AT&T to launch 3 new DIRECTV services

<p>DIRECTV Now will offer all content in its current packages, including add-ons, live and on-demand video. DIRECTV Mobile, for smartphone users only, will include premium content and youth-oriented videos. The free, ad-supported DIRECTV Preview will offer content from "AT&T's Audience Network.</p>
AT&T on Tuesday said it will roll out three new ways to stream DIRECTV content on wireless and wired devices from smartphones to PCs, targeted at price-conscious US viewers who shun pricey cable and satellite subscriptions.

The Dallas, Texas-based wireless provider said it expects to launch the three offerings in the fourth quarter of 2016. They can be streamed on apps through any internet or mobile connection, it added.

The first option DIRECTV Now will offer all content in its current packages, including add-ons, live and on-demand video. DIRECTV Mobile, for smartphone users only, will include premium content and youth-oriented videos created by Otter Media, an AT&T joint venture with an investment group headed by media entrepreneur Peter Chernin. Free, ad-supported DIRECTV Preview will offer content from “AT&T’s Audience Network,” which has exclusive original videos, in addition to Otter Media offerings.

Prices will be announced at a later date, a company spokesman said.

AT&T acquired DIRECTV for $48.5 billion last year, making it the world’s No. 1 pay-TV operator with 45 million video subscribers, including Mexico and Latin America, at the end of 2015. It is betting big on video to tap new revenue as the US wireless market stagnates.

The online video market is competitive, with players such as Netflix and new entrants like Dish Network and Verizon Communications rushing to service viewers who increasingly consume video online than through pay-TV services.

AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson hinted in December that his company was planning content packages that can be viewed on a smaller screen, or to a single screen in a home that’s not set-top box-driven.

AT&T executives have said the company has already acquired mobile streaming rights, by leveraging DIRECTV’s relationships and agreements with content providers, for various premium cable channels such as Showtime. It will deploy 40 megahertz of contiguous airwaves to relay content over its network.

“We intend to offer customers a quality pay-TV experience, including top channels, sports and more, with increased value and flexibility of pure online streaming and no need for home installation,” John Stankey, CEO, AT&T Entertainment Group, said in a statement.

Stankey will be speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday morning.

DIRECTV will continue offering its satellite TV package that can also be streamed through an app on mobile devices, in addition to its U-Verse TV and Internet services, the company said.

Smartphones to dominate handset sales by 2020

Smartphones would constitute 98% of handset sales by 2020, according to a study by US-based market research firm iGR.

“Many factors are driving the global increase in smartphone sales. First and foremost is the decrease in smartphone prices, which is making them more accessible in developing markets,” marketwired said citing the statement of Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR, on Tuesday.

“The consumers in these developing markets are increasingly moving towards smartphones, which provide a portable, data-driven lifestyle,” he added.

Due to this development, out of a total of almost two billion mobile handsets that were sold during 2015, sales of smartphones were significantly greater than those of non-smartphones, according to iGR’s ‘Global Handset and Smartphone Sales Forecast, 2015-2020: Still More Smartphones’.

75% of smartphones sold in India made locally: Xiaomi

75% of smartphones sold in India made locally: Xiaomi
Seven months since it launched assembly unit in Vishakhapatnam, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has said about 75% of its phones sold in the country are now ‘Made in India.’

In August last year, Xiaomi had partnered Taiwanese firm Foxconnto set up local assembly of its phones to cater to one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets globally.

“Within months, we have seen the unit being ramped up and now 75% of phones are Made in India. It is a herculean feat that we have been able to do,” Xiaomi Global vice president Hugo Barra told PTI.

He, however, declined to disclose details on sales and production numbers.

India is one of the largest markets for Xiaomi globally. The company assembles devices like Redmi 2 and Redmi Note in India.

Xiaomi also launched its latest device — Redmi Note 3 here, priced at Rs 9,999 onwards. The device had made a global debut in November last year.

The company has already sold one million units of Redmi Note that was launched in 2014.

The Redmi Note 3 features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 chipset and will come in two variants – 16 GB (with 2 GB of RAM) and 32 GB (with 3 GB of RAM) for Rs 11,999.

With its price tag, the handset will compete with the likes of Lenovo’s Vibe K4 Note and LeEco’s Le 1s.

The device will go on sale on March 9 on Mi.com and Amazon.in.

Barra said Xiaomi will launch its Mi5 handset in the next one month. It also unveiled a Bluetooth speaker for Rs 1,999.

With a 5.5-inch display, the 4G dual sim handset runs Android-based OS MIUI 7 and includes a fingerprint sensor. It also has a 4,050mAh battery and measures just 8.65 mm at its thickest point. It also has a reading mode to help prevent eye fatigue.

Armed with a 16MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, users can click selfies with the rear camera using the fingerprint sensor to shoot the image.

“The device also supports LTE band 5 (as well as 3, 40 and 41) to ensure customers can have the best Voice over LTE quality, an innovation that was done only for the Indian market,” Barra said.

It also comes equipped with Infrared capabilities which can be used to control household devices like TVs, ACs and DSLR cameras.
According to research firm IDC, shipments in India grew 28.8% in 2015 Y-o-Y to 103.6 million units compared to 10.1% growth for the global market.

Gadget Ogling: Gaming Revivals, Clever Cameras, and Smartphones for All

retro-computers-sinclair-zx-vega

Hello, friends, and welcome to another edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, your guide through the mists of the gadget announcement universe to the clearing where the best stand out a little more clearly.

On the other side of the haze this week are a handheld retro gaming system, a home monitoring camera with style, a 3D printer for action figures, and what may be the least expensive smartphone yet.

