Pricing is still unknown, unfortunately.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Friday, June 19, 2015
Design: It's a 13" computer that has an Intel Core i7 processor and high end ultrabook specs, not the lower power Core M and it's disappointing performance like in the Apple Macbook or Lenovo Yoga 3. Yet despite that, a gorgeous 2560x1440 display, and decent battery life, this computer is insanely light. In fact, at 1.87 lbs. it's lighter not only than the 13" Macbook Air but also my 11" Air. That's seriously impressive, and combined with the thin bezels around the display it makes the Lavie feel like an 11" laptop with a larger screen. The construction feels solid as well, with no perceptible flex like some super-light laptops, though I initially felt like I was holding a plastic model, not an actual computer. Otherwise, the design isn't particularly exciting, but it's a nice enough simple black laptop.
Display, Keyboard, Trackpad: The display is extremely beautiful, with a great 2560x1440p resolution and anti-glare coating. It's not a touchscreen, but Lenovo does make a slightly thicker version that is touch capable. The trackpad continues the trend of Windows laptop trackpads being hugely improved but still not perfect, as it was a little small and not slick enough for my tastes but otherwise fine. There's also a pretty fabulous selection of ports for an ultrabook: You get 2 USB 3.0 ports, full size HDMI, a full size SD card slot(!), power, a Kensington lock port and of course a headphone jack.
The keyboard on the the other hand, despite being a typical Lenovo strong point, was not particularly good in my opinion. The keys have less travel than on my 11" Air or most other laptops I've used, and the key layout is just strange:
Conclusion: The LaVie Z competes against a whole host of top flight ultrabooks, notably the Dell XPS 13, Apple Macbook Air & Macbook, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, HP Spectre 360, and Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. Let's cross two off that list immediately: The Yoga 3 Pro and Macbook use Intel's ridiculously under powered Core M processors, have lackluster battery life, and cost far too much. The Macbook Air is a great computer, and I love mine, but its screen is so resolution that it's a bit hard to recommend in 2015 when every other laptop(including Apple's) have such great panels. That leaves the Surface Pro 3, XPS 13, and Spectre 360. If you're seriously considering the LaVie Z, you probably want a traditional laptop, in which case neither the SP3 nor the Spectre are for you. Against the XPS 13, I feel there's something of a tie. Both devices have excellent screens, decent trackpads, relatively clean installs of Windows, and good but not outstanding battery life. I like the XPS design more, and its keyboard, but the Lenovo has a newer processor and is unbelievably light.
All in all then, Lenovo did a great job with the Lavie Z, and didn't fall into the normal traps that come with chasing one engineering crown. In fact, I wish more laptops had the same lack of bloatware, great screen and port selection, and acceptable performance/battery life. If they make the keyboard a bit better and maybe spice up the design for mark 2, it'll be the best 13" ultrabook.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The biggest news for most is the addition of an Xbox 360 emulator, which will hugely expand the number of available titles for the Xbox One, and allow people to use their existing game libraries. Games you purchased from the Xbox Marketplace on the 360 will automatically show up as available to download on your One, and physical disks will simply work after a software update. Even more impressively, they're maintaining both full backwards compatibility with saved games, achievements, etc. and letting you use new Xbox One features like Game DVR and Windows 10 streaming. You'll also be able to play online Xbox Live multiplayer with people on either a 360 or One. The beta is always available, while it'll roll out for everyone this fall. That'll be as part of the annual dashboard update, which revises the UI and adds Cortana, the digital assistant from Windows Phone & Windows 10. It'll sync data with those 2 platforms, and also features a new UI geared towards making as many features available without leaving a game as possible.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Apple iOS 9 brings multiwindow mode to the iPad, wireless CarPlay, Apple Pay for the UK, and transit directions
iOS 9 will also eke an hour more out of an iPhone 6 battery on average, and take up less space to install. Siri has been updated to work a claimed 40% faster and more accurately, and can now make location, time and email-based suggestions just like Google Now and Microsoft Cortana. Carplay, which is starting to roll out to Chevy, Cadillac and Hyundai vehicles(so far) now, will no longer require a physical connection to function. If your car supports it, it'll connect sans wires.
Apple's new programming language, Swift, is also getting an update to version 2.0, and will now be made open source for anyone to modify.
Finally, two factor authentication for your Apple account log ins will also be baked in to iOS 9.
Apple OS X El Capitan brings split screen, better performance, Metal, a new Safari and more this fall
Spotlight's also been updated with natural language query support, similar to Google; You can ask for the weather in Cupertino and get a result directly in Spotlight instead of it opening a browser window.
Finally, they're claiming 1.4x faster app opening and 4x faster PDF rendering, and general performance improvements across the OS.
Friday, June 5, 2015
Amazon right now for $69, the same price as the much less-capable Apple TV>
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Dell's just unveiled a veritable boatload of new computers, with the star of the show definitely being the new Inspiron 15 7000 Series. They also teased the even-higher end XPS 15, which is getting one of the Infinity Display's that debuted on the XPS 13, but there are no details on that model.
Let's start at the top: The Inspiron 15 7000 has a 1920x1080p or 4K 3840x2160p IPS TrueColor touchscreen, in a sub-20mm thick aluminum shell. The specs include one of Intel's new Broadwell Core i7 quadcore processors and an unspecified discrete GPU with 4GB's of GDDR5 memory. It's a 2-in-1 with a 360 degree hinge like the Lenovo Yoga, so you can use it in tablet or stand mode. There's also Waves MaxxAudio speakers, a spillproof backlit keyboard and a base price of 5999 yuan($970) in China, which will be its first market.
Meanwhile, the lower end Inspiron 5000 Series loses the 4K display option in favor of a base 1366x768 or optional 1920x1080p display at 14, 15 or 17 inches. They have a wide variety of AMD or Intel processors, optional touch capability and come in red, black, blue, white or grey. The 14" starts at $599, with the 15" running $449 and the 17" $699.
The entry level Inspiron 3000 Series will also be refreshed with Intel Broadwell processors, but no other changes.
Monday, June 1, 2015
The Transformer Book T100HA is maybe the most interesting, as it was already a quite competent Windows 2-in-1(dockable tablet,) and now it has rather amazing battery life. It's also the first Windows laptop to bake in a USB 3.1 Type C port, which debuted in the Apple Macbook and Google Chromebook Pixel. It's the future of connectors, with a tiny, reversible plug that carries up to a 100 watts of power, much faster data transfers and can function as a display connection as well. The battery life is rated at 14 hours, thanks to Intel's brand new Cherry Trail Atom x5 chips and a sadly low resolution 1280x800p screen. There's also 4GB's of RAM and Windows 10 in a 8.45mm thick case with your choice of blue, grey, white or pink coloring.
Meanwhile, the Zen AIO is an aluminum in one powered by an Intel Core i7 processor with a Realsense 3D camera for gesture controls and again the USB 3.1 Type C port. That one's due in the fourth quarter of this year and has 6 built in speakers.
Finally, the ProArt PA329Q is a curved IPS 4K UHD monitor with a screensize of 32" and 100% reproduction of the Adobe RGB color gamut. As for connections, it has Displayport 1.2, mini Displayport 1.2, HDMI 2.0, three HDMI 1.4, and 4 USB 3.0 ports.
First up, the Zenwatch 2 is the first second generation Android Wear watch, and it comes in two sizes, with the larger one including a bigger battery. There's also 3 colors, an AMOLED screen coated in Gorilla Glass 3, a "digital crown" like on the Apple Watch(basically a scroll wheel) and a choice of 18 metal, rubber or Swarofski straps.
The ZenPad series of Android tablets, meanwhile, are mostly rather average Android tablets in your choice of a 7, 8 or 10 inch HD laminated screen with optional 4G LTE. The ZenPad 10 has an optional keyboard, but where it starts to get interesting is the Zenpad 8 and 8S. The 8 has interchangeable backplates, like many phones, but instead of just offering different colors, you can add functionality. One backplate adds a large battery, while the other puts 6 speakers, including a subwoofer, on the back of your tablet. Meanwhile, the 8S is the first Android tablet with 4GB's of RAM, a 2048x1536 IPS display, Intel Atom Z3580, and a 6.6mm thick design.
Finally, the Zenfone Selfie is, as you might expect from the name, a smartphone with a 13MP front facing selfie cam.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Google's giant I/O developer conference kicked off this morning with a 2.5 hour keynote full of announcements. One of the biggest was a preview of the next version of Android, codenamed M(for Milkshake? Or Marzipan? Weigh in below or on Twitter) and a usable preview. Here's the new features:
- Google Now On Tap: This is some of the most impressive software I've seen as of late. Basically, when you're looking at something on your phone, you'll be able to hold the home button to bring up information about whatever you're seeing. Sounds simple, and similar to what Amazon does on their Fire devices - if you're watching a video, it'll tell you about the actors, locations or objects on screen. If you're looking at a web page, you can long press a word to get a definition, or if someone emails you about a movie, it'll show you the trailer and an option to buy tickets. But it goes further: They showed a phone playing a Radiohead song, and said "Ok Google, who's the lead singer?" and the phone gave them the answer. Note that they didn't specify the lead singer of Radiohead - the software just knew that was what was meant, based on the context. That's some seriously crazy stuff.
- Doze: This should also prove quite useful, and uses some pretty interesting software. Imagine you have a tablet that you leave at home most days while you go to work or school. During that whole period, unless you turn it fully off, it'll still be getting push notifications, periodically checking for other new content, and maybe running background apps. That all uses a lot of battery life, which leads to you having to charge your device more often. Doze detects when a device hasn't been moved for a while, and disables every background process that's not manually set as high priority by a developer. This can lead to as much as 100% improvements in battery life under some scenarios.
- Android Pay: In one of their more questionable decisions, Google is rebranding their mobile/web payments system Google Wallet as Android Pay. Now, while that's a fine name, it is very similar to Apple Pay, a service which came out after Google Wallet but does much the same thing. If you weren't aware of Google Wallet, and you now hear about Android Pay, it may seem like Google's copying Apple, when in fact they were first. But anyways, Android Pay will work across thousands of apps and stores, and provides a temporary credit card number to third parties so that your real one isn't compromised. More interestingly, it will now let you make payments at stores without even opening the app, and Google's working on facial recognition payment systems.
- Permissions & App Links: With Android M, instead of letting apps demand tons and tons of permissions to even be installed, users will now be able to grant permission to an app at runtime. For instance, WhatsApp will ask you for permission to use your microphone when you tap something that needs the microphone. Sharing info between apps is now a little better, as apps can set themselves as the default for a certain kind of app link. For example, if you install Twitter, and someone sends you an email to a tweet, previously you'd have to specify that you want to open the link in Twitter. Now it'll just do so automatically unless you go into settings and say otherwise.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
No word as of yet on when we can expect GM's GMC, Buick and Cadillac vehicles to add the enhanced phone integration.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
it's available on Amazon here.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
The engine's one of the the most important things about a muscle car, and Chevy's put 3 different options under the hood of its latest. The base model will be a new turbocharged I4 that produces 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torqute, with in excess of 30MPG highway on offer and a sub-6 second 0 to 60 time. Next up is Chevy's well known 3.6 liter V6, with 335 HP and 284 lb-ft of torque. If you buy that model with the automatic transmission, you also get standard cylinder deactivation for increased fuel economy when you aren't flooring it. Finally, the Camaro SS gets a only-slightly-detuned version of the legendary LT1 V8 from the Corvette Stingray and SS sedan. In the Camaro, it'll make 455 HP and 455 lb-ft of torque, and... it's an LT1, which is simply an outstanding engine. Being able to get one in a Camaro is pretty incredible.
All that power will be routed through your choice of a 6 speed manual or 8 speed automatic transmission, with different versions in the SS versus the lower end models.
All in all, it's a fantastic redesign, and I'm looking forward to hearing pricing and exact performance and economy specs.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Design & Display:
Finally, the keyboard is quite decent, with Lenovo's "smile" keys, decent travel for an 11" ultrabook, and plenty of shortcuts. I didn't care for the keys next to the up arrow, though - empty space around those reduces accidental key presses. The trackpad is actually one of the better Windows trackpads I've used, though it's smaller than my 11" Macbook Air, and obviously doesn't support all the same gestures.
|With my Moto 360, from Lenovo subsidiary Motorola|
Other than the performance from that Core M, the Yoga 3 has quite impressive specs. There's a health 8GB's of RAM and a 256GB SSD, both of which are expensive upgrades on a Macbook Air or Dell XPS 13. There's also a full HD 1920x1080p display, Bluetooth 4.0, the latest & greatest WiFi standard(AC) and plenty of ports; Specifically, you get two USB 3.0, microHDMI, a full size SD card slot and of course a headphone jack.
