This fingernail-sized 256GB microSD card is the world’s fastest

Just when we think we’ve seen the latest, the smallest, the fastest…along comes a new offering.

Sandisk just announced its $199 256GB microSD card, to be released Q4 2106.

SanDisk Extreme

The card will have transfer speeds of up to 100MB/s and write speeds of 90MB/s — quick enough to transfer an entire HD movie in around 45 seconds. That amount of storage will also support keeping up to 14 hours of 4K video footage or 10’s of thousands of high res photos in camera equipment.

Furthermore, the high transfer speeds makes this ideal for the latest smartphone use, as well as tablets.

Sandisk will also offer a “little brother” version for $149, but these specs at the $199 price tag makes that nearly irrelevant to many users.

Samsung also recently announced a new 256GB microSD card as well with similar specifications – that one at $249.

Human Communications – the Future?

Over the past 4 months, several of my work associates and I have conducted a diligent (but not scientific) study about human conversation – and how technology has a role.

By charting use of a smartphone, as well as emails, about 700 human “communication engagements” were noted.

The results proved interesting, but some not all that surprising:

  1. Millennials clearly favored text communications, followed by email or other electronic channels – all ahead of voice or direct human communications. In about 85% of the recorded opportunities for communication, texting won out as the successful means to “have a conversation” about 2/3 of the time. Another 20% prefered a combination of email, Facetime, or one of the instant chat services. The remaining 14% of intended communications ended up “face to face”.
  2. Baby boomers preferred personal (face-to-face) communications nearly 3 to 1. That said, a growing acceptance and adoption of instant messaging and texting seemed to also be popular – especially when communication with their children, peers for work, and anyone else under the age of 40. The observations of those seen demonstrated and “adaptation” to the new normal of electronic communication. Email was still very much accepted and used.
  3. Gen X – the results 9as expected) were a hybrid of the other two segments recorded above.

What is clear is regardless of the society segment, growing acceptance and use of electronic communication is strong, and growing. Ironically, when asked, a good number of people observed indicated they would “prefer having a personal conversation” (face to face) with another communicant, but have found it to be a growing challenge.

One example cited: A parent trying to reach their young adult son called multiple times over a 60 minute timeframe and left 2 voicemails. Thereafter, they attempted to reach the same son using a text message and got a near-immediate reply.

This example was referenced by a number of people observed in this informal study.

There is neither enough data/evidence to come to a clear conclusion about the future of communications overall, but it appears pretty clear that the ease and speed of electronic communication methods is being adopted at a brisk and majority rate.

Yet another example why APPLE is considered the Darth Vader of Technology

People tend to either be pro-Apple or anti-Apple.

new_apple_logo1 vader

There are few bystanders without a view one way or another.

Those in favor tend to cite the various claims often found in Apple’s own marketing claims… “it just works”, “it’s simple”, and they are “innovative”.

Folks who find Apple arrogant, over-hyped, over-priced, and not as innovated as they claim often find themselves having coffee-table or lunch break room discussions with their counterparts on these issues.

On the last point in particular – “innovation”, Apple patriots frequently point to numerous patents obtained by the tech company over the past 10-12 years.

Just this past week, a U.S. Appeals Court shot down several court patent claims and counterclaims by Apple – ruling that not only was tech rival Samsung not obligated to pay previously-ruled judgements pertaining to patent infringement, but they actually ruled that some of Apple’s patents were not even valid.

Furthermore, they ruled that Samsung’s countersuit was valid that Apple infringed on the Samsung patents.

This most recent legal ruling result only underscores the strong pro & anti debate Apple views…pointing in the direction of Apple being the evil empire villain in this tech space.

Here’s a link to a news report on the ruling itself:

msn.com/…-in-apple-patent-case/ar-BBq4rZZ

Like the Star Wars series, there will likely be sequels, but in the short term, the Revenge of the Jedi has won the most current battles.

apple1

 

CES 2016 – Summary and Interesting Sightings

For those folks fortunate to witness the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) more than once, the evolution of various technologies can be informative, revealing, exciting, confusing, disappointing, and invigorating. That’s the reality range of the technology world in general.

That said, my impressions of CES 2016 covered nearly all those emotional experiences and closed with far more optimism about the Consumer Electronics world than seen in many years.

The more than 170,000 attendees had the opportunity to visit in excess of 3600 exhibiting companies within the 300,000+ square feet of this massive event.

It is nearly impossible to see everything offered – most attendees plan their “what should I go see” strategy in advance, so that they can at least cover their preferred areas of interest first, and then if any time remains…roam the large halls to see what is available.

