I can’t help but feel like a super hero every time I summon my virtual personal assistant.
She doesn’t have a fancy name like Iron Man’s Jarvis but she’s well known.
She simply goes by the name Google – and now, apart from my computer and smartphone, she also resides in a little contraption called Home.
There’s nothing fancy about the way Google Home looks, it’s an almost cylindrical piece of hardware, with muted colors, and nothing more but a microphone and speakers built into its base.
But what makes Google Home such a great idea, is that while it’s a smart and powerful piece of technology, it is for the most part out of the way and unobtrusive but still always there when you need it.
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One can argue that our smartphones can do all of the same things and more, but we are so often sucked into our phones that we sometimes lose touch of the real world. The best tech, I believe, is the kind that you don’t have touch or even see, but you know it’s there, and it gets the job done.
Google Home is just that. She hasn’t quite reached her potential yet, but even now this $149 piece of smart tech has already found a spot right in the center of my home. Here are five reasons why.
Turning off the lights from bed
Some will argue that voice control is for the lazy. But imagine this: You’re under the weather and already tucked in, but then all the lights are on. What would you do? That was me just this week; I couldn’t muster the strength to move so I literally said in a hushed voice, “Hey Google, turn off the lights” and off to sleep I went. Of course, for this to work, your light bulbs need to be smart too. If you have Philips Hue color bulbs you can also have Google change your light’s colors to match the mood. Perfect for all kinds of entertaining.
Booking an Uber handsfree
Whenever I have to leave the house, I find myself often in a rush to get ready, so picking up my phone to book a ride is a necessary waste of my precious time. With Google Home I can say, “Hey Google, book me an Uber.” Once it finds a ride and asks me to confirm, an Uber will be on its way without me having to look at my phone, not even once.
Knowledge on demand
Sure it’s fun to have Google Home entertain guests by having her answer the most obscure of trivia questions. But there are times when you need quick answers, and the fastest, most convenient way of getting them is by simply asking. Just the other day, I was trying to figure out how to make a German breakfast called Milschreis that called for boiling milk. Last time I tried to heat milk it curdled. Without taking my hands off my mixing bowl, I asked Google, “How do I boil milk without curdling,” and she walked me through it. Breakfast was great too.
Because it has speakers built in, Google Home can play any song from Spotify (as long as you have a Premium account). You don’t even have to know the song title, as long as you can recite the lyrics you can say something like, “Okay Google, play the song that goes ‘Turn up the lights in here, baby!’” If you have Chromecast on your TV, you can also ask it to play the latest video from your favorite YouTuber. Netflix support is also being promised.
I’ve always wanted an executive assistant to keep my affairs straight. I still can’t afford one, but Google does a pretty decent job at covering the basics. When I wake up, I say, “Hey Google, good morning.” And she will deliver my morning brief, including the weather, what’s on my calendar, and the day’s headlines. I can also ask her to estimate how long it will take me to get to a certain place based on current traffic conditions, find me the nearest pharmacy, or tell what time the mall closes.
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Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?
Huawei outdoes itself again
In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.
In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?
Price isn’t the only factor
Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.
One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.
The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.
In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.
Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.
Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.
A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.
Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.
There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom
As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.
Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.
Pricing and colors
This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.
Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.
In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.
Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card
Could this become a trend?
Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.
It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?
The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.
In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.
As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.
It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.
Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.
The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.
It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.
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