2014 Consumer Electronics Show, Belkin’s WeMo Switch Update & Respected Tech Reviewers Walt Mossberg & Kara Swisher Launch New Tech Site

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show: The annual Consumer Electronics Show, which is usually known by its initials CES, is kicking off in Los Vegas on Tuesday. The show showcases new tech gadgets and highlights upcoming tech trends. And some of the items this years’ show is expected to highlight include 4 K Television technology (for an incredibly clear picture), 3 D Printing technology (which allows you to use plastic, metal and other materials to create items at home like chess pieces and a new cover for your smartphone), driverless cars and what USA Today tech columnist Jefferson Graham describes as “connected everything.”

And the term “connected everything” simply means the increasing trend of everyday devices being connected to the internet so you can control them via your smartphone or tablet either when you’re at home or if you’re away from home. And by everyday devices I mean dishwashers, washing machines, lamps, stoves, televisions, crockpots and just about any other electric device you use on a daily basis. This is cool technology! Imagine being out and about during the day and being able to turn up your heat, turn on the lights in your house, turn on the radio for your cats and even turn on your coffee maker to brew coffee so it is ready for you to drink when you get home — before you get home! And this technology isn’t years away either! You don’t have to buy a new lamp, radio or coffee maker to have a smart house you can buy a gadget like an outlet switch that connects to your Wi-Fi network and allows you to plug in any electric item you’ve got and turn it on or off via an app on your smartphone or tablet!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/01/03/ces-2014-preview/4264441/

Belkin’s WeMo Switch Update: And speaking of acquiring the ability to turn on and off a lamp, radio, TV, iron or other device you have at home, remotely; my Christmas present to myself in 2013 was a Belkin WeMo Switch. You have to have Wi-Fi at your house to use this gadget – however, the set up took only moments. I plugged the switch into an electrical outlet, plugged my lamp into the switch and downloaded the iOS WeMo app to my iPad and presto I can turn that lamp on and off with my iPad or an iPhone or iPod Touch from where ever I am. And you might think too, what I thought at first, which is that you’d only use a device like this when you are away from home and on your way home so that the lights are on when you come into your house at night. You might think you’d just use it to turn on the lights in the living room before you leave the office for home…However, I find I use it to turn that lamp on and off when I am at home too! I can get ready for bed at night and leave that lamp on until I’m in my bedroom and then turn it off. And since it is the time of year when we have so much dark, cloudy weather – I can also wake up in the morning and turn that lamp on in the living room before I walk out of my bedroom so there is light in my living room when I enter it. This is a neat gadget and I will certainly be purchasing a few more of them in the near future!

If you’d like to know more about the Belkin WeMo switch, which retails for $49.99, here is a link to the product page on the Belkin Home Automation website:

http://www.belkin.com/us/Products/home-automation/c/wemo-home-automation/

Respected Tech Reviewers Walt Mossberg & Kara Swisher Launch New Tech Site: Respected tech reviewers Walt Mossberg & Kara Swisher, who both previously offered tech reviews for the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D tech blog for more than ten years; have launched a new and independent tech review & news site. The new site is called re/code and can be found at the following link:

http://recode.net/

And if you’d like to know more the new re/code review site that features reviews and tech news stories by Mossberg, Swisher and other former All Things D reviewers check out this The Verge article on the subject titled “Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher launch re/code news site, Code Conference series;”

http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/2/5264506/walt-mossberg-and-kara-swisher-launch-recode-code-conference

And if you’d like to know more about Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher and the other staff of the new re/code site click the following link to access their “Who We Are” page which offers bios of the staff:

http://recode.net/about/

Have a great day!

Linda R.

References

Cheng, Jacqui. (2012, August 2). A thermostat that learns? Three months with the Next. arstechnica. Online. Accessed January 5, 2014, http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/08/a-thermostat-that-learns-three-months-with-the-nest/

Graham, Jefferson. (2014, January 4). CES 2014: A tech extravaganza in Vegas. USA Today. Online. Accessed January 5, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/01/03/ces-2014-preview/4264441/

re/code. Online. Accessed January 5, 2014, http://recode.net/

Topolsky, Joshua. (2014, January). Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher launch Re/code news site, Code Conference series: With investment from NBCUniversal and Windsor Media, the duo moves its act to a new venue. The Verge. Online. Accessed January 5, 2014,  http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/2/5264506/walt-mossberg-and-kara-swisher-launch-recode-code-conference

