In what appears to be a desperate attempt to clear out inventory buildup, Microsoft will offer its Surface RT tablet to educational institutions at shockingly deep discounts. The tablet is available to schools and universities from now until August 31st starting at $199 for the 32GB model. The touch keyboard cover will add $50 to the price, while the type keyboard cover brings the total up to $289. The Surface RT comes bundled with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, and the tablet runs the Windows RT operating system, of course. Critics have blamed the watered-down Windows RT operating system, the tablet’s limited storage and high price for the Surface’s lackluster sales performance, and this current promotion could be an effort to clear excess inventory.
A new report suggests that LG is preparing a new smartphone that will support “always-on voice commands.” According to Gotta Be Mobile, the company will launch an Android smartphone in 2014 that will allow users to issue voice commands without being required to touch the screen first. The feature, which is built-in to Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, can be activated by saying “hello” to the device. The chip is even capable of learning a device owners voice to prevent others from using the feature. Current voice features such as Siri require users to press a button or enter a specific application before issuing a command. Despite the “always-on” requirement, Qualcomm has said that the feature won’t impact a device’s battery life.
T-Mobile on Tuesday announced the upcoming availability of Sony’s flagship Xperia Z smartphone. The handset is equipped with 5-inch full HD 1080p display, a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and a 13-megapixel rear camera. The Xperia Z is also water and dust resistant, and includes 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The smartphone will be available from T-Mobile “in the coming weeks.” The carrier’s press release follows below. More →
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Samsung president Shin Jong Kyun this week to discuss a potential partnership, Bloomberg reported. Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, is interested in working with Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone vendor, to help boost its mobile advertising sales. The two companies are also said to have spoken about investing in technology startups. Facebook previously partnered with HTC on the HTC First, a smartphone that was skinned with Facebook’s custom Home software. Facebook Home was largely panned by critics and the HTC First flopped on the market. BGR exclusively reported last month that AT&T was preparing to discontinue the HTC First after only a month on the market.
The video game industry continued its downward spiral in May. According to research firm NPD Group, retail sales of hardware, software and gaming accessories in the U.S. fell 25% to $386.3 million last month, their lowest level thus far in 2013. Hardware and software sales fell 31% year-over-year to $96 million and $175.1 million, respectively, while sales of gaming accessories declined 6% year-over-year to $115.3 million. Including sales of used games, rental and digitally delivered content, micro-transactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and social network games, consumers spent a total of $787 million on video games in May. More →
Huawei on Tuesday announced the Ascend P6, the world’s thinnest smartphone. The handset measures a mere 6.18 millimeters thick and weighs 120 grams, eight grams more than Apple’s iPhone 5 despite the fact that the phone is much larger. The Ascend P6 is equipped with a 4.7-inch 720p display, an in-house 1.5GHz quad-core processor and an 8-megapixel rear camera. The smartphone also includes a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, a 2,000 mAh battery, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD slot and Huawei’s Emotion user interface atop Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The Ascend P6 will be available in black, white and pink in China later this month and it will launch on Vodafone, O2 and Orange in Europe in July. Huawei’s press release follows below. More →
Two former HTC executives have big plans after having quit HTC earlier this year. Michael Coombes, former head of U.K. and Ireland sales for HTC, and James Atkins, the company’s U.K. marketing chief, announced on Monday that they are launching a startup smartphone company called Kazam that looks to deliver devices with “stunning design, robust hardware and intuitive technology, underpinned with improved customer service.” The executives left HTC as part of a mass exodus in March. Coombes will serve as Kazam’s chief executive, while Atkins will lead the marketing division. More →
A new report suggests that Intel is preparing to release performance oriented Haswell processors for desktop computers in the second half of 2014. According to a leak from VR-Zone, the company’s fourth-generation Core processors will be available in 6-core and 8-core variants with up to 20MB of L3 cache. The Haswell-E enthusiast grade platform is expected to perform up to 50% better than high-end Ivy Bridge processors. Intel is also expected to introduce new Wellsburg motherboard chipsets that are capable of supporting DDR4 RAM clocked up to 2,133 MHz right out of the box. Although these high-end chips aren’t expected to arrive until late 2014, Haswell processors are available now in a variety of laptops, including the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air.
T-Mobile previously announced that it plans to shut down MetroPCS’s CDMA network by 2015 and repurpose the spectrum to expand its 4G LTE coverage. The carrier revealed last week that its plan to migrate subscribers from CDMA to HSPA+ and devices is already ahead of schedule, however, and it’s trying to entice customers to switch networks by launching a “Bring Your Own Phone” program in Boston, Dallas, Las Vegas and Hartford that allows customers to bring an unlocked smartphone to use on T-Mobile’s network.
Google has settled a lawsuit brought on by shareholders after the company announced plans for a stock split earlier this year, Reuters reported. Investors were initially upset with Google and claimed the split would give founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin more control of the company. Google announced plans to issue a new class of nonvoting stock that would be issued as a dividend to investors, that would be used for future acquisitions and that would not take away from Page and Brin’s control of the company. Google’s current setup gives Class A shares one vote, while Class B shares, such as those owned by Page and Brin, carry 10 votes each. The settlement will give Class C stock holders a cash or stock payment if the stock’s value differs by more than 1% from the value of Class A shares.
A new study published by PCMag on Monday found that AT&T has the fastest 4G LTE network in the United States. The website used eight identical Samsung smartphones to test the networks of all four major carriers in the U.S. across 30 cities. AT&T’s 4G LTE was found to be the fastest, although Verizon’s network was on the whole more reliable. T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network “looked great,” although its availability was scarce, while Sprint was said to be on an “upward trend” as it continues to debut new LTE markets. More →
Google is developing a new technology that will help search engines and other Internet companies collectively remove child pornography from the Web, The Telegraph reported. The database will remove images from the Internet that have been “flagged” by organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation. A Google spokesperson explained that the “industry-wide global database” will “help all technology companies find these images, wherever they might be,” and “they will then be blocked and reported.” To assist in its goal of eradicating inappropriate images of children, Google also plans to set up a $2 million fund for independent software developers to aid them in creating new ways of preventing the spread of child pornography. The database is expected to be operational within a year.
Google has confirmed that its highly anticipated Moto X smartphone will launch later this year. The company has remained quiet about the handset’s specs and design, however. According to @evleaks, an anonymous Twitter account that has been accurate with mobile rumors in the past, the Moto X will be equipped with a 720p display, a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro and a 10-megapixel camera. It is also rumored to include 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The smartphone’s display size remains a mystery, although earlier reports suggested it will measure between 4.3-inches and 4.7-inches diagonally. The Moto X will be manufactured in the United States and will be available sometime this fall across multiple carriers.