The Apple Watch Series 4 Excites More Than New iPhones

Apple Watch Series 4

Recently, this blog discussed how the new iPhones disappointed because there was no Apple Pencil support. Yours truly gave in and ordered the iPhone XS Max anyway. Instead, since I’m on a tight budget, I kind of wish I would have pre-ordered the Apple Watch Series 4, which looks like a pretty significant upgrade.

Bigger Screen

The most noticeable upgrade is the screen — which is 30 percent bigger due to less bezel space. And the increased screen resolution means that you’ll be able to read more information on your wrist without having to scroll. This doesn’t make the watch any heavier or larger either. Apple claims the larger screen and increased pixel density don’t decrease the battery life, but we’ll have to see when full tests come though.

EKG Capabilities

Some of my colleagues didn’t care much for the added EKG capabilitie on the new Watch, but they may when they get a little older. That’s right — the new Apple Watch can prevent heart attacks. The way this works is that the user puts their finger on the digital crown, which causes the Watch to pass a current across the chest to directly track electrical signals in the heart. After about 30 seconds, the user will receive a heart rhythm classification. All the information will be stored in the Apple Health app.

Louder Speaker

This is very important since the Apple Watch is now good enough to be used as a wrist phone. I’ve only used the Watch to answer phone calls when I didn’t have my iPhone close to me, and it was barely usable unless I was in a quiet environment. The integrated speaker is supposed to be 50 percent louder. At the rate Apple is going, there could be stereo speakers coming next year.

Better Performance

The Series 3 already significantly improved performance, but the Series 4, which is powered by Apple’s new S4 chip, is said to provide twice the speed. Of course, if you are using the LTE version, there could be some speed issues based on the performance of your network. However, it looks like the Apple Watch Series 4 is made for speed.

Apple Takes Control of Smartwatch Market

Apple was leading the smartwatch market just one year ago, but with the release of the Series 3 Watch with LTE, Apple got further ahead from such smartwatch manufacturers as Fitbit and Samsung. With the Series 4, expect even larger sales for Apple while other smartwatch makers disappear.

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iPhone XS And XS Max Disappoint With No Apple Pencil Support

What is being called the biggest iPhone announcement in years happened today. The Verge has the news.

“Apple has announced its next generation of iPhones, and one of them is by far the biggest iPhone yet. The two new models are called the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. They look almost identical to their predecessor…”

The article adds that there are some differences: Both phones are available in gold (unlike 2017), and that the XS Max is gigantic with a 6.5-inch screen. (The regular iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch screen like 2017′s iPhone X). Then, there’s the lower-cost iPhone XR, but it’s really not a major device and will certainly be ignored when compared to the two other models.

The OLED displays on both XS phones are said to have a better dynamic range. Apple also added in wider stereo sound from the speakers, even though the stereo speaker sound on the iPhone X is already great. As expected, Apple upgraded the processors in both phones. And both the front and rear cameras are said to be improved, even though the rear cameras don’t have three lenses like original “experts” predicted.

Click to play in YouTube.

We should all be happy about this, right? Well, there is one glowing thing that is missing, and it’s surprising the media hasn’t made a bigger deal out of it — Apple Pencil support. How can Apple release a 6.5-inch device and not try to compete with the 6.4-inch Galaxy Note 9 that is known for its stylus support? Apple customers have asked for Apple Pencil support on the iPhone since 2015, when Apple released the iPad Pro with the new Pencil.

Well, perhaps there shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. A couple weeks back, Mac Rumors said there may not be support for the Pencil.

“‘Apple’s upcoming 2018 iPhone models will not support the Apple Pencil because it does not offer a “good user experience,’ according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who shared the information in a note sent out to investors.”

Well, the one thing that may make up for all this is the fact that both phones will support a 120Hz refresh rate — the same one that has been available on the iPad Pro since June of 2017. This refresh rate is so good that it gives the illusion that your finger is stuck to the screen as you scroll. Everything is so fluid.

I’ll end up upgrading to the iPhone XS Max this month. But instead of being thrilled about it, I’m only passively excited. Unlike last year, I can’t say, “I just can’t wait till my new iPhone arrives!” Perhaps I’ll get more excited as the release date approaches.

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Where Are The Delivery Drones?

A couple years back, the possibility of drone delivery services were the talk of the internet. The Verge talked about how Amazon’s dream of free delivery could become profitable.

 ”If the company can manage to make its Prime Air drone delivery program a reality, delivering lightweight goods could actually become a weirdly profitable part of the business.”

The article added that there were still many technological and regulatory hurdles Amazon would need to get over before Prime Air takes off. And it appears that those hurdles have not been jumped over as I still don’t see small drones delivering my smartphone screen covers. But it’s possible we’re finally getting closer.

