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Thursday, March 28, 2013

North Korea readying rockets to aim at U.S. targets, state media says (Video)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, ordered rocket units are enlisted for a possible attack on U.S. military bases located in South Korea and the Pacific, which could occur at any time, as announced by the country's official agency , KCNA.

This was announced at an emergency meeting in the early hours of Friday, which took place after the flight of two stealth bombers in south Korea.

In a KCNA cable ensures that the leader signed the order addressed to the senior generals, saying: "The moment of reckoning with the U.S. imperialists has come."

U.S. to N. Korea: Dial it down

North Korea readying rockets to aim 

at U.S. targets, state media says

(CNN) -- North Korea's leader has approved a plan to prepare rockets to be on standby for firing at U.S. targets, including the U.S. mainland and military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, state media reported.

In a meeting with military leaders early Friday, Kim Jong Un "said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation," the state-run KCNA news agency reported.
"If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, [we] should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea," KCNA reported.
Kim's regime has unleashed a torrent of threats in the past few weeks, and U.S. officials have said they're concerned about the recent rhetoric.
"North Korea is not a paper tiger, so it wouldn't be smart to dismiss its provocative behavior as pure bluster," a U.S. official said Wednesday.
But Pentagon spokesman George Little said Thursday that it was important to remain calm and urged North Korea to "dial the temperature down."
"No one wants there to be war on the Korean Peninsula, let me make that very clear," he told CNN's "Erin Burnett Outfront."
Behind North Korea's heated words about missile strikes, one analyst said, there might not be much mettle.
"The fact is that despite the bombast, and unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea's strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that U.S. forces may be stationed," James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane's Defense Weekly, wrote in an opinion column published Thursday on CNN.com.
North Korea's latest threat Friday morning came after the United States said Thursday that it flew stealth bombers over South Korea in annual military exercises.
The mission by the B-2 Spirit bombers, which can carry conventional and nuclear weapons, "demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will," a statement from U.S. Forces Korea said.
The North Korean state news agency described the mission as "an ultimatum that they (the United States) will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula."
The North has repeatedly claimed that the exercises are tantamount to threats of nuclear war against it.
But the U.S. military stressed that the bombers flew in exercises to preserve peace in the region.
"The United States is steadfast in its alliance commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea, to deterring aggression, and to ensuring peace and stability in the region," the statement from U.S. Forces Korea said, using South Korea's official name. "The B-2 bomber is an important element of America's enduring and robust extended deterrence capability in the Asia-Pacific region."
The disclosure of the B-2 flights comes a day after North Korea said it was cutting a key military hotline with South Korea, provoking fresh expressions of concern from U.S. officials about Pyongyang's recent rhetoric.
Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the North carried out a long-range rocket launch in December and an underground nuclear test last month, prompting the U.N. Security Council to step up sanctions on the secretive regime.
Pyongyang has expressed fury over the sanctions and the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises, due to continue until the end of April.
Sharp increases in tensions on the Korean Peninsula have taken place during the drills in previous years. The last time the North cut off military communications with the South was during similar exercises in March 2009.
North Korea has gone through cycles of "provocative behavior" for decades, Little said Thursday.
"And we have to deal with them. We have to be sober, calm, cool, collected about these periods. That's what we're doing right now," he said. "And we are assuring our South Korean allies day to day that we stand with them in the face of these provocations."
The recent saber-rattling from Pyongyang has included threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the United States and South Korea, as well as the declaration that the armistice that stopped the Korean War in 1953 is null and void.
On Tuesday, the North said it planned to place military units tasked with targeting U.S. bases under combat-ready status.
Most observers say North Korea is still years away from having the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile, but it does have plenty of conventional military firepower, including medium-range ballistic missiles that can carry high explosives for hundreds of miles.
Little said Thursday that the United States was keeping a close eye on North Korea's missile capabilities.
"The important thing is for us to stay out ahead of what we think the North Korean threat is, especially from their missile program," he said. "They've been testing more missiles, and they've been growing their capabilities and we have to stay out ahead."

