Archive for October, 2018

Thinking back and dreaming forward

Yep, that time of the year again to gaze backwards at the tech of yesteryear as we look forward to the 2019 CES in Las Vegas. This ten-year retro view will give you a peek into tech considered ancient by today’s standards.

Microsoft was betting on new “home server” software and equipment … did you buy one? … didn’t think so. Don’t feel bad as no one else did either. Server tech is so far beyond the average user even if “dumbed down” that I can’t even begin to explain. And if “dumbed down”, the neophyte user can mistakenly open a bag of worms that they really didn’t want.

Skype finally appears on Android devices.

TV manufacturers were wondering why people weren’t using their smart TV’s for things like ordering pizza and such. I can only guess those guys were still using flip-phones as the rest of the world was moving to smart phones/tablets/laptops for such things. Oddly, even as late as the 2018 CES, they were asking the same question. I’m expecting the same question at the 2019 CES.

Digital “photo frames” were hot for the sellers, but not so much for buyers. Who knows how many of the things are still stuck on retailers’ shelves or backrooms?

McIntosh was celebrating its 60th birthday and released it’s first tabletop stereo system … and yes, you can’t even afford it even in used condition now.

Circuit City was circling the drain, if not already past the financial P-trap in reality.

Things in the back of the “Central Hall” at CES were junk then … nothing has changed. How many 59 cent headphones does anyone need?

“Personal” GPS trackers were becoming mainstream … perfect for stalkers or just your average paparazzi.

Mitsubishi unveiled the first laser projection TV … available in 65”. One of the two major sizes of an average flat LCD TV. Only many, many times thicker and heavier … yeah, I don’t understand their thought process on it either.

Sony released a $1500 1080p camcorder (HDR-XR520V) using a hard disk for data retention … what could possibly go wrong with a portable video camera using a mechanical hard drive, other than just about everything?

Smartphone makers blame the U.S. celluar carriers for the “slow” adoption of the new phones … by gouging customers. They charge for almost everything that make the new phones worth having/using. By late 2009, smartphone still only accounted for about 25% of new phone sales.

The first Google phone (G1) is released … to be kind, we’ll call it a “work-in-progress” … didn’t even have a headphone jack. It had only 49!!! apps available at the time from the “Android Market”.      Having only a 3.2-megapixel camera and NO video or flash, reviewers at the time politely called it “unfinished”.

Laptops in 2009, even the most expensive ones (like the dual-core Sony VAIO VGN-TT198UBX – $4344), to put it politely, are incredibly weak by today’s standards. Here in late 2018, the CPU manufacturers are in full scale nuclear war with each other again as chip design has taken almost unbelievable jumps in just the last year. Ninety-six core desktops are available now for the price of a new Kia. We may see 48-core laptops with far faster clock speeds in the near future (Alienware probably, and being the Ferrari of laptops, beyond frighteningly expensive … but mainstream only a few years later.)

Regardless, looking back only ten years seems the “good old days”, where we were on the cusp of the explosion of tech that isn’t even given a second thought by users today. When Google didn’t know our underwear size or where we had dinner last night. When you couldn’t buy lumber on Amazon.

But as a friend once asked me, “if our tech is so advanced, where is my teleporter?” It will not be in my lifetime, but who can realistically forecast tech 100 years in the future, when we look back only ten years and see how quaint technology was “back then”.

Going down the never ending rabbit hole of tech upgrades

GoPro released the Hero “7” Black just a couple of months after I took delivery of a Hero “6” Black (reviewed earlier) … so, I had to have it if for no other reason than to see what has changed. Immediately, you notice on the side of the camera in bold print “7” so as not to be confused with the “old” model … God forbid people think you’re using the old, worn out tech of April 2018! I’m not joking that some tech sites complained there was no huge nomenclature to identify it as the newest/priciest model.

Basically, the cameras are similar in appearance, use the same accessories and are still as heavy as though it was made out of lead. But there are some very real improvements … most notably the incredible smoothness/lack of shake the new camera exhibits. The Hero 6 Black was outstanding, but after seeing the improvement, the “6” is headed to eBay. My distaste for gimbals continues unabated and this new model just hardens my opinion. A heavy, complex, expensive and cumbersome gimbal to smooth a few bumps is simply unnecessary at this point unless you’re shooting the new “Indiana Jones” movie.

GoPro does make a “Silver & White” version of this camera … but trust me on this, forget it.            They are for the posers who want to flash the GoPro “image,” but don’t want to spend the bucks.        In complete candor, I’m at a loss why they even make these. If poorer video quality is your goal, just buy a $35 Chinese camera. Why spend $300 for a lesser GoPro, when effectively, it’s dumbed down to the video quality of the aforementioned Chinese clone.

The new menu threw me for a loop the first few times I used it and even now, I still prefer the older menu of the “6”.

It now includes “SuperPhoto” … it applies three different technologies to produce the best still image ever from a GoPro.  You really, really don’t want me to explain this in pure geek talk.                        Just note, it works …

It will now shoot in the vertical mode for posting on certain vanity (eg. Instagram Stories) websites.

The new “TimeWarp” will capture super-stabilized time-lapse videos while you move around.            It’ll increase the speed up to 30x to turn longer shots into anything you may want to share and yet, not bore your friends. (eg. original video is 10 minutes, but is sped up to be viewed in only 20 seconds for those with millennium-short attention spans.)

The sound quality is slightly improved … due to a different waterproofing membrane primarily.

Should you want to live-stream, it’s available now, but restricted to the personal data grabbing “Facebook” & “YouTube” and a few others.

I have noticed better low-level light sensitivity, better definition and color saturation.                          While complained about on some websites, I’ve always thought it was better than it should be for the lenses it has.

But ultimately, it’s the impressive smoothness that leaves you amazed that you’re that good of a videographer.

I now await breathlessly for the “8”.