While I consider myself to be a relatively forward-thinking and open-minded guy, I do not blindly accept everything the media and corporate America shovels in my direction. For instance, I am very hesitant to support Google Glass and self-driving cars. I am hardly a conspiracy theorist -- just a realist in light of Snowden leaks.
Today, Motorola announces a new feature for the Moto X -- unlock with a tattoo. Yes, the company expects users to embrace a skin-worn unlocking method. While I am sure Motorola's intentions are good (I hope), this is not something I plan on utilizing.
Nintendo has Mario. No matter how much more powerful Xbox One or PlayStation 4 are over the Wii U, neither console has Nintendo's Italian mascot. And so, if you want games featuring Mario, no other console will do. In other words, software matters just as much, if not more, than hardware. This is not just true of game consoles, but all computing platforms too. For instance, if you need Microsoft Office, Linux would be a poor choice -- you should use the platform that runs the software you need.
The most heated platform battleground nowadays is smartphones -- iPhone, Android and Windows Phone to name a few. Amazon recently announced its intention to enter the battle with the Fire phone. Yes, it runs Android, but it is so customized that it is essentially a new platform. Despite the phone's innovative hardware, it will not have access to Google play, and that makes consumers nervous. Like I said earlier, software matters. Worry no more. Today, Amazon announces that high-quality developers are embracing the Fire phone in a big way.
On the TV show Seinfeld, George Costanza infamously declared "I was in the pool!" when a woman walked in on him changing clothes and saw him naked. You see, a part of his body got smaller due to swimming in cold water, something he and Jerry dubbed "shrinkage". While that shrinkage is bad, other types are good.
In the technology world, with the exception of displays and monitors, smaller is usually better, as it allows for a smaller footprint. It also allows things to become more efficient, such as die shrinkage with a CPU. Today, Google announces that in conjunction with IEEE, it will pay cash to anyone who can dramatically shrink a power inverter.
Bing is a wonderful search engine. My love for it is hardly a secret, as I declared my affection earlier today. However, while Internet Explorer is getting better all the time, Chrome is still my preferred browser on Windows, Linux and OS X. Unfortunately, using Bing as the default search engine on Chrome just felt wrong. I pictured Google employees spying on my web activity and shaking their heads in disappointment at my horrible crime.
Of course, that is not really happening (I hope), but still Bing on Chrome felt out of place and third-rate in comparison to Google. Today, this changes as Bing comes to new tabs in the Chrome browser.
Google is a great search engine, but so is Bing. Many people dismiss Microsoft's offering without even trying it. This is a shame, as people do not know what they are missing. While its search-results are relevant and appropriate, there is so much more. Google is simplistic in its design, but Microsoft creates a world of color, images and discovery to bring life to the overall experience. There are benefits to both design choices and it is a personal preference, but I prefer beauty over a white page with a Google logo.
Besides all of those benefits of Bing, one of my favorites is Rewards. Essentially, Microsoft will pay you to use its search engine. Is it bribery? Sort of, I suppose. However, if you are searching anyway, why not take advantage of it? In addition to Rewards, Microsoft has Bing Offers, which lists special deals for Bing users (sort of like Groupon). Today, Microsoft announces that it is expanding Bing Offers beyond the web with a new program called Bing Offers Card-Linked -- uninspired name, but cool concept.
When it comes to productivity, no tablet is as good as the Surface Pro 3. Of course, that tablet also comes at a very high price. While the price is justified for a laptop or desktop replacement, it wouldn't make financial sense to purchase it as a companion to an existing Windows computer. Sure, you could go with a small-screen Windows tablet, but currently, app selection isn't too great (it is getting better though). In the mean time, an Apple or Android tablet would serve as a better companion.
In my testing, I have found the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 to be the current king of companion tablets, beating out the iPad Air. However, Samsung's tablet is very capable of creation too. In theory, you may be able to use it as your main computer. Logitech wants to help with that -- its Type-S keyboard cover turns the Galaxy Tab S into a mini laptop. But is it good?
There are a lot of weird people on the internet, into all sorts of bizarre fetishes, interests and behaviors -- I wont judge. Well, maybe I will condemn Bronies. However, I too have a very strange fetish -- PC hardware. Yes, I love drooling over pictures of PCI cards, power supplies and motherboards to name a few.
Today, ASUS' "Republic of Gamers" enthusiast brand announces a beautiful piece of hardware -- the Maximus VII Formula. What is it? A super-sexy motherboard. If you are a tech nerd, this should definitely get your motor running.
Android is a very capable operating system. With it, Google accomplished the unthinkable -- widespread Linux use by average home users. Linus Torvalds popularized his kernel with nerds and the enterprise, but the search giant made it accessible for all. Here's the thing though -- the fact that Android is powered by Linux doesn't matter. No, to the average consumer, all that matters is the experience. What lies beneath is inconsequential.
Samsung recently released the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, its newest flagship tablet. The device's closest competitor is the iPad Air -- which is a tablet I love. Besides Apple's tablet, there is really no other product to consider at the $500 price point. So, if you are considering a $500 general-use tablet, the only question that must be asked is -- is it better than the iPad Air?
