LG G4 phone launch – as it happened

29 April 2015: So, here we are in Singapore where LG aren’t just launching a phone, they are promising to “let you see and feel true greatness”.  That’s from the press kit blurb, which admittedly, always tend to lash on the superlatives.

But anyway, let’s see how the day goes..

9:55: Media stroll from the Marina Bay Sands (yep the one that dominates Singapore’s skyline with a rooftop infinity pool that spans three sky scrapers) to the nearby ArtScience Museum, the distinctive building which happens to be shaped like a lotus flower.

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10:00: Registration time.

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10:30: Launch presentation begins: Continue reading

A touch of leather spices up the next LG superphone

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The new LG flagship smartphone, the G4, will be revealed this week and if the pre-publicity is to be believed the phone will come sporting a smart leather jacket.

Press invites to the launch events in New York, London, Paris, Seoul and Singapore teased the arrival of a premium leather back for the high end device.

A number of leaks support the rumour that the high-class-hide will be a key selling feature.

Apparently the production of this particular case takes 12 weeks which seems ages in the fast-turnaround, high-volume production world of the modern smartphone.

So much for the back, the question is what can kiwi consumers expect from the phone itself?

We know that LG has an impressive pedigree in smartphones; the G2 sported an edge to edge Full HD IPS 5.2″ screen and innovative battery technology to power it. Meanwhile last years G3 featured a 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS and a 13MP camera with a class leading laser auto-focus system.

It has been confirmed that the G4 will have an even better screen than the G3, this time a Quad HD IPS Quantum Display which is 25% brighter and has a 20% better colour range than last years model.

Having visited their panel factories in Korea last year I know what a source of pride screen technology is for LG and this will no doubt be a big selling point.

The G4 will also retain the “back-of-the-handset” power and volume keys which mark it out from its competitors.

Even though so much has been revealed there are enough unknowns to keep a sense of intrigue around the launch.

In particular it will be interesting to see how LG position the phone as a lifestyle enhancing device (not merely a machine overflowing with technical specs) as their main competitors, Apple, Samsung and Huawei have successfully done.

I will be experiencing the Singapore event hands on and look forward to reporting back on Wednesday our time.
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Take better photos with your smartphone – Lumia action in Australia

Matt Glastonbury is a mobile phone photographer.  To clarify; that doesn’t mean he takes photos of mobile phones, instead he is an expert in taking photos with mobile phones.

Matt started snapping away on an iPhone in Hong Kong a number of years ago.  He began to specialise in photos that could be used by tourism businesses to promote themselves on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Before long he graduated from iPhones to Lumia devices, having heard that the quality of the camera and importantly, the power he had over the controls, gave him more flexibility to achieve great shots.

We met Matt earlier this month on a fact finding trip to Sydney, facilitated by Microsoft Devices.  Over two days Matt showed the assembled media how to better use their Lumia devices in order to get professional quality photos.

It’s often said that the best camera is the one you have with you, but using it correctly is an advantage.  For example we were shown how to take better food photos.  One tip -take the camera off of auto and using manual focusing to ad depth of field to your food photos.

Another top tip was to look for ways to play with water and light, using the reflective power of water to enhance the composition of your shots.  And of course with the Nokia Camera app in the Lumia phones, it was easy to adjust the exposure controls to add saturation.

Matt also gave us tips on using Nokia’s living images which add a touch of animation to an image, and the Storyeller app to build a short video from your still images.

But enough with the writing, let’s have a look at the proof; here are some of the photos Matt took on a Lumia 930 during our two day tour of the Blue Mountains.

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That’s what a professional’s shots look like.  Meanwhile, here are some of the pics I took using a loan phone (including the best #animalselfie featuring Bandit the horse and yours truly – I’m the one on the right).

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About the Lumia 930:
Running on the latest Windows 8.1 operating system, the Lumia 930 offers a seamless experience across your phone, tablet, Windows PC and Xbox devices – making it easier to access your favourite shared files in more places – as well as Live Tiles so you can quickly and easily stay connected to the things that matter most.The new addition to the premium Lumia line-up brings the best of Windows and Lumia including:

Stunning screen – the crystal clear 5-inch Full HD OLED display lets you watch your favourite shows, movies or video clips in any condition, and thanks to a 2420 mAh battery and built-in wireless charging, there is no need to worry about running out of battery.

