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Tools of the Trade: October 2015

By Michael Castelluccio
October 1, 2015
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1. IPAD PRO

Because of its very large screen, detachable keyboard, and the ability to multitask, the iPad Pro may soon surpass Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 as the best candidate to replace your laptop. The Pro screen is larger at 12.9″, and its screen is substantially sharper with 5.6 million pixels—compared to the Surface’s 12″ screen and 3.1 million pixels. It has an eight-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera on the front. The Pro’s engine is a new 64-bit A9X chip that Apple says “rivals most portable PCs,” and its battery life lasts 10 hours. It’s available in 32GB and 128GB models. You can attach a keyboard (sold separately) and buy Apple’s new “pencil” stylus, available for $99. The biggest downside compared to the Surface is that the Pro doesn’t have USB or Micro SD ports. And the usual Apple advantage of 850,000 apps designed for the iPad fades a little when held up to the universe of Windows programs that will run nicely on the Surface Pro’s Windows 10 OS. www.apple.com

 

2. IPHONE 6S AND 6S PLUS

Although they look identical to their immediate predecessors, the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sport a number of innovative features, including 3D Touch and Live Photos. 3D Touch adds a second layer of touch sensitivity to call up other apps or menus. Apple calls it Peek and Pop™—the phones sense pressure, enabling new gestures, so you can dip in and out of content without losing your place. Press lightly to “peek” at a photo, e-mail, or Web page, then press a little harder to “pop” into the content itself. 3D Touch also allows shortcuts from the home screen to what you do the most. Live Photos are HD stills that will animate when you touch them. The stills become GIFs, brief videos with sound that include a number of frames before and after the moment depicted in the still. The back camera is 12 megapixels, and the front-facing camera is five megapixels. Ion-strengthened glass, faster Touch ID, Wi-Fi, LTE, 70% faster CPU performance, and many other improvements make these doppelgangers worth a closer look. www.apple.com

 

3. APPLE TV

Also included in this year’s fall Apple harvest is the new Apple TV. It has new high-performance hardware, including the Apple-designed A8 chip, and it runs on the all-new tvOS operating system, which will open up the playing field for iOS developers to create apps for a new Apple TV Store. Most interesting, though, is the Siri Remote, which features Siri and all its search and service capabilities in a TV remote control. www.apple.com

 

4. POLAROID CUBE+

Polaroid calls its little Cube+ a “lifestyle action camera,” and this latest version has Wi-Fi that connects to iOS and Android devices via the Polaroid Cube+ app. Sort of a GoPro for the family, it’s a small, 1.4″ cube that can shoot 1,080-pixel full-HD video at 60 frames per second and eight-megapixel stills through its 124° wide-angle lens, all recorded on a Micro SD card storing up to 32GB. A built-in magnet lets you attach it almost anywhere. Additional mounts for tripods, straps, helmets, and bikes are available, along with a ­waterproof case with a suction-cup mount. The basic housing is shockproof and splash-resistant, and the camera features image stabilization and enhanced low-light performance. www.polaroid.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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