Tech Year in Review for 2012

Just pronounce the title: “Tech Year in Review in Twenty-one-two”. That way it rhymes. However you pronounce it, it was quite a year. I want to go through the top stories of 2012, and they are in no particular order:

1. New iPad, iPhone 5, and iPad Mini.

Of course, these are new Apple products, so we just had to write about those. I am guessing that there were a lot of people upset at the new connectors for these new iDevices. I guess that is all we can detect for change on these, but the Mini might be good for those who are fans of the Galaxy Note.

2. The Galaxy Note

Speaking of the Galaxy Note, I believe this made quite the impression at CES 2012, and the term for these type of phones that are bigger than most is Phablet. The Note will be the beginning of a lot of new phablets. I’m hoping that in the next five years that no one uses smartphones or laptops, but we all just carry around our phablets. The Galaxy III was also another bonus this year too.

3. Windows 8 for the Phone

It may not be able to compete with Android or iOS, but Windows 8 is still worth noting. Either way, you have to like it, you just have to on phones like the Nokia Lumia 920 and more.

4. Microsoft Surface

I don’t know if sales on the Microsoft Surface were good for the holidays, but I do admire how Microsoft is trying to make a huge dent in the tablet market. The keyboard is going to help, guys.

5. Android Jelly Bean

I believe that that Nexus Q was a bust, but Jelly Bean was announced at the big Google Developers conference. Jelly Bean is a welcome update for Android, and looks good on phones like the RAZR M.

6. Google Glass

Another development at the aforementioned developers conference was the Google Glass, some seriously cool augmented reality headphones. I wish they wouldn’t tease us so much with this.

7. Disney buys Star Wars

Weird. Just weird. Episodes VII, VIII, and IX are coming, and more after George Lucas is dead and buried. Indiana Jones is also part of this deal. Improvement? Probably not.

8. The Nintendo Wii U

Yes, I wanted the Wii U for Christmas, and I never saw one for sale when I went Christmas shopping. It was the “must-have” holiday gift.

9. Kickstarter Anything

I swear that every week I had some new Kickstarter product to report on. Some of the more notable products were the Ouya Android system which made a lot of its funding money in a very short period of time.

10. Amazon’s new Kindle Fire

I think we all so it coming, especially with the iPad Mini. I guess my book that I wrote on the Kindle Fire is out of date. They also have the Paperwhite.

Other nifty stuff:

A log of bionic arms like the Exohand. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of robotic arm technology in the next ten years.

Best Video Game. Probably Epic Mickey 2 or Lego Lord of the Rings. I want to play Beyond: Two Souls when it comes out.

The QuNeo was probably the best product that I reviewed. Just read it, and perhaps buy it.

The Tupac hologram. I’m guessing we will see a lot more holo-guests at concerts.

My Interview with Noel Lee. It was a great way to start off my year.

The Popslate: Because you need a phone with screens on both sides, even if one of them is just e-ink.

Looking forward to next year. We’re probably going to take a few days off and report on the stuff to expect at CES 2013.

Lego Lord of the Rings shines on the Console

Being the head geek here at The Geek Church, I love Lego, I love video games, and I love Lord of the Rings. Why in the world would I not like a Lego Lord of the Rings video game?

In case you haven’t figured it out, this is one of the many Lego games that have been released in the past few years. The last was Lego Batman 2, which I gave good reviews to, and I will give higher reviews to Lego Lord of the Rings.

The gameplay of Lego Lord of the Rings is pretty much the same as the other Lego games. You essentially take your Lego figures into worlds that are mostly created from Lego bricks. You play different characters who have different abilities, and you smash a lot of Lego objects to get Lego studs. The studs are the money in the game, and you can use it to buy bonuses that make the game easier or more fun to play.

What makes Lego Lord of the Rings work is the same thing that makes Epic Mickey 2 succeed: a large amount of side-quests. In Lego Lord of the Rings, the player meets people along the way that ask for particular objects. Find the object, and you get a bonus. It seems like most video games are all about the side-quests these days.

