There are already some flexible Bluetooth keyboards that you can roll into your bag or pocket after being done typing on your smartphone or tablet, but LG is about to launch Rolly Keyboard, a solid Bluetooth keyboard for mobile device that can be rolled into a stick, which should may be sturdier than flexible keyboards, and it can also hold a smartphone or tablet in upright position with a display of up to 10″ in size.
LG’ latest keyboard (model KBB-700) is comprised of 17mm keys – a standard keyboard comes with 18mm keys – arranged into four rows, that can be folded into a stick as shown above. The company also claims the keyboard offers “satisfying tactile feedback not found on flexible silicone keyboards”.
The keyboard is powered by two AAA batteries supposed to last about 3 months during typical use, and pairing over Bluetooth 3.0 occurs automatically to up to two devices as you unfold the keyboard. If the keyboard is paired to two devices, you can switch between them by pressing a key.
The Rolly Keyboard will be unveiled at IFA 2015, and start selling in September in the United States, and soon followed by “key markets” in Europe, Latin America and Asia in Q4 2015. LG did not disclosed pricing nor availability.
As far as I’m concerned the talk about a “Post-PC” area is just that: talk. As long as the hardware specifications of smartphones don’t match the ones of entry-level computers, and mobile operating systems don’t support a desktop mode, desktop PCs will still be popular, and I can see it everyday as 60 to 70% of visits of this very blog are made with Windows, Linux and Mac OS computers. However, that’s not to say mobile and desktop converge is not getting closer, as on the software side, Canonical is working on bring Ubuntu to different form factors and support desktop mode for mobile desktop, and Microsoft is also working on Continuum, and on the hardware side, Asus announced a smartphone with 256 GB storage and 4GB RAM, which is pretty close to the specifications of an entry-level computer these days.
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe Edition specifications:
SoC – Intel Atom Z3580 quad core processor @ up to 2.5 GHz with PowerVR G6430 GPU
System Memory – 4 GB RAM
Storage – 256 GB internal storage + micro SD slot up to 128GB
Display – 5.5″ IPS display (Full HD)
Camera – 13MP and 5MP PixelMaster cameras
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, FM radio
The specs are impressive and based on Zenfone 2 Deluxe, just with more storage. However, the phone runs Android Lollipop, and appears to lack HDMI and/or MHL support, so it’s probably not something you’d run as a desktop replacement just yet.
Zenfone 2 Deluxe will sell for 1,999 Brazilian Reals ($560) with 128GB storage, but price for the “Special Edition” with 256 MB storage is not known at this stage.
Android One program aims to delivers low cost smartphones for emerging market with the latest Android version and firmware updates for at least 2 years. Google started with India, shortly followed with Indonesia, and now the company has announced the launch of an Android One smartphone for Thailand with its partnership with i-Mobile.
i-Mobile IQ II specifications:
SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) quad core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.2 GHz with Adreno 306 GPU and Hexagon V50 DSP
Audio – 3.5mm headset jack, microphone and speaker
USB – 1x micro USB OTG port
Misc – Volume and power button
Battery – 2,500 mAh LiPo battery. Up to 200 hours standby, 8 hours talk.
Dimensions – 140.5 x 69.75 x 9.3 mm
Weight – 134 grams
The phone is currently running Android Lollipop, and since it has been launched in July 2015, it will receive firmware updates with the latest version of Android until June/July 2017. The battery, a micro USB charger, a headset, a user’s manual, a USB cable, and a protective film are included in the smartphone package.
The phone is available now for a rather inauspicious 4,444 Baht price tag (~$126) at i-mobile shops, and online. You may find out more information on i-Mobile IQ II product page.
I first heard about Leadcore in 2013 when they announced several ARM Cortex A7 and A9 mobile processors, but since then they’ve become a bit more popular after Leadcore L1860C quad core processor found its way into in Xiaomi Redmi 2A smartphone. The company has now shown its roadmap for 2016, and 2017 with some interesting developments.
We can expect three processors in 2016 all with 64-bit ARM cores manufactured using 28nm process:
An 8-core 64-bit processor with Mali-T820 GPU and LTE Cat 6 modem
A 4-core 64-bit processor with an unnamed Mali GPU and LTE Cat 6 modem
A quad core Cortex A53 processor with TD-LTE and LTE FDD
And in 2017, one processor is scheduled, should be manufactured using 14nm FinFET process, which could mean 2017 will be the year 14nm FinFET goes mainstream even for lower cost processors. That currently unnamed processor will feature eight 64-bit cores and an LTE-A modem. The other parts in the chart should all be modems.
