Tag Archive: smartphones


Happy April Fool’s Day

Samsung April Fools PrankThe tech pranks are flying fast and furious. First up, Samsung with the epic Fingers, the wearable smartphone using curved display glass, 4GB RAM, and 16 megapixel camera. Techsnoop’s favorite feature is solar charging by raising your hand to the sun. (“Wave your hands in the air…”). This feature leaves you permanently acting like you’re at a concert.

Style Options

Because Samsung knows there are different needs for smartphone users, they offer the Fingers, Fingers Tough and Fingers Class variants to meet every style need.

HTC Terminator Gluuv

HTC also offers up a wearable version of the smartphone for today’s festivities called the Gluuv. The Gluuv offers the holo-call technology everyone wants integrating with the new One M8 and brings visions of fighting futuristic robots. This massive accessory has an 87.2 megapixel camera that can be activated by a fist bump. Another gesture control is the “thumbs up” feature. When you thumb up a spot you’re in, you give it a “Like” on Facebook.

The Gluuv also utilizes their exciting Boom-Bass sound technology with an actual boom box. Yep, it’s the 80’s again. There are no variants available as HTC states it is still “in beta”. The intro tag line is “Hello day after today. Imagine the power of complete smartphone creative freedom. Now imagine that freedom in the shape of a glove.”

HTC April Fools Prank

Now, if enough consumers like these features and the concept of wearable smartphones, the joke may be on HTC and Samsung. The race will be on to make this product work in the real world. Would you want a wearable phone that responds to your hand movements? Let Techsnoop know in the comments.

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.

 

Recently, PayPal’s President, David Marcus berated his employees in writing, on not using the company products and even for forgetting their passwords. He summed up by stating that staff should get with the program or look for another job. Now, as a small business advocate, Techsnoop concedes that companies have the right to set their own standards and rules. Whatever the company thinks is best is their right, within law.

However, there are tried and proven methods for properly managing and motivating staff, and intimidation and ranting are not on the list. In fact, if you were to take a poll of employees around the world, Techsnoop would bet a case of Coke-Cola that these behaviors are guaranteed to make staff sabotage a business just before moving to another job. By the way Coke-Cola, Marcus supports his employee’s hacking of your machines. Perhaps an investigation is needed?

DKemp Designs Coke collage

The problem arose during a test of a new PayPal mobile enabled business some employees refused to install the app on their devices. While testing of technology products is absolutely to be encouraged, this is America and when an employee uses their money to purchase a device, for their use, an employer has no right to demand that it be used to support their business objectives.

If PayPal or any other business wants to utilize employees for product testing, provide the equipment and connect it to their own bank accounts for this purpose. Perhaps the employees do not want the employer to have access to their banking information or do not feel comfortable with mobile purchases in general. Maybe their device is a lower level Android and doesn’t run well with too many apps. Or perhaps the employee feels the application sucks and doesn’t want it on their device.

Remember, applications have broad permissions to access information on your device and can be used for hacking, identity theft and outright bank fraud. Demanding that your employees open themselves to these issues with no obligation to support them in case of an event is unconscionable.

Reactions to this snafu have been mixed. Some have defended the remarks as misunderstood “passion” for his company while others have noted that this leadership style is outdated and that the company needs to look at their products more closely.

Techsnoop believes the words of the message speak for themselves. PayPal is insisting that employees use their personal time and equipment to support the company goals with no reward other than being “passionate PayPals”. Further, Marcus instructs these “Passionistas” to pressure and intimidate their colleagues creating an uncomfortable work atmosphere. Mr. Marcus, as a previous HR staffer Techsnoop wants you to know harassment on the job leads to litigation.

Weigh in on the PayPal discussion in the comments below. Is it passion or intimidation?

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.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3Techsnoop has been a long-time fan of the HTC EVO series phones.  With large screens, beautiful displays and great cameras, these phones re-shaped the future of the smartphone landscape.  And while there is still mad love for the brand, at long last, a phone has come that disrupts this love affair.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Overlooking for the moment, the add-on gear, the Note 3 has a 13 megapixel camera, 60 frame per second HD video, 3GB RAM, and … wait for it, it comes in PINK!  Techsnoop followers will know of the fondness for pink tech.

