They Aren’t Smartwatches…they Are Dumbwatches

They Aren't Smartwatches...they Are Dumbwatches

The Wall Street Journal asks “Is it Time for Smartwatches?”

With the arrival of the first generation of smartwatches–Samsung Galaxy Gear, Pebble, and Sony Smartwatch–we have hit the rock bottom in innovate and design thinking.

These watches look cheap–flimsy plastic or ultra-thin aluminum or even stainless doesn’t cut it as a fashion statement when larger and substantial is in.

The screens are too small to be user-centric–let along there being any room for a physical or soft keyboard.

You can’t really read on it and you can’t type on it (any significant form of email, texting)–except by voice command. Ah, let me talk into my wrist, no!

Also, for videos or gaming, the small rectangular screens aren’t of any useful function–how much of Madonna’s new wild getup can you see or how far can you fling that angry bird on your wrist?

Downloading music on the Gear, uh, also no.

Taking photos with a 1.9 megapixel camera on the Galaxy Gear at a time when the 8 megapixels on the iPhone is running way short is good for maybe a James Bond, but not anyone else.

Plus for smartwatches like the Gear, you still need to pair it with a companion smartphone for it to work, so you now have added expense (between about $150 for the Pebble and $299 for the Gear smartwatch) with no significant added benefit.

For the Gear, you also have a separate charger because the watch only has a battery life of about a day, while for the Pebble and Sony Smartwatch 2, you have between half a week to a week.

And believe it or not, the Galaxy Gear is not compatible with their own Galaxy S4 smartphone–oh, so very smart.

My 16-year old daughter said, “If they had this 10 years ago maybe, but now, who needs it!”

No, Google Glass has it right–concept yes, fashion still to be worked out–and the smartwatches for now, have it wrong, wrong, wrong.

If you buy it, you’ve bought yourself a very dumb watch.

Maybe the iWatch can save the day? πŸ˜‰

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Nathan Chantrell)

The Galaxy S4 Is Crap

The Galaxy S4 Is Crap

Okay, it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong.

Reference my blog “How Apple Is Losing Its Fan” dated August 10, 2013.

After testing the Galaxy S4 for the last 5 days, I can honestly say, I was wrong!

I hate the Galaxy device, and am returning it tonight!

Despite a dearth of recent innovation from Apple, their iPhone is SO MUCH better than the Galaxy.

Do NOT listen to the stats comparing them!

The battery on the Galaxy was horrendous, and after never running out of juice on the iPhone, I got a warning message yesterday on the Galaxy that the battery was almost dead after only 8+ hours of use!

Also, syncing it up with my car system was clumsy and annoying compared to the iPhone which did it seamlessly everyday.

Even simply syncing up music, videos, and so on with iTunes required a 3rd party app to facilitate this.

Checking email was a pain as there were separate icons for Gmail and the for all other email (yahoo etc.), so this very basic feature was not consolidated.

The cheap material on the Galaxy, even with the nice case I got, made it feel like the crappy buttons would break anytime.

But most important, the integration of the Apple iPhone ecosystem is so much tighter than on the Galaxy–whereas everything on the iPhone works the first time and every time, the Galaxy is an annoying hit or miss.

Everything on the Galaxy felt to me like more clicks, more annoying messages, less intuitive interface, and like I just wanted to toss it into the trash.

When the lady said she completed my switchback over to the iPhone, I only had one thing to say–thank G-d!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Apple Is Losing Its Fans

How Apple Is Losing Its Fans

Without a lift, Apple is already (and unfortunately) on the way down.

IDC reports that the recent quarter global smartphone shipments show Android with an almost 80% market share compared to Apple’s flimsy 13%.

I’ve been a diehard Apple fan for years (and I still love them, but…)

Years ago, I converted all my Windows computers and even my old Android phones.

Apple was innovative, sleek, and intuitive to use.

But since Steve Jobs passed, the company has lost its mojo.

Siri was a bust and what else have they done since.

Google is leading the way with Glass for wearable technology.

Apple is disappointing its consumers, and their stock plummet from over $700 to the upper $300s (now in the mid $400’s) shows investor sentiment.

Out comes the Samsung Galaxy S4 and I am salivating–the differences from the iPhone 5 make them “almost” not comparable.

