The newest, hottest products in the market.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches –
reviewed simply with four questions in mind.
The Whill Type A is more than a wheelchair; call it a personal mobility device. The Whill is the creation of Japanese designer Satoshi Sugie who says he was inspired by the plight of a wheelchair bound co-worker who found it so embarrassing and daunting to get around in a wheelchair that he finally gave up leaving his home. Sugie set out to design a device that would be mobile, modern, and easy to use. The Whill has a number of significant design innovations that have won it a slew of awards. After seeing it in action, you almost (but not quite) get over the fear that one day you too might be wheelchair bound. For starters, it has four wheel drive and high power torque and large front wheels that conquer rough terrains ad steep hills. It can maneuver over grass, dirt, gravel, and snow with ease. The front wheels aren’t just wheels. Each is comprised of a series of twenty-four small rollers that allow it to make very tight turns, allowing the user to navigate narrow spaces through urban areas or store aisles. It is the first we’ve seen that allows a user to navigate many of the recreational trails that were just too tough even for other motorized chairs. You can watch the video here
At the big CE Week event in New York this week, the consumer electronics industry made another push to promote Hi-Resolution Audio. But industry insiders are expressing their frustration that the efforts to promote high quality digital music aren’t getting more traction. There were two significant announcements to promote the Hi Res movement, one from an industry group, the other from Sony, which has been the biggest player in the space. The first involves setting standards for the creation of new Hi-Res Audio content:
Keyboards are not sexy. However for most of us they are quite useful. I grew up learning to touch type on a manual typewriter and tend to, well, pound the daylights out of a keyboard. And many of today’s keyboards can’t take it. Most are electronic, many are downright flimsy, and like the solid feel of that mechanical “click”. Now Cherry has gone back to the future with a series of mechanical keyboards that have really improved the hours I spend generating this material. Let’s start at the top. The Cherry MX Board 6.0 is a full sized mechanical keyboard that has a rubberized magnetically attached wrist rest. Cherry claims the technology in each key makes it a speed demon, and during my tests there was no lag at all between pressing the keys and having the letters appear on the screen, each with a satisfying “click” and substantial travel. If you are a fast typist, this will not slow you down. The primary function of each key is backlit in red/orange, making it a pleasure to use in dim light. The Caps Lock Key turns blue when depressed. And the Windows, Fn, and NumLock keys are also illuminated in blue. The F9 key will turn off the backlight. There are also separate keys for media playback controls. the secondary functions for other keys, such as the numbers row are more dimly lit. The keys are in a solid aluminum base. Nothing flimsy here. Price is $219. That’s pretty expensive as a replacement keyboard, but if keys are still your primary interface with your computer and your level of typing is intense, you may really enjoy this as a step up.
This week Sony surprised the digital imaging world with the announcement of three new cameras, further securing its position as the hottest company in the space. At the top end Sony brought out a version of it’s A7 on steroids. The A7 was the first full frame compact mirrorless camera. (you can see our initial review here) The A7R added resolution at the expense of some auto-focus speed. Then they added The A7S for 4K video recording. After that it was the A7II with improved in-camera stabilization. And now. Drumroll please maestro. Sony is introducing the A7RII. It combines the best features of all the A7 versions that came before with an impressive backlit CMOS full frame sensor that delivers 42.4 megapixels. It offers 4K video recording that’s supposedly every bit as good as a Super 35mm cameras. And the improved OLED viewfinder offers what Sony claims is the best magnification at 0.78x. It also has in-camera 5 axis stabilization for those of us with shaky hands. And it offers an ISO sensitivity of 102400, meaning you can shoot in almost any imaginable low light condition without noise. Now if all these numbers are a little overwhelming, just look at it this way, on paper, this is one of the most impressive cameras to ever come along for consumers and pro-sumers. Sony has also added features to make is easier to use not only with Sony lenses, but with legacy lenses from other manufacturers. The A7RII is expected to be available in the U.S. for $3200 (body only) in August, probably too late for many summer vacations, but just in time for fall foliage here in the northeast.
Outdoor GPS Watch – Garmin fenix 3 Sapphire – If Dad is an outdoor enthusiast, this may be the ultimate outdoor adventure watch. It has a tough Sapphire crystal and a stainless steel case. It features GPS mapping, and a wide variety of activity tracking including walking, running, swimming, snowboarding and biking. It has a full array of sensors including altimeter and barometer, and it has connectivity to other Garmin apps. Price is $500.
Dashboard Camera – If you are nervous about what your new grad will be doing out on the roads this summer, here’s a way of keeping tabs and protecting your grad as well. The Cobra CDR 900 Drive Dashcam with WiFi is a small unit with a 2” LCD screen that continuously records the ride. It has sensors so that if there’s a sudden acceleration or deceleration, that footage will be protected and won’t be recorded over. The device can send the video to a smartphone and can also be controlled by a smartphone app. It records in 1296P Super HD or 1080P Full HD video. It’s Wi-Fi Enabled and communicates with the Drive HD companion app for iOS or Android devices to view and share videos And it has a wide 160° viewing angle to film the entire road and peripherals without edge distortion. Price is $200.
