Category: Tech Blog

CES 2016 Has Begun!

On the 6th of January 2016, the International Consumer Electronics Show began. CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technology. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for almost 50 years—the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. This year’s show has the largest exhibit floor in the show’s 49-year history, with 2.4 million net square feet of exhibit space and featuring more than 3,600 companies, including a record 500 startups.

Some of the products unveiled by companies are:

  • Bosch – In-Vehicle Audio/Video System with Personalized Haptic Touchscreen, including haptic control so drivers can feel the buttons on the screen and receive touch feedback
  • Casio – Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 powered by Android Wear, the first watch with a built-in microphone that is water resistance up to 50 meters and features a dual layer display structure that meets U.S. military standards
  • DISH – Hopper 3, powering up to seven home TVs at once, and comes with 16 tuners and a “Sports Bar Mode” that lets owners watch four regular HD channels at once on their Ultra HD TV
  • FitBit – FitBit Blaze, a new smart fitness watch designed to balance fitness and style
  • GoSun – The E-Grill fries, roasts and bakes, powered by an electric heater or a solar panel that captures solar energy to cook after the sun goes down
  • Hisense – 2016 line of TVs with ULED technology, which is three times brighter than OLED and has quantum dot technology
  • HS Innovation GmbH – RUN ROCKETS™ & DIGITAL SKI™, high-end precision sensors attached to skis or running shoes that measure the exact movements of the skis or user’s feet
  • Kia – The Drive Wise combines the current advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) with telematics, bringing faster and more accurate assistance for drivers
  • LG – LG Signature OLED TV, featuring picture-on-glass design, a 2.57 mm panel, Dolby Vision technology, and an integrated speaker system with a built-in woofer
  • Marathon Laundry – Smart laundry machine that customizes wash cycles and allows users to switch from washer to dryer without removing clothes
  • MobileHelp – Next-generation remote health medical alarm that pairs with smartphones
  • Monster – The Blaster boombox, which produces bi-directional sound with full and deep bass
  • Morpx Inc. – Mu smart toy, a sensor add-on that acts as a smart eye and brain for your existing remote controlled toys
  • Nobo – B60 health and fitness app, which monitors hydration in real-time during exercise
  • Panasonic – DX900 4K LED TV and UB900 UHD Blu-ray Player, as well as the Technics SL-1200 high-fi turntable
  • Qualcomm – Snapdragon 602A automotive processor, which will be used in 2017 Audi cars, allowing for high bandwidth in-vehicle Internet connectivity
  • Samsung – KS9500 SUHD TV, highlighting quantum dot technology, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 4K Ultra HD resolution capabilities with the world’s first bezel-less design
  • Sony – 4K HDR TV (X930D series) features new slim backlight drive technology, voice recognition in 40 languages, Sony’s exclusive Content Bar and ultra-thin design
  • StreamTV – Unveiled Ultra-D 4K Glasses-Free technology
  • TCL – QUHD TV with quantum dot, local dimming, IDP engine and HDR technology offering a wider color gamut
  • Valeo – Les Lunettes by Valeo are connected, technology-packed glasses that improve driver visibility day and night by reducing glare from different sources
  • ZTE – GrandX3, carried by Cricket, features 5.5” HD infinity edge display, Qualcomm 1.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor, 16 GB Flash-based Storage (expandable to 64 GB) and LTE speeds

Check out CES at https://www.cesweb.org/ to see what is happening in the world of consumer tech!

iPhone 6S teardown reveals upgrades galore, similar hardware layout

By Bill Detwiler, CNET

The iPhone 6S may look identical to last year’s iPhone 6, but it’s not the same phone. As with previous S models, Apple put most of the changes on the inside.

Like the previous model, the 6S measures 5.44 inches tall and 2.64 inches wide. It’s 0.2 millimeter thicker and about a half an ounce heavier, but I doubt most people will notice these differences.

The iPhone 6 and 6S both have a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, but the newer phone features Apple’s 3D Touch technology, which can detect how much pressure you apply to the screen. Perhaps, this is why Apple covered the 6S’ display with a new kind of chemically strengthened glass.

 

In addition to using stronger glass, Apple also used a different type of aluminum on the 6S. Instead of using a series 6000 alloy as they did on the iPhone 6, Apple built the 6S’ body out of a more rigid, series 7000 aluminum alloy. Hopefully, we won’t see any “bendgate” stories about the 6S.

Now that we’ve looked at the phone’s outside, it’s time to break out our tools and take a look at the inside.

Disassembling the iPhone 6S

To crack open the iPhone 6S, I removed the two Pentalobe screws located along the bottom edge and then used our handy, suction-cup opening tool to pop loose the display. Separating the front panel from the aluminum body was more difficult on the iPhone 6S than it was on last year’s iPhone 6. Apple appears to have used stronger adhesive between the panel and the body.

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Opening the iPhone 6S.Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

With the front panel open, I removed several metal plates that cover connectors for the battery, front panel and other components. I then disconnected the battery and completely removed the front panel.