“The delivery drones market is expected to grow at a significant pace during the forecast period, due to the surging application of drones in the commercial sector,” Marketwatch tells us, adding that the experimentation phase for Amazon, UPS, and Google is currently in process. As the article notes, there are tough regulations (and for good reason) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and logistical issues that are restricting the use of these drones.

Click to play in YouTube.

Dropping off Package

Will the drones drop off packages at the exact spot they are requested? What happens if it a product is dropped off in the back yard, where the dog eats it? A worse situation would be if the dog or someone else is injured because of the drop-off. Wind can also be an issue when it comes to the product being delivered accurately.

Cost Effectiveness

Companies are hoping to save money with drone deliveries, but will they — at least in the beginning? There will probably be a lot of mistakes, which can end up costing the delivery companies a lot of money. Government regulations can also add to the cost. It will take a long time for delivery costs to start coming down in price.

Legal Issues

Drone accidents can lead to major lawsuits.

We live in a very litigious society today, and you can bet lawyers are looking forward to expanding their businesses with lawsuits. There will be privacy lawsuits from people who don’t like drones flying above their private property, lawsuits from drones crashing into windows, and even privacy lawsuits as drones are certain to collect data while flying. It could be one huge mess.

10 Years from Now

With all the downsides, it’s quite possible that in 10 years, all the quirks (including major accidents, major injuries, inaccurate drop-offs, etc) will be fixed and drone delivery will be the mainstream way we receive a lot of our merchandise. It sounds scary, but get used to it.

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Has Sony Officially Crumbled Bose With The WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones?

Sony’s new WH-1000XM3 headphones may be the best on the market.

Sony has emerged as  the best maker of headphones over the past couple of years. Last year’s WH-1000XM2 Bluetooth wireless headphones were a technological marvel — the Porsche of Bluetooth headphones. They offered the best noise cancellation a pair of headphones ever had, were very comfortable, and produced excellent battery life. And the sound quality was very impressive as well. Many people thought they were certainly better than the top Bluetooth headphones on the market, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones.

It looks like Sony has outdone itself in 2019. Last week, they offered a peak at the WH-1000MX3 headphones, which should start trickling into stores this week. According to CNET, they live up to the hype.

Sony's new Bluetooth wireless headphones are said to be very comfortable to wear.

“Sony WH-1000MX3 finally surpasses Bose as best noise-cancelling headphones,” a new article shouts, adding that there is not only a design change that makes these headphones more comfortable, but noise cancellation is top-notch, phone quality is great, and audio quality is fantastic.

Tech Radar is just as enthusiastic.

“A new addition to the Sony 1000X headphone family, the M3 wireless headphones are a substantial upgrade from the previous X2 model. Audio is crystal clear, noise-canceling technology is improved and they boast a new ergonomic design that promises a more comfortable fit.”

Unlike CNET, Tech Radar doesn’t notice a difference in the sound — and that’s okay since the M2 sound was nearly perfect for a wireless Bluetooth device. Tech Radar also claims that Sony’s new headphones are at least four times better than the M2 when it comes to noise-canceling performance. That’s hard to imagine since the noise cancellation on the M2 is already near perfect, despite some high pitch noises getting through.

Click to play in YouTube.

However, some early reviews on Reddit aren’t as thrilling. Some people claim that the new “dedicated” mic still picks up a lot of ambient noise. One user even claims that the noise cancellation is not better than it is on the M2. However, there are others who are happy with their new $349 headphones. This blog will let you know very soon if the WH-1000XM3 headphones do, indeed, live up to the hype — and if they’re worth an upgrade for those who own the WH-1000XM2 headphones.

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Apple Watch 4 Image Leaked

9to5Mac posted an image of the Apple Watch 4 that appears to be legit. The new watch is scheduled to be announced on September 12, the same day three new iPhones are announced. The Watch 4 certainly looks like, at least in terms of design, it will be a decent upgrade.

The new Watch features smaller bezels for a larger screen. There’s also a new hole below the Digital Crown, and some think it’s just another microphone. Perhaps it’s for stereo sound? The Digital Crown has a red outline rather than a full red dot. The new Watch will also have different faces.

Click to play in YouTube.

I predicted that the Apple Watch would take off, even though it took two years. Here’s what I said back in 2015.

“I initially bought the Apple Watch with plans to return it. I didn’t think I would ever find it so useful….However, it’s one that has helped me so much with so many things. In fact, I forgot to charge the battery on Monday night and decided to leave the Apple Watch at home. Unfortunately, I had withdraw symptoms.”

