Weekly Tech Roundtable: Nexus 5, Lenovo Yoga, and #iVerge Outrage – Google Hangout Video!

weekly tech roundtableIt’s Saturday! Which means we spend the morning wrapping up all the week’s tech news. Catch opinions from the editors of Boored At Work, Mobile Burn, BWOne, and yours truly as we chat out this week’s headlines.

On the docket:

  • Nexus 5 is ALIVE
  • We ask for more Android 4.4
  • Lenovo’s Yoga bends and twists our opinions
  • What’s up with the PS4 and MP3’s
  • And The Verge wins our USELESS award of the week

Sit back and relax. We’ve got tech to talk!

Lenovo’s New Yoga Tablet Offers 18 Hour Run Time and Built in Kickstand

01 lenovo yoga tablet stand modeOver the last year Lenovo weathered the changing PC market better than any other manufacturer. Following Windows 8, the industry as a whole saw sales drop around 15%. Lenovo stayed pretty flat during that time, which is unprecedented performance during the release of something as unfamiliar as Windows 8. Products like the Yoga Laptop which swiveled into various usage scenarios. It’s no surprise they’re now the number one manufacturer of PC’s worldwide.

During that same time however, Lenovo shipped more tablets and phones than they did PC’s. They’re not as widely known here states-side for their mobile gear, but they’re looking to change that and crack this market like they did laptops and desktops. Unveiled last night, Lenovo took the wraps off the Yoga Tablet, and they think they’ve found A Better Way to use a mobile slate.

02 lenovo yoga tablet stand modeThe Android 4.2 tablets comes in two flavors based on screen size, a Yoga Tablet 8 and a Yoga Tablet 10. Both feature the same resolution 1280 x 800, and both will come in 16GB and 32GB models with the ability to add more storage via MicroSD. A fairly modest 1.2GHz quad-core was chosen, probably to keep cost lower, and should play well with the lower resolution screens to keep performance snappy and battery life high. Front and rear cameras are on board, with the latter utilizing a 5MP sensor.

02 lenovo yoga tablet cylinder batteryThe Yoga tablet design hinges on the cylindrical battery bulge running lengthwise down the tablet’s screen. This allows Lenovo to include a physically larger battery than most other tablets. It also allows for a swivel kickstand to be hidden into the back plate of the Yoga. The design is refreshing, as it gives you something to hold on to. Going from holding to propping it up, you can dial in specific angles, or turn it around for “Tilt Mode” where the tablet is easiest to enter in text, and it starts to look a lot like Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

03 lenovo yoga tilt modeBest of all, it’s that bulge which allows the tablet to run for up to 18 hours. Of all the hardware specs people might care about, performance and screen resolution, none of them mean much if your tablet is out of juice. “All day and then some” run time will be a welcome spec for many consumers. A nice side benefit, you can use the Yoga to charge your phone, simply great consideration for how tablets are becoming our preferred companion devices.

Lenovo saw fit to add in front facing stereo speakers, always a nice touch for audio junkies like myself. I’ll be curious to see how they perform when I get my hands on one later. The cylinder houses the power button one end and the headphone jack on the other.

With some many manufacturers targeting “premier” experiences, it might strike some as odd that Lenovo is building their Yoga line around some fairly mid-range specs. The aggressive prices points make a lot of sense in this space however, and Yoga Tablet 8 will start at $249. Impressively, Yoga Tablet 10 will only creep up to $299.

Lenovo’s design aesthetic here strays farther away from the traditional slate than any other slab I’ve seen recently, and that might be enough to improve Lenovo’s mindshare here in the USA. You can catch Lenovo’s Yoga keynote after the jump.

04 lenovo yoga hold mode

Continue reading “Lenovo’s New Yoga Tablet Offers 18 Hour Run Time and Built in Kickstand”

Google announces TONS of new features for Hangouts, Google Plus, Photo & Video sharing!

morning with google plusA whole suite of new features for the folks using Google Plus!

In the Hangouts app, users will now be able to share location with a simple button press. I’ve been in situations where people have asked “where are you” and now a simple tap can share a Google Map location with them.

hangouts where are you location sharingWhat most people have been itching for though is SMS integration, and now the Hangouts app is including the ability to add text messaging to chat.

For people broadcasting with Hangouts on Air, you’ll now have the ability to plan a Hangout ahead of time, and this will create an event page you can use to promote the Hangout. It’s a nice one-piece solution as we’ve been doing this manually to share our Hangouts with people online.

hangout spotlight background blurNew broadcast tools allow hosts to control the microphone volume of HOA participants. Increase or decrease their chat volume, and now we can finally remove someone from a Hangout. This is welcome control for those of us trying to create professional videos during live broadcasts.

For standard Hangouts video calls, users now have more creative tools to play with, like blurring the background behind themselves. Also we’ll be able to see animated gifs, for all our stop motion photo animation needs.

Moving to Google Plus, over 1.5 BILLION photos are uploaded every week. Google will be unleashing new organization and editing tools to help back up and share your experiences.

auto awesome google plus photo editing 3Photo scanning will allow for searching the content of a picture without tags. If there are pics of your dog un-tagged, searching for “dog” on G+ will bring up your pet pics. New photo editing tools can help improve the look of your pics. Either via “Auto-Awesome” or Snapseed integration, you’ll be able to touch up your pics before sending them out. Snapseed is introducing a new HDR filter to help improve pics which might be a bit under or over exposed.

auto awesome google plus photo editing 4Auto-Awesome will now track through multiple exposures to create animated gifs, composite images, or use the new Eraser tool to eliminate moving objects from your photos. Say you have a series of shots from a vacation, and someone walks in front of your frame, Eraser can scrub that distraction out of your shot. This’ll pretty much encourage people to take series of photos for every set up instead of just one pic and done.

auto awesome google plus movie editingLastly a new auto movie feature is being added. Collecting all of your pics and vids from a time or place, Google will auto-magically combine them all and add background music to present you a share-able highlights reel of your latest adventure. Users can manually edit elements, or select themes which will change up the music, editing, and effects.

