The week in gadgets: Barnes & Noble does a U-turn, Google searches for Glass testers

25 Feb 2013

Google Glass

A look at gadget happenings, as Barnes & Noble makes a U-turn on the Nook, Samsung confirms a Galaxy S IV due date, Google searches for explorers and we discover two handy smartphone accessories and three new camcorders.

Barnes & Noble to back out of hardware business

A report in The New York Times this weekend claims that when Barnes & Noble announces its results on Thursday, it won’t be a happy day for the Nook. Citing an unnamed source, the report says the bookseller is not moving out of the hardware business entirely, but its focus will indeed shift to licensing content to other manufacturers, such as Microsoft and Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy S IV confirmed for 14 March reveal

It has been confirmed at Mobile Word Congress that Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S IV, will be unveiled at a Samsung Unpacked event in New York City on 14 March, just as expected. Meanwhile, the South Korean manufacturer didn’t come to the mobile conference empty handed and the 8-inch Galaxy Note 8.0 has been introduced.

Samsung Galaxy S IV event teaser

Crowdfunding to see if itFits

Tech start-up itFits has come up with a universal smartphone accessory that serves as a flexible stand for use on a flat surface or can attach a handset to a laptop screen or sun visor in a car. Its thermoplastic rubber arms allow it to flex and wrap snugly around almost every smartphone with or without a case in six positions.


Currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to raise US$10,000 for manufacturing, itFits is available in black, red, grey and pink with green to follow if the funding goal is reached. The company is hoping to launch the product in May with a retail price of US$19.95, though backers can get their hands on one for US$15 until the campaign ends on 6 March.

HipKey keeps track of your iPhone or iPad

Another smartphone accessory that caught our eye this week is HipKey from Danish company Hippih. This small Bluetooth 4.0-enabled alarm can connect with an iPhone or iPad via a free app to let users keep track of their devices, their bags or even their kids. The keyring-sized device contains built-in motion sensors that trigger an alarm if your device is moved beyond a safe distance, if your bag is moved or if your child gets too far from you.


Once your device and HipKey are connected, you can even use one to find the other. And, to stop you from receiving alerts when in the safety of your own home, a Safe Zone can be set to switch the alarm off in a specific location. The HipKey is available in Apple stores or can be bought online for €84.95.

Google seeks Glass explorers

Last week, Google launched a Glass product website along with a video showing how the tough and light wearable tech may be used in the real world. But to really understand how Glass will fare on its consumer release (expected later this year), Google needs real users to test them.

These users are being called ‘explorers’, but the title’s not available to just anyone. First of all, they need to be US residents. They also need to be over 18 and following Project Glass on Google+ and Twitter. Interested potential explorers then need to let the world know in 50 words or less what they would do with a pair of computer spectacles using the hashtag #ifihadglass on either of these networks. Posts can include up to five images or a video of no more than 15 seconds. Bold and creative individuals are sought, so the shy and retiring need not apply.

Applications to become a Google Glass explorer close this Wednesday, 27 February, and those selected will be contacted by Project Glass. But they won’t be getting the early-stage product for free. Explorers are required to pre-order Glass for US$1,500 (plus tax) – what a deal, eh?

Three new HD camcorders from Panasonic

Panasonic’s 2013 line-up has now expanded with the introduction of the HC-V720, HC-V520 and HC-V210 HD camcorders.

Panasonic HC-V720

Panasonic HC-V720

The flagship HC-V720 (RRP €669.99) features a high-sensitivity sensor combined with Crystal Engine Pro and comes Wi-Fi-enabled to allow for real-time broadcasting in full-HD via Ustream. It also has an NFC chip for one-touch connection with capable smartphones, which can then be used as a live view or to remotely check the audio recording, zoom in or out, trigger the shutter or complete other functions.

The 28mm wide-angle lens is capable of 50x Intelligent Zoom and still image capture comes at 20.4MP. In addition to a five-axis Hybrid OIS, you have Level Shot technology that automatically detects and corrects the tilting of captured images.

Panasonic HC-V520

Panasonic HC-V520

The less expensive HC-V520 is priced at €519.99 and also comes with built-in Wi-Fi, an NFC chip, a wide-angle 28mm lens, five-axis Hybrid OIS and Level Shot, though this model is capable of 50x optical zoom and 80x Intelligent Zoom, and still images are captured at 10MP.

Panasonic HC-V210

Panasonic HC-V210

Finally, the €359.99 HC-V210 reaches 72x optical zoom with its 32.3mm wide-angle lens. Still images are captured at 10MP and the compact and lightweight device offers 135 minutes of recording time, achieved through low power consumption.

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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.