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Wednesday 20 August 2014

Adrian Weckler: The top 6 gadgets of Mobile World Congress 2014

Adrian Weckler

Published 26/02/2014 | 07:31

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Samsung Gear Fit wristwatchs sit on display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Samsung Gear Fit wristwatchs sit on display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The reverse side of a YotaPhone smartphone is arranged for the photograph at the Yota Devices pavilion on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The reverse side of a YotaPhone smartphone is arranged for the photograph at the Yota Devices pavilion on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, Gear 2 smartwatch and Gear Fit fitness band are displayed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, Gear 2 smartwatch and Gear Fit fitness band are displayed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The 2014 Mobile World Congress has been a memorable show. Here are the five six gadgets that I saw at the convention.

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1. Samsung Gear Fit

This has taken people by surprise. The Gear Fit is probably the best smartwatch out there, for a number of reasons. First, in an environment where functionality is still limited, it sticks to one main purpose: notifications within fitness activity. Its beautiful curved 1.8-inch screen is slim and elongated rather than squarish. That means that it looks good, a claim that few other smartwatches can really say with any authority. (See the Irish Independent's hands-on video of the Gear Fit elsewhere on this site.)

2. The Yotaphone 2

This innovative smartphone has a normal 4.3-inch Android touchscreen on one side and an 'e-ink' screen -- similar to that on a Kindle or e-reader -- on the other. The idea is that you can switch your focus to the e-ink side when you want to do low-power activities, such as reading. It saves a lot of energy, allowing you to extend the device's battery life by a factor of five.

3. Nokia XL

See, Nokia? Nobody is slagging you off for doing what everyone wanted you to: making an Android devices. Alright, so it's only an Android-compatible phone (with limited access to Android apps). Still, this five-inch, five-megapixel touchscreen smartphone costs just €110. That's something worth looking at.

4. The Blackphone

The 'Snowden Phone' is another surprise hit of Mobile World Congress. This is an Android smartphone that has been tooled to allow you lock down your phone's tech-sharing defaults when you're out and about. That means you have much more control over what you want the world to know about your whereabouts and activities. If you want, it still gives you full access to apps and social networking (which negates much of its purpose). But the €475 smartphone is a timely intervention for those who are genuinely worried about big brother.

5. Upp hydrogen fuelcell

While scientists try to figure out how to replace nuclear energy without erecting 200-foot turbines next to your conservatory, tone English company was showing off a nice portable recharger that draws its energy from hydrogen. The Upp device gives about 25 watt hours of recharging, enough to fully power an iPhone about five times from scratch. One part of the device is then recycled for around €5 each time. It's not as cheap as electrically charging a gadget, but it's encouraging to see the technology starting to develop.

6. Samsung Galaxy S5

What was supposed to be the big story of Mobile World Congress is a fairly impressive device, but doesn't have a single particular 'wow' factor that has anyone swooning. It is slightly bigger (5.1 inches) than the S4, has a fingerprint reader, a hear-rate monitor, is waterproof and has more power (2.5Ghz quadcore chip, 3GB Ram) than its predecessor. Otherwise, it looks and feels almost exactly the same. It's still one of the big products of the show, though. [See the Irish Independent’s hands-on review elsewhere on this site.]

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