An iPhone with no home button?

Could we be seeing a new iPhone one day that has no Home button?iphone 6 and 6 plus, alldaytech.comAccording to a report today from DigiTimes, Apple is working on some technology that would allow users to do everything they do now on via the Home button on the touchscreen, including using Touch ID.

Theoretically, this could allow Apple to narrow or eliminate the bezels at the top and bottom of the phone and drastically reduce the size of iPhones and iPhone Pluses while keeping screen sizes as they are today — or even increase screen size a bit.

Under such a scenario, users would use gestures to replicate functions now that are handled by the Home button, and our guess is the volume buttons might replace the reset function that the Home button currently plays a part in.

Be interesting, but don’t expect it before iPhone 7 in September 2016.

Apple iPhone via alldaytech.com

 

Janet Jackson’s new music, new tour and new direction

It’s been five years since we’ve heard any new music from Janet Jackson and seven years since she’s released a new album.

That all changed in the past few weeks, as Janet has been cryptically hinting on Twitter that when she’s ready to drop new material to not believe any rumors and that you would hear it from her lips.

Meanwhile, her fans have been urging her to return. Jackson has married a billionaire and been living overseas, but that hasn’t stopped loyal fans from literally begging her to return.

Monday morning at 9 a.m., Jackson delivered a new single, “No Sleep,” that has got the type of slinky beat and catchy hooks that have been components of some of her biggest hits. Back with her are hit making producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were largely absent from her recent work. “No Sleep,” given the radio support that Jackson has largely lacked since the infamous Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction fallout, should be a huge hit this summer.

Jackson is backing up the new single, with an album, expected to be called “Unbreakable” that is due late summer and a world tour that kicks off Aug. 31 in Vancouver, Canada.

Jackson is also expected to perform at the BET Awards Sunday after receiving an honor.

All signs point to a successful return of one of pop music’s biggest superstars. The new song rocks and judging by social media and the Internet, the music world at large seems to be thirsty again for Janet. Could be a big summer and fall for Miss Jackson.

Here is the new single, “No Sleep”

Ford’s Expedition still good option for SUV buyers

Shopping for an SUV can be a problem. Do you get a crossover that will give you car-like ride and handling or do you get a real truck that can haul a lot of people and a bunch of stuff?2015_ford_expedition_4dr-suv_el-xlt_dps_evox_1_300
That depends on the amount of people and the amount of stuff. It also depends on what you want to pay, fuel economy, yada yada yada. I said it could be a problem.
Remember the Ford Expedition? Yeah, I know, a big blast from the past. It’s actually still around and has been upgraded for 2015. It’s a true truck that can haul a lot of people and a lot of stuff.
The Expedition is a traditional body on frame truck that comes in two flavors, standard and extended EL. The EL is 15 inches longer than the regular vehicle. Considering the standard wheelbase is a beast, the EL is an absolute monster that can be configured to hold nine people. That means you lose the captain’s chairs and even get a bench seat up front. Otherwise, go for the captains chairs and easy fold third row seats.
Need storage? There’s 18 cubic feet with the seats up. Lower the middle and rear seats and you have 108.3 cubic feet of space.
The 2015 upgrades include a much nicer interior and a nip and tuck done to the exterior. Some may find the greatest change the most troubling. Ford has dropped the V8 engine and replaced it with a turbo charged V6.
There is no need to worry, however. The V6 makes 365 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. Those are better numbers than the outgoing V8. It can achieve 22 miles per gallon on the highway and 16 mpg in the city. There are smaller V8 vehicles that can’t do that.
Here’s a fun fact: the Ford Expedition with a turbo V6 can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds making it one of the quickest big trucks on he market. That’s outstanding for a vehicle that can tow 9,200 pounds. The transmission is a slick, six-speed automatic that works very well.
Nearly as outstanding is this big beast’s ride quality. You would expect a couple of tons vehicle to be smooth and comfortable. The Expedition lives up to those expectations. This Platinum model was equipped with an adjustable suspension that had comfort, normal and sport modes. The four-wheel independent suspension makes great use of those modes.
Does this truck have a downside? Yep, its sheer size. Yes, its agile for its size, but its size is pushing the limits. This is a very large vehicle that has a lot of blind spots. Thankfully, the Platinum edition is equipped with blindspot detection and a backup camera. Once you get adjusted to the size, you should be fine.
The Platinum designation means this thing is loaded to the gills. Let me say what it didn’t have, first: a kitchen sink, fridge and a microwave. At the moment none of those items are options. Not yet, anyway.
You do get Ford’s improved Sync system that allows you to do nearly everything by voice command. I favorite is being able to ask for a specific song or artist on my iPhone and it starts to play. Sometimes the simplest things are your greatest pleasures. You also get automatic climate control, power seats, massive sunroof, three rows of seats, lane departure warning, abs, traction and stability control, enhanced towing, satellite radio, leather seats and keyless entry.
Throw in delivery charges and the as-tested price was well north of $68,000. Some of you are thinking luxury brands but most would be smaller. There are Yukons, Escalades and even Land Cruisers to be considered but think higher price. The Expedition is still a viable option.

