Kanex Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock Review

For the past several weeks I have been using the new Kanex Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock, that allows the connection of up to 8 devices on your Macbook or Thunderbolt ready device. In my case I have been using it with my Macbook Pro, and it has made easier to just unplug the thunderbolt connection between the Macbook and the dock and roll out of here. Another added benefit the Kanex Dock has alowed me to organize my cables so that I have much cleaner desktop.

The Kanex Docks is in a sleek Aluminum housing featuring 2x Thunderbolt 2.0 Ports, 3x USB 3.0 & 1 charge ready USB port, Ethernet connection, Audio / Mic, and a 4k/HD HDMI dual display port. It has a 12v external power supply to power the unit. With the number of devices we are hooking up to our computers these days, the dock provides the extra USB connections I need along with the ability to charge a device via the dock versus the computer.

I have been looking for a dock for quite some time so the footprint form factor are a big deal for me. This doc measures approx 6x3x1 fits the bill perfectly. I tested the interconnections with both Thunderbolt drives and USB 3.0 drives and had no issues. The 4k/HD dual display port sync’d and worked without issue. The team at Kanex have put together a fine dock, retailing @ $249 if your looking cleanup your desk and quite messing with cables this is the product for you. More details can be found here at Kanex.com

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Solo Stick Premium Review

When the Solo Stick Premium (Selfie Stick) arrived the first thing that happened was my 18 year old snapped it up, and for the past three weeks she has had it. I asked her to write down her thoughts and I am passing what her inputs are including my own summary.

1. Very Light and folds up to fit in backpack, purse.
2. Syncs to Bluetooth very fast once turned on.
3. Battery has long life even when left on continuously 3-4 days.
4. Phone snaps in fast.
5. Very sturdy.

While me personally is not the exact demographic to be snapping selfies, I did use it to capture some video where my view was obscured, and it worked perfectly to get my phone above the crowd. I like that I could put it in my back pocket and have it deployed in seconds if need be. I also used it for crowd control on a video shot where we were doing. Not the designed feature but it worked great for blocking people from walking into a professional video shot. The Solo Stick retails for $39.99 currently at SoloStick.com

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MSI Launches Prestige Series Laptops For Ultimate Style & Productivity

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Computer hardware manufacturer MSI Computer Corp. has launched their Prestige Series of laptops that feature the best in technology and design, making them a great solution for creative professionals and multimedia enthusiasts.

The Prestige Series features MSI’s True Color Technology, which calibrates and correct display color based on the screen’s color temperature, visible color range, and grey level stage. The panels seamlessly match the standard sRGB color range to display incredibly accurate and crisp images.

“The Prestige Series laptops offer the truest colors available and ensures the images you see are accurately reflected in a camera, computer, tablet, mobile phone, TV or printer,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America.

MSI-PE-Series-2The Prestige Series lineup features 6 different color profiles to maximize the user experience for a variety of different scenarios: sRGB default mode for o
timum graphics, Gamer mode to increase brightness, Designer mode for increased clarity and crisper lines, Anti-Blue mode to reduce pesky blue light emission, Movie mode with optimized contrast for clearer graphics, and Office mode to reduce eye strain after long periods of use.

The True Color Technicolor LCD screens (which come in 15-inch and 17-inch versions) also include anti-glare protection, wide-angle viewing technology, and 1920 x 1080 resolution.

MSI’s Prestige Series laptops run Windows 8.1 and boast high-quality internals as well, including Intel’s Core i7 processor, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 950M GPU, Killer Gaming Network, Dynaudio sound with Nahimic Audio Enhancer, MSI’s Audio Boost, and support for up to 3 monitors simultaneously at 4K resolution with Mini DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity.

The Prestige Series laptops start at $1199 for the 15-inch models and $1299 for the 17-inch models. For more information, visit MSI’s website.

Google Launches Mobile Carrier Project Fi for Nexus 6

Google has joined the ranks of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile with their new mobile carrier service, Project Fi. Project Fi, which is exclusive to owners of Google’s Nexus 6 smartphone, offers a completely new take on wireless plans.

project fiMost carriers charge a flat rate for a specific amount of data, even when you don’t use it all, but Project Fi only charges you for the data you actually use and reimburses you for what you don’t. For example, if you spend $20 on a 2GB monthly plan but only use 1GB, Google will refund you $10. If you only use 0.5GB, you’ll get $15 and so on.