Korean nightmare: Experts ponder potential conflict

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects drills by the Korean People's Army (KPA) Navy at an undisclosed location on North Korea's east coast in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency taken on March 25, 2013.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects drills by the Korean People's Army (KPA) Navy at an undisclosed location on North Korea's east coast in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency taken on March 25, 2013.

Editor's note: Andrew Salmon is a South Korea-based freelance journalist and author who has written two books on the Korean war. Below, he envisages a hypothetical, worst-case scenario of potential conflict on the Korean peninsula. CNN is not suggesting that war is imminent or even likely, but the possibility of conflict is one scenario that military strategists must consider given recent heightened tensions.

Seoul (CNN) -- It's Asia's nightmare scenario: War breaking out on the Korean peninsula.
With Korea lying at the heart of Northeast Asia, the world's third largest zone of economic activity after Western Europe and North America, experts say global capital markets would suffer devastating collateral damage, but the catastrophic loss of human life -- and potential nuclear fallout -- would be far, far worse.

Kim makes his way to an observation post with North Korean soldiers on March 25.
Kim makes his way to an observation post with North Korean soldiers on March 25.

Fortunately, no analysts believe "Korean War II" is imminent; the armistice ending the 1950-53 conflict that buried millions continues to hold, despite North Korea's nullification in March. And with regime maintenance Pyongyang's paramount policy, few think it would risk an attack.

But Kim Jong Un's experience and rationality is being questioned following his recent missile and nuclear tests, his annulment of the armistice and his bellicose vitriol -- extreme even by Pyongyang standards.

Despite annulling the armistice, a consistent Pyongyang demand has been a full peace treaty and it also wants direct talks with the United States, which Washington has resisted, preferring instead multilateral discussions.

Agreement with U.S.
Now, North Korea's actions are fueling concern; so much so that South Korea and the U.S. recently announced they had signed an agreement to firm up contingency plans should North Korea follow through on its threats.

It follows joint military exercises between the allies, which included flights by U.S. B-52 bombers over South Korea.

At the time, Pentagon spokesman George Little said the flights were to ensure the combined forces were "battle-trained and trained to employ air power to deter aggression."

Military strategists are clearly preparing for all eventualities. And it seems the South's citizens are also bracing for possible conflict.

The Asan Institute, a Seoul think tank, found that in 2012, ordinary South Koreans of all age groups believed war was more likely than not.

'Invasion unlikely'
At present, a second 1950-style North Korean invasion seems unlikely, but possibilities that could ignite the peninsula tinderbox exist.

"I don't think any parties want all-out war, but scenarios to arrive at that outcome are some kind of miscalculation or inadvertent escalation," said Dan Pinkston, who heads the International Crisis Group's Seoul office. "The problem is that, considering recent developments, the escalation ladder has been getting shorter."

After fatal incidents in 2010, South Korea eased its rules of engagement, enabling speedier counter attacks to Northern attacks such as naval or artillery strikes.

And in February, South Korea's top general told Seoul's National Assembly of plans for pre-emptive strikes if intelligence indicated North Korean nuclear attack preparations.

Pre-emption is critical, given the close proximity of the two Koreas.

"Once we detect long range artillery and missiles being prepared, we would have no choice but to strike," said Kim Byung-ki, a professor at Seoul's Korea University; it takes only three minutes for a North Korean plane to reach Seoul, and under a minute for artillery shells to hit.

America committed
Analysts fear a limited Northern attack might provoke a Southern response, sparking a spiral of escalation and the dreaded "big war." With Seoul and Washington bound by treaty, America would have to commit. "Politically, the U.S. would have to be seen to support South Korea," said James Hardy, Asia Editor at defense publication IHS Jane's. "If it did not, its defense policy in Asia-Pacific would be in tatters."

