HP Education Chromebook is Out; Sprint & T-Mobile Merger Talks; iOS 11 is Out for iPhone & iPad; Microsoft Mixed Reality Event

HP has released their touted Chromebook x360. It had been only available as an education edition, but now is on sale to the public. According to theverge.com, it has a 1.1 Gig processor, 4 Gigs of RAM, and 32 Gigs of storage. The touch screen is Gorilla Glass, and it has 2 USB-C ports and two USB 3.0 ports. The rugged laptop will make it 11 hours on a charge. Best of all, it’s $299….and on sale at Amazon, Walmart, and Costco.

We’ve heard this story before, but now, it appears that Sprint and T-Mobile are actually in serious talks about a merger. Engadget.com reports that CNBC has picked up on the scent that the two are in active talks about a merger. This was a story back in 2014 too, but now the regulatory environment may have loosened enough that they think it will work. While less competition is usually not great for customers, it can be a boon to investors…or not. Sometimes, it’s like tying two bricks together and seeing if they’ll float. Time will tell…stay tuned.

Today is iOS 11 release day…10 am is the usual time Apple makes operating system updates like this live. Cnet.com notes that this upgrade really shines on the iPad. The iPad gets a dock much like the Mac OS has on laptops and desktops, and a Files App keeps files and folders handy…much like on a regular desktop. Also, the App switcher supports drag and drop…text, images, and more. Apple has said that the send money feature to friends via Apple Pay won’t go live until later…maybe when the iPhone X comes out in November.

Microsoft has invited a small number of journalists to a ‘mixed reality’ event in San Francisco October 3rd. Mashable.com says they don’t expect a huge reveal of gear, but more about Microsoft’s mixed reality strategy and Redmond has teased the opportunity to ‘experience Windows Mixed Reality for yourself.’

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Disney Launching Own Streaming Service; Google Pixel’s Cool Storage Feature; Super Cheap Chromebook

Netflix cut a deal with Disney back in 2012 to stream the Mouse’s library of movies and shows. According to theverge.com, it just kicked in last year, and now Disney is announcing they will end the deal in 2019 in favor of their own streaming service. Interestingly, Marvel and Star Wars aren’t mentioned in the new Disney streaming service. Apparently, they are kicking around freestanding streaming services for each. At any rate, by 2019, Disney’s amazing library of shows and movies, including their LucasFilm and Marvel material, will be available on stream from a new Disney streaming service.

If you don’t always buy the maxed out memory on your smartphone, you probably have hit the point where you’re deleting songs or pictures to keep from running out of storage. THEN, when you try to update the operating system, you don’t even have room to do that. Bgr.com reports that Google has solved that part of the problem with the new Pixel. Starting with Android 8.0, the phones have a dual partition system for faster streaming updates. Basically, you keep using the system on the phone while a second system updates in the background. After download and restart, the second one becomes the normal OS. With this partition, the phone only needs 100 KB of free space to update instead of a gig. Thanks, Google!

Acer has just bowed its updated Chromebook C771. 9to5google.com says there are two models, one with touch display and one without. The laptop has an 11.6 inch screen and features a spill resistant keyboard. The cheaper version is $279.99. If you don’t mind the chrome ‘all in cloud’ system, it’s practically a disposable laptop at this price.


Windows 10 S Laptop Guns for Chromebooks; 43 Inch LG Monitor Supports 4 Sources; Twitter Adds More Streams and Shows

Microsoft has revealed its answer to Chrome OS. Windows 10 S is a ‘streamlined and secured’ version of Windows 10…translation….it’s sandboxed. That’s not the biggest part, though. Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft has talked most major PC makers into making Windows 10 S machines. Base level ones will start at $189, and should be out this summer. Redmond expects school districts to snap up the laptops at that price point. They come with a one year free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, and Office 365 apps are free for both students and teachers.

As Apple announced they were getting out of the monitor business (then had a change of heart of sorts), other companies have jumped in with displays to take up the slack. Now, 9to5mac.com says LG has quietly unveiled a 42.5 inch 4K job that has 4 HDMI ports and supports up to 4 display feeds….for under $700! Four feeds, so you could keep a browser open, watch a game, PLAY a game, and have a window for actual work!

