The week in gadgets: Jolla, HTC, Samsung, Kinect for Windows and the forecast for 4K TV

27 May 2013

Jolla smartphone

A look at gadget happenings, as Microsoft teases a new Kinect for Windows, analysts make predictions for the growth of 4K TV, Logitech’s Ultimate Ears has a new social music player to show off, and a new smartphone platform from former Nokia workers enters the market while Android flagships from HTC and Samsung compete for sales.

Nokia’s MeeGo developers are back with Jolla

Jolla (pronounced ‘yolla’) is both the name of a new company made up of former Nokia employees and the smartphone they have developed. Antti Saarnio, chair and co-founder of Jolla, left Nokia in 2011 along with other employees who had been working on MeeGo, a Linux-based open-source mobile operating system that Nokia left by the wayside in favour of Windows Phone.

With their new-found company, MeeGo has evolved into Sailfish and Jolla will be the first smartphone built for this platform.

The device features a 4.5-inch Estrade display, dual-core processor, 16GB storage and micro-SD slot for expansion, 8MP auto-focus camera, and a replaceable battery. It’s 4G-enabled and Sailfish is compatible with apps designed for the Android platform.

The Sailfish interface focuses on gestures and so the Jolla smartphone is buttonless. It also comes with colourful interchangeable rear covers that can change the UI, adapting the colours, fonts, profiles and functionalities. This kind of individualisation was popular with Nokia’s mobile phones, long before the days when they became ‘smart’.

Jolla hopes to ship its first smartphone, at a price of €399, by the end of 2013.

Battle of the Android flagships: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One

The HTC One smartphone was due for release in mid-March but, due to components shortages, didn’t reach major markets like the US and Asia until April. This delay cost HTC dearly, as reflected in its first-quarter financial earnings, but sales have been promising since then.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 5m HTC One handsets have been sold since the device’s launch, allaying fears that the company is floundering, particularly in the light of the disappointing performance of the HTC First ‘Facebook phone’.

But it’s still not enough to compete with top-selling Android phone-maker, Samsung. The South Korean company is reported to have shipped 10m of its Galaxy S4 smartphones to date, even though its release was later than the HTC One at the end of April.

With these figures, Samsung has topped its previous first-month sales for the S III, which took 50 days to reach 10m, while the S II took five months.

Analysts predict strong growth of 4K TV

While it’s generally believed that 4K TV is far from becoming mainstream, analytics firm IHS says TV panel-makers expect to ship almost 943,000 ultra-HD LCD panels this year, compared to 33,000 shipped last year. This hopeful forecast goes on to predict 7.1m units shipped in 2015, and 20.8m by 2017.

UHD-ready panels, which will be lower-spec and less expensive than the UHD models, could ship up to 4m this year. However, predictions such as this need to be taken with a pinch of salt as the growth of 4K TV will have to be driven by greater availability of 4K content. Let’s not forget the hype that surrounded 3D TV in its early days, and the lacklustre position this format is in now.

Here comes the BOOM

Logitech brand Ultimate Ears has released the UE BOOM, which it claims is the first-ever social music player. The wireless speaker offers 360-degree sound powered by a 15-hour rechargeable battery.

Logitech Ultimate Ears UE BOOM

Protected by a water and stain-resistant skin, the UE BOOM can wirelessly connect two devices together using the free-to-download UE BOOM app (available for iOS and Android). Connected devices can play music in stereo-to-stereo mode or traditional left/right stereo mode.

The UE BOOM has a suggested retail price of €199 and is available now from Apple retailers across Europe and online.

Kinect for Windows upgrade coming next year

Last week saw the unveiling of the Xbox One all-in-one entertainment system from Microsoft and, with it, an all-new Kinect sensor. Microsoft also revealed a new Kinect for Windows sensor will arrive in 2014 and will be built on a shared set of technologies found in the new Kinect. This includes enhanced precision, an expanded field of view, improved skeletal tracking and all-new active infrared. More details on the new sensor will follow in the coming months, starting with Microsoft’s Build conference in June.

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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.