While Google's Chromecast is impossibly small physically, it is absolutely enormous in its usefulness. The search giant successfully bridged the gap between device and television with a cute little HDMI dongle. Originally, the selling point was its low price, but as more and more companies choose to leverage the cute hardware, it becomes more than a simple value purchase.
The dongle is apparently celebrating a second birthday. While it is weird to celebrate the "birth" of an inanimate object, the tech community has normalized the practice to become acceptable. After all, we tech nerds love our devices like family, right? While the birthday boy or girl is usually the one receiving gifts, this time, Chromecast owners are getting the present. What is it, you ask? A free movie rental! What will you rent this weekend?
When it comes to cars, I only consider American manufacturers. Every car I've ever owned has been a Ford, but I am open to GM and Fiat Chrysler vehicles like Chevrolet, Jeep, Dodge and Ram. Lately, I fell in love with the Jeep Renegade -- an Italian-made American SUV -- which was tempting me from Ford.
Due to the reported security deficiencies in Jeep vehicles -- potentially deadly hacks -- I immediately came to my senses. No such vehicles in my future. While the Renegade is not impacted, the brand is, at least for now, tarnished for me. Today, Fiat Chrysler is voluntarily recalling the vehicles that are prey for hackers -- Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and Ram are all on the list.
The first video game that I ever fell in love with was Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo Entertainment System. While I had a second-hand Atari 2600 with Mario Brothers, it did not compare to the magic of the "Super" variant on Nintendo's console. While I bought every home Nintendo console since the NES, I did not buy the most recent one, the Wii U. While Nintendo consoles have always been about the software -- hardware specifications be damned -- I felt that company was too conservative with this newest console and delivered a sub-par product.
The upcoming Wii U exclusive game, Super Mario Maker, however, has me wishing I had the console. Much like the classic Nintendo games Excite Bike and Wrecking Crew, the user can create and edit levels. In other words, anyone that buys the game can contribute to the Mario universe, and even share it online. Today, Nintendo announces that it is partnering with Facebook for a very special level in the game.
The world is changing; whether for the better or worse is debatable. When it comes to entertainment, the dinosaur media such as network television is in massive trouble. Why? Many people are turning to the web for videos nowadays, from services like YouTube and Twitch.
Guess what? Many online personalities are getting paid, and paid well, and becoming genuine celebrities. Vloggers (video bloggers) such as iJustine and Shane Dawson have millions of followers and make their livings from these videos. Hell, PewDiePie is a millionaire from playing video games online. Do you think you can be the next big vlogger, but don't know where to start? Don't worry. Cannon's Video Creator Kits will start you down the path of Internet stardom.
While many home consumers are turning to the cloud for their storage needs, this is not feasible for many businesses. If you are a game developer or movie editor, for example, you will need a lot of local storage. As we trend towards 4K video, this need is amplified.
Today, Buffalo Americas announces the DriveStation Ultra -- a direct attached storage (DAS) solution with capacities of either 40 or 80TB -- yes, terabytes! While Thunderbolt 2 is the primary connection type, it also features USB 3.0 an eSATA. The company promises write speeds up to 1243 MB/s using RAID 0.
Google is everywhere, you cannot run and you cannot hide. Well, maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but if you use Android or any of Google's services, it is compiling data to track your actions and behaviors. The search giant may know your favorite restaurants, sexual tastes, plus home and work locations too.
If you use Google Maps and location services, the search giant is even tracking your movements. While that can lead to powering some useful solutions, it is also creepy as hell. Today, Google announces "Your Timeline", which is a tool for Android and desktop that shows you all the places you have been. While it is sort of cool, it is also a reminder that Google is watching you.
Many consumers buy iPads or other tablets and then run out to buy super-rugged cases. Buying a case is a good idea, as it protects the tablet from drops. With that said, many of these cases are overkill. Doubling or tripling the weight of your tablet when you don't even take it out of the house is silly -- a lesser case will probably be enough to survive a spill from the couch.
With all of that said, there are people that truly need rugged tablets. These are men and women working in harsh conditions -- hot temperatures, mud, snow, etc. Today, Dell announces a tablet for these people, the Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet. It is hardcore to the max!
The Surface line of computers are amazing machines. Whether you choose the less-powerful (yet more compact) Surface 3 or more powerful and larger Surface Pro 3, you are sure to be happy with your decision. They are truly the best way to experience Windows on the go.