I left the battery attached to the phone to avoid having to glue it back to the body after the teardown. For several years, Apple has attached the iPhone’s battery with adhesive strips, which work like those single-use strips people hang stuff on their walls with. The strips make removing the battery easy, but they’re really only designed to be used once.

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Removing the iPhone 6S system board.Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

The first internal component to be removed was the new iSight camera, which Apple upgraded to a 12-megapixel unit that can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second. A small antenna, located in the upper-left corner of the body above the battery, came out next.

After removing a few screws, dealing with a new hex-head standoff, and detaching the remaining connectors, I lifted out the motherboard.

The last pieces to come out were the speaker assembly and Apple’s new Taptic Engine, which sits below the battery and replaces the vibration mechanism found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

As with the battery, I chose not remove the headphone and Lightning connector assembly, volume buttons, ringer switch, power button and a slew of connector wires.

Most of these components are held to the case with both screws and adhesive. If any of these components were damaged, removing and replacing them wouldn’t be difficult. But I didn’t want to risk damaging them during removal.

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iPhone 6S teardown.Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

What the teardown tells us

No big internal design changes: The overall hardware layout is the same as on the iPhone 6. The speaker and Lightning connector assembly is located along the bottom of the body, the battery is attached to the left side, the motherboard is on the right, and the camera assembly sits in the upper-right corner.

Reworked speaker assembly: The iPhone 6S’ Taptic Engine is slightly larger than the old, linear oscillating vibration mechanism found on the iPhone 6. Apple reshaped the speaker assembly to accommodate this change.

Lower capacity battery: The iPhone 6S’s battery is rated at 1,715mAh compared to the 6’s 1,810mAh battery. Despite this reduction, Apple claims battery life on the 6S will be the same as it was on the older phone.

New front panel: Apple made several changes to the iPhone’s front panel with the 6S. They upgraded the FaceTime camera from 1.2 megapixels to 5 megapixels, they added an improved Home button (which reads fingerprints much more quickly than the old one), and they added 3D Touch functionality. They also reduced the number of connectors from four to three. Unfortunately, they didn’t also reduce the panel’s weight. The new panel is actually heavier than the old one.

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iPhone 6S system board.Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

Shields soldered to the system board: Unfortunately, the shields that cover the iPhone 6’s motherboard are soldered in place — obscuring our view of the new A9 processor (with integrated M9 motion coprocessor) and most of the other chips. As I wanted to (and did) put this phone back together in working order, I left the shields in place.

Solid S model update

Hold an iPhone 6 next to a iPhone 6S, and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two apart. Except for a small S label on the back of the iPhone 6S and a newly available rose gold finish, the phone looks identical to last year’s 6. Looks however, can be deceiving. Apple packed lots of new tech into the iPhone 6S, and if you’re still using a 5 or 5S (and maybe even a 6), I would definitely think about upgrading.

Update 10/2/2015 8:43 EDT: Updated the iPhone 6S’ thickness to correctly read 0.2 millimeter.

 

Original Article Here

Tesla Model X (2016)

By Tim Stevens, CNET

It was early in 2012 that Tesla first unveiled the Model X, which at first looked like little more than a taller version of its all-electric Model S sedan. It was easy enough to assume that, with so much similarity between the two, the company would have its SUV on the road by the next year.

That of course would not be the case, but now it’s finally here, and we’ve finally gotten behind the wheel of the thing. We opened those falcon-wing doors, too, and while we’ll get to the impressions shortly, first let’s dispense with the details. The Tesla Model X is, at least initially, available only in Signature and Founders editions, which are basically fully loaded models with all the options boxes ticked. As such, they’re quite expensive.

The Model X P90D Signature, which has a 90kWh battery and 250 miles of range, costs $132,000 (around £87,000 or AU$188,000). Opt for the P90D Founders edition with the “Ludicrous Speed Upgrade” and you’ll spend another $10,000 — though it’s a free upgrade to any Model S owner who refers 10 people. Yes, that’s a lot of money considering you can get a base Model S for $75,000, but if you option up a Model S with similar options, you’ll see it’s only about a $5,000 premium over a similar AWD Model S P90D.

Pricing of the base 90D edition isn’t available at present, but expect it to start at around $80,000 — whenever they finally become available.

Regardless of which model you choose, you’re getting a roomy, seven-seater SUV that doesn’t offer much in the way of off-road pretensions. Instead, this is a sports machine, much more in the mold of a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5. Its performance backs that up. Even the slowest model, at 4.8 seconds from 0 to 60, compares very favorably to the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, which takes 5.4 seconds to match the same speed. Opt for the P90D and you’re looking at a 3.8-second 0 to 60 time, while the Ludicrous model gets you there in 3.2. That comes thanks to a 503-horsepower motor in the rear, and a 259-horsepower motor up front. Yes, that’s over 750 horsepower combined.