Unlike the Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows that I reviewed, which had a nice clean install of the OS, the Yoga 3 has a huge amount of bloatware. All of these preinstalled apps slow down the computer and take up space that could be used more productively. Of course, this can be solved by wiping the laptop and installing either fresh Windows 8.1 or another OS, but you shouldn't have to do that. It's annoying, and can lead to unforeseen security vulnerabilities like SuperFish.
|Side comparison with the 11" Macbook Air|
On the Windows front, there's a whole lot of alternatives, but Lenovo's own Yoga 3 14" will solve the performance issue if you don't mind a larger laptop. It does cost $100 more, but comes with better specs all around and the same(good) design. Dell's XPS 13 is also larger and costs $799, but with a better processor & gorgeous design but again, half the RAM and storage unless upgraded. Acer offers the Switch 11 for $649 with a Core i5 processor and detachable keyboard, but 4GB's of RAM, 128GB's of RAM and questionable build quality.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Antiheroes are undergoing a movie and TV revival, or perhaps even their biggest moment yet. From Walter White in Breaking Bad to the edgy, darker superheroes in modern DC Comics movies, they’re tremendously popular. Less common are stories that make the villain compelling, and motivated by the right reasons; If not “good,” at least understandable. It’s been done, but is still a good idea, and that’s where Marvel and Netflix’s series Daredevil is at its best.
If you haven’t read the comics or watched the Ben Affleck movie by the same name, Daredevil is the story of Matt Murdock, a blind vigilante who fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. He’s a struggling defense attorney and devout Irish Catholic by day who was struck by radioactive chemicals as a kid. This blinded him but supernaturally heightened all his other senses, because again, it’s based on a comic book. Charlie Cox of Boardwalk Empire plays the lead and does a good job, but the supporting cast really sell the show. During the rather slow-paced first two episodes, my favorite scenes were Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson’s hilarious side-adventures. They play Murdock’s law partner/best friend and the law team’s secretary respectively, and inject some much-needed comic relief. They aren’t just comic sidekicks though, as they get quite a bit of solo screen time, and Ms. Woll’s character makes a lot of the most important discoveries. Ben Urich and Rosario Dawson are also quite good. Most of all, actor Vincent D’Onofrio as the main villain (whose name I won't reveal here) is simply fantastic. He perfectly blends power with weakness and high-minded idealism with childlike rages.
D’Onofrio’s character is a criminal kingpin with immense legitimate and illegitimate incomes plus most of the city police, judiciary and “at least one Senator” in his employ. I won’t spoil his name - you don’t learn that until several episodes in. Yet he’s also afraid of speaking to crowds almost to the point of a disability and can be easily overwhelmed by his emotions. This juxtaposition is also played out in how Mr. D’Onofrio succeeded at convincing me that he regretted his misdeeds more than any other TV villain I can remember. His master plan is gentrifying his city, and while you may not feel that’s a great goal, it’s far from Bond-villain-style evil. If his methods weren’t so awful, he’d essentially be a force for good. Of course, this being a TV show, they are terrible. In one scene he beheads a Russian mafia leader with the door of a Cadillac for interrupting him during a dinner date, which is somehow both gallant and horrible. And extremely bloody.
That brings us to how dark this show is, along with some other issues. Marvel’s movies and their previous shows have been relatively light fare, mostly PG13 rated and essentially happy. Daredevil is none of those things. Considering the relatively low body count compared to your average blockbuster or action show, there’s an incredible amount of graphic violence. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s appropriate, such as in Game of Thrones, but I find it overdone here. It feels like they’re trying to look more serious and “adult” to combat their juvenile reputation by throwing in as many broken bones, stabbings, and long falls off rooftops as possible. The show also has a fair amount of stereotypes, with the bad guys delineated into the Russian, Japanese, and Chinese syndicates. Oh and Deborah Woll’s character is a pretty blond girl, so of course she quickly becomes a secretary.
Overall though, Daredevil was worth watching in many ways. Another high point of the show was Murdock’s discussions of the ethics of vigilantism with his priest, and his guilt over wanting to kill the lead villain. They have a lot to play with, obviously: A supposed hero who admits to enjoying hurting people is a bit unusual. Finally, the fight scenes are well executed, choreographed and don’t always go in the Murdock’s favor, unlike most superhero shows. Sure, there’s some scenes of hopelessly outmatched thugs being quickly defeated, but most of the time the fights are well balanced. In one scene, he’s left writhing on the floor after being hit with a Taser by a 77 year old banker. You’d never see that happen to Thor or Batman, and it keeps things interesting. But most of all, Daredevil shines the brightest through its darkest character, emphasizing how important the villain can be.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
If you find polycarbonate on your phone boring, you can get real leather on the back, like Motorola's Moto X. Inside, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexacore processor at 1.8GHz with a 64 bit architecture and Adreno 418 graphics, along with 3GB's of RAM and 32GB's of storage. The front is dominated by a large 5.5" 2560x1440 quantum dot IPS display with a contrast ratio of 1500:1 and a pixel density of 538 ppi. There's also an 8MP, f/2.0 front selfie camera. Around back is the main shooter, a 16MP, f/1.88 aperture optically image stabilized 1/2.6" sensor with laser autofocus, RAW capture, HDR and 4K video. As for the software, you get Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's latest skin. The G4 will be available on essentially every carrier in your choice of metallic gray orceramic white polycarbonate, brown leather
or black leather.
