Tuesday 21 August 2018

TRE Talk Radio Europe 'gadget guru' technology for August 2018

Here is a quick reminder of the technology I mentioned in today's conversation with Dave Hodgson on TRE Talk Radio Europe:

Samsung Galaxy Note9

Is it a giant phone or a small tablet? Either way, the newest member of the Samsung Galaxy Note dynasty looks pretty similar to its predecessors at first glance... but there are some substantial differences when you get closer. What we find is a bigger screen than ever - this one is 6.4 inches from corner to corner, with 2960 by 1440 pixel resolution - and a faster processor than the Note 8.

The stylus on the new Note9 also takes a leap forwards because it has a Bluetooth connection. Inside is a tiny rechargeable battery that means the pen isn't just for drawing on the screen but can be used as a remote control for the camera, to play and pause videos you're watching, even to control an on-screen presentation, And best of all, the battery recharges whenever you pop it back into its storage slot inside the phone.

Will toe 4000mAh battery last all day? That depends what you're doing with the phone but, for most of us, I'd say it will. Equally high capacity is the storage: there are various versions of the Note9 available including one with 512GB of built-in memory.

Plus, of course, it's got a camera - there's a dual-lens 12 megapixel set-up - and built-in stereo speakers that have been tuned by audio specialists AKG. There's even a headphone socket, which is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Pricing depends on the amount of built-in memory you want, starting from £899 contract-free.

Apple MacBooks

Here we have two new laptops from Apple. one with a 13-inch screen and one with a 15-inch screen. Although neither of these are touch-sensitive screens they are impressively high quality and there is a touch-sensitive bar at the top of the keyboard instead of conventional function keys. This was introduced a couple of years ago and changes its appearance depending on what you're doing.

However, the main keyboard is brand new. Apple says it's now quieter - and if you don’t want to type, both devices include voice-control app Siri.

Also inside is a choice of faster processors. The 13-inch model now runs quad-core chips rather than dual-core chips, which means it'll be up to twice as fast, while the 15-inch one has six-core processors, giving you up to 70% more speed. There's more system memory, which is all about running programs more effectively, and up to 4TB of solid state storage.

Pricing is from £1,749 for the base spec 13-inch model up to £6,209 if you want the highest specification of 15-inch MacBook.

Travis Touch translator

This is a translation device that can translate and understand over a hundred languages. Because it’s a separate hand-held device, you don’t need to worry about opening an app on your phone and running the battery flat.

The designers have built in technology from sixteen different translation services, including Google, Microsoft and IBM. Travis Touch then chooses the best service depending on the language you’re using and the language you’re translating to. It’s designed to use WiFi or a mobile connection and has its own SIM card slot, although it can do some basic stuff without being online.

There’s a 2.4-inch touch screen for controlling the device – hence the name – but you can also use voice commands in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese to select the languages you need. You simply speak to it and it’ll speak the translation back to you.

Pricing is expected to be $269 when it arrives in shops, although there’s currently an option to pay less if you order via crowd-funding site Indiegogo.

Nespresso Barista

Nespresso is a company that’s become well-known for making coffee pod machines.

The Nespresso Barista is not one of those machines. It’s more like a companion for those machines. You make an espresso, then the Barista turns it into a cappuccino or a latte or an iced coffee...

The design looks a bit like a Thermos flask crossed with a Bluetooth loudspeaker; it plugs into the mains and stands 21cm high. There's a base with a metal jug that fits on top, a whisk that clips inside and a lid.

On the base is a touch-sensitive display with a choice of coffee options. You select the one you want – let's say a cappuccino – and then put all the ingredients you need into the jug. The device heats the milk, whisks it up and you pour it onto your espresso. It comes with a little recipe book, so if you’re not sure what you should be doing with your iced coffee or your mocha, you can check first.

It can also connect with an app on your phone to get updates for new recipes.

The only real downsides are that it’s pretty much just making one cup at a time and it doesn’t brew the coffee for you. But, as an alternative to an all-in-one machine, this is more affordable – and it’s way more sophisticated than a mere milk frother. Pricing is around £179 (€195).