Intel’s next big thing is small. My take on the Intel Compute Stick

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I saw this amazing deal of Lazada for the Intel Compute Stick and read a couple of reviews and felt it was safe and gave it a go. It arrived to my place in 2 days time. It carried a very familiar packaging. It reminded me of the Nokia packing when they carried the Lumia brand.
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I am a huge fan of trying out new things and felt Intel had something truly innovative to offer. I have seen a fair share of how Android boxes and how terrible they work but for some reason with the recent product announcements from Intel I felt they were up to something.
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Courtesy Yugatech

The unboxing experience was standard but I noticed there was a fair share of cables and powerplug connectors just in case you needed them. All you really need were these:
1. Intel Compute Stick
2. Micro-USB cable
3. Power Adapter

Booting up

Standard Windows 8.1 experience with the signing in to Outlook. It was a vanilla experience and I like that. I thank Intel for not tinkering the experience unlike some Android OEMs out there. (I am talking to you Samsung!)

Starting out

Initially I looked at my desktop and felt what is so different? I worked on it, installed Chrome.  Updated my Windows 8.1 and still felt normal. Then I realised it was all being powered from a tiny stick!
What kind of sorcery is this?! This was a no holds bar fill blown Windows monster created by Intel. Insane!
Of course, common sense tells me it is definitely not for a power user who does video rendering but I can imagine running my office and business on it with ease. For crying out loud, it changed my LCD panel which was lying around into a freakin’ intelligent beast.
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Ending well

I am now in the process of getting Windows 10 installed and I believe it should go well since the prerequisite for installing it is pretty low.
Overall, I am super impressed by this and I in fact raved about it to a couple of my friends. With the advent of Raspberry Pi and other new-gen-low powered computers, I do believe this where the future of consumer computing lies especially making it easily accessible, affordable and equally powerful.

Is Apple’s new iPhone 6S a success? Let me explain.

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Apple this September unveiled the all new iPhone 6S and 6s Plus. Every other year Apple is historically devoted in refining it previous year’s model. Not matter how much you hate the previous model and even if you have extensive research on why the previous iteration was bad, Apple doesn’t care and only will build on what it has previously build. This is so unlike what Samsung, LG or HTC would do. Competitors are so obsessed in winning over the market share that they do whatever the consumer tells them to do.

Apple sticking to their guns have huge benefits;

  • Design cost stays low
  • Manufacturing cost stays low
  • Material cost stays low as most the orders are done in bulk.
  • Huge profit margins

The innovation that Apple brings to the table are all under the hood and more pronounced at the software layer. As an early adopter, I recontacted my line to the iPhone 6S 128GB Space Grey.

Initial Impressions

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The all new iPhone is exactly the same at first glance and its a tad heavier when you hold which add a certain “premium-ness” to the phone. It feels solid and well built all together. Unlike the competition, there are no gaps, no seam line or spacing at joints which helps feel as one single unit and not parts stitched together. Build quality is where Apple always has excelled in.

When you start using the phone, you don’t feel a speed bump as the new iPhone 6S comes with a new processor, ram and even a souped up graphics chip set. It was smooth and buttery throughout. It is in fact better that the previous iPhone 6 on iOS 9 because after the software upgrade I did notice lags and stuttering which is probably Apple’s subtle way of pushing you to upgrade. No matter how they tell you iOS 9 is lightweight and you can upgrade older iPhones is all marketing “bull”.

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The new iOS 9 comes with a slew of iPhone 6S specific features and one of them is the all new re-branded “3D Touch”. Its definitely a whole new way of interacting with your phone. One of the aspects of that almost felt like a “right-click” alternative for iOS. There’s definitely a learning curve and using it helps you get to the point you wish to go without an extra interaction. The other aspect is using the keyboard like a track pad which I found was extremely useful. But to be honest, from a development standpoint, you can do all this at the software level than build a hardware specifically to capture this. You will definitely see how Android OEM’s are doing to respond in the coming months. So,is 3D Touch Useful? only time will tell. I definitely feel there is a lot more to 3D Touch that what they showcased.

The other upgrades were faster TouchID sensor, 12mp camera with Live Photos,
Gripes, Peek/Pop via 3D Touch, “back” button for multitasking and so on which all are a welcome addition.

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Gripes

  • Using the Home button to wake up phone becomes problematic with the new faster TouchID as you wont even get enough time to read your notifications.
  • Camera Live Photos captures 1.5 second video after the shot which is predominantly a clip of you putting your phone down.
  • Because of 3D Touch now getting to uninstall or move your apps are difficult as it registers as a hard press instead of long press.
  • Security for peeking websites using 3D Touch safe?, I really doubt it.
  • If you can peek and pop might as well tap and read websites or links. Why the extra step now.
  • Battery life remains the same which is less stellar especially for the iPhone 6S. Thankfully the new #BatterGate or #ProcessorGate didn’t mess with my unit. (Explained below)

Conclusion

Overall, iPhone 6S is a great phone and Apple still maintains the crown with easy to use OS, superior App Store and great experience. No body noticed that i had the latest and greatest unless you highlight the “S” stamp on the back or carried a Rose Gold edition of the iPhone. After the first few weeks, the new phone experience weans off and its back to normal business again. I did get a few questions on how the phone was and I explained to them what’s new but you may find yourself sounding silly when you try explaining it.

