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Apple

Cut the Cord or Buy a Bundle?

Cut the Cord or Buy a Bundle?

Streaming services are nudging cable television aside as single device technology is taking over the market. Early adapters of smart tech will remember the iPhone emergence; a first of its kind encapsulating phone, music and camera in one pocket sized device. Televisions have followed suit, fast forwarding past the need of dvd’s, cables and dvr. Audiences ranging from Millennials to Baby Boomers are now buying smart tv’s to bring music, video, and live television to their screens while keeping both form and function in mind. 

Home Technology Experts tackles a question most people are asking: What is better, cable or streaming?

“Homeowners are on a mission to streamline household technology on the least amount of devices, and have every viewing option in one place. Smart tv’s own the market and continue to break the mold with options and picture quality,” states Alex Karoussos, President of HTE. New products have even tackled the issue of aesthetics, where a Sunday sports fan and a discerning interior designer may share a wall without compromise, with mounted tv’s that display fine art or mimic a mirror when not in use. 

While quality of picture progressively increases (4K) streaming content has yet to keep pace. While streaming is undeniably convenient, it can be limiting to image quality and the number of tv’s in a home. “Your tv may have the capacity to emit a 4K image but the quality of your service will always depend on your internet connection. With a poor connection, your investment in a high-end device will suffer if the picture is not great. We see this happen often. It’s incredibly visible when streaming sports or highly detailed productions; the picture quality just does not compare to hard-wired cable,” says Alex. “Streaming is usually limited to a certain number of devices, as well. Say, three devices on a subscription and five tv’s, laptops and tablets in your home. You will only be able to watch on three at a time.”

Cable has less limitations and delivers a better picture through 1080i or 1080p, depending on connection. A direct connection to the tv delivers high-end video output for a less pixelated and clearer picture. “Live action sports always stream better when connected to cable,” says Alex. “The only downside to cable is apparent, the tv must be connected to wires and a cable box.”

While TIVO has become all but forgotten, Karoussos is still a believer, “It’s worth a look. TIVO offers solutions for free over-the-air stations with an antenna that delivers amazing picture quality and networks such as NBC, ABC plus streaming.” Apple has announced they will mix it up and become the ‘cable box of streaming.’ Karoussos is a fan, “You can use Apple TV for everything." HTE determines the best solutions based on discussion, customizing the audio video project to a client’s wants and needs. “Cable isn’t dead yet.”

iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, & Other Updates

iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, & Other Updates

The iPhone 6 was met with a lack-luster response and disappointing sales. When Tim Cook took the stage today he wasn’t just announcing new products, he was attempting to redeem his company’s reputation, and wasn’t alone. From Pharrell and James Gordon, to Mario and Pikachu, to Nike and Beats it was clear that Apple and its partners knew they had to meet expectations.

iPhone7 and iPhone 7 Plus (Available September 16th)

Reaching a record 1 billion units sold, Tim Cook declared the iPhone the “best selling product of its kind in the history of the world”.  So how do you improve such a product?  By giving it a makeover complete with accessories of course.

DESIGN. The iPhone 7 (starting at $649) and iPhone 7 Plus (starting at $769) have a new fused look warping the glass front and metal back quite literally into a seamless design.  The phone is available in Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and the new (and very shiny) Jet Black (which Apple warns scratches easily).

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ENCLOSURE.  Yes the rumors were true, the new iPhone is rated IP67, meaning that is water and dust resistant.  To put it in real world terms, if you are pushed into a pool with your phone, it could withstand the pressure of being 3 feet deep for a half hour.

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HOME BUTTON.  The home button has been redesigned to create force sensitivity.  Allowing different haptic feedbacks for quick actions, messages, notifications, and ring tones.  The Taptic engine API is available to developers so they can utilize these features when designing apps.

CAMERAS.  The photo (and video) capabilities Apple has managed to pack into this device is impressive.  Both the front and back cameras offer optical image stabilization, sharper images, and a wider color gamut. While the front camera has been upgraded from 5 megapixels to 7 megapixels, it is the rear camera that got the overhaul.  The back camera has an f1.8 aperture, a high speed sensor, Quad LED tone flash (a flash that filters out artificial lighting), ISP exposure, a wider color gamut, and noise reduction. The camera can also take multiple images and fuse them.

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These features reduces blur, make colors brighter, and better capture images taken in low light. The new RAW photography abilities allow amateur photographers to manipulate individual colors like a pro.  So how long does it take a photo with the new camera? 25 milliseconds.

On the iPhone 7 Plus a second lens is added to the back, giving you both a wide angle and a telephoto lens.  This allows for enhanced zoom capabilities. By simply taping the screen you can go from 1x to 2x using the optical zoom.  Software is used to zoom from 3x up to 10x. The double lenses also allow for shallow depth of field. Simply pick the portrait option and the phone will recognize the person or image in the foreground creating bokeh (the blurry haze) in the background.  While the shallow depth of field capability won’t be in the September 10th iOS 10 update, it will be released within 2016.

