Sunday, April 30, 2017

Deal of the Day

Today’s deal is one for the budget PC builders: Right now, Amazon’s selling an EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC Gaming graphics card for $116. That’s $34 off MSRP for this factory overclocked model, and one of the best prices we’ve seen. It’s also the most hassle-free price available—Newegg is also offering a discount on the same card, but for $140 after a $10 mail-in rebate.
There is, however, a catch. In order to take advantage of this price, you have to be an Amazon Prime member. You can circumvent this issue by signing up for a free trial, though. Doing so will also net you free two-day shipping on the purchase (as well as most others during the trial period).
As a factory overclocked model, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC Gaming comes with a bit of extra oomph out of the box, with a base clock of 1354MHz and a boost clock of 1468MHz. (Reference speeds are 1290MHz base clock and 1392MHz boost clock.) It also comes with 4GB of GDDR5 memory that runs at 7Gbps and uses a 128-bit bus.

Friday, April 28, 2017

HP is Back on Top

In late 2015, HP was reborn as a PC maker following a split of its parent organization, Hewlett-Packard. At the time, HP was a lost cause, and its double-digit decline in PC shipments was a main reason for the split.

The new HP then set out to reclaim its spot as the world's top PC maker from Lenovo, a title it lost in 2013. It reached the goal in the first quarter of 2017, during which its PC shipments grew by 13.1 percent year over year.

To reach the top, HP took on an Apple-like role of being an innovator and focused on profitable products. At the same time, it cut products like its Slate PCs, some low-cost Stream laptops, TouchSmart all-in-ones, Omni PCs, and other devices that were key offerings in the past.

In December 2015, HP also cut low-cost tablets and Android devices, due to fierce competition and a drop in prices. Tablet demand was declining, and low-cost alternatives were available by the dozens.

"We saw the consumer tablet market as the opposite -- low-value being flooded with cheap devices with Shenzhen," said Ron Coughlin, president for personal systems at HP. "We didn't think that would provide the customers or shareholders with the right value."

Armed with market research and engineering expertise, HP then set out to redesign its PCs into smaller and more attractive form factors. Products like 2-in-1s were designed to appeal to buyers like millennials, many of whom don't mind spending the extra buck for a device that looks sophisticated.

"We don't chase share for share's sake. We could have discounted our way to the share gains we had, but that wasn't our plan at all," Coughlin said.

In 2016, HP released products like the super-thin Spectre 13, the modular HP Slice desktop, and the Z2 Mini desktop, which packs the power of a tower PC in a small form factor.

"People wanted a smaller footprint, but they wanted the same power," Coughlin said.
HP also released the Pavilion Wave PC, a modern take on Apple's Mac Pro.

The company also reversed some of its past mistakes. It re-entered the high-end PC gaming market, which it exited when it folded the Voodoo PC unit in 2008. Gaming PCs have been the bright spot in an otherwise slumping PC market, and in August, HP introduced a range of innovative high-end Omen gaming PCs, which had similar color tones to the Voodoo PCs.

The "high-value" Omen PCs are taking market share away from conventional gaming PC
makers, and gaming is a profitable market, Coughlin said.

But it's the volume-selling products like the Pavilion, EliteBook, Spectre, and Envy that sold well and helped HP's market share grow. Many of the laptops are thinner, smaller and sleeker than older HP products, and 2-in-1 products are selling well.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Don't Install Win 10 Creators Update Alone

Microsoft would prefer it if you didn't try to install the Windows 10 Creators Update yourself. Instead, the company is encouraging everyone but advanced users to wait for the Creators Update to become available via Windows Update. That means workarounds for excited users, like the Media Creation Tool or the Windows Update Assistant, are discouraged.

The reason for all this hesitation, according to Microsoft, is that the company wants to iron out any issues for specific hardware configurations before making the upgrade available to affected PCs via Windows Update. Microsoft is doing this using the feedback mechanisms in Windows Insider builds, as well as general feedback from users currently running the Creators Update.