For all too many of us impediments that were once annoyances turn into truly challenging disabilities as we age. For many years we’ve been hearing that one day technology could really help overcome low vision or blindness, hearing loss, or loss of mobility. This week we begin looking at three breakthrough technologies that prove that if you have a disability you don’t need to succumb. Now you can overcome.
Automotive Navigation Device – There’s no question that the older your Dad gets, the more he’s going to be challenged by driving, especially to new places, or at night or in bad weather. The Garmin nuvi 2789LMT has a huge 7” touchscreen that Dad can easily see day or night. It has voice activated navigation so he can ask it to find a destination without having to take his eyes off the road. It features lifetime map upgrades and lifetime traffic avoidance. It also comes with Foursquare, providing more data points than almost any other automotive database out there. Price from Garmin is $350.
For the first time since the advent of the smartphone, a host of full featured, unlocked phones(without a carrier or contract) is hitting the market and could challenge the dominance of AT&T and Verizon. The latest addition to the lineup of flagship phones in the unlocked space is the Zenfone 2 from Asus. If you haven’t heard of Asus, they are a major maker of computers, laptops, convertibles, and tablets, though their worldwide success has not yet translated to the U.S. market. The Zenfone 2 has a speedy Intel processor, a very sharp screen, and a great camera (especially good for low light situations). It also has two SIM card slots that are great for frequent travelers. But perhaps best of all it comes with an unlocked price of $199 for 16GB of storage and $299 for 64GB. When you start looking at unlocked flagship phones from the likes of Samsung and Apple you’ll find them often going for anywhere from $600 to $800 or more.
Navigation Device – Your newly minted grad may not know where he or she is headed, but with the Garnin Nuvi 58LMT at least they won’t get lost on the road getting there. It comes with free lifetime maps and traffic avoidance. Other features include:
Picking the right camera to take on your next trip is only part of the fun. In order to have the best experience on your travels you’re going to want the right gear to go with the camera. Let’s start with the right bag. A camera bag is a very personal matter. In many ways more personal than your camera. It needs to fit your life, the way you travel, the way you shoot. We’ve decided to zero in on bags that are well suited for serious travelers who want to take not only their camera gear with them, but other essentials such as a laptop, music player, a lightweight jacket, some snacks, maybe your important meds. If you’re traveling by air or by train our goal was to find something that would let you load everything into one bag that will be convenient but won’t break your back. That means we’ve excluded so-called photo backpacks that are made for two or three camera bodies and a family of lenses. And we’ve excluded shoulder bags because they generally don’t hold enough gear, and they don’t leave your hands free.
Imagine this. You’re onboard an airplane watching a movie at 35000 feet. The guy sitting next to you looks like he’s playing a video game. But he’s really hacking into the plane’s flight control system. One researcher claims he did just that on a flight from Chicago to Syracuse, New York. A number of articles including one in Wired Magazine cite comments by security researcher Chris Roberts claiming he hacked into the thrust control system of a United Airlines flight by manipulating the plane’s in-flight entertainment system. United has banned Roberts from its airplanes. Security experts have differing views of how real this threat really might be and how much of Robert’s story may be credible. But security expert James Ryan of LitmusLogic tells us he’s not surprised, “This is more evidence that companies and regulators have underestimated cyber risk for over a decade and security strategies are outdated. The root cause is not vulnerability in the IFE (in-flight entertainment system). The root cause is almost certainly a few choices made years ago on how to design and integrate an in-flight entertainment system and along the way someone chose to cut costs or increase revenues by taking on more cyber risk and not sufficiently isolating entertainment from plane operations. Unfortunately, I expect to see many more of these attacks and takeovers before things get better. Copycat attacks will almost certainly grow over the coming weeks and upgrading the airplane may take time which means airplanes and air flight will be vulnerable for months if not years.”
The explosive growth of The Internet of Things (IoT) and its implications for seniors and the disabled is expected to highlight the fourth annual M-Enabling Summit across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. on June 1st and 2nd. The Summit draws attendees from around the world. It builds on the exciting technological advances that are improving the quality of life for seniors and those who suffer from a range of disabilities. According to M-Enabling Summit founder Axel Leblois, Executive Director of G3ict,
For those of us who covered the years of bitter battles between Apple and IBM for dominance in personal computers, there’s more than a little irony in the deal that Apple and IBM announced to team up with Japan Post to sell specially configured iPads to between four and five million Japanese seniors by the year 2020. The deal is remarkable in a variety of ways, none more important than what it could presage for seniors in this country and elsewhere.
As we age, it’s natural for us to wonder about where we fit into the overall scheme of life, and beyond. Ancestry.com has done a great job of enabling millions to build their family tree. At the Collision Conference that wrapped in Las Vegas, among the 1200 startups, we found three that dwell on memories in very different ways: