Monthly Archives: June 2016

Compact Computers

Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that’s emerging from the shadows of this mind-crushingly terrible election season to pore over the latest gadget announcements.

On our ballot this time around are a microphone that can plug into an iPhone or iPad, a smartphone case with an E-ink display, and a flexible keyboard that houses an entire computer.

As ever, the ratings reflect only how much I’d like to try out each item with my hands, ideally before the world descends into post-election chaos. These are not reviews.

Portable Podcasting

I’ve tried dipping my toes into the world of podcasting with a friend this year. It’s been challenging to find times that work for both of us to get together and record, but for the two (pretty successful, I confess) trial runs we’ve had, I bought a Blue Snowball mic. I’m very pleased with the sound quality, so I’m fairly certain I’d be happy to have Blue’s latest microphone, Raspberry (pictured above).

It’s a gorgeous, portable little thing, which you can connect to a PC or Mac using a USB cable. However, it is also bundled with a Mini USB to Lightning cable to make it easy for you to capture quality audio using an iPhone or iPad.

There’s an included stand with shock-absorber feet, so that should help cut down on unwanted vibrations and rumblings. When taking the mic elsewhere, the stand folds over it for better portability. If you prefer, you can attach Raspberry to a standard tripod or mic stand instead.

The mic also has a headphone jack, headphone volume dial, and a level/gain control that doubles as a mute switch. That can come in especially useful if you need to cough — much better to cut out an unwanted sound during recording instead of in the editing process.

Stay for Surface on Windows

unduhanMicrosoft’s Windows 10 event, scheduled for Wednesday, actually could focus more on hardware than on the operating system, given that the next Windows 10 refresh is expected in March.

A new Surface device — possibly an all-in-one computer with a 21-inch or larger screen — could be in the offing.

Whether Microsoft will unveil updates to its Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices or showcase products from its OEMs has generated some debate.

Windows Insiders have been testing new Windows 10 features, including trackpad innovations, noted The Verge. It might announce a F.lux-like feature to reduce blue light in Windows 10, as well as a new HomeHub smart device control feature. Further, Microsoft might bring its Holographic shell to Windows 10 PCs.

What Makes Sense

“It’ll be a hardware event,” predicted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“This is the expected refresh of the Surface product line,” he told TechNewsWorld, because “all that Surface stuff belongs to the Windows 10 group.”

Although some of the speculation may be groundless, “the all-in-one device makes a certain amount of sense because Microsoft hasn’t had a desktop Surface product yet,” Enderle pointed out.

“The smart money’s on the fact that they’ll probably have a Surface all-in-one, and the Surface Book and Surface Pro will probably be upgraded,” he said. “It’s about time.”

Improvements in battery life, higher-resolution screens, better touch technology, and “a better overall stylus experience” probably will be unveiled, Enderle suggested. “Everybody has improved their stylus resolution and screens have been getting better.”

However, don’t expect the Surface Book or Surface Pro to get any thinner, because “they’re already pretty thin and will run into thermal limits,” he noted.

The Surface all-in-one PC “is what’s most likely to be announced,” R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research, also said.

Expect deeper integration with Cortana services, Microsoft’s Power BI and more, he told TechNewsWorld..

Moving into AR, VR and Games

Microsoft also might push virtual or augmented reality, Wang suggested. “Look for the battle for VR and AR to continue. With the rumors of the iPhone 8 integrating VR and AR, this is a chance to pre-empt Apple.”

Microsoft might make “some type of announcement to counter Nintendo’s Switch with their devices,” he noted, “but we’re not sure if this will happen.”

The Nintendo Switch is a new home gaming system unveiled last week. It can be used in single player and multiplayer modes, and it lets gamers play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose.

Marketing Works

Redstone 2, the Windows 10 update scheduled for March, will have several new features, according to Wang, including an Office hub, better Bluetooth GATT support, onDemand sync with Microsoft OneDrive, interoperability among devices, and gaming services to the devices.

Windows 10 had a 22 percent share of the global operating systems market in September, according to Netmarketshare. Windows 7 continued to dominate with 48 percent.

Microsoft reported that revenue from Surface products grew 9 percent year over year in constant currency in fiscal Q4 2016, driven by sales of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book.