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Is This VR's Mainstream Moment?
November 24, 2015
Samsung last week began fulfilling orders for its Oculus-power Gear VR headset, giving U.S. consumers their first taste of Oculus VR's brand of virtual reality. International preorders have opened as well. It won't be until early next year that Oculus VR begins shipping its full-featured Oculus Rift headset, but as a Gear VR collaborator, it has been touting Samsung's mobile-driven headset.
Gadget Ogling: A Dumb Watch Dock, a Smart VR Phone Case, and a Fantastic Fireball Thrower
November 21, 2015
No longer leaving it up to third-party companies to create charging docks for its Apple Watch, Apple has released its own official dock. It allows Watch owners to rest the smartwatch in nightstand mode -- a feature introduced in the latest version of the operating system that essentially turns the Watch into a bedside clock -- without tangling it up with the standard magnetic charger.
Time for Apple to Broaden Its Model?
November 16, 2015
Apple shares have been sliding since Credit Suisse last week warned of weaker-than-expected iPhone 6s demand. Credit Suisse lowered its earnings estimates for calendar year 2016 by 6 percent, based on Apple cutting component orders by as much as 10 percent due to the weak demand. Credit Suisse lowered its calendar year estimates to 222 million units from 242 million units.
BlackBerry's Priv Puzzles the Tech World
November 9, 2015
BlackBerry on Friday released its Priv smartphone, its first Android-based device. The Android 5.1.1 Lollipop slider is driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor and an Adreno 418 GPU. It's stocked with 3 GB of low-power RAM and 32 GB of storage. There's an 18-MP shooter on its backside and a 2-MP chat cam on its face.
Why Tablets Are Tanking
November 9, 2015
Boy, we really have gone full circle on tablets -- and not just once. Back when the Windows tablets first came to market, a whole bunch of us predicted it wouldn't be long before they replaced all of the notebooks. I don't think they even made it to 10 percent before the tablet market collapsed, and the pre-existing forms reclaimed their shares. Then the iPad launched.
Gadget Ogling: An Emotional Keyboard, a Puzzling Phone, and Exquisite Headphones
November 7, 2015
To communicate online in 2015 is to have at least a passing awareness of emoji -- the colorful symbols that are endemic in social media and text messages. Inputting emoji into a post or message from a computer is often awkward, though this item might help. EmojiWorks has a physical keyboard which, at the touch of a modifier -- think ctrl, alt or command -- you can use to type emoji.
Tablets Losing Ground to Big Smartphones, Light PCs
October 30, 2015
Global demand for tablets continued a year-long slide, as shipments fell for the fourth consecutive quarter amid signs of market saturation in North America, Asia and Western Europe, IDC noted in a report released Thursday. Worldwide shipments fell 12.6 percent year-over-year to 48.6 million during the third quarter, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.
Gadget Ogling: A Deluxe Dock, a Crafty Computer, and a T-rific Tablet Stand
October 24, 2015
Beddi is an alarm clock smartphone dock that has a few tricks to elevate it above others of its ilk. The system, from Witti, works with both iOS and Android devices, which you place on top and recharge with your own cable. Two things are really interesting: the price and the programmable buttons. As for the latter, that means using Bluetooth to pair your smartphone with Beddi's companion app.
Digital Assistants Sap Drivers' Attention
October 23, 2015
Up to 27 seconds of residual distraction trails use of digital assistant software and infotainment systems in automobiles, the University of Utah reported Thursday. The report follows a similar set of studies done last year that concluded that infotainment systems distract drivers. This time, researchers looked at the aftereffects of driving while using infotainment systems and digital assistants.
Google's Nexus 6P and 5X Win Some Love
October 19, 2015
The reviews are out for Google's Nexus 6P and 5X, unveiled late last month, and they can be summed up in two words: Love them! They're described as "the best Nexus devices ever produced" and "Google's answer to Apple's iPhones," but those tired phrases are rolled out with every new Nexus or flagship Android smartphone, so what else is new? The camera, for one.