cross@alldaytech.com

Audi offers smaller Q3 with full size luxury benefits

2015 Q3 interior
2015 Q3 interior

Audi has been at the top of its game for the past decade, offering some of the finest automobiles on the planet. The company’s interiors are nearly unmatched and the exterior styling always turns heads.
Audi’s dip into the crossover and SUV pool has been as spectacular, so much so it’s now offering a smaller version of the successful Q5, the Q3. It is certainly handsome and well crafted but some may find it a bit pricey and lacking in amenities.
If you compare this to the Q5, it’s a bargain coming in at thousands less. It’s also a lot smaller. It’s three inches shorter in height and 10 inches shorter in length. It comes with a long list of standard equipment that includes a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, xeon headlights, roof rails, 60/40 split rear bench, leather seats, dual climate zones, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. Optionally you can get the MMI Navigation system and a sports package.
Moving up the Prestige Package gives you a lot more standard stuff and enhanced equipment.
My vehicle was a premium with the navi package. What you don’t get are glaring omissions to some, such as touch screen. You get the screen, just not touch enhanced. There is also no home link, which allows you to tie in to your remote garage door system or automated security lights if you have them. I saw some complaints on the web about this but I have neither so no home link isn’t a deal breaker.
What could be an obstacle is the Q3’s compact size. It’s about the same size as a Volkswagen Tiguan (which I think this is based on0. Lexus has the bigger NX200 and there are some other offerings from Mercedes, Infiniti and BMW that fall into this category. Some cost more or about the same for this size.
That’s not to say the Q3 does not offer a great deal. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine gives it enough pep for everyday use. It’s not particularly quick, but the engine delivers its power smoothly and effortlessly. There were times when I thought it sounded a bit strained under hard acceleration, but for the most part the noise level is very low, from tires, engine or wind.
It’s handling is good, not great. The ride is certainly comfortable. After spending a week in Charlotte traffic, hitting ever pothole on I-77 this works very well in urban settings.
Like all Audi’s, the Q3 can be had in quattro guise, giving it the ultimate in traction during foul weather.
The most impressive points about this vehicle is the build quality. Few companies are designing and building stuff that looks this good or works this well. The interior is classic Audi. It’s only flaw is the MMI control isn’t in the center console. Its mounted in the center stack. Once you get used to this it’s OK, but why make it different from the other vehicles? There’s wood, metal and leather, the same you would find in the bigger Q5 – albeit in smaller amounts. As usual, Audi has done a great job.
The Q3 can range in price from $35,875 to nearly $50,000 depending on how equipped. My front wheel drive Premium was in the low $40,000s. There is a lot to pick from in that price range from a lot of manufacturers. I think the Q3 is certainly to be considered, especially if you are a fan of Audi.

