So many gadgets are sold to us on the basis that they will improve our lives and make us more productive, it’s amazing that we still use them mostly for fun. But there is a serious side to gadgetry, and many cutting-edge devices are aimed solely at making our working lives more efficient.
As 2019 dawns, it’s an ideal time to review the devices that are intended to make our offices and homes both more productive and efficient. With that in mind, this is my pick of the serious gadgets for 2018:
Best computer: Apple Mac Mini
After five years of no updates, the Mac Mini has been refreshed with seriously impressive specs for a computer the size of a hardcover book. The real magic lurks in the back, with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can transfer data at up to 8 times faster than a USB 3 drive. They can also power – and output – to two 4K displays simultaneously. The Mini can also use external graphics, which transform it into a graphics demon.
Best mini-computer: Cloudgate X
The Cloudgate X is an office powerhouse the size of a sandwich. Powered by an Intel Quad-Core Apollo Lake chip, Windows 10 and a solid state hard drive (translation: “fast”), the X connects to any standard monitor, keyboard and mouse. It also offers ample connectivity options. In the typical business environment, it won’t buckle under Microsoft Office and accounting applications.
Apple’s latest flagship tablet for professional users, the iPad Pro, has been redesigned to fit more screen onto the same-sized tablet, while increasing performance by up to 90% over the previous generation. Apple claimed in October 2018 that the iPad Pro was faster than 92% of conventional laptops on the market. With iOS apps becoming increasingly more capable of desktop functions, combining the latest Pro with the “clip-on” wirelessly charging Apple Pencil and keyboard folio case gives the traditional desktop computer a run for its money.
Best monitor: Samsung CHG90 49-inch Ultra-wide Screen
Geared towards both gaming and productivity, Samsung’s CHG90 49-inch 32:9 Screen is aimed at the computing-intensive user. The curved display provides an immersive experience by surrounding one’s peripheral vision with display. A word of warning: it’s a serious monitor that demands serious space.
Click here to see the best storage device, best docking device and best payment device.
CES: Most useless gadgets
The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.
But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.
The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.
1. DUX voice-assisted bed
The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.
2. Smart Baby Dining Table
Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.
Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.
CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”
Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.
Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:
Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator
The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication.
It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.
It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.”
Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.