Luckily, the Apple Watch now provides twice the battery life and twice the speed, even though the initial speed wasn’t bad. And I still feel incomplete when I forget my Watch for the day, which only happens rarely.

These days, I see a lot of people wearing the Apple Watch. I think the fact that the third version offered cellular service really helped sales last year. However, I have cancelled my Watch cellular service because I realized I didn’t need it; my iPhone is with me everywhere I go and transfers information to the Watch faster than cellular service does.

Apple has done a great job with the Watch, but I’m hoping that we’ll get better apps in the future. I’m talking about apps that aren’t completely dependent on the iPhone. I would also like an “Always On” display — the type that Samsung puts on their devices. There are still times when I flick my wrist towards my eyes and the Watch doesn’t light up. Having the display show the time only, especially if it is at low brightness, won’t take up a huge amount of battery life.

But I’m really struggling to come up with ways to improve the Apple Watch, and that shows you how good it is. Of course, Apple can always make a wrist device that is larger and allows you to do everything you can on a smartphone. But that would also defeat the purpose of the Apple Watch, which is perhaps the most groundbreaking technical device of the past three years.

 

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Car Dash Cams Are Becoming Mainstream

On the way back from Orange County, CA, I noticed a car that read, “Smile, you’re on Dash Cam.” To be honest, it’s the first time I ever thought of a car dash cam. I knew police used them, but I didn’t think much about it. I was frustrated that even though I write about technology, I never even considered discussing the importance of dash cams, though I did write about the importance of digital body cams.

The most obvious reason for using a dash cam is obvious — accidents. Sometimes, it’s not very clear who’s fault an accident is, and there are crash-for-cash scams that are on the rise. The most popular scam is when the driver suddenly hits the breaks so another car can hit them. Another reason is to report dangerous drivers — the type that throw bottles at other drivers and, in the worst case scenarios, take out a gun.

Dash cams are also good for parents, who can record their child’s road trip while still having a peace of mind. Of course, if our car had a dash cam when I first started driving, I don’t think I would live to write this article. But, enough about me — let’s get to two of the most popular dash cams for your car.

BlackVue DR650S-2CH 32G Dash Cam

BlackVue's DR650S-2CH is a world-class dash cam.

This $379 high-end dash cam is for professional drivers who absolutely need everything recorded. It’s also for those who need to be able to watch their drivers in real time. The front camera records stuff in 1080 HD quality, while the rear unit records in 720p. It also has incident detection technology that automatically flags the appropriate video footage.

The BlackVue’s clear advantage over some of the rivals listed here is its over-the-cloud abilities, which mean drivers can check live footage from the car via a smartphone, laptop or PC, even when it’s parked.

Z-Edge Z3

The Z-Edge Z3 is the best dash cam for its value.

If you don’t need all the features the BlackVue has, there is the much cheaper Z-Edge Z3 ($89) that takes HD images and has a broad 145-degree field of view. The interface is also sharp. Like others, this camera powers up instantly and starts recording once you turn the engine on.

The Z-Edge Z3 does have incident detection, but it’s not as reliable as the more expensive cameras. Still, this is the best car dash cam for its value.

The Future

Dash cams are still in their infancy. And you can bet that they will not only go way down in price, but will be more reliable as well.

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What’s Bose Cooking Up?

Bose SoundWear Companion Wireless Speaker

Bose is quite an interesting (and great) company. You never know what they are going to release until they actually announce it. Sometimes, like with the Bose QuietComfort 35 Bluetooth wireless headphones, you don’t find out until the day they are actually released.

The last year has been great for Bose. I’m still crazy about the Bose SoundWear wearable speaker, despite its price and the fact it slides around while on your neck. I’m even crazier about the Bose SleepBuds, which are groundbreaking — even if this product hasn’t quite penetrated the market yet. So, I tried to find out what other products the audio giant will release this year.

One user on Reddit found a credible link to the Home Speaker 500, which appears to be the SoundTouch 10 replacement. One user predicted it would have advanced voice integration. Bose could finally compete with Sonos and other speaker makers. I would love for the speaker to be portable like the Libratone ZIPP.

2016′s QuietControl 30 neckband wireless headphones are the only really bad headphones Bose has put out in years. They arrived with several quality control problems, and they still are plagued with low-quality phone calls. To make things worse, these headphones have a hard time staying on the neck. It’s quite possible that Bose will upgrade these by the end of 2018 and they will be called the QuietControl 40. Perhaps we’ll get Bluetooth 5.0, better phone controls, and more Bose signature sound.

The SoundSport Free wireless earbuds can use an update.

