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 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.


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


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!


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.


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








Last minute super gifts for Father’s Day

Its Father’s Day morning and you need some great gift tech ideas on short notice. You’ve come to the right place! Even if you can’t pick some of these gift ideas at a store here, you can order it online, print out the order slip and slip it into an envelope for Dad!

You can’t go wrong with a Sonos WiFi speaker. For more than a decade, Sonos has been the standard of quality wireless speakers. Often copied by multinational companies but never equaled, Sonos has a range of five speakers for single speaker rooms to multiple speaker theatre setups, controlled by iOS and Android apps. Sonos key to quality wireless music is ensuring a constant flow of music signals through your home WiFi network, even in hard to get rooms. No blips, slowdowns or music interruptions.


Even the most affordable and smallest Play:1 Sonos speaker – get a two room or stereo starter set for $379 – has smooth and rich sounds and surprisingly penetrating bass from the get-go. Every Sonos speaker made can still be functional with today’s newer models making a Sonos component investment long term. With 27 streaming music services support including the latest Spotify beta Android update enabling the Sonos Controller App to enjoy, in every room,  genres + moods, time-of-day recommendations, and the ability to start a radio station from any artist or track. Nice.

US based Ventev  has been making quality mobile accessories from cases to car chargers and smart portable battery chargers. They are quality made with a velvet touch grey colour texture complemented by orange highlights. You won’t see them in many brick and mortar stores in Canada but Ventev products are available online at  and 


I particularly like the new compact Ventev powercell 3015+ battery charger which also charges directly off an outlet and can charge two phones.Look for the Ventev Powercell 6000mAh workhorse portable battery that charges directly off a wall outlet with 1 and 2 Amp ports or the smart dashport 2100c charger with micro USB cord for charging two phones.


Canadian based farbe technik has a whopping 12,000mAh Dual USB dual Mobile Charger which automatically adjusts the charge rate to twice the speed for newer phones.  – White $79.99 and smartly designed wallet cases for popular phones through Best Buy.


This is a winner. A portable WD 2 TB USB 3.0 compact drive for backing up (with a free trial program) or simply dumping data on the go for $104 at Staples 


The Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner, $219.82 also at Staples, with 6400 DPI resolution for scanning old photos, negatives and slides. It has quickstart technology and can automatically upload scans to popular cloud services.

Kingston 256

For the ultimate SD camera memory card, check out the Kingston Technology 256GB SDXC Class 10 UHS-I, 90 Read 45 Write Flash Card for $366 on

Happy Father’s Day






Free TELUS WiFi hotspots for everyone and short attention spans

TELUS recently launched more than 8,000 free WiFi hotspots in B.C. and Alberta. The service is free to TELUS customers and non-TELUS customers. But TELUS costumers will have advantages.

The Wi-Fi network integrates seamlessly with TELUS’ 4G wireless network, automatically shifting TELUS smartphone customers to Wi-Fi and helping them moderate their use of wireless data.

You will find TELUS WiFi at  7-Eleven, Fountain Tire and Vancity credit union.

It’s also in BC Place and TELUS World of Science in Vancouver; the Saddledome and TELUS Spark in Calgary; TELUS World of Science in Edmonton; the Richmond Olympic Oval; and throughout the Whistler village and ski resort. TELUS is currently installing Wi-Fi in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium and the Victoria International Airport.

Continue reading Free TELUS WiFi hotspots for everyone and short attention spans

Adobe 2015 Creative Cloud now has in-app stock photos purchase

Adobe announced the 2015 release of Creative Cloud, an online subscription service for professional and enthusiast  designers, artists and photographers.

First, let’s start with newbies whose last Photoshop or InDesign was purchased at a store in a box with discs a while back, Adobe Creative Cloud is now your source to subscribe to a package of some 30 apps which you download online. Adobe maintains continuous program updates, including new features starting as of today and uses Adobe CreativeSync online to keep and sync files, fonts, photos, design assets, settings, metadata, Adobe Stock assets and more across all your desktop and iOS and Android smartphones. You can even share all these assets with co-workers.

Haze removal in Adobe 2015 Photoshop and Lightroom brings pictures back to life quickly
Haze removal in Adobe 2015 Photoshop and Lightroom brings pictures back to life quickly

Continue reading Adobe 2015 Creative Cloud now has in-app stock photos purchase

Quality Father’s Day gifts that walk the walk

Following up on my Global TV Sunday Morning News Fathers Tech Talk segment today, here are some more gift ideas on proven quality technology.

The Acer Aspite R13 is built for power and speed with unique swing frame that converts to a touch tablet, laptop working in cramped quarters
The Acer Aspite R13 is built for power and speed with unique swing frame that converts to a touch tablet, laptop working in cramped quarters

Continue reading Quality Father’s Day gifts that walk the walk

The ASUS contract-free ZenFone 2 is hard to resist

Last week I attended the much anticipated New York launch of the ASUS ZenFone 2, a new flagship phone that is heating up the competition between Chinese-made contract-free smartphones with all the bells and whistles and leading edge performance.

The ASUS ZenFone 2 has it all including nicely finished plastic with fine concentric ring surface

The Zenfone 2 features a 13 MP camera with ASUS-exclusive PixelMaster camera technology, a much improved ZenUI user interface, Dual-SIM (well yes but only one will take 4G SIMS) ) Dual-Active (DSDA) capability, and a new performance level against ANY phone.

