The week in gadgets: the first Leap Motion-powered notebook and BlackBerry’s Z30

23 Sep 2013

Still from 'HP ENVY17 Leap Motion Special Edition' by hpcomputers via YouTube

A look at gadget happenings, as HP unveils the first laptop with Leap Motion control built in, BlackBerry tries to revive its smartphone sales with the 5-inch Z30, rumours emerge of a second-generation Galaxy Gear, and Cross blends traditional and digital handwriting with its new Tech series of pens.

HP takes control with Leap Motion

This past week, HP announced its latest consumer notebooks, tablets and services (including its colourful Chromebooks). Among them was the world’s first notebook PC with Leap Motion technology built in. This innovative 3D motion-control technology lets users control what’s on screen using touchless gestures.

Apart from being quite a mouthful, the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition TouchSmart Notebook detects the user’s individual hands and finger movements within and claims pinpoint accuracy and the ability to detect the subtlest of gestures, even a flick of a wrist. This new way of interacting with computers offers new experiences for gaming, modelling and making presentations come to life.


The Envy 17 with Leap Motion features a 17.3-inch diagonal display with an option to go full HD and inside there’s the latest Intel processors and Nvidia graphics for a faster and more responsive experience. Apps that are built to work using the touchless interface can be found via Airspace, the Leap Motion app store.

BlackBerry powers on with launch of Z30

Ailing BlackBerry could be hoping that a new, larger smartphone device unveiled in Malaysia last Wednesday could help turn around the company’s fortunes.

The Z30 features a 5-inch Super AMOLED display, a popular size among recent flagships, and is the first device released with the upgraded BB 10.2 operating system. Powering the touchscreen Z30 is a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and Adreno 320 GPU, and there’s longer battery life thanks to a 2,880mAh non-removable battery, plus a better antenna and stereo speakers.

BlackBerry Z30

There’s a 2MP front-facing camera capturing 720p video and at the rear is an 8MP shooter with an f2.2 lens capturing 1080p video.

The dimensions are similar to its predecessor, the Z10, but obviously the Z30 has taken a slight stretch to accommodate the larger display. Inside there’s 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, which can be expanded via micro-SD. There’s a range of connectivity options with support for 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC.

The Z30 hits the UK and Middle East this week before rolling out elsewhere towards the end of the year.

Galaxy Gear 2 could emerge early next year

We have yet to see Samsung’s first smartwatch hit shops in Ireland, but already there’s talk of the next-generation Galaxy Gear. The Telegraph reported that the Galaxy Gear 2 could launch as early as January 2014, according to reports from South Korean news site Daum. The watch is said to be in development and could offer compatibility with a wider range of devices.

Stylish stylus

Cross is bringing its brand of writing instruments to the digital age with three new pens that double as a stylus.

The cheapest of the bunch, the Cross Tech 1, has an RRP of €15. It is a ballpoint pen at one end and a slim 6mm stylus at the other. There’s also a cord attached that plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone to ensure this little gadget doesn’t get lost.

The Cross Tech 2 is a step up at €30 (RRP) and also packs a 6mm stylus and ballpoint pen into one piece, only with no cord this time.

Cross Tech 2

The Cross Tech in classic chrome and metallic blue

And, finally, there’s the Cross Tech 3+ with an RRP of €60-€65. This pen comes with a larger 8mm stylus and twist technology at the pen end to switch rapidly from black ballpoint, to red, to pencil.

Crafted in Cross’ signature style, each of these pens comes in a selection of finishes, including blue, rose, pearl, black and chrome colouring. They’re compatible with smartphones, tablets and other touchscreen devices and, as with all Cross writing instruments, come with a lifetime mechanical guarantee.

You’ll find the Cross Tech range in stockists nationwide, as well as on Cross’ website.

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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.