We heard yesterday that Twitter was building out a 24/7 streaming video service with Bloomberg. Now, they’ve announced live video plans with Live Nation, Buzzfeed, The WNBA, and almost a dozen partners. According to recode.net, the partners look so far to be heavy on sports, then news, with a little entertainment sprinkled in. It remains to be seen how much of the new content will materialize and when.


Samsung & Google Partner on New Chromebooks; Batteries Now Rolling off Lines at Tesla Gigafactory; Energous Wireless Charging Debuts This Year; Nvidia Co-Pilot Driving Computer

The Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro have finally bowed from Samsung, in collaboration with Google. Theverge.com says they will be worthy competition for Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro. The Plus is out in February for $449, and sports baked in Android app support, a self-contained stylus, and on-screen inking. It has a 360 degree hinge to allow for both tablet and laptop modes. The Pro will be out later this year, and is basically the same except for a more powerful processor.

It took almost 3 years from the groundbreaking, but batteries are now rolling off the lines at Tesla’s Gigafactory. The first of the custom cells will go into Tesla’s storage products…the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2, but are designed to fit into all Tesla cars according to theverge.com. They will start installing them in the new Model 3s when they start production this year. Tesla says the Gigafactory will eventually crank out enough batteries for 1.5 million cars.

Energous will begin shipping its truly wireless systems by later this year, but is holding off due to a partner. Macrumors.com notes that most believe that partner to be Apple, and that the Watts Up system will debut in the iPhone 8 in September. The difference between Energous and other wireless systems is that theirs is truly over the air, and can charge a device from up to 15 feet away…no need to lay the phone on a charging pad. Energous did show off several devices that use contact charging at CES this week.

Nvidia had teased a powerful AI system earlier, and now has announced Co-Pilot. They are baking the tech into their Xavier drive computers they are making to assist drivers when they are doing the driving. Techcrunch.com reports that the system will utilize data from sensors inside and outside a car, and alert a driver when they need to take action. The system can either operate in self-driving mode, or as the Co-Pilot, continuing to monitor and warn drivers to react…say, should you not spot a pedestrian. They are already partnering with ZF in Europe, and may with Bosch as well.


New Ultra Thin HP Chromebook; iPhone 7 ‘Pro’ Drawings Leaked

HP showed off it’s new 13 inch screen, ultra thin Chromebook today. It sports a QHD Display, has a slick all-metal case, and weighs in at 2.86 lbs. According to venturebeat.com, it’s packed with 16 gigs of memory, runs on an Intel Core M processor, and the battery should last 11.5 hours. It’s available now for pre-order, ships May 6th, and starts at $499.

Drawings and diagrams leaked show a 5.5 inch iPhone 7, and as rumored, there is no 3.5 mm audio jack, and it sports a dual camera. Bgr.com reports that the leak came from Macotakara, which leaked accurate diagrams of the iPad Pro. It does have a Smart Connector port on the back, and still has a single speaker. Surprisingly, it’s no thinner than the present model, and doesn’t have a larger battery…which had previously been given as the reason Apple wanted to drop the audio jack.


Google’s Chromebook Has Taken Over Education; New 10 Terabyte Hard Drive

Even as they seemed to be slipping away as a company back in the bad old days, Apple was a powerhouse in schools. Not anymore. According to 9to5google.com, Google’s Chromebooks have emerged as the clear leader in classrooms, leaving Apple in the dust. Chromebook’s now account for over half of all devices in US classrooms, up from 1 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, Apple has dropped from 52% to 24, and Microsoft from 43 to 24%.

If you really, really need an insane amount of storage, and want to trust it to a single drive, Western Digital has what you need. They just rolled out a helium-filled 10 terabyte hard drive that uses 44% less power than their 6TB model. Geek.com reports it will set you back around $460. That’s light years away from my original 10 MEGAbyte hard card back in the 80’s!