Here are just some of the more interesting views from CES 2016:

While 4K UHD has been visible (and 8K for that matter) at CES for multiple years now, in 2016, it was obvious that it is real and here to stay. Every manufacture in site at CES had a multitude of 4k UHD display devices, along with complimentary other devices. Even more important, adoption of the HDMI2.0a and HDCP 2.2 standards for 4k UHD delivery was seen as commonplace this year at CES for the first time.

To illustrate the momentum of 4K UHD – this was the first year that 4K UHD Blu Ray players were on display and being demoed numerous places at CES. In addition, actual 4K Blu Ray content has started to get on retailers’ shelves and momentum for more content is building quickly.

Demos of 4K UHD (real) content – made using 4k UHD cameras now available through retailers, along with Blu Ray retail-ready offerings validated that 4K UHD is past the “vaporware” stage and will be a tangible consumer offering in 2016. Much like the impressive 4K UHD TVs, the 4K Blu Ray players all touted HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 port connectivity. Cables from numerous vendors were also seen all over CES. The standards on paper are now real standards deployed, which should make consumer adoption easier and more cost-effective.

010716 Samsung Booth 3_ 4k Blu Ray player with HDR

Extended range WIFI hardware (routers, repeaters, 1080p security cameras, and other devices) were shown in the Linksys, Amped Wireless, and other locations. The power and range of these WIFI units are indeed impressive.

One of the more quick-growing sections in the CES floor overall is the Home Automation area. While various technologies have been spawned in the past, CES 2016 displayed real, tangible, practical, and useful devices and integration for the “common consumer”.

While there still appears to be some home automation technology searching for an audience, other vertical markets such as home security, home theater & audio, wireless remote control of home devices via mobile apps, and similar “more mainstream” offerings are clear mature, stable, truly integrated, and impressive. This appears to be a large growth potential market.

One interesting aspect of this arena is that there is some convergence of various elements that show promising synergies – such as seen at the ADT security booth with their newer and more affordable hub-based services. In addition, Echostar showed off an integrated security offering (“Sage”) that included a pretty impressive seamless UI to the TV experience. Imagine getting a popup video window when a motion detector is triggered in the home security system while watching TV – without disturbing the viewing, the consumer can observe and respond to the video notification based their assessment of urgency.

010616 Drones 3

As was the case last year, there was an abundance of various types, sizes, shapes, and features for drones. Parrot had an entertaining display with a group of drones synchronized to music, performing all sorts of aerial acrobatics. The two biggest “new things” from the drone world were the larger variety of sizes and the continued advancement in controller devices.

One manufacturer showed a drone that was only 3” in diameter, and the booth demo staff was showing off about 4-5 of these operating concurrently – al controlled by their smart phones acting as controllers. Both the stability and ease of use of these small units was actually quite impressive.

Contrast this experience to the larger (4 feet in diameter and up) units, which showed high-end controllers with ranges measured in kilometers or miles. In addition, all sorts of gyroscopic-driven cameras and other harnessed/mounted hardware below the flying units demonstrated that the serious drone user could actually experience a very sophisticated device at long range and capture HD video (there was one 4K camera shown in one booth), all while keeping full user control of these units.

While there was some discussion buzz about the FAA registration requirements, minimal negative feedback was heard.

Now for some of the less-than-positive side of CES 2016.

Sony’s Booth   All the major manufacturers have huge booths at CES – hundreds of staff manning the various sub-areas within the spaces.

Sony is one of the larger vendors who have a massive booth with impressive visual presentations and demonstrations. While the individual areas (especially the 4K UHD area) were still expectedly well done – the large nearly-blank white walls surrounding the booth with occasional cryptic graphics projected on them made one feel like they were inside a giant igloo with the cartoon network running on cheap wall projectors. I suspect they’ll get plenty of negative feedback, and revamp next year. In one word – UGH!

Health & Fitness Area   This has become one of the fastest growing spaces at CES the past 3 years – it has exponentially grown. That being the case, there was almost an overflow of redundant technologies, which led attendees to probably feel wonder how many devices are there to measure your blood pressure and heart rate. It reminded me of the vast number of “iPhone and Galaxy phone case vendors” of years past – there were just too many versions of the same thing in this area in my opinion. Put simply – CES needs to scale back the size of this area next year – there’s simply too much duplication by too many vendors.

