Android Wear: Tantalizingly Close

How Smart is Your Smartphone?

The truth is that, most of the time, our smartphones, well… they aren’t that smart. They’re not intelligent devices.  They’re only smart in the extent that they’re internet-connected, so the term exists to differentiate such a device from the previously existing phones that were designed for calling (and, subsequently, texting).

Phones just for talking to people. I know – quaint, right?

To be fair, smartphones are about as smart, generally speaking, as our computers, our tablets, or our cable boxes, but I’ve never referred to my post-internet computers as “smart computers”. Online capability is just a function that, at this point, all modern computers have, just as in the near future, all phones will likely be what we refer to today as smartphones.

Our tech devices have become excellent instruction takers, yes, and we’ve found more and more ways to interact them them – for instance, I can interact with my TV and cable via a remote control, voice control, website, or mobile application – as well as found ways for these devices to interact with each other.

In some cases, specific websites and applications have become very good at suggesting things that we might like. I’ve been extremely impressed with Amazon’s ability to successfully link products based on search and purchase history, and music services like Pandora, Spotify, and Google All Access do a great job assembling music stations and suggestions that appear curated but are actually created via algorithm.

But smart? Truly smart, as in exhibiting intelligence?  Nope.

Well, actually… maybe.

 

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Moto 360: A Beautiful Beta

When Motorola revealed the Moto 360, the initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive: finally, a smartwatch that actually looked, well, like a watch.

It wasn’t so much that Samsung and LG’s smartwatches were unattractive, per se, it was just that they didn’t look like a traditional watch design. There was no chance that someone would look at them and think, “That’s a good looking watch!” Their large size, square design, and mediocre to poor watchbands set them apart from what we think of as a quality watch design. That makes them fine as a gadget for people really into technology, but not really functional as an all-purpose watch.

The 360 changed that:

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There’s really no question that the Moto 360 is hands-down the most attractive smartwatch currently on the market. How did Motorola do with the internals of the device, and is Google Wear worth your money at this point?

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2014 Chromebooks: Better Middle, Weaker Entry?

In mid to late 2014, we’re finally seeing some quality lower-middle to true mid-level Chromebooks. For those unfamiliar with some of the new and upcoming options, let’s take a look:

Lenovo

The Lenovo Thinkpad 11e with IPS touchscreen (albeit 720p) is to my knowledge the most expensive non-Pixel Chromebook, at $379 for the regular version and $479 for the superior Yoga version with 4 GB RAM, but paying almost $500 for a Bay Trail device is hard to swallow despite the versatility and build quality, at least for me. Still, this device has received generally excellent reviews, and is easy to recommend as a pretty much true mid-level device… but it will no doubt be hampered to some degree (like the Dell) in that you can only get it direct from Lenovo and even finding it on their website requires labyrinth-navigating skills one normally would use to find and slay a minotaur, not purchase a Chromebook.

Or, you can just click here.

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