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Tools of the Trade: November 2017

By Michael Castelluccio
November 1, 2017
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11_2017_tools

 

1. GOOGLE PIXEL 2

 

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL share a number of improvements over their year-old predecessors. They are waterproof immersed up to three feet for 30 minutes. Both have AMOLED displays—the 2 with a 5″ 1,920 × 1,080 resolution and the 2 XL has a 6″ 2,880 × 1,440. Google is currently offering a free Google Home Mini assistant with the purchase of either one. Other features include the most recent 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and Android 8.0 Oreo. Memory includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB and 128GB of internal storage. The batteries are 2,700 mAh on the Pixel 2 and 3,520 mAh on the XL model, with up to seven hours of power on a 15-minute charge. The fingerprint scanner is on the back, and there’s no 3.5mm audio jack for headphones. The most outstanding feature is the camera. The front-facing is 8MP and the rear is 12.2MP F1.8 with dual LED flash. The camera has optical image stabilization, autofocus, self-timer, digital zoom, and geotagging. The software enables face detection, voice activation, touch-to-focus, burst mode, and a panorama format. store.google.com

 

2. MICROSOFT SURFACE BOOK 2

 

The newest Microsoft ­Surface Book 2 line of convertibles has added a 15″ model alongside the 13.5″ notebook to compete directly with the Apple MacBook Pro line. These laptops have detachable screens and are designed to work in four modes: laptop, tablet, studio, or a view mode with a push-button release for the screen. The most noticeable improvement in the new models is in the fulcrum hinge, which is now much sturdier than it was the first time around. Both models have batteries that will provide up to 17 hours of video playback on a charge. The Surface Book 2 13.5″ has a higher resolution than the MacBook Pro 13 with a PixelSense display resolution of 3,000 × 2,000 (267 PPI). Screens on both Surface notebooks are 10-point multitouch and pen-enabled. www.microsoft.com

 

3. GOOGLE HOME ASSISTANT

 

At the Pixel launch in October 2017, Google introduced two new sizes for its Google Home Assistant. The small puck-shaped Mini will compete with the Amazon Echo Dot, and the new Google Home Max is in a class by itself. This large (13.2″ × 7.4″ × 6.0″) speaker system has two 4.5″ woofers and a pair of custom tweeters packed in rigid housing that can stand vertically or horizontally on a shelf or table. Also enclosed is the Google digital assistant with the best search functions of any of the digital assistant/speaker combinations. A smart sound function lets the speaker evaluate the acoustic profile of its setting and then adjust its output for maximum clarity. It streams Wi-Fi and Bluetooth input, or you can plug in a turntable via a stereo cable. store.google.com

 

4. AUGUST SMART LOCK PRO

 

The August Smart Lock Pro 3rd Generation is a keyless lock control designed to install over an existing deadbolt assembly. What it adds to your existing deadbolt is a connection over Apple’s HomeKit and Siri to automatically lock your door when you leave and unlock it when you get home. You control the door lock from your phone, and you can keep track of arrivals and departures as well. If your deadbolt assembly on the door is compatible, installation should take you from 10 to 15 minutes. Check www.august.com for three price options, additional connectivity, installation demos, and whether your lock is suitable for retrofitting.

 

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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