Tag Archives: Technology

al_sepoct2020_tech_fi

Get smoother and faster Wi-Fi with the Deco x20

Latest News


Get smoother and faster Wi-Fi with the Deco x20

With many families home-bound, chances are that almost everyone is tethered to the Internet in one form or another. Have you noticed when everyone’s online, things tend to slow to a crawl or not connect at all? Binging on Netflix or YouTube videos, friending on Facebook, taking in a webinar on Zoom, gaming online, watching the news or just plain doing a search on the Internet… We haven’t even mentioned other wireless devices such as smart speakers, security cameras, smart thermostats and more.

There is, however, good news.

The next generation of Wi-Fi technology is already here, which should help when it comes to unreliable or slow Wi-Fi. The TP-Link Deco X20 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (AX1800) is designed to improve your connection speed and extend your Wi-Fi up to 5,800 sq. ft. to include the far reaches of your home. It’s designed to do away with any dead spots and potentially quadruple the throughput to any device connected to it – up to 150 of them – so devices can stay connected and everyone can enjoy smooth sailing regardless of what they are doing.

The Deco X20 units are small but powerful. Each unit has a builtin 1 GHz Quad-Core processor, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a reset button and four internal antennas. All this comes in a sleek cylindrical unit measuring a mere 4.33 in. wide by 4.49 in. high. It operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidths and extends your Wi-Fi’s reach by strategically placing individual Deco units around your home.

It uses Mesh technology to ensure you’re always connected, essentially blanketing the entire coverage area and seamlessly operating as a single unified network. In fact, once any device is connected through your Deco X20, it concentrates its signal to that device, keeping the signal fast and efficient, maintaining a solid connection even when moving from room to room.

For added safety and to keep your home network secure, Deco X20 adds an extra layer of protection. It incorporates advanced encryption, keeping your family’s data private and unreadable to others so you can do your banking and other necessary private transactions worry-free.

In addition, Deco X20 creates almost a built-in fence, marking data emanating from your neighbour’s Wi-Fi next door and the surrounding areas to minimize interference and prevent any possible overlap, which could interfere with your system.

There’s more. Deco X20 also includes a lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare which provides features you can personalize, including Antivirus protection, Parental Controls and QoS (Quality of Service), so you can set the priority of devices.

While the system is certainly advanced, set-up is a breeze. With a simple walk-through using its companion app, anyone can have it up and running within 10 minutes. It also pairs with Alexa, so you can control it with simple voice commands.

Deco X20 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System comes with three Deco units, retails for $399.99 and can be found on Amazon as well as most of your favourite electronics retailers.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster, and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine. gadgetguy.ca

SHARE  

Featured Products


Amazon Fire HD10

Amazon Fire HD10 features a big screen on a small budget

Latest News


Amazon Fire HD10 features a big screen on a small budget

The all-new Amazon Fire HD10

As the name suggests, it’s equipped with a 1080p, high definition, 10.1-inchwide screen display, making it ideal for all your entertainment needs. For the techies, it displays a respectable 1920 x 1200 pixels at 224 ppi (pixels-per-inch) for maximum enjoyment of the millions of eBooks, movies, TV shows, games, apps and music that you have access to. Stream or download videos from Prime Video and Netflix, or simply watch YouTube.

It also features dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, a built-in microphone for Skype or video calls, and enhanced Bluetooth to connect an optional keyboard or wireless speakers.

Accessiblity features

The VoiceView screen reader provides access to most of the Fire tablet features for users who are visually impaired and use text-to-speech or a connected refreshable braille display. The Screen magnifier enables users to zoom in and out as well as pan around the screen. In addition, there are accessibility settings for closed captioning, font size, high contrast text and colour.

Better than ever

While this is Amazon Canada’s biggest tablet, it’s actually the ninth generation model – albeit its name. It has an updated 2.0 GHz eight-core processor, and is 30 per cent faster than its predecessor. Battery life has been bumped up by 20 per cent to offer you 12 hours of mixed-use. With its built-in PIP (picture-in-picture) function, you now have lots more time to watch YouTube, Netflix or Prime Video, while checking your e-mail at the same time.