Microsoft says it usually takes one of three steps when there's a problematic issue in the Creators Update:

  1. Document the issue and provide some troubleshooting advice on places like the company's forums.
  2. Add a fix to Windows or work with a hardware maker to make a driver change.
  3. Block impacted devices from receiving the Creators Update via Windows Update.

One issue that Microsoft cites as an example is a problem with certain Broadcom bluetooth radios that are having connectivity issues. Microsoft posted some troubleshooting advice on the company's forums once the issue was identified. The company also temporarily blocked anyone else with the same radio from getting the Creators Update over Windows Update. The company plans to remove the block once a solution is found.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Samsung Galaxy S8 Updates

Samsung Electronics Co. is releasing two software updates for its new Galaxy S8 phone after some users complained of seeing red-tinted screens and spotty Wi-Fi connections.

The Galaxy S8 started shipping last week, and some people who pre-ordered in South Korea complained about the display. Samsung originally recommended the users fix the problem manually, but has now confirmed it will allow users to rectify the issue via an update.

“Samsung has listened to feedback and has decided to release a software update starting from this week which will provide customers with a further enhanced ability to adjust the color setting to their preference,” South Korea-based Samsung said in an emailed statement Monday.

Samsung is pinning its hopes on its flagship smartphone offering, which launched in the U.S. on April 21, after the Note 7 debacle last year. That phone debuted to positive reviews only to be killed off after some units caught fire and exploded.

Unlike the battery issue that plagued the Note 7, the problem facing the Galaxy S8 is related to software. A separate update will deal with the inability to connect to certain high-speed Wi-Fi networks used by a local carrier and doesn’t mean there is a hardware issue with the S8, Samsung said.

Samsung accounted for 26 percent of global smartphone sales in the first quarter of this year, ahead of Apple’s 17 percent, according to TrendForce. Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone later in 2017 -- the 10th anniversary of the iconic device.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Turntable Sales

Everything old is new again (again).

As consumers open their wallets for nostalgia — and manufacturers build in advanced features to products — one CE category seeing growth is turntables.  For the March 2016 through February 2017 period, turntables saw 16 percent growth in dollar sales and 23 percent in unit sales for vs. the prior-year period, according to The NPD Group.

While premium products (over $250) grew 135 percent, accounting for 11 percent of total sales, average selling prices (ASPs) of turntables still dropped 6 percent.

In a statement, NPD executive director and industry analyst Ben Arnold highlighted the return of legacy technology in the past year, including instant-print cameras and the NES Classic Edition. “The turntable market has been revitalized by a mixture of expanding colorways and form factors that appeal to design-focused shoppers, as well as updated features like Bluetooth to keep up with the wider trend towards connectivity in audio,” he noted.

Other findings from NPD:
*Half of turntables sold featured Bluetooth, up from 18 percent the same period a year ago.
*Thirty-nine percent of units sold were able to digitize records into audio files.
*Forty-eight percent of unit sales above $300 offered the analog-to-digital feature.
*Two-thirds of turntables sold are in a color other than black, and sales of these models are up 16 percent vs. the prior-year period.

It’s not just audiophiles spurring the growth, according to Arnold. “Growth in the past year has been fueled by both casual listeners, as well as audio enthusiasts. This has allowed for a mix of lifestyle brands and high-performance audio companies to take hold in the turntable market.”

Monday, April 24, 2017

Live by EarlySense

By George Harding
This is a unique device designed to measure and analyze your sleep without the use of sensors on your body.