Summary   While there is a great deal of additional detail behind these specific report topics, it is relatively easy to summarize my observations of CES with these high points:

  • Unlike a number of past years, CES 2016 came closer to showing more “this year” things than “somewhere in the future” technologies.
  • REAL presentations, rather than artificially-produced content was seen and will become available later in 2016 (instead of far into the future).
  • The 4K UHD product & services industry seems to have gotten their act together and is now executing in harmony for industry “standards” (HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 in particular).
  • Some of the firsthand observations at CES can only lead to optimism about some of the new technologies on many fronts. The word “impressive” was used all over the CES show floor in numerous locations – and rightfully so.
  • Using technologies like WIFI and the Internet in general have evolved to now provide some substantive and useful products and services – there’s now a reason to have good WIFI and broadband Internet in the home beyond just streaming or surfing (or games).
  • I observed a general move toward more realistic delivery timeframes, near-term expectations, and tech roadmaps. In 2016, there was much more realism in demonstrations and responses to questions in contrast to wishful thinking or too-far-into-the-future realities.
  • The pace of “time to market” seems to be accelerating on several fronts in the Consumer Electronics world – especially 4K UHD-related products & services, as well as Home automation.
  • Drones appear to be here to stay, and the level of sophistication continues to grow each year.
  • Tech advances in general are moving as fast as ever toward “better, faster, and more competitive” (meaning more for your buck).
  • Overall feedback from attendees all over the CES 2016 exhibit floor and speaker sessions underscored a more positive outlook for this industry in 2016.

CES has always been about the future – the difference this year is that what was experienced onsite appeared to be more real, reasonable, beneficial, useful, and worthwhile for consumers that seen in a number of years at this event.

 

 

 

CES is finally here!

Car technology, new 8K UHD TV, 4K UHD accessories including 4K Blu ray, more new wrist-based items, and expanded home electronics are the top items showcased in Las Vegas this coming week.

With a return to fees for attendees (no more freebies for most people there), the attendance will likely come back under control after last years climb to nearly 175,000 – expect more like 155,000 this year.

download

 

What will be the Next Big Thing (at CES 2016)?

100615 Las Vegas 9s_Vegas View

With CES 2016 only 87 days away, speculation has already begun as to what the “Next Big Thing” will be at the event.

There are several things that seem to be lining up as candidates:

  • Automotive electronics / electric cars – – there are several brand name auto manufacturers scheduled for presentations in the exhibit hall
  • Next generation 4K-compatible Blu Ray players, digital 4K cameras, and other 4K compliant home viewing accessories
  • Next generation mobile devices
  • Health monitoring and management electronics
  • Next generation gaming

Each of these promise to expand their presence, show off advancements in capabilities, and improve upon the user experience…which brings us to the REAL prediction for CES 2016:

“It’s all about the user experience” will likely be the unofficial theme on the Exhibit Hall floor  – convenience, comfort, connectivity, and (lower) cost.

With an improved economy and 2015’s record attendance to build from – CES 2016 should provide a lot of new things to gawk at!

Do you REALLY have High Speed Internet, and is it REALLY that important?

As someone who lived with 3 Mbps DSL internet service for more than 6 years, my journey into the world of High-Speed Internet is one that demonstrates this topic is both subjective and pertinent.

According to at least 2 U.S. Federal Government agencies, High Speed Broadband Internet service is defined as “demonstrating regular download transmission speeds of at least 24 Mbps”.

Using that criteria…there are several services in place today which seem to advertise and promote themselves falsely as “High Speed Internet – standard UVerse from AT&T being one example. Their upgraded broadband service seems to meet the standard.

Hardly 2 hours goes by today watching network television without some kind of promotion for “High Speed Internet” – with a great deal of focus on “faster” or “fastest” as important points being made.

Without going down the slippery slope of a lengthy report or analysis on this topic, it’s fair to say that what is considered “fast, fast enough, faster” is subjective based on the end consumer’s needs. Since there are plenty of people with 3Mbps DSL service out there (still) – it may not be “real” high-speed, but it is adequate for those people.

Still – if a consumer plans to stream video, download large files, transfer to any cloud service, use a webcam, or other similar data-intense activities…high-speed broadband pretty much is a must-have. This raises yet another question – how much is enough. That is where is gets subjective again.

Having tested several levels of broadband over time, and using all of the functions listed in the previous paragraph with those different speeds of broadband, my user experience is that 30Mbps or higher meets the needs of these functions.

That said, higher speeds render better user experiences, and offer more flexibility in terms of actual multi-tasking and video presentation. Most recently, I tested 90Mbps service, and it was simply FAST and SMOOTH in every aspect of both video and transmission services.

As they say, “your mileage may vary”…but likely you’ll want at least 30Mbps High Speed Internet to meet the needs of today’s Internet user.