More from every moment – integration of the new Microsoft Enterprise feature pack, Microsoft Office, OneDrive, Nokia Camera, and HERE Maps and Drive+, all of which work seamlessly to make the Lumia 930 a great tool for work and play.

Your apps, your way – The apps you want, all certified by Microsoft in the only app store that learns what you like and makes suggestions based upon what’s most important and personal to you.

Best for business – With the world’s most popular productivity tools, like Office and Outlook built-in, coupled with a host of new enterprise features like; VPN, SMIME and MDM support, Windows Phone is built for both personal productivity and enterprise deployment.

Class leading imaging – an advanced 20MP PureView camera with optical image stabilization and high quality ZEISS optics makes capturing and reliving amazing images and videos fast and easy.

More from your memories – with the enhanced Nokia Camera with Living Images, it’s easy to add movement and emotion to static pictures, while imaging apps such as Nokia Storyteller, Nokia Creative Studio and Nokia Refocus bring even more levels of creativity to any photo.

Incredible directional audio, HD video – with four high-performance microphones and Rich Recording, the Lumia 930 captures HD video like never before, with support for surround sound capture and playback.

Processing even faster and richer – A 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor to enhance activities like Xbox gaming, image capturing and video processing

Low power motion sensing – The new SensorCore helps people track their activity all day without using up the large 2420 mAh battery – perfect for exercise and exploration using apps like Bing Health and Fitness.

The Nokia Lumia 930 is available exclusively through Vodafone for an RRP of NZ$999.

Gadget Roundup – Top Tech for Kiwi Springtime

In this month’s gadget roundup we’ve got a jumping drone, a premium hairdryer and a smartphone with a gnarly zoom lens, proving once again that the world of tech is constantly evolving.   To find out about these products and many more, read on…

 

Drone On

 Kids of all ages went gaga over the Parrot AR Drone but the relatively high price kept the enthusiasm in check. That’s not a problem for the new, Parrot Rolling Spider drone which clocks in at an affordable $149. This ultra-compact drone, controlled by a tablet or smartphone, flies indoors and outdoors with surprising speed and stability. Acrobatic tricks are available from the free app and you can even steam video from its integrated mini camera. It’s guaranteed to generate hours of fun as is its stablemate the Parrot Jumping Drone (pictured).

http://www.playtech.co.nz/afawcs0139234/CATID=1130/Parrot%20MiniDrones.html

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Heart Beat

Gadgets that measure body movement are all the rage but this is one takes biometric measurement a step further. The TomTom Runner Cardio GPS sport watch, $399, has a built-in Heart Rate Monitor which accurately measures changes in blood flow in the wrist by shining light through the skin. As heart rate monitoring is the most accurate way to understand how the body is responding to exercise, runners can easily use the heart rate settings in this TomTom watch to improve their performance.

http://www.tomtom.com/sports

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Portable Sound

The Haka strikes fear into opposition teams but you don’t have to wait for the next big test to hear the All Blacks rousing challenge. This special, limited edition All Blacks UE Boom portable Bluetooth speaker, $299.90, sports the silver fern design and plays part of the Haka when you turn it on. Like the All Blacks the UE Boom is known for its power and ability to perform under all manner of extreme conditions.

http://www.ultimateears.com/en-nz/

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Zoom In

Most smartphone cameras are fine when you want to take a selfie, but they’re not so good for long distance photos. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, $799, solves this problem by packing a 10 X optical zoom lens into the rear of a flagship Galaxy smartphone. That means that you’ll always have a zoom camera with a 20.7 megapixel sensor at hand, allowing you to capture the moment whether it’s right in front of you or many metres away.

www.samsung.com/nz

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Good Hair Day

When is a hairdryer not just a hairdryer? When it’s made by British brand ghd, makers of the iconic hair straightening irons, of course. The ghd aura, $300, promises to give salon quality results at home by virtue of its patented Laminair technology. This aligns hair in a single direction leaving it ultra-smooth and shiny. Meanwhile the Cool-Wall feature creates a ring of cool air around the hot air, so the user can get closer to the scalp for volume and increased root lift.