Lego Lord of the Rings was also able to capture the magic of the films with the movies in between. They synced with the voices from the film. I will have to say that the whimsical way they do it didn’t work, but kids might find it entertaining. For example, there is a scene where the Gimli is crying as he is watching Boromir’s dead body go over the falls. Boromir’s raft gets stuck, so Gimli has to toss a rock to jar the raft loose. Then the raft goes over the falls, hitting rocks on the way down, making pinball machine sounds. It kind of ruins the serious nature of the original story.

Still, I am looking forward to spending a lot of time wandering around Middle Earth, looking for all the treasures. If this appeals to you, head on over to Amazon and lay down about $40-50 to get it.

Newsweek announces the last printed issue

I believe it was Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters who said that “print is dead”. I’m guessing that he wasn’t the first to say it, and he won’t be the last. It seems like a lot of magazines that were successful in print are now completely online.

One of the most successful news magazines is Newsweek, and it is hard to believe that it is going under. Actually, it is going to embrace the digital media, as you can see in this particular image with #LASTPRINTISSUE hashtag.

Well, you had a good run, Newsweek. I wonder if this blog will ever abandon its online format for some other format.


My Review of the Droid RAZR M by Motorola

I am certain that a lot of you have received or have given yourselves new smartphones for the holiday. My wife and I have sort of started this new tradition of purchasing phones near the holiday, every two years, starting two years ago. The reason is because this is when the smartphone insurance runs out.

I decided to purchase the Droid RAZR M, as I like Android phones. This one has the latest with Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean. I have wrote about it at its initial release, and if you aren’t familiar with it, it gives “real-time reminders before you even have to ask”. I will have to say that I have more updates for more apps than I ever had on my last phone (which used Android 2.3) and these updates are actually necessary.

RAZR M uses the MOTOBLUR version of Android, which is what Motorola puts out. The homescreen shows the time and the weather for whatever city that you want. That is handy, I must admit. The screen is designed to be edge-to-edge at 4.3 inches, and it has a Super AMOLED Advanced display. It definitely is what I am using to watch Netflix. Sadly, my Internet is on the fritz now, so I could use the 4G service that is on the RAZR M.

I will definitely give points to the RAZR M for the camera. I found that I could take very good pictures without even trying, and you can do 1080p video, and still shots on video.

All in all, the RAZR M is a very good smartphone at a good price, available at Verizon for $50.00 with the mail-in rebate in black or white. Of course, I had to go to Verizon and deal with a high bill for all those upgrade plans and all more.

I will let you share on the comment section your stories of new phone woe.

Celebrate the Holiday and watch the ultimate Christmas movie: The Fifth Element

It would appear that the world didn’t end, so you can stop watching Melancholia. I am going to take a break this holiday, and I suggest you take one and load up The Fifth Element on Netflix.

I realize that most of you don’t think of The Fifth Element as a Christmas film. The film was a blockbuster back in 1997, and I dismissed it as trash when I first saw it. Back then, I didn’t really like any film that showed nudity, but I don’t think that the quick topless shot in this film is enough to ban it. Granted, most of the women in this film were scantily dressed, and I see that as the film’s only flaw.

As far as the thematic elements go, The Fifth Element is completely Christian in nature. I don’t even think that is deliberate, and perhaps I am reading too much in this film. I do want to explain myself, but there is a lot of spoilers, which means you should read the rest of this after the jump. Oh, and watch the movie first.

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Who needs phones? Can we just do tablets, or phablets?

I would like to think that I know how to detect trends. When I first saw the iPhone, I began to wonder if everyone was going to have a smartphone with a touchscreen. Now, almost everyone does, and it certainly is the trend of smartphones now.

The other day, I went to buy a phone and then realized that I didn’t need one. Wouldn’t it just be easier to just buy a tablet that can function as a phone, and then use a Bluetooth headset?

This is what I wanted, but Verizon didn’t do that, as I found it. The closest thing that they have is the Note or some other phone with a giant screen, like a phablet as they are often called.

What you are seeing in the picture here is a new phablet from Huawei, the Ascend Mate, with its 6.1 screen. I say that it will probably make an appearance at CES, and I hope that I won’t have to wait in a big line to see it.