Who We Are. re/code. Online. Accessed January 5, 2014, http://recode.net/about/

Pandora’s Updated Android App, All Things D’s Walt Mossberg Recommends The iPad Air, Pandora For Chromecast & The F.A.A. To Allow Passengers To Use Wi-Fi Devices All Flight Long

Pandora’s Updated Android App: The popular music streaming service Pandora has released a new and improved app for Android tablets. The new app has upgraded options which include options to easily find out more information about an artist or song title that listeners like and the ability to tweak the song list played on a listener’s customized station. So if you have an Android tablet you might want to check out the new app or update your old Pandora app.

Here’s a link to a CNET article titled “New Pandora app woos Android tablets as Apple radio grows” that offers more information on the updated Pandora app for Android devices:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57609908-93/new-pandora-app-woos-android-tablets-as-apple-radio-grows/

All Things D’s Walt Mossberg Recommends The iPad Air: The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D senior personal tech guru Walt Mossberg has tried out the new iPad Air, which goes on sale on Friday, November 1st. And Mr. Mossberg, who has certainly seen a great many tablets in his career, said in his review that he not only likes the new iPad Air very much but to quote him that the iPad Air “is the best tablet I have ever reviewed!”

And of course, anyone who has read this blog for any length of time or who has encountered me in the library will know that I am a huge Apple fan.

Having said that for my two cents worth the best overall tablet experience includes the following general points:

  • How well a tablet operates
  • How many advanced features a tablet has
  • How often the tablet operating system is updated
  • The quality of the apps available for that tablet

And in my opinion, the best overall tablet experience today can be found by using an Apple iPad. I’ve owned an iPad since the day the first generation model was released in 2010. And I’ve now upgraded three times and have been equally pleased, with each upgraded model, with the performance of the iPad, the user friendly software that runs the iPad, the great variety and quality of apps available for the iPad and the ability to stream video content from the iPad to the HDTV in my living room.

And the new iPad Air is undoubtedly going to be even better than previous generations of the iPad not because Apple has added tons of new features but because they’ve simply made what was great about the iPad even better. The iPad Air has an upgraded the chip which makes it faster and more powerful, improved battery life; and it is much lighter than previous iPad models. In fact, the iPad Air is called the “iPad Air” because it is so light! The iPad Air weighs only a pound.  Previous generations of the iPad were all heavier and the 4th generation iPad weighed 1.44 lbs. so this new iPad is quite a bit lighter, has battery life that according to Walt Mossberg lasts 12 hours, runs faster and is more powerful than the last generation iPad because of the new chip it uses.  So if you’re interested in buying a tablet in the near future check out Walt Mossberg’s review and stop by the library and try out one of our iPads!

And without further ado here’s the link to Walt Mossberg’s video review of the new iPad Air:

http://allthingsd.com/20131029/speed-and-power-packed-into-a-thin-ipad-air/

Pandora For Chromecast: The Chromecast, which if you’re not familiar with it is a  cheap ($35), small flash drive sized device you plug into an HDMI input on your HDTV; and which once plugged in to your TV sends the video you bring  up on your tablet, laptop or smartphone to your TV with Wi-Fi, has just added the Pandora music channel to its list of supported video services you can stream video content from; the other video services are Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music.

And just to clarify, you can access any of the video apps previously mentioned through the Chromecast but you can also stream any video content you bring up using the Google Chrome web browser on your Internet connecting devices to your TV via Chromecast.

And here’s a link to a Tech Land article titled “Pandora Gives Chromecast Some Much Needed Tunes” that offers more information on the new Pandora music app for Chromecast:

http://techland.time.com/2013/10/31/pandora-gives-chromecast-some-much-needed-tunes/

The F.A.A. To Allow Passengers To Use Wi-Fi Devices All Flight Long: The F.A.A. has just announced that air plane passengers will shortly be allowed to use their Wi-Fi connecting devices in “all phases of flight.” However, cell phone use to talk or text will still be prohibited. The new F.A.A. policy is expected to be implemented for all U.S. airlines by the end of the year.

Here’s a link to a New York Times article on the subject titled “F.A.A. Allows Use of Electronic Devices Throughout Flights” that offers more information on the subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/01/business/passengers-to-be-free-to-use-electronics-on-flights-faa-says.html?_r=0

Have a great day!

