gadgets

Samsung unveiled a Bluetooth wireless headset a few days ago called the Gear Circle that can attach together to form a necklace of sorts. Which the press promptly made fun of.

Fast Company: Would you wear this dorky headphone necklace by Samsung?

Business Insider: Samsung’s new necklace is the strangest tech product we’ve seen all year.

I actually think it’s a neat idea, and will explain why in a bit. The subject of today’s post is not the Gear Circle per se but two of its predecessors: the Jaybird Bluebuds X and Valore VL-BTi25.

I was set on something wireless and was tempted to get a pair of Bluetooth cans. However, they aren’t portable and awful outdoors on a hot day.

So I decided on in-ear instead and opted for the Jaybird Bluebuds X. They connect wirelessly to your device – set-up was simple and it works with smartphones, tablets and PCs via Bluetooth. You can do all the usual stuff like phone calls, music navigation and volume control.

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I’ve made it plain on this blog that I’m a fan of the Surface concept, despite its flawed unveiling. Yes, the same Surface that lost Microsoft over a billion dollars. This must mean the concept sucks right?

Well, no, it it’s not because the vision is flawed, it’s the execution and timing that weren’t right. The first and second Surface Pros were too early — the hardware wasn’t ready to deliver the vision. The first Surface RT was just plain bad. I thought the Surface 2 was ready for primetime, if not for its Windows RT roots.

Timing aside, I’m a fan of the concept because convergence will happen between laptops and tablets, just like the telephone, camera, MP3 player, GPS navigation and PDA converged into today’s smartphone. Microsoft absolutely has the right idea with the Surface; just a few years’ early.

So, does the Surface Pro 3 do it? I’ll want to use this bad boy for a few weeks before concluding anything. My initial impression is that it falls just short for the mainstream; it’s too expensive and the form factor is a hairline from perfect.

Fortunately, it still hits the mark for someone like me. I’m loving the Surface Pro 3 so far.

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While I was researching my story about Chromebooks for TechSpot last week (a synthesis of stuff I’ve written before), I found this interesting article from OMG!Chrome!, a Chromebook enthusiast site.

It’s a strong argument that the people buying Chromebooks in retail and online aren’t normal people with low computing needs — they are in fact tech savvy people looking for a cheap second device.

Based on past articles, it might seem like I hate Chromebooks. Nothing of the sort. Thin clients like Chromebooks are the future and I can’t wait for us to get there. However, that future is still far away, and the amount of hype and coverage dedicated to Chromebooks today far exceed what it deserves.

An excellent device for your grandma? I think not. A companion device for gadget lovers? Sure, I get that. Chromebook’s simple nature and fast boot times can make a great experience for specific use cases.

But I wouldn’t recommend Chromebooks to “normal” people. If you think Windows RT or 8 are difficult to comprehend, Chromebooks are worse.

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I was getting worried, but it seems like smartwatches are taking off after all. Research company Canalys estimated 6 million smartwatches and fitness trackers were sold in the first half of 2014, or a 684% increase compared to the previous period.

This doesn’t even take into account Android Wear devices, which will start to get counted in next quarter’s report.

And the best is yet to come. The Moto 360 was widely considered superior to the two Android Wear watches already on the market. Motorola will launch the device next month after its event on September 4.

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Just a scant few days ago, I wrote about how the 7-inch mini tablet might go the way of the dodo bird, and a scant few days later, I may have to eat my words. According to a report from the IDC:

Large smartphones (otherwise known as phablets), are already a growing trend in Asia, having outshipped notebooks and tablets last year.  But IDC finds that now even larger devices, tablets of 7” screen sizes and above, are increasingly shipping with cellular voice capabilities, and such devices are getting more traction in the Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) region, breaching the 25% mark in the second quarter of 2014. . .This translates to more than 60% growth on a year-on-year basis in unit terms for this category of tablets, which also incidentally happen to be 100% Android-based.

The report also goes on to state that 50% of 7-inch and up tablets shipped in India and Indonesia have cellular voice capabilities. I travel to Indonesia a lot and so find that nugget fascinating, as I don’t recall ever having seen a person call with a tablet. They probably do via a headset.

I can believe this trend happening for a number of reasons: cost, perception that more is better, traffic and handbags.

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The Cornerplay has made some crazy predictions we know, some of them involving Chromebooks. We’ve long argued that in comparison to Windows PCs, Chromebooks sell only because of price and that Microsoft’s efforts to lower the cost of Windows PCs will be effective.

Chromebooks are in the news again because HP is launching the Stream 14 for $200, a Windows laptop the press is designating as a Chromebook killer. This laptop will probably be powered by Windows 8.1 with Bing, a version Microsoft is providing free to OEMs in exchange for Bing as the default search engine. The Stream 14 has an AMD chip so it’s unclear whether the laptop will perform well, but it will probably sell well regardless due to price.

It’s not clear when the HP Stream 14 will launch, but we don’t need to wait that long to evaluate our argument that Chromebooks sell only because of price. Low cost Windows laptops have already been proliferating on Amazon, the place where advocates like to point to as proof of Chromebooks’ success. And those cheap Windows laptops are winning.

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I need a dumb phone with only five features: phone calls, SMS, mobile hotspot, long battery life and slim profile.

Here’s why: I travel a lot, so require a local SIM to make calls and text. However, I’d like to still be able to receive calls and texts with my main number, so I usually carry a second phone for overseas use. This works passably well in that the second phone acts as a hotspot and I can use my main phone with data for Whatsapp, LINE, etc.

qwerThe downside is that Internet tethering is a big battery drain, and the second phone runs out quickly. I don’t need the phone’s other functionality — touch screen, camera, GPS, camera, etc. — for all those things I have my main phone. What if the second device doesn’t do anything else except calling, texting and acting as hotspot, so it can dedicate its entire battery to just those things? Like an old school Nokia phone, just with super-sized battery and 4G Internet tethering capabilities.

Instead of multiple plans, I focus all the data I need in one. When you buy a lot of data for one plan, it becomes significantly cheaper.

I wish a manufacturer will step up and make this phone.

Recently, I was browsing an electronics store and found the next best thing: a Huawei 5370 Mobile WiFi Hotspot.

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