http://www.ghdhair.com/

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Laser Like Focus

LG may have launched the G3, $1049, their new global smartphone with the mantra “simple is the new smart” but this sleek phone is packed with sophisticated technology that puts it well ahead of the competition. The 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS display has four times the resolution of current HD smartphone screens while the 13MP camera has a revolutionary Laser Auto Focus system that shoots stunningly sharp images in a fraction of the time required by conventional phone cameras. Simply stunning.

www.lg.com/nz

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 Be Safe, Be Seen

Exercise is important at most times of the year, but if you’re running or cycling in the dark, it’s just as important to be seen. The Halo Belt 2.0, $55, is a reflective, fully adjustable belt that also emits a solid or flashing light. While it’s designed to be worn buckled around the waist, it is also commonly worn over the shoulder or even clipped around a backpack. The belt recharges quickly through a USB connection and is available in red, blue and green.

www.bellsandwhistles.co.nz

Vincent Pilot Ng Halo Belt 2.0 Blue

Game On

Serious gaming requires serious power, and the Asus G750, $3,599, is one of the most powerful gaming laptops currently on the market. The eye-catching design draws inspiration from stealth fighters, while the keyboard layout is ergonomically designed to give gamers greater comfort during long playing sessions. With specs that include a 17.3 inch screen and Nvidia’s most powerful graphics card yet, this 4.8kg powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with.

www.asus.co.nz

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Light Sleeper

Frequent business travellers know how off-putting jet lag can be. Re-Timer glasses, $395, promise to knock jet lag for six using the power of light therapy. All you have to do is wear Re-Timer glasses for 30-50 minutes a day for four days before you leave on a long-haul flight. The gentle exposure to the green light will gradually and naturally shift your sleeping pattern, so you can arrive feeling on the ball for that important business meeting.

www.nzrsi.health.nz

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Behave Yourselfie

The Fujifilm Instax Share, $246, is a wireless device that allows you to instantly print the special moments you’ve captured on your phone. The Instax share app lets you customise your image before sending it wirelessly to the printer. If you want a reminder of the date, time and even the temperature when each pic was taken, no worries; one of the templates allows you to add this to the image prior to processing. It’s one way of making sure each shot is a one of a kind.

http://www.fujifilm.co.nz

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Streaming Sounds

 It’s a first world problem but a lot of homes have older speakers that can’t stream audio from modern wireless devices like tablets and smartphones. That’s where the Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter, $69.90, comes in. This small adapter connects to a speaker or hi-fi system through an RCA or 3.5mm input, instantly adding Bluetooth functionality. You then simply pair your phone to start sending big beats or classical compositions over the air. Problem solved.

www.logitech.com/en-nz

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Top Tablets

If you’re in the market for a new top-end tablet, you’re going to love the look of Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S. The premium Android Tab S comes in two sizes, a 10.5-inch, starting at $749, and 8.4-inch version, $599. They are the first tablets to feature high-resolution Super Amoled screens and as a result images are brighter and more colourful than similarly priced tablets. Parents will love the “Kids Mode” feature which gives little ones a safe place to play and prevents them from deleting any of Mum or Dad’s apps.

www.samsung.com/NZ

[Image] Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch_5

 

Content created by John Buckley, orginally published in KiaOra Magazine, published by Bauer Media, 2014.

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A Glass Act – the Sony Xperia Z2 Shines Bright.

The new Sony Xperia Z2 is a high end smartphone with almost as much glass fronting it as a modernist office block.

It’s a slab of super smart tech wrapped in a minimalist, buttoned-down, waterproof and dustproof housing.

The sheer glass panels on the front and back scream out several things including “quality”, “premium” and “expensive”.

Interestingly, the screen – the massive 5.2 inch screen – is not this phone’s main selling point.  Instead Sony describes the Z2 as the world’s best camera and camcorder in the body of a smartphone.  By saying that, they are drawing your attention to the 20.7 megapixel camera which can capture video in full 4k resolution, four times greater than the 1080p HD of the Xperia Z1.

The Z2 is looking to compete in the rarefied atmosphere at the high end market and it needs that imaging advantage to differentiate itself from the iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8.

I’m not a fan of the term phablet (a cross between a phone and a tablet) but that may well be the best term to describe the Z2.  Its 5.2 inch screen is large for a phone and it is knocking on the door of tablet territory. Despite its size, it’s not actually that heavy, which is just as well because no one likes a phone that makes their suit pockets sag.