I am quite far removed from high school, but I recall the horror well. While hardly a war zone, the environment was definitely not conducive to learning. Many teenagers are not motivated for anything other than the opposite sex (or same sex in some cases). Not to mention, there are drugs and alcohol amongst other distractions. And so, it is imperative that the school keep the teens on-track.
Unfortunately, not all schools are created equally. Even worse, for the most part, where you live dictates where you go to school. In other words, if you live in a town with a bad school district, your child is pretty much out of luck. Of course, if you can afford it, there are private schools that may offer a better learning experience. The problem becomes, how do you know which schools are good and which are bad? Don't worry, Microsoft has your back. You see, starting today, Bing can tell you if a school sucks or not.
For a tech nerd, there is nothing more fun than getting a new smartphone. When you get that little box home and carefully open it, it is like reliving Christmas as a child. For some, the contents of the box is just a smartphone, but to others like me and you, it is pure magic.
Sadly, smartphones can be a bit fragile -- dropping it on the concrete or other surface can crack the screen or make the device inoperable. This would be like a child witnessing Santa Claus' sleigh crashing into a tree and turning into a fireball on Christmas Eve -- a nightmare. Of course, you can get a case to protect it, but many of them are bulky and ugly. If you have a beautiful iPhone 5s or Galaxy S5, the last thing you want to do is make it unattractive. No worries, Logitech is once again here to save the day with the beautiful protection+ case for both of those phones.
For years, Steve Jobs fought the good fight against IBM and IBM compatibles. Heck, Apple was the anti-IBM. Sure, the fruit-logo company was out to make money, but not at any cost -- products and perception mattered. To many Apple enthusiasts, IBM was looked at as a dinosaur. Ultimately, IBM failed as a personal computer company, but thrives today offering services. The once mighty ThinkPad line is now property of the Chinese, by way of Lenovo. Apple stands strong in America.
Boy oh boy, Jobs must be spinning in his grave. Today, Apple and IBM join forces to strengthen iOS for the enterprise. Make no mistake, this is not Apple throwing IBM a bone. No, IBM is the stronger enterprise brand lending legitimacy to the iPhone and iPad for business. Big Blue is hired muscle for Apple.
The Surface Pro 3 is quite possibly my favorite computer of all time. This is quite the amazing declaration, as I have used many. Besides its usability and high-end power, it is an awe-inspiring example of engineering. The fact that Microsoft has crammed all of that high-end tech into such a svelte chassis is nothing short of amazing.
As great as the hardware is, all is not roses. Unfortunately, there has been a plague of Wi-Fi bugs to impact users. Bugs can be commonplace on new hardware, so this is not a massive scandal by any means. However, it is disappointing to the Microsoft-faithful who invested big money to get their hands on the unique hybrid computer. Problems with an internet connection is one of the most maddening, hair-pulling issues that there is. Luckily, the disappointment will be short lived -- the company will be fixing it tomorrow -- for some users at least.
The human brain is an enigma. No one knows how it works in its entirety. Sure, scientists have some understanding, but there are still mysteries to discover. While one should never say "never", I am dubious that the brain will ever be fully understood. Still, the possibility of impossibility should never deter the human desire for knowledge. In other words, scientists should forever try to deconstruct and understand the mind, even if it proves to be fruitless.
Ultimately, one of the major motivations of understanding the brain is to recreate and ultimately surpass its power. It has been the dream of many scientists to create artificial intelligence that exceeds a human's. Today, Microsoft announces Project Adam -- an attempt at duplicating the power of the human mind with computers. Could the name "Adam" be shedding light on a parallel with the character from the biblical Adam and Eve story?
The usefulness of a small Windows tablet is debatable. While I understand people's hesitance to embrace Microsoft's desktop operating system on such a small screen, their trepidation is misplaced. Sure, a 7 or 8-inch Windows tablet would be a poor choice for someone's only Windows machine, but it works beautifully as a companion device.
I have a Surface Pro 3, but recently bought a Dell Venue Pro 8. Why? Because sometimes a lighter and inexpensive tablet is preferable. For example, you wouldn't want to use Surface Pro 3 on the toilet or by a pool. Heck, reading a book can be nicer on a smaller tab too. Today, Fujitsu reveals a new 8-inch Windows tablet for business -- the ARROWS Tab Q335/K.
My colleague Joe Wilcox is currently entrenched in an all-Microsoft lifestyle and I am enjoying reading about it. I too have been using Microsoft's products lately, including the wonderful Surface Pro 3 and Nokia Lumia Icon. The combination of that tablet and smartphone create quite the awesome experience.
One of my favorite things about Microsoft's desktop and mobile operating systems is Bing Apps. It keeps me in touch with things like news, weather and sports to name a few. While that is nothing unique, it is the overall fluid design that makes it a treat to use. Today, Microsoft announces that it is updating Bing Apps for Windows Phone, but there is a catch -- it is an 8.1 affair only.