cross@alldaytech.com

Blu Vivo Air apes Apple style, offers Android performance

IMG_0049Apple, Samsung and a few other manufacturers seem to have the cell phone game locked down. Yet, there are a handful of companies that have challenged all of the high-priced, must-have phones with low-cost phones which do the same for less.
Ok, maybe not exactly the same, but close. Isn’t the main function of a phone to make a call? Yes, but more people are relying on their phones to replace laptops and tablets. Some are as large as tablets.
If you don’t care about the best specs or being tied to a specific network. There are some options. There are bunches of unlocked phones to be had with good to excellent performance and darn near cut rate prices.
One option is Blu, a Miami-based company that started in 2009. That year, the company sold some 70,000 units. Four years later it was up to 4.1 million in 2012. The company’s sales have continued to rise offering Android phones for nearly half what the big guns sell phone. Now it’s gotten into Windows, seemingly dying platform but Microsoft is selling Blu Phones in its stores.
Blu doesn’t do Apple’s operating system, but it sure can copy an iPhone. It’s new Vivo Air is a could pass for an iPhone 6, better so than the Samsung Galaxy S6 clone.
Blu bests both the S6 and iPhone 6 by making it thinner. Yep, the Vivo Air is 5mm thick, making it the thinnest phone currently sold in the US (according to Blu). Will it bend? Sure, if you put it in a machine to do so or carry it without a case.
I’m not so sure I’m with this “i’m thinner than you” war, however. These are phones, not supermodels.
Anyway, the Air has a 4.8 Super HD ambled screen. It has an eight core, 1.7 GHz processor as well.
The phone will run on 4G HSPA+ networks. It has 1 gig of Ram and uses the 4.4 Kit Kat operating system.
The camera is 8.0 megapixels on the back and 5.0 mp up front. Lots of selfies to be had. You can also record video in 1080p @ 30 frames per second.
The phone comes boxed with a wall charger, usb cable ,earphones, screen protector, gel case and another cable (don’t know what it’s for nor could I find it in the manual).
I didn’t spend a lot of time with the Blu Air but the time I did was well spent. The phone feels good to the touch, forged from a single piece of aluminum. The white and gold color scheme used is very Apple’ish. So is the fact the phone is sealed, so no SD card use. Currently, the phone is only available with16 gigs of memory.
I made a few phone calls, hooked up to Wi-fi and snapped a couple of pictures. Everything was great. Pictures looked as good as my iPhone 5. The screen was much better. I watched the Arrow/Flash Fight Club video on YouTube and that 4.8-inch screen came to life. The depth and width of the colors was wonderful. Didn’t notice any lag, either.
I’m still gunning for an iPhone 6 or 6 plus (yes, I’ve succumbed to the large phone thing), but my carrier wants everyone to pay full price for phones these days. The Vivo Air almost convinced me to go Android, if for nothing more than its excellent price of $299. You can find even cheaper on line.
Notice I said almost. I’m still an Apple head but I can give credit. The Android system has become more uniform on each phone – you get the same experience regardless of phone used. That wasn’t a few years back. If I buy my phone on price next time and I can’t get my Apple, I’d consider Blu.

cross@alldaytech.com

Defender series no longer Otterbox’s best iPhone case (kind of)

apl28-alp100-6n-1For years, we’ve been huge fans of the Otterbox Defender series cases for any iPhone or Android device. They don’t have the waterproof protection of the LifeProof series, but the rubberized outer shell combined with the hard plastic inner-shell made for a thick, but comfortable case that you didn’t worry about when your device fell from your lap getting out the car or slipped from your hand while you got distracted getting a package from the mailman.

But it was awful thick.

Otterbox has an answer and the new Symmetry Case is something that Defender fans need to look at and folks who always thought Defender was cool but was too thick need to look at, too.

It’s got a tough outer shell made of a plastic type material. Coming from using a Defender for many years, it felt slick at first, but it quickly became comfortable.

Over time, I’ve come to admire how thin it is. The iPhone 6 Plus I’m toting is very thin to start with and this case takes advantage of that. Often when I pick it up, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is a thin phone,’ and then I remember it’s also thin inside of an Otterbox case.

Now the Symmetry series doesn’t have the built-in plastic screen cover that adorns the Defender. Some folks don’t like it because it reduces accuracy of the touchscreen. But it also protects it.

