The week in gadgets: Asus MeMO Pad, Nexus 7 sales, and remote-control home heating

21 Jan 2013

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Asus MeMO Pad ME172V

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A look at gadget happenings, as Asus has a new low-priced tablet to offer, Google’s Nexus 7 knocks the iPad off the top in Japan, Electric Ireland has a gadget to help cut your home heating bills, and we wonder if IllumiRoom technology will come with the Xbox 720.

The colourful MeMO Pad from Asus

Asus, who partnered with Google to produce the Nexus 7, is set to release a new 7-inch Android tablet in the form of the MeMO Pad ME172V. Available in 8GB or 16GB models (expandable to 32GB with micro-SD) this tablet sports a 1GHz processor, Mali-400 GPU, 1GB RAM and runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The device has a 1MP front-facing camera but no rear camera (and I’m not a fan of those using their tablets to take snaps so I welcome this). The new MeMO Pad has a display resolution of 1,024 x 600 and will be available in white, pink or grey. It could be a welcome low-cost alternative for those who don’t need the graphics power of the Nexus 7, priced at US$149 in the US market from April. There are no details available yet on European prices or release dates.

Nexus 7 overtakes the iPad in Japan

Speaking of the Nexus 7, reports from Japan claim that Google’s tablet is beating out the iPad in sales. A survey of 2,400 consumer electronic stores in Japan conducted by market research firm BCN in December attributes 44.4pc of the market share to the Nexus 7, with the iPad behind at 40.1pc.

While this could be a sign that the Nexus 7’s attractive price tag is helping it to overtake the popularity of Apple’s iconic tablets, CNET reports that a shortage of iPad minis in the stores surveyed may have affected the figures. Either way, market watchers are sure to keep a close eye on this technology-leading market to see if a shift is on the way.

Remote-control home heating

Electric Ireland’s new gadget could help homeowners cut down on their bills by letting them control their heating system from anywhere in the world using a mobile phone or computer.

Climote is a smart heating timer that users can communicate with via a smartphone app, website, or even SMS. Once installed, homeowners can download the free app for Android and iOS and use this as a portable thermostat. Or they can log into Climote Online to access the main control functions, review previous usage and manage their home’s heating zones. Or they can simply text some basic commands to the device using good old SMS. Of course, Climote can also be controlled manually in the home, and these adjustments override any remote settings.

 

As well as turning the heat on and off, Climote lets users apply a boost, adjust time settings or even set five-day, seven-day, weekend or holiday schedules. While not quite as impressive as the Nest Learning Thermostat, the device could certainly help to remove the threat of frozen or burst pipes when homeowners are away, as well as letting you come home to a toasty welcome and a hot shower when needed.

Electric Ireland estimates that a typical oil-heated home could save up to €350 and a typical gas-heated home could save up to €175 on annual energy bills by using Climote. The device costs from €299 and is available via the Electric Ireland website.

Will the Xbox 720 take over your living room?

We’re expecting Microsoft to unveil an Xbox 720 gaming system at E3 this summer but, though the company didn’t have an official presence at CES this month, it still found time for what could be a sneak preview of what’s coming on the new console.

During Samsung’s keynote address, Microsoft’s chief technology strategy officer Eric Rudder came onstage to demonstrate IllumiRoom technology, which uses a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector to turn any room into the ultimate immersive gaming experience.

 

Though the technology was demonstrated as a concept at CES, that hasn’t stopped excited gamers speculating that this could be the new gaming experience set to take over their living rooms with the Xbox 720.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com