Movies That Show Us Why Technology Is Utterly Terrifying

Technology is your friend. It helps keep you healthy by providing the medical community with information and tools for diseases and injuries. It keeps you safe by installing alarms and cameras and metal detectors at specific locations. It keeps you connected with friends and give you the ability to find information at the click of a button. It even supplied endless entertainment with efficiency that could only be more impressive if it was shot with a laser directly into your eye sockets.

But what if it became your enemy?

This has become a popular concept in horror movies, first reaching real maximum effect around the 1980′s when we were openly welcoming our future robot overlords into our homes.

So, for this special of all occasions (Halloween), let’s take a look at some movies that show us that technology could, in fact, kill you in horrible and painful ways.

Techno Monster Movie #1 – The Ring
There is a reason I don’t watch VHS tapes, and it has nothing to do with the fact that it is a dead media format. It is all about The Ring, the Hollywood adaption of Asian horror classic Ringu. It tells the story of a VHS tape that, when watched, elicits a phone call telling you that you have a week left to live. Then, at the end of your days, your die a horrible death thanks to a creepy ass ghost girl with a penchant for screwing up your face and a serious hatred for lighthouses.

While many will claim the original was the superior of the two (and I usually agree), I found the effect of the girl crawling out of the TV, as well as the content of the tape itself, in the American version especially creepy.

Techno Monster Movie #2 – Poltergeist

Is there a single person reading this who saw the title and immediately didn’t think of the little girl sitting in front of the static-filled television screen? In the film, the Freeling family moves into their lovely new home — which they don’t realize was built above a Native America burial ground. For some reason, this immediately equates to really pissed off spirits that first make contact through the television screen’s “snow”, and eventually take the child through the same device.

There are a ton of cheesy moments in this movie, just like the one above. But the TV became an iconic image as a harbinger of evil thanks to it.

Techno Monster Movie #3 – Doctor Who: The Sontaran Stratagem

Not technically a movie, but it was a TV episode, so it counts. In the fourth season of BBC series Doctor Who, an alien race known as the Sontarans take advantage of a genius who creates ATMOS, a GPS unit that in its testing phase slowly begins to kill people by driving their cars into lakes. It also serves another purpose: to eject poisonous gas into the air, which is done globally from millions of cars, and runs the risk of killing off whole cities. The idea makes another appearance in an episode where it manages to kill of large populations due to the Doctor’s death.

Every car seems to have GPS now, as well as cell phones, media players, computers…they are all over the map. Thinking of it as a conspiracy by an alien race bent on dominating the planet is a pretty frightening metaphor for other, more social issues.

Techno Movie Monster #4 – Maximum Overdrive

Stephen King is a master of horror, and his “last survivors” genre works are especially chilling. This directorial debut balanced between terrifying and ridiculous by suggesting that the world’s technology were given life after Earth passes through the tail of a massive comment. Not only do they move on their own, but the machines gain actual sentience, and choose to use it to destroy the masters that once used them. A small band of survivors have to stick together to fight the machines as they are picked off one by one.

Not scary to you? Take a moment to imagine being in your home, asleep, when your alarm clock begins to strangle you with its cord. Alright, maybe that seems a little funny, but it would be less amusing if you were dead.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

 

Good Laptops That Cost Less Than $700

Earlier this year I found myself with a bit of a dilemma. My laptop, a Lenovo G550 that I had bought a couple of years before, had finally died on me. Realizing that fixing the issue would cost about the same as buying a new one, I decided it was time for a new computer. But laptops are expensive, and I wouldn’t have the money for a good one until at least the beginning of the year. This was unacceptable, as I am a writer and so do 90% of my work online, or at least via Word.

My solution was to buy an ‘intermediate’ laptop of sorts, one to last me until the beginning of 2012, when I could drop $1000 on something good. Which is, essentially, that I have been waiting to do for some time. But what model would I choose?
Doing the research, I was surprised to find that there are some really good laptops that cost less than $700, which was my maximum budget. These are some that have received consistently high ratings, and might actually be worth it if you don’t want to spend a small fortune, but still need quality and durability.

Acer Aspire TimelineXWhile it is nothing special, this is a nice little laptop that will meet all basic needs for those who don’t need a whole lot features. It has a 1.46 Ghz dual core processor, along with a 500 GB hard drive and 4GB of on board RAM. The battery life is decent, though while it claims an 8-hour life on full charge, it reaches closer to 7-hours. Which is still decent. As is standard on Windows 7 (which it obviously runs) you can customize the energy usage and specifications. Without energy saver, the battery has around 4 and a half hours.

