Review: ASUS ZenWatch

asus_90nz0011_m00010_zenwatch_android_smartwatch_brown_1421709650000_1112696If you buy any Apple Watch you have many choices although all of them involve the type of watchband or body you prefer. The mechanism itself is the same with prices ranging from $349 to $17,000. Currently, the Apple Watch only works with an iPhone 5 and up.

If you have an Android watch, however, you have more choices. Smartwatches are made for Android by Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sony and others. And within each smartwatch model you have case and band choices. Only Pebble offers the user a choice between iOS and Android platforms.

To make things simpler, most of these manufacturers have adopted Google’s Android Wear OS. So for whatever watch you choose, the operation while not identical will be very similar.

After having purchased 4 of these watches, I have found some considerations that I did not like. Features were the most common but price was a major issue. My last smartwatch was an LG Watch Urbane, a stylish model loaded with features. But it also came with a $350 price tag.

On the heels of this purchase, I discovered that the ASUS ZenWatch I previously considered had lowered its price from $199 to $150. This caused me to reappraise the ZenWatch. Continue reading…

Review: GMYLE Ultra-Slim Illuminated Keyboard

GMYLE-Backlit-KeyboardWe previously reviewed the Logitech K811 Illuminated Bluetooth Keyboard that operated 3 Apple devices from one keyboard. All these features came at a hefty $100 price. That keyboard is now scarce with prices over $150. For this amount you get an aluminum Bluetooth® keyboard with a full complement of function keys.   It sounds like a rip-off, doesn’t it?

As competition, GMYLE has introduced a similar Bluetooth keyboard with illuminated keys that work with Macs, iOS, Windows and Android devices. It uses typical scissor keys with a stainless steel back, just like Apple’s own keyboard. But unlike the competition, it lists for $50, but discounts can be found around $35! It comes in white or silver.

Unlike the Logitech keyboard, the GMYLE keyboard offers a choice of 7 backlit colors at the touch of a key: blue, green, purple, red, yellow, white, and cyan. In addition there are 2 brightness levels as well as off.  Continue reading…

REVIEW: HP Color LaserJet Pro (M252dw)

71mhBWOJReL._SL1500_No one can dispute the quality of today’s color laser printers. They produce great quality output at speeds and prices that get better every year. The HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw is the latest example of this phenomenon.

This printer is designed for the home or office user that wants crisp laser printing at a lower cost per page than what inkjets offer. Although this laser printer is listed at $299.99, many retailers are selling it for $199.99 with online vendors even less.

Compared to my previous printer the LaserJet Pro 200 (M251nw), this printer is priced similarly, but has added features. What do you get for your money?

Features 

  • Wireless Printing lets you print from your iPhone, Mac or PC, iPad or other mobile device directly to this printer.
  • 3” Touchscreen lets you make settings and view configurations directly
  • Automatic Duplex Printing lets you save paper by printing on both sides
  • Multiple Connectivity lets you connect by Ethernet LAN, USB cable, USB flash drive or wireless (above)

Continue reading…

Review: LG Watch Urbane

91+MPGeqeGL._SL1500_When the Apple Watch was released earlier this year, many critics found several problems that needed to be addressed. Battery life was just one of those issues. But critics also recognized that this was Apple’s first venture into watch technology, and so that future versions of the Apple Watch would correct these issues. Let’s face it, the first generation of iPods and iPads had issues as well but have since been improved upon.

LG, a major player in the Android camp, has already had two versions of its watches in release. Their first watch was the LG G Watch introduced in June of 2014 that had a rectangular display like the Apple Watch. In October of last year LG came out with the LG G Watch R that featured a round face. This year LG introduced its third version, the LG Watch Urbane.

This watch is an Android phone that works only on Google’s Android system format. This exclusivity is just like Apple watches that only work on iPhones 4S or later. So if you like the LG’s features, forget about it if you are using an iPhone. Continue reading…

Apple WWDC 2015 Announcements

El Capitan

Several new and exciting updates were announced this week at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

  • OS X El Capitan (aka Mac OS 10.11) refines the Mac experience with enhancements to window management, built-in apps, and Spotlight search. The new OS promises to be more responsive.
  • With iOS 9, your iPhone and iPad become more intelligent and proactive with powerful search and improved Siri features that help you find what you’re looking for before you even ask.New multitasking features designed specifically for iPad allow you to work with two apps side-by-side, or with Picture in Picture continue watching a video while you navigate to another app. And built-in apps are now even more powerful with a completely redesigned Notes app, transit information in Maps, and an all-new News app that collects all the stories you want to read from top news sources based on the topics you’re most interested in.
  • WatchOS 2 features new watch faces that use your photos or photo albums as well as Time-Lapse which shows 24 hours in iconic locations around the world. It also includes watch complications featuring third-party app information and new communication capabilities in Mail, Friends, and Digital Touch. Now developers can take advantage of innovative hardware features including the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine, and heart rate sensor combined with software APIs to build new app experiences.
  • Apple Music combines the best ways to enjoy music—all in one place. The new streaming music service pioneers worldwide live radio station from Apple broadcasting 24/7, and is a great new way for music fans to connect with their favorite artists. Starting June 30, Apple Music will be available in over 100 countries and is priced at $9.99/mo ($14.99/mo for a family plan). A free three-month trial membership gives music fans the full Apple Music experience on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and PC. And it’s coming to Apple TV and Android smartphones this fall.

All new software is planned for release in the Fall 2015.

