New Tesla Powerwall Has Twice the Power; More on New MacBooks

A pleasant surprise from Tesla…the upcoming Powerwall 2 will hold twice the charge as the present model’s 14 kW hours. Elon Musk says that’s enough to run lights, sockets, and fridge in a standard 4 bedroom home for an entire day! According to tech crunch.com, production will start in the next few weeks, and the rig will run $5500. Of course, you will need to add a few thousand to have it installed along with a power converter. Along with solar cells, you could do some serious cord-cutting….or at least unplugging for a good part of the day!

With lots of people up in arms about the new MacBooks losing ports, and the thoughts of buying a bag full of dongles, and other issues…like no physical escape button many programmers use, Apple has apparently thrown a bone to business and power users. 9to5mac.com reports that the SSD drive is replaceable and upgradable, at least in the low end model sans Touch Bar. In the prior models, it was soldered in. We’ll have to wait until some of the Touch Bar models are delivered to see if this is true across the line…if so, it would be welcomed. A couple of other notes…or lack of notes…the F sharp chord at startup is gone. The new Pros start when you open the lid, and it’s almost no difference from the wake when you open the lid of a machine that has already been booted up…except that it obviously takes a little longer. A moment of silence for the venerable Apple chord.

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On the New MacBook Pro; Galaxy S8 Getting Enhanced AI Assistant

Apple showed off the new MacBook Pros yesterday, with lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing about the Touch Bar that replaces the function key row. Macrumors.com points out that there are a number of other notable changes, including Touch ID, and a much larger trackpad. It’s thinner (of course), and weighs less, but ships with only 4 combo Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports…and the headphone jack we lost on the iPhone. Delivery dates have already slipped to a month for preorders, with the 13 inch model starting at $1799 and the 15 inch model at $2399…or, you can opt for the ‘cheapie’ 13 inch model without TouchBar and only 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports for $1499. The lost ports? You’re going to need a bag full of hated dongles. TechCrunch.com crunched the numbers, and it’ll set you back a little over $250 for all of them! Although Apple has said they would never make a MacBook that runs iOS, this one does…sort of. There’s an ARM chip in it running a version of Watch OS to power the TouchBar and Touch ID, as well as the camera…utilizing the ARM chip’s secure area like on the iPhone.

We expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S8’s to hit in late February, hopefully along a non-exploding Note 8. Thenextweb.com reports that the S8 will feature an upgraded AI assistant courtesy of Viv, which Samsung acquired. They are also touting an even better camera…and Samsungs already have had some of the best of those in any mobile devices.


Microsoft Surface Studio; New Size for iPhone 8

Microsoft has rolled out its Surface Studio all-in-one PC. They claim the thinnest display ever built. According to techcrunch.com, it features what they call TrueColor, which allows creative types to change color on the fly…say a filmmaker is working in DCI-P3, but wanted to know how it will look on a TV that doesn’t support P3 color…it can instantly show RGB color. The display also has True Scale…and inch of screen is an inch in real life. The touchscreen can lay down flat, and besides the usual keyboard and mouse, it supports the Surface Pen and a new device called the Surface Dial. The dial can be used on the desktop, or laid right on the display, and has varying functions. The dial works with the Surface Book, Pro 3, and Pro 4. The Surface Studio is on pre-order now, will ship by the holidays, and starts at $2999.

While dueling rumors have the iPhone 8 either all glass or just front and back glass with a bezel, 9to5mac.com reports that Apple will add a new size…a 5 inch model. Apparently, they haven’t decided if it will replace the 4.7 inch size, or be produced as a third size, along with the 5.5 inch iPhone. Some reports point to a curved screen like the Samsung Galaxy Edge, while others see a flat all-glass front coming. It may be that Apple is experimenting with a couple different designs, and we may have a better idea by spring.


Pixel Preorders Outstrip Demand; Microsoft VR Headset Partners; Surface Book i7; Renewables Pass Up Coal

Since the sputtering flameout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Apple has increased production of iPhones, expecting to pick up new customers. According to 9to5google,com, they aren’t alone. Google Pixel phone preorder deliveries have now slipped to mid-November. Some phones originally slated for delivery this week will now be shipped November 18th!

At their event today, Microsoft announced they are working with partners to release standalone VR headsets starting at $299. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are all involved. Thenextweb.com says Redmond also showed off a ‘HoloTour’ app that was initially developed for the HoloLens that lets you take Street View like trips around the globe.

Microsoft adds the Surface Book i7 to the Surface family. It contains a number of internal upgrades according to arstechinca.com, including a welcome 16 hour battery life! More from the Microsoft event-which is going on now-tomorrow.