North Korea's 1.1 million strong Korean People's Army, or KPA, is nearly double the size of the 640,000-person South Korean military and the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in Korea.

Much of North Korea's military is believed to be decrepit: It lacks fuel, fields outdated equipment, and some troops are undernourished, but it wields two niche threats: special forces and artillery.

In a report in March last year, the commander of U.S. and U.N. forces in South Korea, General James Thurman, warned that North Korea has continued to improve the capabilities of the world's largest special operations force -- highly trained specialists in unconventional, high-risk missions.

Pyongyang fields 60,000 special forces, according to Gen. Thurman -- and more than 13,000 artillery pieces, most of it deeply dug in along the DMZ, and ranged on Seoul; the dense capital sprawls just 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of the border.

Moreover, with its main-force numbers and weight of firepower, the KPA might be able to concentrate offensive units with enough mass to punch across the fortified DMZ, through South Korean second echelon defenses, and barrel toward the Seoul region, an area with 24 million people.

Still, given the KPA's logistic weakness and inability to sustain battlefield operations, analysts expect an offensive lasting only three days to one week, after which Pyongyang could negotiate from a position of strength.

Commando force
Meanwhile, could South Korean forces hold long enough for U.S. troops to massively reinforce? Could U.S. forces operate effectively with their bases in Korea -- and possibly Japan, Okinawa and Guam-- under attack by KPA commandos and missiles? These are the imponderables.

Commandos would provide the KPA's spearhead, infiltrating by air, sea and probably under civilian cover to assault South Korean infrastructure and U.S. bases, degrading Seoul's command and communications capabilities and stemming U.S. reinforcements, said Kim of Korea University. Chaos would likely be increased by electronic jamming measures and cyber attacks. Meanwhile, KPA artillery could fire thousands of shells in their opening barrage, Kim estimated.

Still, questions hang over the KPA's war-worthiness. During Pyongyang parades, goose-stepping battalions display the world's finest close-order drill, but under U.S. aerial bombardment, might Kim's legions -- like Saddam Hussein's -- crack?

It seems unlikely. When North Korean troops have engaged -- notably in Yellow Sea clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2010, and in commando raids in 1968 and 1996 -- they have proven skilled and motivated.

But neither special forces nor artillery are war winners alone: They cannot seize and hold ground. The KPA's biggest weakness is the vulnerability of its main force units once they begin to maneuver.

Aerial bombardment
The U.S. and South Korea could fight a three-dimensional battle: KPA infantry and armored units would be pummeled by 24-7 U.S. aerial bombardment; its forces would also be vulnerable to heli-borne envelopment; and, because Korea is a peninsula, the North could be flanked by sea in amphibious operations.

Still, if the KPA ran the 30-mile gauntlet from the border and broke into Seoul, a city vaster than Stalingrad, it would be easy to cut off but difficult to evict. Close combat among Korea's hills and streets could prove murderous.

"They're not Saddam's army, they're likely to fight like the Japanese in the Pacific," said Pinkston, referring to Japan's last-ditch island stands of 1944-5. "They would be paranoid about what would happen if they surrendered."

Destroying North Korean artillery shelling Seoul -- much of it emplaced in tunnels that have been dug over decades -- would be another stern task. Kim noted that U.S. "bunker buster" bombs used in Iraq were originally designed for use against North Korea.

Seoul and Washington possess precision-guided munitions. Bombs or missiles bursting in bunker entrances could bury KPA artillery and air force units, analysts say. But the South Korean capital would likely take a severe pounding -- possibly with unconventional weapons.

Bio hazard
Last March, Thurman said: "If North Korea employs biological weapons, it could use highly pathogenic agents such as anthrax or the plague. In the densely populated urban terrain of the ROK, this represents a tremendous psychological weapon."

