samsung

Welcome the Note 5 & Galaxy S6 Edge+

We saw the leaks the past few weeks that all but confirmed the suspicions, and today, Samsung made it official. The Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ are here, in all their glory. And glorious they are.  Engadget did a full once over of the devices and had nothing but great things to say. From Engadget: 

"The Galaxy Note 5 basically has the same silicon ticking away inside it as the S6 Edge+, specifically Samsung's octa-core Exynos 7420 (if you must know, four cores run at up to 2.1GHz while the others go up to 1.5GHz) along with 4GB of RAM. I spent about a half-hour mucking around with the thing, and nothing I threw at it during that painfully brief period made it stutter or slow down. Part of that is because of the thankfully light touch Samsung has with its TouchWiz interface this year; it sits on top of Android 5.1 and you'll know exactly what to expect if you've already used the S6 or S6 Edge.

Both also have 16-megapixel rear-facing cameras (which now stream live to YouTube), not to mention sealed 3,000mAh batteries and gorgeous 5.7-inch, Quad HD, Super AMOLED screens. Throw in support for LTE category 9 and LoopPay's wireless, credit-card-imitating MST technology and you've got yourself a pretty impressive package right out of the gate. In case you're already itching to own one, the wait won't be a long one: It'll be available from all US carriers starting on August 21st

The big US carriers have announced their pricing, and you're typically looking at $250 on contract for the 32GB model, and $350 for its 64GB sibling. That's $25-29 and $28-30 per month on an installment plan, or $700-740 and $815-840 if you're buying outright."

The Galaxy S6: What you need to know

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S 6 smartphone today. And it may indeed be something special. After years of disappointing customers with premium priced phones made of cheap feeling plastic and loaded with crappy 1st party software, Samsung has made the very first steps to recovering from declining sales and profits: They made fundamental changes to their design philosophy, and they listened to their customers while doing it. 

The changes start with with construction.  As opposed to the all plastic Galaxy S5, the S6 is wrapped in a slim frame made of reinforced glass and aircraft-grade aluminum. Samsung has also split the new flagship S6 into two premium phones: The 5.1" Galaxy S6, and the S6 Edge, throwing in a curve to both sides of the front glass. Switching to a metal and glass design is a major shift for Samsung after the last 5 phones in just as many years constructed from 90% plastic. 

The major changes here happen under the hood, and they are more than a design change, they are a culture change at Samsung. Before I get to those, let me drop the whole spec sheet on you.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE NEW GALAXY S6* 

  • Quad Core 2.93 GHz Exynos 64bit Processor
  • 5.1 Inch QHD SUPER AMOLED Display (577ppi making it the highest resolution phone screen on the market)
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB, 64GB & 128GB of Storage
  • 16MP Rear Camera with OIS, 5MP Front Camera (f1.9 Low Light Sensitive Camera, Auto HDR)
  • Wireless Charging (BOTH Qi and PMA Wireless Charging)
  • Fingerprint Touch Authentication (in contrast to the S5's Swipe Sensor)
  • PayPal Certified, Samsung Pay (NFC or MFT LoopPay)
  • Fast USB Charging (1.5 Times faster than the S5 charging speed)
  • LTE Cat.6 High Speed
  • All Four Major US Carriers, AND US Cellular
  • AVAILABLE APRIL 10TH
    *US VERSION

In terms of price, it's going to be the same as before, according to the rumours - although it could be a little more expensive given the improved materials used. The WSJ spoke with Young-hee Lee, Samsung's head of mobile marketing. In today's article they stated: "The curved variant will retail for about $100 more than the Galaxy S6, and will be “in the same price bracket” as the Galaxy S5, Ms. Lee said. The Galaxy S5 sold in the U.S. for about $200 with a two-year contract."

Under the hood, is where the Galaxy S6 get interesting. In a move to begin keeping more of the profit from the devices sold, Samsung is putting it's own Exynos 64Bit processor in the S6, instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. The S6 and S6 Edge both support Samsung’s new mobile payments program, called Samsung Pay. Utilizing the technology Samsung acquired when it purchased LoopPay, the S6 will let you make purchases at any retailer that has a standard credit card swipe machine. It also works with NFC tap-to-pay systems and is authenticated with the new touch based fingerprint sensor in the phone’s home button. Between the two systems, Samsung says it will be accepted at 90 percent of retailers. Samsung Pay will work with both MasterCard and Visa, as well as American Express, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and U.S. Bank. It’s very obviously Samsung’s answer to Apple Pay, but it won’t be available until later this summer, a few months after the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge hit store shelves. To address complaints that Samsung phones were bogged down with little-used software, the company removed many of its apps and streamlined the user interface. Samsung states that the Galaxy S6 has 40% less 1st party software than the S5. 

Those of you who have been reading through this have probably noticed at this point that the phone will be uni-body, with no Micro-SD slot or removable battery. While this revelation may cause concern, it's worth mentioning that since the Android Kit-Kat rollout, 3rd party apps cannot even use your external Micro-SD card anyway. Most people use streaming music services instead of storing thousands of songs on their phones, so moving to internal storage is actually a customer first philosophy.  