For my money, the standout feature is the HD IPS LCD screen.  Photos are awesomely sharp and detailed and the colours are eye popping.  It’s a big improvement on the previous TFT screen from the Xperia Z1.

The proposition: “The Xperia  Z2 combines the best of Sony’s waterproof design, display, sound, camera and camcorder experience and a growing ecosystem of companion products.”

The verdict: If you’re in the market for a high end phone with superior audio and video smarts, the Z2 demands your attention.
Hardware and Software Features:

  • Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) operating system.
  • 5.78 inch tall with a 5.2 inch display.
  • Water and dust resistant (ip78).
  • IPS LCD 1080 x 1920 resolution display.
  • Faster processor.
  • 16 GB built in storage.
  • Micro SD card slot.
  • NFC capable.
  • Magnetic recharging with optional extra charging stand.
  • Noise cancellation (with compatible headphones).

The Xperia Z2 is available in black and in white through Vodafone stores nationwide from Monday 19 May. RRP $1049 or $0 on Vodafone Red 129 – includes 2.5GB data, plus unlimited talk and TXT to standard New Zealand and Australia numbers.

Scroll down for photos and links to YouTube feature videos.

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The Z2 – requires adult sized hands to hold it, but just look at those lovely colours.

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Fun effects: The AR effect allows you to superimpose scenes over your chosen victim/photo subject.

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Youtube Clips Explaining the main features of the phone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sl02KinSr8&list=PL7CrlqRu8QgSE1oB-nXvAXp8RYTX8sD2A – Xperia Z2 Overview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYsuFWBIf3g&list=PL7CrlqRu8QgRGoKpUrIHsliuYQ9Yd9QdX – Waterproofing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbW-4Ui0z6U&list=PL7CrlqRu8QgSE1oB-nXvAXp8RYTX8sD2A – 4k recording capabilities

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56HvMdYoc7c&list=PL7CrlqRu8QgSE1oB-nXvAXp8RYTX8sD2A – Creative effects with the Xperia Z2

Google

Never mind Crash Bandicoot – here’s Crash Handy Shoot

I’m one of those thoughtful drivers who places their smartphone in a dash mounted car cradle while driving.  From time to time though, I have to admit, I’ve used the mount to video the actions of dangerous drivers ahead of me (there just seems to be so many of them in Auckland).  Because of that, my interest was piqued when I heard about a new app from Uniden which will turn my amateur road recordings into the real deal.  The smartphone Crash Cam app is available now for iPhones and from the 1st of March for Android users.  Here’s more info from Uniden themselves:

Uniden, a world leader in wireless communication, has released its first Crash Cam app for smartphones as an extension of its popular iGO Cam in-car vehicle recorders range, helping a wider number of drivers to protect themselves from the significant costs resulting from road-related disputes.

Developed by Uniden Australia, the feature-packed app comes with the latest in vehicle accident recording ‘black box’ technology. It can turn any iOS or Android smartphone into a single camera crash cam, capturing incidents on the road.

With the smartphone mounted on the inside of the windscreen, the app’s built-in G-sensor instantly triggers recording upon detecting any sudden changes in motion, giving drivers the ability to analyse the direction of impact and view how it happened. Loop record continuously records events, providing evidence for police and insurance reports in the event of an accident. GPS geotagging captures details of the location of where an incident took place while the Still Photo function allows drivers to capture images as further evidence.

The app also tracks maximum and average travelling speeds with time and date stamps. Footage captured using the Crash Cam app can also be shared easily via e-mail and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter – perfect for scenic and off road adventures.

The Crash Cam app is ideal for a variety of road users including daily commuters, taxi drivers, couriers, 4WD enthusiasts or parents wishing to monitor the safety of younger or novice drivers. Priced at just NZD$3.99, the Crash Cam app is an affordable solution for drivers who want to trial the crash cam functionality on their smartphones before upgrading to dual or triple camera options such as the iGO Cam 820 or iGO Cam 850.