Kankun KK-SP3 used to be the cheapest smart socket on the market at around $20, and it is hackable too, but only available with a Chinese / Australian plug, and for some reasons, many sellers stopped selling the device. Last year, a similar product called Orvibo Wiwo S20 launched with US, UK, EU or AU plug types, but sold for nearly twice as much as KK-SP3 at the time. The good news is that the price has gone down considerably, as it can be purchased for around $16 on GearBest, and it’s available on others for $20 to $26 including on Amazon US, DealExtreme, and GeekBuying.
Let’s remind us of the specifications first:
Material – ABC 94V-0 (fireproof)
Security – WEP, WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK
Power Plug – US, Europe, United Kingdom or Australia plug
Output Current – 10A
Output Power – 2000W max.
Voltage Range – 100-240V AC
Power Consumption – ≤0.3W
Dimensions – 10.3 cm x 6.3 cm x 3.7 cm
Temperature Range – -20 C to 60 C
Relative Humidity – ≤80%
Weight – 110 grams
You can control the device with Orvibo’s Android or iOS app. Since it has been around for a while, there’s quite a lot of user’s feedback, and users are usually satisfied.
BQ launched the first Ubuntu phone to the market with Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, but it felt quite low end with a 540 x 960 display and 8GB storage. They company has now announced another version with the same processor, but larger 5″ display with a higher resolution (720p) and 16GB storage.
BQ Aquaris E5 HD specifications:
SoC – Quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU up to 500 MHz (likely Mediatek MT6582)
Audio – 3.5 mm headphone jack, microphone, Ambient noise cancellation,
Camera – 5MP front-facing camera, 13MP rear camera with autofocus and dual flash
USB – micro USB OTG port
Sensors – Brightness sensor, Proximity sensor
Misc – Notification LED
Battery – 2500 mAh LiPo battery
Dimensions – 142 x 71 x x 8.65 mm
Weight – 134 grams
Many new products are either only available in the US or in China, but for once people living in the European Union, Switzerland, or Noraway can have bragging rights, as BQ Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition is only available for pre-order in these countries. Price? 199.90 Euros on BQ website. Shipping will start on June 22.
I’m eagerly waiting for the day when Ubuntu convergence becomes reality, and I can run Ubuntu on a smartphone which I can also use as desktop PC. But Canonical is not the only company working on convergence and Microsoft has announced Continuum for Phones as part of Windows 10, that will bring desktop mode and support for dual independent displays to next-generation Windows 10 phones.
To switch a Windows 10 smartphone to desktop mode, you’ll simply need to connect it to a desktop display, and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and it will automatically switch to a standard Windows 10 desktop on the big screen where you’ll be able to run apps like Microsoft Office, and other Universal Windows apps, as if it was running on an actual PC or laptop.
The dual screen feature will allow you to check your emails on Outlook on a TV, while your kids watch a movie on the phone screen for instance, and you’ll also be able to answer a phone call without affecting your current work on the desktop. Microsoft also claims this is only possible on new hardware thanks to Qualcomm chips, which probably explains why Continuum won’t work on existing phones.
The requirement for “Universal Windows app” means only apps from the Windows store will run on the phone, and classic desktop app won’t run, until they’ve been ported and available from the Windows store, which overtime should be the case for most apps. If Continuum really works as promised, Microsoft Windows smartphone market share may rise significantly in the future, that is unless Android and iOS also have planned for desktop mode.
The road to convergence is a long one, and although you still can’t really use a smartphone as both a phone and your desktop computers, Ubuntu 15.04 “Vivid Vervet” releases brings us closer to this goal, as the Linux based operating systems now supports not only the traditional PCs and servers, but also the Cloud and IoT platforms thanks to Ubuntu Snappy, and phones such as BQ Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu Edition.
Most changes for Desktop users are under the hood with Upstart replaced by systemd, the Linux kernel is now up to version 3.19, and many packages have been upgraded to a newer version. You can download i386 (32-bit x86) and amd64 (64-bit x86) desktop or server ISO images, and for the first time Ubuntu Snappy for generic amd64 platform, as well as an ARMHF image made for BeagleBone Black, which AFAIK is the very first time Ubuntu formally releases an image for an ARM based device. Ubuntu 15.04 for BQ Aquarius is not available for download directly from Ubuntu website, but the smartphone will soon receive an OTA update.
Developers will also find out that “Ubuntu Developer Tools Center” have gone through various changes, and has now been renamed to Ubuntu Make. Ubuntu 15.04 might also be the last version where we’ll use apt-get and .deb packages, as Ubuntu developers have announced the switch to Snappy (personal) package manager in the development branch of Ubuntu 15.10.