Will 4K UHDTV gain adoption as a viable format anytime soon?

For those seeking a new or replacement TV, or else just roaming around their local Best Buy or other retailer…it has become obvious that the rollout of 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs has drastically accelerated in 2015.

Virtually all major manufacturers offer various 4K UHD TVs, and in all ranges of screen sizes.

That would appear to bode well for the adoption roadmap of this platform…however there are some key considerations that may introduce a few bumps in the road ahead:

1) 4K UHD content is still very sparse.

2) HDMI connectivity still has come maturity issues – specifically – support for HDCP v2.2 (copy protection) within HDMI v2.0 is still very limited on 4K UHD TVs, cables, and other devices (such as 4K Blu Ray players). In a number of cases, this results in a very good screen quality, but not true 4k UHD presentation. Early adopters have learned to check specifications on the TV HDMI ports (and cables) to make sure they are HDCP v2/2 compliant to assure 4K playback capabilities.

3) Most current model 4K UHD TVs do a good job of “upconverting” 1080p content – giving the appearance of improved picture quality, but this is confusing many consumers in terms of “actually watching 4K”.

4) Prices of 4K HDTV sets have come down since last year, but still are 50-90% higher than their 1080p counterparts.

This is not to be critical of 4K UHDTV. Rather, it is just to point out that adoption and maturity of the TVs available today is still in the early stages. It mandates consumers to do more due diligence with their buying at this time.

Likely a year from now, several of the aforementioned challenges will be reduced or go away completely – but in the mean time – it is worthwhile to do some homework when it comes to buying decisions for that new (4K) TV.

Hypocrisy of the Apple Watch

Show Apple the Money.

For years…Apple promoted the fact that people no longer needed watches…since many devices boldly presented time on screens in large font numbers.

Now we have the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch = much to do about nothing.

Apparently if Apple can make oodles of money on something new -whether it contradicts previous marketing fluff or not – having a watch will be considered “back in style”. Paying more than most “luxury” watches will be easy for these toys.

What a farce.

This is just the latest example of Apple greed…and Millennials (more than any other age group) will likely drink the Kool-Aid,

P.T. Barnum was right many, many years ago – a sucker is born every minute…and Apple knows the path to their wallet, much like they have on other Apple propaganda.

CES 2015 yet another Big Event

WOW…just WOW!

In 2013, the record 254,000 attendees to the International Consumer Electronics Show witnessed an amazing and huge event featuring many new technologies. In 2014, another new record of 260,000 attendees experienced yet more new tech.

About a month ago in January 2015, still another new record of 270,000+ attendees walked the various venues at CES 2015. This year, the pattern of “spreading out” the various tracks of interest and activities expanded even more – not only did the Las Vegas Convention Center witness huge groups of people, but the Sands Expo at Venetian, Mandalay Bay, Aria, and LV Hotel Convention Center buildings did as well. There were other “offsite” activities as well.

010615 1A CES 2015 Las Vegas Convention Center010615 1B CES 2015 Las Vegas Convention Center

The typical question following CES is: “So what were the big things at CES this year?”

The answer:

1) 4K (and even 8K) Ultra High Definition (UHD) television. There were not only a huge variety of units in numerous locations on display, but new 4K UHD content providers were featured, as well as 4K UHD cameras, 4K UHD Blu Ray players, and 4K UHD transcoders. This seems to be the tipping point year that 4K UHD will gain traction toward reaching a mainstream audience in the next 1-3 years.

2) Auto Electronics – a wide range of new electronic devices either pre-installed or else as add-ons were available. In addition, more electronic cars were around town and the self-navigating car attracted a lot of attention.

010615 5I CES 2015_Samsung 4K UHD  010615 4X CES 2015 Hall Sights

3)  Wearables. If there’s some kind of gadget you commonly use…odds are it is now available in a wearable format (or will be soon). Medical devices in wearable format were the most common.

4) Drones. There were literally hundreds of drones shown, and some featured massive life capacities to carry sophisticated gyroscopic-driven cameras and other payloads. Furthermore, the size and control ranges both have grown significantly even since just last year.

010615 4J CES 2015 Hall Sights 010615 3C CES 2015 Drones

As is the case every year at CES…learning how much of the technology gets into retail locations and mainstream consumers’ hands remains to be seen…but these 4 areas represent only a fraction of what could be seen at CES 2015.

Home Electronics, new network and HDMI connectivity devices, new digital cameras with digital image stabilization and 65X zoom imagery, and other new tech could also be found in the large Convention Center Halls.

This should prove to be an interesting year.