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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.
New Apple TV Goes All-In for Apps
September 9, 2015
Apple on Wednesday held a mammoth two-hour event to introduce a long-awaited new Apple TV set-top box, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the expected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Further, Apple announced new Apple Watch colors and bands, and a special collaboration with Hermes. While the iPhone is clearly Apple's most important product, it's arguable that the Apple TV is its most important new addition.
Nextbit's Robin Flies Past Kickstarter Goal
September 5, 2015
Nextbit earlier this week launched a Kickstarter campaign for Robin, a cloud-connected Android smartphone. Robin boasts a streamlined interface that automatically offloads data to the cloud. The company expects to ship Robin running Marshmallow, the next version of Android -- unless the OS' launch is delayed. In that case, Nextbit will issue an OTA update when Marshmallow rolls out.
Apple Doubles Down on the Enterprise With Cisco Deal
September 3, 2015
Apple on Monday announced a partnership with Cisco that bolsters its commitment to the enterprise. Under the deal, Cisco will optimize its networks for iOS devices and apps, and the companies will integrate Apple's iPhone with Cisco enterprise environments. The alliance also will provide "unique collaboration" on the iPhone and iPad, the companies said.
Qualcomm Sics Fire-Breathing Snapdragon on Android Hackers
September 1, 2015
Qualcomm on Monday announced Snapdragon Smart Protect, a hardware-software product that could make the world a safer place for Android smartphone users. Snapdragon Smart Protect, which will become available with Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor, will provide real-time, on-device machine learning designed to support accurate and effective detection of zero-day malware threats.
Come September, Apple TV Will Outshine the iPhone
August 29, 2015
About Apple's September event... Apple's annual September media event is an oxymoron -- it's become almost entirely predictable. One year it introduces a major new iPhone redesign and the next it offers incremental iPhone improvements. And make no mistake about it, despite last year's Apple Watch debut, at the core of the September event is the critically important iPhone.
Amazon Firing Spree Follows Fire Phone Flop
August 27, 2015
Amazon reportedly has given the boot to dozens of engineers who worked on its ill-fated Fire Phone. The purged staffers worked at Lab126, Amazon's secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware development center. Amazon also scaled back or killed off several other Lab126 projects, including a large-screen tablet, and it reorganized the center to combine two hardware units into one.
Samsung to Ask SC to Reverse Tide in Apple Case
August 24, 2015
Samsung last week filed a motion to stay the U.S. Court of Appeals' order in its multiyear patent war with Apple, indicating that it plans to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Samsung reportedly will ask the Court to hear its appeal of a 2012 federal jury's verdict that it violated Apple's iPhone patents. Samsung has received support for its position from several large tech firms.
iPhone Users Can Test-Drive Samsung Galaxy for One Thin Dollar
August 21, 2015
Samsung on Friday kicked off the Samsung Ultimate Test Drive, a new promotion aimed at drawing iPhone users into its fold. For just one dollar Samsung will provide iPhone users with a Galaxy smartphone -- models available include the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, as well as the S6 edge+ and Note 5 -- plus a month of cellular service. The promotion is open only to iPhone users.
Smartphone Sales Sag in China
August 21, 2015
China experienced the first-ever downturn in its smartphone market in the second quarter of 2015, and it was enough to drag global sales to a two-year low, Gartner Research said Thursday. The rest of the Asia Pacific smartphone market saw substantial growth in the quarter. iOS snatched a tad of market share -- about 2.4 percent -- from the other mobile operating systems.
One Plus Two Equals Trouble for the iPhone
August 17, 2015
If you thought the iPhone was the most desirable phone in the market you wouldn't be alone, but you likely would be wrong. While we all were snoozing, One Plus emerged. It's a little company out of China that came up with and executed one of the most brilliant low-cost guerilla marketing programs I've ever seen. The end result is that 3.6M people currently are lined up to buy its latest phone.
Samsung Doubles Down on Galaxy Phones
August 14, 2015
Samsung on Thursday unveiled two new devices, the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note5. The smartphones reportedly will be available in the United States starting Aug. 21. Samsung also announced its NFC mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, will launch in the United States Sept. 28. The Note5 reportedly incorporates many of the Galaxy S6's features and design elements.