Linda R.

References

McCracken, Harry. (2013, October 29). iPad Air Review: Apple’s Full-Sized Tablet, No Longer So Full-Sized: A whole new class of iPad — but instantly familiar and useful, too. Online. Accessed October 31, 2013, http://techland.time.com/2013/10/29/ipad-air-review/

Mossberg, Walt, (2013, October 29). Speed and Power Packed Into a Thin iPad Air. All Things D. Online. Accessed October 30, 2013, http://allthingsd.com/20131029/speed-and-power-packed-into-a-thin-ipad-air/

Solsman, Joan. (2013, October 30). New Pandora app woos Android tablets as Apple radio grows: The top online radio company rolls out a new version of its Android app designed specifically for tablets, tweaking it for bigger screens with more functions. CNET. Online. Accessed, October 30, 2013, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57609908-93/new-pandora-app-woos-android-tablets-as-apple-radio-grows/

Wald, Matthew. (2013, October 31). F.A.A. Allows Use of Electronic Devices Throughout Flights. New York Times. Online. Accessed October 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/01/business/passengers-to-be-free-to-use-electronics-on-flights-faa-says.html?_r=0

Walt Mossberg Weighs In On The Ways To Access Internet Video & Roku – The Most Popular Media Streaming Player In The U.S.

Walt Mossberg Weighs In On The Ways To Access Internet Video: Walt Mossberg is the Senior Personal Technology Columnist for the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D blog. And this week Mossberg offers an in-depth combination article and reviewcast (aka article with optional video review) on the five main ways you can get Internet accessed video to play on that large HDTV in your living room. The five ways are:

  1. Via media streaming players like the Apple TV and Roku player that you connect to your television and which take the Internet video they receive and pass it along to your television so you can watch it.
  2. Via gaming consoles like the Xbox & Playstation which of course also allow you to play games – but you can increasingly access Internet video via channels like Netflix and Hulu through these devices.
  3. Via Smart TVs: These are TVs that have built in Internet connectivity and feature built in access to Netflix and other Internet TV sources. Of course the downside to using this option to watch Internet TV is that you have to buy a new TV if you don’t’ already own a Smart TV!
  4. Via what Mossberg calls “beaming” – meaning that you bring up the video you want to watch on your smartphone, tablet or laptop and send that video to your TV to watch it. You can do this I a number of ways but the two most popular are: if you have an Apple phone or tablet and an Apple TV (the feature is called AirPlay) or if you’ve been lucky enough to snag the new, and very popular, Google Chromecast which will allow you to send video from your smartphone, tablet or PC to your television (the Chromecast looks like a large flash drive and plugs into an HDMI input on a TV). Just imagine Scotty on a little engineering deck inside your TV overseeing that the video signal is correctly beamed from the tablet or smartphone to the TV! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
  5.  TiVO: This is an older device and usually used by people as a DVR in conjunction with a cable television subscription; however, you can use a TiVo to stream Internet TV to your television. The TiVo features Netflix, Hulu and Pandora channels (or perhaps we should start calling them TV apps because they appear on a TV as if they were large smartphone or tablet apps.)

Mossberg offers more details, including info on which devices have the most channels (or apps) and prices in the article– here’s the link:

http://allthingsd.com/20130813/the-many-internet-video-options-for-tvs/

Roku – The Most Popular Media Streaming Player In The U.S.: According to a PC Magazine article Roku is the most popular media streaming player sold in the U.S. The Roku player is deemed the most popular by the fact that according to a Parks Research report it is the most used media streaming player in the U.S. And I’m sharing this article & the report because I own both an Apple TV and a Roku player; and I too use the Roku player much more often that the Apple TV box because it has more channels and thus more options as to what I can watch or listen to!

Here is the link to the PC Magazine article:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2423089,00.asp

And a link to the Parks Report on the subject:

http://www.parksassociates.com/blog/article/pr-aug2013-connected-tv

Have a great day!

Linda R.

