What’s New?

By Joe Callison
9 January, 2017

There are a lot of new developments in technology that should make 2017 a very interesting year. The recently held Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas offered a sample of what could be this year’s hot items.

Interestingly it seems that 2-in-1 convertible laptops are becoming the computer of choice over traditional laptops or tablets. Many CES 2017 reviewers were especially impressed with the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.   Another favorite was the Samsung Chromebook Pro, which of course runs the Chrome operating system instead of Windows, but is one of the first Chromebooks to support Android apps from the Google Play store.

New televisions are still hot items, thanks to ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) or 8K resolution (7680 x 4320) and high dynamic range (HDR) which provides a wider and richer range of colors, brighter whites, and darker blacks. HDR allows for colors that are closer to how we see them in real life. Of course, you need video content utilizing these new capabilities. Ultra HD Blu-ray and some video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon are currently available that provide UHD and HDR video content. Having HDR capability provides a much more noticeable improvement in television video than higher resolution, so even a 1080 TV with HDR capability will be noticeably better.

The main TV display technologies currently being used are LED/LCD and OLED. LED TVs use LED light to illuminate an LCD screen. OLED TVs provide their own light at each pixel. The main differences in appearance are that LED TVs will have better peak brightness but less deep blacks and OLED TVs will have lower peak brightness but deeper blacks.

All kinds of new gadgets for the home are being introduced with wi-fi capability embedded. It has been said that all future LG appliances being developed will have wi-fi capability. There has been a lot of concern about network security with the proliferation of wi-fi-enabled gadgets. They are typically not designed with security much in mind and are probably not easily patched for vulnerabilities if even capable of being patched at all. There have already been documented attacks on websites by making use of thousands of unprotected home wi-fi gadgets to constantly attempt to connect to a website to overload their servers (denial of service attack). Symantec (maker of Norton security software) has a new approach to home network security that sounds promising. They have produced a home router with security called Norton Core to protect everything on the home network. It scans every data packet coming in or going out of your home network and monitors for malicious code and other threats or vulnerabilities and is capable of segregating any device that misbehaves. I look for others to develop routers with this capability which seems to be the most logical approach to solving the problem.

New broadband speed capabilities utilizing existing coaxial and fiber infrastructure owned by cable TV companies have suddenly changed the delivery of gigabit internet to the home. The technology standard is known as DOCSIS 3.1 and was created by Cable Labs, the research arm of the cable TV industry. Google Fiber is no longer the only gigabit game in town, and maybe one reason they have had to reconsider their expansion plans since it is much more expensive to install a new fiber network system than to utilize an existing cable system. It is now possible to have gigabit and even 10 gigabit data speeds from your cable TV/internet/telephone providers. Comcast XFINITY gigabit is already operational in a number of cities and is coming to Kansas City.

Posted by Joe Callison

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