The week in gadgets: Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Plus, the iPad mini’s insides and DIY Pi Pads

28 Oct 2014

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Inside Apple's iPad mini 3, courtesy of iFixit

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A look at gadget happenings, as iFixit busts open an iPad mini 3, Samsung introduces a plus-size model and Irish projects take off on Kickstarter.

iPad mini 3 gets a minimal make-over

A teardown of Apple’s new iPad mini 3 by technology repairs website iFixit has revealed that few updates have been made to the next-generation device.

The latest in the iPad mini line is equipped with an A7 processor, 1GB of RAM, Retina display and a 5MP iSight camera – all of which were also included in the previous edition.

What’s new with the iPad mini 3, though, is support for Apple Pay and a fingerprint-scanning Touch ID sensor for added security. However, the experts at iFixit described this feature as “hastily glued into place”.

Furthermore, repairs of the iPad mini 3 won’t come easy as it earned a measly 2 out of 10 on the iFixit scoreboard.

Samsung introduces Plus-size version of the Galaxy S5

Not to be outdone by Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung quietly unveiled the Galaxy S5 Plus smartphone last week. The device measures at more than a handful with a 5.1-inch display featuring resolution of 1,080 x 1,920.

The highlight of this new device is not just its enhanced screen size. The S5 Plus has also adopted Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 chipset, an upgrade on the original S5 smartphone’s 801 chipset and said to be Qualcomm’s fastest to date.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Plus

Rival Android-powered large-sized smartphone the Nexus 6 features the same chipset, while the rest of the features list for the Samsung Galaxy S5 Plus reads much the same as the smaller Galaxy S5.

The device is scheduled to launch in Europe first, starting with the Netherlands, with a full release expected in November.

Irish projects get started on Kickstarter

Kickstarter Ireland officially kicked into gear on 21 October, with the first Irish projects on the crowdfunding platform opening up for backing.

Irish Kickstarter hopefuls have been able to draft projects since September in 15 categories spanning film, design, music, journalism, games and more.

One project from Irish product designer Paula O’Connor and tech company MyVolts has been selected as a staff pick and has, to date, earned more than €15,000 of its €40,000 goal. Z-Charge provides a bedside storage option to store and charge up to six devices (three on either side of the bed) using the one outlet.

Z-Charge - Kickstarter Ireland

Image via Paula O’Connor and Luke Brennan/Kickstarter

In the music-technology space, Kerry-based guitar designers Rob O’Reilly Guitars is seeking to crowdfund its Expressiv: MIDI Guitar System in a month-long all-or-nothing campaign. The plug-and-play MIDI device is built to let guitarists record, compose and perform music digitally while playing a regular electric guitar.

Expressive MIDI Guitar System - Kickstarter Ireland

Image via Rob O’Reilly/Kickstarter

Since it began in 2006, Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform has received pledges totalling US$1.3bn. The service is now available in 10 countries, including Ireland.

Raspberry Pi touchscreen display paves the way for ‘Pi Pads’

Eben Upton, co-founder and CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, demonstrated exciting new hardware for the build-it-yourself computer at TechCrunch Disrupt London 2014 last week.

While on stage for a fireside chat, Upton unveiled a 7-inch VGA capacitive touchscreen display panel – which is a first for the Raspberry Pi ecosystem – and announced that the new accessory will be available either by the end of this year or early next year.

Talking about the new add-on, Upton explained the touchscreen could be stacked on top of a Raspberry Pi computer board to make a tablet of sorts – a ‘Pi Pad’ even – but the real use cases he envisages for the display feature will involved embedding it into other products and prototypes the Raspberry Pi community are building.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com