Recently, Gizmodo was all over Apple on iPhone 6S’s battery life as who made the processor will determine the battery life for your iPhone. It was either made by Samsung processor or TSMC. TSMC showed better and longer battery life according to show test results. (Thankfully I have the TSMC version). But Apple responded saying knew about this and has fine tuned the software in such a manner that it would give consistent performance regardless of who made them and Apple also explained why these “tests” did not reflect real-life usage and they were right as BGR has pointed out.

Has Apple ever admitted to doing any wrong, never. So I am not too concerned as Gizmodo has a history with Apple and they will do everything to beat their drums harder.

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So is the new features all gimmick or is Steve’s reality-distortion still at work, I really don’t know. But I know this, if you are the patient kind long-suffering kind, hold out on this one and wait for iPhone 7.

Did Apple deliver on September 9, 2015

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Apple has finally set the rumor mill to rest.

There was so much speculation on the next iPhone that you could print all the blog posts and compile a thick book. But as the rumor for the next iphone was going on, slowly rumors about the next version of Apple TV started showing up. The writers wrote that Apple has a new streaming service lined up with some original content. It was soon followed by more speculations during the first week of September that the next iteration of iPad, the iPad Pro was going to be announced and that is the reason why the chose such a huge venue. Then came the leaked images of the Force Touch display, saying the device would be thicker than the previous version to accommodate this new tech.
Cult of Mac wanted to beat the crowd so they did on rumor on iPhone 7! Too soon?
You know what, now it’s all laid to rest. So this is what happened.

Did Timmy deliver?

The day came, saw and conquered every media outlet possible. Tim Cook was at his best. He was comfortable and knew where he was leading the crowd to. He took all the viewers through a great storyline and stitched it all up and ended the event with One republic singing “Counting Stars” which was a fitting end.
But let’s take a step back, let’s break it down and look at each product announcement objectively.

iPad Pro

Initial impression was it was a big iPad. But slowly it started to fade away when they showed the lengths at which Apple took to showcase iPad Pro beyond a consumption device to a creator device. Phil Schiller shared a lot of numbers and stats as to why this is a redefined desktop class device rather than your regular iPad. They showcased the ease of editing movies to music creation and even rendering on Autocad!
Man! I’e used Autocad when I was in school and even my PC couldn’t keep up with it.
So who was it made for?
I seriously am still confused on who is their target audience. Its a tablet and not a PC. Microsoft’s Surface has been there and done that. Only time will tell what is it finally going to be used for. So far, Apple has gained the support of IBM and Cisco as their Enterprise customers and that is a good thing.

With the iPad Pro, they introduced a sidekick called the Apple Pencil. I initially thought it was a joke and Phil kept his cool, then we knew it was real. Apple Pencil has a nice touch to the entire iPad Pro storyline.

I recently invested in a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 inch just to replaced by diary because I love to write. I love styluses because they take note taking to a whole new level.

Every tech blogger started reminding us on how Steve Jobs hated styluses at the iPhone launch. But when you look at the context, he was referring to using a stylus for all touchscreen input. This was so common back then with the Windows touchscreen phones.

I think Apple was wise in introducing a stylus but does it justify the price and how does it affects the future of Adonit, Paper and Evernote is yet to be seen.

Apple TV

Finally, after so many year Apple decides to take on TV again. It morphed itself from a setup box to a fatter set top box with Amazon Fire like features. It didn’t feel ground breaking at all. Apple basically borrowed ideas from everywhere and created a hybrid device with a refreshed interface. Nothing new here.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

As usual they stuck to the iPhone routine. Every “S” model would follow the predecessor in terms of hardware design and then would upgrade everything internally. This time with the “6S” they improved the cameras, processor, display and so on. The biggest announcement was the introduced of “3DTouch” aka “ForceTouch”.

They showcased mobile screen interaction to a whole new level. By applying a little bit pressure you could have a sneak peek into what was underneath and press a tad harder it will launch you directly into what you were peeking at. It reminded me a lot of Samsung’s Air view feature which was deemed a gimmick.

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I don’t know why whenever Apple does the same no one calls it a gimmick?

The question in every consumer head is, “Why should I buy this phone?”. Apart from 3D Touch, they have some neat features on the camera front. It was the 12 megapixel, 4K shooting, Live Photo holding phone was the one that made people go quite. It was beautiful.

There were surprises and it didn’t come form Apple.

Let’s just say Microsoft was invited. Apple has had a long standing love-hate relationship with Microsoft and this event seems to me that this was a sign that they have moved on and have buried the hatchet.

Even though Microsoft delivered a great product and a cringeworthy performance on stage, its good see them play nice.

Conclusion

Overall, it was a great warm fuzzy event but it lacked the “WOW” factor that I’ve experienced before. It was an update or “catch up” to times and didn’t feel revolutionary.

May be my expectations are high or may be Apple is saving it for something bigger for a better time.