Then, there are 2017′s SoundSport Free Wireless Earbuds. For the most part, they are a noble effort from Bose, but lack many things like noise isolation (or even full noise cancellation), decent phone quality, and comfortable controls. Just as Jabra has made improvements with their earbuds this year, Bose will probably do the same. The market is really big now for wireless earbuds, and Bose would be smart to release an update to theirs by the end of 2018.

The Bose product that everybody is waiting for is the update to the QuietComfort 35 II Bluetooth wireless headphones. The fact they are on sale for $299 almost everywhere is certainly a sign that the QuietComfort 35 III headphones are coming….or will they just be called the QuietComfort 45 headphones? This appears to be Bose’s flagship product. Given that the 35 IIs are almost perfect, it’s hard to imagine what the new update will be like.

Bose continues to be one of the most (if not the most) innovative audio companies in the world. Some critics don’t like Bose because they think Bose products are overpriced and not of the highest quality. Judging by sales receipts, customers certainly disagree.

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Full Review: Huawei MateBook X Pro Is A Legit MacBook Pro Alternative

Huawei MateBook X Pro

I gave my first impressions of this device last week, and they were positive. Now that I’ve been testing the Huawei MateBook X Pro for more than a week, I can comfortably say it’s the best notebook I’ve tested in the past two years.

The unit that I’m reviewing has an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It can be purchased at the Microsoft Store for $1499, but it’s actually been pretty  hard to find. There is certainly a reason for this.

Build and Design

The MateBook X Pro can easily be mistaken for a MacBook Pro at first — the speaker grilles are on the side, the device comes in space gray, the touchpad is huge, and the device is very thin. But that’s where the comparison stops.

Unlike the MacBook Pro, Huawei has been able to fit a USB-A port on the rear right. They’ve also been able to fit in what feels like the best keyboard on a notebook device. They are just like Butterfly keys except they have a little bit of travel. There isn’t much of a “click” to them, but there really doesn’t need to be. They feel very natural and I can type faster on this keyboard than the one on the MacBook Pro.

Display

The MateBook X Pro has an absolutely stunning 13.9 inch 3000 x 2000 pixel display. It reminds me of the MacBook Pro’s display because it’s contrast ratio is almost as good. I thought the 3:2 aspect ratio would be a disability to the device, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Colors are bright and vivid, and color saturation can be manipulated.

Perhaps the most satisfying part of the screen is that there is very little bezel space on the side. It’s even better than the “Infinity” screen of Dell’s XPS 13 or XPS 15. The only problem is that it doesn’t leave room for a webcam, which is actually hidden under one of the keys. If the webcam is a serious issue for you, perhaps you may want to stay away from the X Pro. The rest of us will just deal with people looking at our chins, buy a separate webcam (which can be purchased for under $20), or use the webcam on other devices, such as our phones.

The MateBook X Pro is a  touchscreen device, although touching the screen will leave visible fingerprints. Unfortunately it’s not compatible with any digital ink stylus, Still, the MateBook X Pro’s  display is the best that’s ever been on a PC notebook device.

Performance

It’s hard to believe that Huawei has been able to fit in an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor in this thing, let alone 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Oh, there’s also a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card for some gaming. I’ve done 4K video editing with Adobe Premiere, edited huge files in Photoshop, and have even played some games (but had to set at lower resolutions). The MateBook X Pro handles all of this well, although the device can get somewhat hot, and you can definitely hear the fan (though it doesn’t produce the annoying coil whine sound).

Touchpad

The touchpad on the X Pro looks very similar to one on a MacBook Pro, but it’s not as comfortable. Don’t get me wrong — it’s still great. But your fingers may hurt a little bit after clicking so many times. It’s not a deal breaker, and the touchpad is certainly better than just about any on a PC computer. But since Huawei is trying to compete with the MacBook Pro, this is one of the only areas this notebook loses.

The Speakers!

The audio quality on this computer is absolutely superb. It has four speakers that give life to music and movies. While the sound doesn’t come to life as much as it does on the 2018 MacBook Pro (15-inch), it certainly beats that of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s amazing how Huawei is able to put so much bass in this ultra-thin device. There is also barely any distortion — even at the highest volume settings.

Battery Life

Usually, one shouldn’t expect an ultra-thin 14-inch notebook that has an Intel Core i7 processor and a discreet graphics chip to have all-day battery life. But streaming a video with the brightness set at 75 percent (which is more than bright enough on this), I was able to get almost 8 hours without having to recharge. Most users will probably get 10 or 11 hours of use in a single charge. Considering the power of this notebook, the battery life is outstanding. 

Conclusion

The MateBook X Pro is definitely the most significant notebook of 2018. Some may consider it a MacBook Pro clone, but — in many ways — it beats any notebook Apple has ever made. You may have a difficult time finding this in stores, but you will be very happy once you get your hands (and eyes) on it.

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First Impressions: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Is Just Like Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 started making its appearance in several stores at the end of last week. I walked into an AT&T store and I honestly thought they made a mistake of putting the Galaxy Note 8 in the Galaxy Note 9 slot. I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference until I saw the yellow S Pen.

Don’t get me wrong — if you don’t have the Galaxy Note 8, this phone is a great upgrade. However, for the first time in several years, I didn’t find myself walking out of the store saying, “I can’t wait to get that phone.”

I love the stereo speakers — they sound just as good as the iPhone X speakers and provide some “oomph.” Many who have given their first impressions of the Note 9 don’t think this is a big enough change to write about. It is. The stereo speakers allow you to enjoy the multimedia experience without headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.

The screen is slightly larger (6.4 inches compared to the Note 8′s 6.3 inches), but it’s hard to notice since the complete phone is slightly smaller. The 18.5:9 aspect ratio is still too narrow for decent note-taking. However,  the S Pen is more than a stylus this time around; it’s a Bluetooth device that can operate the phone from a distance. That means you can take snapshots, and taking a selfie becomes a lot easier. You can also switch between front and rear cameras.

The Note 9 has an outstanding dual-lens camera.

And, speaking of cameras, it’s the same one as the Galaxy S9 — which isn’t a bad thing as that camera not only takes great pictures, but fantastic videos as well. The Note 9 has a dual-lens camera that especially takes great pictures in low-lit situations — sometimes even better than the iPhone X. The image stabilization also works very well. Still, I don’t think the camera can shoot anything as good as the iPhone X can in “Portrait” mode.

I didn’t get to test the battery life, but the 4,000mAh battery scares me. It’s needed because of the extra power the Note 9 consumes, but I also think back to 3,500mAh battery in the Note 7 and how that caused explosions. It’s highly likely that Samsung did some extensive testing so something like that won’t happen again.

I made a test phone call with the device and love how my co-worker’s voice came though so clearly in the stereo speakers. We could both hear each other in the AT&T store’s loud environment. I didn’t get to test phone calls with different Bluetooth wireless headsets, but will do so when I get a review unit.

Once again, Samsung didn’t do anything wrong here. They took an already great device and refined it to make it even better. But will this be enough to get enough people to purchase the Note 9?

 

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First Impressions: Huawei MateBook X Pro Is MacBook Pro Of PC World

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is another technology secret I didn’t initially pay attention to. The Verge calls it “the best laptop right now” and noted that you won’t find another laptop with more bang for your buck. Forbes also loves the device and explains how the keyboard is among the best laptop keyboards on the market. I’ve also heard from industry friends who have kept telling me that the MateBook X Pro is something I have to try.

On Thursday, I received my review unit. I’ve only used it for one day, but I am largely impressed. The notebook doesn’t run that well out of the box; one must update graphic drivers, audio drivers, etc. But once the updates are completed, the MateBook X Pro feels like a dream machine. A full review will be posted within the next week. However, here are some of my first impressions of the unit that has an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD ($1499).

The MateBook X Pro has a great keyboard.
  • A 14-inch notebook that fits in the chases of a 12-inch one. Barely any screen bezel. Reminds me a little bit of the Dell XPS 13.
  • The Dolby Atmos speakers on this thing are amazing. They are just as good as the speakers on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
  • The keys are very short, but feel comfortable. They are better than the keys on the MacBook Pro, although they don’t offer the same “crunch” feeling.
  • The 3:2 screen ratio is a little hard to get used to, especially when watching movies. This type of screen works well on a tablet that you can operate in portrait mode such as the Surface Pro. It’s not a deal breaker here, but it just feels weird.
  • The 13.9-inch 3K screen is beautiful. It offers almost as good of a contrast ratio as that on the MacBook Pro. There is absolutely no backlight bleed on my test unit.
  • The touchpad is great, but not fantastic like it is on the Dell XPS laptops or the MacBook Pros. It’s quite huge.

The MateBook X Pro is a premium device.

  • For such a light computer, this Huawei laptop packs in a lot of punches. It has a discreet graphics chip for light gaming, and it can edit 4K videos with Adobe Premiere decently.
  • This looks so much like a MacBook Pro, but isn’t an exact MacBook Pro clone.
  • The keys, unfortunately, don’t stay lit unless you are pressing them. This could create a minor problem when using the X Pro in a very dark environment.
  • Right now, battery life seems very good, but not great.
  • This computer just oozes quality in every single way.
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