Samsung Unpacked/Sony IFA keynote liveblog

Opinion

SonySamsung
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Gear S and Gear VR, while Sony showed off a range of Xperia devices both big and small. Read all about the Sony and Samsung IFA press conferences with the liveblog wrap within. Plus duck jokes. Just because.
9pm: Samsung’s live stream (which you can watch here) kicks off at 10, but I’m not expecting huge things from it until 11, when the official announcement is due. If past unpacked events are any indication, we’ll get a countdown clock, maybe a few hype videos and shots of people walking into a hall. Thrilling stuff.
Remember: Keep refreshing the page once the event starts for the latest update!
What will be interesting (and maybe thrilling, but I’ve got to reserve judgement) will be the Note 4 itself. Samsung’s got an interesting position here, as the current rumour mill strongly points towards a large screen iPhone device this year, and between Apple and Samsung, there’s not much smartphone profit left. Will Samsung lose share to Apple? Its biggest smartphone (no, I don’t use the ph-word) could play a pivotal role.
In the meantime, to keep you amused, here is a duck joke.
Q: What says “Quick, Quick!”?
A: A duck with hiccups

(I didn’t say it was a good duck joke)
http://youtu.be/VRLy0QQI6xU
Remember: Keep refreshing the page once the event starts for the latest update!
9:50pm We have a countdown clock. They haven’t spent much on the font.
Yeah, that’s a crappy criticism, but when all I’ve got to work with is text on black…
So in the meantime…
Q: What’s the difference between a duck?
A: One of its legs are both the same.

I love that gag. Have done for years.
10: Aww. The counter is gone. Please stand by. Stand by what, exactly? The ornamental grandfather clock? Stand by me…?

10:01 No, it’s just been replaced with another counter. Which means that it’s extremely likely nothing’s going to happen for another 58 minutes or so. Time to make some coffee, and hug the duck nearest to you (if you’ve got one handy, that is, folks).
10:15 I’m watching a clock, waiting for a hype event to start. I should probably stop and think about that at some point. Instead, I’m going to make a coffee. How many sugars should I put in it?
10:20: 40 minutes to go. The tension is not building. In any way at all. I’m going to play some Rymdkapsel to pass the time. If you’re thinking “Rymd-whatnow?”, here’s a list of classic mobile games you should be playing.
10:30 Oooh. Muzak. We have muzak. And the logo, over and over again. That’s not likely to make for a classic half hour sitcom, mind you.
10:45 OK, I’m officially over this muzak, and likely to stab somebody with a new improved S-Pen(tm) shortly if it doesn’t stop.
10:55 we can see the room, and pretty lights. Also, PLEASE STOP THE MUZAK!
10:56 Looks like a room of slightly bored journalists. I should know. We can sense our own.

Surprise! The entire stage is the size of the Note 4. Or probably not.
Surprise! The entire stage is the size of the Note 4.
Or probably not.

