Whilst I already covered the two major players at the 2015 Mobile Web Congress, Samsung and HTC were not the only companies to unveil something of note at this year's mobile electronics trade show. As was expected given the precedent already set by Apple, the smart-watch made its presence felt in a big way, and most of the other big names in the smartphone game (save for Sony and Apple, both of whom consider themselves to be above this sort of thing apparently) had something to show. Here I'll take you through a few of the more notable announcements.
Yes, I know I already covered HTC extensively, but this is an announcement that needed to be shared. The Taiwanese company announced a partnership with Valve (the company behind the Steam gaming service and the classic Half Life games) at this year's show in the form of virtual reality device, the HTC Vive. The headset device works in a similar manner to the Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR, and was developed by HTC using Valve's Steam VR tracking. HTC are adamant that the set will set a new benchmark for virtual reality, with high quality graphics, 90 FPS video, excellent audio fidelity, and the introduction of “Full Room Scale 360 Degree Solution with Tracked Controllers,” which will allow users to get up and actually walk around a virtual space.
HTC announced a partnership with Valve in the form of a new virtual reality device, the HTC Vive
HTC chairwomen Cher Wang, said “It’s rare that a company has an opportunity to forever transform the ways in which people interact with the world and communicate with each other,” but that is exactly what they plan to do with Valve.” The device will not only run games, but more original content created by HTC in conjunction with companies such as Google, HBO and the National Palace Museum of Taiwan. The HTC Vive Developer Edition will launch this spring, and the company also said a consumer edition will be available by the end of the year. Pricing, however, has yet to be confirmed. I'm thinking it's not going to be cheap!
Whilst LG first announced the Watch Urbane last week, the MWC was the first time the company gave users hands on time with the rather sexy looking smart-watch. Forgoing the rectangular design favoured by most smart-watches, the Urbane utilises a more traditional, rounded look that is more subtle and attractive than competing designs. Running the Android Wear operating system, which was developed from the ground-up for use on wearable devices, the Urbane has been designed to appeal to those looking for a device that's more of a watch than a smart device, but is still capable of all the usual smart-watch tricks (heart-rate monitors, GPS etc). Both the Urbane and the larger (and even sexier) Urbane LTE feature a Snapdragon 400 1.2Ghz processor with 512MB of RAM in the Urbane and 1GB of RAM in the LTE. Pricing and release dates have yet to be announced.
The Chinese company made two big announcements yesterday. The first came in the shape of an industry first; a Hi Fi stereo and Bluetooth headset called the TalkBand N1. It features mp3 storage, bluetooth calling and sports tracking functionalities and delivers audio through a 20-20HHz frequency range. The speakers also utilise chamber tuning for optimum performance, and via bluetooth, the sound is of high CD quality thanks to the APTX Bluetooth transmission technology. The sports tracker, meanwhile, includes step counting, distance calculation, calorie consumption tracking and more when paired with a smartphone, and the N1 can also display names and numbers of incoming calls. The waterproof and dust-proof headset is set to be priced at just under £100, and will be available in the UK by the second quarter of 2015.
The TalkBand N1 is an industry first Hi Fi stereo and Bluetooth headset
Huawei also unveiled a standalone fitness tracker, a follow up to their B1 TalkBand simply called the B2. The device boasts a .73' PMOLED display and a really premium build in stunning gold and black. The stunning looks come at a cost though, as there is no heart-rate monitor and it will be retailing for around £150 in the UK from the late summer of 2015. It's compatible with all modern versions of the iOS and Android operating systems, and charges via micro-USB, which means recharging is blisteringly fast. The main thing it has going for it is the looks though. This is seriously one smart piece of kit!
Huawei also unveiled a follow up to their B1 TalkBand fitness tracker simply called the B2
Speaking of good looking gear, Huawei also announced an Android smart-watch yesterday, which is easily one of the better looking devices on the market. The device is being peddled as a premium wristwatch that just so happens to also be a smart-watch. Company CEO Richard Yu called the design, with its Sapphire glass surface and stainless steel body “Timeless,” and given the evidence, it's difficult to disagree with him. The watch features a 6-axis motion sensor, a barometer and a heart-rate sensor, and supports traditional 18mm lugs, meaning you can customise the strap to your liking. The 1.4 inch AMOLED display contains an excellent 286 PPI, far surpassing the 247PPI LG G Watch and the 260PPI Motorola's Moto 360. The Watch will also contain functionalities like call notifications, messages, e-mail, calendar and smart tracking, as well as access to Facebook and Google Now. When it comes to stylish tech gear, Huawei really seem to be owning it this year!
Acer used the MWC 15 trade show as a platform to officially unveil their first smartphone to run the Windows 8.1 operating system. The Liquid M220 phone will be fully upgradeable to Windows 10, and features a 4 inch display with 233PPI resolution. ST Liew, Acer's smartphone business group president, said that “With the addition of a Windows-based smartphone, Acer now offers the broadest Windows portfolio in the industry.” The affordable phone will be priced at around £50, and contains a 5MP primary camera and a 2MP front camera. For such an affordable phone the specs are truly impressive and Acer generally have a good track record with Microsoft, so I'm optimistic about this one!
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer, struggling musician and unashamed gadget enthusiast from Kidderminster in the UK.