Pros: Stable; user friendly; well priced.

Cons: Small screen, at 11.6-inches; speakers are pretty awful.

Price: $688.88

HP Pavilion dm1z – I have never seen much difference between the HP and Dell style brand laptops, especially in specs. This laptop has a 1.6 Ghz dual core processor, only 250 GB hard drive (a major problem if you are a media fan), and 3 GB of on board RAM. They claim a full 9-hour battery life, but this is easily disputed, like with the Acer. I have heard most people say they get closer to 6 hours, unless they change the settings to high energy saver, which might bump it closer to eight. But this could be a subjective opinion, and not the norm.

Pros: Pretty good graphics; very lightweight; affordable.

Cons: Once again, a small screen at 11.6-inches; not enough hard drive space, so you may want to invest in an external hard drive.

Price: $555.00

ThinkPad X120e – I never know quite what to think about Lenovo as a whole. I have never used most of their products, though I mentioned I had a G-Series for two years previously. I would say that this really is a cheap laptop that is good for a couple of years if you are needing something before getting a better one. But the ThinkPad line is better than many of their others, based on customer reviews. This one has a 1.6 Ghz dual core processor, a 320 GB hard drive, and 3 GB of RAM. Other than that, there is nothing much to say.

Pros: Very cheap; quick customer service response

Cons: Quality control issues with the company; nothing special in specs.

Price: $494.95

Samsung SF510 – It’s funny, but I don’t usually think of Samsung when I think of computers. Instead, I think more of multimedia devices, like MP3/4 players. But they are a popular brand for many reasons, and this laptop is a pretty good example of why. It has a 2.53 Ghz dual core processor, a 640 GB hard drive and 4 GB of RAM. The screen is a nice 15.6″, which makes it a bit bulky, but that is made up by the fairly thin body. It has also never had any major reported bug problems. All in all, it seems like a reliable piece of machine with above-average specs for basic users.

Pros: Great graphics, larger hard drive, good screen size.

Cons: Touchpad can be a little finicky.

Price: $599.95

 

 

The Next Generation: Predictions About The Future Of Current Technology

Technology moves fast, perhaps faster now than it ever has. The speed at which cutting edge products become obsolete since the creation of home computers has always been astonishing, but nothing like it is now. Just look at the last three generations of iPhone’s, or the sudden integration of streaming technology for television and movies.

We are already seeing the way the the wind is blowing for many products, which gives us a rational line to follow about coming products. Here are a couple of what I think are perfectly reasonable predictions for technological advances and changes in the next five to ten years.

 

Touch Screens On EVERYTHING

We are already starting to see this a lot. Even items that don’t technically need a touch screen for their basic function, such as the Kindle, are getting one. But this is one trend that won’t be short lived, simply because it is both useable, and also it has been in the minds of developers for ages. Seriously, think back to every sci-fi show in the last fifty years that you loved. How many of them didn’t express their cutting edge technical prowess by putting touch screens on everything, even if the actual concept had never been applied to reality?

Already, Microsoft is engaging in major research on this technology. Their OmniTouch project is dedicated to finding a way to project a touch screen onto literally anything. The strides they have taken in a controlled setting show us that this kind of idea isn’t that far from marketing.

 

Return To Virtual Reality

The prevalence of first person shooters shows the desire amongst gamers to be put directly in the  game play. Extended RPG’s that allow for full customization of a character that can put the player into their shoes in another bit of evidence to that point. Now consoles like the Kinect are once again being released, entering in a new wave of virtual reality that seemed to have died back in the 90′s.

Along with the creation of the Wii, which allows for a more physical version of gaming, it shows us that the time is finally ripe to start utilizing this technology in ways that game makers wished for in the past, but could never do.

The End Of Cable/Satellite

Last night I was watching some digital cable, which I current have through Comcast. A movie trailer came up in a commercial, and along with it a button that asked me to press ‘OK’ to preview the film on On Demand. It was more interactive than they have been in the past, and shows that they are trying to push for more customer interaction with their standard cable service. But I don’t think this will be the trend in the near future.