It has 32GB of built-in storage (or 64GB), and is easily expandable up to 512 GB (from 256GB) by purchasing an optional micro SD card. The rear camera remains at 2 megapixels, which is good enough for screen resolution. And, the front camera has been bumped up from VGA to standard hi-definition (720p). Another notable change is the use of standard USB-C for charging.

It’s what’s inside that counts

The Fire HD 10 has a robust polycarbonate shell, but it doesn’t have the sleekness, or all the bells and whistles that you might find on an iPad or higher end Android tablets. An entry-level iPad has a significantly more powerful processor, an advanced photo grade 8-megapixel camera and a 1.2-megapixel camera with Retina flash, and it takes advantage of Apple’s full iOS operating system. With millions of apps, it can, virtually, replace your computer.

The Fire HD, on the other hand, runs its own operating system, Fire OS, a customized version of Android 9.0 Pie. It’s designed for functionality as shown above and not necessarily for those who need to be on the leading edge of technology. It offers limited Google Services and a smaller app offering, but is a perfect companion for home or on the road for those who are already connected to the Amazon eco-system – those who subscribe to Amazon Prime or Prime Video.

Even better, it’s also less than half the price of an entry-level iPad.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (32GB) retails in Canada for only $199.99 ($40 more for 64GB). It includes a USB-C charging cable and power adapter. You can find them at your local Best Buy, The Source and, of course, through Amazon. It is fairly large, so to protect it and have hands-free viewing, it might be a good idea to pick up a matching tablet case, that doubles as a stand.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

GadgetGuy.ca


SHARE  

Featured Products


Smart TV

TCL-ROKU TV is small on size, big on features

Latest News


TCL-ROKU TV is small on size, big on features

It’s not uncommon to see a 60-, 70- or 80-inch TV in some homes. However, a compact model might be better suited for a small apartment, a dorm room, or for when you want to binge-watch a series while getting your steps in on the treadmill. Older, CRT boob tubes may have been regulated to the basement, as they lack the features of today’s smart television sets.

Today, we expect that all TVs are HD, and work with any cable box, satellite receiver or antenna, and that they can easily connect to any gaming console. And, of course, it must have WiFi and connect to the Internet.

Just the thing

Built for the Canadian market in 2019, the 32-inch, TCL-Roku Smart LED TV (32S327-CA) measures a mere 28.8 x 17.1 x 3.0 inches. It comes with attachable feet, or it can be mounted to a wall. Weighing in at under 10 pounds, you’ll be amazed at how slim it is. You can carry it under your arm, put it in the trunk and take it anywhere.

Despite it’s diminutive size and simple black housing, it has crisp 32-inch FullHD (1080p) LED widescreen display. It features dual band WiFi, and three HDMI ports to connect external devices. It also has a USB port for viewing your own media. There’s a headphone jack for quiet listening, or to hook up an external speaker, as well as a digital audio output to take advantage of its Dolby Digital Plus premium audio. In addition, there’s a composite video jack, with a cable, to connect older video and gaming devices, and one to hookup your cable TV or satellite box.

Easy peasy

The TCL-Roku is designed to accept an HD antenna for over-the-air TV channels, but there’s also a Roku streamer built right in, so there’s no need for an external gadget. Roku gives you access to thousands of streaming channels so that you can enjoy unlimited movies, TV shows, live sports, music, news and much more. Most are free, but some may require a paid subscription.

Using this TV is a breeze starting with the step-by-step, on-screen setup. You don’t have to wade through complicated menus. Both the TV’s functionality and Roku’s streaming services are integrated. This intuitive interface allows you to navigate with one easy-to-use remote that has one-touch access to services like Netflix and YouTube.

But that’s not all

Other nifty features include mirroring, so that you can watch media from your smartphone, your tablet or your PC on your TV. Guest mode is perfect if you run an Airbnb. You can restrict access to your streaming services, while guests can sign on to their own accounts and are signed out when they leave. Should you need to adjust the picture, simply go to settings and select dark, darker, normal, bright or brighter – that’s it.

