? All Tech Radio Episode 482
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  • As has become the norm, this year's CES will showcase giant TV sets, ranging from curved screens to ultra-thin devices and all of them very expensive, though increasingly affordable for consumers in the United States, who are expected to spend roughly $5 billion on 4K screens in 2015. There will also be new computers, like Acer's Chromebook 15, and an opportunity to look at the latest in virtual-reality gear from Oculus VR. Koenig cited data showing that the smartphone still dominates the sector in terms of sales, thanks to growing demand for low-end phones in emerging markets that makes up for moderate demand in rich countries where consumers tend to spend more money on their devices. Average price for a smartphone is expected to dip below the $300 mark this year, down from $449 in 2010.
  • XOEye Technologies, has developed eyewear that includes a camera and sensors. It's designed for blue-collar occupations, not consumers, but its CEO Aaron Salow was at the trade show Sunday, not far from the belt demo, to show his product. He sees CES as a good way to make connections. XOEye's eyewear has numerous functions, including barcode scanning and sensors that can track, for instance, how many times an employee has to bend down to pick something up, or how far someone must walk to perform certain tasks.
  • D-Link is showing three new routers at CES this week-the DIR-895L/R, the DIR-890L/R, and the DIR-885L/R-along with the spherical DWA-192/R USB 3.0 Wi-Fi adapter. The flagship DIR-895L/R is based on Broadcom's BCM47094 chipset and can operate two independent networks on the 5GHz frequency band (with theoretical TCP throughput to 802.11ac clients of 2165Mbps on each), and a third network on the 2.4GHz band with theoretical TCP throughput of 1000Mbps. It will be outfitted with eight high-power antennas, and it supports MU-MIMO (multiple users-multiple input/multiple output) technology so that it can stream high-definition video and audio to multiple clients. The DIR-890L, equipped with six antennas, can also operate two independent 5GHz networks, but its TCP throughput maxes out at 1300Mbps to 802.11ac clients. It delivers throughput up to 600Mbps on its third network, which operates on the 2.4GHz band. The four-antenna DIR-885L/R, meanwhile, operates one 5GHz network with throughput up to 2165Mbps, and one 2.4GHz network with throughput up to 1000Mbps. D-Link arrives at its AC5300 label by summing those numbers. (The AC5600 and throughput numbers in the slide below have been revised downward.)
  • Launching a feature phone at the beginning of 2015 may seem strange, but Microsoft is convinced there is still a market for the Nokia 215 as a second phone and in parts of the world were electricity is scarce and budgets are small. Microsoft calls Nokia 215 the company's most affordable "Internet-ready entry-level phone" with Facebook and Twitter integration. The screen measures 2.4 inches and the camera has a 0.3-megapixel resolution. Besides the US$29 price tag, the phone's stand-by time of up to 29 days is the biggest attraction. For people who live in parts of the world were electricity isn't readily available, that's an important consideration.
  • Garmin is going after the extreme sports crowd with a pair of pricey smartwatches, while offering a cheaper model for more leisurely pursuits. True to Garmin's roots in navigation, all three smartwatches have built-in GPS, but they're tailored toward different interests. The top-of-the-line epix ($550, pictured above) accommodates hiking, skiing and snowboarding with a color touchscreen, altimeter and barometer. It also has 8GB of storage for offline satellite and topographical images, and lets users subscribe to additional mapping services such as TOPO US 100K. The slightly cheaper fenix 3 ($500) looks more like a traditional watch and has LED backlighting, though it lacks the epix's extensive offline mapping features and touch screen. The $250 vivoactive has a touchscreen but is aimed more at everyday fitness tracking, with some added features for golfers.