Project Fi is available in over 120 countries (with no roaming charges– yay!) and offers unlimited talk and text, personal hotspot usage, Google Voice integration, and unlimited international texting for a flat rate of $20 per month; you can add a data plan for $10/GB per month as well.

In addition, Project Fi lets you connect to both Sprint and T-Mobile’s 3G and 4G LTE networks, so if your T-Mobile signal starts to lag and Sprint has a faster signal available, Project Fi will automatically switch over to Sprint so you’ll always have the fastest possible connection. And if no cell networks are available, Project Fi lets you connect to more than 1 million free open-access WiFi hotspots, automatically encrypting your data so you can have fast, secure online access wherever you are.

Project Fi is currently in its early-access stage and only available for the Nexus 6, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see support for other smartphones coming soon, and perhaps a partnership with AT&T or Verizon, too.

Until then, you can get all the details and request an invitation here.

One Click Subscribe on Android

My team made a very big announcement yesterday. We had a vision to create a One Click Subscribe Podcast subscription protocol for Android Podcast Listeners.

What is One Click? It is just as it sounds.. Finally Android Listeners will be able to One Click subscribe to podcasts. One of two actions will occur when podcasters implement One Click on their website.

  1. If the listener has a one click supported app on their mobile phone the App will automatically load and the listener will subscribe.
  2. If they do not have an app they will be sent to their personalized SubscribeOnAndroid.com page. It will  show their Album art  and below that will be list of One Click enabled applications of which the listener can install and start enjoying your show.
  3. Podcasters can get their embed code for their site by putting your podcast feed URL in the feed submission box on SubscribeOnAndroid.com website

Our goal was to level the playing field and give Android listeners One Click Podcast Subscription that iOS and iTunes users have had for many years.

We need your help in encouraging all Android Podcast App developers to support One Click Subscribe on Android and improve the Android Listener subscription process.

Details can be found on http://SubscribeOnAndroid.com for both

We will be at NMX / NAB to demonstrate One Click with the pre-release apps that have implemented the protocol.  The full press release is here.

Facebook’s Messenger Platform Adds New Ways to Connect With Friends & Businesses

facebook f8One of the main announcements from Facebook’s F8 Conference yesterday was the launch of Facebook’s new Messenger Platform, which will open the Messenger SDK to third-party apps and services, as well as a new customer service initiative that allows customers connect with businesses directly over Facebook Messenger.

Users will be able to access third-party Messenger content apps via a button next to the options for adding photos or stickers. Using these apps, users can create custom GIFs, videos, and other personalized content and send their creations to friends and family through Messenger. The recipient will receive a link to download or open the third-party app to view and respond to the message with their own content. Facebook’s David Marcus emphasized that the content apps will not be included within Facebook Messenger, but will remain standalone apps that link to Messenger:

“If we added a 10th of the capabilities [directly to Messenger] that we’ve added with partners today, it would make it really slow… If you don’t want to use those things, you’re not forced to… because those experiences don’t live inside of Messenger. It’s not like the overall experience of the app is getting very bloated.”

The Messenger platform will launch with support for a wide range of popular apps, including ESPN, Bitmoji, JibJab, Legend, Ultratest, Ditty, Giphy, FlipLip, ClipDis, Memes, PicCollage, Kanvas, Action Mobile FX, Boostr, Camoji, Cleo Video Texting, Clips, Dubsmash, Effectify, EmotionAR, EMU, Fotor, Gif Keyboard, GifJam, Hook’d, Imgur, Imoji, Keek, Magisto, Meme Generator, Noah Camera, Pic Stitch, PingTank, Score on Friends, Selfied, Shout, StayFilm, Facebook Stickered, Strobe, Tackl, Talking Tom, Tempo, The Weather Channel, to.be Camera, and Wordeo. More apps will undoubtedly follow as developers have a chance to experiment with the SDK.

Facebook also hopes to improve interaction between customers and businesses by bringing the intuitive Messenger experience to the marketplace. Facebook has partnered with businesses like Zulily and Everlane to allow customers to cancel, modify, and track orders directly within Messenger. Integration with ZenDesk and other customer service platforms will let businesses to respond to customer inquiries through Messenger as well. In addition, businesses will be able to send push notifications to consumers’ devices, even if the business itself does not have its own app.

