Category: Peripherals

Floating speakers are going to be a thing

https-%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F330044%2F8df63095-92b1-443c-9126-15906699d51fLG hopes convince the world that it needs speakers that float.

The Levitating Portable Speaker (or PJ9) is a wireless, 360-degree omnidirectional speaker that flies above its station.  It has a built in sub-woofer which means that it should not sound too tinny. When its 10-hour battery is low, it automatically descends down to its station and charges wirelessly, without interrupting music playback.

It’s also weatherproof (up to IPX7 specifications), and can connect to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

So does this mean that the audiophile friend of mine who set his speakers in concrete to stop them moving and improve the sound quality was completely wrong? Probably not. There are lots of speakers out there which defy the rules of sound quality in the interests of being a gimmick.  Their makers always say smaller speakers sound better thanks to modern technology and they never do.

Still it looks very pretty.

 

LingLong creates DingDong in smart home industry

Linglong-Dingdong-Lautsprecher-1024x576-31f5edc41d756a0cChinese outfit LingLong has created an AI based assistant it has dubbed the DingDong which is making a sing song in the consumer electronics market.

The gear has a music library of three million songs, can take memos and share updates regarding news, traffic and weather in what the firm calls ‘cinema-like sound quality’

It speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, which means it can roll into the lucrative Chinese market and get a head start on its Western rivals.

It costs $118 and answers questions, gives directions and plays music in high quality 320Kbps format

The device comes in four colours: red for prosperity, white for purity, black for money and purple because it is pretty.

In the west, Amazon is the leaders in this space. It released its Echo in 2014 – smart speaker powered by Alexa. Users can ask Alexa to do a range of activities such as request an Uber or order their usually from Dominos – and there is more than three million units in the world.

Most DingDong owners use the technology as a music player, or as someone to talk to.

Sony having problems moving past the quake

9781596438286_zoomSony does not seem to have moved past the curse of Poseidon the god of earthquakes who seems to have put his trident firmly in the outfit’s bottom line.

Sony delayed its earnings forecast from late April after quakes shook the southern city of Kumamoto, home to one of its five image sensor plants. It partially resumed operations this month and on Tuesday said wafer production would resume by the end of August.

The outfit reported a 48 percent drop in operating profit for the July-September quarter as earthquake damage continued to affect its cash-cow imaging sensor business.

Second-quarter profit nearly halved to $435.90 million. The result came a day after Sony lowered its full-year profit forecast by 10 percent to $257.05 million due to the sale of its battery business.

Investors were not too concerned as Sony maintained its sales outlook and losses related to the battery business sale had been flagged earlier.

Emerging from years of restructuring, the consumer electronics manufacturer is refocusing its business to concentrate on videogames, entertainment and imaging sensors, and the sale of its battery business was part of that effort.

Its sensors business continued to struggle in the second quarter as a key factory damaged by a series of earthquakes in April took almost half a year to recover to pre-disaster levels.

Investors are betting on momentum in the gaming business to pick up toward the year-end holiday shopping season with the launch later this month of the PlayStation 4 Pro, an upgrade capable of rendering high-definition graphics.

Sony is also widely expected to build an early lead in the fledgling virtual-reality (VR) market, with a headset priced more modestly than those of rivals and available to its 40 million existing users of its flagship consoles.

HP backtracks on third party Ink

history-of-print-16th-century-printing-companyThe maker of expensive printer ink, HP has backtracked on a rather nasty plan which meant that users could not buy third party ink cartridges.

HP hit the headlines when it issued an update for its printers that made it impossible to place third party cartridges in its machines.  The move was made suddenly so that buyers who had been using such cartridges for a year or more would have to buy the expensive HP ink.

The move angered consumer rights groups and it looked like HP would be facing a rather expensive court case.

Now HP said it will restore the ability of certain OfficeJet printers to use third-party ink cartridges, after being criticized for issuing a firmware update that rejects non-HP ink.

But HP is still defending its practice of preventing the use of non-HP ink and is making no promises about refraining from future software updates that force customers to use only official ink cartridges.

Writing in its bog, HP said:

“We updated a cartridge authentication procedure in select models of HP office inkjet printers to ensure the best consumer experience and protect them from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges that do not contain an original HP security chip and that infringe on our IP,” the company said.

The recent firmware update for HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X printers “included a dynamic security feature that prevented some untested third-party cartridges that use cloned security chips from working, even if they had previously functioned,” HP said.

For customers who don’t wish to be protected from the ability to buy less expensive ink cartridges, HP said it “will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will provide details here.”

HP said it will continue to use security features that “protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working.”

Our guess is that the new policy will come in with new machines so that customers know that they have to buy the official cartridges.

HP did apologize for its poor communication about the firmware update and promised to be more “transparent” in the future. But that alone won’t satisfy the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called on HP for a public commitment to never again use its software update process “to distribute anti-features that work against [HP] customers’ interests.”

Seagate makes killing and then decimates staff

decimationSeagate has announced that its Q4 revenue would be $2.65 billion, beating expectations of $2.34 billion, and up from the $2.3 billion guidance. But that has not stopped the outfit decimating its staff by more than 14 percent. That’s more than decimation.

On the face of it, everything is brilliant for Seagate. The company also reported gross margin of 25 percent and non-GAAP gross margin of approximately 25.8 percent for the fiscal fourth quarter 2016, up from the previous 23 percent forecast.

But this news was so brilliant the outfit was forced to lay off 14 percent of it workforce, or some 6,500 people. This is odd really because the Romans used to decimate its army ranks when they performed poorly in battle as an incentive to those left.  It looks like Seagate’s staff, having won the battle, were decimated any way. We guess that the remaining staff will probably lack the motivation to go the extra mile ever again, knowing that they will be fired whatever they do.

