While many pundits are quick to dismiss Chromebooks, some consumers are embracing these laptops. True, from an overall market share perspective, Chrome OS is largely insignificant. With that said, it is absolutely dominating the education segment. Not to mention, as more and more consumers do everything in the web browser, Windows and macOS can be seen as overkill for some.
Unfortunately, many Chromebooks are both underpowered and low quality to keep costs down. While there are some solid models, they are few and far between. Samsung is looking to change this, however, with the long-promised Chromebook Pro. The company announced the premium convertible laptop in January, but now, we finally have a definitive release date.
The concept of a "smart home" is finally becoming a reality for many; devices are becoming both more affordable and easier to setup. It is not uncommon for a home to have Wi-Fi cameras, voice assistants, smart thermostats, and more, nowadays.
One of the coolest aspects of the smart home is the ability to control lights -- bulbs, switches, and outlets. In my home, I leverage Belkin's Wemo outlet adapters to turn my lamps both on and off using Alexa -- it is awesome. Now, Belkin has a new smart device that I cannot wait to add to my home -- the all-new Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer Light Switch. Not only can it dim lights with Alexa, but Google Home too. It can even integrate with a Nest thermostat for learning purposes and cost-savings. Of course, you can use the Wemo mobile app for Android and iOS too.
Amazon Video is one of the best deals in entertainment, as it comes included with a Prime account. As many consumers sign up for the retailer's Prime membership scheme to get free two-day shipping, the streaming video service is often viewed as an added bonus. True, its selection isn't the best, but it is passable. Not to mention, Amazon's original programming is rather solid.
Another great deal is Microsoft's Xbox One S. Not only does it play games, but it includes a 4K Ultra-high-definition Blu-ray disc player. In fact, the console is often less expensive than many such standalone disc players, making it in an insane value. The Xbox One S doesn't just handle 4K from discs, however -- it can output the resolution from video apps too. Now, the Amazon Video Xbox app gets updated with 4K support, meaning an excellent service on wonderful hardware just got even better.
When the education-focused Windows 10 S was announced, many people were dubious that it could be a success. Limiting the operating system to apps from the Windows Store seems like a recipe for disaster. That opinion is understandable, as we have sort of been down this road before with Windows RT -- which failed. The concept can confuse users.
I was sort of hopeful for Windows 10 S when Microsoft made a shocking announcement at Build 2017 that it is bringing Linux distributions to the Windows Store. This gave the impression that students using the S variant of the OS would be able to tinker with Linux. Unfortunately, this is not the case as Microsoft will be blocking Linux on the new OS. In other words, not all apps in the store will be available for Windows 10 S.
Both augmented and virtual reality show no sign of slowing down -- these are certainly technologies to keep an eye on over the next several years. Microsoft and Google have been very public with their projects, while there are rumors that Apple is secretly working on both AR and VR too.
Google's Tango is one of the most ambitious such projects, bringing augmented reality capabilities to Android devices. Earlier today at Google I/O, ASUS announced that the upcoming ZenFone AR smartphone -- compatible with both Tango and Daydream -- will be a Verizon exclusive.
While some people may feel that their office job is stressful -- and maybe it is -- there are workers in the world that do physically hard work that is much more strenuous. They may work in dangerous and dirty conditions where not only is their health at risk, but so too is their computer. For instance, they may work in a location with tremendous dust, risk of flooding, and falling debris. For these jobs, an extremely rugged laptop or tablet could be needed.
When it comes to rugged computers, Panasonic's legendary Toughbook laptops are always a wise choice. These computers have a reputation for surviving really rough conditions. Today, the company announces its latest bad-ass notebook -- the Toughbook 33. Not only is it a laptop, but a detachable tablet too.
Summertime is almost here, meaning families will begin spending more time outdoors enjoying nature, right? Not necessarily. In modern times, devices seem to rule our attention. Things like computer monitors, televisions, smartphones, and tablets keep our eyes focused on screens like zombies.
To highlight just how bad things have gotten, a new survey reveals that families will spend more than a third of the 2017 summer season with their eyes glued to some sort of screen. To make matters worse, parents say that while they would prefer to do more activities away from devices, outings are far too expensive. A typical weekend family getaway with all things factored in, could average $2,328! Sadly, the overuse of "screens" are negatively impacting the health and behavior of children too.