10:58: Ah.. the muzak is coming out of a Note. How cute. Thereminic, even. If Thereminic were a word.
11:00 Dude on guitar looks a bit like me. Except that he can, you know, play. And is on the other side of the world.
(yeah, not rich with announcements yet. I’m working with what I’ve got.)
Aww. Kids playing with tech. Hype video. Everyone’s got one, and this is Samsung’s. They still love the S-Pen, although I’ve hit a lot of mixed opinion on that one.
Rachel Riley! Perhaps we’ll get a round of Countdown later.
(gag totally lost on most of the Aussie audience, but what the hell.)
This “Episode 2” thing. I don’t get it.
We have new product! But first… strategy!
“Limitless new possibilities in our life”. What does that actually mean? Not much, but please get excited. I think that’s what we’re meant to think.
Ah, the original Note. I remember when it was seen as comically big.
“The smartphone is not a smartphone any more. It will be your wallet and the gateway to financial security. It will be your television. It becomes your computer for work, creating new freedom.”
11:09 Did anyone have “Internet of Things” as a buzzword bingo term? Because there it was.
“We will never slow down.”
Presumably that means that the Note 5 is going to be announced at the end of this keynote…\
“We created this category”. Yep, I’ve got to give them that. Not everyone loves a large phone (I’m one of them), but this is a category that Samsung made.
Next Galaxy Note… looks like a Galaxy Note.
GN4
Ooh. Galaxy Note Edge with curved display. So my joke about the GN5 was actually TOO SLOW
NoteEdge
Galaxy Gear S. This we knew about beforehand, no?
Totally new form factor of wearables. S-Socks?
No, it’s the Samsung Gear VR headset. It’s definitely wearable. Also an invitation to be mugged, I suspect.
LTE CAT 6 on the Galaxy Note 4. Nice…
Random mention of Ligers there. Now onto the Note 4 specs.
The soft textured back cover is back. I always thought that thing was tacky. Metal frame, though. And a claimed “natural curve”, although host Rachel can only “just about see it”.
There’s a pink one. Of course there’s a pink one. I’m not a big fan of pink products. That might just be me, though.
Dynamic lock screens. Thousands of images to choose from. If anecdotal history is any guide, 90 per cent will stick with the default one.
5.7″ Quad HD Super AMOLED display screen. Luckily the Note 4 is big, so they should be able to stack the batteries in that thing.
My stream just froze as they talked about other devices with Quad HD screens. I’m sure that’s just coincidental.
Multi Window enhanced. But will it (like other similar takes on that concept) only support certain apps?
S-Pen is “capable of so much more”. Improved handwriting ability, for “much more of the sensation of writing with a real pen”. 2x the pressure sensitivity. “Almost exactly like writing”. Except on glass, I guess.
Smart Select to grab different bits of content to dump into emails or text messages. CAPTURE ALL THE GRUMPY CATS!
Hotel booking. This always wows the crowds.
S-Pen as mouse. Click and drag to select. That could be good, but as with all things S-Pen, it’s likely to be terribly app-dependent.
Rachel Riley trying to sell herself as not a nerdy type. That’s very much not working for me. Not believable.
The crowd is applauding a pen. Probably best not to think about that. After all, I’m blogging about a pen.
16MP rear camera with OIS, 3.7MP front facing F1.9.
Improved selfies. 60 per cent more light taken in. Heart rate sensor as a shutter button. That’s a cute idea (and probably going to be used a lot more than the heart rate sensor itself)
Wide Selfie mode. Panoramic selfies, for groups. Or those with really wide faces.
News is reporting all devices due in Australia by the end of the year but no pricing as yet. No shock there.
Gleh. Although the same piece notes that the VR is Note 4 only, and not good for those of us with glasses. So that’s me almost certainly out.
Battery life improvement of 7.5%. It also does Ultra Power Saving mode, AKA “Your phone isn’t flat, but it doesn’t do much” mode.
Swarovski cover. Very blingy. I tend to think they look terrible, but tastes can vary.
Jens Henning Koch from Mont Blanc on stage. Mont Blanc Pix and e-StarWalker pens. “A lifetime companion for its owner”. Something tells me the lifespan of the Note 4 will be a touch shorter than that.
MB_SAm
Here’s your official statement from Samsung Australia:
“Samsung Electronics Australia can confirm that the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge and Gear VR will be launching in Australia later this year. We will confirm local pricing and availability for each product closer to local launch.”

And now onto the Galaxy Note Edge. This is running a while (and they still have to do the Gear S and VR), so I may switch over to Sony if they don’t play nicely together.
Sidenote: 9to5Mac notes that Rachel Riley appears to be an iPhone user. Meow.
Edge screen apps and things. This is certainly an interesting idea, but I’d definitely want to test out how actually practical it is. Obvious limitation: Apps have to be built to use it. Samsung will, but will the wider Android ecosystem follow suit?
Next Generation of Gear is “a big step forward”. It’s also moving Samsung into, what, its fifth smartwatch in a year? Something like that.
Gear S has, as anticipated, its own SIM card. I guess that’ll work best with Optus’ data sharing plans. Or Telcos will throw it on contracts.
So this would appear (unless I’m mistaken) to be another Tizen device, not an Android Wear device. Samsung playing the field here.
Built in voice processing. Neat — if it works. Yeah, I’m cynical, but then this (like every other launch ever) is a hype fest. A little cynicism is warranted.
1,000 Apps. You won’t use 1,000 Apps, but it does give them a headstart over that other rumoured wearable on that other litigation-happy operating system.
Fitness sensors, fitness apps, and running with what appears to be quite a big watch.
And now onto the Gear VR. It needs the Galaxy Note 4, which means that (hopefully) it won’t cost the earth, what with being a quite dumb VR terminal.
GearVR
It does make sense of the QuadHD screen on the Note 4, though, because you’ll have all those pixels right up next to your eyes.
Carmack
John Carmack time! The crowd must be Quaking in their boots.
(yeah, I went there)
Meanwhile…
SonyIFA
I love Carmack and what he’s done, but I’m pretty sure his explanation is going right over the heads of most watching this.
Coffee’s starting to wear off. Also, it’s Thursday now.
How sweet. Sony press stream has an explanation of what IFA is. Formally switching over to Sony now, as Samsung has wrapped up.
Back to waiting and watching a mostly blank screen.
Kazuo Hirai enters… to “Get Lucky”. Is that the wisest choice?
kaz
Hirai now making fun of himself saying “Wow”. With a Wow count. Rumour: Sony has bought Blizzard just for WOW.
(OK, I just made that up.)
It’s all a bit buzzword bingo right now. “Vast possibilities” “Delight” “Transform” and so on and so forth and “revolutionary” as well.
Ten minutes in, nothing announced. They’re taking their time for an event that’s only meant to run 45 minutes.
More than half the 10 million PS4 owners have taken up Playstation Plus. Interesting stat… and a nice little earner for Sony.
New curved 4K TVs 75″ and 65″ options in Europe in October. Which probably means here by the end of the year. But I’m guessing.
“When people think 4K, we want them to think Sony”. I’m sure they do. I’m also sure they’ll be thinking “But where’s the content?” same as with any other 4K TV right now.
No embeddable stream, but the official IFA TV site is streaming if you do want to watch along.
Again talking up market share in Europe. It’s very biz-centric, this webcast.
As expected, new lens style cameras, QX1 and QX30.
QX
Action Cam Mini — “Smallest ever action camera”. Interesting looking thing.
Sony’s going heavy with the Kando concept here. Now onto high res audio.
Talking up the High Res version of Michael Jackson’s “Xscape”, which proves that you can make High Res music, but you can’t necessarily make it good.
300,000 High Res titles available. That’s solid, but obviously dwarfed by all the low bitrate MP3s out there.
Onto the smartphones, with a High Resolution teaser.
Ah, Sony Mobile. I remember when it was Sony Ericsson.
No, wait, first Smart Wear. APIs to be opened this year. Unique products… two news ones today.
sband
Interesting. E-Ink display. Direct shot at Pebble there. Smartband Talk.

Swatch3
Also, Smartwatch 3. Sony’s first Android Wear device.

As expected, Sony Xperia Z3. “We don’t think you should settle for good. You should demand great.”

“Up to” 2 days battery life. “Up to” is always weasel words, but it’s better than “up to” one day. Waterproof, as Sony’s being doing with its Xperias of late. The “highest” level of waterproofing.
And the embargoes lift, and a lot of details around the Z3 and the Z3 compact start flooding all over the web.

I do welcome the idea of the Z3 Compact, though. There are too few smaller, powerful Android smartphones out there. Slightly lower res than the Xperia Z3.
XperiaZ3Tablet
And a tablet — the 8 inch Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Because you can never have too many tablets.

PS4 remote play being hyped. Because like everyone else, Sony would like you in its ecosystem.
Short throw 4K projectors. Neat tech, although I’m not quite buying the prospect of a kitchen projector.
Aaand… that’s a wrap. Surprisingly low-key from Sony on the specs front (and no word just yet on local availability per se, although pre-Christmas would seem like a wise bet) compared to Samsung. Now for some sleep…

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