The week in gadgets: Lenovo Vibe Z, Samsung NX30 Camera, Archos 4G phones and Wii Fit U

6 Jan 2014

The week in gadgets: Lenovo Vibe Z, Samsung NX30 Camera, Archos 4G phones and Wii Fit U

With CES, one of the biggest consumer tech shows in the world, getting under way tomorrow in Las Vegas, all the major players in the gadgets industry are competing to hit the ground running in 2014.

Lenovo Vibe Z

Chinese telecoms company Lenovo has been pushing hard to enter into the already competitive industry of smartphones and now it has announced four new smartphones, including the flagship model, the Vibe Z.

With the commercial profile of Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher behind its media campaign, the determined company hopes to entice audiences in Las Vegas with a pretty competitive and relatively affordable model.

It is the first of the company’s phones to integrate a level of 4G LTE high-speed internet capability with promised speeds of up to 50Mb upload and 150Mb download; an impressive figure that will be put to the test on Irish networks.

Its screen comes with expected, but not be sniffed at, 5.5 inches with a 1080 x 1920p resolution which should provide clear and crisp visuals.

The camera packs a punch with a 13-megapixel outward-facing camera and a 5-megapixel forward-facing camera for the selfie lovers amongst you.

Perhaps the biggest draw is the phone’s internal memory with 2048MB of RAM, which should handle multiple apps with relative ease, while the internal storage of 16GB is comparable with the iPhone 5s. However, one drawback might be the lack of a slot for a micro-SD card for increased memory.

Samsung NX30 camera

Despite the ever-increasing capabilities of smartphone cameras, photographers can still be glad there is a place for the professional camera.

One of the latest newcomers into the market is the Samsung NX30, which includes improved image processing power, smart camera touchscreen and the new ‘S’ lens for increased image clarity.

The 20.3-megapixel camera greatly benefits the NX30’s incredibly fast 1/8000-second shutter speed and the nine frames per second (FPS) continuous shooting function.

Samsung NX30

Another impressive function is the camera’s ability to perform an 80-degree tilt for particular shots, as well as the ability to move from side to side up to 180 degrees, and upward and downward up to 270 degrees. When you’re trying to angle yourself in a difficult shot, the super AMOLED swivel and touch display lets you achieve them.

The user interface is heavily focused on being able to instantly send images online or to other nearby devices. It encourages users to send images to one another using NFC ‘tag & go’ technology smartphones, tablets and other devices that also feature the technology.

Using MobileLink, the user can send multiple images to four different devices through Wi-Fi. Likewise, AutoShare sends all recently taken photos to a desired location.

Arguably one of the most impressive ways Samsung has used wireless connectivity is the user’s ability to actually control all of the camera’s features remotely through his or her own smartphone.

The camera will be officially unveiled at tomorrow’s CES, along with a number of other Samsung products that will be launching soon.

Archos 45/50

Lenovo is not the only budget smartphone company trying to muscle into the 4G sector this year. In another CES announcement, Archos will be unveiling two new smartphones in its 4G Helium range, the 45 and 50 models.

Both models will do everything expected of a 4G phone but without making a considerable hole in your pocket. It’s also shipped unlocked so there will be no restrictions by network. 

In terms of screen size, the 50 comes in at 5 inches while the 45 comes in at the smaller 4.5 inches. The 50 has a 1280 x 720p HD resolution, which puts it ahead of the cheaper 45 model, which comes in at 854 x 480p.

Other differences include the camera, which is 8 megapixels for the 50 and 5 megapixels for the 45, and both come with a forward-facing camera.

Both phones come with Android’s Jelly Bean 4.3 software, however, Archos has confirmed this will be upgradable to the newer KitKat 4.4.2 OS.

The deciding factor in these phones is the cost. The more basic 45 model comes in at a reasonable €199 unlocked while its bigger brother will cost €239.

Nintendo Wii Fit U

With the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One last November, Nintendo has been pushing hard to maintain its share of the market with its own fitness bundle that works with its own newest console, the Wii U.

Targeting fitness fanatics, the original Wii Fit proved incredibly popular, with sales of more than 22m since it was launched in 2009.

Now, set for release on 10 January, the Wii Fit U comes in two bundles. The first bundle is the whole package, which includes the game, balance board, as well as Nintendo’s own pedometer known as the Fit Meter, a new addition to the fitness game.

Wii Fit U Fit Meter

While it works as a standard pedometer calculating your steps during a run or walk, it will also sync with the game over Wi-Fi at home. This bundle is being advertised at a cost of US$89.99.

Otherwise, if you already own the balance board from the previous game, you can purchase the bundle which includes only the game and Fit Meter for US$49.99.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic