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Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Gently Down the Stream
October 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday rolled out its Music Unlimited cut-rate subscription streaming service, available on its Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices for as little as $4 a month for a single device. Setting a low-entry price point "is a logical move, given that the company has invested heavily into the AI and voice recognition powering Alexa," said IHS Markit analyst Paul Erickson.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Consumers Warned of Exploding Samsung Washers
October 8, 2016
That's the situation Samsung found itself in last week when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about certain top-load washing machines made by the company between March 2011 and April 2016. "CPSC is advising consumers to only use the delicate cycle when washing bedding, water-resistant and bulky items," reads a statement at the commission's website.
Google: There's No Hub Like Home
October 6, 2016
Google on Tuesday officially launched Google Home, its long-awaited wireless hub. Google Home is an interactive personal assistant and entertainment center that takes full advantage of the company's deep advantages in Web search, AI and machine learning. Google's vision is to place a customized version of its Google Assistant technology into the hands of every customer.
IoT Could Become Playground for Botnets Gone Wild
October 6, 2016
The source code for Mirai, the malware behind the botnet that launched a massive attack on the Krebs on Security website -- the largest DDoS attack on record -- has been released in the wild, according to Brian Krebs. A hacker who goes by the handle "Anna-senpai," apparently because of increased scrutiny from the cybersec industry, last week announced the release on Hackforums, Krebs said.
Google Plasters Its Name on a New Hardware Collection
October 5, 2016
Google on Tuesday unveiled a new smartphone and home hub that squarely aim at products from market leaders Apple and Amazon. The company's new branded smartphone, called "Pixel," marks a departure from past efforts. Up to now, Google's Nexus phones were made by a variety of manufacturers that sold them under their brands. "Google is trying to position itself as a complete supplier," said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr.
Toyota Positions Kirobo Mini as Tiny Traveling Companion
October 3, 2016
Gearing up for this week's CEATEC trade show in Tokyo, Toyota on Monday announced that its compact-sized Kirobo Mini, pitched as a "communication partner," will go on sale early next year in Japan. The Mini is a smaller version of the astronaut robot Kirobo, which visited the International Space Station in 2013. The Kirobo Mini is meant to take part in more down-to-earth affairs.
The Lack of Strategic Thinking in Election 2016
October 3, 2016
One of the problems facing the technology industry right now is the critical lack of strategic thinking. Hedge fund managers and activist investors increasingly are forcing tactical decisions that raise stock prices over the short term, largely by destroying the firm's long-term viability. Most top executives don't seem to understand they are destroying their companies until it's too late.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way
October 1, 2016
Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.
How China Could Take Over the World's Tech and Automotive Markets
September 12, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu recently made an announcement with regard to self-driving cars that deserves closer attention. China currently is behind the U.S. in automotive technology, but it has passed the U.S. and Japan in automobile production -- I actually thought Japan was still ahead. China is producing twice the number of cars the U.S. is producing right now.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Desks, New-Wave Gaming, and Roaming Routers
September 7, 2016
After a long, laborious process and a lot of scraping paint splotches from the floor, the office space in my new apartment is ready for me, and I will soon no longer need to write this column from my kitchen table. So, I'm in the market for a desk. With my nascent interest in standing desks, the Gaze Desk seems a decent option. It switches between standing and seated modes with a button press.
Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music
September 1, 2016
Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a $10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon's Echo device. Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers.
Netgear's Orbi WiFi Promises Strong Signal All Through the House
August 23, 2016
Netgear on Monday announced the Orbi WiFi System, designed to eliminate dead spots in smart homes. Orbi's system "is similar to using a network extender, but Netgear has improved on this approach with a dedicated band for communication with the satellite devices," explained Bill Ablondi, a research director at Strategy Analytics. The initial Orbi system will be available in September for $400.
Gadget Ogling: Levitating Smart Things, Making WiFi-Perfect Wine, and Staying Safe While Solo
August 16, 2016
Lift is an antigravity charger for Apple Watch and Pebble. The charger is wireless, so there's almost no clutter involved -- except, I suppose, when you have to charge the charger. The watch wraps around a portable battery pack, which the base keeps elevated using magnets. There's a Pro version of the base, which you can use as an iPhone or iPad stand and charger.
Nucleus Home Intercom Gets Alexa Advantage
August 8, 2016
The smart home of the future could be a wee bit smarter with the addition of the Alexa-powered connected intercom system Nucleus announced last week. The Nucleus intercom, which last fall made its debut without Alexa, is a tablet that connects to a home network through WiFi or Ethernet to allow family members to communicate with each other both inside and outside the home.
Alexa Takes On Smart Home Security Responsibilities
August 5, 2016
Millions of customers using Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology now can add locks that can be controlled remotely to the growing ecosystem of smart home capabilities. August Home last week announced that Amazon's line of voice-assisted products, including the Echo, now support its smart products, allowing users to lock and unlock their doors using voice commands.
Gadget Ogling: Pokémon Go Drones, New Old Nintendo, and Snowden-Secured Smartphones
August 2, 2016
Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality smartphone game that's been eating away at the fabric of society in recent weeks, is enormously fun. I enjoy the mechanics, and that it pushes me to go on longer walks. That's all well and good in the nicer weather, but when there's two feet of snow, I don't really want to traipse around so much. That's why Pokédrone might be my new favorite thing.
