Month: March 2014

Oculus VR and Facebook

I am scratching my head trying to understand why Facebook would spend 2 billion dollars on a VR startup, and other than grand plans by Facebook to become another Google, I find nothing. What is most interesting about this purchase of Oculus is the surfacing of hatred for Facebook, which is really what I would like to write about, since it seems the more newsworthy aspect in the immediate sense, here in early 2014.

After all the Snowden revelations about just how in-depth the NSA is spying on Americans and the world at large, I feel there is a backlash against social media companies, which may finally signal a change in the dynamics of a post 9-11 America. Facebook has done itself no favors in this area, making each iteration of its site harder and harder to keep posts private, and setting defaults to share your everyday musings to over 7 billion people, no matter how risque. We engage in social media to share our lives, but when we feel, correctly, that the system is rigged to catch us off-guard by sharing private thoughts and moments inappropriately, we feel spied upon. I know one family member who simply refuses to use Facebook at all, and I don’t blame this person, since common sense tells me they are following the wiser course of action. 

With so much of our personal lives now shared willingly, or not, by the very devices and services we rely on as social creatures, a great deal of frustration at the callous disregard of our privacy is to be expected, and praised. If the established social media companies do not start taking into account people’s desire to present the public at large a public persona, and another persona in private, they will be replaced by a company that does.

So, Oculus VR is now a Facebook company, and thus VR may be doomed yet again, not by the limits of technology this time, but rather through guilt by association. Virtual Reality seems cursed to rise, only to be cut down at every turn, as though reality does not wish it’s territory to be infringed upon by this digital upstart. If there is a lesson here, it is that our virtual selves should be extensions of our Real Life lives, and not become the sole expression of them. And above all, we should all learn that loose lips sink ships.Image

Rollable displays and smart plasters inch closer as researchers claim transistor breakthrough

While this is the future of displays, I can’t help but think there will be a large “scroll” feel to them, since the battery and perhaps storage still needs a place to reside. I am actually quite happy with my HTC Evo 4G LTE, it is light, powerful, and looks good. And, as a smoker, a flexible display which could burn through easily makes me squeamish.

Gigaom

Philips and researchers from the University in Surrey have made what they claim is a serious breakthrough in creating reliable flexible electronics. This may help fix a sticking point in the development of bendy and rollable gadgets, namely the viability of mass manufacture.

For the past two decades, the Dutch electronics conglomerate has been working with the British researchers on the so-called source-gated transistor (SGT), a type of transistor that controls the electric current just as it enters the semiconductor — this allows for lower energy consumption and lower risks of circuit malfunction, both of which are crucial for the emerging field of flexible electronics.

According to the researchers, there are many potential applications ranging from smart plasters that can perform as health sensors, to rollable displays and very low-cost electronic price tags.

Radu Sporea, the lead researcher on the project, said there were significant implications for…

View original post 174 more words

Acer V5 552PG X809 Laptop

image

I was pleasantly gifted a laptop by a family member this Christmas. Within a budget, I could chose whichever model I desired, and settled on the Acer V5-552PG-X809 . The primary concern was being able to game with said laptop, and I purchased accordingly. What I did not expect was how well designed and thought out this model turned out to be. I am now an Acer fanboi, to be sure. Below is a review I intend to post to Newegg, in the hopes of guiding others to purchase this unit, since it is nearly flawless in implementation.

15.6 inch laptop Ultrathin, Champagne Ice 
1366×768 pixel touchscreen (720p)
AMD A10-5757m 2.5 GHz quad core APU
AMD Radeon 8750m GPU discrete, Radeon 8650m on APU: Crossfired.
8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
1 TB Western Digital 5400 RPM Hard Drive
2x USB 2.0 , 1x USB 3.0, gigabit Ethernet
802.11n 2.4 + 5 GHz dual band wireless
Bluetooth 4.0

Laptop Pros:
– Thin and Attractive, under 5 pounds
– 5 GHz Wi-Fi
– Bluetooth
– Well tuned Touchscreen
– Crossfired GPUs for decent gaming
– Responsive, accurate Keyboard, with Numeric Pad

Laptop Cons:
– When stressed, underside hot to touch
– Lower resolution screen
– Odd placement of I/O ports in the back

