If you had told techies in advance that Apple would be getting rid of its 5W power brick in its iPhone 12 (and iPhone 12 Pro) release, they likely would have been ecstatic. If you had mentioned that it did in fact come with a USB-C cable, they would have been over the moon, thinking that their prayers had finally been answered.
Unfortunately, they would have been wrong. Unlike the new iPad Pro, the latest iPhone does not have a USB-C port for charging. In fact, it has the same old lightning port, and the cable that it comes with is a USB-C to lightning cord. It does not include a USB-C block to plug that cord into.
This result is not satisfying to anybody. For tech people, it means they still have to lug around another cord specifically for their iPhone, as opposed to just using USB-C for all their devices. For everybody else, they are likely going to buy their new phone and immediately wonder how on earth they are going to charge it. Unless they have one of newer MacBooks, they probably do not have a USB-C port lying around their house.
I know this from experience. A member of my household has a pair of noise canceling bluetooth headphones, the Tribit QuietPlus 72. They work really well for him, and with 30 hours of playtime, he can go several days without charging them. When they die, however, he is out of luck. The first time it happened, he spent over an hour digging through his desk trying to find some cable that could charge it. When he finally found the one it came with, he was flabbergasted. Because it is USB-C, he could connect it to the headphones but had no way to connect it to a power source.
Since I have a MacBook Air, he can use my USB-C charger for his headphones. Now, every few days, he comes to me in need of some juice. This situation is going to play out over and over again in households around the country when the iPhone 12 is finally delivered to their door.
Of course, you can solve this money by handing over more money to Apple. If you don’t already own one, you can buy their 20-Watt USB-C adapter for $20. Or, if you want to be really fancy, you can buy their MagSafe charger for $40.
What? You thought you it was only going to cost you $800?
I Found An Affordable Polaroid Alternative
It’s 2021 and we are officially done overpaying for products that have affordable alternatives. Do you really need that instant film camera that says “Polaroid” on it? Or can you make do with another instant film camera for half the price that works just as well? Yep, you guessed it. You can most definitely get a cheaper version that produces a very similar outcome. Your pictures will still print out instantly, and despite a difference in size, the quality will be very similar to that of a Polaroid camera. Don’t worry: You will still be hip and trendy even if your instant film camera doesn’t have “Polaroid” printed on it.
I personally have wanted an instant film camera for years, but I knew how expensive Polaroid cameras were, so I just never ended up buying one. That is, until I came across the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is a battery-powered instant film camera that sells for $68 on Amazon. Compare that to the price of a Polaroid camera, which ranges anywhere from about $90 to $180 on Amazon.
I don’t just love my Fujifilm instant camera because it was half the price of a Polaroid; in fact, I am finding the quality and value to be terrific. It is easy to use, and every photo I’ve taken so far with it has turned out great. It’s available in five different colors and is ideal for selfies or close-up pictures. Obviously, this camera lacks some of the features that Polaroid cameras have, but given the price difference, that’s to be expected.
In my nonprofessional opinion, the Instax Mini 11 is basically a simple version of a Polaroid, meaning it’s perfect for those who just want the instant film photos without all the bells and whistles. Given its ease of use, this camera is also perfect for families and kids. The few cons associated with this camera include the fact that you cannot turn off the flash, so you have to be a little more conscious of the lighting, and that it doesn’t work that well for far-away shots. The film is a tad on the expensive side, but I feel like that’s inevitable with instant film cameras. Other than that, I’d have to say this little camera is a steal.
You Can Now Watch Both HBO Max & Quibi On Roku
Our long national nightmare is over. When HBO Max launched last June, I liked its offerings but was disappointed that there was practically no way to watch it. Although Christopher Nolan called it “the worst streaming service,” it actually has some good content, but since it was not accessibly from any streaming device, viewers were stuck either watching it on their laptops or else purchasing an upgraded Samsung Smart TV. My family ended up doing the latter, and we have no complaints at all with our new 55″ screen. But considering we own a plethora of Amazon Fire and Roku devices, it would have been nice to actually use them to watch the shows we are paying for.
What took so long? With Amazon, the answer is obvious. Amazon competes with HBO via its own streaming service, Amazon Prime, and so it was always going to be a tough negotiation. But Roku? Isn’t one of the pluses of Roku that it is platform-neutral?
Now we know the answer. Roku announced today that it had acquired the library of Quibi, an erstwhile streaming service that went bankrupt not too long ago. Roku will play those Quibi shows on its devices for free. In other words, Roku is getting into the content business.
Considering reports that sales of their devices have outpaced others on the market during the pandemic, this is big news for the entertainment industry, and it may make negotiations between the various players all the more hostile in the future. For the time being, let us rejoice and be glad that we can finally watch HBO Max in peace. We will deal with the fallout later.
The Lululemon Mirror Is The Latest In Dystopian Tech
Right before the New Year, we ran an article taking a look at some of the fitness options for keeping in shape in the midst of a pandemic. One option we did not touch on is the Lululemon Mirror, mostly because I did not believe it was a real thing. Like everyone else, I’ve seen the many ads touting this Bradburyesque contraption over the last couple months. But I figured it was a parody. There’s no way the brand known for their overpriced yoga pants aspires to hang a giant two-way looking glass on people’s wall, right? Wrong. The Mirror exists, and it is a sign of the times.
For those unfamiliar with the Mirror, it literally a $1,500 mirror, which in addition to filming your movements also displays workout videos so you don’t have to go to a gym. Is there a market for this? There must be, considering Lululemon bought the start-up responsible for the device for $500 million.
Such is life during COVID. People are so tired of being trapped in their houses, they are now turning to life-size screens to simulate interpersonal interaction. This also shows how the pandemic has changed our relationship with privacy; now that we are on Zoom every day, performing workouts in front of a camera does not seem like that big of a deal. (For those folks who do still value privacy, Lululemon insists that turning on the camera is merely “an option.”)
The Lululemon Mirror is just the latest example of wellness technology designed to capture any and all information about its users. Pretty much all of your important health data is tracked by your Apple Watch, and that isn’t even counting the enhancements of Apple Fitness+.
If people are willing to bare their souls to a miniature robot, who am I to tell them off? But as more and more data is accumulated through these various channels, it’s hard not to think that they will be used in some way to manipulate human behavior. Maybe this is a good thing, leading to a healthier populace. Let’s hope that’s the case. Because if the data falls into the wrong hands, there is little doubt that it could be used to nefarious ends.
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