Karma Hotspot – $50/m Unlimited Data @5 Mps in the USA

This seems like a very nice option for people with bandwidth needs that don’t fit in the tiny caps most cell phone providers put on plans. For $50/month you get unlimited data @5 Mps in the USA. You can get small increases to the speed by buying data in bite sized chunks (1Gb for $14 or $99 for 10GB, which doesn’t expire).

photo of the small karma hotspot device in someone's hand

The bite sized chunks mainly make sense if you don’t have high data needs for the hotspot – but want it occasionally (and perhaps as backup for your primary connection). The $50/month offer is limited to 3 devices connecting at a time, compared to 8 for the other option.

The device itself costs $149. The device has up to 8 hours of battery life and over 220 hours of standby time.

Currently the devices use Sprint’s Nationwide 4G LTE network, with fallback to 3G CDMA. It seems like a nice option for travelers to me.

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Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is likely the most popular gadget of the year. People are still figuring out what benefits excite them about the watch. It seems to me the potential is huge but this initial effort is not quite amazing.

[Apple broke the link, so it is no longer available 🙁 jeez even companies with spending hundreds of millions on marketing don’t have people in charge that understand that web links must live.]

I embedded Apple’s promotional video for the watch which is obviously a sales piece but they do a very good job of showing what the watch offers.

There are many good reviews of the watch: The Apple Watch (Daring Fireball)Apple Watch Review: The Smartwatch Finally Makes Sense (WSJ)A Week on the Wrist: The Apple Watch Review (Recode)Apple Watch Review (Verge

My opinion is it is very expensive for what you get. But I can see the potential for some very wonderful things down the road. The health kit options I think will be a killer feature (maybe not right away but within a couple years).

Another feature that will be quite valuable are paying with a swipe from the watch (which seems to be less than perfect so far), but it will be very nice. Apple Pay is a very smart system given the relative ease at which consumers credit card details continue be stolen using conventional means (Apple Pay doesn’t turn over you credit card number so hackers can’t get it from poor IT systems at retailers).

The quick interactions with friends I think will be a big feature, again it may take several interactions to get this to be wonderful. The “tap” notifications seems to physically be done very well. Figuring out the right settings to properly filter what should generate that touch seems to take a bit of work (and not surprisingly apps are defaulting to too much bothering the user).

Being able to just speak to leave yourself notes is a nice feature, though my guess is one that isn’t used as much as people would think it would be.

Personally I see more potential for the watch that I see actually delivered thus far. I am more positive about the long term success of the watch today than I was when it was first announced.

I stopped wearing a watch years ago. And I don’t have any plans to start again anytime soon. But if I do, the Apple Watch is a likely candidate. It sure isn’t cheap but hopefully I can just use a bit of profit from Apple stock when the time comes to pay for one.

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Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Digital Camera

I am fairly cheap. I bought a Canon Powershot SX-60 HS camera today (with 64 Gb card, backup battery and comfortable strap) for $550. I think that is the 2nd most expensive thing I bought this year (an iPad mini I think was more expensive). In the last 5 years the only other thing I can remember buying that was more expensive was a MacBook Pro.

I am very happy to have a new camera. I started looking more than 6 month ago, at that time the updated version of the Powershot was already 6 month overdue (with no explanation from Canon) so I decided to wait. I am glad I did (though I was annoyed not to have a new camera for my trip to Hong Kong, Guilin, Yunnan and Shanghai earlier this year.

The old camera was ok, if you don’t consider how much better things have progressed in the last 5-10 years. But that is a big thing to ignore. I think the Canon SX line is the most awesome camera for people that want something better than a smart phone (by far the biggest issue for me is zoom though it is also better for various things such as low light, taking lots of photos and video without running out of room on your camera…).

photo of the Canon ax-60

The photo shows the LCD screen extended which is actually a nice feature at times (normally I just fold it into the back of the camera).

The Powershot SX 60 has an amazing 65x optical zoom (21mm–1365mm). This is just amazing. Much more expensive cameras can’t come close to competing with this. The Canon SX 60 is DSLR-like but not a DSLR. It looks like one but isn’t. It really straddles the area between DSLR and non-DSLR in my opinion.

You can watch at Curious Cat Travel Photos and see if you notice a big leap in the quality of the photos now that I have a new camera.

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Add 128Gb of Storage to Your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

Very cool device that fits inside the card reader slot of your Mac laptop to add 128 Gb of storage (it sits flush with your MacBook, you can barely even tell it is there).

Simply insert JetDrive Lite into the card reader slot on the side of your MacBook and instantly boost your storage capacity.

