Facebook Launches Portal Video Chat Screens; Google’s Pixel 3 Event; Microsoft Game Streaming Service; Oct Windows 10 Update Pulled

Facebook has dropped its first hardware product in the Portal line. TechCrunch.com says they are auto-zooming video chat screens ranging in price from $199 to $349. The Portal units will run Alexa and eventually Google Assistant in a countertop video chat screen that zooms to always keep you in frame. The big question will be whether people will want a Facebook cam and microphone in their house, even with a physical clip-on privacy shield. At any rate, the presale starts now. For $199, you get the 10 inch screen Portal, and for $349 you will be the proud owner of a 15.6 inch swiveling screen with a hi-fi audio Portal+. Save $100 if you buy any two Portal devices. The screens come with ‘Hey Portal’ voice navigation, bluetooth and voice activated music, Facebook Messenger for video calls, Spotify and Pandora. More video provers to come. Facebook claims there is built in privacy…no facial recognition but something called 2D pose that runs locally on the device to keep you in picture. They claim the unit only turns on with the wake word, and that it doesn’t save recordings…also they have data encryption. With a tap you can automatically disable the cam and mic, and it does have a plastic privacy shield you can slide over the cam if you still want to chat…without video. They ship in November. You can preorder at Portal.Facebook.com, Amazon, and Best Buy.

Tomorrow, October 9th, Google will be showing their latest at an event scheduled for 11am Eastern, 8 Pacific. Theverge.com reports that the flood of leaks has given us a good idea of what to expect. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones top the list…in fact, someone got hold of a working Pixel 3 in Asia a couple days ago from a source…talk about a leak! The phones sport target screens, wireless charging, and a second selfie cam. Also expected is a wireless charging stand for the handsets. There MAY be a Google Home speaker with a smart display to compete with the Amazon Echo Show. An expected item is the Pixel Slate, A Google branded Chrome OS tablet. Rumors have it with a detachable keyboard, and expect it to be fairly high end like the iPad Pro and Surface Pro.There will probably be a Pixelbook update, but probably not a major overhaul there. We’ll have details after the actual event tomorrow.

Look for a beta in 2019 of Microsoft’s game streaming service, Project xCloud. According to engadget.com, the idea behind the cloud system is to allow users to play any video game where they feel the most comfortable or where it’s convenient….on a console, a computer, or mobile device. Of course, Microsoft is most interested in making it as frictionless as possible for users to play their own Xbox One games. Even with the beta out next year, Redmond cautions that this is a complicated project, and may take a while longer to perfect.

Microsoft has pulled the October update to Windows 10 (version 1809) after complaints that it deleted user’s files. ZDnet.com says some users said they couldn’t even recover all files using a recovery product like Recuva. There was a similar issue with the April, 2018 update. In that case, Microsoft delayed the update until the end of the month to squash the bugs.

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LG Will Join the Roll Your Own CPU Club

Smartphone and appliance maker LG has made a big move. Their next smartphone will sport the company’s own CPU chips. Engadget.com says they’re an 8 core chip similar to Samsung’s.

A married couple has unveiled the world’s first 3D print graphene battery. Forbes.com reports that the prototype already matches the power of a AA battery, and can be made in any shape. They plan to offer materials for people to print their own at home!

Talk about a vanity app…Looksery has launched a video chatting app that makes you look more attractive. TechCrunch.com says the app is live on Apple’s app store, and you can make avatars with it, too. I’ll be George Clooney, please.


Skype Joins the Disappearing Video Chat Club

Skype is joining the disappearing video world with Skype Qik (quick). Venturebeat.com says it does videos up to 42 seconds, which auto delete in 2 weeks. It runs on Android, iOS, and Windows, and you need the Skype app too, but not an account.

Google Shopping Express has Amazon Prime in its sights. 9to5google.com reports the $95 a year service is now available in San Francisco & San Jose, with overnight delivery in Northern California…and includes alcohol delivery!

If you need a super cheap Windows tablet that is just about good enough, check Emdoor or Ployer. Geek.com says they’re both $65, and 7 and 8 inches respectively. If you want a cheap tablet for a child, these may do the trick.