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Tools of the Trade: March 2021

By Michael Castelluccio
March 1, 2021

 

1. GALAXY S21

 

Launched in mid-January, the latest line of Samsung’s Galaxy phones includes the S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra, all 5G, and all with Dynamic AMOLED 2X screens from 6.2″, 6.7″, and 6.8″, respectively. All three offer a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor or the Samsung Exynos 2100. RAM is 8GB for the S21 and Plus, and the Ultra has 12GB or optional 16GB. Onboard memory is 128GB or 256GB for the S21 and Plus, and 128GB to 512GB are available on the Ultra. None have smartcard slots. All have both wired and wireless fast charging as well as reverse wireless charging, which will charge your earbuds from the phone. Only the Ultra has S-Pen support, but all three have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and face unlock. For cameras, there are five premium imaging sensors on the back of the S21 Ultra: a 108MP wide-angle lens, 12MP ultrawide (120° field of view), a 10MP f2.4 3X optical zoom telephoto, a 10MP f4.9 10X optical zoom telephoto, and a laser autofocus sensor. The S21 and Plus have three lenses—a standard wide-angle 12MP, ultrawide 12MP, and a 3X “hybrid optic” zoom. www.samsung.com

 

2. ACER CHROMEBOOK SPIN

 

The Spin 514 is Acer’s most powerful Chromebook yet, and the first to use AMD processors. It has an AMD Ryzen 3000 series mobile processor with optional Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 available, integrated graphics, and up to 16GB of DDR4 DRAM. The 14″ 1,080p screen can be flipped backward to stand like a tent, or it can be folded backward and used as a tablet. It weighs 3.42 lbs. and measures 12.7″ × 8.88″ × 0.68″. There are quite a number of ports for a Chromebook, with a USB-C and full-size USB 3.2 Gen 1, audio jack, and microSD card reader on the left, and another USB-C and USB 3.2 on the right side. If you opt for the Ryzen 5 or 7 processor, you get a full-size HDMI port as well. Battery life is promised to be up to 10 hours on a charge. www.acer.com

 

3. UTS-1 WIRELESS CHARGER

 

Kew Labs’ new UTS-1 smart wireless charger will clear some of the space on your desk, table, kitchen counter, or side tables because you mount it under the surface of your furniture for “invisible” charging. It charges Qi-compatible phones through 18 mm.-25 mm. (0.7″-1″) wood, glass, granite, quartz, plastic, and other materials excluding metal. Fast charging speeds for Apple are 7.5W and 9W for Samsung. Others, like Google, Sony, and Huawei, are at regular 5W speeds. You mount it with the screws or tape provided. An Intelligent Power Communication (IPC) technology automatically switches to align and adjust for the thickness of the surface. The UTS-1 will be available to buy in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union starting in April/May for $105. www.kewlabstech.com

 

4. CHIPOLO ONE OCEAN EDITION

 

The Chipolo finder chip helps you digitally locate lost keys and other items. With the Ocean Edition, Chipolo now also addresses a major pollution problem. According to Chipolo, discarded fishing gear makes up the majority of plastic pollution endangering the oceans’ ecosystems, so its team has decided to recycle that waste into something you’ll want to keep attached to valuables like your keys. Discarded fishing nets, trawls, and ropes are collected nearshore and recycled into pellets for use in the covers of the Ocean Edition. Additionally, you’re contributing $1 to the nonprofit Oceanic Global cleanup initiative when you buy one of the chips. chipolo.net

 

Michael Castelluccio has been the technology editor for Strategic Finance for 26 years. His SF TechNotes blog is in its 23rd year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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