On Friday, Charles and I talked about Microsoft’s Xbox One X, Samsung’s QLED series of 4K HDR TVs, and preorders of the Apple iPhone X.
This week, it’s time to preorder your iPhone X and why I’m frustrated with the Apple Watch Series 3. But the Q series of televisions from Samsung have me smiling. As does the new Xbox One X, which is just days away from release.
Xbox One X, the most powerful game console, arrives on November 7
In just over a week, the new gaming console from Microsoft ships. The Xbox One X is the third model in the Xbox One family, and from the specs alone it appears that the claim it is the most powerful console in the world is true.
Equipped with an 8-core AMD CPU, 128 GB of GDDR5 memory, and a 6 teraflop graphical processing unit (GPU), the Xbox One X is designed to deliver full 4K resolution graphics with high dynamic range (HDR).
The Xbox One X also delivers the latest sound engineering, supporting both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
WIth a 4K Blu-ray player and the ability to stream and record 4K video, the Xbox One X is also the best deal for an entertainment system. A Blu-ray player with similar functionality costs at least $400. The Xbox One X costs $600, but you can also play games on it.
Games that are equipped to take advantage of the Xbox One’s unique features include:
- Assassin’s Creed Origins
- Forza Motorsport 7
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Gears of War 4, developed at The Coalition in Vancouver, has also been updated for the Xbox One X to deliver a visual and auditory experience unlike anything you’ve had before, with improved shadows, reflections, and character textures.
Keep in mind that you don’t need an Xbox One X to play any of these titles. Games and accessories designed and developed for the Xbox One console will work with any of the three models, the original, the “S”, or the “X”.
If you preorder an Xbox One X at a local Microsoft Store – in Calgary at Chinook Centre, in Edmonton at the West Edmonton Mall, in Burnaby at Metrotown, and in Vancouver at Pacific Centre – you can pick it up at 9 p.m. PT (10 p.m. MT) on Monday, November 6.
Samsung’s Q-series sets a high bar for televisions
The Q in Samsung’s top line of TVs might stand for “quantum dot”, which is the company’s way of referring to the technology used to make the screens vibrant and colourful. These are ultra high definition screens which provide four times the resolution of a basic high definition screen. That means you can get even closer to the screen without seeing the pixels.
I’ve been using a 55-inch QLED for a couple of weeks now, and the crispness of the images I see on screen is noticeable. These sets also support high dynamic range (HDR) which leads to greater detail in all images.
As nice as the picture is, it’s the extra features in the QLED that really make it stand out. First, it can be mounted to the wall without a gap because the TV has a space in the back to accommodate the mount.
It’s also lacking a bezel around the screen, so the 55-inch screen I’ve been using is nearly a quarter smaller than the 55-inch screen I own.
The real kicker, though, is that you don’t have to run a bunch of thick, black cables up to and in behind the TV. Samsung’s moved all those connections to a box you can set well away from the TV, and sends the data to the set through a nearly invisible optical cable. Clean and tidy.
The QLEDs aren’t cheap, they start at $3,800 and go up from there to as high as $9,000, but if you’re looking for a new LED TV, these are the best you can get.
You can preorder your iPhone X now
If you’ve been waiting, don’t wait any longer. The iPhone X is available for preorder starting today.
Available in silver and space grey, there are two storage capacities, but I don’t know why anyone would bother with the 64 GB model for $1,319 when you can get four times the capacity in a 256 GB handset for $210 more ($1,529).
The new phone includes the new facial recognition software that delivers your login experience as well as enables “animoji”, the emoji that you can animate with your own facial expressions.
Apple also has a trade-in program that can get you up to $455 towards a new handset.
Apple Watch Series 3 test drive
I’ve got to say that I’m surprised I like wearing a watch so much, after not wearing a watch for more than 20 years.
But the Apple Watch provides so many conveniences. I love that it gives me haptic feedback when I’m navigating by car or by bike. The Series 3 is pool-proof so the fitness tracking features are more useful, and the various timing apps make it easy to stay on top of things.