Boffins Demo Remote Control of Siri, Google Now
October 19, 2015
Siri and other smartphone digital assistants may do your bidding -- but they may do a hijacker's as well. That's what two researchers discovered when they began to tinker with the effects of radio waves on smartphones. They could use the waves to issue commands to any Android or iOS phone running Google Now or Siri. The researchers first aired their findings at a Paris conference this summer.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Smartphone Gaming, Modular Watches, and Vampiric Charging Cables
October 17, 2015
I don't enjoy playing complex games on a smartphone. Using the screen as both input and output device makes matters complicated, so I tend to steer clear of any game that requires more than single taps or simple swipes. There are a number of game controllers around for smartphones, however, and the Satechi Wireless Gamepad, a Bluetooth device, is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows phones.
Gadget Ogling: A Fascinating Book, Stunning Speakers, and Empowering Tables
October 10, 2015
Right after Google unveiled the first tablet it created entirely in-house, Microsoft has gone them one better. Its Surface Book is a high-end laptop that falls in line with the Surface ethos. It's a convertible that works in tablet format, but its keyboard appears vastly superior to the ones available for other Surface devices. From a specs standpoint, the Surface Book seems to pack the goods.
Verizon Supercookie to Let Advertisers Gorge on Customer Data
October 8, 2015
Verizon has announced it will begin sharing customer data with its AOL Advertising Network, triggering concerns about privacy and customer tracking. AOL will use Verizon's supercookie -- which is difficult to get rid of -- to track users. "This is a huge privacy problem, but carriers have never really cared that much about customer satisfaction," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Philips Smart Hub Embraces Siri, HomeKit
October 7, 2015
Philips on Monday unveiled Hue Bridge 2.0., which integrates the company's smart home products and iOS's HomeKit, giving users the ability to dictate to smart things from a Siri-enabled smartphone. Replacing its round predecessor, the square Hue Bridge 2.0 is compatible with Philips' legacy smart lights and controls. The hub will support new smart products from Philips for the foreseeable future.
Microsoft Throws the Book at Apple
October 6, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday held an event in New York City where it unveiled a laptop, a tablet, three Lumia smartphones and a fitness band -- all running Windows 10 -- along with a slew of other products. It also announced new apps for Windows 10, including Box, Facebook, Instagram, Flipagram, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Uber. All of the apps will be available on the new devices.
So What's Really the Best Smartphone?
October 5, 2015
The best smartphone on the market is the iPhone, right? That is the conventional wisdom. However, if I were to ask about the best shoes, shirt, car, boat or TV, the answers likely would be all over the map. When it comes to cars, for instance, I personally favor convertibles because they remind me of my youth when I could ride a motorcycle without a helmet, and they are just more fun.
Gadget Ogling: Eyes on Google
October 3, 2015
Chromecast helps people easily stream whatever they want through their TV via a simple dongle. Now Google's adding a splash of color to the device, along with a string of new features. Instead of resembling a USB stick, Chromecast 2 is more like a colorful button, and Google says it is easier to plug into an HDMI slot. Also, it apparently can stream videos faster and with less buffering.
Google Lines Up a Batch of Marshmallow-Ready Hardware
September 30, 2015
Google on Tuesday introduced a pair of new phablets, a couple of Chromecasts and the first tablet it built by itself. The unveilings took place at its Nexus event in San Francisco. Months of leaks drew very accurate portraits of the $499 Huawei Nexus 6P and $379 LG Nexus 5X and other Android hardware, but Google filled in the details ahead of Android Marshmallow's expected Oct. 5 release.
BlackBerry Sees the Android Light
September 28, 2015
BlackBerry on Friday announced that it would introduce an Android smartphone later this year. The announcement came during the company's Q2 earnings call. The device will be known as the "Priv" and will be built around user privacy, said CEO John Chen. BlackBerry didn't offer any specifics about the Priv beyond the name -- nothing about pricing, U.S. carrier partners or any handset specs.