TCL is fairly new to the North American market – barely a year on the Canadian TV scene. They produce a series of low-cost, high-definition TVs. The TCL 32-inch Roku Smart LED TV (32S327-CA) retails for $219.99 on Amazon, at Best Buy and at Walmart. A 40-inch model is also available.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

GadgetGuy.ca


SHARE  

Featured Products


Bells & Whistles - Ford's in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

Latest News


Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

If you combine the words information and entertainment you get ‘infotainment’ – and this is exactly what you’ll get in the 2020 Ford Explorer. The Ford Motor Company has come up with the perfect combination of a car stereo with an information and navigation system – SYNC 3.

Anticipating your needs

Smartphones and tablets are becoming more intuitive and easier to use with each new generation. Up until now, infotainment systems have often seemed like an after-thought, and operating them seemed counter-intuitive.

Not only do these systems need to be secure, functional and seamless to use, but they also need to keep you, and your family, safe while driving. “The SYNC 3 has been based on customer feedback – by the same people who are driving and interacting with their Ford vehicles every day,” says Chuck Gray, director of electrical and electronic systems engineering at Ford.

This is the first version to be fully designed in-house at Ford, and was recently unveiled at the company’s high-tech Connectivity and Innovation Centre (CIC) in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

More than good looks

The SYNC 3 might seem familiar to use, because it’s based on Blackberry’s QNX operating system. It’s no longer a scavenger hunt to find functions, and you’ll immediately feel connected.

It has a thoughtful, common sense layout. You can identify things clearly and navigate efficiently. You can also adjust the screen’s brightness and font size to help avoid squinting, so that you never have to take your eyes off the road for too long.

Minimized multi-tasking

The number of steps that are required to complete a task have been minimized on the SYNC 3. Many functions can also be accessed via voice control. Some controls have been moved from the console cluster to SYNC 3. Everything is easier to find, and if you’re not sure how something works, there’s an animated visual indication or a video to explain it to you – no manual required.

All your radio audio presets (AM/FM/XM) appear on the main screen, regardless of the media stream. You can switch from an AM news channel, to a rock station on the FM dial, and then to the Beatles channel on SiriusXM.

SiriusXM radio enthusiasts will appreciate the smart favourites and tune start features. The former buffers the last 30 minutes from your XM favourites as soon as you turn on the engine, and the latter ensures that the song begins on the first note when you switch to your favourites.

A first on the 2020 Ford Explorer’s platinum trim package, is the 10.1-inch, high-definition, portrait display. Other models have an eight-inch-wide screen. It’s positioned vertically on the dashboard, at a height and an angle, that makes it easy to see.

Always improving

With the customer’s consent, the SYNC 3 can capture analytics in terms of how its being used. Real-live testing and improvements are ongoing. At Ford’s Accelerated Life Test Lab, the software stability team simulates the software running in a vehicle in order to detect any pain-points.

When hitting the road, it’s comforting to know that the practical application of ‘infotainment’ is as reliable as the technology that we’ve come to expect in our homes.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

GadgetGuy.ca


SHARE  

Featured Products


Simply Tech: Square - micro payment

Be Square: You, too, can accept wireless payments

Latest News


Be Square: You, too, can accept wireless payments

You’ve heard of it, and most likely seen one. Chances are, you’ve made a payment to a company who uses Square. Step into a cafe, a market, or stroll down an art promenade and you’re likely to see their iconic logo, and someone swiping their credit card through a small white square dongle attached to a smart phone.

Personal use

Perhaps you’ve decided to downsize, or start up a business initiative that’s always been on your mind. Since fewer people use cheques or carry cash, you can offer a quick and easy mobile payment option with Square. It’s an easy way to get paid, especially if you want to rid yourself of no-longer-wanted items.

It’s been approximately five years since Square introduced their micro-payment system to Canada. Payment is enabled through a magstripe reader that’s plugged into the headphone jack of your mobile device. It has changed the way that small businesses process their transactions. It’s put budding entrepreneurs and service providers, as well as street market sellers and garage sale vendors, on a more level playing field.

Easy peasy

Being able to make a secure, credit card payment transaction (with a simple swipe) was a privelege previously reserved for major players.

With the free companion Square point-of-sale (POS) app, you can track your activity, add product photos and prices, and manage your inventory. Square’s invoice app allows you to bill your clients, and send invoices and automatic payment reminders via e-mail. This allows secure payment transactions to be facilitated when not dealing face-to-face.