The Symmetry has raised edges to protect the screen in case of a fall, but I never felt completely comfortable with just that, so I tacked on a glass screen protector

 

New Apple operating system has a bluetooth bug

Apple has released an update to its computer operating system, called Yosemite. The update, OS X 10.10.3, brings many updates, including a new Photos app that is very similar to Photos on the iPad and iMacBookPro_Yosemite_Hero_HEROPhone. It’s also got some security updates.

Many readers of ADT and throughout the Internet have complained about a bluetooth issue. Bluetooth devices were not being recognized and users were unable to turn on bluetooth.

A fix, sent to us by several readers, involves resetting your computer while holding down Command, Option and the P and R keys, something called “resetting your PRam.” When you hear the normal Apple re-boot sound, hold down the buttons until your hear it again. Then let go.

For us, and for several readers, resetting PRam solved the bluetooth issues. And for the record, we kind of like the new Photos app, too. It can send all your photos — and any edits you make — to all your devices.

Kia K900 wants to be top dog in large luxury sedans

When Hyundai introduced the Equus a few years back there was a collective side eye given by the automotive press thinking the company had overstepped its boundaries.
Not so.Turns out Korean luxury is as good as Japanese, German and American.
Now that Hyundai’s sister company Kia has jumped into the big luxury car fray, we’re not surprised. The question isn’t is it any good but how good will it be?
I can’t compare the Equus to the K900 because I haven’t driven the Equus. My church’s pastor has an Equus and he said it’s the best car for the money he’s ever owned, that includes Lincolns, Bimmers, Mercs and the like.2015_kia_k900_sedan_v8_fq_oem_4_717
I’ve never owned any of those but I’ve driven something built by each company. Kia got it right. This car is certainly well equipped to take on big sedans built by any company. There’s a lot here for the money and what’s here may give the other companies cause for pause.
The K900 is a big comfortable sedan. The styling is a bit generic but I firmly believe generic sells the best. If not, why have so many people flocked to Accords and Camrys for their daily drives all these years? Yes, each is well built, but neither attracts much attention.
Anyway, the K900’s styling is a bit bland, but handsome. I do like the Jaguar-like grille. From the A pillars back the car looks a bit like a Lexus GS. Not a bad combination, just not something that makes you scream I want one.
The interior is much more yummy. Leather, wood, metal and padded surfaces abound. The Nappa leather is really soft and hugs the ventilated seats snugly. If I wanted carpet in a home, I’d ask for this stuff.
The instrument cluster is virtual. It disappears once the car is switched off. Animated icons are used to bring attention to certain conditions. The massive 9.2 touch screen controls climate, audio and other functions. The gear selector and infotainment dial looks very German. As much as I like this look I think there may be a few more switches and buttons needed. There’s lots to raise, lower, cancel, toggle and what not.
Rear seat passengers get controls for climate, rear sunshade, climate controlled outboard seats that recline. There are copious amounts of room for head, legs and hips for two passengers. The middle person has to deal with the transmission hump.
The five-liter V8 produces 420 horses and 376 pounds-feet of torque. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic, the engine makes the car jump to 60 miles per hour in a little more than 7 seconds.That’s not bad for most would consider to be a luxoboat. I will say I think the K900 needs a bit more oomph. Passing was ok, acceleration good, but it didn’t have the snap some of its rivals have.
The ride is very comfortable. Very large bumps will upset the car’s steering a bit, but you may not hear if you hit a bump. The cabin is quite. There is a hint of wind noise but nothing troublesome.
Handling Is good, but not crisp. Curves and straightaways are approached, not attacked.That’s not a bad thing, however. Most who purchase this car will be cruising, not racing to get to their destination.
The K900 comes standard with a lot of equipment, more than its rivals. At $65,000, there should be a lot of standard stuff. The list is lengthy, but ABS, leather, panoramic moon roof, power closing trunk, traction and stability control.
My test car was equipped with the VIP Package with white interior. This $6,000 option included smart cruise control, reclining rear seats, power door latches, 12.3 inch LCD instrument cluster, head up display, driver’s seat cushion extension and surround view backup camera.
As tested, my K900 priced out at $66,400. I hear the gasps and exclamations “for a Kia” being ejected as you read this. Yes, for a Kia.
Would I pay this for a Kia? Yes, but that would depend more on would I pay more for the other car’s in its class. Again, yes.
I think the Kia K900 is worthy to be mentioned with Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus, Cadillac, Audi, BMW and a few others. It offers more for the money and, as most any car will do, takes you from point a to b.
How well you feel while getting from point a to b is a different story. The pricer under cuts its rivals by as much as $20,000. Does that make it a better car? No. Does that make it as good a car? That depends. I don’t know that any of the other cars are actually worth $20,000 more. I can say I think many of them are better cars.
Better is a relative term, you know. If I had this kind of money I could see my self saving enough to buy, well, a lot of stuff for $20,000. Any day of the week that decision could be called smart by lots of folks.
NBA player LaBron James drives one of these and has tweeted such. James is also helping Kia with a King James Version of the K900.