References

Chloe Albanesius. (2013, August 14). Roku Trumps Apple TV as Most-Used Streaming Media Player. PCMag. Online. Accessed August 14, 2013, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2423089,00.asp

More U.S. Households Use Roku vs. Apple TV or Other Streaming Video Media Devices. (2013, August 14). Parks Associates. Online. Accessed August 14, 2013, http://www.parksassociates.com/blog/article/pr-aug2013-connected-tv

Mossberg, Walt. (2013, August 13). The Many Internet-Video Options for TVs. Allthingsd.com. Online. Accessed August 14, 2013, http://allthingsd.com/20130813/the-many-internet-video-options-for-tvs/

 

 

New York Times To Offer Cheaper Digital Subscriptions & Link To Wall Mossberg’s Annual Spring Laptop Buyers Guide

New York Times To Offer Cheaper Digital Subscriptions: The New York Times released information to the press today that indicates they will be offering cheaper niche subscriptions to New York Times digital content sometime later this year. The Times spokesman wouldn’t offer specific information regarding what New York Times material would be available at a cheaper price but it is believed that the pricing will be for articles within categories; for example all cooking articles or all tech articles might be offered for a cheaper price as compared to price the Times charges for access to all content on their site.

The price the New York Times currently charges for a digital subscription actually varies depending upon the device you use to access the content. Access to the Times website and content via a smartphone app costs $15 per month, access to the Times site and a content via a tablet app costs $20 per month and full digital access to Times content for all your devices currently costs $35 per month. So one would assume that the niche access would cost less than $15 per month but we’ll just have to wait and see on that point because the Times isn’t saying just yet!

And I for one would be interested in being able to pay a cheaper price to access digital New York Times content. The library has a subscription to the New York Times so you can read it for free at the library (you can even read it for free on an iPad at the library!).

However, when I am at home I frequently like to read articles found on the New York Times website and although right now there is a work-around for their 10-free-articles-and-you-must-pay-for–a-subscription-to-read-more rule – you simply clear your browser history by pressing the Ctrl, Shift and Delete keys (on a PC) and then you’ll be able to read ten more articles for free – I don’t imagine that work-around will work forever though… And although I don’t mind paying to read well written articles I personally find a $15 monthly fee to be an expensive one when the Times has until relatively recently allowed anyone to read all the articles on their site for free. And honestly I don’t have time to read all the articles on the Times site everyday– if I could pay say $7.00 a month to read all the tech stories, all the headlines stories and perhaps 20 other stories from any category I chose each month – that I wouldn’t mind paying $7 for that access but for $15 a month – I’ll read the Times at the library.

The paidContent article I came across on this subject is titled “NYT says new products to be profitable by late 2014” and can be accessed via the following link:
http://paidcontent.org/2013/04/25/nyt-says-new-products-to-be-profitable-by-late-2014/

And here’s the link to the Subscription page on the New York Times website that shows the various digital tiers you can subscribe to:

http://www.nytimes.com/content/help/account/purchases/subscriptions-and-purchases.html#purchasesq01

Link To Wall Mossberg’s Annual Spring Laptop Buyers Guide: Walt Mossberg, the Personal Technology Columnist for The Wall Street Journal, has put forth his annual Spring Laptop Buying Guide video. And basically what he says about buying a laptop right now is two-fold:

  1. If you can wait to buy a laptop – wait until fall to do so because right now prices are rather high for touch screen Windows 8 computers
  2.  If you can’t wait to buy a laptop – buy a Windows 8 touchscreen computer or, if you prefer a non-touch screen computer consider buying a Mac instead of a non-touchscreen Windows 8 PC (the non-touchscreen Windows 8 PCs are cheaper than the touchscreen versions over all)

And I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment about Windows 8 – Windows 8 is most user friendly if you buy a touchscreen computer to use – it is much more cumbersome if you try to use it on a non-touchscreen computer. And Macs are very good machines so if you want no part whatsoever of a touchscreen computer you might consider buying a Mac.

Here’s the link to the article titled “Mossberg’s Annual Spring Laptop Buyer’s Guide:”

http://live.wsj.com/video/mossberg-annual-spring-laptop-buyer-guide/D6BE6C47-FE64-4272-9549-BF39217F7BC1.html

Have a great day!

Linda R.

References

Mossberg, Walt. (2013, May 1). Mossberg’s Annual Spring Laptop Buyer’s Guide. Wall Street Journal. Online.

Roberts, Jeff John. (2013, May 25). NYT says new products to be profitable by late 2014. paidContent. Online.