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Tools of the Trade: December 2015

By Michael Castelluccio
December 1, 2015
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12_2015_tools

1. LG WATCH URBANE 2

 

The LG Watch Urbane 2 isn’t just an Android alternative to the Apple watch. It’s a smartwatch that doesn’t need a smartphone because it has connectivity via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and cellular. Slip in the very small SIM card, and your Urbane 2 becomes 2G, 3G, and LTE compatible. The smart specifications include a 1.2GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 768MB of RAM, and 4GB of on-board memory. It runs on the latest version of Android Wear, and 16 watch dials and the LG Health app are already installed. The resolution of the 1.38″ P-OLED display is extremely sharp at 480 X 480 pixels, producing 348 pixels-per-inch. The Urbane 2 case is stainless steel with a diameter of 1.79″ and is 0.56″ thick. It has three buttons on the side that provide quick access to the LG Health app, contacts, and a list of apps, among other settings. Additional features include a heart-rate sensor, 9-axis Gyro, accelerometer, compass, and barometer. The watch is IP67-certified to be waterproof up to 3.3′ for 30 minutes. www.lg.com

 

2. ROKU SE

 

The Roku SE works with newer HDMI TVs and older analog sets with composite connections (i.e., red/white/yellow cables). In other words, it’s an entry-level player for those who want to try video streaming. It will play 1,080-pixel videos using your home Wi-Fi connection. Despite the modest cost, you’ll have access to 2,500 streaming channels with 300,000 movies and television shows on demand. These include Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Now, Pandora, and Spotify—though subscription fees still apply. It runs on the latest Roku OS 7 and has features like Roku Search by keyword, title, actor, or director. www.roku.com

 

3. ALPHA 2

 

You might have noticed that toys are getting smarter this holiday season. Even the 56-year-old icon Barbie now has embedded Wi-Fi, a microphone, and a dialect of speech recognition called ToyTalk—she’s AI Barbie. But what might be the most fascinating toy available this year is a robot called Alpha 2. It’s from UB Tech, and although it looks like a children’s toy and can tell stories and answer homework questions, Alpha 2 is being promoted as the “perfect companion for the whole family.” With a Samsung Exynos 5260 six-core processor and a Wi-Fi connection to a cloud services platform, the Alpha 2 can chat, do online searches, offer language translations, set automatic reminders, give you weather updates, check voicemails, read and send texts and e-mails, and remotely control office devices to print or fax. It’s 17″ X 9″ and weighs five pounds. It was crowdfunded by IndieGoGo, and the demo videos are worth a look. www.ubtrobot.com

 

4. NEST CAM

The Nest Cam security camera provides quality 1,080-pixel high-definition video with a 130-degree, wide-angle or zoomed view of a room that you can stream to your phone, tablet, or laptop. Night vision is controlled by eight high-power infrared LEDs with infrared cut filter, and it provides a whole-room view. The Nest Cam also has a microphone and speaker so that you can listen and talk using the Nest app. The camera will alert you if it senses motion or sound. You need a Wi-Fi connection and a phone or tablet with iOS 8 or later or Android 4 or later and a free Nest account. The optional Nest Aware service will continuously record and store 10 or 30 days of footage. www.nest.com

Michael Castelluccio has been the Technology Editor for Strategic Finance for 21 years. His SF TECHNOTES blog is in its 19th year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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