wcross@alldaytech.com

NAMM 2015 H5 Zoom handheld recorder – TEC award winner

Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
Zoom H5 Handy Recorder

The Zoom H5 Handy Recorder was a winner at the 2015 NAMM TEC Awards. We are fans of handheld recorders and stopped by the Zoom booth to learn more about what made this winner a winner.

The H5 is a portable 4-track digital recorder with interchangeable mic inputs–detach the included shockmounted X/Y mic capsule and connect an optional Zoom condenser mic to suit your recording needs. We like the fact the mics can be swapped out, especially because the unidirectional X/Y mic capsule is capable but not adjustable.

The H5 lets the user select stereo recording for two tracks or multitrack for four tracks. Record .wav and MP3 files directly to SD and SDHC cards up to 32GB capacity. Pitch change and a variable playback feature aid learning. The H5 can also automatically begin and end recording when a certain level of sound is detected. Another attractive feature is Backup-Record, which saves a stereo version of your original track–handy should something unexpected happen with the original. The H5 uses two alkaline batteries and can record approximately 15 hours.

We think the H5 is worthy of consideration for those in the market for a handheld recorder for either audio alone or audio/video. It plays nicely with external i-devices, provided you have the necessary software to complete the interface–and offers flexibility and a host of useful features at an affordable price point of $269.99.

Read more about the Zoom H5 here.

NAMM 2015 first listen: AKG K812 High Fidelity headphones

 

AKG K812 Pro Superior Reference Headphones
AKG K812 Pro Superior Reference Headphones

The AKG Pro Audio K812PRO Superior Reference high-fidelity headphones won the best headphones category during this year’s winter NAMM TEC Awards show. As we’d just given the impressive Blue Mo-Fi headphones a listen our curiosity was piqued. We made a trip over to AKG to hear what the competition had to offer.

First, know the K812 is an expensive, high-end headphone–but more on that later. “More” and “bigger” seem to be the K812‘s winning formula. The K812 promises to produce sound as close to natural as possible, thanks to its 1.5 Tesla magnet system, which is the strongest on the market today and which produces extremely high quality sound. The company also hypes the headphones’ 53mm transducer, the largest AKG has built yet.

Relatively fresh from our brief yet satisfying test drive of Blue Mic’s Mo-Fi headphones, we were excited to try these out. It’s hard to dig deep at noisy conventions but we just wanted the highlights. As with the Mo-Fi, we were able to sample a variety of genres of music at AKG’s headphone sample station. And like the Mo-Fi, we found ourselves blown away by the K812‘s extreme sonic clarity and crisp, even tones. If you’ve never heard music through today’s high-fidelity headphones, you owe it to yourself to listen to it through a pair of K812s. The sound is unreal, more there than there if that makes sense. These are built for studio work, as they capture every detail of every sound.

Fit was comfortable and the finish seemed solid. And at an average retail price of $1499 the K812 is a serious headphone meant for industry professionals and only the most dedicated audiophiles.

Read more about the AKG K812 here.