10 Cutting-Edge Mobile Devices Breaking New Ground4:00 PM EST Tue. Jun. 18, 2013
As novelty becomes harder to contrive, vendors are constantly stretching their creative minds to produce something that just does not exist yet. Being the first to venture into new terrain is the essence of entrepreneurship and the purpose of forward-thinking. It can be tough to track all of the new products launched into the never-ending arms race for the biggest, baddest and best new device. We decided to create a list of our own, paying homage to those innovators that may or may not end up with a best-seller, but at least achieved something a little different.
A camera that makes phone calls, or a phone that looks like a camera? Samsung just announced the Galaxy S4 Zoom, expected to hit the market in the U.K. in July, following on the heels of the S4. On one side, the phone actually looks like a digital camera and is capable of 10x zoom. Zoom can be adjusted manually by the ring around the lens and the camera can be launched even in the middle of a phone call. As far as phone specs go, the Zoom has a 4.3-inch screen, 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 gigs of internal storage.
The S4's 441 dots per inch on its 5-inch display set a new display record when it was released. Both the forward- and rear-facing cameras are capable of recording video or snapping pictures simultaneously, and TouchWiz, an overlay for Android camera, can even read your eyes, signaling pages or video to scroll or pause based on eye movement. The introduction of Air Gestures allows users to control the device by hovering over the screen rather than touching it. Additional sensors allow various apps to access information on things like temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. These newbie attributes among several others prove the S4 is not lacking in the "something different" category.
Price: $199.99, with 2-year contract
Commitment can be tough, but Lenovo has taken strides to appeal to the noncommitted, the change-lover, or maybe just those who find themselves a little needy when it comes to the device department. A fully functioning laptop, the Yoga can also spin, flip and contort its way into four different positions. Hide the keyboard behind the screen and use the 10-finger touch screen as a tablet or utilize "tent" or "stand" mode to watch movies, shuffle through music, or surf through websites. The Yoga's Lenovo-patented hinges responsible for all of the shape-shifting are one-of-a-kind, making it a fit for our out-of-the-ordinary list.
List Price: $999.00
Making its debut at this year's CTIA Wireless trade show, Kyocera’s Hydro XTRM is a smartphone with a backbone. With the same basic features as any smartphone, a camera, Wi-Fi capability, and a 4-inch touch screen, the XTRM was built for the rough-handlers that are familiar with those "please don't let it be broken" phone-drop moments. Both waterproof and shockproof, this smartphone is built with texture for easy grip and a body suitable for a safe landing. It may not be the most attractive mobile phone on the market, but it does put the mind at ease when it comes to device danger zones.
Price: $29.99 after rebate, with 2-year contract
Yota Devices is expected to roll out the YotaPhone later this year, an Android device with two screens, one for each side of the smartphone. The first side is a traditional glossy touch screen, while the reverse is a matte electronic ink screen. The ink screen allows users to reference updated social media or email notifications, weather updates or a screen shot without "waking up" the rest of the phone and wearing out the battery. Different swipe motions across the bottom bar of the traditional side control the functions of the phone without the use of navigation buttons. Will the electronic ink screen succeed on the mobile market? Who knows, but the Yota sure is breaking new ground.
There has been plenty of buzz around hybrid and convertible devices that act as two devices in one. Asus has upped the ante with a 3-in-1 Device that is not only a laptop and tablet, but a desktop as well. Switching from Windows 8 to Android and from one battery to another, all depending on whether or not the keyboard is attached, the mega-machine could be accused of experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. On the other hand, no other tablet can morph into a desktop, and that is just cool. Asus is preparing to release the Trio sometime this fall.
HTC's latest phone, the HTC One, was released earlier this year loaded with hallmarks to make it stand out. For starters, the clear, loud sound projected from the dual front-facing speakers has been a highlight in almost every review. Marked for having a durable feel and sleek design, HTC did not just rely on hardware to set this one apart. Replacing the Android home screen with a customizable "Blinkfeed" provides a constant stream of social media and news feeds that relay in realtime what is of interest to the user. HTC also introduced the "Zoe" feature, which records 3 seconds of video for every picture taken. Zoe also can stream the videos together, creating somewhat of a highlight reel of any event you might be capturing. Reviews are mixed on Zoe, but it's definitely something we've never seen before.
List Price: $649.99, without contract
As smartphones and tablets continue to develop better photo and video capabilities, Panasonic has had to answer with products more innovative than the traditional digital camera or camcorder. The HX-A100 is a wearable HD video recorder built to capture video, "from your point of view." Use the earpiece to easily attach the camera without any extra equipment or use the multimount to attach it to a helmet or backpack. The camera is small, waterproof, dustproof and able to stabilize video and compensate for tilt. For the active lifestyle, this video camera can do things no smartphone has quite mastered.
List Price: $269.99
At first glance, this device looks nothing like a digital camera. The secret to the Lytro's "different-ness" lies in the light technology. This odd-looking camera is the first consumer camera that has the ability to capture the entire light field. For the consumer, that means greater ability in manipulating the photograph after the picture is taken. Choose at what point in the photo to focus or zoom in on and even change the perspective of the photo. With different shutter-speed options, snagging objects in motion also is a strong point of the camera. Focus, zoom and perspective, as well as utilizing a number of filter options, can be done on the device's touch screen or from a computer.
List Price: Starts at $399.99
Sure, just about any tablet these days can double as an e-reader, but Kobo's April announcement of the new Kobo Aura HD e-reader showed the company's confidence in the value of a black-and-white device geared toward book lovers. A high-resolution Electronic Ink display uses a technology to focus light away from the eyes and onto the electronic page, a 1-GHz processor supposedly runs 20 percent faster than a Nook or Kindle, and you can leave the charger at home because the battery is said to last one month. The device comes with 4 GB of storage, enough for 3,000 e-books, but offers 32 GB of expandable memory. Holding onto the "old" reading pastime, Kobo clearly believes it can still come up with something new.
List Price: $169.99