Paper PC Picks – Holiday 2015: neyya Smart Ring

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neyya Smart Rings

Finger-flickin’ good? The new neyya Bluetooth smart ring is easy enough to use, but quite sophisticated inside. Users can tap or swipe its 25.5mm capacitive touchpad to start or end phone calls, click through PowerPoint presentations, launch Siri on an Apple iPhone, control music, control GoPro Hero or ROKU devices and perform other tasks. It can also be used for handsfree selfies.

The neyya is weather resistant and comes in three ring sizes and two colors (Gold, $179; Titanium-chrome, $139). The unit gives silent vibration feedback to alert users of incoming calls (or specific callers) and charges wirelessly. Free iOS, Android and Windows apps are or will be available soon.

©Copyright 2015, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

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Swype for Windows 7 Debuts in New HP Slate 2 Tablet PC

The Swype technology that makes it possible to type without lifting your finger from your Android smartphone or tablet screen has cracked the Windows barrier and is included in the new Windows 7 powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC.

A small, but significant logo sits at the bottom of the screen on the new Windows-powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC announced today: Swype. Yes, the same Swype utility that lets you type by sliding your finger across your Android smartphone or tablet screen without lifting it has come to Windows 7.

The 1.5-pound Windows 7-powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC (starts at $699) has an 8.9-inch capacitive multitouch display which supports both pen and finger input, a 1.5 GHz Intel Atom Z670 CPU and a preinstalled copy of Swype, which up until now had only been seen on Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.

HP Slate 2 Tablet PC with optional HP Slate Bluetooth Keyboard and Case

The unit is meant for business and will not be marketed as a consumer device, said Kyle Thornton, category manager for HP Emerging Products at a recent HP press preview in New York. It’s meant for retail and other business uses where full access to Windows applications is needed. It has an SD Card slot for storage in addition to an internal solid state drive and a 3-megapixel digital camera on the rear and a front-facing VGA webcam.

According to HP, the battery should last up to six hours on a charge and the unit offers a number of built-in security features, including a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip. A dock adds two USB 2.0 ports and a single HDMI port to the unit.

Business-friendly options include the HP Retail Mobile Point of Sale Case, which has a magnetic stripe reader and barcode scanner and the $79 HP Slate Bluetooth Keyboard and Case (above), which folds out to support the slate as if it were a notebook and closes up to protect both the keyboard and the HP Slate 2 Tablet PC.

Note that while Swype comes preinstalled on many Android devices, it can also be added to Android devices that didn’t ship with it. Swype Beta is available for download at no charge but does not work on all Android devices, especially those with older versions of Android or have relatively low-resolution displays. (Don’t install Swype Beta on a unit which came with Swype. It won’t work.) Swype is not available as an separate installable Windows application for other Windows tablets.

The HP Slate 2 Tablet PC will ship later this month and will be available from the HP website.

Text and photos Copyright 2011 Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Video courtesy of HP

Whap! Sock! Pow! Batman Adds Punch to Samsung’s Ultrafast 830 Series SATA 3.0 Solid State Drives

Samsung’s new 830 Series SATA 3.0 SSDs are not only twice as fast as their predecessors, but they also come with a free copy of Batman: Arkham City.

It takes a lot to make the jaded technology press crack smiles at a press conference, but there were toothy grins all around Monday when a tall, well-muscled, Batman character suddenly appeared onstage to help Samsung introduce its new 830 Series of ultrafast SATA 3.0 solid state drives.

 Not only are the 830 Series 2.5-inch SSDs slimmer (7mm) and twice as fast than Samsung’s 470 Series SSDs, they come with a code for a free download of the PC version of Batman: Arkham City, a new video game from Warner Bros. The game, which launched last week, usually sells for about $50.

“The game will boot in a flash,” said Reid Sullivan, senior vice president for mobile entertainment for Samsung Electronics America just after the onstage visit from the caped crusader.

Samsung is marketing the drives as affordable upgrade options for performance-hungry gamers as well as anyone who can benefit from the inherent speed advantage of SSDs over standard rotating disk hard drives. One chart displayed at the conference showed that gamers can expect to boot their PCs and get into their games twice as fast with a PC with one of the new SSDs than with a standard hard disk.

The 830 Series SSDs offer read speeds of 520 megabytes per second and write speeds of 400MB/sec and come in 64GB ($130), 128GB ($200), 256GB ($430) and 512GB ($850) versions. They also come with Norton Ghost for duplicating data from one drive to another and Drive Magician for maintaining top performance from the SSDs. 