The Crash Cam app is currently available for download globally on the Apple iTunes store. The Android version is scheduled for release from 1 March 2014 via Google Play.
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Uniden Crash Cam app (RRP NZD$3.99)
·        Records audio and video
·        Film in landscape and portrait formats
·        Built-in G-sensor with sensitivity levels
·        Continuous loop recording – can be manually activated
·        Flexible recording resolution settings in Standard Definition and Full HD
·        Auto record clip films clips up to one, two, five and 12 minutes
·        Still Photo function to capture images
·        Map overlay feature while recording
·        Captures maximum and average speed
·        Date and time stamp
·        Brightness adjust
·        Records on start-up of app
·        Share footage via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail
·        Store video and still images within the app and handset

Sneak Peek – LG’s G2 Smartphone visits New Zealand

It looks like the smartphone wars are heating up. LG announced their new Android UberPhone, the G2, at an event in New York two weeks ago and it looks good enough to give Samsung and Apple a run for their money.

LG NZ were quick enough off the mark to get a couple of test units into the country and from my brief hands on, I can tell you that it looks and feels pretty awesome. We didn’t have enough time to carry out an in depth review but you can read more about the features after the break below.

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From the LG press kit:

New Perspective in Smartphone Design

The LG G2 brings everything together in a device with a comfortable, functional, convenient and beautiful design. The LG G2 shifts the paradigm in smartphone design by placing all the buttons on the rear of the device, making this the first smartphone to be completely devoid of buttons on the sides of the device. The Rear Key concept comes from the realisation when studying users that the larger the phone became, the more difficult it was to properly access side buttons. Moving the main buttons to the back of the phone gives users more control since this is where individuals’ index fingers are naturally positioned.  Furthermore, this is perfect for left and right-handed users.

Continue reading

Why you should want a Blackberry Z10

Blackberry Z10 showing Twitter

I have been using the Blackberry Z10 smartphone for the past three weeks, and I have to admit, I’ve found it to be one classy little number.

Blackberry executives visited Auckland earlier this month (read my TVNZ.co.nz report here) to announce the arrival of the phone in New Zealand and deliver review units to the tech press. Overseas, the company has been buoyed by strong pre-sales of its new, and some say, make-or-break device.  The phone’s software has already been tweaked to version 10.1, meaning Kiwi’s will get the smoother, more up to date version when it launches here on Vodafone and Telecom this month.

Having spent some time with the smartphone I am tempted to put away my iPhone’s and Samsung’s and use it as my main communication device. That’s a big statement so let me explain what has attracted me to the Z10.

Firstly, it’s no slouch in the looks department.  It’s got a beautiful refined feel to it, from the solid side casing to the removable soft grip plastic back which, when detached, reveals a removable battery and slot for a micro SD card.  Physically it is relatively small and lightweight and it doesn’t try to do too much. It’s not a phablet by any means.

The 4.2 inch touch screen is bright and clear and once you get used to its peculiarities, the 10.1 OS is a revelation of simple programme navigation.

You can see that this phone is aimed at the executive market.  It feels like a Porsche compared to the Toyota that is Samsung’s Android lineup (at least up to the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 – I’ve yet to spend serious time with the S4).

What would Apple be in this game of car-brand analogies?  Probably a BMW with style plus performance.

But back to Blackberry.  What they have done is succeeded in creating a secure work phone that can easily switch over to become a cool entertainment device when the work day is done.  This can happen literally with the Balance setting that allows separation between work and personal modes.

But what about the apps?  Obviously a smartphone can only be as good as the programmes you run on it.  At the Auckland event the Blackberry team said there are now 120,000 apps available, including many hot favourites such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.

Funnily enough, they poured scorn on other app stores, saying “how many flashlight apps do you need?”  Well with 176 results for “Flashlight” in the Blackberry World (app store) the answer must be “quite a few”.

Okay – to wrap this up here are my top likes and dislikes about the phone. If you run with just the likes, then you can see why I think you might want this phone.

Summary of Likes:

Look and feel of the handset; simple navigation; great message management; good screen; good selection of apps; swappable battery; micro SD slot; secure “work” mode distinct from the personal mode.

