Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Iconic Brand: Vaio

The VAIO is a computer brand that many people have likely heard of in their lives. That company, until recently, was owned by Sony. Sony is the maker of such iconic devices like the PlayStation and their televisions. During Sony's ownership there have been some really great computers put out into the world.  Today I say goodbye to one leadership into what will surely be a new brand with the new leadership.

The history of the iconic VAIO brand is somewhat lackluster.  It started out as many other brands have. Created in 1998, VAIO was an acronym for Video Audio Integrated Operation, and changed to Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer for its 10 year anniversary. That part isn't too exciting. What is is the fact that there were some market frontrunners that came from this brand. They were famous for building reliable computers with some of the latest technology in them. In  a recent example they came out with a laptop tablet combo that incorporates some of the hardware you decided to give up with the first Dell and HP models. For example,  VAIO integrates i7 processors, where beforehand you could usually only find i5's at most in convertibles.

As far as the brand will now go, it is being sold to Japan Industrial Partners for a yet unspecified amount. Under a new company we will likely see brand changes, which, at least initially, will probably be bad. I don't  know  much about this new company but I'm going to assume they don't have the production power that  Sony has. Another possible problem is that they may not continue to sell in the US,  but that's not very likely. On the positive side, the new company will probably make VAIO cheaper, as they were more pricey under Sony.

Sony has decided that their PC brand is not of a much importance now. Representatives say they want to focus more on their mobile markets and grow those to be bigger. Regardless, they are passing on a great computer brand into new hands. Only time will tell if this was a good choice for the brand, in fact, one of my favorite brands out there.

Chrome OS and Why its Probably Not a Good Decision

Over the last year Chrome OS has finally become a pretty big deal, after a relatively long period of relative inactivity. Until now it has been available only in the form of a Chromebook, but now that's all changing. There are some significant issues that I have seen right off the bat, and there will make or break the idea.

For basics, Chrome OS is an operating system that is based completely around the Chrome browser. To customize it, you look to the Chrome app store. This store is pretty limited, but at the same time incredibly diverse. Now looking at this basic model there are some things that could pop up that could be problematic. The first is that Chrome OS is literally what you get on any other computer by downloading the free Chrome browser. In that sense, I don't understand getting a $200+ Chromebook when you could pay the same price and get more functionality with a PC. On the flip side, those who want simplicity on their web-based computer needs would find this the perfect device. So on that point its a matter of opinion. My second problem with Chrome OS is that the hardware that run it doesn't tend to be very good. The existing Chromebooks are rocking really low-end Intel processors, pretty low amounts of RAM, and a very small hard drive.

Now on to why they might get better in the future. A few companies, HP, Samsung, and Asus, are making ChromeBoxes. These are basically desktops instead of laptops that have traditionally been carrying Chrome OS. This might spark a change in the software to be less web-based, with a little more umph to it. This may not be the case though, because Google might continue to campaign that the point of Chrome OS is to be simple and web-based. Either way, ChromeBoxes signal a new era in Google's operating system that proves its got the backing.

Chrome OS is an operating system that, frankly, I don't believe in. You just don't have many options or benefits that you wouldn't see on a regular Windows computer. If you want it just to be simple, then good for you, but I believe that Google should put on their big-boy pants and create an operating system that rally is functional, not just easy. I would love to see my favorite company get a share in the computer business, but I just can't see that happening with the current state of Chrome OS.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Reinvented Mac Pro

If you've never heard about Mac Pro before, you're probably in the majority. The Mac Pro is not, as many people mistake it when I am working, the MacBook Pro. The Mac Pro is a next level desktop that Apple makes. These models have a reputation for huge hardware built into them, so much so that they are outrageously expensive and are often not sold at any traditional electronics retailer. Compared to a PC that you can build, the hardware isn't too great, especially looking at the price comparison, but the Pro incorporates the "Appleness" you can't put in your own computer, and that's why I am here to convince you that the Mac Pro is the best looking computer in its class.

For one, the Mac Pro was completely redesigned to the most bizarre shape I've seen in a computer. It's a cylinder. The computer has a small back area cut out where it has holes for the appropriate ports of course, but other than that its a shiny, metallic cylinder. When you compare that to the old version of the Mac Pro, it becomes even more defined. The old ones were big and boxy. It was exciting with those because you could almost see the power in the big casing. With the new Mac Pro, you don't expect it to run even close to the technology it actually has. Oh yeah, did I mention it was small? It's about the size of a person's head.

