January 31, 2015
CES 2015 - The Top Two Themes
Each year at CES, a few predominant themes emerge. There were several new types of products at CES 2015, including wireless chargers, driverless cars, wearables, and the Internet of Things. However, the top two themes that stood out to me were virtual reality and drones.
Virtual reality products have been around for years. However, the buzz at CES 2015 was that this is the year when virtual reality is finally going to break out. Oculus (the company Facebook bought for $2 billion) had one of the most popular booths as people waited in line for hours just to try on one of the latest headsets. Razer demoed their "OSVR" platform, an open source development kit for virtual reality devices. Both Oculus and Razer touted their latest gadgets as almost production-ready, meaning they plan to begin selling them to consumers this year.
Even with all the hype surrounding virtual reality at CES this year, I'm not optimistic. Virtual reality devices have failed every time they have been introduced to the mass market and I don't think this year will be an exception. The Oculus demos showed that the 3D visual and aural experience has improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade. But this doesn't fix the main problem with virtual reality: you have to wear a bulky headset.
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January 23, 2015
CES 2015 - C Stands for Curved TVs
CES might as well be called "TV Fest" because of the way televisions dominate the show each year. It seems that every year the TVs get bigger and thinner. All the major manufacturers display their latest proprietary technology that somehow makes their TVs better than all the competitors. It is a sight to behold.
Two prominent themes stood out among the TVs introduced at CES 2015 - 4K and curved.
HDTV is so 2012. When I visited CES in 2013, several companies were introducing their first production-ready 4K TVs. This January, I didn't see a single HD television except a few old ones for comparison purposes. Every new TV was 4K (with a resolution of at least 3840 x 2160). Make no mistake about it — 2015 is the year of 4K. You'll still be able to find cheap HDTVs for the next few years, but if you're buying a new large panel TV, 4K is the way to go.
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January 15, 2015
CES 2015 Overview
If you ever feel overwhelmed by negative news and start worrying about the future of the world, CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is the cure. Thousands of companies from around the world come together to showcase their latest products and innovations, providing inevitable hope for today and the future.
I had a chance to attend this year's CES last week and it was awesome. I was struck by how far technology has come in just the two years since I was at CES 2013. Not only have major leaps in audio and video taken place, but whole new product categories are now taking off.
New themes at this year's CES included driverless cars, drones, wearables, virtual reality, wireless charging, and the Internet of Things. Within each of these categories are several new products that are not just cool ideas, but are real devices already in production. It was encouraging to see so many companies creating completely new products and, as I've been known to say, "pushing technology forward."
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January 3, 2015
2014 Tech Predictions Revisited
Last December, I made my top five tech predictions for 2014. It's time to see how I fared.
- No Apple iWatch – This prediction turned out to be partially correct, since Apple isn't releasing a watch until this year. However, they did announce the "Apple Watch," which I didn't expect, so I guess this guess was half right.
- Apple iPhone with 5.5" Display – I nailed the dimensions of the new iPhone 6 Plus and was also right about the curved shape, but I expected Apple to name the new model something different. Another half right prediction.
- Bing > 30% Market Share – My boldest prediction didn't come true. Bing only climbed to about 20% market share. But Microsoft is still gaining on Google, which could make things interesting if the trend continues.
- Cloud Storage – Companies like Microsoft and Apple helped make cloud storage mainstream in 2014. Microsoft integrated OneDrive into Windows 8.1 and Apple integrated iCloud into OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). Both implementations now allow you to access a cloud-based file system, which means you can access your files stored in the cloud as easily as the files on your local disk. Pretty cool.
- 3D Printers – While 3D printers didn't become mainstream in 2014, they did start showing up in retail stores, like I predicted. Still, I don't know anyone who owns a 3D printer, so I can only take half a point for this one.
After doing the math, it looks like I got one prediction right and three predictions half right, for a total score of 2.5 out of 5. While 50% isn't great, my goal was to make predictions other people wouldn't, since there is no point in predicting the obvious. Most importantly, companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Tesla continued to push technology forward in 2014 and that benefits us all.
December 20, 2014
Review: Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display
About two months ago, I published an article about Apple's new iMac with a 5K display, alluding to the possibility that I might get one. Well, I did. There were two reasons why I made the decision: 1) A Mac specialist at my local Apple Store demonstrated the 5K iMac could handle two external Thunderbolt displays, and 2) I've learned from past experience to NEVER wait for Apple to release a new Mac Pro.
While I would have preferred a Mac Pro, the new iMac is pretty sweet. I upgraded every single component possible, which means my new iMac has a 4.0 GHz i7 processor, 32 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD, and an AMD Radeon M295X GPU with 4 GB of memory. I would have preferred 64 GB of RAM and more video memory, but overall, I'm pretty happy with the specs.
The 5K Retina Display
Of course, the most notable spec of the new iMac is the display. It supports full 5K resolution (5120 x 2880), which totals 14,745,600 pixels. If you add my two Thunderbolt displays (2560 x 1440 each), I have 22,118,400 pixels between the three displays. That means the GPU is rendering 22 megapixels in real-time, or 60 times per second, assuming a 60 Hz refresh rate. 22,118,400 pixels x 60 Hz = 1,327,104,000 pixels per second. That means my new iMac is processing over 1.3 billion pixels every second.
While that math is impressive, what's more important is how the 5K looks. Some visitors might remember that when I began using the iPhone 4 with a retina display, my computer monitor started looking blurry. I knew that one day high-res displays would make it to desktop computers, and that day has finally come. The iMac's 5K display is awesome. The text is crystal clear and the photo detail is incredible. The colors are especially vibrant on this new iMac and maximum brightness level is higher than what I need.
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