Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that looks at the best, brightest and tiredest of the week’s gadget announcements while, for this edition at least, taking things a little easy in California’s wine country.
On the grapevine this week are an enormous Android tablet, a celebrity-branded headphone line, a portable Windows 10 PC, and a wearable smartphone music remote.
As always, these are not reviews, and the ratings relate only to how much I’d like to try each, ideally as I’m moving from one winery to the next.
The Broader View
Samsung certainly is testing the boundaries of what a tablet can be with its latest device, the Galaxy View.
The Galaxy View houses an octa-core, 1.6-GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage, which is expandable through a microSD slot. Owners may expand the functionality with a nano-SIM card for on-the-go connectivity, and Samsung also promises up to 8 hours of video playback on a single battery charge.
That all sounds well and good, but consider the following: This Android device is an absolute monster, with a 18.4-inch display — remember, a tablet, not a desktop. That entirely defeats the purpose. A tablet is inherently a portable system, or at least it’s supposed to be.
I can’t wrap my head around who would want to lug around such an enormous tablet nor why they’d wish to do so. I’m certain it’d prove enjoyable to watch TV shows or movies on this, but when it’s so easy to mimic the TV or cinema experience through holding a tablet or smartphone at a certain distance from one’s eyes, it seems pointless.
As this week’s intro suggests, I’m on vacation. I dithered for a while over whether I should make space for a laptop or if I should compose this week’s column with my smartphone. I eventually took the laptop, but a tablet also would have worked. This one, though, is not something I could ever see myself taking on a flight, long-weekend drive, or even to a coffee shop to do some work.
Good luck sliding this into the laptop section of a bag that a normal human would typically carry, and not one designed for the express use of ogres.
Rating: 3 out of 5 They Might Be for Giants
Wading into the oh-so-hot celebrity endorsement item of earphones is Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the planet’s most celebrated soccer players. The Real Madrid star teamed up with Monster for three styles of headphones: wireless in-ear, wireless on-ear, and over-ear headphones.
Monster’s products are usually solid and all three items look aesthetically pleasing. There’s only one problem though: I have enormous distaste for Ronaldo. His smarm and slithery personality are anathema to me. These could be the best headphones in the world, and I wouldn’t consider using them due to the association with “CR7,” as his branded acronym goes. What can I say? I’m a Messi guy.
Rating: 0 out of 5 Ronaldon’ts
Hopping Into Action
Regular readers may have taken note in last week’s column of Solu, a mobile general-purpose computer with an innovative operating system. I lamented that although I liked the idea, I felt I’d struggle to reorient my mind away from a menu-based OS.
As if reading my mind (or words), InFocus has revealed Kangaroo. This Windows 10 portable is not the first of its type, though it packs the power of a low-end laptop and a few nifty features. It needs a display to operate, though it can connect to an iPad — a major plus for traveling workers, and an intriguing way of using Windows 10 on the iOS tablet.
It’s perhaps not as convenient as a laptop or the touch screen-enabled Solu, as it still needs to connect to peripherals, but for someone who prefers to have access to a single setup at both home and the office (or even on the road if they’ve an iPad handy), it’s an intriguing, cost-effective option at US$99.
Rating: 3 out of 5 In the Pouches
Skin is a wristband that can control playback on an iPhone or Android smartphone over Bluetooth. It allows wearers to play and pause, skip tracks forward and backward, and adjust volume.
The creator targets it toward users with an active lifestyle, making it easier to control playback without removing the phone from one’s pocket.
I can see the upside to this, but the problem is that most headphones and earphones already have playback controls built in.
I can already perform all of these functions with Apple’s EarPods, the earphones I use most often, and so there’s zero purpose for this in my life, unless I switch to a Bluetooth set for the gym that does not have a remote function. That’s unlikely though, as having one device to perform both functions would prove far more preferable to me.
It’s a good idea in theory, but it’s a shame everyone else figured out the answer to the problem a decade ago.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Remote Rocks