Now onto what's actually in this neat little package. It's running a 3.7 GHz processor in the lower model. Oddly enough, in the higher end model its running 3.5 GHz, but it has more cores so it makes up for the deficiency. Basically, if you don't know about cores, they are what actually process programs, so the more there are, the faster the group can process the program. It also packs in a hefty 12 and 16 GB of RAM in there, which is pretty heavy, and would not in almost any circumstance be reached during regular home use. Otherwise, 256 GB SSD and some decent graphics cards. Overall, the lower model will set you back about $3000 and the higher model a good $4000. Not at all a cheap computer, especially considering you could build a computer like it for around $1000, but again, it probably wouldn't look as cool.

So long story short, the new Mac Pro was a much needed innovation in terms of looks that Apple is really lacking right now. The creativity to pack everything into the small little cylinder had to have been amazing. Here's my second critical moment of Apple though. In my opinion, they need this same crativity in their software. I have yet to really enjoy Mac beyond its cleanliness. I find it hard to actually "do" anything. Plus, Apple, you REALLY need to start making touch-screen laptops. Please, or you are going to lose out to Windows.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New generation: LG G Flex

Every year sees a giant increase in the quality and ability o mobile devices, especially phones. This year has been specifically eventful. We had the HTC One, HTC's flagship that was a very solid phone, the very popular Samsung Galaxy S4, the Motorola Moto X which gave the first phone customization chosen by users, and the iPhone 5S, the newest in the Apple line-up. The latest is the LG G Flex, a curved phone with a secret.

The G Flex is the first phone to actually include a curved display, a feature that has been rumored for months, and many companies have been researching it, including Apple. The idea behind the curved display is that its supposed to make it easier to handle and more ergonomic when using it. Whether I believe this is really going to be determined when I try it for the first time, hopefully in the next week here if all goes as planned. I definitely get the concept, but I'm dubious as if it will actually work.

The second really unique feature in the G Flex is its self-healing back. Yes, self-healing. People have taken a knife and keys, scratched the back, and after a little while, the phone looks as if nothing has happened. This is because LG used a new material on the back that can handle small scratches like this. Its far from a perfect model of this new technology, but its pretty cool for a first step. It can also be bent and work completely fine, hence the "flex" in the name.

LG is really doing well this year, with the Nexus 5, LG G2, and now the G Flex. As a phone comapany who used to make horrible, boxy phones I really admire them. They've really been able to improve from a point where I was reading that they were likely to go out of business. I salute you, LG.

Soundtrack of Life

A while ago I was looking for over-the-ear headphones, and as I knew nothing about this area I did a lot of research. There was the obvious allure of Beats by Dre because all of my friends had them, and they looked REALLY nice. Then there was Bose, or Sennheiser, both as expensive or more expensive then the Beats. This put me into a quandary because as a sophomore in high school without a job I had about $50 and a gift card to work with. That was when I stumbled on Sol Republic and their Tracks, easily my best decision.

The Sol Republic Tracks were pretty new in the market when I bought them. They have a very innovative design with a band that is able to be flexed into tons of weird shapes. They advertise it to be unbreakable, far from the Beats displays that are often broken in half. The second part of their design was the actual "headphones" called Sound Engines. These can be taken off of the band, upgraded, stored, anything you want to do with them. This unorthodox deign was what first drew me to the Tracks, and then I got into the actual specs of the model.

The Tracks are actually some of the best headphones on the market, even when you compare them to models that are much more expensive. Keep in mind in the next few sentences that I'm writing about the basic, V8, models, which retail for $99.99. In reviews, these headphones have been said to be comparable to the Beats Pro which retail $449.99 or the V-Moda Crossfire M-80 which retails for $230 originally, $150 now. The bass that is in the Tracks is stellar, and as I have been using these headphones for a good year and a half, there have been no problems. The only problem I've ever had is sometimes when I have them on for a couple hours or more they're uncomfortable, but that is on a rare few occasions.

The Tracks are definitely the best headphones on the market for their price and performance. For considerably less money you can get the performance of way more high end models. If you are looking for headphones at all, I would definitely recommend these. They also have higher end models and earbuds if you're interested in those.