The amount of focus and energy they have put into both the creation and promotion of XFinity, which can be streamed online, shows where the real future lies. Netflix has taken a dive, but they are still a major competitor in the entertainment industry. Hulu and Prime are two other examples of this growing trend.

Streamers, consoles and media library networks have made it possible to stream online or computer content directly onto your set. Which is why I think that cable and satellite will soon be a thing of the past, and all content will be streamed, with the net and television merging completely. So instead of digital tuners standard in our set, I think a streaming box is more likely.

Graphic Expansion In Future Superphones

Last week I did a post about “Superphones”, a term coined by Google to describe the next generation of smart phones with much great capabilities. New chips, which are cheaper to make and allow for more memory and graphics, will become standard. Which will give us better and cheaper smartphones that you will probably see everyone carrying within the next decade.

The graphic implications are probably the most exciting. We can already watch movies and television shows, along with video clips, on most smartphones without any issues. But the definition will probably increase. It is the apps and games that I think will see the most change, with more impressive gameplay and versions of popular games available for download.

What are some of your predictions?

Public Domain Multimedia You Can Use For Your Blog

When you run or work for a blog it is your responsibility to essentially generate nonstop content. This can be difficult as time goes by, and sometimes you just might not know where to turn to get what you want or need. One of the biggest problems people have is finding media that is centric to their topic, without spending a lot of money. After all, blogs have a limited budget, and some startups might not have any available funds at all.

If this sounds like you, or you just want to stretch the budget you do have, I have some good news. There are plenty of items, from pictures to videos, that are public domain and so available for sharing. Of course, there are other ways to do this, such as embedding videos from their original source. But if you want something more streamlined and helpful, check out these excellent websites for free-to-use multimedia.

Public Domain Wikis/Archives

  • Wikimedia CommonsThis site has it all, and many links to other sites where the current file was originally uploaded from. Like all of Wikipedia, it is a user-run site where anyone can find what they need or make changes. There is a large library of public domain or items provided under Creative Commons. You do have to watch out, as occasionally something will be slipped in that isn’t exactly copyrighted, but has elements that make it off-limits without special permission. An example of this is a company logo, or pictures with unknown people in the background.
  • Archive.org – You have probably wandered onto this site at some point, perhaps to use their popular Way Back Machine. But they have many other available features, such as an extensive public domain collection of literature, audio and video, as well as some open source software uploaded by visitors. You might be especially interested in their Librivox Project, which are volunteer recordings of classic books.

Search Engines

Search engines are a great way to come across Creative Commons material. Some are made specifically for that purpose, and others just have to be changed in their advanced settings to do it properly. Here is a list of engines you can use to find what you are looking for:

Please be sure when using items from these engines that you have taken note of the licensing requirements, and fulfilled each one.

Photos

One of the biggest necessities on a blog is decent photos to use when you publish. When you are doing several posts a week, and especially when you have a great deal of photos in each one, this can really add up in price. If you have an account with a stock website you can usually get what you need, but what about when you need more and don’t want to pay the price? In addition to the search engines above, there websites can give you what you need.

Of course, these are only a few of literally dozens of stock sites, many of which offer free to use and alter pictures in the public domain. Others are CC, and so if you credit the creator you will be able to use them, as well.

 

Paid Stock Versus Free Multimedia
In the end, when you are running your blog you will want to use both free and paid multimedia with your work. That is because something the PD stuff just doesn’t cut it, and you will want something more professional. Other times, you might just want to make your own stock photos and other items, which can be a lot of fun, if time consuming.

Finding the right balance is key.

 

 

 

 

Great Digital Cameras Under $300

Digital cameras are a bit of a personal passion of mine. Not only have I done a lot of reviews over the past couple of years on new products, but I am always on the lookout for an update for my own main-use camera. I actually have two right now that I use on a regular basis, though I won’t say what kind they are. I will say that one of them is on this list.

Each of these cameras are less than $300, and so workable into any budget. Some are even less than $150, and even easier to afford. All of them were chosen for their high quality and features.

Best Cameras Under $300

Canon Powershot SX230 – This one is a little strange, simply because the price seems to change by large amounts depending on what store you buy from. While you expect a $10 – $20 different in any price tag for electronics, I am saying the range is from $259 (linked) to $355 from major retailer Compuvest. Which should show you why comparison shopping when dealing with gadgets is so important.