Thought I’d wait for Chanukah, but the opportunity came early and so I am now a proud owner.

A couple of days earlier, a young women on the Metro was using the Galaxy and I asked how she liked it–she said she loved it, mentioned the big screen and all the free apps, and then went on to say that her mom also just switched over from the iPhone and loves the Galaxy too.

What is it about the Galaxy?

The larger 5″ screen on the Galaxy versus 4″on the iPhone 5 is the first thing you notice–and yes, when it comes to doing email, reading news articles, or watching video, size does matter!

Also, the Galaxy has Corning Gorilla glass and a higher 2.85 resolution and 35.28% higher pixel density–so it is strong and sharp and images really come out looking like a beautiful work of art.

Also with air gesture, you can just wave your hand to navigate pages and not get fingerprints and smudges all over the screen.

The camera is another huge difference: the Galaxy is 13 megapixels compared to only 8 for the iPhone and if you like taking photos that don’t look like they came from a smartphone, this is a better way to do it.

In terms of speed, the Galaxy again outperforms the iPhone, it has 2 gigabyte of RAM versus only 1 for the iPhone and its CPU is 2.46 as fast. I was able to transfer my entire iTunes music library in just a couple of minutes.

Finally, battery power is key and the Galaxy has 1.81x what the iPhone has–which basically makes it not necessary to get a heavy and costly Mophie external battery pack for it.

While there are many features I like better on Galaxy s4, the one thing I’d recommend Samsung improve on is the body, which is a cheaper plastic compared to the iPhones aluminum, but once you have a solid case on it, it doesn’t really matter for the end user experience.

Overall, Galaxy has out-done the iPhone, and I think the venerable and cash rich Apple, without some major new technology leaps and advances in design is under very real threat.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Gone are the days when Sony made innovative products like the Walkman and great products like televisions that you willingly paid top dollar for.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18-24 February 2013) reports on Sony that “after eight years of losses in the TV business, it projects a $215 million profit this year–only after selling its New York headquarter for $1.1 billion.”

LA Times reported last May that Sony announced its largest ever loss for year-end March 31, 2012 of $5.6 billion, nearly double its prior-year loss of $3.2 billion. They also announced layoffs for 10,000 employees.

Sony is reorganizing and shedding businesses (displays, chemicals, etc.) and according to Bloomberg looking to generate 70% of sales and 85% of profit from just 3 remaining businesses–cameras, smartphones/tablets, and gaming.

However, Sony has lost its way…

Maybe it started in the 80’s when Sony lost out in VCR (videocassette recorder) format wars with its Betamax to VHS, and it continues today with a lack of innovation in the mobile technology marketplace. Anybody want to buy a Sony Ericsson phone? Ah, no!

Additionally, if you have ever been to a Sony retail store–probably not–they are a truly sad imitation of Apple and virtually nobody is in there. Hello–echo.

Sony is not only losing the technology war, the retail war, and the market share (it has only 4.5% of the phone market according to the Wall Street Journal) and earnings war, but also the branding war and they have just become plain uncool.

Sony’s products have names that are unrecognizable, unpronounceable, or just plain alphabet soup.

Do you want to buy a MacBook or a Vaio, iPhone or Xperia, Kindle Fire or PRST, a Sharp Elite or XBR, an Xbox 360 or a PS4?

The answer is obvious to everyone but Sony. πŸ˜‰

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Repair Robots In Space

This is a cool video by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on project Phoenix–which is a robot that can repair satellites in space and re-use components from retired satellites around it.

Phoenix can intercept, scavenge, and rebuild satellites in space–while orbiting above the Earth at 22,000 miles!

In the corner of the video, you can see progress being made in the lab, and in the main video frame you can see an animated version of how this would actually be put to use.

Machines working on, building, and repairing machines!

Like the fulfillment of a Terminator-like society, where machines can function with autonomy, eventually learning, self-healing, and even propagating.

I would imagine that these machines can help not only repurpose and recycle material in space to good use and fix things, but also they can clean up the space junk in orbit–similar to street sweeper trucks in Manhattan!

Eventually, these robots will travel to distance worlds–first Mars–to build human colonies and maintain them in inhospitable environments.

In mythology, Phoenix is a bird that regenerates and is reborn–in this case, this may be the beginning of the rebirth of human civilization throughout the galaxy. πŸ˜‰