It consists of a disc-shaped device which is powered by a wall socket, and a smartphone app (currently only available for Android, but iOS version is imminent).
The Live unit is placed under your mattress about under your shoulder. You don’t have to do anything but go to sleep. Live keeps track of what you do during the night: get up, roll over, breath and more.
Setup of the Live unit is fairly simple. It must be plugged into a wall socket and the companion app downloaded to your phone. Setup is done through the app, requiring you to create an account and enter information about yourself.
The app connects to the Live unit by Bluetooth, but you  must also have WiFi available.
The unit has a green LED which indicates power is being supplied, and a blue light indicating that it is synched to the app.
The device and app record quite a bit of information about your sleep, including heart rate, rate of breathing, and has a wake-up feature. The app shows in both numerical and graphic form your heart rate during the night and also your breathing rate. As you would expect, both data start at a normal range and gradually decrease until you wake up.
The app provides advice about your sleeping habits and can be used by others as a monitor in case breathing stops.
I found this product to be very interesting and unique among the many health applications that are available today.
Live by EarlySense                   Price $179 currently

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and I hope you will all celebrate it as we do.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Instagram Offline

If Facebook has Lite to cater to users in the developing world, Instagram has offline mode for Android devices. The Facebook-owned company has revealed at F8 that most of its Android app's features now work offline. People can browse their feeds and their Explore tabs even if they have no mobile data, as is the case for many users in developing nations. However, they can only see the images and profiles they've previously loaded while they were connected to the internet. They can Heart photos, leave comments and unfollow others like usual, but those obviously won't go through until they reconnect.

While Instagram only activated the feature for its Android app since Android devices are more common in the developing market, offline mode is present to an extent on its iOS application. It also caches previously loaded posts and comments, but users can't interact with them without an internet connection. The photo-centric social network said it plans to make more feature available offline, which could make it a bigger hit in places where getting postpaid plans with mobile data isn't the norm. Further, Instagram told TechCrunch that it's exploring the idea of making offline mode available on iOS in the future.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

No Smartphone Needed

Wearables may soon not rely on a smartphone, as more than one network-connected smartwatch hit the market.
One such smartwatch launching next month was developed by a major network to function as an independent device.
Verizon’s new Wear24 smartwatch can connect to Verizon’s 4G LTE network without requiring a smartphone.
The smartwatch automatically operates using the user’s existing phone number when sending texts and making calls, according to Verizon.
The smartwatch is equipped with an eSIM (Embedded Subscriber Identity Module), which enables the network connectivity. This functions similarly to the SIM card in a smartphone, but is not removable.
Integrating eSIMs into IoT devices enables networks to remotely configure device connectivity settings and allow or deny access based on the status of a device owner’s subscription.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Five Keys to Leading in the Age of Analytics

by Andrew Wells and Kathy Chiang
Data and analytics have redefined the way we compete. Data is a critical corporate asset that organizations are starting to monetize in new ways to get ahead of their competition. The bottom line? Companies that leverage data to drive the performance of their organization’s decisions are winning at a faster rate than their competition.

One alarming trend for large corporations is that the size of the organization is no longer a competitive barrier to producing world class analytics. A general trend emerging in the marketplace is that the competitive advantage that large companies have in the use of analytics is disappearing as the cost of accessing, processing, and storing data is plummeting. Large teams of data scientists and millions of dollars are no longer required to drive insights from a company’s data assets. Analytical methods and tools are becoming more ubiquitous and less costly, leveling the playing fields for companies large and small.

Executives that know how to lead in this new era of data analytics will outpace their competition. It will require a shift in how you view analytics and the importance the organization places on the building of analytical capabilities. There are five keys to leading in the age of analytics:

1.   Analytics as a Corporate Strategy
Embed analytical capabilities and strategies into your corporate objectives. Having a clear vision of winning through analytics is essential to provide direction and organizational energy for the development of these needed capabilities. It is through these new methods, tools, and techniques that you will develop new products, services, markets, and opportunities.

2.   Monetization Strategy
Develop monetization strategies as valuable corporate assets. A Monetization Strategy is a plan to achieve one or more business goals through tactics or actions that improve the bottom line, either increasing revenue or reducing costs.  In the same way, an organization might develop KPI’s to help manage and understand business performance, monetization strategies that drive a competitive advantage should be developed continuously and shared throughout the organization.

