-one PCs that can lay flat like giant tablets); the ThinkCenter Tiny-in-One (this is cool) is an all-in-one desktop that lets you change out the PC without changing the monitor.  Lenovo also announced some new machines for gaming, two new smartphones (Vibe Z2 and X2), and a Tablet (TAB S8), plus a bunch of other stuff.

And, just for Motorola, Friday, 5 September 2014

Perhaps the only announcement more anticipated than the Galaxy Note on Wednesday was Motorola’s Moto X  smartphone and Moto 360 so-hot smartwatch announcements today.  Motorola also introduced the more budget-friendly Moto G smartphone, but no one was looking because they were still cleaning up their 360 drool.

No doubt, more cool stuff will be forthcoming now that the trade show has actually begun.  And amidst all this hullabaloo, Apple will be making a certain highly anticipated announcement from its own exclusive venue, streaming live for the world to see September 9 at 10 a.m. PDT.  So we will have much to discuss in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.

 

Weekly Round-up

Well, coming off the high of Gamescom, it was hard to get back into the regular rumor mill that inhabits the pages of tech blogs and e-magazines the world over.  But, with the rapid approach of the IFA tradeshow, opening September 5, rumors are starting to gain a little more substance, and we managed to find a few promising tidbits to share with you.  Since last week was all about gaming, this week, we’re all about phones.

First, real Apple news: OS X Yosemite Public Beta 2 and new iTunes 12 build now available.

And now, your weekly iPhone 6 rumors:
128 GB of storage?
5.5-inch chassis?
If you still want more, Gizmodo has put together an excellent summary of everything we think we know about this enigmatic device.

If you’re already thinking about how to bling your new iPhone 6, it is available for pre-order in 24 karat gold from Brikk.  Of course, if the cool $5,000 starting price is a little rich for your budget, we’ll have skins starting in the low dollars.  Like, less than $10.

If the phone mentioned above is, in fact, not a little rich for you, you may soon be able to use it to start your Tesla, according to 9to5 Mac.

Not the leave out the iPhone’s faithful cousin, word on the street is that the next generation of iPad Air may have 2GB of RAM.

The iPhone 6, and possibly the new iPad Air, is likely to debut on September 9, when Apple has scheduled a “media event”.  That’s for real, not just a rumor.  Probably.


With the Galaxy Note 4 one of the most hotly anticipated new devices expected this year, Samsung is going to have a big job living up to speculations.  Here are a few of them:
Galaxy Note 4 Camera Features and more Galaxy Note 4 camera details.
And, of course, the fabled three-sided screen, straight from the U.S. Patent Office’s mouth.
Bonus! Here is an exciting preview of some of its stylus-related capabilities from Samsung’s Chinese site.

Also from Samsung (with Barnes & Noble), the Galaxy 4 Nook.
And, just for fun, Samsung Galaxy Mega stops bullet, saves man’s life.

 

LG has announced two new handsets will be revealed at IFA this year, the L Fino and L Bello.  More on that from AndroidPit and Ausdroid.

 

According to TK Tech News‘s apparently inside source, Motorola is planning 8 new devices in time for the winter gifting season.  Many of these will likely be announced at the special Motorola event in Chicago, planned for September 4.

 

Finally, Android Authority recommends android smartwatches, bluetooth speakers and headphones, and other fun and useful stuff for going back to school, keeping the student’s limited budget in mind.

Androids on skateboards courtesy of wikimedia.

Mighty Skins Round-Up: Gamescom Edition

It’s only natural that we here at Mighty Skins follow with fervor all things gadget, game, and mobile.  This past week, all things gaming were going down at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, where one of the biggest gaming expos in the world took place from Wednesday through Sunday.
Here are the highlights:

Prize Winners

Best of GamescomEvolve 

Best Action Game: Evolve

Best Console Game Microsoft Xbox: Evolve

Best PC Game: Evolve

Best Online Multiplayer Game: Evolve

Seeing a pattern here?  It may seem like it, but  Evolve didn’t win everything.

Best Console Game Sony PlayStationThe Evil Within

Best Console Game Nintendo WiiSplatoon 

Best Role Playing GameRisen 3 

Best Simulation GameTheatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call

Best Sports GamePro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2015

Best Family GameLittleBigPlanet 3

Best Mobile GameSuper Smash Bros. 

Best Social / Casual / Online Game: LittleBigPlanet 3

Best Hardware: Oculus Rift DK2

Announcements

Playstation

Sony confirmed an October 14 US release date for the Playstation TV it revealed a couple months ago at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles.   The micro-console will allow users to stream PlayStation 4 games from one console in their home to a second television via Remote Play.  Like others of its kind, it will also provide access to selected entertainment content through the PlayStation Network, including the PlayStation Now streaming service, Sony’s new rental service for Playstation games.

This fall, the PS4 system update 2.0 will bring make it possible to share games online with friends who may not own the game.  It will also support YouTube and some other features.