If you’ve been jamming on G+, there are going to be a bunch of new features to play with. You can catch the whole announcement video below!

Disruptive Technologies Impacting the Future of Gaming | REACH 2013 #REACHGAMES

WP_20131024_001This was a really fun night. Hosted by TechZulu and Gadget Review at the shared office space Cross Campus LA in Santa Monica, a packed house sat through a stimulating panel of gaming professionals talking about the current state of gaming and what the future might hold.

Moderated by Scot Rubin (NITROPOD/SVP Digital Media Big Door/Cofounder G4TV), the panel included Josh Yguado (President SGN), Chris Hewish (Head of Interactive DreamWorks Animation), Wilson Kriegel (President/COO Paltalk /former CRO of Zynga/OMGPOP), Robin Kaminsky (CEO 1st Street Partners/Former EVP of Publishing, Executive Lead Global Gaming Activision/Blizzard).

Topics were fast and varied. From casual gaming disrupting traditional console gaming to talking about monetization and micro-transactions. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of demographics. I find the current media market is holding to age and gender groups in ways which actually work against production, advertising, and distributing content to people who might engage with it, all in the pursuit of some “target demo” which may or may not respond.

Also fascinating  was a mini-debate which took place over educational games. Info-tainment might not be particularly effective. Ms. Kaminsky dropped a bomb with “if a game is fun, it’s not going to be particularly educational. If it’s educational, it’s not going to be particularly fun”, yet the whole panel largely agreed that the gamification of certain educational arenas might garner results. The example of typing tutors was brought up, and I happen to be a pretty big fan of Typing of the Dead.

For more info on TechZulu events, check out their calendar, and you can watch the whole panel discussion from their Youtube Livestream below.

UPDATED! SomeGadgetGuy’s Production Master Class for Social Media Week LA 2013

BVHHsnNCUAAcIrfIt’s a good thing I don’t  ramble or anything…

I was invited to teach a master class on media production for Social Media Week in Los Angeles. I was honored to be asked, and thankfully they had me tackling a subject I could jump into, producing higher quality materials using the tools which come standard on just about all of our various gadgets and phones and tablets.

It was a great environment, being able to let my geek flag fly, and share my experiences ABOUT sharing my experiences while discussing how to create a work flow, tackle pre-production, and take some of the stress out of the post process for photos, audio, and video.

We’re wrapping up SMW-LA tomorrow, but I’ve gotten to meet some really cool folks and sit in on some fantastic workshops. For more info on Social Media Week events around the world, check out: http://socialmediaweek.org/

***UPDATE***

My somewhat rambling master class is now on LiveStream for you all to marvel at my presenting skills!

Microsoft unveils Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in NYC

LB_8705Before I even get into this announcement, can I just say it’s starting to become a real bummer when companies release these new products at swanky events but don’t do a live stream. I digress.

At a swanky un-watchable event in NYC this morning the Redmond Surface team officially took the wraps off of the new Surface Pro 2. A substantial update to the progressive little Windows 8 tablet released in February of this year. This was a necessary release time table for Microsoft as the OG Surface came out right before a new generation of lower power processors from Intel.

LB_8749The design and dimensions remain largely unchanged from the original. There weren’t many criticisms about the form factor or build quality. One of the few exterior updates is a change to the angle of the kickstand allowing for improved lap usability.

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iPhone 5S Launch Day Adventure – SomeGadgetGuy at the AT&T store in West Hollywood, California

somegadgetguy juan carlos bagnell iphone 5s launch day att store west hollywood californiaAnd no fights broke out…

I might just start doing this for all launch day activities. The folks at AT&T were kind enough to open a store early for me to check out the iPhone launch. I got hands on with the iPhone 5S, and got to see a store in action on one of their busiest days of the year.

I did the whole day on about three-ish hours of sleep, so I might’ve gotten a little goofy… Yes I’m holding a Lumia 1020… This photo of me MIGHT have been taken with an HTC one…

Yay iPhone!

Pledge to reduce distracted driving! #ItCanWait ‘Drive 4 Pledges Day’ – September 19th!

it_can_wait_logoDistracted driving is becoming one of my primary technology “cause” issues. As tech becomes more fashionable, as we integrate data into more and more of our waking day, we’ve still yet to completely crack the user experience of interacting with technology while operating a motor vehicle. Some day we’ll have better solutions like heads up displays and eye pieces, probably used in conjunction with driver-less cars, but that day has not yet arrived.

Over 100,000 crashes a year involve distracted drivers. We can do better. We need to do better.

Backed by all four major carriers, the It Can Wait campaign will be sponsoring events all around the country on September 19th. During the Drive 4 Pledges Day, communities will be hosting pledges drives, encouraging their neighbors to sign the pledge to not text (or use your phone) while driving. I’ll be attending the Los Angeles pledge event to show my support.

For those of you who want to participate, but wont be able to attend community events, check out ItCanWait.com for other ways to support the cause. it only takes a moment’s indiscretion for someone’s life to be irrevocably changed.

If you haven’t yet, I would also recommend watching the documentary From One Second to the Next, directed by Werner Herzog. It’s available for free on Youtube, and I have it embedded after the break.

Continue reading “Pledge to reduce distracted driving! #ItCanWait ‘Drive 4 Pledges Day’ – September 19th!”