  • Hyatt Hotels and Resorts is giving travelers the one thing they've said they want the most: free Wi-Fi. Starting February, all guests at Hyatt hotels worldwide get free Wi-Fi on an unlimited number of devices in both guest rooms and public spaces. They won't have to be members of Hyatt's loyalty program. Nor will they have to book directly with the hotel rather than a third-party site like Expedia or Travelocity. Hyatt believes the move "doesn't just help travelers. It helps us just as much," Kristine Rose, vice president of brands for Hyatt, wrote in a blog item. "We can't continue to differentiate and innovate our guest experiences when we're charging some guests for the technology that powers future improvements." There is a catch though: If guests want faster Wi-Fi, they'll have to pay, unless they're Diamond and Platinum Hyatt Gold Passport members. Hyatt has not yet said how much the premium Wi-Fi will be.
  • Dish Network is making the first big news in what's likely to be a busy year for the future of television. At the International Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, the company unveiled its Internet television service, a $20-a-month alternative to cable that's the most ambitious play for cord-cutters to date. The service, confusingly, is named Sling TV, even though it has no direct connection to the Slingbox, another device aiming to appeal to people fed up with the restrictions of cable. Sling TV will be available on a range of connected televisions, streaming boxes and sticks such as Roku, and mobile devices. Dish has been working on the service for four years, says Joseph Clayton, the company's chief executive officer. It spent much of last year lining up deals and developing technology to insert targeted ads into live streams. The company had originally said the service would be ready in 2014. A lot was happening while Dish was putting the finishing touches on Sling TV. HBO and CBS announced they would begin selling standalone streaming subscriptions, and Sony launched PlayStation Vue, its own cable replacement service.
  • Sony has slapped price tags and set a launch date of January 13th on a subscription system for its PlayStation Now game streaming service, which has been working through various stages of closed and open beta testing since late last January. This is in line with Sony's initial pitch for PlayStation Now, which it formally announced last January as a rental or subscription-based service intended to stream PlayStation 3 games to PS3 and PS4 consoles, along with the PlayStation Vita and a select number ofSony and Samsung HDTV sets. Starting next week, PlayStation Now users will have the option of signing up for a monthly subscription ($20/month or $45/3 months) to access over 100 PlayStation 3 games via the streaming service; it's yet unclear if that encompasses all games currently available for rent via the service.
  • The founder of Facebook is giving Amazon a leg-up. Over the weekend, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his New Year's resolution was to read a book every two weeks in 2015, and he invited his 30 million followers to join him. His first selection had sold out on Amazon.com within 24 hours. The 30-year-old billionaire is known for making New Year's resolutions that are by turns banal and bizarre. In the past he has undertaken to meet a new person every day for a year, to write a daily thank-you note, and to wear a tie every day. One year, Mr Zuckerberg vowed to learn Mandarin. Another, he announced that he would only eat meat from animals that he had killed himself, and enlisted a local chef and butcher to facilitate the process.
  • Your morning commute can be fun for both you and the environment, thanks to the Gogoro Smartscooter. Unveiled today (Jan. 5) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Gogoro is a battery-powered scooter that its creators say releases no harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Built for use in cities, Gogoro was designed to balance low environmental impact, power and usability. The frame is relatively lightweight, and batteries can be swapped out in as little as six seconds, its creators say. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced. Gogoro will be powered by a network of recharging stations called GoStations, where Gogoro owners can go to swap their batteries and get maintenance checks. These GoStations will form the Gogoro Energy Network, which will be protected by 256-bit security encryption to keep users' location and other data private. In which cities the Gogoro Energy Network will launch has yet to be announced
  • Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) has always restricted certain American content from being watched in foreign countries, due to licensing agreements with movie and television studios. Customers have been able to bypass those restrictions with a virtual private network or software that masks the location of your IP address. Those tools can make Netflix think you're in the United States, even if you're in a different country. Now, it appears that Netflix is cracking down on those tactics. Netflix customers living abroad are reporting on social media that they can no longer view American shows on Netflix using a VPN. The streaming service is available in 50 countries, but Netflix's content licenses vary from nation to nation. For instance, a show that is available on Netflix in England might not be available in the United States, and vice versa.

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