USB 4 announced, delivers Thunderbolt 3 speeds and versatility

Time to bring the best traits together



And just like that, USB 4 has been announced. It’s the successor to the now ubiquitous USB 3.x standard, and it reportedly uses the reversible USB-C port we’ve come to love.

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) defined the specifications, which include 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) data transfer speeds — basically what Thunderbolt 3 has been offering on select laptops for a few years now.

What makes USB 4 different from the Intel-owned Thunderbolt 3 is that it’s open source, meaning any manufacturer can use it without going through Intel or extra fees. This would lead to wider adoption and a more universal standard for all devices.

Aside from the speed boost, USB 4 allows daisy-chaining 4K monitors and external storage units, as well as up to 100W charging. More importantly, it supports external GPUs, so you can plug a graphics card to your lightweight laptop through an enclosure in order to enjoy high-quality graphics.

The biggest downside is that this will take a long time to roll out; it’s estimated that implementation will begin late this year.

In addition, since you can’t simply update your current USB 3.1 ports, you’ll have to buy a new laptop or motherboard to enjoy the benefits. It’s also possible that you’ll need a new set of cables.

You can learn more about the confusing world of USB in our explainers found here and here.


These Danbo power banks are the cutest things

They come in all colors and sizes, too!



When I visited Japan last week, my favorite tech find involved an iconic Japanese manga character called Danbo.

These colorful bricks manufactured by Cheero are actually power banks featuring our favorite cardboard robot character.

There’s even a Nyanbo version which, you guessed it, has cat ears. It’s adorable!

Special edition variants are also available with other designs. Believe it or not, the Danbo on the right is covered in gold.

And because they come in different sizes, they also offer different capacities ranging from 3000mAh to 13400mAh. I got the 13400mAh version and it’s surprisingly very light, compact, and of course, cute.

Aside from these power banks, there are other Danbo accessories…

Literally the cutest car charger and power adapter I have ever seen.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, these babies are only available in Japan. Order them from the Cheero website here.

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The Atmotube Pro is a keychain that will track air quality anywhere you go

One step closer to cleaner air



It’s easy to protect loved ones from things you can see. But, how about things you can’t?

The Atmotube Pro is here to help.

This tiny device, a lightweight machine that fits the palm of your hand, is a portable air quality tracker. It basically allows you to track the air status anywhere you go. You can even set alarms when pollution reaches a certain level.

But, let’s backtrack a little bit. Why is this important? Simple: Even when we can’t see it, air pollution can be detrimental to our health — especially to younger kids who are more susceptible to damage to their developing respiratory systems.

The Atmotube Pro tracks all the bad stuff in the air, down to the smallest and most dangerous ones (PM1) and lets you know when you or your loved ones are at risk. It also records your day-to-day air quality levels and features an Air Quality Map from aggregated user info which shows you a global air quality map. This will help make sure you can avoid dangerous areas, and don’t worry, the data is anonymous so your privacy is protected.

Aside from that, this handy keychain also features an altimeter and a barometer for alerts on weather changes…

… and also a temperature and humidity log. Imagine having all this information at hand all the time. This would definitely be a godsend to those who are easily affected by these external factors.

The Atmotube checks air conditions every 15 minutes and battery time will supposedly last 12 days on this setting. Honestly, not surprised as I’ve only fully charged this thing once since I got it and haven’t had to plug it in yet. You can also set it to be constantly checking (one-day battery life), or set up a custom schedule.

This device mostly detects and measures surroundings, but it also gives you tips and info on how to ensure your surroundings are in tip-top condition. The Atmotube retails for US$ 189, or US$ 131 if you pre-order now. It starts shipping next month.

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SanDisk’s latest microSD card hits 1TB

Laptop-level storage comes to phones



In 2018, we were treated to microSD cards that offer 512GB of storage. This year, manufacturers are doubling that.

That’s right: SanDisk, in particular, has a 1TB microSD card soon to be available to consumers. It was announced during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and it’ll be available by April 2019.

How much do you have to spend for such abundant space? For SanDisk’s solution, it’ll cost US$ 449 — or about as much as the smartphone it would slide into.

The rated read speed is 160MB/s, while write speeds can hit 90MB/s. Still, it would take a while to fill up a card with this generous of a capacity.

In related news, Micron also released its own 1TB microSD card with similar performance, but no pricing or availability date has been set yet.

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