Techzone 360 Week in Review

By Tony Rizzo May 19, 2013

This week the big news - at least for us - centered on Google and its annual worldwide developers' conference - Google I/O 2013. Though nothing new or amazing was announced Google still introduced solid pieces of innovation. As our Google I/O 2013 roundup demonstrates, though the event was low on whiz bang, it was still high in levels of innovation that Google is bringing to search, social media and of course to wearable technology. Google CEO Larry Page put in an extended appearance and managed to convey both a sense of excitement at how much has been accomplished and a sense of sadness at how little has been accomplished.

And yes, there were lots of developers running around with pairs of Google Glass stuck to their faces, and no, Google did not give any away - they are in high demand but supply is short and very tightly controlled. There was not even so much as a single pair made available for demo purposes. One thing we found particularly funny was the actual original Google Glass prototype - which the Glass team's industrial designer brought with her to show off during a fireside chat with some members of the Glass team. As fun as it was to see the original and quite whacky Google Glass prototype design, the fireside chat was in fact much more interesting for discussions that were important in terms of user privacy, public acceptability and what sorts of applications Glass would excel at delivering.

This week wasn't only about Google however. NVIDIA - which made a lot of noise early in the year about its new handheld Shield gaming system - finally announced Shield's configuration and price. At $350 the price tag, which perhaps appears high for the market, is giving some folks serious pause. However, this is because people are used to systems that are subsidized by their games - and an Android-based gaming system doesn't fit that model. The closest comparison would be to an unlocked phone, though this is actually better because unlocked phones don't get the massive game discounts that Shield will get. If you are a serious gamer Shield needs major consideration.

Did we mention that Google handed out over 6,000 Google Chrome Pixel chromebooks at Google I/O? They did. The Chrome Pixel is Google's chromebook statement machine - an absolutely gorgeous $1299 laptop with the best display and possibly the second best laptop keyboard we've ever come across. But everything it can do must be web-connected. And in today's world there are, of course, huge numbers of URLs to connect to. But there aren't enough URLs to go around. So as all those Chrome Pixels hit the street, it is quite interesting to take note of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and ICANN's continuing attempts to roll out as many as 1,400 new Top Level Domain website suffixes. The problem? ICANN can't say "I can" - it is still having tons of problems making it all happen.

Enough of ICANN though - have you ever heard of TecTiles? TecTiles are part of a near field communication (NFC) application that Samsung has developed for use with mobile smartphone devices. TecTiles are basically low cost self-adhesive stickers with an embedded NFC Tag that are programmed before use, something that is easily done directly by the user through a downloadable Android app. Now it appears that Samsung has taken NFC to an entirely new level with its next generation TecTiles 2. If you are interested in putting NFC to work and you still haven't shelled out the necessary cash for a higher end smartphone with NFC support TecTiles 2 might be the perfect thing for you.

As Samsung works to deliver on NFC alternatives, the company itself may also now become the alternative source for Sharp as a buyer for Sharp's smartphone displays. One thing we know for certain is that Samsung is going to sell a lot of smartphones this year. If Sharp sells its smartphone displays to Samsung, what might this say about the state of Apple? If we consider that Apple has been Sharp's major customer over the last few years might it mean that Apple has cut back drastically on orders? That is certainly the immediate conclusion some might come to. We ourselves very much doubt it means any such thing - but draw your own conclusions as to wheter or not there is a real shift in dynamics.

Speaking of shifts in dynamics, are you among those of us who continue to rely much less on theaters than we used to? Those of us that are so inclined are about to get another very interesting option that may make theaters even less relevant. How about a “before theater” movie through video on demand (VoD) option for movie lovers that want to rent movies before they hit cinemas? Comcast is about to start an experiment exactly along these lines by offering a short list of non-blockbuster, relatively low-budget titles through its VoD library. Are you in for the out of theater experience?

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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