Category: electronics


Skynet is Destiny

Let’s face it, a Google/Apple showdown was destined to happen. With all the recent moves Google has with Glass, self-driving cars, Nexus, and fiber optic internet all powered by Android, Apple had to swing back. Well, the gloves are off and the fight is on.

Disclaimer: Techsnoop believes Apple makes good products. Just not superior, and they’re overpriced for value. Techsnoop’s main objection to Apple world is their invasiveness. If I buy a product, I own it. Don’t shackle me to your way of life. Rant over.

According to Mashable, Apple feels they can meet your needs with seamless cross-device integration. Phone, tablet, laptop, TV are all powered and connected with the same familiar interface. Leave off email or movie on your phone and pick it up on your laptop or TV.

Android vs Apple

Innovation Fail

Hello? Where is the innovation in this? Google has seamlessly integrated across devices already. Ever heard of Google Docs, Google Voice, Calendar and Maps? (Have you picked up a Samsung phone lately?) All of these apps are connected through the Android system and are just as easily accessed from your Windows laptop, tablet, or PC. Oh yeah, and that little Google owned platform called YouTube.

Once again Apple has taken someone else’s great idea, tweaked it a bit and yelled INNOVATION! Thinking that if they yell loud enough and slap enough slick Apple logos on it, no one will notice they copied (stole) from some one else.

The upside is that Google will certainly fight back with a tightened up Android universe and some goodies to boot.

Taking a look at some of Apple’s “innovations”, check iCloud Drive with 5GB of free storage with larger amounts available for monthly or annual fees. This sounds remarkably similar to Google Drive, yet Google offers 15GB free. But, hey, you can now auto back up your photos in iCloud. A feature that Android has had for four years.

Does Techsnoop think some of the Apple software tweaks are good? Absolutely. And, frankly, Apple fans deserve the overdue upgrades. But Techsnoop needs an ice pack for the headache that comes in when Apple claims innovation when all they did is take a bunch of great ideas from other companies and scoop them into the Apple universe. But, if you are an Apple Fangeek, you’re in for some awesome treats that Android users have  enjoyed for five or more years. Congratulations.

Let Techsnoop know if you are a Droid or Fangeek.

HTC One M8It’s no secret that Techsnoop likes HTC products. Having been an EVO owner since 2010, Techsnoop has followed the brand through its ups and downs. With a superior product and ground breaking features (remember the 8 megapixel camera? HTC was first), HTC was in the unenviable position of having a superior product with sub-par marketing. But they have been trying to turn this around.

Here’s To Change

Techsnoop thinks they have struck marketing gold. The new commercial series with Gary Oldman is clean, hip, and captivating. It also generates the all-important “buzz” factor. Yet, purposefully or not, they have also dredged up the spirit of Steve Jobs. Yes, Gary Oldman in his geek-hip frames and crew-neck black shirt provide a new millennium contrast to the wire-frame, turtle-necked Jobs. Jobs was a master showman using mood lighting and emotional appeal to tout products for a targeted audience.

The new HTC One M8 ads use similar techniques in a clean, fresh way that appeals to the information overloaded generation. Techsnoop approves. Let us know in the comments if you agree with this approach.

 

HTC One Max

Credit: CNET

The One Max is HTC’s answer to phablet lovers in the big screen wars. Like its sibling the HTC One, this is a beautiful phone with metal casing and great speakers. In a wink at Apple, it includes a fingerprint scanner.

Packed with serious specs, this is a solid offering into the giant phone market. But to truly take on this market HTC will have to address weight, processor power and camera quality.

Winning specs are; a 5.9-inch (vs. 5.7 Note 3) 1080p display, metallic body,strong battery life, SD card slot, crisp giant display with true-life colors and the new HTC Sense 5.5 which allows you to turn off Blinkfeed (cheers and whistles).

Losing specs, 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 4 megapixel ‘Ultrapixel’ camera, weight(7.76 ounces).

The fingerprint scanner is located on the back under the camera and can be used to open specific apps in addition to unlocking the phone. This makes it more useful than just a way to unlock the phone. It can instantly give access to the camera, navigation or other functions to save time.

Performance

Credit: CNET

Credit: CNET

The HTC One Max handles 3D games like Asphalt 8 smoothly and with excellent color and clarity. Full on HD streaming also gets the thumbs up.

Only the 1.7GHz processor gives pause. While sufficient for current games and movies, it doesn’t leave much room for upgrades. This is reminicent of the original EVO which was an excellent phone that couldn’t be upgraded to new specs after the first year. This is an area HTC will have to address to stay in the smartphone game.

Battery life is on par with the HTC One, a day or more with normal use or a boost for super users who game and stream heavily. Super streamers and gamers should not be surprised that any phone will need recharging during the day. In fact, all superusers should just keep a charger handy.

