Smartwatches, Ultra-Thin Notebooks, Odd IoT: Gadgets For Spring - InformationWeek

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3/22/2015
12:06 PM
Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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Smartwatches, Ultra-Thin Notebooks, Odd IoT: Gadgets For Spring

You've heard all about the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy S6. But what else is new in the gadgetverse?
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(Image: Jeff Bertolucci)

(Image: Jeff Bertolucci)

New Season, New Gear

What's on your gadget wish-list this spring?

In recent weeks, much of the tech world's attention has focused on the Apple Watch, which, after months of pre-launch rumors, speculation, and hype, will finally arrive April 24. Ranging from $350 (sort of affordable) to $17,000 (a one-percenter's splurge), Apple's first foray into the smartwatch market still seems oddly mysterious, perhaps because the gadget's practical value to consumer and enterprise users won't become clear until real-world testing gets underway.

The initial assortment of Apple Watch apps is, more or less, made up of smartphone exports -- the sorts of things you could easily do with your iPhone -- and lack the killer-app appeal that wrist wearables need to go mainstream. To be fair, the same criticism applies to other smartwatches too.

Samsung's latest pair of flagship phones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, are drawing a lot of buzz as well.

The Edge, with its dual curved screens that show information even when the main display is off, is the cooler of the two. Preorders look strong -- in the 20 million range, reports claim. That's good news for Samsung, which needs a hit after lackluster sales of the Galaxy S5, which has fallen far short of its original shipment projections.

What else is new in the gadgetverse? Quite a lot, actually. The tech industry is counting on wearable computing to spur growth, particularly as sales of smartphones and tablets slow -- or even decline, as in the case of the iPad -- in developed regions. Market research firm IDC projects that worldwide shipments of tablets will reach 234.5 million units this year, a slim 2.1% increase over 2014.

People often think of wristbands and headgear (like Google Glass) when "wearable computing" comes to mind, but the genre is veering off into novel implementations, such as sensor-equipped clothing. In healthcare, for instance, the market for wearables could be significantly larger than for fitness, totaling "hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales," wrote TechKnowledge Strategies analyst Mike Feibus for InformationWeek in November.

Which raises the question: Will wearables and related gizmos find greater success as specific-use devices, or will multi-use gadgets like the Apple Watch rule the day? We don't answer the questions on the following pages -- it's far too early to make the call -- but we do provide a peek at what's coming from gadget makers this year.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
3/22/2015 | 2:16:47 PM
Bluesmart
No one else thought to add a weight sensor to a luggage! Wow that is awesome, it's probably the best out of the lot here. Another amazing gadget (or gadget friendly gadget) is the wireless charging enabled furniture. I wonder why no one else thought of that. Now everywhere you go, your phone won't be running out of charge.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
3/22/2015 | 9:24:55 PM
Re: Bluesmart
The weight sensor luggage is an awesome idea. I wish I came up with that invention and had it trademarked and patented. I am excited to see the HTC phone. Is that a sidekick? That looks like something I would totally want to get but won't, because of the price. As much as I think the weight sensor luggage is awesome, I don't travel enough to invest in that. The Ikea furniture that also serves as a charger, seems practical and handy. I am curious to know the prices for those furniture pieces.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
3/22/2015 | 9:28:46 PM
Re: Bluesmart
I don't want the FitBit for myself but the fact that it holds a charge is definitely a perk. This would be a good gift for my sister or one of my friends, because they are really into Fitness and monitoring their fitness.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
3/22/2015 | 9:38:46 PM
Re: Bluesmart
The Digit Soles look like something I would love o keep my feet nice and toasty. The price is too steep for me. Perhaps someone that works outdoors in the winter would invest in them.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2015 | 8:13:47 AM
Re: Bluesmart
The Digit Soles are wonders for those who live in a frosty climate. However the best gadget of the lot really is the BlueSmart luggage, because it added a weight sensor for displaying the weight. It also comes with GPS. Now this is the appropriate way to use smart, connected things.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2015 | 8:10:16 AM
Re: Bluesmart
@AngelFuego: More news for you: HTC is giving out money as a reward for them who don't crack the phone. Not just that they are compensating with a one year replacable warranty (both the screen and the phone), so now you can misuse the phone whenever you like, just remember not to crack it if you want HTC's money.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2015 | 8:11:53 AM
Re: Bluesmart
@SunitaT0: I hope that IKEA puts a really affordable price tag for these gadget friendly furniture, otherwise I don't see the point of making this a news if customers aren't given power to use it without having hassle.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2015 | 1:27:21 PM
Re: Bluesmart
Unfortunatly looks like the IKEA product line will favor Android, but hopefully a simple case or attachment will allow them to work for iOS devices.  I think it is great to see a huge business like IKEA start to integrate new technologies, especially as price points become lower, to meet the needs of the overall furniture market.  They are nimble and creative enough to do it, so it would be great to see a future line of tech-enabled furniture that utilizes these new solutions to better incorporate technology into the home.  Perhaps soon we will see smart lights and other accessories being sold at the local IKEA.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2015 | 7:07:40 PM
Re: Bluesmart
Wireless charging is a good addition to have in furniture. However, I wonder if the current standard of 5v at 1amp for a smartphone and 5v at 2amp for a tablet will remain the same moving into 2016 and beyond. If requirements change then, furniture will need to be replace and the depreciation cycle of furniture is longer than, tech gadgets. Nevertheless, wireless charging is another one of those technologies that needs to advance and it will not advance if firms are not experimenting with the technology.

Currently, I use a 20,000mAh power bank because, it always seems that the wall socket is designed/placed to be just out of reach to charge and at the same time utilize a device.
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