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

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

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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Two new phones, one budget and the other for hardcore business and play

NEW PHONES ARRIVE FOR NEWCOMERS AND HARDCORE BUSINESS

Motorola continues its production in high gear with a flurry of new affordable phones over the past year. It heats up the competition in affordable phones you can buy outright with no plan.

Moto G

  • The LTE-capable Moto G features IPX7-rated protection and scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass for the 5” HD display. Its water proof in up to 3 feet of water—for up to 30 minutes. It has an all-day battery and the 13 megapixel camera can turn on with the flip of your wrist. The 5” HD display and Quad Core processor to keep up with today’s mobile demands. It feels nice to hold with careful edge wedging and a non-slip front surface. The Moto G is available in more than 60 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific. In Canada it’s available for as low as $200 outright or free with a two year plan at TELUS, Bell Mobility, Koodo, or Virgin Mobile and soon at Wind Mobile.

Continue reading Two new phones, one budget and the other for hardcore business and play

Ford’s future mobility is not just about cars

The next time you buy a Ford you may have a MoDe:Flex E-Bike option to take along in the trunk of your new car.

Welcome to Ford 2.0 where not everyone has to own a car. The car maker is cognisant about how its core product will fit in emerging lifestyles, especially in megacities – huge built-up urban areas where the  traditional car ownership model is changing.

At the recent Further with Ford 2015 event in San Francisco, Ford didn’t talk much about new car models. Instead, it was about mobility in growing congested environments, where public transportation, walking, biking and off course the occasional need for a car (hopefully a Ford) all come into play.

Elizabeth Baron uses Virtual Reality headgear to probe layers of a car that isn't there at the Ford Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Centre in Palo Alto
Elizabeth Baron uses Virtual Reality headgear to probe layers of a car that isn’t there at the Ford Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Centre in Palo Alto

Continue reading Ford’s future mobility is not just about cars

Tech Bytes of the week

With SlashGear co-driver Vincent Nguyen testing Ford's new G-Max Energi in San Francisco
With SlashGear co-driver Vincent Nguyen testing Ford’s new G-Max Energi in San Francisco

Did you know that trying to find parking in large metro cities consumes  one quarter of your car’s gas? In a recent visit to Ford’s Silicon Valley Research Centre, I found out the car maker is into a lot more than just selling cars, like phone apps to help you find parking,  ECO bikes to throw in your trunk and new ways to get around town with shared cars. Check my special report this Tuesday, August 4,

 

 

Windows 10 device familyCheckout my GlobalNews.ca Tech Talk TV and blog segment this Sunday on the New Windows 10.  With only three days to go, Microsoft is still updating its public Windows Insider Program version with new security updates. Will Microsoft get a home run on its Windows 10 launch? Like millions, I have been running it on an Acer Aspire V 11 Touch with no problems.  It looks like the new OS will continue to be work in progress and might keep its “10” name for a long time. BTW, there is some erroneous information circulating online about who gets the free upgrade Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro.

Here’s the skinny: If you currently have Windows 7 or 8/8.1 Home or lower, you get Windows 10. If you currently have Windows Pro, you get Windows 10 Pro. If you have Windows Enterprise, you got to talk to your IT manager or pay for that upgrade.

Adobe

If you are trialling Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom, which is worth doing, for free, you can also use Lightroom for your mobile iPhone and Android devices. Brighten shadows, flag and share favorites, organize photos — just like the desktop app! And everything you do automatically stays in sync from device to desktop. The trial is like the real thing which costs a reasonable $9.99 US

Böcker

At the IFA Spring Global Press Conference 2015 in Malta I attended last April, IFA analyst Juergen Boyny reported that e-Readers where showing a steady decline for the past five years. He was right! Folks of all ages are reverting back to the analog book, because it feels right to hold, touch smell and read. Research shows looking at text on paper has a more soothing effect than reading of e-readers. And no power required!

UPmini

London Drugs (sorry my GTA friends) is selling an affordable 3D printer, the UPmini for $849.99. Check it out. How about sharing the cost with interested friends to start 3D printing!

The new facelift for mobile YouTube App

YouTube is getting a face lift on its mobile apps. Android, available now, and App Store, available soon will make it easier to find and create videos.The update introduces three new tabs:

•           Home: Easily explore and discover videos you’ll love with recommendations based on your watch history as well as playlists personalized just for you.

•           Subscriptions: Find the latest videos from your favorite channels and creators on the new Subscriptions tab. And to help make sure you never miss an upload, you can now tap the bell icon on the channels you love to get a notification as soon as a new video is posted.

•           Account: Check out your playlists, watch history, and the videos you’ve uploaded all in one spot.

Canadians are huge consumers of YouTube. In fact, they watch over 24 hours of online video a month — five more hours than Americans. Today, more than half the views on YouTube happen using mobile devices. In Canada, 20% watch online video on their smartphones daily, and 30% of Canadians watch online video on their smartphones weekly.

TELUS CIBC

Earlier this year TELUS and CIBC launched a new co-branded CIBC TELUS Rewards Visa card that enables TELUS customers to earn and redeem reward points on their everyday spending towards a selection of TELUS products and services. Now customers can apply for the CIBC TELUS Rewards Visa Card at participating TELUS locations and get approved instantly.Customers can earn rewards points on everyday card purchases which can be redeemed for a selection of TELUS products and services including the latest smartphones and tablets, charitable donations, travel passes and TELUS prepaid cards that can be used on a variety of products, including wireless accessories.

Here’s the breakdown:

·         Earn one point for every dollar spent using the rewards card

·         Earn 1.5 points on all rewards card purchases at grocery and gas retailers

·         Earn 1.5 points on TELUS purchases made on the rewards card – paying their monthly bill, purchasing accessories or mobile devices, etc.

·         Enjoy no annual fee

·         Redeem points for a selection of TELUS products and services including the latest smartphones and tablets, charitable donations, travel passes and TELUS prepaid cards that can be used on a variety of products, including wireless accessories

For a limited time, customers who apply for the card and activate/renew on a 2-year plan in-store, will receive up to $100 off their smartphone purchase plus 5,000 TELUS Rewards points, worth $50 that can be redeemed towards their next device. For more info go here