You need to select your laptop version so my guess is you can’t use one card for both a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro (or between some versions of MacBook Pro that have different JetDrive Lite versions).

It is compatible back to late 2010 MacBook Air 13 inch so I am buying one for my old MacBook Air. Buying via Amazon a 128 Gb version is only $80 (at least right now), list price is $120. Currently it is back-ordered for 2-4 weeks.

I would include a way to lookup the production date of your laptop if I were selling these but they didn’t do so (maybe they will be smart and update the page to do so). You can use this Apple page to determine the production date of your MacBook.

Another similar product, PNY StorEDGE 128 Gb is $75 from Amazon ($200 list price – it is a bit older so likely price to places like Amazon has dropped, even if they didn’t lower the list price, since the release).

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Night Vision Contact Lenses

University of Michigan engineering researchers have developed infrared technology that doesn’t need bulky cooling equipment to work.

“We can make the entire design super-thin,” said Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “It can be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone.”

Infrared light starts at wavelengths just longer than those of visible red light and stretches to wavelengths up to a millimeter long. Infrared vision may be best known for spotting people and animals in the dark and heat leaks in houses, but it can also help doctors monitor blood flow, identify chemicals in the environment and allow art historians to see Paul Gauguin’s sketches under layers of paint.

Unlike the visible spectrum, which conventional cameras capture with a single chip, infrared imaging requires a combination of technologies to see near-, mid- and far-infrared radiation all at once. Still more challenging, the mid-infrared and far-infrared sensors typically need to be at very cold temperatures.

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, could sense the whole infrared spectrum—plus visible and ultraviolet light. But until now, it hasn’t been viable for infrared detection because it can’t capture enough light to generate a detectable electrical signal. With one-atom thickness, it only absorbs about 2.3% of the light that hits it. If the light can’t produce an electrical signal, graphene can’t be used as a sensor.

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Premium Chromebook Pixel, A Touchscreen Laptop

The Chromebook Pixel looks very interesting. It would be much better if it would work with Ubuntu and had a much larger hard drive. This goes with Google’s desire for great internet connectivity at all times but that just ins’t true for the vast majority of notebook users – including me.

If someone would provide this same hardward (with a bigger hard drive) and that worked with Ubuntu I would get it (if I hadn’t just bought a MacBook Pro). But I would consider getting it when I am ready for a new computer.

I think Chrome OS makes sense for Google to invest in (even though it is not really a great model right now for most users). But I think Google is foolish in ignoring users that want a better notebook operating system.

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A Pen That Prints in 3D While You Draw

The 3 Doodler, from Wobble Works presents the opportunity to print your own creations in 3D. 3Doodler is the world’s first and only 3D Printing Pen. Using ABS plastic (the material used by many 3D printers), 3Doodler draws in the air or on surfaces. It’s compact and easy to use, and requires no software or computers. You just plug it into a power socket and can start drawing anything within minutes.

Template allow the 3Doodler to print your very own artist-designed 3Doodles.

The Ink (i.e. ABS/PLA plastic): The 3Doodler uses 3mm ABS or PLA plastic as its “ink” – just like a 3D printer. Each 3Doodler backed on Kickstarter comes with at least one bag of plastic; each bag will contain ten 1ft strands of plastic; and each 1 ft strand produces approximately 11 ft of 3Doodling fun… yes, you read that right, a foot of plastic goes a very long way in the 3Doodler.

Wobble Works plans to offer plastic sold in strands (making it easy to switch colours and create different styles), but 3Doodler-compatible plastic is also available in 1kg spools from between $30 to $55 from a variety of sources. They are not mistreating customers like the old fashion printer companies do with broken by design print cartridges, $8,000 a gallon ink and the like.

As of right now (in the first 24 hours of launch) on Kickstarter they have $449,797 pledged (with an original goal of $30,000).

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Asus Padfone: Tabet with Plugin Phone

Smart phone from Asus that plugs into a 10.1″ tablet that runs Android. It looks kind of cool but honestly doesn’t seem that special. Still, even just the size of the tablet is good.

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Try on Clothes and Accessories Virtually

FaceCake Swivel lets you try on clothes at home taking advantage of Kinect technology. Very cool. Kinect continues to allow some great innovation.

The application allows you to try on multiple items, layer them and see how they look from different angles (as you move the items move with you – it is true that this is still pretty rough, but given how fast innovation moves this part will likely improve quickly). You can also send an image to friends to have them weigh in on your potential purchase.

I haven’t been following that closely but my vague recollection is Kinect backed off attempting to prohibit innovation that integrated connect into other products. That was a very smart move, I believe.

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