A marine or airborne landing to its rear are options to take out North Korea's gun line; the question is how much damage Seoul would suffer before such operations could be launched. KPA missiles are an additional threat: As coalition forces discovered in Gulf War I, finding and destroying mobile launchers is tremendously difficult.

Yet with U.S. air power constantly degrading KPA units, communications, headquarters and logistics nationwide, experts see no way for Pyongyang to win a sustained war. If South Korea and the U.S. attack into the North, the wild card is Beijing, with whom Pyongyang has a mutual defense treaty.

Northern Korea guards China's northeast: throughout history, a strategic flank. In 1950, with North Korea largely overrun by U.N. forces, Beijing intervened, saving the state from extinction. Pundits say Beijing would not support a Pyongyang offensive, but would defend her -- suggesting Kim's regime could survive a war, as his grandfather did.

"China will support North Korea, but only on North Korean territory," said Choi Ji-wook, head North Korea researcher at Seoul's Korea Institute of National Unification. "They will not support a North Korean army attacking South Korean territory."

Tough stance
Washington wants a tougher Chinese stance toward North Korea, but it is unclear whether Beijing's six-decade policy of support has altered significantly.

While supporting a vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test, China recently criticized an announcement from the U.S. that it was beefing up defense systems along the U.S. West Coast.

"Bolstering missile defenses will only intensify antagonism, and it doesn't help to solve the issue," Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

And regardless of the Chinese role, Kim Jong Un, North Korea's young leader, possesses a doomsday option: The nuclear button.

Currently, Pyongyang is not believed to have a missile-mounted nuclear warhead, but it may in years to come. Experts believe the North has rockets able to hit Japan or South Korea with air, land or sea-delivered nuclear devices or dirty bombs. If Kim detonated a nuclear device, it would guarantee apocalyptic retaliation and war crimes trials for any regime survivors -- but if all looked lost, that possibility stands.

"We've never been in a situation where a nuclear-armed country has had to make that kind of call," mused Hardy. "If the leadership is going down like the Third Reich, this kind of last gasp action is possible," added Pinkston.

Were the regime in Pyongyang overthrown by war, the positives would be extensive. South Korea would gain a land connection to the Eurasian continent; a strategic casus belli would evaporate; northern Korea could be rebuilt and its people ushered into the global community; and Northeast Asia could advance toward regional integration.

But given the destructiveness of modern weaponry and the dense populations of both Koreas, experts pray "Korean War II" never happens.

"The casualties in a short time would be unlike anything we have seen before: hundreds of thousands in days, millions in weeks," said Pinkston. "The fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria would pale in comparison."

Kim uses a pair of binoculars to look south from the Jangjae Islet Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island on March 7.
Kim uses a pair of binoculars to look south from the Jangjae Islet Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island on March 7.

Kim is greeted by the family of a soldier as he inspects Jangjae Islet Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on Thursday, March 7, in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim is greeted by the family of a soldier as he inspects Jangjae Islet Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on Thursday, March 7, in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Kim is surrounded by soldiers during a visit to the Mu Islet Hero Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island on March 7. North Korea has escalated its bellicose rhetoric, threatening nuclear strikes, just before the U.N. Security Council passed tougher sanctions against the secretive nation on March 7.
Kim is surrounded by soldiers during a visit to the Mu Islet Hero Defence Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island on March 7. North Korea has escalated its bellicose rhetoric, threatening nuclear strikes, just before the U.N. Security Council passed tougher sanctions against the secretive nation on March 7.

Kim arrives at Jangjae Islet by boat to meet with soldiers of the Jangjae Islet Defence Detachment near Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on March 7.
Kim arrives at Jangjae Islet by boat to meet with soldiers of the Jangjae Islet Defence Detachment near Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on March 7.

Soldiers in the North Korean army train at an undisclosed location on March 6.
Soldiers in the North Korean army train at an undisclosed location on March 6. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, poses with chiefs of branch social security stations in this undated picture released by North Korea's official news agency on November 27, 2012.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, poses with chiefs of branch social security stations in this undated picture released by North Korea's official news agency on November 27, 2012. 