As ever, these are not reviews — they’re first-look observations about each item. The ratings denote only how much I’d like to test each with my own two hands.

Across the Spectrum

Sir Clive Sinclair helped popularize video games as a viable home entertainment option with the ZX Spectrum. After reviving the brand a little over a year ago with the introduction of the Vega microcontroller, which plugs into televisions, Sinclair and Retro Computers now have launched a handheld version, the Vega+.

The Vega+ design is aligned with other current handheld consoles, with a directional pad on the left and a quartet of action buttons on the right. Three secondary action buttons are positioned below them. It’s not quite the same as using a keyboard to play, but seven action buttons might make up a touch for the lack of full QWERTY flexibility.

I’ve been playing games as long as I can remember. The Spectrum was a little before my time — I was aligned more with the Commodore 64 and the Super Nintendo. So, having the opportunity to play hundreds of games I missed out on without having to resort to downloading pirated versions absolutely interests me.

It can connect to a TV for big-screen gaming, and it has 1,000 licensed games preloaded, with an SD card slot for gamers to add their own favorites.

That it’s a handheld system is even better. What better to do on the beach this summer than play 30-year-old games?

Home Senses

Sense is a home-monitoring camera that can take complete charge of the connected devices in your home. It can recognize multiple faces and carry out custom actions for each person, and it can alert you when it thinks a stranger is in your home.

It’s not as noticeable as most other home cameras, meaning intruders will have no idea you’re watching them. It even has night vision so you can see what’s happening in the dark.

Sense looks elegant, and it’s intelligent about how it controls your devices. It not only will adjust the lighting, thermostat, television and music playing, but also detect when you’ve dropped something, and send out your robot vacuum cleaner to take care of the mess.

It includes voice recognition, so you might ask it to change the current playlist. Sense also has an open source platform, so you might like to create an app that carries out completely custom actions, such as switching on the lights, television, and radiators when it recognizes you within a certain time frame — e.g., when you’re returning home. You may not wish for all that when you’ve just awakened.

We’re getting closer to finding a way of unifying all the disparate operating systems and protocols of connected devices in the home. Sense looks like a strong option for controlling our products with a single device that offers both simplicity and power.

Figure It Out

A 3D printer is taking the idea of Mattel’s ThingMaker — which lets children make their own rubbery toys in an oven — to a new level. Also called “ThingMaker,” this printer lets kids young and old create their very own action figures and other toys.

Would-be designers can use an app to create the figures of their dreams, with a ball-and-socket system making it easy to swap components in and out. Colors are customizable as well, and Mattel plans to make available components related to its major brands such as Barbie and Hot Wheels.

Mattel ThingMaker 3D Printer and ThingMaker Design App Eco-System

The ThingMaker’s door stays locked while it’s printing, and the print head retracts when it’s finished, so as to avoid burns.

I’m excited for this, and not only because I’ve always wanted to make my own action figures. It should help the adults of the future gain a stronger understanding of design and technology, opening their minds to creative career paths they might not have considered otherwise.

ThingMaker looks like it has a shot at finally catapulting 3D printing into the mainstream. A lot of people need a better entry point to the world of making, and ThingMaker’s strong interface, ease of use, and clear purpose could give it a fighting chance at achieving success beyond toy making.

Cheap Connections

With a similar design to the iPhone 4, there’s nothing terribly innovative about the Android-powered Freedom 251. The clue’s in the name, though, as the device costs 251 rupees. That’s around US$3.70.

With 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, a quad-core processor, 3G connectivity, a 4-inch screen, and front and back cameras, the specifications are hardly terrible.

I wonder exactly how its maker is able to meet that price point, if at all.

Still, the possibility that it could deliver smartphones rather than feature phones into the hands of a larger number of extremely low-income people is a welcome prospect.

I’d like to try one to see if functions decently. If so, it might prove a useful, very low-cost backup device.

Asus Details Which Smartphones Will Get Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update

Asus Details Which Smartphones Will Get Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update

Fret not, Asus hasn’t forgotten about the software version on your smartphone. The Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer promises that it will release Android 6.0 Marshmallow to a range of smartphones in its lineup starting April.

Amid concerns from users, Asus said that it will be rolling out the latest and greatest version of Google’s mobile operating system to a range of its ZenFone handsets including ZenFone 2 (ZE550ML, ZE551ML), ZenFone 2 Deluxe (ZE551ML), ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition (ZE551ML), ZenFone 2 Laser(ZE500KG, ZE500KL, ZE550KL, ZE551KL, ZE600KL, ZE601KL), ZenFone Selfie (ZD551KL), ZenFone Max(ZC550KL), and ZenFone Zoom (ZX551ML) in the second quarter of 2016. Also included in the list isPadFone S smartphone.

On the sidelines, Asus also announced that the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update will replace three of the company’s home-grown apps: Asus Messenger, Asus Mail, and Asus Calendar. They will be replaced by Google Messenger, Gmail, Calendar, and apps respectively. These apps will also not serve as the default apps for messaging, emails, and calendar “if you restore to factory settings after the update.” For those who prefer Asus’ offering, these apps are not going anywhere and can be found on theGoogle Play.

Google released Android 6.0 Marshmallow for OEMs and select Nexus devices including Nexus 6P andNexus 5 last year. Unlike Android 5.0 Lollipop, which brought along a new design language to the mobile operating system, the Android Marshmallow was largely aimed at performance enhancements and stability with some headline features such as Now on Tap.

Only recently Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge began receiving the aforementioned update. Sony Xperia Z5 is also now receiving the update, according to a report. The adoption rate for Android 6.0 only recently hit 1 percent.