Now that smartphones have high-quality cameras, people seem to be snapping more photos than ever. Thanks to the cloud, it is super easy to back up those images, and then consume them on a device at a later date. There is no need to print photos anymore, right? Not so fast. Actually, if you head to your local CVS or Walgreens drug stores, you will see many people still having photographs printed for frames and albums. Are these people just creatures of habit or Luddites? Perhaps. Regardless, there is a demand for photo printing.
HP has a new portable photo printer that is downright cute. Called 'Sprocket', it is compatible with both iOS and Android, letting the user print photos on the go. Millennials should go wild for this thing, as you can customize the photos with filters and virtual 'stickers' using a special app before sending them to print over Bluetooth. Not to mention, you can peel off the back to expose an adhesive -- yes, you can stick them on things! Best of all? It doesn't use any toner or ink! No, it is not magic -- it uses a really cool 'ZINK' technology.
Back in January, Microsoft announced Minecraft: Education Edition. Later, the company released an 'early access' version to some educators. At the time, some folks were dubious that a video game could serve as a legit tool in the classroom. With that said, Minecraft isn't really a video game in the traditional sense -- it can be viewed more as a virtual world. In theory, the platform could better engage young students when compared to, say, sitting in a dull classroom and staring at a chalkboard.
Whether Minecraft: Education Edition will be a success remains to be seen, but we will find out soon. You see, on November 1, the tool will leave 'early access' and become available to all educators. It will be sold, of course, on the Windows Store. It will cost $5 annually per user, but Microsoft promises price breaks for school districts that purchase certain licenses. In other words, larger districts can likely negotiate to pay less per user.
The Raspberry Pi is popular for three major reasons -- it is small, inexpensive, and doesn't consume a lot of electricity. This makes the board very popular for things like education, servers, IoT projects, and media playback. Unfortunately, as many consumers find out quickly, the Raspberry Pi computers are woefully underpowered for some needs. In other words, despite the low cost, it isn't necessarily a bargain.
Today, SolidRun announces an Intel Braswell-based MicroSoM. Unlike the ARM-powered Raspberry Pi, this is x86 compatible, meaning it can run full Windows 10. Plus, if you install a Linux distro, there will be far more packages available, such as Google Chrome, which is not available for Pi. Heck, it can probably serve as a respectable desktop. Even though it costs more than the Raspberry Pi, is it a better deal?
When you buy a desktop computer, it will sometimes come with speakers for audio. When they are included, however, they are often terrible -- replacing them is probably a good idea. If you are a system builder, you must buy some for your rig -- if you don't already own some, that is. Laptops have integrated speakers, but they don't always produce great sound. I state all of these things to make a point -- dedicated quality speakers are almost always a smart buy.
Most computer speakers come with a 3.5mm audio plug, and sometimes RCA connectors too. This is perfect for connecting to, say, a Windows desktop, or an Apple MacBook. But wait -- Apple just got rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. What if you want a speaker system that will work with both your PC and your smartphone? Today, Logitech unveils a 2.1 speaker system that will meet your needs. The 'Z337 Bold Sound with Bluetooth' offers 3.5mm for connecting to Windows 10, Linux, and macOS machines, but in addition, it has Bluetooth for connecting to an iPhone 7 or other smartphone or tablet. Nice!
This upcoming Monday, September 26th, many people around the world will be glued to their televisions. Why? For the first time ever, Hillary Clinton (Democrat) and Donald Trump (Republican) will face off in a presidential debate. This will take place on Long Island, at the well-respected Hofstra University. This has been a very contentious election season, so many supporters of both candidates, plus the undecided, will likely tune in just to see the potential fireworks.
What if you are a cord-cutter without cable or satellite television service? How will you watch this monumental debate? Don't worry, Google has you covered. Believe me. The search-giant will be streaming Monday's presidential debate, plus some others, on its YouTube platform. In addition, YouTube's #voteIRL initiative will help unregistered voters get registered, so they can participate in the election process.
Solid state drives have dramatically changed the PC market. Long gone are the need for slow mechanical hard drives that create irritating noise. SSDs are silent, not to mention both faster and more energy efficient too.
NVMe-based M.2 SSDs are the latest and greatest, as they overcome the SATA speed limitations. Not to mention, since they are smaller than a 2.5 inch drive, computer manufacturers can create even thinner machines. Samsung's 950 line of SSDs were extremely popular, as they offered tremendous speed and reliability. Today, the company launches the next generation -- the 960 EVO and PRO -- which are only available in M.2 NVMe.
Apple's Mac computers -- MacBook, iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini -- are works of art. Not only is the hardware beautiful, but the included operating system is visually impressive too. Today, after a series of Beta releases, the final 10.12 version of the desktop operating system formerly known as OS X -- now known as 'macOS' -- is available for download. Apple dubs the latest version of the desktop operating system 'Sierra', after a mountain range in the company's home state of California.
