Hands On

Switchmate hands-on: Smarter switches, no electrician needed

Switchmate hands-on: Smarter switches, no electrician needed

The smart home might be intended to make our lives easier, but actually upgrading with home automation kit is more like a headache. Ripping out legacy switches and replacing them with their smart brethren isn’t only a headache, it’s out of the question for many who rent rather than own where they live. Startup Switchmate plans to change that, opening up automation with ridiculously simple and non-destructive gadgets that install in seconds. I caught up with the company to find out how a Bluetooth switch could pave the way to making the smart home mass-market.

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Panasonic Nubo wants to kill Dropcam with 4G

Panasonic Nubo wants to kill Dropcam with 4G

Streaming security cameras are great, until your WiFi connection dies and your virtual peephole gets cut off. Enter the Panasonic Nubo, throwing 4G LTE into the mixture along with some smart home ambitions. Panasonic isn’t aiming low, either, claiming the Nubo is a “Dropcam killer” from the outset, and aiming to out-perform everything on the Nest-owned streaming camera’s spec sheet. I caught up with the Panasonic Cameramanager team to find out why Nubo shouldn’t just be on your home office wall, but hitching a ride in your suitcase.

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Microsoft bends their OS-agnostic mobile keyboard in half: Hands-on

Microsoft bends their OS-agnostic mobile keyboard in half: Hands-on

Two mid-range Lumia smartphones from Microsoft just got an accessory. Really, everyone did. Today, Microsoft is unveiling a foldable version of their cross-platform keyboard, launched late last year. Originally, the keyboard shielded itself from outside damage with a fold-down lid that doubled as a backstop for your tablet or smartphone. The new, fold-y version of the keyboard won’t do that, but it does offer a smaller footprint for users, handy when toting around. We don’t have word on pricing or availability just yet.

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Acer Liquid M220 hands-on: a late Windows Phone club member

Acer Liquid M220 hands-on: a late Windows Phone club member

When you speak of Windows Phone phones, one mostly thinks of Microsoft's, formerly Nokia's, Lumia line, except for one or two exceptions. Although Microsoft hasn't been very clear about its plans for other OEMs to join the Windows Phone party, it hasn't stopped others from trying their luck. The latest to join the fray is Acer, who is now unveiling the Liquid M220, an unabashedly low tier smartphone that will rub shoulders with all other low-end Lumias. Of course, it's still running Windows Phone 8.1, but that won't be a problem in the future.

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I jabbed my finger at Qualcomm’s ultrasonic biometrics

I jabbed my finger at Qualcomm’s ultrasonic biometrics

I honestly didn't expect to come to Mobile World Congress and have the moistness of my fingers judged, but it turns out I'm surprisingly dry. Qualcomm brought its new Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint Technology to the show, eschewing the capacitive sensors found in the iPhone 6's Touch ID among other home buttons, and instead using ultrasonic scanning. The upside is being able to scan through materials, like glass or metal, and though the days of your entire touchscreen also serving as a biometric log-in panel aren't quite yet upon us, they're not far off. That is, assuming you're damp enough.

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Lenovo Vibe Shot hands-on: a unique camera/phone

Lenovo Vibe Shot hands-on: a unique camera/phone

This week the folks at Lenovo have revealed the Lenovo VIBE Shot, a device that they suggest delivers "the best of both in one device." The best of both of what, you might ask? Why, the best of smartphones and cameras, of course. This device includes a 16-megapixel camera at its back with tricolor flash that adjusts automatically based on ambient light. This device also runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and looks extremely unique, to say the least. On its back, it's horizontal, top to bottom.

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Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge hands-on: 2015’s hard-hitters

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge hands-on: 2015’s hard-hitters

You might want to sit down for this one: Samsung has, with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, finally built the Android smartphones we’ve been asking it for. Freshly announced at Mobile World Congress 2015 today, the new flagship pair also debut a new design language for the South Korean company, taking what was hinted at with the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4, and finally doing away with Samsung’s old plastic fetish in favor of metal, glass, and - in the case of the Galaxy S6 edge - double-curved AMOLED. Read on past the cut for my first-impressions.

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HTC One M9 hands-on: Android goes luxe

HTC One M9 hands-on: Android goes luxe

The HTC One M9 is here, and it feels mighty familiar. The company’s new flagship, unveiled here at Mobile World Congress 2015, takes the premium metal unibody of its predecessor and slots in a new chip, new camera, and tweaks what has already proved to be a popular design. And, while it might be easy to discount the One M9 at first for being an evolution rather than a revolution compared to the phones that came before it, HTC’s argument is that such an approach is exactly the route it needs to take: refinement rather than replacement for its own sake. Read on for some first impressions.

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Huawei’s TalkBand N1 wants desperately to be fashionable

Huawei’s TalkBand N1 wants desperately to be fashionable

Huawei has a new set of Bluetooth headphones that also serve as a fitness tracker, and it’s hoping you’ll like it so much that you’ll wear it as a necklace even when you’re not working out. The Huawei TalkBand N1 isn’t the first paid of Bluetooth headphones we’ve ever seen, but they’re certainly some of the smallest: just 18g despite including active noise cancelation and a nifty magnetic clasp which holds the earbuds together around your neck when they’re not in your ears.

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Huawei TalkBand B2 hands-on: Double-duty wearable

Huawei TalkBand B2 hands-on: Double-duty wearable

Last year, Huawei tried to convince us that we needed a combination Bluetooth headset and activity tracker; for MWC 2015, it’s the turn of its glamorous sibling, the Huawei TalkBand B2. Hewn from metal and leather rather than the plastic of its B1 predecessor, and targeting wearers who might be looking to replace a traditional watch rather than fitness band, the TalkBand B2 is fronted with a 0.73-inch AMOLED display, while inside there’s a self-learning algorithm that claims to cut down on fake readings.

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