Getting better and better

Square is taking advantage of the latest technologies, and has now included more features and payment options, so that customers can pay the way that they want. Not only are you not limited if your mobile device doesn’t have a headphone jack, or if their payment requires a chip and a PIN, but you’re not limited to just accepting credit cards.

For users with iOS devices, including the iPhone or iPad, Square now has a magstripe reader that plugs into the lightning port. However, Square’s new Contactless + Chip Reader has to be its finest feature. This palm-sized, battery-powered, wireless device quickly pairs with most Bluetooth enabled mobile devices.

With this new reader, customers can simply tap for purchases up to $100. For anything over that amount, they insert their chip-enabled credit card into the reader, and enter their PIN number on their mobile device to complete the transaction. Customers can also tap for payments via Interac Flash (debit), as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Square encrypts the card information, so the data is never stored on your mobile device in order to protect the customer.

The cost of doing business

Cost for Square payment processing is only 2.65 per cent for all credit card transactions and only 10 cents for debit transactions. Apple Pay + Google Pay fees will depend upon whether the customer has a credit card or debit card connected to the account. There are no other hidden fees or service charges. Your funds are sent directly to your bank account, and are available in one to two business days.

The Square Contactless + Chip Reader retails for $59, and includes a free magstripe reader. Both can be connected to your devices at the same time. There’s also an optional wedged-shaped reader dock for Square Reader ($39), in order to keep it charged. Available at Staples, Best Buy, Telus or Apple Stores.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.

GadgetGuy.ca


SHARE  

Featured Products


rc_vr_article_fi

Virtual construction using 3D technology

Latest News


Virtual construction using 3D technology

rc_vr_article_1

One of the biggest challenges I have as a landscape designer is communicating my vision of a space to my clients. Hand drawing, while absolutely an art form, is very difficult to make significant changes to. If I spend hours doing a drawing and a client doesn’t agree with some of my fundamental ideas, I may have to redo everything. I spent a lot of hours learning a design software system, which allows me to show my designs in a 2D format. This process is perfect for fast design by using existing images, making changes for clients, and then saving the entire project online. While this was a great process for me in streamlining the system, computer generated designs became a sterile or homogenized version of what was once a real art form. For a long time, I had to justify to clients why I wasn’t hand-drawing my designs as they compared my work to other established landscape designers and architects.

rc_vr_article_3

Eventually the technology to add colour and real life pictures to my landscape designs allowed me to better communicate my ideas for a space. Having colour in the trees, plants, and even the grass gives the customer the impact that they are hoping for in their dream spaces. Add pictures of real plants, patio furniture, and fireplaces to the design and my customers can close their eyes and see the major features of a garden that I am trying to communicate to them.

3D technology has now taken this to a whole new level! In 3D, I can start to show how the height of the individual elements start to relate to each other. The 3D model allows the designers to put in people, pergolas, privacy screens, and structures. They also enable a customer to look at the garden from different angles through the use of a computer or a tablet. I can take my clients into their yards and walk them through the design as it pertains to each location they choose to stand in. Unfortunately, most of my design meetings happen in the late winter/early spring when its terrible outside and clients prefer to stay indoors or to meet in my design office.

rc_vr_article_2

We finally have a solution that takes landscape design to a whole new level! Software and technology have combined to create a landscape software that works with virtual reality goggles so that no matter where you are standing, you can see your backyard in crystal clear 3D. These images are so lifelike that they even include people swimming in your un-built pool or breezes blowing through trees that haven’t been planted yet. Whether its snowing or raining outside, clients can feel like they are in their new backyard without even leaving the living room. As a visual person, this lets me give them a full understanding of what I see for their space. I can even show how things like privacy panels and strategic plantings make neighbours disappear.

Makes you wonder what is next? Possibly a virtual backyard complete with plants, patios, and even birds that you can slip into whenever you want by putting on a pair of goggles. Maybe technology means the end of the real deal… but for now you’ll have to wait until spring to get outside and putter in the yard.

rc_vr_article_4

By Carson Arthur, carsonarthur.com

SHARE  

Featured Products