Xiaomi Unveils Redmi Note 2 as US Twinkles in Its Eye
August 13, 2015
Xiaomi has announced its new Redmi Note 2, getting a jump on Samsung's announcement of two new smartphone entries. Xiaomi's Redmi Note 2 comes with a 2-GHz octacore Mediatek Helio X10 CPU and 16 GB of flash memory. The Redmi Note 2 Prime edition comes with a 2.2-GHz octacore MTK Helio X10 CPU and 32 GB of flash memory. The phones will sell in China at price points equivalent to about $125 to $140.
BQ's Ubuntu Bows on World Stage
August 13, 2015
BQ last week opened an Ubuntu global store accessible to anyone who wants to buy an Aquaris Ubuntu Edition handset. BQ recently launched the BQ Aquaris E4.5 and E5 HD Ubuntu Edition smartphones in Europe. Both BQ and Canonical, which provides commercial support for Ubuntu Linux, have acknowledged network frequency and mobile operator compatibility issues in some countries, including the U.S.
Qualcomm Ups the Ante With Next-Gen Processor Innovations
August 12, 2015
Qualcomm on Wednesday unveiled its Adreno 5xx GPU architecture next-generation visual processing technology and its 14-bit Spectra image signal processing unit at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. The first two GPUs to use the new architecture, the Adreno 530 and 510, will be integrated in Qualcomm's forthcoming Snapdragon 820 and 620/618 processors. The Snapdragon 820 also will feature the 14-bit ISP.
Android on BlackBerry Is Looking More Real
August 10, 2015
BlackBerry's upcoming slider handset, aka "Venice," will run on Android and will be available in the coming months for AT&T as well as T-Mobile, according to rumors that picked up steam over the weekend. This is not the first time rumors of a BlackBerry device running on Android have made the rounds. The company earlier this year hinted at the possibility at the Mobile World Congress.
Gadget Ogling: Bacteria-Zapping Toasters, a Clicker for Cortana and Souped-Up Printers
August 8, 2015
In truth, the Nico Gerard Skyview Pinnacle is more an accessory than a gadget, but it's so repugnant and ridiculous that it's impossible not to include it this week. Someway, somehow, watchmaker Nico Gerard found it prudent to create a watch that can accommodate an Apple Watch on its band, mounted where the clasp is located. It starts at $9,300. The Pinnacle is colossally absurd.
Windows 10: Changing the Apple vs. Microsoft Dynamic
August 3, 2015
What I find most interesting about Windows 10 is that if Apple wanted to knock Microsoft off the desktop, then it -- not Microsoft -- should have released a product like this. When I say "like this," I mean one that could transform a smartphone into a PC. My reasoning is that Microsoft is relatively weak in smartphones, and Apple currently is kicking Google all over the market.
Motorola Promises Its Smartphones Will Love You Back
July 29, 2015
Motorola, on Tuesday launched three new handsets -- Moto X Style, Moto X Play and a refreshed Moto G -- designed to end the "one-sided relationships" between smartphones and consumers. People have been living with phones that nag during drives, make outbursts during meetings, and run out of juice just when they're most needed, the company said. Motorola promised its new suitors will change that.
Apple's Tumble: Trouble in Paradise?
July 22, 2015
Apple's stock slid on Wednesday following the company's fiscal Q3 earnings report late Tuesday. Shares opened at $122.05 -- more than $8 down from Tuesday's closing price of $130.75 -- but inched upward to close the day at $125.22. Analysts were atwitter over the quarterly results, some implying they heralded big trouble in little doses for Apple. Others insisted there was no basis for the fuss.
Commodore's Ghost Lives in New Machine
July 22, 2015
Yet another Android smartphone has hit the market -- but what's surprising is that it comes from Commodore. The Commodore PET smartphone is from Commodore Business Machines, a UK-based firm that has acquired the brand and trademark. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, and has a 5.5-inch full HD 1920 x 1080 display. Two preinstalled emulators let owners play games written for old-school Commodore PCs.
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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.