Description: North Korea's leader has approved a plan to prepare rockets to be on standby for firing at U.S. targets, including the U.S. mainland and military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, state media reported

Monday, March 25, 2013

The giant Japanese spider crab (Photos & Video)

A giant Japanese spider crab named Big Daddy is being established in their new home in Blackpool, UK. The clips of the mega-creature with a wingspan of 2.70 meters and it is said that the bug is adapting well to his new home.

"It's in the tank and he looks happy, so it's all good," says Scott Blacker the Sea Life Centre Blackpool. He adds: "Indeed, has his arms out of the tank but can not stand outside of it due to the weight of your body, so you can not leave."

Big Daddy was saved from getting at the tray and now a Japanese restaurant scares visitors in its huge tank. Aquarium workers want to mate with a female giant crab smallest hopes of having offspring.

The crustacean can live about 100 years.



PD: If you liked this Post, please leave me some feedback, will help me a lot, thank you.

Via: DirarioVeloz

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 Announced

New Samsung Galaxy S4? Meh.

By Cyrus Sanati, contributor

FORTUNE -- Samsung's splashy launch party for its fourth-generation Galaxy S mobile device isn't going have much of an impact in its war with Apple. That's because the battleground for dominance in the mobile space has shifted away from the hardware and physical design of phones and toward their software, specifically the operating system. The real battle for mobile dominance looks like this: Apple, with its iOS ecosystem, is in one corner and Google, with its Android system, is in the other. Whichever wins over consumers will ultimately decide the victory.

The launch of the new Galaxy S4 in New York this week has the tech media churning out post after post examining how this new phone could impact the mobile phone space in the US. But all this digital ink isn't necessarily being spilled because the public is excited about the launch of yet another mobile phone. No, this is all about Apple (AAPL). Specifically, how this new phone will stack up to Apple's latest iteration of the iPhone, the iPhone 5.

But I don't expect to be wowed when the new device is finally in hand. That's because the new Galaxy doesn't have much we haven't seen before on a mobile device. It features a 5-inch, high-definition screen that can be used while wearing gloves. Thin and light, it packs 2GB RAM and will come with a 1.6GHz Exynos Octa-core chip or a 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm, depending on the region in which it is being sold. The phone can pull off a few neat software tricks—like translating spoken language.

And yet, real innovation in smartphones seems to have hit a plateau. Take a phone's camera: The iPhone 5 has an eight-megapixel camera while the new Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel camera. To that I say: whoopee, big deal. Anything above five or six megapixels is basically wasted on the vast majority of people who are just interested in getting a clear enough picture of their dinner or their friends to post on Facebook (FB). If anything, the larger pixel size is a negative as the pictures will eat up a lot more space on the phone's memory, leaving less space to store music, apps and the like.

The Galaxy S3 and other high-end phones like HTC's OneX+ or Sony's Xperia Z have already proven that they are as good as or even better than the iPhone. That isn't the issue. Samsung has clawed its way to the top of the high-end mobile market in the US, not by making a superior phone, but by spending buckets of money on advertising. The Korean giant spent a whopping $401 million in the US alone advertising it's cell phones in 2012, according to ad research and consulting firm Kantar Media. Apple spent $333 million. HTC, Sony (SNE) and Nokia (NKE) didn't spend much at all, reflecting their poor market share in the high-end mobile arena.

But there are diminishing returns when it comes to advertising. At some point Samsung will have to be able to woo a new customer over to its side by simply having a better all-around product. (Some argue vociferously that this is already the case.) But Samsung has a major issue here in that it doesn't have control of the most important parts of a phone, the operating system and the accompanying online media store.

