Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Gadget makers reveal killer new tech lineups

Are they trying to make us – gasp! – Christmas shop already?

IT’S STILL OFFICIALLY summer, yet major electronic companies have already announced a slew of holiday gift ideas: iPhones of different colours, video game players and a new category of wristwatches designed to mimic the functionality of smartphones.



A visitor points at a Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch at the IFA, Berlin. Pic: AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Much of the early attention has been on smartwatches. Although the devices have been around for years, consumer interest has been low. Samsung Electronics Co is hoping to change that with its $300 (app €225)  Galaxy Gear.

When it’s linked wirelessly with newer Samsung phones and tablets, the Gear lets you set alarm clocks, check email and Facebook updates, and make phone calls on your wrist, secret agent-style.

The Gear’s unveiling came as Qualcomm Inc said it will start selling its Toq smartwatch before the end of the year. Sony Corp, meanwhile, has an updated SmartWatch 2 device coming. And Apple Inc is widely believed to be working on an iWatch.

What’s behind the sudden rise of the smartwatch? Consumer electronics companies are trying to create a new type of device for people to spend money on now that many of them already own smartphones and tablet computers.

That doesn’t mean companies have given up on phones and tablets, or other gadgets.

Here’s a look at what’s in store as manufacturers and retailers try to get a jump on the Christmas (sorry!) shopping season.



Pic: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The iOS software that runs iPhones is showing signs of aging, so Apple is refreshing its look and functionality.

Recent phones can get the iOS 7 update for free, starting next Wednesday. The software also comes with the new iPhones going on sale on September 20.

In the past, Apple released one iPhone a year, in black or white. This time, the company has a regular model, the iPhone 5S (selling for $199) and a less expensive model, the iPhone 5C (which goes for $99). The 5S comes in three colours and the 5C in five.

Samsung, meanwhile, announced the Galaxy Note 3, the latest phone in a line that comes with a stylus for handwriting on its large, 5.7-inch (measured on the diagonal) touch screen. Sony will have the Xperia Z1, notable for its high-resolution, 20.7-megapixel camera and the ability to attach better lenses.

Both devices use Google’s Android operating system.

Even more devices are expected around this autumn’s release of a new version of Android, which goes by the name Kit Kat.


Tablets with screens that measure about 7 inches diagonally are becoming popular because they’re cheaper than full-sized tablets and are easier to carry around. Inc and Google Inc paved the way with their Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 devices. Apple followed with the iPad Mini last autumn.

Google updated its Nexus 7 in July, offering the basic model for $229. Amazon and Apple will likely update their devices, too.

Meanwhile, several companies are expected to release smaller tablets running Microsoft Corp’s Windows 8.1 operating system when the software update comes out in October. The current Windows 8 system wasn’t designed for smaller touch screens.

Want big? Google, Amazon and Apple are also due to update their full-size models. Lenovo, Dell and other computer makers have also unveiled Windows tablets that can convert into traditional laptops.

Meanwhile, a company that specializes in e-book readers, Kobo, plans tablets of both sizes. Many of the tablets currently available emphasize the ability to play video and music.

Kobo’s new Arc HD tablets can do that, too, but the company hopes to address the needs of readers with a mode designed to minimize battery use while reading. The 7-inch version starts at $200, and the 10-inch model goes for $400.



People play on Kinect Sports Rivals on the Xbox One, at the Violin Factory in south London, ahead of the consoles release in November. Pic: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Many people have shifted to smartphones and tablets to play games, but hard-core gamers still like standalone video game consoles.

Microsoft’s Xbox One wants to be the all-in-one device that lets you watch television, play movies, listen to music and browse the Internet —as well as play video games. It will start selling on November 22 and cost $499. A Kinect motion-control system will be included.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 is coming out November 15 for $399. It’s touted as a supercharged PC, which should make it easier for developers to create games for it. But that also means the new machine won’t be able to play older games, other than by streaming them over the Internet. The machine’s other new features revolve around social networking and remote access.


Although much of the attention is on phones and tablets, people are still buying traditional desktop and laptop computers.

  • Expect to see new PCs out with the release of Windows 8.1 in October. The update is designed to address some of the frustrations people have had with last year’s Windows 8. Among other things, the new version will make it easier to bypass Windows’ tile-based interface and use a desktop mode that’s more familiar to long-time Windows users.
  • Apple is also coming out with a Mac Pro computer for high-end, professional users. It’s notable in that it will be assembled in the United States, rather than in Asia. Apple also may refresh its popular line of MacBook Pro laptops.
  • Avid readers will have at least two major e-book readers to choose from: an updated Kindle Paperwhite device from Amazon (starts at $119) and the Aura from Kobo ($150). Both start selling this month. Many people prefer tablets because they do more, but those who only want to read digital books, e-readers are a good choice.

People will also have choices when it comes to standalone devices for watching TVs and movies.

Apple, Roku Inc and other companies have devices for streaming video from Netflix and other services on big-screen TVs. An updated Apple TV is possible this autumn.

Read: After much speculation, Samsung finally unveils smartwatch>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.