June is always a busy month for new gadgets. The E3 video games show, Taiwan’s Computex IT show and Singapore’s CommunicAsia all provide a launching pad for new products and other companies are busy preparing new gizmos for the upcoming mid-year holidays. And 2009 was no exception.
One of the worst kept gadgets secrets of the past few months, Sony’s new PSP, debuted at E3, Computex brought a raft of new products including some cool mobile Internet devices and at CommunicAsia we had a glimpse at the first Android-based smartphone from Samsung.
Sony PSP Go
Perhaps the most anticipated gadget of the month was Sony’s redesigned PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go. The device ditches the UMD (Universal Media Disc) slot and instead will store games downloaded from an online store in its 16GB memory, which makes much more sense given the strides made in wireless networking and storage technology in the last few years. Without the UMD slot it’s smaller and also includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Sony will continue to sell the UMD-based PSP and release software on disc for the device so current users won’t be left with an obsolete product. Look for the PSP Go from October in the U.S., where it will cost US$249.
Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Samsung’s first smartphone based on Google’s Android should be available from late June beginning in Germany and France. The I7500, named the Galaxy, has a 3.2-inch OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screen, GPS, a 5-megapixel camera capable of recording video, and a scratch-resistant touchscreen that’s made of tempered glass. The Galaxy doesn’t have a physical keyboard, but the screen is equipped with haptic feedback that’s activated when the virtual QWERTY keyboard is displayed, giving users a degree of physical feedback when they type. The lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard and the use of an AMOLED display, which doesn’t require a backlight, help to make Samsung’s Galaxy very slim. The handset measures 115 millimeters by 56 mm by 11.9 mm — thinner than HTC’s Magic and Apple’s iPhone 3G. Pricing is yet to be announced.
Casio Exilim EX-H10
There’s a lot to remember when packing for vacation but a new digital camera from Casio could mean one less thing in your baggage. The Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-H10 can shoot 1,000 images on a single battery charge — enough, says Casio, to last most people through their vacation. That’s not all it offers vacationers. For close-up shots of large buildings or scenic views the lens has a wide-angle starting at 24mm and there’s a clever “landscape mode,” which invokes digital processing in the camera to enhance images. In a test the mode worked great and cleaned up a lot of the effects of mist in a cityscape. The 12-megapixel camera has a 10X optical zoom lens, 3-inch display and can shoot 1,280 by 720 resolution high-def video in the Motion JPEG. It will be available worldwide from July.
It was only a few months ago that the first prototype solar-powered cell phones were being shown off by LG and Samsung. Well, now the first production models are ready to launch but they’re from Japan’s Sharp. Available through local carriers KDDI and Softbank, the phones recharge the battery through a solar panel built into the top of their clamshell-style body. Thirty minutes in the sun will provide enough power for 2 minutes of chat or 140 minutes of standby power while 90 minutes pushes this up to 9 minutes of talktime and 560 minutes on standby. If you leave the phone in a brightly lit place you might never need to plug into the wall again! The phones are due out soon but will only be available in Japan.
ECS Ming-vase PC
One of the most unusual gadgets of the month was a new PC from Taiwan’s Elitegroup Computer Systems styled to look like a Ming Dynasty vase. The concept design contains a home media computer complete with a Blu-ray Disc player offering full 1080p high-def playback housed inside a plastic vase-shaped case. The main processor is an Intel Atom and its assisted in graphics tasks by an Nvidia Ion chip. There’s space for a hard disc drive and the bottom of the vase reveals plugs for an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable and USB ports. The vase rests on a traditional Chinese wooden stand, hiding the cables. ECS is a contract PC maker so won’t be selling it directly but is offering it to partners. It could be out later this year.
Sanyo waterproof Xacti with Wi-Fi
The ability to transmit photos and videos via the Internet as soon as they are taken has been added to Sanyo’s Waterproof Xacti WH1 camera. A new model of the camera, originally launched in March, was unveiled in late May with support for the Eye-Fi card. Eye-Fi is an SD card-size Wi-Fi adapter. It fits in any SD card slot, but the gadget that it’s connected to must support the card. That’s what Sanyo has added with the new camera. The waterproofing will keep the camera safe in up to about 3 meters of water. It has a 30-times optical zoom lens and can shoot 720p high-def movies. The image sensor is a 1.1-megapixel version, which is much lower than most other cameras, but what you give up in high-resolution you get back in the waterproofing, hgh-def movie mode, and optical zoom lens. The Xacti DMX-WH1E will be available in Japan in late June and will cost around 55,000 yen, that’s about US$560. International launch plans were not announced.
Intel Moorestown MID prototypes
Visitors to Computex got a chance to see the first working prototypes of Mobile Internet Devices running Intel’s new Moorestown platform. Moorestown is designed for handheld computers. The heart is a more power-efficient version of the Atom processor, named Lincroft, which is paired with a chipset called Langwell. Intel claims Moorestown uses one-fiftieth the idle power of its predecessor, the Menlow platform. The new platform is available with a range of wireless options, including Wi-Fi, WiMax and 3G cellular connectivity. The MIDs were all running the Moblin Linux and should be available early next year.
(Additional reporting by Dan Nystedt)