February 28, 2014
Review: Comcast X1
For the past several years, I have not been too fond of Comcast. I have ranted about the way Comcast hinders rather than advances technology and have even called Comcast the worst company in the world.
A few months ago, I heard about Comcast's brand new X1 cable TV service. I was intrigued but skeptical. My last Comcast "upgrade" was more of a downgrade and didn't offer any new features. However, from what I read and heard about X1, it seemed pretty revolutionary, which is not a word I have ever used to describe anything from Comcast. I had nothing to lose, so I switched to the new service.
When I used X1 the first time, I was blown away. The improvement is analogous to a friend of mine who owned a 1986 Saab 900 and then bought a brand new 2007 Infiniti G35. It's hard to even compare X1 to Comcast's previous cable TV interface. X1 is that much better.
Instead of another incremental change to a guide system designed in the 1970s, X1 brings Comcast's cable service to the modern age. It provides a completely new user interface with large icons, strong visual appeal, and believe it or not, intuitive navigation. Simply press the "xfinity" button and you can jump to the Guide, view saved recordings, browse On Demand shows, search for content, or access built-in apps. The interface is highly responsive and allows you to browse through any of these categories with ease, similar to how you would navigate a tablet.
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February 25, 2014
Microsoft OneDrive Brings Cloud Storage to the Masses
I received the following email from Microsoft a few days ago inviting me to try OneDrive, their free online storage service.
OneDrive appears to be a replacement for SkyDrive, their first cloud storage attempt, which was not too successful. So is this just another renamed Microsoft product doomed to fail or does it have potential?
I'm happy to say that, based on my experience, the OneDrive service looks very promising. Unlike, Apple's iCloud, OneDrive allows you to store all types of documents online, not just specific file types like images and videos. It can also be used with just about any device, including Macs, Windows PCs, and Android devices (the hardware choices in the picture above were not accidental).
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January 31, 2014
Review: Sony Clock Radio with Lightning Connector
My old Sony clock radio served me well for many years. I used it every day – or night, I should say – as it was my iPhone 4's primary charging station. However, when I bought my iPhone 5 in September, 2012, I couldn't use it with my Sony clock radio, since it had the new lightning connector.
For awhile, it was impossible to even get an adapter from Apple (as some of you early adopters may remember), so I had to plug my iPhone into the wall each night. It was a major first world problem.
After a few months, I was finally able to get an adapter from Apple and connected my iPhone to the old clock radio via the aesthetically atrocious method shown at the bottom of this review.
This lasted a few months until Sony finally released an iPhone 5-compatible clock radio – model ICFCS15IPSILN. That's not the serial number, that is the model name. Sony might as well just name their electronics with Japanese characters, since that would be easier to remember. Whatever the case, I bought the Sony's latest clock radio and my iPhone 5 had a new home.
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January 13, 2014
Google Buys Nest
Your house may soon get a lot smarter. Today, Google announced it is acquiring Nest, a company that makes "smart" thermostats. While Google acquires several companies each year, this one stood out to me for two reasons.
1) The price: $3.2 billion. That is a hefty price tag and represents the potential Google sees in Nest's products.
2) Google's role in the future of smart homes. For several years, smart homes have been more of an idea than a reality. I think Google's foray into this market will bring smart homes to the masses.
So what exactly is a smart home? It's a home where you can control just about everything remotely, such as the lighting, temperature, windows, blinds, and even individual appliances. They also communicate with your computer, smartphone, or tablet. For example, a smart carbon monoxide detector can send an alert to your phone and provide you with instructions on what to do if high CO levels are detected. Many "smart" devices can automatically adapt to their surroundings as well. For instance, smart blinds can automatically close when it is sunny and raise themselves when it is cloudy to improve energy efficiency.
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December 31, 2013
2014 Tech Predictions
2013 was another exciting year in technology. Several of my predictions came true, though some of my guesses were not especially accurate. Hopefully, my accuracy will improve for 2014. Here are my top five predictions for the coming year.
- Apple iWatch – I believe Apple will NOT introduce the iWatch, or a wearable touchscreen watch in 2014. Why? Because it's a useless device.
- Apple iPhone – Of course Apple will release a new iPhone in the next twelve months. But what will it look like? I think it will be larger (perhaps with a 5.5" screen) and will have a curved shape that fits more comfortably in your hand than the current model. I also think Apple may change their naming scheme. Instead of naming the new model "iPhone 6," Apple might name it something like "iPhone LS" for "large screen."
- Bing – I think Bing will continue to gain ground in search engine market, thanks to increased adoption of Windows 8 and sales of Xbox One devices. I predict that by the end of 2014, Bing will power over 30% of searches in the U.S.
- Cloud Storage – For the past few years, cloud computing has been all the rage for large businesses and organizations. However, it has not yet caught on with consumers. With all the different devices people are using now, I think a central cloud-based storage location for data would make a lot of sense. My guess is that 2014 will be the year where this idea becomes a reality.
- 3D Printers – This technology seems like it's from the future, but like the Samsung slogan says, it's already here. I think 3D printers will make noticeable inroads into the consumer market in 2014, meaning you'll see models available at retail stores like Staples and Best Buy before the end of the year.
So those are my thoughts on 2014. If you have any technology-related predictions for 2014, please feel free to post them in the comments below.
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