Samsung, Sony unveil array of new gadgets at Berlin conference

Thursday 04 September 2014 11.00
Samsung new Gear VR is a wireless headset which can only be powered by a Galaxy Note 4 phablet embedded inside it
Samsung new Gear VR is a wireless headset which can only be powered by a Galaxy Note 4 phablet embedded inside it

Samsung has unveiled a suite of new products, including a mobile virtual reality headset, ahead of the opening of this year's IFA electronics show in Berlin. 

The Samsung Gear VR is a wireless headset which can only be powered by a Galaxy Note 4 ‘phablet’ embedded inside it. 

According to Samsung, the new device has a 96 degree viewing angle, which is equivalent to watching a 175 inch screen from two metres away. 

The device was developed in conjunction with the Facebook-owned Occulus. Pricing has not yet been announced. 

The announcement of the Gear VR followed the unveiling of the new Galaxy Note 4 phablet, with a 5.7 inch quad HD Super AMOLED screen. 

The new handset has a 16MP rear camera and 3.7MP camera to the front. It also has an improved battery, with 8% better performance and fast charging, which will see the device fill up from 0-50% in around 30 minutes. 

Inside, there is a faster Snapdragon 805 processor as well as an updated stylus. The new device will be available from next month.

Samsung also unveiled a special edition of the Note 4, featuring an unusual curved edged screen on one side. 

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge has a Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen, with a second "edge screen" to its right. 

This new area can store apps, as well as provide scrollable customisable panels. The edge screen can be used as a separate screen that is entirely independent of what is happening on the main home screen. 

It has a 5.6 inch screen, and comes in both 32GB and 64GB options. 

It will only be available in selected markets, and the software developers’ kit for it is being made available from today.

The fourth product announced by Samsung today is an update to its Gear smartwatch. 

Running on the Tizen operating system, the Gear S can now take its own SIM card, meaning that it can make and receive calls and connect to the internet without needing to be tethered to a smartphone. 

It has a two inch curved Super AMOLED display, and a full on screen QWERTY keyboard. 

A number of new and updated apps have been announced in conjunction with the device, including Here for Gear - a pedestrian satellite navigation system - and a version of the S Health fitness tracking app. 

While the new device has Wifi connectivity, it must be connected to a Galaxy device in order to download apps.

Not to be outdone by its rival, Sony has announced details of a plethora of new products at IFA, including a new flagship smartphone and two new wearable devices. 

The Xperia Z3 smartphone comes just six months after the launch of its predecessor the Z2. 

The new handset keeps many of the features of the Z2, like its 5.2 inch screen. 

But it has a thinner body at 7.3mm, and a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5Ghz quad-core processor.

It also has an improved battery that boasts up to 19 hours talktime. The smartphone also has PS4 Remote Play, which allows users to connect to and play their PS4 remotely using Wifi. 

The camera technology has been improved too, according to Sony, and a number of new shooting and augmented reality modes have been added. 

The phone runs the latest version of the Android operating system, but Sony has added its own user interface on top of it.

Alongside the Xperia Z3, Sony also unveiled a new edition of the smaller Compact version of the device, with a larger 4.6 inch screen and 2.5Ghz quad-core processor. 

It is also waterproof, has the same 20.7MP camera as the full Z3, as well as PS4 Remote Play. 

Completing the Xperia Z3 family is a new smaller 8 inch Compact tablet, which claims to be the world's slimmest at 6.4mm and lightest too at 270g. 

It too boasts the new PS4 Remote Play feature, as well as being waterproof and has an 8.1MP camera. The new 16:9 TRILUMINOUS display is full HD and it runs on the same processor as the Z3 smartphone.

Not to be left behind in the wearable space, Sony also took the lid off two new devices. 

The new waterproof SmartBand Talk is an upgrade of its original fitness tracking SmartBand, and features a built in microphone and speaker to allow the user to take and make calls when its connected to a smartphone. It also has a new curved always on 1.4inch e-paper display, which Sony claims is low on power. 

In addition, the company also revealed the redesigned 1.6 inch Smartwatch 3 - the first version of the device to use Google's Android Wear operating system. 

The Smartwatch 3 feeds users with messages, notifications and appointments while connected to a smartphone. 

It also has a built in microphone, compass and GPS sensor, to augment its lifelogging applications. 

The watch unit can be removed from the rubber surround, making straps interchangeable.