It's a sad day, as a longtime (since 1984) Mac user. We lost MacWorld magazine last year (and the MacWorld tradeshow) and now MacUser has logged off for the last time. In fact, www.MacUser.com redirects to www.MacWorld.com, which is still around as an online publication. Both magazines were helpful when I, along with the rest of the PC counterculture rebelled to make sure "1984 won't be like 1984!" It was a great way to keep in touch with Apple news and learn about programs and accessories. I also looked forward to the different editorials and columns from like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) writers.
CES is over but the products that were presented are just hitting the markets or in some cases, aren't available yet. One of my perennial favorite product categories at CES is headphones and there were some distinctive sets introduced. Anyone can make headphones and make them loud, but Kidz Gear takes a different approach. Instead of trying to make them loud, they make them safe for kids' sensitive ears. After all, damage to the ear canal can be bad enough for old rockers like Pete Townshend, but for kids with their whole future ahead of them, it's an even bigger deal.
It's not a surprise that Samsung might be copying another feature from the Apple iPhone, especially since that feature, Touch ID, is over a year old. Samsung has already had a fingerprint reader, but it was the old fashioned kind that required the user to swipe their finger at just the right speed and angle to be recognized.
Every year, Apple updates their "A" series of chips that power the iPhone and iPad, prompting speculation that such a chip might find its way into the Mac product line. There are a lot of compelling reasons why that could happen, but there are usually more compelling reasons against it. Which is probably why it hasn't happened yet. However, the buzz is growing around an A-series chip in Apple's next low-end MacBook Air. Apple could control their destiny, using their own chip instead of relying on (and paying) Intel.
It's hardly shocking when Samsung copies features from Apple (or when Apple copies Samsung and Android) but it is noteworthy that the recent revelations from Samsung, at CES, indicate that their next Galaxy S6 smartphone borrows heavily from Apple's design choices. Specifically, Samsung's next phone should have a metal back, like Apple, which is a good thing. But Samsung may be copying some of the features even loyal Apple fans don't appreciate. The next Samsung phone will have a non-removable battery and non-expandable memory. Instead of leveraging their advantage over Apple, with removable batteries and expandable microSD storage, Samsung is eliminating that distinction.
After a long week at the Consumer Electronics Show, it's time to reflect on what we just experienced. CES isn't really just a show anymore; it's a show of shows, each with its own theme. When I get back each year, my friends and family ask me what was "The Big Thing?" Because the show is so big, I've decided to break down the "theme" into multiple themes. This year, the different "big things" were as follows:
Too many iPhone cases, especially the rugged kind, obstruct the Lightning port and make it impossible to simply dock your phone. STM has gotten around this with their Harbour case in a clever way. First, the case has a wider opening around the Lightning dock than most cases do. I was able to dock my iPhone 6 in the STM Harbour case in several different docks that usually give me trouble with other cases.
Jabra has been at the forefront of noise cancelling Bluetooth headsets since the early days of the iPhone. Their most recent headset, the Jabra Stealth, is the culmination of years of experience in a remarkably tiny, comfortable earpiece. I don't normally like Bluetooth headsets because they interfere with my glasses or are uncomfortable inside my ear.
The holidays are over, but if you didn't get what you want, don't fret. GeekFuel offers monthly surprise gifts in 3-, 6-, or 12-month increments. Each gift box is about the size of a shoebox, and promises $40 or more of value. You can expect a wide variety of items, but they are all geek-oriented items such as comics, science fiction, and technology. A t-shirt is in each box (you specify the size) but you can also expect things like Pez dispensers, comic books, stickers, posters, mini figures, action figures, downloadable content, and more.
A year ago, I bought our daughter an acoustic guitar, complete with instructional DVDs. That guitar has collected dust ever since. But now, I have the Zivix Jamstik which should change that. The Jamstik helps kids (and adults) learn how to play the guitar using tools they are already comfortable with, like an iPhone or iPad and apps. It connects wirelessly via Wi-Fi, or via USB to a Mac. The Jamstik works with over a dozen apps like GarageBand or other MIDI apps, as well as the included Jamstik Connect, JamMix, and JamTutor apps from Zivix.