Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

Innovations in building and funding hardware tech

Hardware technology products have undergone a renaissance, with scores of new companies developing products ranging from drones to connected devices to gadgets of all kinds. It’s a big turnaround from the past 20 years or so, where investors took pains to avoid hardware investments, preferring to focus on software.

Luggage that can tell you where it is

The Travel Goods Show, a yearly industry trade show, was held in March. It’s a showcase for new travel products and is notable for some interesting and even wacky gadgets. Over the years I’ve seen inflatable mattresses that claim to make a coach class seat as comfortable as a business class seat, fold-up blankets with anti-germ coatings, back-of-the-seat organizers, and luggage with a built-in table and chair.

Two cutting-edge phones offer alternatives to iPhones

Tired of hearing more about iPhones? Here are two excellent alternatives provided by AT&T for this review.

Uber improves the taxi experience

I’m a big fan of Uber, a new alternative for taxis. I’ve used it in several cities — San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle — over the past several years. For the past week I used it extensively in New York City while on vacation along with five other family members. During this visit, I used New York City taxis on a few occasions, which served only to remind me how good Uber is.

Leeo SmartAlert: A $100 night light that listens

The SmartAlert Night Light from Leeo is a new class of connected products that includes the Nest thermostat and Dropcam camera. These are devices located in your home that communicate to the cloud and to your phone through its app.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS surprisingly effective

Who would have thought that one of the best email programs for your iPhone and Android phone would come from Microsoft?

Wireless charging – worth the effort?

The idea of wirelessly charging our phones has been a promise for more than a decade. In concept, you just place your phone on a flat surface or pad and the phone automatically charges. No cables to plug in.

A look at some new travel gear

With spring arriving — at least in California — and the Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas just concluding, attention is turning to travel. Here are some products I’ve been trying out.

Tracking smartphone users to reduce credit card fraud

Visa just announced a new technology it will be using to reduce credit card fraud when we make purchases. It’s called geolocation, developed by Finsphere of Belleview, Wash.

Thoughts on the new Apple Watch

I’ll wait to review the new Apple Watch once I get one to try, but here are some first impressions based on its introduction last week.

FCC ruling is a victory for Internet freedom

The vast majority of the public has welcomed the decision by the Federal Communications Commission last month to support net neutrality.

The ideal travel camera

Each year or two there’s one new camera that stands out as special, particularly in the compact-to-pocket-size category. In 2012 it was the Sony RX100 that created a big sensation for packaging a large sensor into a tiny pocketable camera. At $699, it was considerably more expensive than other pocket cameras, but because its image quality set a new standard for pocket cameras, it became a huge success. Now there’s a new camera that’s even better.

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