Samsung eyes young buyers with gaming, music-friendly Galaxy Note 9

DJ Koh, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, introduces the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 smartphone at the Barclays Center on August 9, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.(AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Samsung eyes young buyers with gaming, music-friendly Galaxy Note 9

SEOUL: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. unveiled the Galaxy Note 9 “phablet” in New York on Thursday in a key product launch that it hopes will attract younger customers with stepped-up features and services for gamers and music-lovers.
Launching the Note 9 at 11 a.m. in New York, or Friday midnight in Seoul, Samsung also announced partnerships with global hit game Fortnite and music-streaming service Spotify Technology SA in a stepped-up challenge to Apple Inc. in the premium-phone race.
Samsung’s new focus marks a shift away from its previous positioning of the Note as a multi-tasking device popular with graphic designers and artists.
But the hefty price tag — at $999.99 for the base 128 gigabyte model, according to US carrier Verizon Communications Inc. — has raised questions as to whether features such as a longer battery life and quick cooling would be enough to attract customers.
“I couldn’t find anything that was eye-catching enough to prompt customers to ignore the high price tag,” said Greg Roh, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities.
Shares of Samsung were down 3.5 percent in Seoul, mirroring weakness in other chip-related stocks.
Samsung is under pressure to jump-start faltering smartphone sales after posting its slowest quarterly profit growth in more than a year, as rivals such as China’s Huawei Technologies nipped at its heels with cheaper, feature-packed models.
The Note 9 will support up to 1 terabyte of memory — a 512GB version that can take another 512GB through a memory card — making Samsung the first major smartphone maker to sell a 1TB phone.
The phablet — a cross between a smartphone and a tablet — will hit stores on Aug. 24, Samsung said.
Verizon said the Note 9 will be available for pre-order from Aug. 10, with the 512GB model priced at $1,249.99. Sprint Corp. will introduce the device on Aug. 24 at a 50 percent discount as part of a promotional scheme.

Music and Games 

The Note 9 is the first Android phone to support Fortnite, a hugely popular video-and-smartphone survival game that was only playable on computers, consoles and Apple products until now.
It also comes with a Bluetooth-enabled stylus designed to act as a remote for snapping photos and controlling YouTube video playback.
The New York event also featured a Samsung Galaxy watch and Galaxy Home speaker, a device that will use its Bixby voice assistant and compete with similar products from Amazon.com Inc. , Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
Spotify will be supported on the speakers, along with all other Samsung devices — news that sent shares in the music-streaming service provider up nearly 5 percent.
Samsung is counting on the Note 9 to outsell the Note 8 to stem a sales slump. It said last month its flagship Galaxy S9 phone missed sales targets, sending profits in the mobile division down by a third in the April-June quarter.
Samsung does not break out shipments of its smartphone models, but analysts reckon it has shipped around 10 million Note 8 models so far.
“The jury is still out if the device can boost sales of Samsung’s premium category,” mobile phone market tracker Counterpoint Research said in a blog, pointing to stiff competition from the iPhone X, Huawei’s P20 Pro and the Find X from China’s Oppo Electronics.
“The price is a big factor.”
Huawei predicted last week it would become the world’s top smartphone seller by volume — displacing Samsung — in the final quarter of next year, while Apple sold more of its $1,000 iPhone Xs in the June quarter.


‘Touch the sun’: NASA spacecraft hurtles toward our star

Updated 13 August 2018
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‘Touch the sun’: NASA spacecraft hurtles toward our star

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: Embarking on a mission that scientists have been dreaming of since the Sputnik era, a NASA spacecraft hurtled Sunday toward the sun on a quest to unlock some of its mysteries by getting closer than any object sent before.
If all goes well, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, in November. In the years ahead, it will gradually get within 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) of the surface, its instruments protected from the extreme heat and radiation by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield and other high-tech wizardry.
Altogether, the Parker probe will make 24 close approaches to our star during the seven-year, $1.5 billion journey.
“Wow, here we go. We’re in for some learning over the next several years,” said Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.
It was Parker who accurately theorized 60 years ago the existence of solar wind — the supersonic stream of charged particles blasting off the sun and coursing through space, sometimes wreaking havoc on electrical systems on Earth.
This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after a living person.

As Parker and thousands of others watched, a Delta IV Heavy rocket carried the probe aloft, thundering into the clear, star-studded sky on three pillars of fire that lit up the middle-of-the-night darkness.
NASA needed the mighty 23-story rocket, plus a third stage, to get the Parker probe — the size of a small car and well under a ton — racing toward the sun, 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth.
A Saturday morning launch attempt was foiled by last-minute technical trouble. But Sunday gave way to complete success.
It was the first rocket launch ever witnessed by Parker, a retired University of Chicago professor. He said it was like looking at photos of the Taj Mahal for years and then beholding the real thing in India.
“I really have to turn from biting my nails in getting it launched, to thinking about all the interesting things which I don’t know yet and which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five or six or seven years,” Parker said on NASA TV.
Among the mysteries scientists hope to solve: Why is the corona hundreds of times hotter than the surface, which is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius)? And why is the sun’s atmosphere continually expanding and accelerating, as Parker theorized in 1958?
“The only way we can do that is to finally go up and touch the sun,” said project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University. “We’ve looked at it. We’ve studied it from missions that are close in, even as close as the planet Mercury. But we have to go there.”
A better understanding of the sun’s life-giving and sometimes violent nature could also enable earthlings to better protect satellites and astronauts in orbit, along with the power grids so vital to today’s technology-dependent society, said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s science mission chief.
Parker, the probe, will start shattering records this fall. On its very first brush with the sun, it will come within 15.5 million miles (25 million kilometers), easily beating the current record of 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by NASA’s Helios 2 spacecraft in 1976.
By the time Parker gets to its 22nd, 23rd and 24th orbits of the sun in 2024 and 2025, it will be even deeper into the corona and traveling at a record 430,000 mph (690,000 kilometers per hour). Nothing from planet Earth has ever gone that fast.
Even Fox has difficulty comprehending the mission’s derring-do.
“To me, it’s still mind-blowing,” she said. “Even I still go, ‘Really? We’re doing that?’“
The 8-foot (2.4-meter) heat shield will serve as an umbrella that will shade the spacecraft’s scientific instruments, with on-board sensors adjusting the protective cover as necessary so that nothing gets fried.
A mission to get up close and personal with our star has been on NASA’s books since 1958. The trick was making the spacecraft compact and light enough to travel at incredible speeds and durable enough to withstand the punishing environment.
“We’ve had to wait so long for our technology to catch up with our dreams,” Fox said.