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Tools of the Trade: November 2018

By Michael Castelluccio
November 1, 2018
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1. GOOGLE PIXEL 3

 

Google has announced its Pixel 3 and 3XL smartphones. Both feature bigger screens than their predecessors and a system made smarter with artificial in­telligence (AI). The Pixel 3 has a 5.5″ screen, and the 3XL measures 6.3″. Both have 4GB of RAM and the choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage as well as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor running the latest Android 9 Pie and Google Assistant. The dual front-facing speakers are now louder, and the cameras include a 12.2MP rear camera with autofocus and optical and electronic stabilization, and dual front cameras offering 8MP wide-angle and normal field of view. Both phones have wireless Qi charging, and the on-board Google Assistant responds even when the phone is on the charging pad. Turn the Pixel facedown on your desk, and notifications are muted. The body has an aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, soft-touch (matte) Gorilla Glass on the back, and IPX8 dust and water protection. The three available colors are black, white, and Not Pink (light pink). The new AI functions are evident in the Assistant and the numerous camera enhancements. store.google.com

 

2. GOOGLE HOME HUB

 

The Home Hub is the first smart display manufactured by Google itself, and it has a different operating system and Amlogic chip from the third-party providers like Lenovo. The Google Home Hub has a 7″ screen, but Google decided not to include a video camera for those nervous about the security of that kind of presence. The Home Hub, measuring 7.02″ × 4.65″, is slightly smaller than other third-party smart displays, and it comes in four colors: sand, aqua, chalk, and charcoal. When you ask questions of Google Assistant, you get answers and images, and Google Maps can illustrate the directions it returns. Music includes Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as YouTube Music. Google Photos and thousands of smart home devices can be voice-­controlled with the Hub. store.google.com

 

3. RAZER PHONE

 

Along with Apple’s and Google’s autumn smartphone debuts, Razer, the company that has laid claim to the largest global gamer ecosystem, has announced a new flagship of its own, the Razer Phone 2—built for work and mobile entertainment. The latest upgrades include a more powerful processor with vapor-chamber cooling, wireless charging, and water resistance. The Razer phone is the only smartphone with a true 120Hz screen that controls lag-free touch response and display refresh rate. The 5.7″ screen is now 50% brighter displaying 1,440 × 2,560 pixels. Dolby Atmos dual front-facing speakers support both HDR and 5.1 surround sound content. www.razer.com/mobile/razer-phone-2

 

4. KOBO FORMA eREADER

 

Rakuten’s latest eReader has a larger 8″ screen with an extremely sharp 300ppi (1,440 × 1,920) E Ink Carta display that can rotate to be read in portrait or landscape mode. The lightweight 7-oz. build is waterproof IPX8 for up to 60 minutes in two meters of water. There are 11 different fonts available in more than 50 styles. Fourteen different file formats can be read on the Forma including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, and CBR. There’s no advertising, and the reader can handle the display of 10 different languages. A curved edge and the page-turn buttons make the eReader extremely comfortable to hold despite the larger screen. www.kobo.com

 

Michael Castelluccio has been the Technology Editor for Strategic Finance for 23 years. His SF TECHNOTES blog is in its 20th year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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