3.   Develop Scalable Insights and Capabilities
Building one-off analytical solutions has been the norm in corporate America. Hours are poured into solving difficult problems to capture a revenue opportunity, only to have the analytics, once developed to support the plan, lie dormant or never utilized again. Leaders should look to develop monetization strategies and analytics that are automated, repeatable, and scalable throughout their organization. This approach will lead to analytics that are scaled throughout the organization that other departments can leverage rather than building their own siloed solutions.
4.   Big Data is More Than Just Big Hype
If your organization has not started on the path toward building out a big data environment, you are behind the curve. Big data is here to stay and providing several benefits and new capabilities.  One of the primary drivers behind the first wave of implementations is to lower the cost structure of storing the ocean of data that organizations are swimming in. Traditional data platforms are costly and do not provide an economical solution for storing massive amounts of information.  By leveraging low cost commodity hardware, companies can store petabytes of information at very reasonable cost. Once organizations have brought together a large number of disparate datasets, they are able to drive new insights that were previously too difficult or expensive to produce. This includes lower level of granular data, social media information, search data, images, and keeping a richer history of information.  An example of this type of analysis is the use of big data by car dealerships whom are utilizing search data to determine the right stocking levels of various products based on customer search patterns. If consumers within a certain radius are searching more on trucks, they are able to better optimize inventory levels to match anticipated consumer demand.

5.   Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As leaders, understanding the current capabilities of AI, what it can bring to bear for your organization, and where to start your journey are going to be key questions to wrap your head around.  There is a lot of hype around AI and how fast it will automate jobs. The truth is that we are a long way off from the masses losing their jobs to AI, but there are several ways you can begin to tap into this emerging technology. An important point you should consider is that AI is not new. It has been leveraged on retail company’s websites since the late 90’s helping to make recommendations on purchases, cross selling products, or solving consumer issues. The question for an analytical leader is how to leverage AI and where to start.  Outside of the online retail world, industry is beginning to use the advances in AI to automate research, especially in the medical field and legal fields.  Instead of doctors pouring over hundreds of articles and case files to find out the latest protocols and treatment plans, hospitals are taking advantage of AI to speed up the information collection and assimilation process freeing doctors to spend more time with their patients versus researching.  Looking for areas that require standardize, repetitive tasks or areas requiring diagnostic research as a great first place to start.
As a leader, the adoption of analytics is a necessity to help your organization stay competitive. Having a clear vision, concrete objectives, and identifying the analytical competency to develop in your organization will help your company win in the market place.

Andrew Roman Wells is the CEO of Aspirent, a management-consulting firm focused on analytics. Kathy Williams Chiang is VP, Business Insights, at Wunderman Data Management. They are the co-authors of Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data into Profit-Driving Strategies and Solutions. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New MSFT Chromebook??

If a low-cost Microsoft Surface with a cloud-based Windows operating system sounds a lot like a Chromebook, that’s probably no coincidence. Windows PCs have lost ground in the U.S. education market to Google’s browser-based laptops. As Microsoft sends out invitations for a May 5 event in New York, rumors suggest the company will announce a Surface for schools—among other things.

Microsoft’s invitation to the event included the hashtag “#MicrosoftEDU,” framing the announcement within the context of the classroom. Microsoft is expected to weave together several announcements: a new Surface device, a new, managed Windows Cloud operating system, and probably a look ahead to the next major Windows update, dubbed Redstone 3. Other possibilities include a quiet refresh of the Surface Pro 4 with a new 7th-generation Kaby Lake chip, as well as an intriguing but unsubstantiated rumor that some form of Windows Cloud could replace Windows Mobile.

