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Tools of the Trade: December 2019

By Michael Castelluccio
December 1, 2019
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1. PANASONIC TOUGHBOOK 55

 

The latest version of Panasonic’s Toughbook 55 might not be the most armored, but it’s lighter (4.6 lbs.) and thinner than most in its class. Panasonic calls the 14″ laptop “semi-rugged.” There are several other unique advantages from new modular elements that make swapping system components easy. You can upgrade the memory, storage, and even the keyboard. User-removable expansion packs provide additional I/O, optical drives, authentication readers, dedicated graphics, and more. Most of the module slots have quick-release sliding locks to speed up removal and replacement. The Toughbook 55 has a battery life of up to 40 hours from the basic 20-hour battery and an optional second battery that can be quickly hot-swapped without turning the laptop off. The Intel processor is an 8th Generation Core i5 or Core i7, and this is the first Toughbook to include a USB Type-C port, HDMI video output, and Bluetooth 5.0. The 1,080-pixel webcam has infrared sensors for facial recognition and a privacy door. The design is MIL-STD and IP53 certified magnesium alloy with a built-in handle, and vehicle and desktop docks are backward compatible. www.panasonic.com

 

2. GOOGLE PIXEL 4

 

The latest versions of Google’s flagship smartphones, Pixel 4 and 4 XL, still have some of the best cameras. The Pixel 4 also features a smart redesign and several new features, including Face Unlock, Live Caption, and Motion Sense. The front looks familiar, but the back is now glass in black, orange, or white with a new camera pane in the upper left with two sensors. The basic lens is an f/1.7 12.2MP, while the telephoto lens is 16MP with an f/2.4. Both have optical and electronic stabilization. The low-light stops are enhanced with a software system called Night Sight that extends exposure times for beautifully rendered detail in low light. The new display on both models is a 90Hz OLED, now brighter and with a wider color range. Memory is 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB ­storage. store.google.com

 

3. AMAZON ECHO BUDS

 

There are three advantages to the new Amazon wireless Echo Buds. They have good noise cancellation, decent audio quality, and solid integration with the Alexa assistant. One other add-on is that they’re about half the price of Apple’s AirPods Pro. The noise cancellation is from Bose ANR, and battery life is up to five hours with the charging case providing additional power of up to 15 hours. A quick charge of 15 minutes will give you up to two hours of play. Alexa is available hands-free to play music, make calls, and get directions. Other assistants like Siri or Google Assistant can be reached by pressing the earbud. Three sizes of ear tips are included. www.amazon.com

 

4. MOPHIE JUICE PACK

 

The Mophie Juice Pack Access is a wireless charging battery case for iPhone X/XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR. It doesn’t plug into your phone, but it does use the Qi wireless charging system—getting a charge and transferring that charge to your phone through contact. The lightning connection and speakers at the bottom of your phone aren’t accessed or covered by the case. You slip your phone in from the top, and the case offers back and edge protection with all the appropriate cutouts in place. Set your covered phone on a wireless charger, and the charge is first delivered directly to the phone. When fully charged, it switches to recharge the backup battery in the case. www.mophie.com

 

 

Michael Castelluccio has been the Technology Editor for Strategic Finance for 24 years. His SF TECHNOTES blog is in its 21st year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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