And you feel them. This car weighs a whopping 5,441 pounds, but you’d never know it off the line. It takes off like a slingshot and, if your head isn’t already back against the headrest, the car’s 713 pound-feet of torque will gladly put it there for you. Regardless of the size of the car, a launch like this is pretty breathtaking

Its competitive performance extends well beyond acceleration, too. That low-slung battery pack in the floor makes for some of the best handling in its class, handling that isn’t too far off from the Model S itself. The car turns in quickly and drives sweetly. In fact, Tesla’s so confident of the handling of its SUV versus the competition that it had both a Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 here, ready for comparison. That battery pack also leads to an SUV that has the lowest rollover risk in its class. Tesla expects five-star safety ratings all-round.

At this evening’s unveiling, the Model X was demonstrated to be a fairly capable workhorse. Loaded up with seven passengers and both its front and rear stowage spaces full of cargo and luggage, the electric SUV towed a 5,000-pound trailer onto the stage. Obviously, this level of hauling will affect the EV’s range, but by just how much has yet to be determined.

And what about those controversial doors? They open upward, much like on a DeLorean, but with an extra hinge in the middle. On the plus side, this gives very easy access to the rear seats, much like on a van with a sliding door — but without making the thing look like a van. This is a particular boon if you’re strapping little ones into little safety seats. Even if you’re a fully grown adult the absence of a door in your path does make getting in and out much easier. The falcon wings open cleanly, but slowly, even in impossibly tight parking spaces. They require only 30cm (12 inches) of space to slide out of the way.

The Model X’s main trick: falcon wing doors.Tim Stevens/CNET

Negatives? Parking in low garages does limit the height that the doors can open, but they’re equipped with ultrasonic sensors to ensure that they don’t smack into the ceiling, and they’ll always open at least partially to let you duck out. (Even if the SUV somehow winds up on its roof.) The front doors get a few tricks as well. Both are powered, which means they can be closed by a button on the dash. And the driver’s door will even open by itself as you approach. How’s that for a warm welcome?

In many ways the interior is very familiar compared to what we’ve seen in the Model S, and by and large that’s a good thing. That massive, central, 17-inch touchscreen infotainment system is here with few changes. You’ll control much of the car’s heating and cooling, as well as the 17-speaker audio system, through here. The car also has exactly the same driver-assistance and automation features as the Model S, meaning it won’t be getting the coveted Autopilot feature earlier.

The structure and layout of the interior, however, is significantly different to the Model S. The biggest change is the windshield. The glass sweeps up and extends behind your head. Tesla calls it a Panoramic windshield, and says it’s the biggest curved piece of glass in a production car. It really opens up the cockpit and changes the driving, and the riding, experiences in a big way.

The middle-row seats have a so-called “monopost” configuration that, as you may have guessed, attaches them to the floor via a single post. It’s a little like an office chair. This frees up plenty of space beneath the seats on the floor, but it does mean they won’t fold down into it.

Should you need room to haul something bigger, Tesla showed that the car will work with a roof rack, though the company suggests that you instead take advantage of the no-cost hitch option on the back. Hanging your bike on a rear-mounted rack actually improves the aerodynamics of the car, whereas throwing your bike on the roof unsurprisingly kills it.

At first, at least, the Model X is not cheap, and with some 25,000 preorders to get through, it’ll be about a year before mere mortals can acquire one. However, like the Model S before, the Model X has all the makings of a great car. And with features like semi-autonomous driving on the software roadmap, it should only get better from here. The only question now is: How quickly can Tesla build them?

 

Original Article Here

The perfect password? You’ve put your finger on it

By Rodger Cheng, CNET

It’s a common occurrence. I grab my iPad, place my thumb on the home key and wait for the main screen to pop up.

And nothing happens.

I often forget my 3-year-old iPad came out before Apple embraced the fingerprint sensor. But it’s a testament to how conditioned I am to unlocking my iPhone 6 with my finger that I expect the same convenience from my tablet. It’s only after a moment that I — slightly embarrassed and annoyed — tap in my passcode.

I doubt I’m alone. Thanks to newer smartphones and tablets from Apple and Samsung, fingerprint sensors have gone mainstream. And in May, Google said it will also support sensors in its Android mobile operating system. It’s easy to see why. These sensors are more convenient than a numeric passcode. They’re also a lot more secure.

A fingerprint is difficult (but not impossible) to steal. And because verification happens right on the tablet or smartphone, your fingerprint information doesn’t travel online, where it could get nicked. Passwords, on the other hand, are the weakest link in almost any security system. Their vulnerability lies, in part, on password overload — a symptom of our logging in to dozens of websites, each requiring a user ID and password.

(Read the rest of this article here… http://goo.gl/Gd0O0Q)

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to school everyone! We hope that everyone has a great 2015-16 school year.

For any of your technology related issues, feel free to stop by the SMART Desk or fill out the “Request Support” form. Again, welcome back and have a great year!