Tech round-up for Oct. 15

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I can say unequivocally that the best way to travel from Vancouver to Whistler is by helicopter, which is how I got to Whistler last Friday for the London Drugs tech event.

London Drugs tech event at Whistler

Every fall, London Drugs holds an event for their sales staff to learn about the products they’ll be selling in the coming months. Last year, the company invited a handful of tech journalists to join in the fun. I focused my afternoon on cameras and headphones, as those are two of the categories I’m writing for the Globe & Mail’s annual holiday gift guide. Among the highlights:

Thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus after using it for a week

I’m loving the 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6 Plus. For watching videos and playing games, it really does make a difference. And while it’s big in size, it’s not heavy at all.

But I can’t one-hand it, and after years of using iPhones, I’ve grown accustomed to texting, dialing, and operating with only one hand. That’s a common complaint from people who have been using the smaller iPhone for years.

I’m going to stick it out, though. There are a number of excellent Bluetooth headphones now available, and voice activation keeps getting better. Maybe I don’t need to use my hands as much as I thought. Not for dialing a phone, anyway.

Meanwhile, Samsung announces a smaller size Galaxy smartphone

Anyone complaining that Apple’s copying Samsung by coming out with larger format iPhones needs to take note of Samsung’s Alpha, now available in Canada. The Alpha is a smaller version of the Galaxy smartphone, coming in at 4.7 inches, the same size as the iPhone 6, and noticeably smaller than the Galaxy S5.

Tesla announces a faster fancy car that will pick you up

Well, Elon Musk didn’t announce a budget model Tesla at the big announcement last week. The “D” he mentioned in his Tweet referred to the Tesla P85D, which uses a dual electric motor, with the rear motor pushing 470 horsepower and the front giving 221 horsepower. The all-wheel drive car can get to 60 miles per hour in just over three seconds.

The extra thing that Musk also teased was the autonomous driving features that will be added to all Tesla vehicles. They will be able to change lanes safely and to adjust to speed limits using cameras that read signs. And if you are on private property, the car can be programmed to park itself and to pick you up at the front door.

The Tesla P85D will come in three configurations cost around $120,000, depending on model. Delivery in late December.

Here’s the new autopilot features in action.


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