RETINA HD DISPLAY.  The new display is 25% brighter than that of the iPhone 6 with Cinema Standard Color Management, a wider color gamut and 3D Touch.  Apple’s friends at Instagram took the stage to reveal their updated version of their iOS app will take advantage of how the new iPhone takes and displays photos.  

Photo from  engagdet.com

Photo from engagdet.com

SPEAKERS.  Listen in stereo…speakers are now located at both the top and bottom of the phone. Apple’s new built in speakers were previously a vulnerability for water and dust, however new technology uses the speakers to expel such particles.

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LIGHTING CONNECTION.  The lighting cable was originally designed to transmit high quality audio and video as well as electricity. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus no longer have a headphone jack.  The new phones will come with lighting headphones as well as a lighting to miniphono converter in each box.

WIRELESS (W1 CHIP) & AIRPODS. Apple announced the W1 chip, which allows for a new type of wireless audio streaming that no longer requires pairing.  This technology is being used in their new AirPods ($159). Infrared technology determines when the pods are in a listener’s ear, only playing when they are.  Double tapping one of the ear buds will access Siri and these new wireless headphones are equipped with microphones plus jaw bone detecting and noise canceling technology. You can choose to use both AirPods in unison (like you would headphones) or just use one like you would a Bluetooth.  Each AirPod holds a 5 hour charge and is stored in a charging case that provides an additional 24 hours.

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It appears that Dr Dre is a fan of the W1 chip since Beats is using it in the Poweveats3 ($200), Solo 3 Wireless ($300) and the new BeatsX ($150). However it is unclear if the W1 technology will only work with Apple’s 7th generation or if it is compatible with older phones via Bluetooth.

PERFORMANCE. The iPhone 7 runs off of Apple’s new quad-core A10 Fusion chip.  This chip is 40% faster than its predecessor and on average will provide an additional two hours of battery life compared to the iPhone 6.

STORAGE. Apple has doubled their storage.  The new phones now come in 32GB, 128 GB, or 256GB. 

iOS 10 (Available September 10th)

Tim Cook told the world that iOS is their biggest release ever.  New features include lifting the phone to wake it, the integration of Siri in applications, a redesign to Maps that allows users to summon transportation and make reservations from the app itself, integration with Home Kit, and new features such as messaging effects and the ability to make payments in the message app.

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APPLE WATCH SERIES 2

Watch OS 3 premiered in June with Scribble (the ability to draw custom responses), Tap Back (quick reply), updated swiping capabilities, new faces, and animated stickers. As far as the physical watch, Apple is referring to it as “Apple Watch Series 2” ($369) and at 1,000 nits, it is the brightest device that Apple has ever created (twice as bright as its predecessor). Like the seventh generation iPhone, the second generation watch can get wet.  Unlike the iPhone7 and 7 Plus, the Apple Watch Series 2 is swim proof, meaning it can withstand the pressure of being 164 feet under water. Series 2 also upgrades from a single-core to a duel-core chip, increasing its processing capabilities and doubling its graphic abilities. 

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A new safety feature has been added as well.  In case of emergency, users simply press and hold the side button.  This alerts 911 and sends a text message to your emergency contacts with your location.  While you need your phone in close proximity to use the energy alert feature, the new watch offers a built in GPS for those of you who would prefer to venture out without your phone. The GPS will track both your speed and location. The gyroscope allows for watch integration with workout applications.  Ping’s golf app, claims to be able to assist you with your swing. The Apple Watch Series 2 is available in silver, gold, rose gold, and now in white.

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Integration with Pokémon Go allows players to track their speed and distance (as well as their virtual monsters and calories) as they walk.   The app shows which Pokémon are nearby, alerts wearers when a wild Pokémon appears, allows them to collect from PokeStops, and track/hatch eggs. 

Pikachu isn’t the only one interested in the new watch, Nike built upon their relationship with the tech giant, introducing Apple Watch Nike Plus ($369).  This watch is tailored to runners highlighting information they rely on.  To start a work out with this watch simply tell Siri “begin a run”.  The watch also sends motivational messages, provides coaching tips, suggests gear, and can even team you up with a running partner.

The original Apple Watch, now being referred to as Apple Watch Series 1, will also be getting a dual-core chip upgrade at $269. 

OTHER

Other notable moments during the Apple Event was the fact that Apple Music has reached over 30 million songs and 17 million subscribers. The app store has had over 140 billion downloads, hosting 500,000 games, and now they have teamed up with Nintendo to bring Super Mario Run to the App Store. Everyone Can Code is available and being used in schools to teach children the Swift platform.  iWork has caught up with Google Docs allowing for real time collaboration.  Finally, the event began with James Gordon, Tim Cook, and Pharrell doing Carpool Karaoke and closed with a Sia performance.

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