The Note 3 has been upgraded with a 3200 mAh battery for up to 4 hours extra use, a 2.3 GHz processor (for comparison my laptop has a 2.20 GHz processor) and a 5.7 inch screen.  With these upgrades, Samsung has also addressed customer concerns about speed, battery life and the plastic casing.  The new back is a leather-like material giving a soft and gripable surface, there is a metallic trim on the edge and the bezel has been reduced slightly.  Overall the effect is of a premium phone worthy of its heavy-duty specs.  The S Pen has been upgraded to make using the Note 3 more intuitive with a short learning curve.

Introducing…

The Galaxy Note 3 was introduced on September 4 with much fanfare from Samsung.  But it was a venue for more than just a new smartphone.  The Note 3 has partner tech that makes it work seamlessly for productivity and fun.

First up, Samsung Gear.  The age of the smart watch has arrived with bells and whistles.  The Gear watch allows you to check messages, answer calls and take pictures without ever taking your phone out.  It also includes S Voice to allow for complete hands free usage of your note when fiddling with a large touch screen is not convenient (like driving).  And it is backwards compatible with the Note 2.  Specs for the Gear are;

1.63-inch Super AMOLED screen  320×320 resolution
Dual core processor 800MHz
1.9 MegaPixel wrist camera 720p
Speakers in the device’s strap
Accelerometer
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Android Jelly Bean
512MB of RAM
4GB of storage
Available in six colors:
Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green with initial pricing of $300.

 Galaxy Gear Watch

The Galaxy Note 3 10.1 tablet is also made to integrate with the Note 3 phone.  You can share apps and notes seamlessly.  The S Pen makes apps like Photoshop Touch extra useful for small businesses like DKemp Designs.  While the total sticker for the three devices may be a bit pricey, the specs, security and flexibility make this a worthy trio to own for the multi-tasking business owner.  All in all, Techsnoop gives this tech trio a 5 star rating.

Check out the Samsung Unpacked video and let us know if you will be switching to the Note 3 when you upgrade.

 

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.

Multi-ScreenIf you are an avid eBook reader like Techsnoop and use several sources, it can get very frustrating trying to find a particular book.

Well along comes Calibre an eBook reader, manager and converter.  The Calibre application can read nearly any format of eBook and even convert from one format to another.  This works for books, comics (yah!), news and magazines.  If any of your books is missing data or covers, you can edit the metadata to add this information.  But the best thing of all is not having to search through 3 or more applications for a book.  You can add them all to Calibre and browse in one window for your next great read.

Calibre works with all readers, PCs, phones and tablets.  Calibre has all the usual functions such as resizing text, but it also allows you to tag books for even more searchability.

And the most important, it is FREE.  But consider donating to the creator as this is too great to lose out on.

Happy Reading!

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.

Happy Holidays from Techsnoop.  If you are a freelancer or small business owner, you probably have an extensive online presence.  Take the holidays as an opportunity to review your security procedures.

Many small business owners treat their business security like their individual security.  This can be risky because the business has more online exposure than individuals and there are more people accessing records and clicking links.  If you sell online, my friends at Garage Sale Academy.com can give you great tips on selling safely.

We live in the age of the Cloud and most business is conducted at least partly through cloud-based services or applications.  These transactions generally happen smoothly with no issues.  But, one tiny mistake can cost you your business or online life.

According to Wired.com,

“Hackers are increasingly going after small businesses,” says Jeremy Grant, who runs the Department of Commerce’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. Essentially, he’s the guy in charge of figuring out how to get us past the current password regime. “They have more money than individuals and less protection than large corporations.”

This puts small business owners in the hacker sweet-spot for targeting.

Staying Safe

First, passwords.  Use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numeric and special (if allowed) characters in all passwords.  Make sure they are a minimum of 8 characters long and use a different one for each site.  Yes, it is a lot of work, but isn’t keeping your business worth it?

Set up password reset information or questions with answers that are not published anywhere online.  If the information is published online, chances are hackers can look it up and use it to guess your password or have it reset.

Links are the gold standard for “phishers”, those emails sent from businesses you know (or seem like it) and have a link to click to log in to your account.  Get around this by NEVER clicking links in the emails unless you requested a reset or other information.  Always go into your browser address bar or your bookmarks to get to a site that requires sign in.

Delete employees or partners who have left the company right away.  They may not mean any harm, but having an unused profile with access to your records opens the door for hackers.

Change passwords frequently.  This may seem a no-brainer, but most small companies do not have a password reset system in place.  Also, have common passwords blocked from your system.  In the year 2012 the word “password” is the most used password online.

Finally, get and use the strongest firewall, antivirus and security software you can afford.  This is not the place to skimp in your business.  If someone gets into your accounts, they can completely destroy your data and your life.

Have a safe and prosperous year.