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Tools of the Trade: September 2020

By Michael Castelluccio
September 1, 2020
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1. GALAXY NOTE 20

 

This year’s Samsung August launch party featured two new Galaxy Note phones, a new smartwatch, wireless earbuds, a new Tab S7 tablet, and an improved version of the company’s folding phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 2. The two new Galaxy Note 20 5G phones have a number of improvements. The Ultra version is larger, has microSD storage, an S Pen with lower latency, Ultra-Wide Band technology, and the Dynamic AMOLED 120Hz screen with Corning’s new Gorilla Glass Victus with improved scratch-resistance. The Note 20 is available with 128GB internal memory and 8GB of RAM, and the Ultra offers up to 512GB and 12GB RAM. Both support fast charging and wireless charging, can record video at 8K, have IP68 water-resistance, and come in a variety of color finishes—the regular 20 in bronze, gray, and green, and the 20 Ultra in bronze, black, and white. The Ultra’s large 6.9″ OLED display is almost bezel-less, and it has a dynamically adjusting refresh rate of 120Hz to preserve battery life. The regular Note 20 has a 6.7″ 1,080p display with a 60Hz refresh rate. The styluses for both phones now have more gestures. www.samsung.com

 

2. GOOGLE PIXEL 4a

 

The Google Pixel 4a (4G version) was also announced in the first week of August 2020. The 4a is a lower-cost Pixel ($349) that’s both durable and high quality with an excellent 12mp camera. The Guardian calls it the best phone Google has made in years. The display is a 5.8″ FHD + OLED screen in a body that measures 5.7″ × 2.7″ × 0.3″. There’s 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, and the quick-charge battery is 3,140 mAh for all-day use. A fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, the connector is USB-C, and there’s a headphone jack. The Pixel 4a is 4G, and it does have dual-SIM capability (Nano SIM and eSIM). There’s only one color, black, and orders are now being taken by Google. store.google.com

 

3. KOBO FORMA

 

Most dedicated e-book readers have 6″ screens, so the 8″ screen of the Kobo Forma looks considerably larger and is capable of displaying full pages of print. At 6.95 oz., it feels like nothing resting in your open hand, no matter the number of books downloaded in its library. The large bezel allows you to read with one hand because of the physical forward and page-back buttons under your thumb. You can rotate the page horizontally or flip it to switch left-hand to right. The screen is the latest PPI E Ink Mobius Carta touchscreen (1,440 × 1,920 resolution) lit with 17 LEDs, with ComfortLight Pro settings for night. The Forma is IPX 8 waterproof, supports 14 file formats, and has TypeGenius with 11 fonts that are almost infinitely adjustable for weight, sharpness, and size. www.kobo.com

 

4. GALAXY WATCH 3

 

The new Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two sizes, 45mm and 41mm. The body of the watch looks more rugged than the previous Galaxy Watch 2, but the menus and faces are similar. One major difference is the rotating bezel, which dials between different apps on the Watch 3. Most important, though, are several new, long-awaited health-monitoring functions. These include blood-pressure readings, blood-oxygen levels, and ECG monitoring, which join the trip-detection feature that can notify emergency contacts and share location when it detects a hard fall, and the built-in sleep tracker and heart monitor. www.samsung.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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