Updated Apple Hardware

Today, Apple announced updated 15-in MacBook Pros with ForceTouch trackpads. The lower end model for $1999 retains a 2.2Gz i7 and 256 GB flash storage and Intel Iris Pro graphics, but boosts internal memory to 16Gb. The $2,499 model upgrades to 512 GB of flash storage and a 2.5-GHz CPU, adding AMD Radeon R9 M370X discrete graphics hardware with 2 GB of VRAM.

The new 5K retina iMac model is now priced at $1,999 with a 27-inch, 5120 x 2880 Retina display, 3.3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU and AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics (2GB of VRAM), along with 8 GB of memory, a 1TB, 7200-RPM hard drive and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports. The $2,299 model, which got a price cut, boosts quad-core i5 speed to 3.5 GHz, graphics hardware to AMD Radeon R9 M290X (4 GB of VRAM), and storage to a 1TB Fusion Drive.

Apple also announced a new Lightning dock with a 3.5mm audio line-out port in the back, which supports headphone remote control. No AC adapter is supplied, so MGRM2charging power comes via a Lightning port that you must connect to your own power adapter and cable. The dock is priced at $39.

Review: Sony Smartwatch 3 (SWR50)

41WZ83JiK2LWhen the Apple Watch was introduced last year, one would think that this is the first smartwatch ever, much like the introduction of the iPad in 2010. However, there have been several other manufacturers who have released smartwatches well before Apple.

One of these was Sony. They have released two previous models under their own operating system. Late last year Sony introduced the Smartwatch 3 (SW50) its first watch using Google’s Android Wear OS.

Pricing

This watch comes with either a rubber-like silicone band or a metal band and is priced significantly less than the Apple Watch. The silicone band model sells for $249.99 while the brushed stainless steel model goes for $299.99. Currently, there are no vendors that sell the all-metal band unless you go to eBay for a seller outside of the U.S.

Sony engineers have made it possible to change out watch bands, so you can opt for the silicone one now, and get the steel one later. Unfortunately, the band is not a standard size, so only a band made for this smartwatch will work. Continue reading…

Comcast – Time Warner Merger Fizzles

This Friday, the same day the Apple Watch started retail distribution, Comcast announced they were walking away from the deal they proposed 14 months earlier to acquire Time Warner Cable. In my opinion, this is great news for Indiana since part of the deal was that we were going to be shuffled off to a new company called Great Land Connections which would be a spin-off entity from Comcast and partially owned by Charter Communications. Like all cable companies, Charter has a less than stellar record amongst its existing customers. Even though Comcast has the worst reputation for customer satisfaction among American companies, I can’t help but think we’re better off with them rather than being slung around like a pawn in the trade-off Comcast was proposing to satisfy the Federal Trade Commission that the merger would not reduce competition. Great Land would likely not have the negotiating muscle to get as good a rates for media as Comcast, and it would also likely get Internet connections either through Charter or Comcast and be relegated to second tier performance and support. It’s the latter which worried me since neither AT&T through their U-verse service nor Charter provide anything close to the speed and bandwidth that Comcast provides. I currently get a minimum of 105 Mbps (usually around 120 Mbps) download speed and 20-25 Mbps upload speed. This is much greater than when I was with AT&T where I got <20 Mbps download and <1 Mbps upload speed for essentially the same price. According to their website, Charter offers only one Internet service tier at 60Mbps download and 4Mbps upload. While these speed differences have little impact when you’re just surfing the Net with a web browser, they significantly impact performance when you’re watching streaming video or using Facetime or Skype.

So while I have no love lost for Comcast as a company to do business with, I think we in Marion County are better off with them than being traded around as part of their proposed merger with Time Warner. Whether the deal for Charter to buy Bright House Networks which services 120,000 customers in Central Indiana in Hendricks, Boone, Hamilton, and Grant counties is affected by this latest news remains uncertain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that deal also falls apart as well.

Review: HTC One (M9) Smartphone

Having been an Android user for several years, I wanted to make the switch last year to the Apple iPhone 6 to see what I’ve been missing.

cq5dam.web.280.280I have to admit that I generally liked the iPhone 6 with its many unique features: larger screen size, Apple Pay, fingerprint sensor, etc. But I missed many features I was used to with Android, so I just switched back to Android with the HTC One (M9) Smartphone.

The iPhone was an easy to set up and use phone with limited customization required. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, but I enjoyed tinkering with the phone to give it the look and feel that was me.

For many years the Android world featured larger screen sizes than Apple until the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in September. My previous phone to the iPhone was the HTC One (M8). This phone had a bright 5.0” screen with double speakers for better sound.

Last month HTC introduced their replacement for that phone—the flagship One (M9) phone. What appealed to me was that it did not make any drastic changes. Its cool aluminum back and screen had not gotten larger as many Android models had done.
In fact, the only major changes on this phone was a new 20 MP camera display and a larger battery for longer time between charges. The new 20 MP camera replaced last year’s Ultra Pixel display that was a lower resolution camera that required less light. Continue reading…

Apple Watch Pre-Orders Off and Running

Over the weekend, Apple started accepting pre-orders for the new Apple Watch. While I wasn’t in line Thursday night at the local Keystone store myself, I was interested to see some of the more intrepid reviewer post YouTube videos of their first impressions. In the two URL’s below are some good hands-on coverage of what these two reviewers thought and how the interface works.

User interfaces is where Apple really shines. If you stop and think what sets Apple software apart from others purveyors of technology, it is how they can make maximal use of a minimalist interface. With only two “buttons” and a tiny touch screen, you really have a wide range of commands at your disposal with the Apple Watch.