Why this matters: Microsoft has repeatedly struggled to compete with Chromebooks. Little more than a year ago, for example, Acer, JP.IK, Lenovo all launched rugged clamshell PCs featuring spillproof keyboards, with prices beginning at $199. Microsoft launched Intune for Education, a version of its Intune management application that was supposed to make managing 30 or so PCs per classroom a snap. Apparently, it didn’t help: Chromebook momentum is still climbing, according to Jay Chou, who tracks PC sales for IDC.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2011, the Chromebook has excelled in academia, displacing Apple’s Macs and iPads, as well as Windows PCs. According to IDC, 7.5 million Chromebooks were sold into the U.S. education (K-12) market during 2016, versus 2 million Windows PCs. Microsoft must chip away at Chromebook’s heftier share before Windows PCs drop out of school altogether.

First, though, Microsoft has to convince technology purchasers at individual school districts that Windows machines are a stronger value. It could be a tough assignment.

“Chromebooks are successful in education for three key reasons,” Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder said in an email. “First, a great deal of educational software is now delivered over the web, which satisfies the precondition for using a web-based OS. Second, price—from a total cost of ownership perspective, which includes the device but also the manageability—has tended to come in lower for most schools. Third (and related), they are secure and manageable: As nearly zero-state devices, it’s easy to pass a Chromebook from student to student without security issues. And they are far easier to manage and deploy than existing Windows PC management tools.”

Monday, April 17, 2017

Walmart Discount

Another day, another chapter in the price war between Walmart and Amazon.

Walmart announced this week that it plans to offer discounts on products through for online shoppers who agree to pick up orders at a nearby store instead of requesting home delivery.

The new offering will shave between 3 percent and 5 percent off regular prices based on some of the offers Walmart announced, such as a $50 discount on a $1,698 70-inch Vizio TV. The discount program will launch with 10,000 eligible products in April and expand to more than one million items by the end of June.

Walmart can afford to provide discounts on these items because it saves money on its logistics costs. It can ship them in a full truckload to a Walmart store, which is much cheaper than paying a delivery partner such as UPS or FedEx to take a single item to someone’s home. The move seems like a step in the right direction as Walmart attempts to turn its physical stores into an advantage for its online business rather than legacy baggage.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and feel lucky I’m someplace where I’m empowered to make these changes,” Marc Lore, Walmart’s e-commerce chief in the U.S., said in an interview with Recode. “This is us leveraging the unique assets of Walmart to drive costs out of the system and bring consumers lower prices.”

If you’ve read or listened to comments from Lore before, the last part of that sentence should sound familiar. That’s because the whole idea of, the startup he founded and sold to Walmart for $3 billion, was to figure out innovative ways to bring down logistics costs and to pass some of those savings on to shoppers.

The announcement comes as Walmart and Amazon are engaged in a fierce price war in the consumer packaged goods category, which encompasses items like diapers, shampoos and snacks that are crucial to Walmart’s in-store business. This new discounting model, however, will only apply to items that aren’t available in Walmart’s stores, meaning it marks an expansion of Walmart’s pricing aggressiveness to other categories such as electronics, home goods and baby gear.

The question for Walmart is how many online shoppers are willing to take a trip to the store to save 3 percent or 4 percent. If the answer is a lot, Walmart could also benefit from some customers deciding to buy more goods in the store when they go to pick up their online order. While Lore acknowledged this upside, he insisted it’s not the driving force behind the decision.

Another question: Whether Amazon will decide to price-match the discounted price anyway.

Friday, April 14, 2017

MSFT Blocks Processors

The time has finally come: Microsoft is dropping the banhammer on mixing modern processors with classic Windows operating systems.

Users are reporting their Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs with Kaby Lake and Ryzen processors are being blocked from receiving updates, according to Ars Technica and Tech Report.

That means all updates, including security updates, will be unavailable on PCs with brand new hardware running the two older operating systems. The first hints of this were revealed in March, when a Microsoft support page appeared detailing the policy of blocking updates for Kaby Lake and Ryzen-toting PCs using Windows 7 or 8.1.