Minor Dislikes:

  • Do we still need a flashing red sparkle to notify us of when we’ve received a new message?  It’s 2013 – when do we not have new messages?
  • Mixed up contacts.  It’s all well and good to try and pull in contacts from multiple sources – Gmail, Linkedin and Twitter for example but the software didn’t seem up to managing the content.  Confusingly, it merged my own John Buckley contact details with some of the 6 other John Buckley’s I follow on Twitter (that’s another story…) without asking me.
  • Also, don’t be shocked when it overheats, because it does that very easily.  Open a selection of apps, run Bluetooth, tick the screen brightness up a bit and it become hot surprisingly fast.  An online search reveals this to be a common issue with Blackberry’s in general.
  • The 8mp camera is decent enough but the camera and imaging software is underpowered in comparison to the opposition.

The scary, exciting, inevitable future of the mobile phone.

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When the mobile phone started to hit the big time in the late 80’s I was a wet-behind-the ears Irish lad trying to make his way in the massive metropolis of London.

It was a time of excess, just before the crash, when Thatcher’s great and prosperous nation had yet to hit the skids of recession and negative equity.

At that time there was no better status symbol to flash in the pubs of Soho than the large, brick-like mobile phone.  Through the mid 80’s the “mobile” was seen as the city traders essential business tool.  By the time I got there they were becoming the must have tool of every middle manager from Twickenham to Walthamstow.

I don’t believe anyone could have predicted then that the ostentatious Yuppie business tool, the partner in crime of the Filofax and the pager, would go on to find a place in the hearts, minds and pockets of the hoi polloi. But that is what happened.

Today western societies are awash with mobile phones.  There are more mobile phones in developed countries than there are people. In Africa, half a billion people own a mobile, four times more people than have ever had a bank account.

The adoption of the technology has been phenomenal.

Over the most recent decade the mobile phone has even, get this, started to evolve. While many of us where happy with dumb phones or feature phones, the next great wave brought us Smart phones.  An influential minority (hello again business users) wanted their phones to do more than send or receive calls or texts.  They developed a need to see e-mails on a handset rather than a laptop.  A Canadian company, Research in Motion successfully converted this desire into profit with the Blackberry, only to be followed by Apple.

The metamorphosis had commenced.  As the kids of business executives discovered, smartphones are also great for games.  And thanks to apps, miniature software applications that harness the technology within the phone, we now have hand held computers that can do virtually anything.

The evolved “smart” phone can now help you to tune a guitar, measure your heart rate, or guide you to your nearest bar/hospital/fascial alignment specialist (mine is in Ponsonby).  You can track delivery of parcels.  You can see how fast you’ve run.  You can even choose to receive live tweets from influential humans whether they are Kardashians in California or orbiting Astronauts.  Sometimes, if you feel like it, you can even make a call.

I tend not to.  It’s too expensive.  I prefer to see my smartphone as a connected device with multiple computational abilities that can enhance my life.  Data is my addiction.  The connection is the killer app.  We have melded our phones to the Internet or to give it the unfashionable descriptor, the information super highway.

Many years ago, Google, standing on the shoulders of Yahoo and AltaVista, condensed all of the world’s digital content into a personally prepared SERP (search engine results page).  There may actually be more than one SERP per search but no one is sure, as they never travel past the top three results.  Google has been described as an external brain and this all-knowing brain, this all-seeing eye, is now at your fingertips at any time of day thanks to the Smartphone.  More on this later.

In the meantime let us turn our attention to the current shape of the mobile phone.  It’s a block.  It’s smaller than the 80’s block it’s fair to say but it’s still a block that sits in your hand.  That is changing too.  We are about to enter the age of the wearable smartphone.  Pebble and Sony have already produced wristwatch devices that can read some information from your handset.  The rumour mill around Apple’s alleged upcoming smart watch is grinding so loudly, Samsung has had to come out and tell investors they too are developing a smart watch/phone. No one wants to miss the next boat.

Google has famously been preparing to launch internet-enabled glasses.  It’s Google Glass project is the latest development to toy with the public’s imagination and desire for innovation. “Why carry a phone when you can wear it?” seems to be the catch cry of the Twenty-Teens.

Wearable technology is merely a step down the road to a greater evolution; one that may scare and thrill people in equal measures.  Science fiction has painted a vision of the future where people and technology are intertwined.   There is even a real world movement dedicated to it. They call it transhumanism.

