Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Virtual reality may be the hottest technology trend now, with new headsets, cameras and content in high gear. But not everyone is enthused. Two naysayers have had big audiences for their caveats recently. The New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo has dubbed virtual reality “a prison of fantastical sights and sounds.” On Quora, a community-sourced Q&A site, military flight simulator expert Steve Baker wrote VR headsets are a major health hazard that can disorient the human brain and damage the eyes. Continue reading Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Apple Watch Not Perfect, But Some Say Best New Smartwatch

With the Apple Watch release date only weeks away, the reviews for the new wearable continue to roll in. The Watch, Apple’s first new product in nearly five years, is already being coined by many as the best smartwatch on the market. While reviews have been largely positive, there also seems to be a steep learning curve. Some early testers have said it takes time to get familiar with all of the Watch’s functions and features, but that eventually it becomes as simple to use as any of Apple’s other devices.  Continue reading Apple Watch Not Perfect, But Some Say Best New Smartwatch

New Google App “Inbox” Serves as Personal Gmail Assistant

Google’s Gmail team launched a new app called Inbox to help users manage their email. Inbox sorts your mail as an assistant might by categorizing incoming messages into Bundles. While this may not be a new concept, the Highlights feature is compelling. Highlights will pull the important information from a message and push it to the top (for example, flight times in a confirmation email from an airline). It even has the ability to update that information (think gate changes or delays). Continue reading New Google App “Inbox” Serves as Personal Gmail Assistant

Amazon’s New Kindle Voyage E-Reader a Hit with Reviewers

The Kindle Voyage, the latest e-reader from Amazon, hit stores Monday, and reviewers from numerous publications are saying that this may be the best e-reader yet. The Voyage is the thinnest Kindle yet at only 7.6 millimeters thick. New features that enhance the reading experience include a PagePress function to turn pages, a high-contrast and high-resolution display of 330 pixels per inch, and an adaptive front light. The only drawback for some consumers may be the $199 price tag. Continue reading Amazon’s New Kindle Voyage E-Reader a Hit with Reviewers

Chinese Startup OnePlus Unveils $299 High-End Smartphone

Many of today’s top-tier smartphones can cost upwards of $650 (a price often hidden in a carrier plan), which hasn’t changed since Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007. Chinese startup OnePlus is aiming to change that. This month, the company will begin taking pre-orders for the One, a low-cost, high-end smartphone that runs a flexible version of Google’s Android called CyanogenMod. The $299 price tag is not part of a carrier plan, but the total cost, making the One about half the price of competing phones. Continue reading Chinese Startup OnePlus Unveils $299 High-End Smartphone

Zuckerberg Vision of Sharing Everything We Do Online a Terrible Plan?

  • Farhad Manjoo, writing for Slate, offers a compelling counterpoint to Facebook’s updated “share everything with everyone” philosophy.
  • The article suggests that Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook’s newly-designed profile feature (“it’s called Timeline, and it’s beautiful”) involves encouraging sites to develop social apps within Facebook, a grand vision that could dramatically change our digital lives. On the surface, this sounds like a fascinating idea, but there may be problems that evolve from too much sharing.
  • “If Facebook’s CEO has his way, everything you do online will be shared by default,” explains the Slate article. “You read, you watch, you listen, you buy — and everyone you know will hear all about it on Facebook.”
  • The article uses Spotify, Netflix and Hulu to illustrate Zuckerberg’s concept of “frictionless” sharing: “What he means is that I don’t have to bother with the ‘friction’ of choosing to tell you that I like something. On Facebook, now, merely experiencing something is enough to trigger sharing.”
  • Manjoo does not have privacy concerns or hesitation regarding Facebook’s financial gain based on his personal information. However, the author believes that the “nightmare” of “frictionless sharing” is more about Facebook killing taste. He believes that Zuckerberg is essentially lowering the bar by providing an all-access pass to things we don’t necessarily share with everything because they aren’t worth mentioning in the first place (read: boring).
  • While Manjoo enjoys sharing and discovering new media via Facebook and Twitter, he fears the day these services no longer serve as tools for navigating recommendations once they are bogged down in minutiae.
  • “That’s why I welcome any method that makes it easier for people to share stuff,” he writes. “If you like this article, you should Like this article. And even if you hate this article, you should Like this article (add a comment telling your friends why I’m a moron). But if you’re just reading this article — if you have no strong feelings about it either way, and if you suspect that your friends will consider it just another bit of noise in their already noisy world — please, do everyone a favor and don’t say anything about it all.”