As for the camera itself, it boasts some great features. It is the first of the Canon Powershot line to come with on-board GPS, automatically tagging the photo file with the date, time and location of any picture taken globally. It is a 12.1 megapixel camera, which can be considered petty mid-range in quality. Daytime photos, especially in natural light, come out really well. They have a motion stabilizer for children, pets or moving scenes.

The only real con I would say is the low-light feature. The flash works, but it washes things out a little and changes the natural tone of people’s skin. Without it, the photo comes out a little blurry.

Nikon Coolpix P300 – Nikon has a well earned reputation for excellence, and many professional photographers will spend thousands to purchase their high end line. This is a simple point-and-shoot, but with excellent quality. Both their image stabilizer and auto-fix lighting help to get the most out of your environment. The flash isn’t too bright, and low light images don’t come out all blurry or hard to see.

It has a 12.2 megapixel rate, so again it is in mid-range. But there is a serious cut to the delay time between taking a photo and getting the image, which is a big bonus. Especially if you plan on capturing candid moments, or taking pics of kids or animals.

Fujifilm FinePix F60fd – While it only has 12 megapixels, the price and features of this camera are really great. The Face Detection 3.0 software is very popular, as it allows you to better focus on the subject of your image, rather than the background that is often captured thanks to other software. The 3 inch screen is also larger than other Fujifilm models, which is better for most consumers.

The only complaint I have is about the zoom feature, which is only a 3x, and not that clear once you move to the final level. I would suggest sticking with the 1 or 2 zoom levels to make sure there is no blurring.

Best Cameras Under $200

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W530 – This camera isn’t very feature-heavy. But it sticks with the basics and tried to make the absolute most of them by giving more quality than most. Even though it is only $104 (Amazon price), it has a 14.1 megapixels and a 4x zoom feature. The image stabilization software works really well, and is pretty fast.

The LCD display is only 2.7″, but it is nice and clear. Plus, they have a quick shutter feature that let’s you turn on the camera quickly. The delay on the shots is in the average range.

Kodak Easyshare C182 – If you are genuinely wanting something super basic, this is a good choice. It has 12 megapixels, so is an average quality. The delay is a little heavy, but not enough to impede your shots. As for the software, it works but not that well. It basically gives you a focus point on the screen and tells you when the image is clear enough for the shot.

For only $90, it is a steal if you just want something for  casual use.

Conclusion

There are honestly dozens of cameras I could have put on this list. But these are my picks for the best of the bunch, especially for the price.

Must Have Mobile Apps For The Shopping Season

You want to save money this holiday season, right? We all do. But chances are, the gifts high on your families want list are less than inexpensive. With technology becoming a part of daily life, and the use of smartphones, game consoles and ereaders standard, you are looking at a hefty bill this year. Only so much of that can be cut, as well. You just have to decide what you can afford and go with it.

But a bit of that can actually be limited. If you have an app compatible device (and I am assuming you do if you are reading this right now), then you can use applications that will get you deals. Most of them are practically tech specific, as well, since those are the products most popular on any list. So if you are worried about your credit card balance this holiday season, check out these must have mobile apps for saving you cash.

  •  ShopSavvyI love anything that can be applied to in-store shopping. But I do most of my buying online, because I can compare prices right there and make sure I am not spending more than I should. When Christmas shopping, it is especially important to know what you are paying, but buying on the web just doesn’t have some of those specials you can get at a local branch. This app allows you to scan barcodes and get the price from every store online that sells it, as well as price checks on some other local chains.
  • AmazonEveryone shops at Amazon. Not only have they expanded their stock a great deal since the early days of their book retailing, but they have are  further changing with their shipping system, Prime service and connection to other retailers from around the world. While they have had a mobile version for awhile, it was really lacking in features and useability. This app makes it much easier, and it is a lot more helpful than the mobile site. You can search, compare and buy, no matter where you are. Which is good if you are in a store and want to check the Amazon price before you buy.
  • Point Inside – Point Inside is a great little app for those days spent in the mall, and it really saves time. It will basically direct you to any store within any mall in the United States, so you never have to get lost amidst the crowds again. It is a lot more convenient than wandering around trying to find those difficult-to-read directories on each floor. If you are with a group, make sure all have the app and watch meeting later on get that much easier.
  • Be Nice To BunniesUnfortunately, a lot of products are still tested on animals today. If you are dedicated to only using cruelty free brands, this app will let you know. It uses the massive safe products list hosted by PETA, and if it has been marked as animal tested, it will alert you. What better way to spread holiday cheer than to make sure the item you are buying didn’t cause any harm?
  • Shopkick – You probably already do location check-in’s through Foursquare or Facebook’s locations feature. But did you know you can get paid to do it? Shopkick is a cash-back rewards program that gives you points towards payoffs every time you go into certain retailers, like Macy’s or Target.
  • Coupon SherpaI really like Coupon Sherpa, and I use it a lot around the holidays, as well as before any birthdays, anniversaries or special events. It just saves a lot of cash, having good and viable coupons to use. This app connects directly to the site and you can buy right from there. Which means you can have the coupon on hand while you are in the store, at the time that you choose to make a purchase. They have a barcode that shows on your phone, which can be scanned at the register. Others have a coupon code for the cashier.