Despite the death of Unity, there is still no shortage of desktop environments for Ubuntu. In fact, there are some Linux-based operating systems that exist mostly to provide an arguably better environment and experience. Two good examples of this are Linux Mint and elementary OS. While these distros are more than just Ubuntu with an alternative DE, the UI is largely the star of the show. While Mint caters to folks that have trouble moving beyond the interfaces of yesteryear, elementary instead focuses on a forward-looking experience.
Today, elementary OS Loki -- the latest version of the operating system -- reaches a new milestone. Release 0.4.1 adds many new features, including an updated 4.8 kernel, improved Kaby Lake support, and most importantly, the all-new crowd-funded AppCenter!
Today was day one of Google I/O and there was no shortage of news. To name a few, the search giant is bringing its assistant to iPhone, Smart Reply to Gmail on mobile, and voice-calling to Google Home. These things should be very interesting to both consumers and technology enthusiasts.
With I/O being a developer conference, however, not all of the news is necessarily consumer-focused. Case in point, there was some rather big developer news that didn't get as much attention. You see, Google announces that it is making five of its "Firebase" SDKs open source.
Android can be a bit of a pain in the butt, as new versions of the operating system don't reach all devices -- even new ones. Unlike iOS where Apple provides updates to all of its devices for years, many Android manufacturers seldom ever issue updates. Heck, it is possible to buy a phone or tablet and never get an OS update!
The best way to avoid such madness is to buy a Nexus or Pixel device directly from Google. This will guarantee you a reasonable amount of updates, although not on the same level as iOS. If you own a Nexus or Pixel device, I have good news. Starting today, you can download the first official Android "Oreo" Beta. While Oreo is not yet the official name, many folks are predicting it to eventually be named after the famed cookie.
Today is the start of Google I/O 2017 -- be sure to watch the keynote here. There will be plenty of interesting announcements from the company. While much of it will be developer focused, there is sure to be news that will tickle the fancy of consumers too.
Gmail is one of Google's most popular services, and today, the company announces that it is bringing a cool feature to it -- Smart Reply. What is it? Well, the search giant's computers will read your emails, and then offer suggested replies. The service will even use machine learning to improve by reading your replies too. Understandably, some people will have privacy concerns.
Android tablets aren't very exciting anymore, as manufacturers have seemingly lost focus on them. There have been a few solid offerings here and there, but it is a very sad state of affairs. With that said, Amazon's Fire tablets -- which run a version of Android called "Fire OS" -- still provide rewarding experiences as consumption devices. This is especially true if you are a Prime member. These tablets are definitely a bright spot in the market.
Amazon's tablets have needed a refresh for a while now, and today it happens. The company announces two newly updated models -- the Fire 7 and the Fire HD 8. They both feature Alexa support, of course, and are designed for a quality experience with all types of media, such as movies, music, and books. The 7-inch has a 1024 x 600 resolution, while the 8-inch variant has 1280 x 800. Best of all, they are extremely affordable.
There are countless gaming accessories nowadays, such as mice, keyboards, and headsets to name a few. Believe it or not, some companies even design gaming furniture. Yes, chairs designed for playing video games are a real thing. Not only are there seats for living rooms and bedrooms, but for computer desks too. Are gaming chairs gimmicky? A bit, but they are very fun too!
Today, CORSAIR releases the T1 RACE Gaming Chair. While the design is inspired by racing games, it can be sat in while playing any genre. In fact, it can serve as a normal office chair too, so you can look cool while editing spreadsheets in Excel. It is even rated for an impressive 265 pounds.
While smart televisions are very common nowadays, not all are created equally. Some of them can have laggy performance and poor user interfaces. Amazon aimed to change that with its "Fire TV Edition," which integrates its quality video experience into the television itself -- no need to add a dongle or box. This is clearly designed to compete with Roku's similar integrated platform.
Today, Element Electronics announces the first ever models of televisions with the aforementioned Amazon Fire TV Edition experience. What makes these sets particularly special, however, is that they also offer 4K UHD resolution. You can even access the Alexa assistant using the included voice remote.
The 'WannaCrypt' ransomware has been a worldwide dilemma, impacting many countries. Luckily, the malware only impacts older versions of Microsoft's operating system -- Windows 10 is not vulnerable. Also immune to WannaCrypt is macOS and Linux distributions. Unfortunately, many people run older versions of Windows, but Microsoft has been very active in issuing patches for them -- including for the now-unsupported XP.
Patches aside, security software can protect vulnerable computers too. In fact, today, Symantec announces that it has successfully blocked almost 22 million WannaCrypt attacks. The company even leveraged machine learning in its fight against the ransomware.