Although no monetization strategy has been announced for Messenger’s new business features, it’s likely that the information Facebook gleans from these customer-to-business interactions, such as where users shop and what products they buy, will allow for improved ad targeting, perhaps leading to more profits from Facebook’s ad platform down the line.

All in all, the improvements to Messenger seem to confirm that Facebook is continuing its efforts to differentiate from the competition and protect its substantial market share. The emphasis they’re placing on keeping third-party functionality separate from the core Messenger app also coincides with Facebook’s gradual transition from an all-in-one app to multiple apps for specific functionalities.

What do you think of Facebook’s F8 announcements? Which of Messenger’s new features are you excited to try out?

Dell XPS Transition

xpsOver the past 5 weeks I have been using a Dell XPS exclusively. This in part was a challenge by the Dell team. For years I have always purchased laptops with large foot-prints. I was beyond upset when Apple cacnceled the 17 inch MacBook Pro and for the past 2-3 years have used 17 inch Windows based latop.

So I was highly skeptical when I received the 13 inch Dell XPS that the transition would go well. Not only has the transition to this laptop went well for daily use but the way I travel. Here is the list game changers with this laptop.

  • QHD Display Screen Resolution 3200 x 1800
  • Footprint
  • Keyboard & Trackpad
  • Power Supply
  • Battery Life 11+ Hours

Lets talk about each of the items on my list. The 13.3 Quad HD+ display has 5.7 million pixels (that’s over 4.4 million more than the MBA 13 with HD+)  The 13.3 inch screen border from the lid edge is incredibly narrow, and is how Dell was able to put a 13 inch screen within a 11 inch laptop footprint. The 3200 x 1800 screen resolution is simply mind blowing.

The keyboard and mouse have great response and is one of the biggest selling features for me. I am quite picky about my keyboards and I have found the XPS keyboard and trackpad a delight to use.

The power supply for the XPS is simply no bigger than most cell phone chagers its tiny and unlike most laptops that require a brick. This power supply is tiny in comparisson to most laptop power supplies.

The battery life of the XPS is simply incredible. I have been using the XPS on a regular basis for 8-9 hours daily off the power supply and still have plenty of battery charge to spare. Dell says you can get 11 hrs on QHD+ with up to 7 additional hours with the Dell Power Companion

I am not sure how they do it to be honest with you. You have this beautiful bright screen and great performance with the 5th Generation Intel Core Processor and yet the battery life is unparalled with any laptop I have ever used.

I have used the XPS continously over the past five week and it has exceded all my expectations. At this point I feel my transition to a smaller footprint laptop complete, and I look forward to using this laptop for the forceable future. I highly recommend the Dell XPS 13 to anyone considering a new laptop.

Resource Links: Dell XPS Story, Dell Store, Dell XPS Product Page

Note: Dell Provided the Dell XPS 13 for my review. Like any product reviewed at Geek News Central the product has been used as noted in the review.

YouTube goes 360, upload and view immersive videos

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YouTube

Watching a video is one thing, but watching one in full surround is quite another matter. The technology makes for better immersion in your viewing experience, though it’s tricky to shoot and has been more difficult to upload and let people view your wonderful clips. That is changing now as YouTube introduces the technology to upload these clips.

“You could let viewers see the stage and the crowd of your concert, the sky and the ground as you wingsuit glide, or you could even have a choose-your-own-adventure video where people see a different story depending on where they look. Only you know what’s possible”, says project manager Sanjeev Verma.

This will be available via the YouTube app for Android — simply move your phone or tablet around to scroll around the screen. Users can also do the same with YouTube.comand Chrome by utilizing the mouse to roll around the video.

“To make it easy for you to create and upload 360-degree videos to YouTube, we’ve been working with companies across the industry. BublcamGiroptic’s 360camIC Real Tech’s AllieKodak’s SP360 and RICOH THETA are 360-degree video cameras compatible with YouTube that are available today or are coming soon” the announcement reads.

If you happen to be located near Los Angeles then you can stop by the YouTube Space L.A. and learn more about what is happening. The show is being hosted by the Creator Team and will run  into April. Google promises that it will “blow your mind”.