Most shopping sites have an app lately, so you can also find some that are branch-specific. What are some of your favorite shopping apps?

Coolest Labs You Can Access Through Your Gmail Account

Earlier this month Google announced that they would be closing a handful of their projects come 2012. This a common beginning of the year move that they have kept in tradition for years, sometimes closing up ventures way too soon by their user’s estimation. Among those being shut down are:

  • Code Search/API – A search engine that allows people to look for open source materials and tools all over the web, which will be closed on January 15, 2012.
  • Google Buzz – The beta version of their social networking attempt, which caused a great deal of controversy and didn’t quire manage to spark interest. It will be replaced fully with Google+, and is set to be closed within the next few weeks.
  • Jaiku – Another out of date social networking service that was bought out by Google in 2007. It would allow users to send notification of updates to friends on their list. It will be closed on January 15, 2012.
  • The University Research Program – A helpful tool for academics doing research, which allowed them to narrow results via Google’s search engine. It only allowed results on approved academic studies, and has since been overtaken by other programs and search methods. It will also be closed on January 15, 2012.

While the University Research Program and Code Search will both probably be missed by many, the other two were more or less dead in the later. But it shows the possibility of future projects on the way, which are yet to be announced. Given some of the gems the web giant has released in the past, I know I am not the only one who is excited for 2012.

But in the meantime, there are a number of labs on Gmail that you can check out. Many of them are functional and some are just fun, but all are great experiments in email convenience and all-in-one system integration.

Create A Document

As a writer, I use this one a lot. You can take any email or attachment and turn it into a Google Document for saving or sharing. It is a much improved process on the traditional forwarding system, and can get multiple people on board very quickly. Just create the doc, save it and then invite anyone you want to view or change it.

Insert Images

This one was a long time coming. Have you ever been having a conversation with someone via email and you wished you could use a picture to enhance it? In the past, you could provide a link or attach the image. But with pictures being posted in convos via text messages on smartphones, we were spoiled. Someone else seemed to think so, and gave us the ability to insert an image directly into the email body. Genius.

Add Gadget By URL

If you want to add a gadget to your email settings, it is easier than ever now. Just enable this lab and it will set upp a tab near the settings option. From there, you can put in the gadget URL and it will download it into Gmail for future use. It pops up in a small box in a box in the bottom left hand corner of your screen.

Canned Responses
If you have to send the same kind of email again and again, it can get annoying. With this lab, you can create a set of defaults which are then put into a column in a new message each time you open one. You can then select it and it will attach into the text body like a regular email, which you can then send. It is networking for the truly lazy, of which I qualify.

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Who doesn’t love shortcuts? Unfortunately, different email platforms and software have different shortcuts attached to different keys. With this lab, you can create your own for any basic purpose, such as deleting emails, archiving, opening new messages or moving on to the next email.

Check Out The Rest!

These are really only a few labs out of dozens, and some are really great. There are even some just for novelty value, such as turning icons on your chat list into Android robot logos when someone is signed in through that device. What are some of your favorite labs?

 

The Worst Video Game Consoles Ever Made

Video game consoles went through a serious shift in styles from the 1980′s through the 1990′s. Constant updates, interesting little additions, whole new brands and more were coming onto the market every other day as the main competitors tried to stay on top, and the new boys tried to break their way in.

Today, we know the winners of that battle: Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Atari and Sega are arguably the brands that stand out through the times, several of which remain the champions in console development today. Even if each had more than a couple of slip ups along the way.

But there are still other consoles that we all wish we could forget. Some of them are so painfully bad that most have never even heard of them. If we were putting together a comprehensive list of those failures in gaming history, we would be here for a very long time. Instead, I wanted to look at a few that are arguably the worst.

