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Tools of the Trade: July 2020

By Michael Castelluccio
July 1, 2020
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1. SURFACE BOOK 3 FOR BUSINESS

 

Microsoft’s new Surface Book 3 for Business is a detachable two-in-one laptop available with a 13.5″ or 15″ PixelSense display with 10-point multitouch. The keyboard base and display are made of durable magnesium finished in a platinum color. A keyboard key releases the hinge for removing the screen to use as a tablet. The 13.5″ version has a 10th generation Core i5 or i7 processor with Iris Plus or NVIDIA GeForce Graphics, up to 1TB SSD storage, and up to 32GB of memory. The 15″ model has a Quad-core 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce Graphics, up to 2TB SSD storage, and up to 32GB of memory. Both versions have two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, one USB Type-C, a full-size SDXC card reader, and 3.5 mm headphone jack. Wireless connections include Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6. There are batteries in both the keyboard case and the detachable screen that allow separate charging when using the Surface Book 3 as a tablet. There are two cameras—a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with sensors for use with facial recognition and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera on the top edge of the back of the display. Both have 1,080p video quality. www.microsoft.com

 

2. AMAZON ECHO SHOW 8

 

The midrange Amazon Echo smart speaker is called the Show 8 for its 8″ screen, and it’s right in the middle between the 10″ and 5″ Show models. Like the others, the Show 8 has the Alexa assistant, stereo sound, and a bright display for photos, TV shows, movies, and trailers from Prime Video, Hulu, and NBC. It plays tunes from streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, and with Amazon Music you can see the album art and the lyrics on screen. Check the weather, traffic, and news from sources like NPR and Bloomberg, and check your calendar with Alexa. For privacy, you can access the microphone and camera off button or use the built-in shutter to block the camera. If you have smart home devices like lights, thermostats, or security cameras, you can use the Echo Show as a hub for the controls. www.amazon.com

 

3. FIORA DESK CHARGER

 

Along with its wide variety of wireless chargers for the car, the Fiora company has a sleek Ultimate Wireless Desk Charger for your home. Using Fast Charge Qi Technology, the desk charger tested even quicker than Samsung’s Fast Charge Wireless Stand in PC World’s lab, fully charging a Galaxy S9 from empty to full in two hours and 45 minutes. Fiora translates that as 40% faster charging times up to 15W. The pad is made from tempered black glass with an aluminum alloy on the sides and back. A light on the front edge shines green when it’s on and blue while it’s charging. The unit includes the Ultimate Wireless Desk Charger, the Fast Charge wall power adapter, and a USB-C cable. www.ultimatewirelesscarcharger.com

 

4. FITBIT CHARGE 4

 

With GPS and heart monitoring now added, the Fitbit Charge 4 tracker monitors not only many workout routines but your sleep as well. A built-in Relax App also monitors breathing exercises. The detail of data collected and interpreted on the dashboard is the product of years of development, and the list of fitness and health tracking is long, including cardio fitness score, sleep tracking, guided breathing, 24/7 heart rate, all-day calorie burn, real-time pace and distance, floors climbed, reminders, 20 goal-based exercise modes, and more. The battery life has been improved to a week of use, depending on how often you run the GPS. www.fitbit.com

 

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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