Gadget Ogling: Pretty Printers, Bargain Smartwatches, and Font Finders
July 26, 2016
Paper, designed by Ludwig Rensch, is sadly a concept for now. It holds a ream of paper to make loading the printing material easier than shuffling with a stack of loose leafs. It can scan documents and send them to your phone if you desire. It can make copies. There's a string of LEDs to show how much ink is left for each color, and there's even a handle on top .
Musk Plots Out Tesla's Next 10 Years
July 22, 2016
Elon Musk has unveiled a second master plan for Tesla, a follow-up to the vision he shared 10 years ago. The original master plan is now in the final stages of execution. The refresh sketches out a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that is about more than vehicles. Musk also plans to advance an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product and create a ride-sharing program, among other things.
Gadget Ogling: Purely Personal Air, Transparent Audio, and Wah-Pedaling Shoes
July 18, 2016
I was diagnosed with mild asthma as a kid. I don't take any medication, yet knowing that illness lives in my respiratory system means I try to be especially conscious of what I'm breathing. Air quality is difficult to control, so a personal air purifier is something that fundamentally interests me. Wynd filters allergens, dust, smoke and other pollutants.
Nest Cam Braves the Great Outdoors
July 15, 2016
Nest has introduced an outdoor surveillance camera to complement its indoor Nest Cam. The Nest Cam Outdoor will go on sale this fall for $199. It is easy to mount on any outdoor surface, according to the company, and even has a magnetic base for attaching to gutters. The camera, which resembles a unit of track lighting, can capture 1080p video and has live-streaming and two-way audio capabilities.
Leveraging IoT to Redefine Your Business
July 8, 2016
While most businesses are focusing their Internet of Things efforts on areas that will generate immediate cost-savings and operating efficiencies, a number of IoT pioneers already are leveraging a new generation of connected products to fundamentally change their business models. There is no question that the safest bet in today's IoT environment is targeting narrowly defined deployments.
Musk Defends Autopilot Safety Record Following Fatal Crash
July 7, 2016
CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday accused Fortune magazine of incorrectly reporting Tesla Motors' handling of a fatal accident that involved a Tesla Model S. The incident took place in May. Musk's online post is the latest salvo in a war of wars between Fortune and Tesla. Musk accused Fortune, in essence, of jumping the gun in its reporting of Tesla's response to the accident.
Gadget Ogling: Artsy Audio, Stress Detectives, and Wee Violins
July 2, 2016
I don't think any product range beats speakers for running the design gamut from gorgeous to ghastly. There are so many to choose from, in all shapes, sizes and colors, that there's something for everyone -- plus a few things no one should buy. But what if your sound system were a piece of art, literally? Case of Bass has created a boombox print that houses a speaker system in a shadow box.
Nothing Ghostly About Devialet's Phantom Gold Sound
June 30, 2016
Devialet, the French company that has built a reputation in the audio market for high-end wireless speakers, on Tuesday announced its newest addition: the $3,000 Phantom Gold. The Phantom Gold looks something like a futuristic Faberge egg, and it's priced like one, too. That said, it has some ear-pleasing and ear-splitting specs. Devialet has given it a power boost to 4,500 watts.
Amazon Pushes Dash Buttons as Customers Give Them the Gong
June 29, 2016
Amazon on Tuesday announced a wide expansion of its Dash Button on-touch retail sales program, despite indications of relatively low acceptance among its key base of Prime customers. The company added more than 50 retail products to its lineup of Dash thumb-drive size buttons, which let consumers reorder things like detergent and toilet tissue when their supply is getting low.
Gadget Ogling: Pliable Phones, Clever Kicks, and Sumptuous Speakers
June 21, 2016
Lenovo has peeled back the curtain on a smartphone that you can wrap around your wrist, sporting a full-color screen. The "CPlus," as Lenovo calls the prototype, runs Android and has a 4.26-inch display. It will be available in 12 colors if and when it goes on sale. It's clear bendable smartphones will be a viable consumer product in the near future.
Plume Podifies Home WiFi
June 21, 2016
Plume last week introduced its eponymous self-optimizing WiFi system for the home. Plume adapts in real life to the different network demands made by various devices and ensures that each gets the fastest speeds possible, according to the company. The recommended setup is one pod per room and connecting space, such as a hallway, plus any cable or DSL modem or any modem/router combination.
Rubin Sees AI Quantum Computer Running the Show
June 15, 2016
Just one quantum computer running artificial intelligence algorithms would be capable of connecting pretty much all the devices on the planet, Android creator Andy Rubin said Tuesday. Rubin, who also launched Google's efforts in robotics, is now CEO of Playground, which together with Redpoint Ventures has invested in an unnamed startup working on quantum computing.
Devs Light Up for Alexa
June 10, 2016
Amazon last week announced the availability of more than 1,000 different skills for its Alexa voice assistant technology. Third-party developers have created the vast array of new capabilities for the highly popular line of consumer products that use Alexa, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and Amazon Fire. The announcement comes less than a year after Amazon released the Alexa Skills Kit.
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What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.