Gadgets of the month: wearables, HTC One M8 and Sony’s Digital Paper

31 Mar 2014

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month, from wearable tech to the latest flagship smartphone from HTC, and look ahead at a new paper-replacer to come from Sony.

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


New developments in the wearable tech market

Wearable technology was once again a hot topic for discussion this month, from smart watches to 4K cameras to gaming headsets.

First, we had the grand unveiling of Android Wear, Google’s mobile operating system made especially for wearables. This was followed by news of Project Morpheus, Sony’s virtual reality headset in development for PlayStation-powered gamers.

Microsoft is said to be working on a similar wearable companion for its Xbox games system, but both devices will have stiff competition from the Oculus Rift, a highly anticipated VR headset that has been exciting developers since 2012.

However, fans and funders of the Kickstarted project were shocked this week when the company behind it, Oculus VR, was snapped up by Facebook for US$2bn.

Zuckerberg Oculus Rift gif

And that wasn’t the only major wearable tech mash-up announced this month as Google joined forces with Luxottica, maker of designer sunglasses Ray-Ban and Oakley, to develop and distribute Glass products with a more fashionable flair.

HTC One-ups itself with M8 edition

We may not see a dual-OS smartphone any time soon with Huawei deciding to shelve that plan, but we will have a smartphone with a dual rear camera on the market in Ireland as of 3 April.

My first impression of the HTC One M8 was a positive one, particularly the cameras – both the Duo Camera on the rear and the 5MP front-facing shooter – and the redesigned BlinkFeed news and social media aggregator.

One thing future M8 users won’t want to do, though, is drop it. An iFixit teardown of the new flagship smartphone ranked it the second-least-repairable smartphone and pointed out that one of the most commonly required smartphone fixes – a damaged display – is extremely difficult due to the product’s design.

iFixit HTC One M8 teardown

The innards of the HTC One M8, courtesy of iFixit

If that hasn’t put you off, pre-orders of the HTC One M8 can be made now with O2 Ireland, from free for bill-pay customers and €600 for pay-as-you-go customers.

Sony’s US$1,100 slate for paper pushers

As far as technology has come, the practicality of pen and paper endures. Still, Sony’s trying to make paper-intensive environments more digitised with its 13.3-inch Digital Paper device.

Basically a digital A4 pad, Digital Paper features E Ink Mobius, a new flexible electronic display developed by E Ink in collaboration with Sony. At just over half a centimetre thick and weighing about 357g, it may be surprising that Digital Paper also supports about three weeks of battery life, Wi-Fi connectivity and 4GB storage, plus an SD card slot.

The high-contrast, high-resolution (1,200 x 1,600) 16-level greyscale display can be used to load PDFs which can then be manipulated on-screen with touch controls and the attached stylus. User can highlight and erase text, annotate documents with handwritten notes and save these files digitally.

Sony Digital Paper

With a price tag of US$1,100, Digital Paper is not a consumer product and instead targets the professional market, such as legal, academic and business environments. On sale in Japan for some time now, the device will reach the US in May this year.

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.