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TOOLS OF THE TRADE

By Michael Castelluccio
May 1, 2015
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1. MICROSOFT SURFACE 3

 

The Microsoft Surface tablet has had a very bumpy start. The first edition was a failure, and it wasn’t until the Surface Pro 3 was released that the tablet evolved into a reasonable and very nicely styled replacement for a laptop. The latest model, the Microsoft Surface 3, is a smaller, more modestly priced version of the Surface Pro 3, which has wedged itself into the space dominated by the iPad tablet. With a starting price of only $499, the Surface 3 has a 10.8″ (diagonal) full HD-plus 1,920 × 1,280 pixel screen with an aspect ratio of 3:2. The screen supports the Surface Pen with 10-point multitouch capacity. The tablet runs Windows 8.1 and includes one free year of Office 365 and OneDrive cloud storage. Overall, the Surface measures 10.52″ × 7.36″ × 0.34″ and weighs 1.37 lbs. The processor is a Quad Core Intel Atom with 2GB to 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage. The tablet also has a microSD card reader, a full-size USB 3.0 port, and a micro-USB charging port. The battery lasts about 10 hours. www.microsoft.com

 

2. YOTAPHONE 2

 

The revised YotaPhone 2 was announced last year, but the rollout has been slow for this expensive Russian smartphone. The front AMOLED color display looks like a conventional five-inch, high-resolution Android device that doesn’t distinguish itself from others at first sight. What makes it unique, however, is the E Ink screen on the back, which helps optimize battery life. You can read the E Ink side for about five days on one charge, while the front screen will last for about a day on one charge. Both screens are protected with Gorilla Glass 3—the front is a five-inch, 1,080-pixel LCD screen, and the back is a 4.7″, 960 × 540 pixel E Ink screen—better than the second-generation Kindle Paperwhite. A YotaMirror button on the front screen allows you to switch the front panel, image, and functions to the back. It will be released in North America later this year. ­http://yotaphone.com/gb-en

 

3. BLACKBERRY ­LEAP

 

The new BlackBerry Leap offers a number of advanced features at an affordable price. Security includes encryption support; built-in malware detection; and backup, wipe, and restore functions. With a soft-grip curved back, the Leap has a 1,280 5 720 HD display, measuring 5.67″ × 2.87″ × 0.37″ overall. The on-screen keyboard has contextual autocorrect, next-word prediction, and learns as you use it. The BlackBerry 10 OS runs on a Qualcomm MSM 1.5 GHz processor, and there’s 2GB of RAM and 16GB of flash memory. The battery lasts up to 25 hours. The eight-megapixel rear camera has autofocus and flash, and the two-megapixel front camera is fixed-focus. www.blackberry.com

 

4. BOXWAVE BUDDY CASE

The Keyboard Buddy snaps onto the back of your iPhone like a hard plastic case. Then you slide out a keyboard that shuts off the on-screen keyboard. The keys are textured and raised, so there’s tactile feedback as you type, and are backlit for low light. The keyboard connects via Bluetooth 3.0 and can be turned off to save battery. It charges with a USB cable, and the charge lasts two weeks. It’s compatible with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint versions of the iPhone 6. The case is 5.5″ × 2.2″ × 0.68″ with a smooth texture coating. www.boxwave.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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