Oh, there is another thing that I saw that gives me hope for a tablet/non-phone future: The TransPhone. This particular one is expected to show up in Spring of 2013. As you can see, it combines a 7-inch tablet with a 3.5 inch phone.

I don’t know why Apple doesn’t just combine this to create an iPhone that fits into an iPad. Perhaps that combination will go into a MacBook?

Source 1 and Source 2

FlipSide, a gaming case for the iPhone

I have seen gaming pads for smartphones before. There was the Nyko PlayPad, which you can get now, and the PhoneJoy Play. Like the PhoneJoy Play, this particular gaming case for the iPhone known as the FlipSide is a Kickstarter project.

The FlipSide is pretty nifty as it just takes the controllers and puts them in a way that is most convenient. All the user has to do is simply flip them back when not in use.

Not only is the FlipSide have these cool flipping controls, but they also help save power as it has a sensitive solar cell with a thin film battery to keep working.

I feel pretty positive about this project, as the inventor, Justice Frangipane, is teaming up with iDevices, who make a lot of create devices like the iShower Bluetooth Speaker.


If the world doesn’t end today, just watch Melancholia on Netflix

All right, I think we all know about that Mayan calendar thing and how the world is going to end today. I suppose it would be premature of me to say: “yeah, like that’s going to happen”. If you want to watch a film about the end of the world, I would suggest Melancholia, a film you can view on Netflix now for free with subscription.

Melancholia is a film where everybody dies, in the first five minutes. I don’t think that I can technically call it a spoiler, but the opening scene of this film shows people moving in extreme slow motion while planet Earth collides with another world.

Yes, that is Kirsten Dunst from the Spider-man films in the image, and she does a pretty good job in this Melancholia film. She plays a depressed lady named Justine who can’t even get happy on her own wedding day. That’s just the first part. The second part is about Justine’s sister, Claire, and how she faces the end of Earth with her son and husband.

Oddly enough, it is Justine who seems to face the end of all that is with a calm demeanor, but everyone else just cracks up. For some reason, the film focuses on Justine and Clarie, who are staying at some out-of-the-way estate. Very little is stated about how the rest of the world is reacting to the imminent collision of worlds. I think the only connection is when a character does an Internet search on the planet Melancholia and the “dance of death” with Earth.

I think if too much focus in this film was given on the general public’s reaction to the end of the world, it would become another film, like that really bad 2012 film. I’m really looking forward to 2013, when I can finally say that 2012 film of 2009 is wrong on a factual level.

Well, I would imagine that the world didn’t end today. But seriously, if you aren’t living today like it is your last, then I suppose you aren’t living, are you? One thing I learned this year from my car accident is that a catastrophe can strike at any time. I would imagine that the world could end as seemingly random as some collision of worlds. I have to admit, being hit by a planet would probably the most painless way to go.

UCube Speakers

I have seen cube-shaped speakers before, as some of you might remember the Cubik, and these UCubes (no relation to YouTube) are very similar with it.

Apparently, the speakers are designed to resemble the iMac, so they will blend right in. It connects to the computer via USB, and each one is about 15 watts each.

If you want one of them, feel free to head over to the UCube site and pay about $150, slightly more (50 percent more) than the Cubik. I probably shouldn’t keep mentioning the Cubik, but it’s like talking about the film The Core without mentioning the movie Armageddon.

Amazon CEO files patent application for smartphone airbag

I think we all know that Airbags in automobiles save lives. I honestly don’t know how it can react in a split-second, but why not use this technology to save our smartphones? This is precisely what Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO himself, is proposing with his patent application for a system of protection against mobile devices.

Here is how it works: when the user slips up and is about to drop his or her smartphone, motion sensors can somehow get this. From there, mini-airbags inflate in moments and cushion the impact. In case you are wondering how it can be guaranteed that the device will land on those airbag cushions, the protection system shoots air so the smartphone falls in the proper direction.

I believe that is planned to be used on e-readers, tablets, GPS systems, and cameras. I wonder how in the world it can detected the difference between a fall and normal usage. If you have a habit of throwing around your smartphone, it would be a good idea to quit if we can ever get this type of protection system implemented.