Samsung relies on Google (GOOG), and to a lesser extent, Microsoft (MSFT), to provide the operating system on nearly all of its phones. This has allowed Samsung to save a lot on research and development (Google gives Android away for free), but it has also tied its hands when it comes to eliminating a major revenue stream of the mobile market—media sales. There is relatively high switching cost when a person goes from Google to another operating system, such as Apple's iOS. The time that needs to be invested in simply learning a new operating system is enough to make even the most tech savvy nerd sick.  Apps bought on one system, though they are by the same company and do the same thing, aren't compatible between systems, meaning you have to buy them all again, a costly measure for many people.

"Android has a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play," Larry Page, Google's chief executive, wrote in a blog post this week. "Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade's work."

At last count around 70% of smartphones run on Android. That's a both a blessing and a curse for Samsung. On one hand it is great as the larger market share means that a lot of people are now familiar with how to use Android and have some sort of tie with the Google Play Store. But on the other hand, it also means that a customer could pick up a dozen of phones by an array of manufactures and basically walk away with the same experience as they would have with a Samsung device. (Naturally, Apple's closed system avoids this very problem.)

Samsung's lack of power designing the core software that runs on its flagship mobile device makes it tough to celebrate the launch of the S4—even if it can do a few new things. Copying hardware is not the game anymore; rather, it is more about who can build a long-standing, sticky relationship with customers after that initial sale is made. Apple and Google are basically the only two players in this new war– one in which Samsung, for the time being, can't even participate.

Positive Impressions of The New Samsung Galaxy S4

So the Galaxy S4 is finally launched, a phone that Samsung says moves us “beyond touch.” Observers are noting too that Samsung has put more emphasis on software innovations rather than hardware, though the hardware, particularly the screen, is impressive. Samsung calls it the “life companion”, for good reasons.

The general press reaction to the S4 is favorable but with nobody claiming this is a game changing phone or that it will obviously steal customers away from Apple. In fact the sense is that it is packed with features that will take months to explain to customers, which could be a drag on sales. I doubt it.

In the end commentary, focuses on the Apple vs Samsung battle. The Guardian says the Radio City launch venue is all about telling the world this phone is meant to close the gap between Apple and Samsung in Apple’s core, US market. There is a good reason for that other than Samsung’s competitive instincts.

In advanced markets like the USA most phone purchases are now really about replacement phones rather than first time purchases. For Samsung to close the gap on Apple, it has to take a growing share of Apple’s customer base when they come to replace their iPhones.

The real positive though is that Samsung is now focused on software. It needs to focus on services and in that respect the new health monitoring feature could be a way to capture long term customer loyalty.

In an important sense that means we are already moving beyond the smartphone into a broader lifestyle computing category that Apple and Samsung have the power to define. According to the Telegraph:

What we will see over the next six weeks is a wave of advertising from Samsung as it tries to sustain a buzz before the Galaxy S4 reaches shops in the UK and the US at the end of April. We won’t be any wiser on whether its new features can persuade consumers until the product is available. If it fails to capture the imagination of consumers, it may prompt Apple to accelerate efforts to develop a product that moves beyond the smartphone and the iPad.

The problem with smartphones is that their hardware features and looks are the principal factors that people share when they meet. It is difficult to share a software feature and harder still to excite enthusiasm among a group of friends about a service like health tracking.

In the auto industry, eco-cars were delayed for several years as designers sought ways to give expression to an eco-feature in the look and feel of the car. Phone makers have to find a way to give expression to advanced software and service features by adapting the smartphone slab. Samsung has not attempted to do this.

Luke Johnson says of the design, on Trusted Reviews:

….a near identical form to that of the S3, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is an inoffensive yet somewhat uninspiring affair with Samsung’s trademark plastic finish detracting slightly from what is otherwise a high-end, cream-of-the-crop device.

And of the screen:

With a stunning 1920 x 1080p Full HD resolution matched with an iPhone Retina display trumping 441 pixels-per-inch, the Samsung Galaxy S4 screen is a Super AMOLED HD marvel.

