Gadgets of the month: Samsung, BlackBerry, Google Chromebook, HTC, Minuum

29 Mar 2013

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month and look ahead at what’s to come, featuring news of a smartwatch from Samsung, BlackBerry’s bounce-back from the brink, Google’s plans for the Chromebook, HTC’s plans for 2013, and a promising new take on smartphone typing.

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

This month…

Samsung not satisfied with just smartphones

Samsung revealed its new flagship Galaxy S4 earlier this month, to much adoration for its new eye-scrolling technology – though LG did sneakily beat it to the punch on that one.

But now that the S4 is here, the tech press need something else to keep levels of anticipation high and attentions turned to the prospect of a Samsung smartwatch. Samsung Mobile’s executive vice-president Lee Young Hee confirmed such a device is in development, which is more than we can say for rumours of Apple’s alleged ‘iWatch’, though we’re excited to see where this new battleground will take these bitter tech rivals.

BlackBerry’s back in the game

The new BlackBerry 10 operating system has surpassed the 100,000 app milestone just two months after the reboot of BlackBerry World, while the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone scored high on iFixit’s repairability scale. But a fatal flaw in the screen’s manufacture means users need to be extra careful not to drop this one or risk losing all touch functionality and rendering the device useless.

That said, the latest product range seems to have turned around the fortunes of the company formerly known as RIM as its first financial results announcement since the rebrand shows an improvement from a Q3 2012 loss of US$125m to a Q4 profit of US$98m following sales of 1m Z10 smartphones.

Google Chromebooks for the masses

Google Chromebooks manufactured by Samsung and Acer arrived in Ireland this month, representing Google’s attempt to democratise technology with low-cost, accessible products for “the next 1bn computer users”, according to Google’s Chromebook product manager Caesar Sengupta.

Sengupta also revealed Google’s vision to have Chrome operating seamlessly across all platforms: “We at Google want to address what users need and what they want rather than create specific products, and make our services available across screens regardless of device.”

Coming soon…

HTC delays and developments

We were expecting the HTC’s new flagship smartphone to hit markets this month but, due to component shortages, the HTC One will hit Irish stores on 2 April.

The Taiwanese manufacturer is seriously upping its smartphone game for 2013 with not only the release of the One but also announcing a partnership with Facebook on a new smartphone. The Facebook smartphone will operate on a forked version of Android geared towards the social network’s apps and services and is expected to be revealed at a press event on 4 April, reaching markets mid-2013.

Rumoured features for the phone include a 4.3-inch display, 1.5GHz processor, 5MP rear camera and a similar design to the iPhone 5 (though not too similar so they can avoid a lawsuit, presumably). But will it be enough to pinch away some of those über-satisfied iPhone users?

The bare Minuum keypad

‘Soon’ is probably too hopeful a timeframe to attribute to Minuum, but with almost US$67,000 raised above an original target of US$10,000 on Indiegogo, we’re expecting to see increased development from the team behind this ‘little keyboard for big fingers’.


Like a super-condensed QWERTY keyboard, Minuum is a smartphone keypad that occupies a fraction of the available screen space and is designed for fast, sloppy typing. If it works as well as its creators think it does, this could be a godsend for frustrated smartphone users everywhere, and also has implications for wearable tech.

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.