The 830 Series drives come in a fairly attractive metal casing for an internal drive and will fit in many of today’s new ultrathin notebooks, said Samsung representatives.

“We’re raising the performance bar even higher than ever before,” said Sullivan. “It’s an absolutely beautiful product.” 

All drives come packaged with the cables and drive cages needed for installation in a laptop or a desktop. They also come with USB to SATA cables that essentially turn them into external drives, thus making it possible to copy data to and from a computer before they’re actually installed.

“It’s really not that hard to install. Once you’re inside [your computer] you kind of can’t mess it up,” said N’Gai Croal, founder of consulting firm Hit Detection. Croal was part of a panel discussion of SSDs and video games.

The Samsung Series 830 solid state drives are available now from various vendors, including Amazon.

Five Things to Remember About IBM’s First PC

So the IBM PC is 30 years old. So what? I was a newspaper reporter in 1981 when IBM trotted out its first PC. I remember how it created a newsroom buzz and how deadly serious it looked next to the snappy-looking Atari, Commodore and Radio Shack/Tandy computers of the day. Never mind the now-laughably slow processing speed of that first PC. It was plenty fast for the time.

The best way to compare that original 1981 IBM 5150 PC to today’s machines is not to talk about what it could do, but to fondly recall the things it couldn’t. Many of the little things we take for granted today were not even on the drawing board in 1981. That device that started out as a bland, beige, boxy business tool for geeks is now a cornerstone of our daily lives.

Connection to Nowhere
First of all, the 1981 IBM PC connected you to nothing. It was a standalone computing box that sat on your desk. Whatever you did at the keyboard was between you and the PC–no one else knew what you were doing. If you wanted to share something with someone you waved him over and let him look over your shoulder. If you were ambitious, you copied a file onto a floppy disk (remember those?) and walked it over to the recipient–a process referred to as “the sneakernet.”

It had no modem or network card, which was fine in 1981 since very few people knew what the heck email was. If you needed to send a message to your entire office you cleared your throat and shouted. The Internet as we know it today was hardly a twinkle in the eyes of its fathers.

Aside from trashing an occasional floppy, the most dangerous thing a 1981 PC could do to you was give you a virus. No, not a computer virus–a real one–but only if the previous user neglected to wash his hands.

Hostile Desktop Takeover
Unless you were a big shot with a really big desk, the IBM PC didn’t share your desk–it took it over. Take a look at the “footprint” of that 1981 IBM PC: The system unit was 20 inches wide, 16 inches deep and 5.5 inches high. The monochrome monitor added 11 inches in height. The system unit weighed in at 25 pounds when configured with one diskette drive.

The keyboard was huge too. It was 20 inches wide to match the system unit and 8 inches deep. It was also one of the most comfortable and responsive keyboards ever made. Yes, it was loud and clacky, but it was reliable.

Early version of Wordstar word processor

Couldn’t See a Thing
When matched with the right software, the first PC could generate nice-looking business letters and resumes. You could even design an eye-catching restaurant menu or bulletin board poster. Trouble is, you never knew what you had created until you printed it out.

The monochrome monitor couldn’t show you much in the way of character formatting, much less high-resolution graphics or photos. All it could show were arcane codes and squiggles to indicate where the formatting changed. The days of WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) desktop publishing applications were years off.

No Mouse in the House
Unplug your computer’s mouse or ignore the touch pad and get back to work. See how much extra finger time those arrow keys get? That’s how we interfaced with PCs in the 1980s–one space at a time. No expressing from one end of the screen to another with a single click. Now try to use your web browser without a mouse for a few minutes. Yeah, that’s the definition of torture, isn’t it?

Help Isn’t on the Way
When the IBM PC warmed up and was ready for work, it greeted you not with a friendly, colorful desktop full of icons, but just with a mostly blank and an “A>” prompt. (The “C>” prompt arrived later with hard disks). What you typed in after the prompt was up to you because the PC wasn’t going to help you. At that point it was time to ask a friend, take a class, or at least grab a software or system manuals to see what you should enter. How long has it been since you typed in “dir” to find out what was on a floppy disk?

The 1981 PC was a game-changer, but not for the general public. They were still trying to master the new-fangled bank ATMs. It took years before many PCs made their way into dens, kitchens and bedrooms.

There’s lots more the 1981 PC couldn’t do–but I’m drawing a blank at the moment, so feel free to chime in.

Text Copyright 2011 Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
IBM PC photo courtesy of Ruben de Rijcke via Wikipedia
Wordstar screen shot courtesy of RaviC  via Wikipedia
IBM keyboard image courtesy of Mewtu via Wikipedia
Command prompt image courtesy of Microsoft Corp.