Why? Under the hood of the Hull HD 5.5 IPS + screen is a 64-bit four-core Intel Atom Z3580 (‘Moorefield’) processor with up to 4GB RAM and an Intel LTE-Advanced XMM 7260 modem. ASUS convincingly showed how the world’s first 4 GB RAM smartphone could juggle between four memory intensive games, pausing between all four and not missing a beat when switching between them.

Continue reading The ASUS contract-free ZenFone 2 is hard to resist

An affordable BlackBerry for start-ups and old fans

The BlackBerry Leap, available today for as low as $0.00 with plan or $349 CAD outright, has lots of BlackBerry DNA. Minus a real keyboard for a large 5-inch screen and  some careful nip and tucking on the hardware side has made the Leap an affordable quality mid-tier smart phone. BlackBerry likes to market it for the young professional, meaning start-up companies who want BlackBerry device enterprise security advantages at a lower hardware cost. But I think it will also attract BB fans who have skipped a few upgrades.

Don’t let the price fool you. It has design smarts and functionality.

The BlackBerry Leap sans keyboard is clasically simpe borrowing features from pricier siblings
The BlackBerry Leap sans keyboard is clasically simpe borrowing features from pricier siblings

For starters, it feels just right to hold with a non-slip back and sides so it won’t slip from your hands, lap or dashboard. You can add micro-SD memory and oversized battery will easily make it last till the next morning.

The 8 MP main camera is welcome with more shooting control features and better than average picture quality. The images are crisp with good colour contrast, but the Full HD video does lose some smoothness in fast scenes – otherwise acceptable in normal shoots. You can snap a picture while in video mode too. Nice.

I like the selfie quality keeping you and things you are close to or holding in sharp focus on the first shot, as all phones should.

The Leap has a 5-inch touchscreen with a responsive keyboard, similar to higher tier siblings, including the unique feature of flipping accurate predictive words that appear on the keyboard upward to the text box. If you master this flip thing you will be a speed demon typist.

It features the same efficient multi-direction screen finger swipe to navigate between individual email or messaging accounts, a hub that shows all your communications, to open apps and an icon view of screen apps.

The screen reacts quickly to your commands, and although one notch down on “sharpness” and DPI tech terms, sharp enough with crispness and detail.

The Leap doesn’t have NFC but that will unlikely hold it back on upcoming store purchasing schemes.

BlackBerry’s BBM, available, in iOS Android OS, is superior to competitors allowing you to not just type, but use your phone and video through a WiFi connection, bypassing the phone’s cellular data connection.

As with its current siblings, the Leap has two sources for apps, BlackBerry World and Amazon Appstore with not as many apps as a full-fledged Android or iPhone but more than you would ever need.

BlackBerry Flex shell converts to a vertical or horizontal stand
BlackBerry Flex shell converts to a vertical or horizontal stand

The Leap’s legendary security features actually kick in when it is part of an IT managed company. Consumers still have to rely on their emails and texts to go through their cellco’s servers. But BalckBerry’s Donny Halliwell points out that the BlackBerry has never been jailbroken and its Blend feature lets you keep in touch with Mac and Windows laptops.

The Leap has the potential to find itself in the hands of frugal business users and fans on a budget looking for value.

Available at Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless, Sasktel, TELUS, WIND Mobile, ShopBlackBerry, and select Tbooth wireless and WIRELESSWAVE.

BlackBerry has also introduced three new Accessory Value Bundles for the Leap that include an unlocked BlackBerry Leap with accessories for additional savings, like the clever Flex shell and a sync/charging pod. Check out the BlackBerry Leap Efficiency Bundle, BlackBerry Leap Travel Bundle and BlackBerry Leap Power Bundle are available on ShopBlackBerry.

Check out my Global TV Sunday Morning News Tech Talk broadcast and Global News blog.

Two new phones – a tale of two cities

Two new phones are in the marketplace with a common goal but two vastly different stories.
The HTC One M9 with Android 5.0 Lollipop continues the tradition of the M8 with  top-tier design and performance improvements. It is one handsome smart phone.

The HTC One M9 offers quality and eclectic design for a top tier phone
The HTC One M9 offers quality and eclectic design for a top tier phone

A 20 megapixel camera and sapphire glass lens makes the M9 a serious contender for good quality photos from a phone. The familiar all metal curved case tapering to thin long edges is still there, making the M9 an easy phone to hold, but it does heat up more than the average phone, especially when watching YouTube vids.
To me the highlight is amazing sound with two front-facing Dolby Audio surround speakers making the M9 the best boom-box in a pocket.
HTC spared no expense with a brilliant 5.0” FHD TFT LCD 1920 x 1800 (real sharp) screen and an Octa-Core Snapdragon 810 Processor powered by a generous size 2900 mAh battery. It comes with 32GB memory but thankfully, it features a micro SD card slot which nowadays can accommodate up to a 200 GB memory upgrade. Nice.

Continue reading Two new phones – a tale of two cities


While Apple users scurry online to order the new Apple Watch, you would think Android phone users will be left behind with the current crop of Android-based smart watches.

Not so. As reported in The Korea Herald  this week, Samsung is planning to release a Gear 2 stand-alone variant with the ability to receive and make calls and receive notifications without the need of a smart phone.  Names like Samsung Gear Solo are surfacing in the rumour mill but Samsung patent filings for “Gear Solo” to the Korean IP Office kinda spills the beans.

Although slated for initial release in Korea, I have heard enough from other sources to indicate it will also reach North American shores, perhaps by summer.


Making sense of technology