The company said that it had another restructuring plan for “continued consolidation” of its global footprint across Asia, EMEA and the Americas. The plan includes reducing the Company’s global headcount by approximately 6,500 employees, or 14 percent of its global headcount by the end of fiscal year 2017.

The total pretax charges for the plan – that’s redundancy money – will be approximately $164 million in fiscal year 2017. The restructuring activities and global footprint consolidation underway should let the outfit to be operating within its targeted Non-GAAP product gross margin range of 27-32 percent by the December 2016 quarter.

Whatever that means in Seagate lingo.

 

Panasonic packs in LCD panels

panasonicPanasonic has given up making LCD panels for televisions because the price competition.

The pullout from TV LCD manufacturing follows the company’s withdrawal from plasma TV production three years ago.

Panasonic has been making liquid crystal display panels for TVs at its Himeji factory in western Japan since 2010. Company executives are now planning to end production of the parts by September.

It  says it will continue to manufacture LCD panels at the plant for products other than televisions, such as medical equipment and cars.

But it says cuts in output will lead to transfer of hundreds of workers to other factories or offices, out of about 1,000 currently employed at the plant.

However it says ir will keep making Panasonic-brand televisions, using panels supplied by other manufacturers.
The move leaves Sharp and its Taiwanese parent firm Hon Hai as the only producer in the land of the Rising Sun.
Panasonic said that its executives are trying to streamline operations to focus more on profit, rather than scale of sales.

Printer and copier trade slump guts Xerox

Images/Getty Images)Xerox reported a 4.2 percent fall in quarterly revenue due to lower sales of printers and copiers as the company frantically tries to restructure itself out of trouble.

The outfit  said it expects to incur about $100 million in restructuring costs in the second quarter as it splits into two companies, one holding its printer operations, and the other its business process outsourcing unit, which offers business process outsourcing and document outsourcing.

Chief Executive Ursula Burns said that Xerox will appoint its top staff by the middle of the year.

Xerox said revenue from its document technology business, which includes sales of printers and copiers, fell 10 percent to $1.6 billion in the quarter.

Sales of printers and copiers, its mainstay for over half a century, have fallen for more than four years.

Net income attributable to the company fell to $34 million in the first quarter ended March 31, from $225 million last year.

Revenue fell to $4.28 billion from $4.47 billion, compared to analysts’ estimate of $4.24 billion.

About the only thing that Xerox can be happy about is that rival printer makers are also suffering.  Lexmark International has agreed to be taken private by a group of investors led by China-based Apex Technology Co and PAG Asia Capital in a deal valued at $3.6 billion net of cash.

Nintendo flushes the last of the Wii

Funny-Toilet-221Nintendo is flushing its Wii U this year ending its reign of toilet themed games consoles, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkei.

The Wii U console sold poorly compared to the Wii which was a ray of gold in the darkness in 2012. Nintendo has already stopped manufacturing certain Wii U accessories.

While Wii U hardware is being discontinued, it looks like the launch of the company’s next platform — codenamed NX — is not guaranteed this year. This means users will be caught short if they are looking for Wii.

Nintendo plans to splash out on its  next-generation console sometime in 2016, but there is no guarantee it will be in the shops anytime soon. The company launched its first mobile app, Miitomo, last week.

Nintendo has sold just 12.6 million Wii U consoles since 2012. Its previous home console, Wii sold more than 100 million units.

 

 

US’s ZTE ban backfires

Great-Depression-Unemployment-Line-It seems that the US’s daft ban on ZTE gear is doing more harm to its home-grown businesses which are suffering more.

The U.S. Commerce Department decided to punish ZTE for selling coms gear to the Iranians years ago and issued an export ban on the outfit. However that seems to be punishing a lot of US companies who depend on ZTE’s components or business.

Jose optical-parts maker Oclaro saw its shares plummet because it sells multiple products to ZTE, a maker of mobile devices and telecoms systems.

Chipmaker Integrated Device Technology said the Commerce Department’s ruling “could cause changes to revenue trends” in its quarter ending July 3 its shares fell 1 percent.

Among other suppliers whose shares fell were Lumentum, down 3.3 percent; NeoPhotonics Corp, down 8.6 percent; Fabrinet, down 5.3 percent; Finisar Corp, down 7.7 percent; Inphi Corp, down 7.3 percent; and Skyworks Solutions Inc, down 4.1 percent.
ZTE distributor Avenet fell 1.5 percent.

Qualcomm slid 1.58 percent while its rival MediaTek Inc rose three percent. Any switch by ZTE to replace Qualcomm as a supplier might take several months, because of the need to work out need specifications.

However the worse it yet to come. The worst fallout for US suppliers around ZTE’s telecommunications-infrastructure equipment rather than its handset business.

Still while the US tech industry suffers, at least they can be re-assured that by stuffing themselves up they will be punishing that naughty Chinese telco for breaking a US embargo when the Americans hated the Chinese.

Inkjets jet on

Canon logoSales of business inkjets showed  16.3 percent growth in the third quarter of 2015, with 2.2 million units shipped.

But while inkjets were a stand out for hardcopy peripherals, the whole sector showed a decline of 6.3 percent, with shipments falling to 25.8 million units, according to data released by IDC.

In the sector,high end colour laser devices churning out 45 pages per minute (PPM) showed 15.3 percent growth in the quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2014.

While most of the top five vendors showed declines in the quarter, Kyocera showed 6.1 percent year on year growth.

The top dog in the hardcopy peripherals market remains HP, with a 38.7 percent market share in the quarter. In second place is Canon (20.5%), then Epson (15.8%), Brother (7.3%) and Samsung (4%). Samsung showed the steepest decline in the quarter, a 21 percent drop.