Samsung Gear VR to Test Virtual Reality's Mass Appeal
September 28, 2015
Samsung last week unveiled a consumer version of a virtual reality headset adapter that converts Samsung smartphones into head-mounted displays. The move represents a first strike -- ready or not -- as top tech industry players begin to push virtual reality hardware into consumer markets. Samsung and partner Oculus VR have imparted several improvements to the consumer version of Gear VR.
Two Risky Strategies Could Threaten Apple's Long-Term Survival
September 28, 2015
One of the ironies of my career is that when I first went to work for a tech company, I specifically wanted to work for a firm that was breaking the mold -- not representative of it. So, in my initial interview, I was concerned that IBM was going to buy the firm because it was the mold at that time. I was promised that there was a contract that said it couldn't. Then, six months later, it did.
Lockscreen Bug Fix Conspicuously Absent in iOS 9 Update
September 25, 2015
Apple has released the first update to its new iOS 9 operating system to clean up some bugs in the original version of the software. Bugs addressed in the update, iOS 9.0.1, include a system freeze on the slide to update screen, alarms and timers that would fail to go off, and frame distortion in paused videos. One bug Apple didn't address allows an intruder to bypass a device's lockscreen.
Review Roundup: iPhone 6s Joy Depends on Where You're Coming From
September 23, 2015
Notices for the new iPhones have started appearing, and Apple's hardware once again is being bathed in critical acclaim, with just a few cries of discontent. The new capabilities in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus may appear underwhelming to some observers, but not to Walt Mossberg. "These are things that improve the quality of the phone while generally making a fluid, powerful product even better."
Patched Android Lockscreen Still a Threat
September 21, 2015
Google recently issued a patch for Nexus mobile devices to fix an Android Lollipop vulnerability that lets hackers bypass the lockscreen and gain control of mobile devices. However, it could take weeks to months for manufacturers and service providers to roll out the patch for other Android devices. University of Texas security researcher John Gordon discovered the vulnerability.
Gadget Ogling: Fresh Fires, Tablet Touches, and Underwater Drones
September 19, 2015
In case you didn't already know it, Amazon has designs on taking over your television, and Fire TV seems a strong competitor to the refreshed Apple TV. Fire TV's big advantage is that it can stream video in ultra high-def 4K, while Apple TV cannot. Nor can Roku or Chromecast. There already are some fine games available for Fire TV, and there's a gaming edition available with a controller.
Apple Dresses iOS to the Nines
September 18, 2015
Apple on Thursday released iOS 9, the latest version of its mobile operating system. Although more evolutionary than revolutionary, it has some useful additions. The good news is that iOS 9 works on much of Apple's existing hardware. If your device can run iOS 8, it should be able to run iOS 9. However, some of the software's features are available only on the newest iOS devices -- the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and the iPad Pro.
Unassuming iPhone 6s Could Knock Some Socks Off
September 15, 2015
Muffled by the rumors Apple TV had gone Hollywood and the giggles the Apple Pencil provoked, the latest additions to Apple's core product line -- the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus -- had to settle for a smaller share of the headlines coming out of last week's Hey Siri event. Although the iPhones received less media attention this year, it was not due lack of forward-facing features.
New iPhones Poised to Do Land Office Business
September 14, 2015
Apple is trumpeting the figures for its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus preorders, saying that it's on track to beat last year's first-weekend iPhone sales record of 10 million units. Last year's models included Apple's first large-screen smartphone, the iPhone 6 Plus. Getting off to a good start is very important for a product, said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.
Gadget Ogling: All About Apple
September 12, 2015
Apple's latest iPhones -- the 6s and 6s Plus -- are faster, stronger and smarter than the previous models. A zippier processor and faster Touch ID, LTE, and WiFi feature among the incremental upgrades. There are a couple of interesting new features with this generation, primarily 3D Touch. This makes the screen receptive to pressure beyond lightly tapping or holding one's finger on an icon.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.