Microsoft’s stance on PCs running a classic Windows build with newer processors actually goes back to January 2016. At that time, Microsoft announced a plan to ease the transition to Windows 10 for enterprises by certifying some Skylake processors to run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for a limited time. The company also added that Intel’s Kaby Lake, Qualcomm’s 8996 Snapdragon processsors, and what we now call AMD Ryzen would all require Windows 10.

Vizio Deal Goes Bust

Chinese tech conglomerate LeEco, whose businesses stretch from smartphones to electric vehicles, has abandoned a $2 billion proposed acquisition of U.S. consumer electronics company Vizio, the company said on Tuesday.

A LeEco representative reached by Reuters on Tuesday cited a "Chinese policy factor" for abandoning the proposal, but declined to provide further details.

The deal was first announced in July, with LeEco agreeing to acquire the Irvine-based manufacturer of LCD/LED flat panel TVs.

In recent months, LeEco has faced financial troubles due to the rapid pace of growth of its various businesses, with founder and chairman Jia Yueting acknowledging in a staff letter that the firm faced a "big company disease."

However, in March, the company successfully secured $2.2 billion for expansion from investors including property developer Sunac China Holdings Ltd (1918.HK), whose investments went into LeEco's smart internet TV subsidiary Leshi Zhixin, as well as its film production subsidiary, Le Vision Pictures.

Late on Monday, LeEco's listed unit Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp Beijing issued a profit alert for the first quarter, saying it sees net profit at 103 million-132 million yuan from 114.7 million yuan ($16.62 million) net profit a year earlier.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Audivo, an engineering company for hardware and software modules for HiFi audio streaming, launches AMAS Home, an innovative audio solution.

The heart of the AMAS Home system is not an app, but an interactive remote control, giving users the ability to control the music flow, browse libraries and even control home entertainment devices, such as TVs and amplifiers. Its color display features information, such as album cover and artist name, making the m:remote a unique way to control music. It combines the haptic response of a remote control and the user experience of an app. Users can access online streaming services, such as Deezer or Tidal, and stream music from radio stations or podcasts. In addition, with AMAS Home users can listen to music of a NAS drive or use the multi room function in order to listen to preferred songs across all rooms in the house.

“Audivo is recognized throughout the industry for developing the world’s first portable MP3 Player and we’ve remained in the digital audio business ever since,” said Erich Boehm, chief executive officer for Audivo. “Now, many years later, we are thrilled to announce the launch of AMAS Home, an interactive and innovative music streaming system. With AMAS Home, users no longer have to launch an app to play their desired song or switch to a new playlist - now they can easily toggle between songs with a simple-to-use remote.”

Currently, Audivo’s AMAS Home products are now available through Indiegogo’s crowdfunding site. Customers interested in purchasing AMAS Home products can visit
Keep up with the latest news from Audivo by connecting with them on LinkedIn. For more information on Audivo, please visit

About Audivo:
Based in Bavaria, Germany, Audivo is a technology engineering company utilizing cutting-edge technology to satisfy customer demands. In 1995, Audivo developed and sold the world’s first portable MP3 player, which was later recognized for its high-quality sound. Today, Audivo offers a range of modules, both hardware and software, for digital audio, audio streaming and multi-room audio. For more details on Audivo’s proven solutions,

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hasta La Vista Vista

Out with the old, in with the new.

On Tuesday when Microsoft released its Windows 10 Creators Update, it also said goodbye to Windows Vista. The company has officially ended support for the much-maligned operating system, which was released in January 2007.

"Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences," the company said in a statement.

Vista will continue to work on the computers still running it. But if you keep using Vista on your computer, it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses because Microsoft will no longer issue updates.

For those running Vista, Microsoft spells out your options here. Needless to say, one of Microsoft's suggestions is to buy a new computer that runs Windows 10.