Innovate

HR-pebble_2_pebble_time_2_pebble_core_kickstarterWhat to expect from the cutting edge of consumer electronics this season

Preview – time for Pebble to expand
Smartwatches just got an IQ injection with Pebble’s new line up of intelligent timepieces. Its new Pebble 2 and Time 2 watches connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to deliver you messages and alerts from all your favourite apps, and this time around, battery life has been extended for both models – stretching to a week between charges for the monochrome Pebble 2 and a whopping ten days for the full colour Time 2.

Star of the show, however, is Pebble’s novel new accessory, the US$69 Core. It’s small enough to fit on your keychain, and smart enough to put your iPod shuffle out of work: you can clip it onto your shorts to listen to Spotify on a run as it has Wi-Fi and mobile data connectivity squeezed in, and track your distance and time using GPS. It even has a programmable button so you can do everything from summoning an Uber with one click to turning on the hot water at home for a post-run shower! The trio are out in January 2017.

Console news: a new generation in gaming
Sony leads this console generation in terms of sales with its PlayStation 4 outselling the Xbox One by as much as two to one, but Microsoft is fighting hard to win fans over to its platform. To that end it unveiled an ambitious plan at the E3 games convention in LA this summer to let gamers play its titles anywhere they like. Almost all of its new titles revealed at the show will be playable on both PC and Xbox One; you’ll only have to purchase the game once to download it on both platforms. Its Xbox One console, meanwhile, is getting a tantalising makeover in the form of the Xbox One S, out at the start of September for US$399. It’s sleeker, quieter and above all smaller.

Microsoft isn’t stopping there, however. The company also took the remarkable step of announcing a much more powerful Xbox One, dubbed Project Scorpio, which will support virtual reality and output games at 4K resolution. The only catch? It won’t be out until the end of 2017. Your move, Sony.

Review: Asus Chromebook C202
Is this laptop running Google’s web-based Chrome OS a bargain, or just budget?
The good
Well priced, with a large HD screen that rotates 180 degrees and a liquid resistant keyboard, meaning the kids will struggle to break it.
The bad
A tad slow given the last generation Intel processor it’s powered by. As unattractive as it is durable.
The ugly
Doesn’t run Windows, so unless your favourite apps and games are websites, you won’t be able to run them.
Verdict
Perfect as your child’s first laptop, but unsuitable for anything more than casual couch surfing.

App spotlight: Cell 411
This smart new iPhone and Android app is creating a stir in South Africa, where it is providing an invaluable safety net for the vulnerable. At the press of a button, you can instantly send your exact GPS co-ordinates from one to 200 friends you specify. It’s ideal in poorly policed areas, but is also aiding neighbourhood watch schemes and even helping farmers build their businesses by tagging broken fences. www.Safearx.com

Tablet news: Jack of all trades, and master too?
Asus Transformer Pro 3: Convertible tablets that can double up as laptops for getting work done are in fashion right now, with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Apple’s iPad Pro doing battle for shop shelf space. Enter a new rival, the Asus Transformer Pro 3, which aims to compete with both on power and price. The 12.6-inch tablet comes with a super sharp resolution display (2880×1920 pixels, more than full HD), and while it works just fine as a touchscreen computer for browsing on the couch, it comes into its own when paired with a keyboard, as well as another screen. With the ability to display 4K video (four times more detail than full HD) on a supported monitor or TV, it could put your Blu-ray player out of business entirely. It also comes with up to 16GB of RAM, making it perfect for multi-tasking and for power intensive apps and tasks like video editing. The Asus Transformer Pro 3 is out now, starting at US$999. That’s the price of a top end laptop, but how many laptops can you break in half to take with you in your bag?