Unfortunately, they require Wi-Fi for internet connectivity. While some people can share their smartphone's connection with the Surface, not everyone has that ability. Plus, tethering can quickly drain the phone's battery too. An LTE- enabled model would be ideal. Well, that is soon to become a reality. The long-promised Surface 3 LTE is coming to AT&T on July 24th. In just a few days you can buy the portable machine of your dreams.
Windows 10 will be available on July 29th, meaning it is just a bit more than a week until the world can start buying computers running the operating system. While Windows 10 will run fine on older hardware, a new version of Microsoft's OS can be a great time to upgrade your computer. System builders in particular may want to improve their build.
Understandably, you may be hesitant to spend money on new hardware; the economy is still bad for many. Don't worry, AMD has you covered. Today, the company launches the A8-7670K APU. Not only is it Windows 10-ready with DirectX 12 support, but it is insanely affordable too at a shockingly low $117.99. In other words, you may pay less than that at retailers.
Microsoft Office is the best office suite on the planet. Nothing annoys me more than when someone suggests that LibreOffice is a comparable solution. If you are a home user, sure, you can get by with a limited word processor and spreadsheet offering. If you are a business owner, however, you are crazy to use anything other than Microsoft Office.
Today, GE -- one of the world's most respected companies -- announces that it chose Microsoft Office 365 for its 300,000+ employees. Not only is GE's decision very wise, but it is a huge win for Microsoft too.
The hard disk is not going away any time soon, but make no mistake -- it is on death row. Solid state drives, or SSDs, are becoming more reliable, getting less expensive, and gaining larger storage capacities. It is only a matter of time before mechanical spinning drives get the heave-ho.
While consumers will be the first to shun hard drives, data centers will likely be the holdouts. Why? Cost and capacity. Right now, gigabyte per dollar is far less expensive compared to SSD. More importantly, however, SSDs just don't have comparable capacities -- yet. Today, Samsung announces the PM863 and SM863 data center SSDs. The latter features a top capacity of 1.9TB, while the former maxes out at a mind-blowing 3.8TB!
The tablet market has felt a bit stale lately. Apple's iPads are in need of a refresh, while the Android options have been yawn-worthy too. Other than the Nexus 9, there really hasn't been anything to fire up the Android community.
Today, Samsung hopes to change this with the all new Galaxy Tab S2 tablets. Consumers can choose between a 9.7 inch screen or an 8 inch variant. In other words, Samsung is offering options with its tablets -- much like Apple with the Air and mini -- which is rather smart. After all, one size does not fit all when it comes to tablets.
Nowadays, most people don't buy physical media; they pay their little $10 a month for Spotify premium, or similar service, to support the music industry. Apple's exclusivity approach, however, won't just disrupt the streaming market, it will severely harm consumers and lead to piracy. Hell, it could kill streaming music altogether.
Piracy is a really heinous crime. It causes artists to lose money, and make no mistake, it is stealing. With that said, more people will be doing it because of Apple Music. Exclusives from Dr. Dre, Pharell and Taylor Swift may lead to increased torrent downloads. Sadly, the artists have no one to blame but themselves.
The video game console wars are in full effect, with both Sony and Microsoft selling many consoles and games. Besides gaming, however, both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are media boxes too. Microsoft's console, however, has a very clear advantage by running Windows; it is arguably more "future proof".
Since Xbox One runs Windows, it makes it easy to interface with PCs running Windows 10. In fact, the upcoming operating system will feature an improved Xbox app offering amazing features like game streaming. Microsoft wants to be sure that users realize the potential of this app, so it is offering a 'Day One Experience' for new Windows 10 installations. Also good news? Game streaming is exiting preview. Sony should be worried.
If you don't have a solid state drive in your computer, you are crazy. Prices have decreased dramatically, making it affordable for most consumers. Money is tight? Cut out the Starbucks for a few weeks and drop a Benjamin on the upgrade -- it is worth it.
There are many brands to choose from, with comparable speeds, so you want to target reliability. Two of my favorite brands are Samsung and Kingston, but there are solid lesser-known brands too. ADATA is such a brand that targets value, but has a history of dependability too. That company is launching a new SSD, called the XPG SX930, which is aimed at gamers and offers a 5 year warranty. Is a gaming-grade SSD just marketing speak, or should gamers take notice?