 

Pictures

htc one max camera

Credit: CNET

Techsnoop is not a fan of the Ultrapixel technology. Side by side testing usually shows it to be OK, but in real-time use, extra megapixels capture light and movement a bit better. That said, the photos taken with the 4 megapixel, Ultrapixel HTC One Max look decent (see sample right).  HTC, go back to more megapixels, Samsung is killing with 13 megapixels and no small amount of Ultrapixels is going to convince customers.

 

 

Wrap Up

The One Max is a great phone, but unfortunately, it was released after the Samsung Note 3. With a snappier processor and lighter weight, many will opt for the Note 3. A small 1.83 ounce weight difference from the Note 3 doesn’t sound like much, but may be just enough to tip a sale.  With hand-held tech, hand and wrist fatigue are real considerations. HTC must stop responding to other phone makers and go back to innovating.

The One Max should be available at Sprint and Verizon in November. Let us know in the comments which phablet is for you, or do you lean toward smaller screens.

This year big business taught us several lessons.  Did you miss them?  Techsnoop has rounded them up for you.

HTC

Think big, act bold.

HTC OneAfter learning the hard way not to develop timidly, HTC has jumped out with bold devices and marketing.  Using Robert Downey, Jr. in their “Here’s To Change” campaign is a great and unexpected  move for them.  The HTC One line up is proving popular and useful, reminiscent of the initial EVO launches.

But they still have a way to go.  Allowing Samsung to take their best features on smartphones and improve on them may prove a costly misstep.  Personally, Techsnoop is rooting for them as a long time HTC fan.

Take a base of popular features and innovate like HTC did with the 4 inch screen and 8MP camera into being standard features.

Samsung

Curate the best of tech and give it to your customers.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3Samsung took many hits for the perceived cheapness of their plastic casings and low quality cameras on their smartphones and tablets.  Apparently, they listen to their customers.

Somehow, without exactly copying, the best features and styling from other brands have been rolled into Samsung products and improved upon.  The Gear watch is a great example. Instead of attempting to make a standalone watch-phone, the natural use would be as an accessory to the mega-screen phones of today. Samsung beat everyone else to this.

Take notes, using the best of existing technology within your own brand is a savvy idea every business can use to leap ahead.

Apple

Don’t treat your customers like babies.

iPhone 5S-5CAfter years of implementing miniscule “upgrades” to the iPhone, Apple finally offered a “large” 4 inch screen on the iPhone 5C and 5S. The audience and tech world are completely underwhelmed. Apple is attempting to sell this iteration of the iPhone solely on looks. Yes it is pretty, but Techsnoop and the rest of the professional world are happy with 5 inch screens we can actually use.  In comparison to the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy 4, the iPhone 5 screens look cramped with too many icons and not enough breathing room.  If your fingertips are not tiny, how do you select apps?

Clearly Apple is targeting a giggling teen market.  What with colors no business man would be caught dead with and the tiny screen, this is not a business class phone.

So, if your emerging market is young hipsters, follow Apple’s example and treat your customers with condension.

Atlas Robot

(Credit: CNET/DARPA/Boston Dynamics)

For those of you who follow #SmuttyCat, you know his views on robots.  What with Skynet-like tech coming out every day, we need to be prepared to defend humanity.

Now, CNET informs us that Terminator-like robots are a reality, not fiction anymore.  The new Atlas has human based look and abilities, articulated fingers and… opposable thumbs!  Now that’s scary.

Atlas is designed for repair, search and rescue and disaster clean up and recovery operations.  It can lift and carry, climb, use tools and work in areas hazardous to humans.  Atlas can even boogie, but the rhythym needs work.

Review the video and let us know what you think in the comments.  Is Atlas friend, foe or potential exterminator of humanity?

Multi-ScreenWhen it comes to technology, the budget can quickly get out of hand.  Between buying the tech itself and content and subscriptions to make it useful, a trickle of money can soon grow into a river.

Techsnoop is here to help with tips on what to buy and not buy.  As a card-carrying geek, Techsnoop has trouble deciding what to buy and what to skip in the gadget world.  But one thing is a deal-breaker for tech Techsnoop buys.  Freedom.

This means that software, content and apps are the choice of Techsnoop, not the manufacturer.  Techsnoop is a control freak and cannot be held hostage to specific sites or fixed prices for content and tools.  For example, the HTC EVO 4G LTE smartphone allows you to install apps from Google Play, Amazon app store and even copy books from a computer to the phone all while offering superior phone service.

To Stream or Not to Stream

For streaming, decide what content you view most frequently, then review the offerings of each service.  Don’t buy separate streaming boxes unless you ditch your cable box.  The cable box and wireless router allow you to stream directly from each site so no extra device is needed.  Generally Netflix offers movies and older TV episodes, Hulu focuses on newer TV.  Each comes with a trial period to test out the offerings.  Due to the full Star Trek content and new Disney deal, Techsnoop is a Netflix junkie.

Mobile devices on the Android platform have many free options.  For instance, Amazon offers one free app a day on the App Store and many free books from new and established authors.  Visit the App Store each day to get the free app.  Google Play also offers free books, apps, music and more.  Sign up to receive email notifications of specials.

