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The revamped Motorola Razr foldable launches October 2, starting at $1,200

By Brian Heater

Foldable phones have had…quite the journey over the last few years. The second time appears to have been the charm for the Galaxy Fold, with a far more robust design than the first generation. And now Motorola’s hoping for similar luck with a revamped version of the Razr.

The Lenovo -owned brand announced this morning that the latest addition of the phone will officially launch in North America on October 2. And for a limited time, it will be available from select retailers — including Amazon, Best Buy, B&H and its own site — for $1,200. That’s a $200 initial discount for early adopters with faith that Motorola nailed it this time out.

The original version of the handset, launched last year, had everything working in its favor, from an iconic name to the latest in smartphone devices. Ultimately, however, it ran into poor reviews, keeping with a theme of the initial wave of foldables. It was a big letdown for a legitimately exciting device. Here’s what a spokesperson told TechCrunch about this latest model:

We’re confident in our foldable system, which is why we retained much of the same technology from the first iteration of Razr. While evolving Razr’s design to include 5G, we focused on areas to make mechanical refinements, based on direct consumer feedback.

Announced three weeks back, the new device will arrive in the States in a matter of days, sporting 5G connectivity and a lower price than the original (on top of the aforementioned limited time discount). AT&T and T-Mobile will also be carrying the new model.

Google launches new AI-powered meeting room hardware

By Frederic Lardinois

Google today announced the Google Meet Series One, a new video conferencing hardware suite for meeting rooms. Built in collaboration with Lenovo, the Series One uses high-end cameras and microphones and then marries them with Google’s AI smarts thanks to using Google’s own Coral M.2 accelerator modules with the company’s Edge TPUs.

Previous Google Meet hardware efforts from companies like ASUS, Acer and Logitech were generally built around a Chromebox. This new effort uses a custom-built compute system at its core and combines that with an almost Google Nest-like tablet-sized screen, a soundbar with eight built-in microphones, additional microphone pods and one of two cameras.

Image Credits: Google

The cameras are maybe the most interesting option here, with the Smart Camera XL features a 20.3-megapixel sensor and 4.3x optical zoom. Thanks to these specs, it can be used as a digital PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera. With that, the system can always automatically zoom in to frame everybody in the room and when the next person joins, it can zoom and pan as necessary to make sure everybody is still visible.

The regular Smart Camera can still do most of this, but it doesn’t feature the optical zoom, making it a better solution for smaller rooms. Google partnered with Huddly to develop this camera system (and the two companies also collaborated on previous Meet hardware projects).

But Google also put a lot of effort into the audio system. With its eight beam-forming microphones built into the soundbar and advanced noise cancellation techniques running on Google’s AI chips, the system should be able to filter out most distractions. Companies can add additional soundbars that only feature the speakers and microphones without the AI chips to cover even larger rooms. These additional units only feature the speakers and microphones, without the additional AI hardware since all of the processing needs to be done centrally.

Image Credits: Google

One nice touch here is that the team also made it easy to install these systems thanks to using Power-over-Ethernet. That should make installing one of these systems in a conference room pretty easy.

Since this is Google, it’s probably no surprise that you can also use the Google Assistant on this system, providing you with hands-free control over the room (something that’s maybe more important today than ever before).

The smallest room kit, with the basic Smart Camera but without the tablet-style meeting controller and microphone pod, will retail for $2,699. For $2,999 you get a complete set with one standard camera, soundbar, microphone pod and controller and if you have a very large room, you can opt for the $3,999 version with the additional soundbar, two microphone pods and the Smart Camera XL.

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