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Google Home smart speaker gets Mini and Max versions

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The smart speaker market gets two new entries from Google today. The Google Home family grows with smaller and larger siblings, which are designed to meet their competition from Amazon and Apple.

The Google Home Mini is a smaller companion to the standard Google Home smart speaker, and is also the cheapest in the family. It’s designed like Amazon’s Echo Dot, with its miniature and friendlier-looking form factor. It connects with other speakers wirelessly and can stream music to a Chromecast-enabled speaker if you want it to.

It has Google Assistant built in like any other Google Home product. It’s actually meant to get the digital assistant into more rooms and corners of your home, but has its own speaker so it can talk and play music.

The Google Home Mini will only cost US$ 49 and comes in three color options: chalk, charcoal, and coral. It’s now up for pre-order and will be available starting on October 19.

The Google Home Max, on the other hand, is a huge desk speaker that’ll compete with the Apple HomePod due to its size. It has two 4.5-inch woofers for deep bass and two tweeters for the high notes, which are all hidden behind a stylish fabric cover.

Of course, the Home Max has Google Assistant that’ll respond even when you’re playing music, thanks to the speaker’s far-field microphones. It has a feature called Smart Sound, which automatically tunes the speaker for the room size and to the audio you’re listening to — may it be a song, podcast, or phone call.

The Home Max features touch controls and supports Bluetooth and Google Cast for wireless music playback from any compatible device. It also has access to YouTube Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio for streaming. If you want to go wired, it still has a 3.5mm audio port.

The Google Home Max will retail for US$ 399 and is coming sometime in December. It’s actually fifty bucks more expensive than the HomePod, but Google will throw in a 12-month ad-free YouTube Music subscription with every purchase.

SEE ALSO: Amazon introduces Echo Spot: your next bedside smart clock

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Samsung phones won’t come with free chargers in 2021, report says

To reduce costs, apparently

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Like most things in this world, smartphones subsist on trends. Whenever a big name tries something new for their products, another similarly big name will more than likely adopt the same feature in the future. Unfortunately, the trending feature isn’t always a hit with consumers. For example, do you remember when Apple invented the notch and everyone else started getting similar notches afterwards? Today, another feature is sadly making the rounds.

Recently, a reputable source claimed that Apple will stop bundling free chargers inside iPhone boxes. Supposedly, the removal will offset the additional price incurred from adding pricey 5G hardware inside the phone. Naturally, the rumored decision met with an overwhelming torrent of divisive criticism.

Unfortunately, Apple won’t go solo. According to ETNews, Samsung is following Apple’s decision. By next year, the South Korean company might not include chargers in Galaxy boxes.

Like Apple, Samsung is mulling over the decision in response to rising component prices. According to the report, every Samsung user should have a functional charger by now. Further, removing the charger should reduce the price of a new phone.

Samsung has not finalized a decision yet. Likewise, Apple is still thinking about it as well. With a lot of consumer dissenting to a potential removal of a necessary accessory, both companies will have a lot on their plate. It might not hurt to stockpile some old chargers just in case.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 rumor roundup: Snapdragon 865+, 120Hz, new S Pen

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ROG Phone 3, Lenovo Legion first to carry Snapdragon 865 Plus

Qualcomm’s new flagship chip is focused on ‘Elite Gaming’

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Qualcomm’s newest flagship System on a Chip (SoC) is heavily focused on 5G and providing a faster gaming experience. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the first two devices that will carry the chip are the upcoming ASUS ROG Phone 3 and the much-rumored Lenovo Legion mobile gaming device.

Snapdragon 865 Plus

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC brought 5G connectivity to the top smartphones for the first half of 2020. Qualcomm is taking it a step further with the Snapdragon 865 Plus by adding what they call the Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming experience.

The new chip is promising to deliver “desktop-quality gaming with first-to-mobile features like updateable GPU drivers and desktop forward rendering, and ultra-smooth 5G gameplay.”

In numbers, the chip will deliver 144 FPS along with true 10-bit HDR for that added cinematic detail when you play. Other enhancements include the following:

  • Kryo 585 CPU Prime core clock speed at up to 3.1 GHz (10% increase)
  • Adreno 650 GPU offers 10% faster graphics rendering
  • FastConnect 6900 compatibility — boasting staggering Wi-Fi speeds for
    up to 3.6 Gbps – the fastest of any mobile Wi-Fi offering in the industry — delivering performance fit for premium devices and experiences

The Snapdragon 865 Plus will also offer improvements in AI engines for camera performance and audio.

ROG Phone 3

Expected to be announced in late July is the ASUS ROG Phone 3. While the rest of the specs and features have yet to be confirmed, having the Snapdragon 865 Plus at the heart of the device is a reassurance of what is another over-the-top mobile gaming experience.

“Full specifications for the ROG Phone 3 will be announced in the coming weeks, but the addition of the Snapdragon 865 Plus ensures that the overall performance will take yet another leap forward.” said Bryan Chang, general manager of smartphone business unit for ASUS.

Lenovo Legion mobile gaming

We’ve had several rumors and tiny details here and there, but this is the absolute confirmation that Lenovo Legion — the company’s gaming sub-brand — is coming up with a mobile gaming device.

“Three years after the launch of the Lenovo Legion PC portfolio, we’re bringing our beloved gaming sub-brand’s core values of speed and powerful performance to 5G mobile gaming — where Lenovo Legion will be amongst the first to offer the new Snapdragon 865 Plus in our expanding family of gaming devices this year,” said Jerry Tsao, vice president of Lenovo’s Mobile Gaming Group Emerging Markets.

“Lenovo has a long history of co-engineering amazing consumer experiences with Qualcomm Technologies and we can’t wait to share more soon,” he added.

Tsao was coy about sharing more details. He didn’t even confirm if it’s indeed a gaming smartphone or not. While that may be the assumption, we’re very much open to surprises.

Commercial devices based on Snapdragon 865 Plus are expected to be announced in the third quarter of 2020.

 

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Sony now selling wearable air-conditioner Reon Pocket

Available only in Japan

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Remember Sony’s crowdfunding effort to bring wearable air-conditioners to the masses? The company has begun selling its soap-sized personal air-conditioner, the Reon Pocket.

It’s now available for purchase on all Sony stores, as well as Amazon Japan.

Sony initially promised to make this device available to the public by March 2020. However, they had to delay most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After almost a year since it was revealed, buyers can now lay their hands on the portable air-conditioner by shelling out JPY 13,000 (US$ 121) for the device and JPY 1,800 (US$ 17) for the shirt.

Reon Pocket works by using the “Peltier effect.” It uses electrical currents to either cool down or heat up the body. Users have to insert the device into a tiny insert located on a specialized t-shirt to make the whole thing work.

They can control the device through an app. It not only acts as an air-conditioner, though. Through the app, users can adjust the device to make it a portable heater during winter.

The timing of this device couldn’t have been more fitting. July marks the beginning of summer in Japan. It should have also been a perfect companion device for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, which has unfortunately been delayed due to the pandemic.

Sony hasn’t yet announced the availability of Reon Pocket in other markets. It will remain a Japan-exclusive for the moment.

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