What we now call the consumer technology industry was born November 30, 1920, when the first consumer electronics product, the two-piece RA-DA, the first commercially produced radio designed for the mass market, rolled off the Westinghouse assembly line in East Pittsburgh. After a two-year period of hectic technological, business and legislative/regulatory developments following the end of World War I, the Westinghouse RA-DA and the entire radio industry emerged, becoming the dominant consumer technology product for three decades. On the centennial of our industry, let’s take a look at the events of 1919-1920 that cleared the way for the future.
Do you own Apple’s wildly popular AirPods true wireless Bluetooth buds? If you do, you are now on the horns of an upgrade dilemma: do you step-up to the company’s second generation AirPods 2 ($199)?
At first glance, Apple’s AirPods augmentations are impressive: voice-activated Siri, Qi wireless charging, longer battery life, clearer calls, and faster iPhone-to-AirPods switching when a call comes in all point to a definitive “Sure!” switch decision.
Not so fast, however. Your upgrade decision from the first generation to the second generation AirPods actually hinges on what you’re listening to through these devices.
You may be excused if you thought that Apple’s AirPods are the first and only so-called “true wireless” earphones—completely cordless in-ear “buds” that connect both with each other and to your smartphone via Bluetooth—since their distinctive white sticks seem to be protruding from hipster ears everywhere.
Fortunately, if you’re not an iPhone owner, or a fan of the AirPods’ distinctive look or not-necessarily one-size-fits-all fit, there is a growing number of other “true wireless” earbud choices. And in contrast with Apple’s one-for-all approach, most AirPod alternatives address specific use cases, style preferences, and budgets.
Initial reaction to Apple’s entrance into the credit card space via its Apple Card was met by the expected healthy skepticism. After all, Apple may know tech, but what does the company know about consumer credit?
Many observers also looked askance at Apple Cards reward benefits, pointing to other similar or even more lucrative money-back programs from other more well-established card issuers.
But as those in the tech business have learned, discounting Apple’s ability to create consumer must-have craving into any market it enters — music selling, smartphones, tablets, wearables — often makes initial cynics look foolish.
Smart speakers can be frustrating. They’ll wake up from hearing their name uttered in casual conversation or even if it’s said on the TV. Worse, they sometimes don’t wake up at all, particularly if they’re in a noisy environment. If a smart speaker is playing music — and you’re trying to get them to stop — shouting is sometimes your only recourse. Forget asking it to then connect to an another smart device to run a routine. As with all version 1.0s, however, smart speakers are about to get smarter. And Qualcomm believes its new chip set will play a significant role.
Smart locks that supplement or replace your front door deadbolt do much more than lock and unlock your door without a key. Most smart locks (and all of the locks on our top picks list) let you receive alerts and track who’s entering and leaving your abode; email limited-access digital “keys” to visitors, children, trusted service workers or guests when you’re not home; and remotely lock and unlock when you’re away from home.
Some smart locks are compatible with smart home ecosystems such as Nest, the Apple HomeKit and Google Home. They can be locked or unlocked as part of a group operation; for example, you could program a night mode action that locks the doors and also turns off the lights and closes the shades. A smart lock can be handy when paired with a compatible smart doorbell. If a friend, family member or service worker rings your smart doorbell while you’re away, you can visually confirm who it is via the smart doorbell, then remotely unlock the door to let them in.
TV makers, attempting to cure themselves of their self-inflicted 4K narrow-margin woes, are again hawking a shiny new—and expensive—technology that offers few near-term consumer benefits. The question for TV makers and the marketplace is this: Will 8K provide more evidence for the oft-quoted definition of insanity—that is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result—or does 8K have better long-term prospects than the two previous failed TV maker margin-increasing attempts, 3D and curved TVs?
Samsung just unleashed arguably the most impressive array of new mobile devices and worlds-first mobile technologies in the short history of the smartphone. The latest lineup of Galaxy smartphones includes the S10, S10+, S10e, S10 5G and Fold. The Galaxy Fold is the real stand-out: it’s the world’s first seamless foldable phone. This 4.6-inch phone opens like a book to present a single 7.3-inch tablet display.