Stumped for Valentines Day Tech?

Valentines Day is about expressing kind thoughts about folks you care about. Here is some enduring smart technology gifting, much of which can be shared. It is a click or a drive away. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive or outlandish tech. It simply cuts to the chase with smart design and value.

And needless to say, fun to give, receive and share!

SMARTPHONES

The HTC ONE A9 comes unlocked and can duke it out with top tier phones for less
The HTC ONE A9 comes unlocked and can duke it out with top tier phones for less

-The HTC One A9, available for $649 at HTC’s site only,   comes unlocked. You get what you pay for and its a lot, matching tier one phones costing hundereds more. It looks so much like an iPhone but it runs Android Marshmallow with cutting-edge features like optical image stabilization for it rear 13 MP camera, Full HD video for both rear and front UltraPixel camera which outshoots any phone selfie camera, with one of the widest lens views. The Corning Gorilla Glass full HD screen is plenty crisp with wide angle viewing. The slick touch finger reader is an unexpected bonus as is the extra powerful (loud) built-in DAC 24-bit, 192KHz – better than CD quality audio. You have to pair the BoomSound technology in this thin metal and glass beauty with the awesome HTC Pro Studio Earphones $107.99 at Amazon.ca.

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CES 2016 shows thousands of global technology gizmos and ideas

The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the Mecca of inventiveness. More than 3,800 vendors ranging from tech giants Samsung, Sony and LG with booths the size of several ice arenas to one person 4 square meter single table booths swayed more than 170,000 attendees including some 50,000  outside the U.S.

Check out my coolest YouTube linked products at CES by clicking on the linked names.

Samsung Family Hub Fridge at CES commanded much attention. Priced at more than $6,000 CDN, it will be in Canada later this year pending negotiations with online grocery venues in Canada.  It features a 21.5 inch 1080p touch screen, three interior shelve cams, self digital food labelling with expiry dates, screen photo albums, online grocery ordering, weather and more. You can also see what’s in your fridge, live, with a phone app and switch the lower right compartment to a freezer when needed.

LG Signature series features semi transparent glass door
LG Signature series features semi transparent glass door

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THE CES 2016 TECH GRIND PROMISES SURPRISES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS

More than 3,500 booths to check out at CES
More than 3,500 booths to check out at CES

My annual tech mecha to the  Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show  begins from Edmonton. Follow me here as I update my experience discovering new gadgets and meeting interesting industry shakers and movers.

What does CES have in store for us this year? Lot’s of small startups from around the world on smart personal ware and ways to help us eat, drive, even shower better.

Here are some examples on Day One at CES Unveiled, an early pre-show peak of smart tech.

  1. P1030064-1

The self powered Eco-Sensitive Smart Shower head from hydrao.com connects to iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth. It tracks your water consumption and monitors your progress or not, by changing colours.

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Second thoughts on great technology for boxing day

Boxing day has great deals on tech gizmos. But the adage of you get what you pay for is still true. You can still get a deal on a cheap product as you can on a quality one. It’s a mindset on wanting to own something that has extra value and features that work for you.

Here is my list of the best tech gizmos I experienced in 2015, which can be had for a better price on boxing day weekend. But there is fewer of these around compared to the bargain priced devices that attract most buyers. Good technology  will last into next year and pay itself off.

Why? Because it was well thought out, ahead of its time, designed and built to last. To me, it was conceived with a purpose:  to do something better than the competition and make you feel selfishly satisfied every time you use it. It’s like driving a luxury car.

Sonos Play:5 has the sound magic inside to bring life-like sounds in your room
Sonos Play:5 has the sound magic inside to bring life-like sounds in your room
A graphical view of why the Sonos Play:5 sounds so good. Using an Olympus Linear PCM Recorder LS-10 I recorded 70 seconds of Oriental Blue by Al Di Meola in audio CD quality on the Wave:5 from two meters away. I then converted the short audio track to a 3D Analysis view with Steinberg’s Wavelab Elements 8. The left column is the Play:5 audio recording, showing the bass frequency response, top and a view from the other side showing the higher notes or sounds. The verticals show the intensity or volume. The darker green range would be a typical singers range. The right column is typical of most speakers, showing less bass response (think of it as lower foothills – less bass - as you approach a mountain, the main song).
A graphical view of why the Sonos Play:5 sounds so good. Using an Olympus Linear PCM Recorder LS-10 I recorded 70 seconds of Oriental Blue by Al Di Meola in audio CD quality on the Play:5 from two meters away. I then converted the short audio track to a 3D Analysis view with Steinberg’s Wavelab Elements 8. The left column is the Play:5 audio recording, showing the bass frequency response, top and a view from the other side showing the higher notes or sounds. The verticals show the intensity or volume. The darker green range would be a typical singers range. The right column is typical of most speakers, including smaller Sonos speakers, showing less bass response (think of it as lower foothills – less bass – as you approach a mountain, the main song).