Multi-Tasking Monster

Whenever possible, purchase items that are multi-functional.  Don’t walk around with a Bat-belt or people will take pictures of you and post them on social media.

If you need a tablet mostly for reading, email and low powered game apps, consider a large screen smartphone and great bluetooth headphones.  A good set of headphones coupled with voice service allows you to make and receive calls hands-free as well as listen to music while reading or checking email.  Spending an extra $50 to $100 on a phone can save you the whole “which tablet” question.  Check out some great deals and options here.

For more high-end computing, try one of the newer tablets.  Some are heavier than a regular tablet, but lighter than a laptop.  The Microsoft Surface Pro comes with full Windows 8 and has lots of power for updating and collaborating on the go.  Samsung has just released a slew of new tablets that justify a look over.  From serious gaming to business applications, the new tablets may have you leaving your laptop at home.

CNET’s video on the top 5 money sucking tech should help you decide which services to keep and which to ditch.  Let us know in the comments what you tossed overboard.

 

 

 

Continuing the current trend of multi-use tech, Samsung has just announced the Ativ Q, a hybrid laptop and tablet that takes multi-tasking to a new level.

The Ativ Q is a 13 inch, Intel powered tablet with a swing out keyboard that doubles as a stand.  It runs Windows 8 (full version, not RT) and Android  Jellybean.  And if that’s not enough for you power users, it can run both OSs side by side.

Whew, that’s a lot of multi-tasking even for Techsnoop.  With 4GB of ram, it should be fairly speedy compared to other tablets.  It also comes with 2 USB ports and a nini-HDMI port for ultimate connecting.

The trade off, (there’s always a trade off in tech) is the thickness (13.9mm vs 8.2mm for the Tab 3) and weight (1.29kg compared to 550g for the Tab 3).  But, if you need something a little more robust than a normal tablet, this may be the Lablet for you.

Take a look at the video and let us know what you think of this fab new machine.

 

htcEVO4gLTELosing your technology gadgets just got a whole lot easier.

Polytron Technologies has made the invisible smartphone a reality and next will come screens, laptops and tablets.  While this technology was fun to watch in Ironman and The Avengers, in practical everyday use, invisible smartphones are going to be a problem.  Techsnoop already has enough problems finding the phone and laptop.  How many of you have to have another person call your phone to find it?  Now, compound this with the phone being invisible.  Whoa, do we really need this?  We’re going to need to lojack every device.

But, the tech is here, therefore it will be used at some point in production.   Maybe someone will develop a voice activated retrieval system.  Hmm… Techsnoop needs to get busy.

Let us know if you think see-through tech is a good idea.

AkashTabletChristmas has come and gone and many children did not get the hoped-for iPad.  Well parents, looking forward to birthdays and graduations to middle school, you may have a more affordable choice.

DataWind has developed a second generation low-cost tablet to be sold for $40.00.  Primarily directed at developing nations for educational purposes, this could be a game changer in the tablet landscape.  If it can be reasonably sold even with minimal specs for $40.00, other affordable tablets could appear here in the US.

In India the government has committed to paying half the cost of the tablet so families can outfit children for only $21.00.  However in countries like the U.S. it will cost about $64.00.  Don’t complain.  Compared with $400 to $900 for a high-end name brand tablet, that’s chump change.  Or the cost of about 18 medium lattes.  Hmm… priorities, priorities.

With specs like a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of memory (with a micro SD slot expandable to 32GB ) and a 7-inch capacitive display with  800×480 pixel resolution it makes a great choice for parents to get for younger children.  If it is damaged, it is cheap enough to replace without raising your blood pressure.

Let’s all wish the Aakash from Datawind well.  It’s in our own best interests.

If you like to be on top of the latest in technology, here is a round-up of the most useful items coming out soon.

Human-technology interfaces are undergoing upheaval.   The mouse is dying and the physical keyboard may be next.  Touch screen and gesture based technology is growing fast.  Now LuminAR has developed the light bulb as touch screen interface to be placed anywhere.  The projection creates an instant display that interacts with user gestures.  It can be used as a display or to scan and send documents.  The bulb will be able to be placed in any lamp as plug and play with your wireless network.

For on-the-go pet owners Pintofeed lets you feed your furry family from your smartphone.  There is a feeder that can be programmed manually or, with a downloadable app, can be remotely programmed to kick out a half-cup of food for Fido or Felicity.

 

More human-machine interface technology comes from the portable, virtual keyboard which can be used with any device;

 

Samsung is on fire with great tablets, smartphones and now the man-cave dream; an 85″ ultra HD TV with 8 million pixels.  Yes, 8 million.  If money is no object, treat your hubby to ultimate bragging rights this Christmas.

Parents everywhere will appreciate the Owlet baby monitor which straps onto baby’s foot and monitors heart rate and blood oxygen levels.  An alert is sent to your smartphone if there are changes.  Created to give parents extra response time in case baby stops breathing.  Not yet ready for production, it will bring huge peace of mind to parents everywhere.