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Tools of the Trade: January 2020

By Michael Castelluccio
January 1, 2020
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1. SURFACE PRO 7

 

Microsoft’s Surface Pro is now in its seventh generation. The Pro 7 is available in several configurations with 10th Generation Intel i3, i5, or i7 processors; 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB memory; and SSD storage ranging from 128GB to 1TB. The dual far-field studio microphones are improved in this generation, and there are several software updates for the Surface Pen, including an Ink Editor mode for Excel and Word. Most noticeable of the upgrades is the addition of a USB-C port. The fabric-clad keyboard cover still offers solid performance, but, as before, it’s an additional $160. The screen is 11.5″ × 7.9″ × 0.33″, and the weight is under two pounds (1.7 lbs. to 1.74 lbs. without the cover). The battery life is listed at 10.5 hours, which should serve for a workday, but it’s shorter than the Pro 6. There’s a Windows Hello face authentication front-facing camera (5.0 MP) and an 8.0 MP rear-facing autofocus camera. The Pro 7 is available in platinum and matte black. www.microsoft.com

 

2. MOTOROLA ONE HYPER

 

The new Motorola One Hyper smartphone has three advantages over most others in its class. The bezel-free screen is continuous all around without the top notch for a camera opening. Instead, it has a pop-up 32MP camera for selfies. The 6.5″ LCD screen has a resolution of 2,340 × 1,080 pixels. The performance of the two camera systems, front and back, is the second advantage. The dual camera on the back has a 64MP main sensor and an 8MP, 118-degree ultrawide-angle lens. Both front and back cameras are capable of low-light photography in Night Vision mode, enabled with a laser system that focuses in the dark. The 4,000mAh battery has a life up to 38 hours, and it supports fast charging. For $399, you also get 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage expandable up to 1TB, all running on Android 10. www.motorola.com

 

3. DYSON CRYPTOMIC PURIFIER

 

The Pure Cryptomic air purifier provides all-­season warming or cooling airstreams with fan and heater models, and its purifying filtration traps 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns and volatile organic compounds in its activated carbon and glass HEPA filter. The latest Cryptomic model has a special filter built into its base that can capture and destroy formaldehyde particles released from household items like furniture, paint, air fresheners, and household cleaners by converting it to water and CO2. The filter is made of cryptomelane and never needs replacement. An on-board display reports airborne particles and gases, and you can get real-time air quality data on your smartphone with the Dyson Link app. www.dyson.com

 

4. MICROSOFT SEEING AI

 

The latest iOS version of Microsoft’s Seeing AI computer vision app has added five more languages: Dutch, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. Designed for blind or low-vision individuals, this free phone/tablet app provides spoken descriptions of the world around you, including short text, documents, products, facial recognition of friends and their moods, and currency, and there’s even an experimental channel that describes scenes around you. Using tones, it can describe the light levels or the colors of the decor. The camera app uses channels to read aloud short text, OCR your paper mail, or even tell you what’s in the can you’ve taken off the kitchen shelf. Not yet available for Android. apple.co/2sk3AN8

 

Michael Castelluccio has been the Technology Editor for Strategic Finance for 25 years. His SF Technotes blog is in its 22nd year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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