While Windows 10 is a great operating system for productivity, Microsoft simply cannot match the visual beauty of macOS. Still, Microsoft's latest operating system does offer some unique features, such as the voice assistant Cortana -- something that Apple's desktop did not offer. Today, this changes, as the legendary Siri comes to macOS Sierra. Best of all? As usual, this is a free upgrade for owners of compatible Mac computers!
My first computer in the 1990's came with a 4GB hard disk drive -- very spacious at the time. When my friends saw the capacity, I was instantly the envy of the neighborhood. Nowadays, 4GB is rather pitiful. Modern memory cards, some smaller than a postage stamp, can dwarf my first computer's capacity. That's technology, folks -- everything gets better, and your current tech loses its luster.
Today, SanDisk (a Western Digital company) announces a product that is a major milestone in the technology market -- the world's first 1TB SDXC card. In other words, that is a monstrous 1,000 gigabytes. To put that in perspective, Apple only just stopped putting 16GB storage capacities in the iPhone. This card, which is only a prototype for now, will be a dream for photographers, allowing them to save more photos than ever before. Of course, if the card fails, that is a lot of data to lose...
As prices continue to drop, and the technology becomes easier to use, 'smart home' devices are set to explode in popularity. As someone who once swore off such things, I now have Wi-Fi-enabled electric sockets and home cameras. When I am away, I can turn on a lamp and monitor my house. It is very cool, but slightly annoying that there is no central app for all of my connected home devices. Since I chose different brands, I unfortunately have a few different apps on my smartphone and tablet.
Today, iDevices announces 'Smart Home Essentials'. This focused kit is both Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa compatible. By purchasing this well-designed kit, you can avoid managing multiple apps. It even comes with free concierge service based in the USA for help setting things up (if needed).
The summer is just about over. Children are back in school, the temperatures are slowly dropping, and soon enough, the leaves will begin falling from the trees.
Summer vacations are now in the rear view mirror, meaning it is holiday-related travel coming up down the road. Around the USA, many families will begin planning for both Thanksgiving and Christmas getaways. Google Trips, a new app for Android and iOS, is designed to help people plan their trips, with a focus on offline use for when someone is without an internet connection. Keep in mind, it will work for all travel -- not just holiday related plans.
There is no place for bullying in the world. Schools around the country are teaching this important lesson. When one person is mean to another, that is very bad. When two people join forces to bully someone, it can be even worse -- it is hard to stand up for yourself when you are outnumbered.
When Microsoft ran mean-spirited advertisements against Apple's MacBook, my colleague Mark Wilson took umbrage, calling the ads 'childish and imbecilic'. Today, in an all-new ad, Huawei MateBook is joining the Surface Pro in the Apple-bashing. The personified versions of two Windows 10 tablets come across as bullies, belittling Apple's iPad Pro.
Cloud storage is amazingly convenient. Unfortunately, the best part of the cloud can also be the worst. You see, having your files stored on someone else's severs and accessing them over the internet opens you to focused hacking, and potentially, incompetence by the cloud storage company too. As a way to have the best of both worlds, some folks will set up net-connected local storage so they can manage their own 'cloud'.
Today, Canonical and Western Digital (WDLabs) unveil an Ubuntu Core Linux-based cloud storage and 'Internet of Things' device called 'Nextcloud Box'. The box leverages the open source Nextcloud service and can be powered by a Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi 3, or oDroid C2. Will it be easier to use and manage than closed source solutions?
Logitech is a huge player in the PC gaming accessory market with its popular 'G' line of products. Not only does the company make quality keyboards and mice, but really great headsets too.
Today, the company announces a surprising acquisition. Logitech has officially bought Saitek -- maker of simulation controllers -- for $13 million. While the move was unexpected, it actually makes a lot of sense. Logitech gains entry into a niche gaming segment that depends heavily on high-priced controllers.
As someone who often works on the go, I find myself in various coffee shops -- such as Starbucks -- during the week. While I obviously want to use the free Wi-Fi, their caffeinated beverages keep me fueled-up too. Coffee is one of the best productivity boosters, folks.
Inside Starbucks, I am surrounded by other people doing the same. They are using expensive Windows laptops and MacBooks, drinking pricey coffee drinks, and yet there is one area they seem to skimp -- the carry bag. They use ugly bags that seemingly offer little protection. This is crazy to me, as a good bag can not only prevent damage to your devices, but improve the overall appearance too -- it is also fashion. Today, Booq announces its latest such bag, called simply 'Pack Pro'. It looks to be an excellent choice for professionals that value high-quality laptop backpacks.
Between the rather contentious USA presidential election, natural disasters, terrorism, gun crimes, and other terrible things reported in the news, it is a wonder that people get out of bed in the morning. With that said, positive news just doesn't get as much coverage, making the negativity seem overly prominent. There is plenty of good in the world, folks. Be happy.
Today, Google launches its 2016 'Doodle 4 Google' contest with a focus on fun and good. If you aren't familiar, it invites children across the USA (grades K-12) to use art skills to 'doodle' the Google logo, focusing on a certain theme. It is fun, educational, and quite frankly, makes me smile. It is a refreshingly light annual reminder that enjoyment is alive and well. This year, the theme is "What I see for the future".