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At the Show, What to Know CES 2017

LIVE Reporting from CES 2017

MONDO-X CORE 10

10-core computers have now become reality at a price the average user can afford (under $400). But not in the form factor you may have guessed. The latest 10-core is not some supercomputer or graphics pumping desktop power house, but simply a mobile handset smartphone from Mondo-X. That’s right a 10-core processor in a device that fits in the palm of your hand.

The manufacturer, Mondo-X, is new on the scene. And they are on a mission to bring down the price of flagship smartphones to a reasonable level. For years the price of the top phones from Apple and Samsung have hung up in the $600-800. This is fine for some users. But with a lifespan of usually only 1-2 years and the obvious prospect of the phone being damaged, this can become quite an expensive habit. Yes, most of us now consider a smartphone a must-have investment.

But does it really have to cost so much? Is it really worth the price that users are paying. Without reasonable alternatives it seems to have persisted at this premium price tier for many years. But for the first time Mondo-X is answering the question with a NO. No it does not have to cost that much for a premium smartphone.

The CORE 10 provides most of the standard features one would expect in a premium smartphone. This includes:

·      

5.5” Full HD Display

·       4G Global LTE

·       802.11ac Wi-Fi

·       Android 6.0

TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT

The decision to drop cable just got a little easier this week with the announcement of DIRECTV NOW. Despite the overt expectation one may have. The newly minted DIRECTV NOW service has nothing to do with a satellite dish. Instead it functions as an over-the-top service that provides many of the channels provided by traditional cable at a fraction of the cost. And most pivotally, in contrast to the similar DishTV service that emerged over 2 years prior DIRECT TV also has includes the main network feeds. Well at least most of them. CBS is the sole holdout. And for the sake of clarity, over-the-top means you must still pay someone for internet service first.

DITCHING CABLE

With the cost of cable TV continuing to rise the incentive is strong to ditch that bill for $100-200 a month. But oh the magical question, can you find sufficient entertainment services to replace it. For many the occasional movie on Netflix is enough.

LIVING WITHOUT THE MAJORS

Perhaps one of the biggest questions is actually the oldest. Can you live without the major networks. Yeah, those free ones that existed before cable ballooned to hundreds of pay channels. The answer will depend on your viewing habits and comfort level with on-demand vs. traditional appointment TV. On the face of it onDiTB-demand sounds like an all-around winner. But old habits die hard, and some still prefer the old schedule of nightly shows.

Finally, Real Quality, Real Price

True quality smartphones under $400 may as well be unicorns. Well in 2017, that notion gets put to rest. The world changes rapidly, so now we have a new company with smartphones that really change our perception of a quality smartphone (call it a flagship if you like). Introducing, the InnoV8 (pronounced in-o-vate) and the Core 10, the new phones from Mondo-X.

HOW PRIVATE IS AMAZON ECHO?

Amazon Echo is a new hardware device for homes that provides command and control for all things Internet. That’s all good, and generally pretty ubiquitous these days. But the new rumor about Alexa involves a motivation that is far more nefarious.

Most are now familiar with Siri on Apple and OK Google for Google NOW. You ask it a question or make a request and it responds using the full power of the Internet.

But the latest controversy involves a tale of the dark side. It involves a rumor with a “big brother” type spin. The rumor suggested that Echo and its on-call assistant Alexa maybe listening to more than just your commands. If it can hear your voice and understand what you are saying, maybe it listens all the time. Since the Patriot Act and the revelations of Edward Snowden most of us now expect that are phone calls may be monitored by the government. The Patriot act made it legal for such monitoring to happen without a court order first. We use to call them wire taps If that’s true, why wouldn’t they monitor conversations in your home too.

IS KODI LEGAL?

One program for streaming media has garnered more controversy than the rest. It started many years back as an open source app known as XBMC for Xbox Media Center. It allowed Xbox users to access streaming video content rather than just games. Now the program has grown up, changed its name to Kodi and expanded to almost all popular computing platforms. This includes Android, Windows, Linux, Apple TV (unlocked), iOS and now Rasberry Pi. Strangely, Xbox is the one platform it won’t run. Much of the content that people access with Kodi is arguably copyright protected. So is the program itself illegal.

From one point of view Kodi is simply a different style of browser. So it is perhaps no more illegal than Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. It all depends on the repositories that you add in. Just as any browser allows the entry of URL that may access illegal information from a site, Kodi makes no judgement about “what” you access. Despite its most common application, it appears the legal community has found Kodi alone acceptable as a legit program like any other. The obvious evidence is the appearance of Kodi in both the Google Play store for Android users and the Microsoft App store for Windows 10. In the past it was barred and forbidden. But now it’s clearly permitted. This would be the strongest indication one could imagine, since Microsoft and Google could never allow it if its use was illegal.