At this point, it is more than obvious that the Galaxy S6 is by far Samsung's most significant phone release ever. It is a shift of internal company culture, and design philosophy as well. Whether or not this phone can turn things around for Samsung remains to be seen.  



Galaxy S5 Unveiled...

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is here, and the press has had their say. After looking at many of the photos and videos of the phone, there are a few takeaways. The Phone is completely uninspired. The changes are very subtle, while still making fair improvements. What is obvious from the release is that Samsung went with basic changes, in an effort to make the phone improved, while not overloading the consumer with a litany of unnecessary software packages to bloat the phone down even more, as was the case with the Galaxy S4. Samsung seems to have added features, enlarged the screen, removed much of the clutter, and packed in some of the best features of the Note 3, S4 Activ & S4. 

Key Features:

  • Quad Core 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM
  • 5.1" 1080p Display
  • Fingerprint Scanning Home Button
  • 2800mAh Battery (Stated 20% Increase in Battery Life over S4)
  • Textured Soft Touch back ala the Note 3, for a firmer, more solid feel, without the Faux leather look. 
  • USB 3.0 Data Transfer (FINALLY!!!) and Charging port

Camera

  • 16MP Camera with LED Flash
  • 4K Video Recording Capability
  • Real Time HDR Processing of Photos
  • Simplified camera interface over the S4
  • "Zoe" style Post Editing of Images

S Health

  • Heart Rate Sensor
  • Workout Manager
  • Improved S Health Features

Waterproofing

  •  IP67-rated for water and dust resistance, waterproof to 3 feet for 30 minutes
  • Removed ugly tactile buttons of the S4 Activ
  • Gasket Sealed Charging Port

Setting Menu

  • Removed Tabbed Categories
  • Simplified, Flat icon based selections

Fingerprint Sensor

  • Phone Unlock Authentication
  • Online Purchase Authentication (PayPal joint venture)
  • Reportedly inaccurate and troublesome, unlike the iPhone Sensor

Launches in April, price undisclosed. See the Verge's excellent preview and hands on below. 

 

Samsung Galaxy S5 Video paints uninspiring picture of new flagship

Samsung released a new teaser video for the Galaxy S5, and I came away with several observations. The clip-motion video is filled with quick glances of 1/2 a second each, flashing a word accompanied by the number 5. While interesting to watch, the video does not paint an image of the sleek new phone we are all hoping for. The video flashes a number of words to describe the phone, including wet, alive, fit, selfie, flip, outdoor, speed, pray, free, family, connect, etc. Where it gets interesting is where they chose to place the pauses. They create dramatic pauses at the words "Wet", "Outdoor" "Alive"(Featuring kids jumping off a pier into WATER again.. The focus on Outdoor, Water, Caves, Cliffs, Jumping, and the like paints the picture of a ruggedized, rubber covered and waterproof phone, and all these things are the opposite of sleek, simple and svelte, which are all the things everyone is hoping the Galaxy S5 to be. Samsung has been talking a back to basics design philosophy for the S5, with a focus on the Display, and the FEEL of the phone. Most have interpreted that to mean a new premium material like aluminum and a new, higher density screen. We will see on Monday, but this new video does not inspire confidence. 

BLACK FRIDAY TOP DEALS LIST

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As you prepare to go do your Holiday Shopping, it helps to know where some of the best bargains are. Here are some of the absolute best deals we have found!

 

If you think of Target credit as money, this is the best price so far on the iPad Air. If you prefer a straight discount, Best Buy has the same model for $450, also in white

Gaming Top Deals

hromebooks

Staples will have the HP Chromebook 14 for $180, but don't buy it. For only $20 more, the 2GB version of the Acer C720 is a much better, Haswell-equipped choice. Its 4GB brother is one of the best Chromebook and best budget laptop deals out there. 

 

Photography

 

PC Parts

Household

Reinventing the iPhone....

Rumors have floated for 3 years that Apple was designing and testing larger screens on the iPhone, but many felt it was always more speculation than truth. Especially with Apple's continued adherence publicly to their claims that consumers did not want anything bigger than the iPhone's current screen. However, as more and more "leaks" and talk surfaced, the industry has wondered. 

Bigger iPhones coming? We hope so!

Bigger iPhones coming? We hope so!

If an article from the usually reliable Bloomberg is on point, Apple is indeed working on 2 new models for release in the latter half of 2014, both with larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges. Though their source declined attribution because these details are not public, they also stated the phones will be equipped with more advanced touchscreen sensors that are pressure sensitive and can "distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen". The screens are to clock in at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, putting them in the range of the HTC One and Galaxy Note 3 screens respectively. 

With revenues for Apple on the rise, but profits at their lowest since 2011, it is the perfect time for Apple to rethink one of the few areas where they have not remained even remotely competitive with the demands of users in the market: Screen Size. As Apple has watched their market share in the smartphone arena drop drastically over 4 years, they have continued to innovate like mad scientists, packing many amazing features and patented technologies in the iPhone. But one area they have never budged on was screen width. All the while, the competition chipped away at their user base, as consumers increasingly looking for their phones to start replacing their computers.  

This news should be more than eyebrow raising to Apple's competition though, because as Apple has proven time and again, when they set their mind to truly innovate and improve a product, they do it faster, more powerful and with a sense of style that has consumers BEGGING them to take their money.