Virtual Boy

This is still a matter of controversy for many gamers, especially those from the nostalgic age of the console wars. Granted, this was the first mainstream attempt at 3D technology in games, which they hyped up like crazy. To see an example of the intensity of their ad campaign, check out this old television ad for the system. It was so advanced that it couldn’t be seen on the day’s televisions! Amazing, right?

Not really. Anyone who actually played the Virtual Boy will probably be able to express to you their intense disappointment with what it actually was. Not only was the “depth” and virtual quality less impressive than any other 32-bit system that had already been out, but it could even be considered worse than some of the earlier 16-bit platforms.

Plus, playing it was miserable. It was a tabletop device that you had to essentially bend down at an awkward angle to play. You ut your head in these goggles, which didn’t allow you to see the controls. There was a headband to keep it in place without throwing out your back, but it slipped approximately every fifteen seconds and ended up on your chin.

Game.com

You know all of those devices that have been named after website URL’s? No? Me neither, because the idea is ridiculously stupid. Yet, somehow Tiger managed to break that simple rule of not confusing the consumer when they created this handheld device in the mid-90′s.

The thing about Game.com is that it was technically ahead of its time. It was a game-centric PDA for the adult user, aimed at their needs instead of those of the average gaming teen or child. It had a touch screen, which was amazing for the time, and an impossibly slow Internet connection that was nevertheless impressive. Even if you did have to plug it into a phone jack and it only reached about a 16th of the slowest dial up speed.

I think the real problem here was that they tried way too hard to push features that technology just didn’t support. It was like the Sega Genesis and their incredible graphics and cinema-style cut scenes in games virtually unplayable because of depleted resources. It was a cool idea, but not supportable.

Sega 32X

All Sega fans will probably want to crucify me for adding this to the list, but I have to. The Genesis was a master of its time, dominating the graphics scene and managing to make some classic games that no one will ever forget (Sonic, anyone?). Then came the Sega CD, which stuck out of the side of the genesis like a leech trying to suck away its life force. The CD experiment was interesting, but ultimately useless and another for the scrap heap.

But just in case this enormous mass of electronics wasn’t enough (at about twice the size of the NES), you had the 32X. You would take the add-on and shove it into the top slot of the Genesis, adding yet another leech to consume its energy.

The point was to both allow you to play the original Genesis games in 16-bit, and then to give an additional library of 32-bit games. This was prior to the release of their 32-bit system, which was vastly improved and made this purchase altogether worthless. Especially if you ever tried to play the games it had in stock at the time.

Conclusion

These are only three of an endless supply of crap game systems to make you cringe. What monstrosities do you remember?

The Coming Age Of “Superphones”

The term “superphone” is not just a stupid one that I made up, believe it or not. It is, in fact, a stupid term that Google made up last year to describe the new line of devices that they would be releasing on the market over the phone years. Rather than laugh off the term as something childish and inept at describing what is essentially the next generation of smartphone, others jumped on the chance to talk about their own superphones that would be hitting the market.

But what is a superphone, and how is it any different than the smartphones we are already cooing over? Really, it is all about a difference in quality, rather than new capabilities in features.

The main difference is any phone that has a dual processor reaching above the 1Ghz that most smartphones first impressed us with. This has been done before, putting it on par with your average computer. The problem was that with this feature there was no way to utilize it because the technology had not been built nor perfected to that point.

Which brings us to the next change: graphic limits. There are fewer on the superphones, as they will be capable of really showing off HD material rather than running it in a lower resolution (1o80p instead of 720p). It will also be able to record videos in the same resolution, offering crystal clear mobile phone vids that more douchebags can upload onto Facebook and YouTube after a night of heavy drinking. Nice.

One cool element will be the ability to see 3-D console style graphics clearly, which will be totally possible with these hardware changes. Think something straight from the current video game systems, like the Playstation 3 and XBox 360, where before this was limited more to the former generation Playstation.

Software will have been updated, as it has been regularly from every manufacturer. I am more eager to see the changes to the Android OS more than the iOS, to be honest. Especially since Google is the one that first started bragging about how amazing their superphones were going to be.