Whether we like it or not, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the external brain I talked about above becomes assimilated back into the physical human brain.    In it’s most basic form it is the fusing of human biological mechanisms with electronic technology.  I will call IE, integrated/embedded technology. Before long, the smartphone is going to get under our skin, literally.

Surprising as it may seem, people have been sticking digital technology under their skin for decades.  And there is already technology for planting sensors on your skin so your phone can read everything from your body temperature to your UV levels.

So where to next?

That’s the question I was asked on Seven Sharp on Thursday (and which I partly answered – you can see the show here).Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 4.25.33 PM

We started by talking about bone conduction phones.  This technology allows sound to be transmitted through connective tissue such as the bone at the base of the skull, or above your ear.  Various scientific and military test show that this is an effective way of sending sound to the ear canal while leaving the ears open for other information.  Can I get a yuck please?

In the next decade however, phones won’t just be connected to our skulls. There’s a high likelihood they will be inside them.  Bryan Singer has seen the future and made a web series about it. In H+ the first world has gone crazy for the latest gadget, an implant developed by an Irish bio-tech start-up that plants the equivalent of smartphone software in your brain. In a nod to today’s gadget mania the first episode shows millions of people worldwide rushing to be first in line to get the new implant.

It looks similar in some ways to the communication device that people wear in Aeon Flux, the much-maligned 2005 sci-fi movie starring Charlize Theron.  Here we see Aeon getting a call from the boss’s receptionist…

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Sticking with sci-fi, I have to say the lack of embedded technology in Minority Report was a major plot hole for me.  While even billboards were able to communicate with John Anderton, the police had to conduct room to room searches to find him when he went on the run.  Surely if he had a smartphone in his brain the cops could have used the “find my fugitive” function?

A weak attempt at humour that may be but it is actually the crux of the issue in relation to IE technology.  In the future when our phones, or computer connected devices are integrated and embedded, the powers that be will know where we are at all times. And they say only the paranoid survive online!

Embedded technology has always had a special allure for the gadget geek. Who wouldn’t want to live the like the bionic man, with expensive technology on the inside making you more efficient and daring on the outside.  Is it time to think about how far we go with this evolution?

The power of the internet, the equality of communication, the efficiency of technology.  It’s an alluring mix, but do we really want to be tied to our phones, figuratively and literally?

Big Screen Star – HTC One X

If I had to choose a music track to sum up the HTC One X it would be Superstylin’ by Groove Armada.  That’s because there’s a whole lot of stylin’ going on with this great new top of the range smartphone.

As you can see from the pic above, the case is a smooth plastic, semi-curved, shell. While it looks very tasty, you actually have to see it in real life to get some perspective on the size of the phone.  Without fail, the first thing people say when they see it is “wow, that’s a massive phone”.  I suspect that when they say massive, they mean “bigger than my iPhone which has a 3.5 inch screen”.  That’s because the One X sports a luscious 4.7 ” hi-def touch screen. That means you get a hell of a lot of screen real estate on a phone that feels slightly larger in the hand than a phone normally should.  It’s another phone, like the Samsung Note, which follows the philosophy of “if less is more, just think how much more more would be” (I think I read that quote somewhere else but it works well here).

So, the design is beautiful and the screen gorgeous, deep and rich; could there possibly be any drawbacks? I have to say yes.  The sound promises much, but delivers little.  The beats audio logo is unmissable on the case of the phone, appearing to promise great sound reproduction. Unfortunately, during my testing, I can only say that the inbuilt speakers provided a similar sound to any other high end smartphone. That is to say, not great, and certainly not as “rich and authentic” as the literature promised.

One area where the One X does excel is in the camera department.  For a phone, the optics and features are really quite good.  The 8mp camera and smart LED flash work well in low light conditions. My favourite feature though is the ability to take a photo while recording in HD.

The HTC One X is a great quad core powered, Ice Cream Sandwich toting beaut of a phone.  Some users will take a while to adjust to the size, others will opt to reject the smooth white casing in case it attracts scuffs.  However anyone looking for a super stylish Android phone with a bunch of high powered connectivity apps and features will be throwing money at this handset.  It’s definitely going to be an interesting battle between this and the soon-to-be-released Samsung Galaxy SIII.

The HTC One X is available now on the Telecom Smartphonenetwork priced at $0 on a 24 month $100 smartphone plan.