And I really like to get notifications about messages and calls. I even like being able to make and take phone calls on my watch.
Which brings me to the reason I’m frustrated with this Series 3 on my wrist. One of its key features is that it is equipped with cellular functionality, so the Apple Watch can operate independent of an iPhone. This is a liberating shift, and one that I’d really like to be able to tell you works amazing.
But my cellular carrier is Rogers. Which seems to have no intention of supporting the cellular functionality of Apple Watches. The only provider in Canada that does at the moment is Bell, which is not even available to people in Manitoba and Sask. According to Apple, Telus will apparently be offering some kind of Apple Watch plan “later this year”.
I mostly love the Apple Watch. It’s Rogers I’m annoyed with.
On Friday, Charles and I talked about Samsung’s Look At Me campaign, D-Link’s Covr mesh networking system, and two USB hubs: Nomad’s for your desk and OWC’s for when you’re traveling.
Tech round-up for October 20: Cover your home with Covr Wi-fi, USB hubs from Nomad and OWC, Samsung donating 500 tablets to Canadian families
This week, two new hubs provide connections for your USB devices when you’re at home or on the road, and D-Link’s whole home Wi-fi is built for large homes. But first, Samsung is giving away 500 tablets to Canadian families with children on the autism spectrum.
Samsung supports families with kids on the spectrum
Children who are diagnosed with autism can have difficulty communicating and in social situations. Researchers have found that technology can help some children with autism to learn to make eye contact with others, which can help them learn to make connections.
The Look At Me app was designed to help. Available exclusively on Android, the software has kids interacting with a mobile device to complete tasks for which they are rewarded.
During this year’s campaign, Samsung will be giving out 500 Samsung Galaxy Tablets that are preloaded with the Look At Me app. Here’s where you can apply.
D-Link Covr mesh network packages router with single Wi-fi extender
Many of the mesh Wi-fi systems I’ve been trying out have included multiple access points that you distribute throughout your home.
D-Link’s Covr, which is priced at $400 in Canada, simplifies that by packaging a powerful router with a single extender. The router at the core of the system is able to cover a large single-family home. Add the extender to that, and you’ve theoretically got enough signal to blanket at 6,000 square foot space.
As with other mesh systems, Covr makes sure that you stay connected to your Wi-fi while moving around your house.
The benefit to having a router is that it has four ethernet ports so you can plug some devices in for fully-wired speeds. And set up is easy using either a web interface or a smartphone app.
Because there is a router at the centre of Covr, it’s a good solution for people that can set it up in the centre of their home. If you have to set your router up at the edge of your property, you end up providing Wi-fi coverage to as much of the neighbourhood as you do your home.
Nomad’s new USB hub helps keep your desk uncluttered
There’s nothing worse that having USB cables snaking around your desk. The new USB hub from Nomad helps to keep those cables under control.
Available in black or white, and in three- and five-port configurations, the hub is a low profile cylinder that provides powered USB ports for your many devices and hides the cable connectors underneath.
I’ve got one of these on my desk now that provides connections for an iPad and iPhone, as well as two micro USB ports for wireless headphones and Android devices. The last cable I keep open and available, knowing that there’s always somebody coming to visit who needs a quick fill up.
The Nomad USB hubs are priced at US$40 for the three-port and US$50 for the five port model
OWC’s new travel dock helps you manage connections when you’re out and about
If you’re like me, you often find yourself working out of coffee shops or in hotel rooms. And I love the Macbook Pro that I use when I’m roaming around, but it only has USB-C ports, and there are still plenty of devices out there that require a different connection.
OWC to the rescue. The company’s USB-C Travel Dock is pocket-sized but packed with all the ports you need. There’s an HDMI port that can support a 4K display, two standard (type A) USB ports, and a USB-C port that brings 60 W of power. It’s even got an SD card slot.
All of a sudden my toolkit that I pack around with me got lighter, because I’ve been able to leave a couple of dongles and adapters at home.
On Friday, Charles and I talked about three of the latest lines of smartphones on shelves now, Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the OnePlus 5, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note8.