Monday, April 27, 2015
on Amazon here for $1298 with a 28-70mm kit lens.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Finally, the pricing is quite good, and if you don't use all the data you pay for, you get the money back(or applied to your next bill really.) So it starts out at $20 a month for unlimited talk, text, international roaming, and 24/7 support, and then you can add data for $10 per GB. In other words, if you pay $40, get 2GB's of data, and only use 1.5, you'll get $5 back. WiFi hotspot/tethering support is also included, which is somewhat unusual on MVNO's.
If you have a Google & Motorola Nexus 6 and what to try out Project Fi, you can request an invite to their Early Access Program now.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Google's Android Wear platform for smartwatches has gotten quite a few updates since launching last summer, some even relatively major. The latest is perhaps the largest however, with the following new features coming to all Android Wear devices:
- Gesture Control: Until now, Android Wear's provided two methods of interaction: Voice commands and taps/swipes on the touchscreen. That's a nicely simple alternative to the Apple Watch's many, many ways of controlling it, but if you want another approach, here you go. You'll now be able to flick or tilt your wrist to scroll through lists or cards in Google Now, which has the advantage of allowing one handed use but will likely be somewhat inaccurate.
- WiFi support: Most smartwatches use the same system on a chip as a smartphone, meaning they actually already have a wifi antenna. Android Wear hasn't supported however, but that's coming now, meaning you'll be able to get notifications, do Google searches and any other internet functionality even without your phone connected.
- Emoji: I respond to emails or texts semi-regularly from my Moto 360, but the voice control is somewhat inaccurate and sometimes inappropriate for your surroundings. With this update, you'll be able to instead just draw a smiley face, thumbs up or similar pictogram and Google will translate your drawing into the closest emoji.
- New launcher: Now instead of having to use voice or dig through a menu, 3rd party apps you've installed get their own launcher, and contacts are just one swipe away from your main menu as well.
The latest #AndroidWear update gets Wi-Fi, gestures, a new app launcher, emojis and more http://t.co/2VBS0R3FVA pic.twitter.com/8eiPWMPMJt
— Android (@Android) April 20, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
Meanwhile, Google has the leather band versions for just $165 right now, though if you have Amazon gift cards laying around, or want a metal band, Seattle's biggest retailer still might be your best choice.
Meanwhile, Google has the leather band versions for just $165 right now, though if you have Amazon gift cards laying around, or want a metal band, Seattle's biggest retailer still might be your best choice.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Meet Model S 70D. Exceptional performance & value with AWD, 240 miles range + Supercharging. http://t.co/Mv2iVOQuwJ pic.twitter.com/zjiXSrfIv3
— Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) April 8, 2015
Thursday, April 2, 2015
What exactly are its performance bonafides? Power is provided by Nissan's VQ engine, a 3.5 liter V6 that here makes 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque, while offering 30MPG highway. There's also a new suspension with monotube dampers, more torsional rigidity than the Porsche Cayman on the Maxima SR trim, and a new Xtronic CVT transmission. Internally, you get Nissan's well-liked Zero Gravity seats, with optional leather, a 7" touchscreen, remote startup, Bose audio, and an 8" display in the instrument cluster. There's also intelligent cruise control, the AroundView 360 degree camera system, blind spot monitoring and collision alerts.
Under the hood is a 1.4 liter inline 4 cylinder engine that makes 98 horsepower, offers an estimated 40MPG, and will be much lighter due to extensive use of aluminum. Safety-wise, there's 10 air bags standard, and collision alerts, blind spot monitoring and rear park assist are all available options. Internally, you get a 7" touchscreen for infotainment, 4G LTE to provide a WiFi hotspot, and a digital LCD instrument cluster display.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
So what did they change, exactly? The design is slightly different, and now made out of 75% aluminum, allowing for weight savings of 132lbs on the RWD model and 265lbs for AWD. That means that even the lightest XF is heavier then the new Cadillac CT6, which is a full size class up from the midsize cat. That's somewhat disappointing, but the new Jag is lighter than the comparable BMW, Mercedes, and Audi midsize competition.