Noting a major milestone, slashdot.org reports that renewable energy sources like solar and wind have passed up coal as the world’s largest source of power capacity! The International Energy Agency says a million solar panels were installed every day last year, and two wind turbines were added every hour last year in China alone.


Galaxy S8; Microsoft’s Surface Event; How Amazon Drones Will Land for You

Even after the catastrophe with fiery Galaxy Note 7’s, time marches on for Samsung and everyone else. According to bgr.com, Sammy is pressing ahead with the expected Galaxy S8 models for February 26th rollout. Expect an edge to edge 4K Super AMOLED screen (and wraparound in the case of the Edge), with just a bezel at the top and bottom. Screen real estate is supposed to be 80% of the front, so it sounds like they are getting rid of the home button. Inside, expect a faster processor, and either 6 or 8 gigs of RAM!

Microsoft’s Surface event is tomorrow, the 26th. Theverge.com reports that it will be jam packed, but look for the spotlight to be on a new Surface all-in-one PC. Think of a Microsoft iMac, only with a hinge to lay flat on a desk. It will rock a touchscreen and have stylus support. Other big areas to watch for are emphasis on creating 3D content, and it looks like Redmond will be letting 3rd parties build their own HoloLens headsets. Microsoft may also show an Amazon Echo competitor with Cortana built in.

We’ve been reporting for over a year about Amazon’s drone program. All well and good, but how are those little rascals going to find a place to drop off your package?
Geekwire.com says Amazon plans for you to print out a symbol on your printer, and put it where you want the drone to land. You’ll have to supply your own rocks to keep the paper from blowing down the street!


Mac Rollout This Week; Crazy New iPhone 8 Rumor; The Planned Galaxy Note 8

Apple is expected to roll out freshened MacBook Pros and a 13 inch MacBook on Thursday. Macrumors.com says the MacBook Pro will have the OLED touch bar and Touch ID sensor in both the 13 and 15 inch models, as previously leaked, USB C and Thunderbolt 3 connectors, but also will have an oxide panel screen for better display quality and energy efficiency, and get this…a TWO terabyte SSD available!

There have been rumors for most of the year about the iPhone 8 having glass panels front and back with either an aluminum or stainless steel bezel. Most think it will have an edge to edge glass screen with the fingerprint sensor and home button under the screen. Now, bgr.com reports that it may be more radical than originally thought. New rumors have the iPhone 8 as being a clear Gorilla Glass sandwich…with polycarbonates to help make it more shatter resistant…and with an OLED screen. According to some sources, you will be able to see straight through it, so it can be popped into an AR headset, and it allegedly will have a higher frame rate than a PC with an Nvidia 1080 card installed. It will have a next gen 3D sensor from Apple owned Primesense. Apple supposedly has 600 engineers in Israel working on the sensor alone. Buckle up, this could be youuuuge.

Samsung is officially planning a Galaxy Note 8 to replace the Note 7 after it’s flameout. According to Zdnet.com, they plan to offer buyers in Korea who traded their Note 7’s for S7 or S7 Edge models a 50% discount for the monthly upgrade program to keep them in the fold. No word yet if the deal will be extended to the US or other countries.


Samsung Offers $$ To Keep Note 7 Owners in the Fam; Chipmaker Revenue Shows iPhone 7’s Selling Well; Google Pixel Phones on Verizon Get Android Updates With Unlocked Phones

Samsung is making the extra effort to hold on to customers burned (some literally) but the burning and exploding Galaxy Note 7. They will give $100 credit to exchange one for a Galaxy S7 Edge or other Samsung device. Engadget.com says this comes on the official Consumer Product Safety Commission recall of all Note 7’s. There have been 96 battery issues in the US alone since mid-August when the Note rolled out.

Chipmaker TSMC is reporting record profit and sales in Q3, and has raised its forecast for 2016 revenue. Yeah, so? This points to strong iPhone 7 sales, according to 9to5mac.com. After crunching the known numbers, like what percentage of TSMC business comes from the A10 chip in the new iPhones, it looks like Apple shipments of iPhone 7 models will be around 82 million…notably higher than earlier estimates. In other words, it’s not the boring dog of an iPhone a lot of the tech press predicted!

Contrary to earlier reports, Google says Pixel phones on the Verizon system will get Android updates simultaneously with unlocked phones. 9to5google.com reports that this indicates Google will be pushing out the updates like Apple does on iOS, not delivering them to Verizon, who many feared would sit on them.