There are good bar room features like smart scroll – not exactly eye scroll. A tilt of the head encourages the screen to scroll up or down.

None of the S4’s hardware updates is what I would call revolutionary, but some software features are pretty cool, such as the handswipe gesture recognition, which enables users to move through web pages, change music tracks or answer an incoming call just by waving a hand a few centimetres in front of the screen.

That of course is precisely what fashionista smartphone users want. These are strong eye-candy specifications but I have to admit a preference for the health monitoring service, which few reviewers have pounced upon, suggesting that it will not be a strong sales proposition.

The service is aimed at Nike’s Fuel Band and products like Fitbit. A lot depends on how far Samsung goes to develop a back-end service for these products but in principle this takes the smartphone deeper into lifestyle, it allies service to product and I believe could easily become an ecosystem in its own right as users share information and third party vendors develop for the health market.

Here Samsung is taking precisely the steps it should take to build deeper loyalty and additional revenues. It could be its smartest move yet, and the place where it can move beyond Apple.


Teardown of suspected Galaxy S4 appears on Web

Galaxy S4 teardown?
(Credit: Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET) With mere minutes to go before Samsung is expected to take the wraps off the Galaxy S4, leaked images of the suspected device have already gone deeper.

Mere minutes before the expected official unveiling of the Galaxy S4, leaked images showing a meticulous teardown appear on the Web.

Appearing on the Chinese Web site It168.com, the detailed images show a meticulous teardown of the handset, which is expected to be unveiled this evening in New York. The source of the images appears to be the same person who leaked clear images last night of the assembled handset. 

The gallery of images is an apparent confirmation of many of the rumors that have been circulating about Samsung's new flagship phone, including that it will be powered by the company's new 8-core Exynos 5 Octa processor (model number 5410). The device also appears to sport a 13-megapixel camera. 

The handset is also expected to feature 2GB of RAM, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and the latest version of Android, known as 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, though those were details that could not immediately be confirmed from the images.

First Look: Introducing Samsung's Galaxy S4

phones. Of course, that means another dance number!

7:58 p.m.: And that's a wrap. Interestingly, no details on a launch date, compatible wireless carriers or price.

7:56 p.m.: The S4 will include built-in health software that can track heart rate, body fat or other fitness needs. 

7:55 p.m.: Bidan talking about Smart Scroll and Pause, which automatically pauses video when you turn away, and restarts when you look back at the screen. Users can tilt the screen up or down to scroll through text. There's also a separate feature allowing users to answer the phone by waving their hand over the screen. 

7:52 p.m.: Group Play also supports multiplayer games, which sounds very promising. Moving to ChatOn, which adds Video Chat for up to three people by using both the front and rear cameras. Users can also share screens.

7:50 p.m.: Shifting to Group Play, which allows users to share songs and play them on as many as eight other S4 phones. It looks like users can do this by simply tapping phones. Of course, that means another dance number!
7:48 p.m.: Bidan offering a peek at Samsung Hub, the S4's equivalent of iTunes before diving into Samsung Knox, security software built into the phone. The technology splits your phone into home and work spaces, and keeps them separate.

7:46 p.m.: Samsung demonstrating S Voice Drive, which is the S4's answer to Apple's Siri. Users can have the phone read emails back, and even reply or forward messages. In another demo, the host answers a call by simply saying "Answer."

7:44 p.m.: Bidan talks about switching content from older phones to the S4. Users can download Samsung Smart Switch to their PC to transfer contacts and other data easily from almost any phone to S4. 

7:42 p.m.: Bidan discusses HomeSync, a home device that connects to the cloud for storage. It can hold up to 1 TB of data, and supports near field communication, so users can tap the S4 on the HomeSync to view their content.

7:40 p.m.: The S4 features Story Album, which lets users package photos into a dynamic album with text. Users can also create and send hard copies of the album. They will cost $10-$30 with shipping. Images can be displayed either in portrait and landscape modes.

