Kris Holt

About the Author Kris Holt


Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Show and Tell, Fidget Folly, and Connected Nightlights

The Echo Show is the first in Amazon’s line of smart speakers to incorporate a screen, and it seems very much more “speaker with a display” than “tablet with better audio and microphones.” It has all the functionality of Echo, including access to Alexa, Amazon’s voice-operated assistant. The screen can, for example, provide a more detailed weather outlook than what Alexa spouts out.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Apple at Home

The battle for your home just got a little more intense as Apple pulled back the curtain on HomePod, its smart speaker that seeks to hold dominion over your home empire and all the gadgets that reside within. HomePod holds a 4-inch woofer and seven tweeters, and it has six microphones to pick up your voice commands for Siri, wherever you happen to be in the room.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Amazon Gives Fashion Advice, Snacks Get Musical, and Coffee Tables Get Smart

Amazon’s Echo system, which brought the company’s Alexa assistant to tables and countertops as a hub for your home, now has evolved into something a little more visually minded. I don’t mean the brand new Echo Show — it’s the Echo Look that has caught my eye. The Echo Look has a built-in camera that captures both audio and video. Amazon wants you to use it to help you choose your outfits.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Samsung Swings, Plus Live 360 Cameras and Smart Tuners

Samsung is back with a new pair of flagship smartphones it desperately needs to be hits in the wake of previous handsets that were a touch too, erm, explodey. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have dispensed with the physical home button and added an artificial intelligence assistant, screens that so very almost kill the bezel, and fingerprint sensors on the rear. It’s a smart, striking design.

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Internet

Prank Responsibly: April Fools’ Gags That Missed the Mark

The Internet is a minefield on April 1, with tech companies getting in on the April Fools’ act in weird, wonderful and often woeful ways. The line between a successful prank and one that leaves users sighing, or worse, is micron-thin, and the boost to one’s reputation — or knock on it — can hang around for some time. This year, we’ve rounded up some of the Internet’s worst April Fools’ pranks.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Note-Taker Triumphs, Classic Nokia Returns, and Audio Thrills

Transcribing speech is tedious, but until voice recognition truly can handle all manner of accents and verbal tics, it’s a necessary evil. Hands up, everyone who thinks I wouldn’t want a machine to take care of that for me. No one? Good. Titan Note records and transcribes audio, with a particular trick up its sleeve: It can discern different speakers when it’s transcribing.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Gaming’s New Virtual Reality Frontier and Personal Cargo Robots

Regular readers will know that I’ve played games my entire life. I hold deep reverence for the care and attention that go into creating these experiences, and I’ve rarely met a game I didn’t want to conquer. Yet I am nervous about virtual reality. I’ve tried it and found those disorientating worlds difficult to handle, though I suspect that over time I could grow more accustomed to it.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes

LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The “Levitating Portable Speaker” has as descriptive and accurate a name as the “Small Transparent Speaker” from last month’s edition of this column. You can call it “PJ9” if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers

Bose’s latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like “focused conversation,” “gym,” “airplane” and “television.” You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Rolling Records, Designing Lawns, and Placated Phones

RokBlok is a portable record player without a turntable. It’s a block that dashes around the top of your records, and uses both its needle and built-in speaker to soundtrack your day. All you need to operate it are your records and a flat surface. If you’d like higher quality audio, you can connect it to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It’s designed with protecting your records in mind.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Smarter Slumber and Pod-Free Coffee

In a previous column, I revealed how terrible a sleeper I am. My mattress is old, and there’s a sizable dent on my side of the bed. It’s probably time to find a new mattress, so perhaps it’s time to consider one that connects with the rest of my home. Eight’s smart mattress gives you a little more incentive to get out of bed, as you can set up a string of IFTTT recipes to improve your morning routine.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud

I’m at long last about to start setting up my new home office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I’d like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC’s latest is under serious consideration. The AG352QCX is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Mac’s Back, Nintendo Returns, and Huawei Goes to the Edge

Apple has unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, giving the company’s core laptop its first full refresh in a few years. The design has metal on all sides, along with a Force Touch trackpad double the size of previous versions. There’s a customizable OLED touch strip above the keyboard that responds to gestures and taps, useful for fast access to emoji or secondary controls within an app.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Magnificent Mics, Intriguing E-Ink, and Compact Computers

I’ve tried dipping my toes into the world of podcasting with a friend this year. We haven’t found it easy to get together to record, but for the two trial runs we’ve had, I bought a Blue Snowball mic. I’m very pleased with the sound quality, so I’m fairly certain I’d be happy to have Blue’s latest microphone, Raspberry. It’s a gorgeous, portable little thing.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way

Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Driving Partner, Hydration Station, and Flying Grabbers

After a bad experience when I was first behind the wheel as a teenager, I’m only just now learning to drive, more than a decade later. My partner and I are going through the school together, and when asked about our dream vehicles in class, she replied that she’d love a self-driving RV. Her wish eventually might turn true with a device that grants vehicles more autonomy.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Smart Desks, New-Wave Gaming, and Roaming Routers

After a long, laborious process and a lot of scraping paint splotches from the floor, the office space in my new apartment is ready for me, and I will soon no longer need to write this column from my kitchen table. So, I’m in the market for a desk.
With my nascent interest in standing desks, the Gaze Desk seems a decent option. It switches between standing and seated modes with a button press.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots

Call it a gimmick, but I’m very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Levitating Smart Things, Making WiFi-Perfect Wine, and Staying Safe While Solo

Lift is an antigravity charger for Apple Watch and Pebble. The charger is wireless, so there’s almost no clutter involved — except, I suppose, when you have to charge the charger. The watch wraps around a portable battery pack, which the base keeps elevated using magnets. There’s a Pro version of the base, which you can use as an iPhone or iPad stand and charger.

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Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Pokémon Go Drones, New Old Nintendo, and Snowden-Secured Smartphones

Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality smartphone game that’s been eating away at the fabric of society in recent weeks, is enormously fun. I enjoy the mechanics, and that it pushes me to go on longer walks. That’s all well and good in the nicer weather, but when there’s two feet of snow, I don’t really want to traipse around so much. That’s why Pokédrone might be my new favorite thing.

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