Applications and games are both said to be on the way to improving, and I absolutely believe that. Just the interfaces used for apps in 2009 versus now are much improved, much less the capabilities of each one. It is like running a piece of software on a computer, some are so damn good. I am sure we will see a huge increase in those being offered, while new versions of old classics are released alongside them. Fingers crossed!

But the question on everyone’s mind, I am sure: how will the battery life be. I was wondering this from the second I found out about superphones in 2010, and considering how fast certain apps and functions can sap power, I wasn’t hopeful.

That is, until I read a story this week about the British company ARM – the number one smartphone microchip producer in the world – creating the A7 and what they have dubbed the “big LITTLE”. It is essentially a smaller processor that works in tandem with other new microchips to offer improved results, but take less power. This eliminates some of the energy use, and so makes battery life last longer. Hence the term “big LITTLE”.

A big part of this is the price, as those processors and chips are much cheaper to make. This lowers manufacturing costs, which then lower retail value. They say that it should usher in a new age of next generation superphones for $100 and less, to allow the developing world to add superphones to their economy. It will also allow those unwilling or unable to pay the extravagant smartphone prices of today an alternative, a trend we are also seeing with tablets.

What do you think of superphones?

Christmas Shopping: Great Gadgets For Teens

It is that time of year again, where thoughts start turning to the coming holidays. With Halloween about to pass us by, and Black Friday right around the corner, it is the perfect time to start making that Christmas list.

A Tech Girl’s Life writer Nicole wrote a great article earlier this month on how to best plan for the shopping season. But I thought we would get a little bit more specific today, and start looking at the items that every teen is going to be craving this year. Especially with so many solid products currently being sold, and coming items that are going to be hitting the market just in time for the post-Thanksgiving spending spree.

 

iPhone
Steve Jobs may have left us, but his legacy lives on. Even people who have steadfastly avoided getting into the Apple craze have to admit that the newest generation of products are very tempting, perhaps even impossible to resist. Your teen – especially the older ones – are probably prone to drooling at the mention of the iPhone 5, which is on its way.

The good news is that companies like Verizon have been pushing the recent model, the iPhone 4, off of shelves to make way for the mysterious new generation. You can find iPhone 4′s for as little as $120, making it the perfect time to gift your teen with that coveted smartphone that everyone loves. Kids who are 16 or older can, of course, help pay for the upkeep.

Kindle Fire

This might be a gift you want to request for yourself. Tablets are extremely useful things. Not only do they have a ton of entertainment value as they let you play games, listen to music and watch your favorite TV shows and movies, but they are also educational. While the iPad is the most popular currently being sold, with Android compatible hardware a close second, there is another option.

The Kindle Fire is going to be released on November 15. It is the first full color, high powered tablet from Amazon. Which means it is reading specific, despite the secondary features that put it on par with others. Believe it or not, kids will probably be more inclined to read with one of these babies, and you can make it a condition of the purchase.

If you want to further press the importance of reading, why not go with the cheaper (but still awesome) Kindle 3G Touch or 3G traditional models?

Games

This holiday season is a HUGE one for game releases, with some of the most anticipated titles of the year all due in November. It would be impossible to name everything being put on shelves between now and Christmas, so here is a list of a couple that are probably on your teen’s wishlist:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – The AC series is wildly popular, and the last two games are considered some of the best console works ever made. Now you can join Ezio once again in the third installment. Release date November 15, 2011.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – There is next to no chance your teen gamer doesn’t play (and love) the CoD series. Now the third MW game is coming out, and they are probably going insane. Release date November 8, 2011.
  • Halo: CE Anniversary – Welcome to the series that will never end, and that is a relief to many. The Halo series is always popular, and we have the much anticipated new installment to look forward to. Release date November 15, 2011.
  • Zelda: Skyward Sword – Who doesn’t love Zelda? Even a lot of parents are beside themselves with excitement for this one. The newest release in the beloved Zelda story will once again reunite us with Link as he saves the day.

Keep in mind that these four titles are not only just a few of the incredible games coming in November, but there are other not-to-miss titles that are being released this month. Think Gears of War 3 and Batman: Arkham City. You might want to have a chat with your teen about what they are hoping for, because there is a lot to choose from this year. It is like a gamers dream come true.

Conclusion

The good news here is that you have a lot to choose from when it comes to gadgets. While they are more expensive, that tends to happen with gifts as you get into the teens. They are useful, multi-functional and many have been reduced in price. So, check out your options and watch your teenager go crazy when they open their gifts this year.