7:38 p.m.: Another cool feature: Adapt Display. The screen will adjust brightness, saturation and other elements based on what you're viewing, whether it's video, email or a game.

737 p.m.: Samsung now showing off S Translator, which is amazing. One user speaks in English, and the phone translates and asks the question in Chinese. Another user responds in Chinese and the phone displays it in text form in English. Several languages are supported such as French, Spanish and Japanese, and it's integrated into other apps. More than 3,000 embedded "useful" sentences are available, says Bidan, in case you don't have a wireless connection.

7:34 p.m.: There's a reason for the dance routine: showing off Drama Shot. The camera can take up to 100 shots in four seconds, and creates a collage in one frame. There's also the very cool Eraser, which lets users delete bits of the background for a cleaner view. 

7:32 p.m.: Now the Samsung messenger is tap dancing. Not making this up.

7:31 p.m.: The dual camera also works with photos, capturing one with each camera at the same time. Users can also add audio to images. Very interesting. The camera includes a variety of filters they can implement.

7:30 p.m.: And this is where the event turns into a Broadway presentation. They are in Radio City Music Hall, after all. Bidan breaking down the dual camera, where users can shoot videos with both cameras simultaneously. Wow.

7:27 p.m.: The S4 will come built with 16 GB of storage with options for 32 GB or 64 GB. It also includes a micro-SD slot for up to an extra 64 GB. It also includes a removable battery.

7:26 p.m.: S4 includes usual bells and whistles such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The 4G network includes 100 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload speeds. There's also very little surrounding that screen, which looks gorgeous. The main camera is 13 megapixel, while the front is 2 megapixel, says Bidan.

7:24 p.m.: Ryan Bidan of Samsung Marketing on stage to describe features. It's 5.3 inches long by 2.7 inches wide. Full 5-inch screen, full HD, super AMOLED screen.

7:21 p.m.: A slide on the big screen calls the S4 a "life companion." Shin says it's slimmer, lighter and more solid, and supports 3G and 4G.

7:19 p.m.: "For each of us, life is a journey," says Shin. "What we want is a device that can join us in our journey." Shin then confirms what we all expected: the Samsung Galaxy S4.

7:18 p.m.: Shin mentions Samsung Knox, which focuses on providing security for enterprise purposes. Also noted, HomeSync for "seamless" sharing between devices.

7:16 p.m.: Shin says focus of Samsung is to create a device that "helps us get closer to what matters in life," and to lead a life that's "richer and simpler." Shin hinting at touchless interfaces and the long-rumored eye tracking technology. 

7:15 p.m.: Chase introduces Samsung's J.K. Shin, who will likely unveil the next Galaxy. "We are committed to innovation. We are always listening to what people want around the world," says Shin.

7:12 p.m.: Show starts with a video of a young boy carrying a mysterious box with the word "Unpacked," which happens to be the name of Samsung's event. Host Will Chase and "messenger" Jeremy Maxwell on stage.

7:11 p.m.: That YouTube stream is now up to 347,000. Lots of people interested in Samsung Galaxy. Lights have dimmed. Go time.

7:05 p.m.: And the announcer just said the show will begin in a few minutes.

7:03 p.m.: And for those wondering, I'm watching via live stream on YouTube, along with 272,000 (and climbing) of my closest friends. If you're on a Web browser, scroll down to watch with us.

7:00 p.m.: Between the music and presentation at Radio City Music Hall, can't tell if this is a tech event or the lead-up to the Oscars. Very Hollywood.

Update at 6:59 p.m. ET: The event is about to start in a minute. Let's see whether this is the Galaxy S IV that everyone has been speculating about.

Our original story
Samsung is hosting an event in New York where it is widely expected the company will unveil its latest Galaxy S smartphone.

USA TODAY's live coverage of the announcement starts up at 7 p.m. ET. Samsung is also broadcasting via YouTube livestream.

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