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IT WILL COST MORE TO BE AN AIR CANADA FREQUENT FLYER MEMBER

Air Canada will make it twice as hard to reach its Altitude Qualifying Status for 2017.

Starting next year, Aeroplan members will also have to achieve Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) spending minimum dollars on ticket purchases, on a sliding scale, on top of the current AQM miles flown and AQS segments to achieve their overall Altitude Status.

The new requirement starts at $3,000 minimum spending on tickets for Prestige 25K  up to $20,000 for 100K Super Elite.

Air Canada Boeing Dreamliner Business Seats
Air Canada Boeing Dreamliner Business Seats

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Adobe Creative Cloud Embraces Mobile and Touch


At Adobe MAX 2015 in Los Angeles today, Adobe outlined its vision for Creative Cloud — a “connected creative canvas” where people create and share their work from anywhere.

Adobe dazzled some 7,000 attendees with new powerful mobile apps. It showed how cloud-based Adobe CreativeSync allows users to save and share their work, app settings, tools and more, between multiple devises as well as with co-workers. 
“The power to be creative is no longer for the few” said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan.
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan

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Mobile and cloud-hip Office 2016 is here

Today’s worldwide launch of Microsoft’s Office 2016 has something for everyone, from consumers to enterprise – and for a good deal.

That’s because the from-the-ground-up re-worked Office suite will be affordable as a free upgrade to current subscription-based Office 365 users. Office 365 is starting to populate beyond students and consumers. Small businesses find the subscription model cheaper and more hassle-free to administrate compared to the traditional fully paid-for client version. Office 365 Home only costs $99.99 a year and can be used in up to five large and small devices.

Excel 2016 - New Tree Map Chart
Excel 2016 – New Tree Map Chart

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IFA Berlin 2015 delivers on the newest smart watches


IFA Berlin 2015, one of the largest annual global tech shows, is again the launch base for the world’s coolest technologies.

Although IFA covers a broad spectrum of technologies and trends at home, work and play, the first two days are particularly exciting as global tech giants announce their newest technologies.

One hot item showing at IFA, are smart watches, with some 40 million to be sold this year. Half of that is expected to be Apple Watches. That still pales in comparison with the 1.5 billion smartphones that will ship this year.

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A closer look at today’s best camera phones launched last week

Hi folks, this is a follow-up on my first quick impressions, published last Friday, on the launch of new  “super camera phones” in the Canadian market today. My take on how good the camera is on the just released Samsung S6 Edge +, Note 5, Moto X Play, joined be the recent LG G4 and Sony Xperia 3, has not changed. But here is a deeper dive on what makes these camera phones so good.

LG G4

LG G4 RAW mode rigt captured every white bridal detail of Jaclyn Maat's (formally Bedard and helped by Kaila Maat) compared to the JPEG format left
LG G4 RAW mode rigt captured every white bridal detail of Jaclyn Maat’s (formally Bedard and helped by Kaila Maat) compared to the JPEG format left
LG G4 4X zoom while shooting in 16 MP is the one to beat
LG G4 4X zoom while shooting in 16 MP is the one to beat
The LG G4 Panorama Mode produces amazingly sharp 102 megapixel images with HDR imaging in shadowed areas on the right
The LG G4 Panorama Mode produces amazingly sharp 102 megapixel images with HDR imaging in shadowed areas on the right

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The best phone cameras for the money

Happy Friday folks. Say “cheese” to the newest wave of top quality camera phones, with two new models available in Canada, starting today.

These phones are the best money can buy, although one is surprisingly affordable. They are basically great for any cutting edge challenges mobile users will run into today. But today’s blog is about camera quality and what features make them shoot better pictures.

They are all Android-based but will likely be joined by Apple’s scheduled iPhone 6 “s” update, weeks away, with a still rumoured 16 megapixel camera, long overdue.

What makes these phone cameras so good, leaving the fancy marketing mumbo jumbo aside?

It’s not just the megapixel number. The size of the photo sensor and the quality of the lens determines the picture quality. Additionally, camera processing software, often third party, can make or break a photo, especially in poor lighting conditions.

The speed of the lens, is more about bragging rights rather than final picture quality. Unlike traditional digital camera lenses that feature adjustable apertures and shutter speeds for proper exposure, phone cameras have a fixed large open aperture. The LG G4 currently features the fastest f 1.8 aperture, while most phones range from f2- f2.8.

Here’s my take from a photographer’s perspective on this new breed of phone cameras.

16MP Samsung Galaxy Note 5,  16MP LG G4 and 21MP Moto X Play
16MP Samsung Galaxy Note 5, 16MP LG G4 and 21MP Moto X Play

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