Use:
This laptop has been quite pleasant to use, and is able to function for both work and play very well. The touchscreen is quite responsive and stable, and the lower resolution, while noticeable, has a side benefit of higher FPS on games. When gaming, the laptop can get unbearably hot on the lap after an hour or so. A laptop cooling pad is necessary for extended gameplay when a game can fully take advantage of the hardware. The laptop is sexy and is pleasant to take out in public, plus the backlit keyboard makes for easy evening computing in addition to enhancing the look of the laptop. Overall, this is a very functional laptop! In fact, I have never had such a pleasant experience using a PC before, laptop or desktop. The I/O port placement is strange, but I have not had an issue with this personally, though I could see where someone would have difficulty using this on their lap if they had to plug extra devices in while doing so, since the cables would snake out the back.

Conclusion:
With the exception of the high heat emitted by this laptop when running it at full steam, there is truly no other significant negative about this model. While the screen is at the low end of pixel density, it frankly makes up for it by a flawless touchscreen experience. Touchscreen capability is in my view quite necessary to enjoy Windows 8, having now experienced it. Slim, lightweight, and very capable, this Acer laptop is nearly an ideal package, and would get 5 out of 5 if not for the heat issues. Given this is a “lap”top, I have to dock it a full star because I paid extra for this laptop so I could game with it, as well as for work. Since most games do not tax this device at 100 percent, most of the time the added heat is bearable, so only 1 star is removed from what is otherwise a perfect device.

4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.

New Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 inch Tablet is exciting, except for my wallet.

The new Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 inch tablet is exactly what I have been looking for in a tablet, with a few minor quibbles. It is a tad heavy, but still not too terrible. The MSRP however, is quite steep. I have a new laptop now, which I will post about another time, and it has emboldened me to write more blog posts, but the back issues are still relevant, and a tablet I could use to be productive while laying on my bed is still the holy grail of my personal computing experience. Having said that, the solution must be attainable, and a $750 price tag has left me gasping for breath.

I can fully understand that the Galaxy Note Pro’s market is the high end of tablet computing, which in part makes the tablet what it is, a device that can cater to all parts of the tablet using spectrum. I can understand that Samsung has a winner of a device, and wants to be adequately compensated for their work, but I fear they have priced themselves out of the reach of the average consumer, and certainly out of my reach, since my back precludes any form of remuneration for a full time job, I am left with an income that makes me fall short in being able to purchase this device at this time. I will be receiving some funds back from my tax returns, but it would have been much easier to purchase this device at what I felt was the high end previously: $500-$600, set by the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition.

There are a couple bright spots in the situation that presents itself… a refurbished model for the 10.1 2014 is selling for $450 at Newegg.com,  an option I may well avail myself of, but the extra 2 inches of screen real estate is truly compelling, as the Pro is now sufficiently large to handle true productivity chores, while small sizes may well not be up to the task of laptop replacement. The other is that the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is now actually worth laptop prices, in my estimation, though I would have gone lower had I been pricing this model, since I would have priced it to move… Android will never become mainstream in the tablet world as long as companies price out a large portion of the market, and since I am a fan of the Android ecosystem I find this mildly depressing.

In the end I feel I will purchase the 12.2 inch model, to be honest. I have been mulling the 10.1 2014 for a while, but when the difference is $250 between cutting edge technology, and last years model, it helps to bite the bullet when considering that this is a long term purchase. Plus, I can finally let the other member of my household use the Nexus 7 2013 without worrying that I have no battery to do my own tasks, and take out a significant hurdle to my computing experience.

Other than the 12.2 inch screen and the S-Pen, a few notable specs that make this device compelling:

– 802.11ac HT80 capability… I like that this tablet is near future proof when it comes to connectivity. While I am sure there could be improvements, this is the best connectivity spec I have ever seen in an Android device.

– 750g weight. While on the high end, I have owned an even heavier tablet in the Galaxy Tab GT-P1010 (7 inch), so I am aware that working from bed is possible at that size, however I am not so pleased that I will have to continue to have the Nexus 7 as my movie and music consumption device, the weight difference and portability is significant. On the plus side, I can take my Nexus 7 out of the house once I have another device… if it is lost or damaged I can still compute.

$750 is a high bar for me to reach, I hope that the unit will be worth it, and there are other expenses to consider as well, such as the SD card and the inevitable replacement S-Pens, since I tend to be forgetful. Image