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Which Stars Will Shine Brightest in Apple's Brilliant 2015?
December 19, 2014
The end of the year and holiday season is a natural time to look back -- and then look forward to the year to come. Apple started 2014 slowly, but more than made up for it in the long haul, introducing the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, Mac OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, an iPad Air 2 with a super-fast processor, the massively selling iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and a luscious iMac with a 5K Retina screen.
Gadget Ogling: Wireless Lights, Sunny Wearables and Flashy Smartphones
December 13, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the best and worst in just-announced gizmos. On the docket this time around are wireless Christmas lights, solar-charging jackets, a speed-reading wearable and much more. The Aura Wirelessly Powered Christmas Lights aren't attached to long power cords designed to snake along, around and through the tree branches.
Video Gamers Recall 'Father' Ralph Baer's Extraordinary Legacy
December 08, 2014
Ralph H. Baer, the father of the home video game, died Saturday at 92. Baer invented the Odyssey video game system and co-invented the electronic game Simon. While working as a military contractor for Sanders Associates in the '60s, Baer began to explore the possibility of creating a video game system that could be played on the television. The result of his work was the "Brown Box."
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 06, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Amazon Goes Into the Handyman Business
November 25, 2014
Amazon on Tuesday began rolling out Amazon Local Services, which lets customers purchase professional assistance for setup, installation and repair work. Service providers will be covered by Amazon's guarantee. They will be licensed and insured, and they will have to pass a background check. The idea initially is to tie Amazon purchases to recommended service providers.
A View of the Future: Demo 2014
November 24, 2014
I attended Demo in Silicon Valley last week and, as always, it showcased things likely to mature in the market 12 to 14 months into the future. The presenters are small companies, hand-selected because they offer something unique and forward-looking. This year there was a showcase of products that could redefine home automation, drones, emergency rooms, and even how you buy clothing.
Gadget Ogling: Dueling Tablets, a Smart Scale, and Slooow Games
November 22, 2014
Welcome to our weekly look at the latest, greatest, and poorest gadgets to be revealed to the world. Hark as yours truly extols the virtues and horrors of two wildly different tablets, a smart kitchen scale, and video games requiring patience, among other objects. It's not like the planet needs another well-known consumer gadget maker whipping up Android tablets, and yet here we are.
Nintendo Launches Super Smash Bros Charm Offensive
November 21, 2014
Nintendo on Friday released what is expected to be its biggest title for the upcoming holiday season, and it also made a play in the collectible toy market with a line of interactive figurines. Since the release of its Wii U console, the company has found itself in much the same position as its signature characters -- an underdog fighting for survival against much bigger rivals.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Gadget Ogling: Garish Walkie-Talkies, Slick Cameras and Mini 3D Printing
November 08, 2014
Welcome to another installment of every tech-loving optimist's and misanthrope's favorite look at the week's most wondrous and pitiful new gadgets. Ahead, for your delight and dismay, are studies of a wearable walkie-talkie-type communication device, a 360-degree action camera, a tiny 3D printer, a smart camera attachment, and a clever mobile roaming solution.
Amazon's Echo Plays Hard to Get
November 07, 2014
Amazon on Thursday announced Echo, a speaker with a built-in voice-activated personal digital assistant. Think of a cylindrical Bose SoundLink Mini married to Siri, Cortana or Google Voice -- or heck, living in sin with all three. Echo can conduct Web searches, add items to your to-do list, let you play streaming music, and give you news and weather reports, among other things.
Hybrid IKEA Desk Could Get You Off Your Duff
October 28, 2014
IKEA last week introduced a new desk that can be raised and lowered with the push of a button to accommodate both sitting and standing positions. Part of IKEA's Bekant line, the desk serves as a hybrid alternative to traditional desks. "This desk promotes a healthy work environment by getting people on their feet," said Karen Haas, IKEA's U.S. sales leader for Workspaces.
Smart Nightlight Calls Your iPhone When Smoke, CO Alarms Start Wailing
October 22, 2014
Leeo on Tuesday introduced the Smart Alert Nightlight, a $99 gadget that can detect when the alarm sounds from a smoke or carbon monoxide detector and send alerts to an iPhone. About the size and shape of a coaster, the Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into a wall outlet where it does double duty as illuminator and monitor. When it hears an alarm, it uses its WiFi connection to send a push notification.
The Next-Gen TV Cable Dilemma
October 22, 2014
Television manufacturers are moving toward ultra high definition -- also known as "4K" -- which offers four times the resolution of HD. It also offers greater depth of color and faster frame rate. That means more information must travel through the cable from the video source to the TV. The current de facto cable, HDMI, or high-definition multimedia interface, solves some of the old problems.
Gadget Ogling: Apple vs. Google, a Bossy Activity Tracker, and Feeling Your Path
October 18, 2014
There was plenty of focus on the cameras at Apple's presentation, as it tries to promote the tablet as an ideal viewfinder for taking high-quality images, while adding iPhone features like time-lapse and burst mode. However, the new push of iPad photography is just encouraging even more people to look foolish by taking photos with their tablet in public. This is a plague.
Enter the Nexus Dragon
October 16, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced three new devices in its Nexus line: a tablet, a phablet, and a streaming media game player-cum-Android TV device, all of which run Lollipop, the latest version of its Android OS. Lollipop lets users sync content from phones to tablets to TVs and use it seamlessly. It has a consistent design across devices so transitions between tasks are more fluid.
August Smart Lock Gets Key Exposure in Apple Stores
October 14, 2014
The August Smart Lock will become available for purchase at Apple retail stores in the U.S. starting this week, the company announced on Tuesday. Priced at $249.99, the smart device uses Bluetooth and a mobile app to create a virtual key. It has been shipping since late August in limited quantities to those who ordered it online, but it currently is backordered, with delivery expected in 90 days.
Samsung Plots Foray Into Speedy 60-GHz WiFi Market
October 14, 2014
Samsung on Sunday announced that it has resolved issues hindering the commercialization of 802.11ad standard 60-GHz WiFi technology. The company's solution maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference regardless of the number of devices on the network, using what it claims is the world's first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.
Gadget Ogling: Strange Cameras, Fast Charges, Racing Robots
October 10, 2014
HTC is stepping so far out of the box with the RE Camera, it's almost as if there was never a box to begin with. Instead of making us stare through a viewfinder, this minimalist device almost demands a return to older forms of photography, while still taking advantage of modern technology. It looks like a cross between a periscope and an asthma inhaler, neither of which scream style.
Apple's 'Way Too Long' Invite Lands With a Thud
October 09, 2014
Apple's pretty much annual October new product media event usually is preceded by a cute invitation sent to journalists. The invitation typically includes a phrase or graphic element that provides a vague clue to the secret agenda of the event. Presumably, this is to drum up excitement and speculation, in addition to creating an ah-ha moment.
Microsoft's RoomAlive Gaming Jumps Out of the Box
October 06, 2014
Microsoft Research on Sunday demonstrated RoomAlive, a new technology that can transform any room into an immersive and interactive gaming display. Based on a scalable multiprojector system that adapts gaming content to the physical space, RoomAlive allows users to touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content that becomes seamlessly integrated with their environment.
Gadget Ogling: Jump Starts, Wearable Drones, Smarter Yoga and Safer Food
October 03, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to a new installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. On the docket this time around are a motivational wearable device, a smart yoga mat, a golfer-focused smartwatch, a drone with a difference, and a way to stop food from going bad. As always, these aren't reviews -- the ratings denote only my interest in actually using them.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Wine, Wooly Sound and a Clever Light Bulb
September 27, 2014
I give LG a little flak for constantly releasing new smartphones, but here's one with a twist. LG is pegging the Wine Smart as its first flip-style smartphone. Yes, the compact style is back, only this time its fuel is Android, instead of whatever arcane OS manufacturers might dream up. I suspect this is more about style than function, outside of a dedicated button for opening an IM app.
Desktop PCs May Be Poised for a Comeback
September 26, 2014
Desktop computer users are more satisfied with their devices than laptop and tablet owners, according to a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index survey. However, the category of personal computer satisfaction in general appears to be somewhat in the dumps. The annual measure of satisfaction fell 1.3 points to a score of 78 out of a possible 100.

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