World Tech Update - Apple Watch, Chromebook Pixel, NASA rocket

PCWorld | Mar 12, 2015

On World Tech Update this week Apple details its Apple Watch and debuts a new, thin Macbook, Sony plans to shutdown PlayStation mobile and NASA tests a rocket booster that will send humans to Mars.

Thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update, I'm Nick Barber. We'll start this week with of course Apple, which detailed its Watches and Macbooks at an event in San Francisco. The much-heralded Apple Watch will ship on April 24 with price tags ranging from $350 for the Sports model all the way up to $12,000 or more for a limited edition in 18kt gold. Each comes in two sizes, with a 38mm or 42mm display.

The watches can all be pre-ordered from April 10 and they'll be delivered starting April 24. They'll be available initially in the U.S., the U.K., China, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Canada and Australia, with other countries to follow as quickly as Apple can manage.

Apple also debuted a new Macbook at its Monday event and one that eliminates almost all of the connections. The new MacBook, which will go on sale in April, is the company's thinnest and lightest yet and is the combination of cutting-edge components from Apple's partners. It has just two connectors, but they do multiple duty. Based on the new USB C standard, each port can be used to connect power supply, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA and USB devices. There's a new keyboard that's a third thinner, a new touchpad and at the heart of the machine, the main circuit board has been cut in size by two thirds. The new computer weighs 2 pounds or 900 grams and is available in gold, silver and grey. The configurations will cost between 1300 and 1600 dollars and go on sale April 10.

Apple wasn't the only company with a new laptop this week. Google's new Chromebook Pixel will also ditch lots of ports in favor of the multifaceted USB Type C connection. A $1300 Pixel model has a Core i7 processor and 64GB of storage. At 1.5 kilograms it is more than one and a half times the weight of the new Macbook.

An airplane powered completely by the sun took off Monday embarking on an around the world flight. The plane will log 40,000 kilometers or 25,000 miles as it makes about a dozen stops in various cities around the globe. Called Solar Impulse 2, the plane has four propellers and a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747. But for its size it only fits one pilot and weighs about the same as a mid sized car. Two Swiss pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard will switch off throughout the journey, which will include about 500 hours of flying. The most grueling leg of the journey will be from China to Hawaii which will take 5 days non-stop. The exact position of the plane can be monitored throughout its journey on a website set up by the team. The entire point of the trip is to showcase the promise of clean and renewable energy.

PlayStation Mobile, Sony's attempt to recreate PlayStation experiences on Android smartphones, tablets and the PS Vita, will close in July. The platform will stop distributing content on July 15 and in-app purchases and downloads of previously purchased software will stop on Sept. 10. The development is another blow to Sony's struggling mobile business, which hasn't been able to outperform like the company's hit PlayStation 4 gaming console.

NASA fired up the largest, most powerful rocket booster ever and one day it will take humans to Mars. At a test facility in Utah, the booster fired for two minutes producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust. That's the same amount of time it will fire when it propels NASA's Space launch system off the launch pad. During launch 2 of the 177-foot long solid rocket boosters will work in parallel with four main engines for the first two minutes of flight. The rocket booster will undergo a cold temperature test at 40 degrees Fahrenheit in early 2016.

Well that's our show for this week, thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update. To find out what's coming up on every week's show be sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter. I'm Nick Barber and for all of us here at the IDG News Service thanks for watching and we hope to see you next week.