For more of Sony’s Gamescom announcements, check out this post from CNET on the scene: Here’s everything Sony just announced at Gamescom.  IGN also did a nice job compiling Sony’s biggest Playstation reveals.

X-Box

The highly anticipated white Xbox One was finally revealed.  It will be available as part of the Sunset Overdrive bundle system, which also includes a wireless controller and a digital copy of Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive with some extra bells and whistles.  How sweet will that look with this chevron skin?

Two other bundles are also coming: The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle, launching on November 3, includes a custom console and controller, a 1TB hard drive and a Limited Edition exoskeleton,along with a digital copy of  Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Day Zero Edition.

Also, a FIFA 15 bundle  with console, wireless controller, 14-day Xbox Live Trial, HDMI Cable, chat headset, and a digital token for FIFA 15 with Ultimate Team Legends Gold Pack will launch next month.  This one doesn’t look as cool out of the box, but we can fix that for you.

Gamespot does a pretty good job covering some of Microsoft’s other announcements in this article: All The Biggest Microsoft Xbox News From Gamescom 2014

Who else was there and what did they bring?

Well, everyone. But here’s a list of the major (and medium-weight) players and some of the games they’re debuting.  Also, CVG has a comprehensive catalog of the videos released in connection with the conference, including trailers, demos, and press conference video.

  • 2K Games (Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Evolve, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, NBA 2K15, WWE 2K15)
  • Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Ultimate Evil Edition), Skylanders: Trap Team, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor)
  • Atari (RollerCoaster Tycoon World)
  • Bandai Namco (Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, Rise of Incarnates)
  • Bohemia Interactive (DayZ Standalone)
  • Bethesda Softworks (The Evil Within)
  • CD Projekt RED (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
  • Capybara Games (Super Time Force Ultra)
  • Crytek (Arena of Fate, Ryse: Son of Rome)
  • Daedalic Entertainment (Blackguards 2)
  • Deep Silver (3 new Dead Island games, Emergency 5, Metro Redux, Risen 3: Titan Lords, Sacred 3)
  • Devolver Digital (Not a Hero, Titan Souls, The Talos Principle)
  • Electronic Arts (Battlefield: Hardline, Dawngate, Dragon Age: Inquisition, FIFA 15, NHL 15, Shadow Realms, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Galactic Strongholds, The Sims 4, Titanfall: IMC)
  • Focus Home Interactive (Act of Aggression)
  • Frontier Developments (Elite: Dangerous)
  • Grey Box (Grey Goo)
  • Konami (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Pro Evolution Soccer, Silent Hills)
  • Kalypso Media (Grand Ages: Medieval)
  • Microïds (Syberia 3)
  • Microsoft (Below, Forza Horizon 2, Forza Motorsport 5, Fable Legends, Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Killer Instinct, Nero, Ori and the Blind Forest, Quantum Break, Screamride, Smite, Space Engineers, Sunset Overdrive, Superhot, The Escapist)
  • Nintendo (WiiU: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros., Yoshi’s Woolly World; 3DS: Disney Magical World, Fantasy Life, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Super Smash Bros.)
  • Nordic Games (Aquanox – Deep Descent, MX vs. ATV: Supercross, SpellForce 3, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, The Guild 3, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter)
  • Paradox Interactive (Cities: Skylines, Hearts of Iron IV, Hollowpoint, Magicka 2, Pillars of Eternity, Runemaster)
  • Phoenix Online Studios (Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Ann. Ed)
  • Riot Games (League of Legends)
  • Sega (Alien: Isolation, Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (WiiU), Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal)
  • Sierra Entertainment (Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, King’s Quest)
  • Slightly Mad Studios (Project CARS, World of Speed)
  • Sony Computer Entertainment (Alienation, Big Fest, Bloodborne, Driveclub, Final Horizon, Flame Over, Freedom Wars, Futuridium, Hellblade, Helldivers, Hohokum, Hustle Kings, Invizimals: Das Bündnis , Journey, LittleBigPlanet 3, Murasaki Baby, Pix the Cat, Rime, Soul Sacrifice Delta, Super Exploding Zoo, Tearaway Unfolded, The Order: 1886, The Tomorrow Children, The Unfinished Swan, Until Dawn, Volume, Wild)
  • Square Enix (Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Life is Strange, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Nosgoth, Rise of the Tomb Raider (X-Box Exclusive), Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call)
  • Starbreeze Studios (The Walking Dead)
  • Techland (Hellraid)
  • Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, Just Dance 2015, Just Dance Now, Might & Magic Heroes VII, Shape Up, The Crew, Toy Soldiers: War Chest, The Settlers: Kingdom of Anteria, Tom Clancy’s The Division)
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Batman: Arkham Knight, Dying Light, Gauntlet, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Lego Ninjago Nindroids, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Mortal Kombat X)
  • Wargaming (World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, World of Warplanes, World of Warships)