gadgets

GoPro Shares Spike As It Handily Beats Street Estimates

GoPro’s earnings for the third quarter were pretty as a picture for the company’s investors, with earnings coming in above analysts’ expectations

For the quarter, GoPro racked up sales of $280 million, up 45.7 percent from the $192.1 million reported in the third quarter of 2013. Adjusting for generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), profits were $14.6 million, or 10 cents per share, compared to a $1.1 million, or 1 cent per-share, loss in the third quarter of 2013.

Analysts had predicted revenue of $265.6 million and earnings of 8 cents per share.

On a non-GAAP basis, GoPro earned $0.12 per share, putting its normally accounted for profit, and its adjusted profit in reasonable harmony. Companies like Twitter that have higher share-based compensation costs have larger negative deltas between their GAAP and non-GAAP profit margins.

The company, which has seen its stock price tumble from the peaks it reached in the first months after its public offering, was buoyed by a strong showing for its new line of cameras, which the company called the most successful launch in its history.

Shares were up over $5 or more than 7 percent in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq, as investors responded favorably to all the good news.

Here’s the chart:

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 1.54.13 PM

“The global scale and execution of our HERO4 launch made this the most successful roll out in GoPro’s history,” said GoPro founder and chief executive, Nicholas Woodman., who also touted advancements in the company’s desktop and mobile content management applications aimed at making it easier for GoPro owners to create and share content.

With the earnings, GoPro is sitting fairly pretty as it heads into the holiday season. As part of the bigger muscles the strong public offering afforded the company, Best Buy customers around the country can expect to see more of an in-store presence from the camera maker.

GoPro went public for $24 per share. It closed regular trading at $68.25, and is up past $72 in after-hours trading. Nascent media business or not, investors are happy with what they see. The company is worth around $9 billion.

Continued here: GoPro Shares Spike As It Handily Beats Street Estimates

The ChronodeVFD Resurrects Old Displays For A Cool New Watch

I am, as you may know, a sucker for watches that use older display technologies (see also Nixie tubes). For example, this cool watch by freelance engineer John De Cristofaro uses a vacuum fluorescent display tube, an early form of digital display that cast a bright blue light and was first used in 1980s-era electronics. They will be familiar to folks who owned Subarus with digital displays after about 1983.

The watch is a “costume” project so it runs for about 6-10 hours on a single AA battery. It includes a small roll cage to prevent the crystal from cracking, and De Cristofaro has built his own circuit board that is set with the aid of three small buttons.

The ChronodeVFD is a personal project I’ve been working on for a couple of months. It’s a wristwatch built around the IVL2-7/5 VFD display tube. I originally purchased a few of these tubes to build a standard desk clock, but after playing around with them, I realized I could probably build a wristwatch too. The tube has a number of features which make it more suited than most Soviet-surplus VFDs for this purpose.

15570415666_1dc2694d0a_h
De Cristofaro will publish the schematics and bill of materials shortly, but until then let’s bask in the glory of dead technology resurrected.

Read the original: The ChronodeVFD Resurrects Old Displays For A Cool New Watch

About That Microsoft Quarterly Report

“[W]hat we’re doing across the company between devices and the cloud and services is the front and center priority for us, and we are well on our way with what that, given what we have done with Windows 8 and what we are doing with Windows Phone and Windows Azure. I think that represents the core of the reinvention and the re-imagination of the Windows franchise.” — Satya Nadella, then head of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division, in a 2012 interview.

Microsoft’s first quarter of its fiscal 2015 was big. The fiscal quarter, corresponding to the calendar third of 2014, brought stronger than expected revenue and profit. The company’s cloud business continued to grow, Windows Phone put points on the board, Surface took off and Office 365 picked up a grip of new paying users.

Put more simply, devices and services had a big quarter, while productivity kept its transition on course. On the platform side, Microsoft’s recent Windows 10 partial unveil set the pace, even though that release didn’t factor into the earnings report.

The four horsemen of the new Microsoft — devices, services, platforms, and productivity — are therefore in what appears to be high repair. The market has to handicap whether the quarter’s growth is sustainable.

The quarterly results show the bearing-out of a number of bets that Microsoft made over the last few years. It’s worth taking a moment to take a look at how the company got to where it is today, so that we can correctly apportion responsibility. It’s too easy to presume that any success or failure under a CEO is completely of their own provenance. Let’s begin.

Ballmer’s Final Choices

When Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer announced that he would step down within a 12-month period, it capped a tenure that was as controversial as it was long. However, if you moved past the Vista days, discount the company’s massive miss on phones, and a dozen other mistakes, Ballmer’s exit came after a number of damn important decisions were made and set into play.

Toward the end of Ballmer’s tenure as CEO, Surface, which is just now hitting its stride with the Surface Pro 3, was born; Windows 8, which is just now hitting its stride with Windows 10, came to life; and Windows Phone, which is just now hitting its stride with the Nokia purchase and growing device volume, launched.

Strap on big investments into Azure, the launch of Office 365, a massive corporate restructuring, the green-lit construction of Office apps for rival platforms, and a picture of change emerges.

Of course, Windows 8’s nasty launch harmed the Windows brand, something that will take time to rectify. Windows Phone has cost Microsoft billions, and failed to deliver a truly diverse, strong OEM partner network. And Surface torched billions itself, publicly, and threw Microsoft’s potential as a hardware company into broad doubt. Those damages have not been erased. Instead, they are perhaps now being chipped away at.

I also think that it’s correct to say that despite some aggressive action, Ballmer didn’t see his creations through. The Nadella decision to get Office for iPad out the door and into the market is the simplest detailing of that fact.

Not to be too nice to myself, but here’s a quote from a post that I wrote around the time of Ballmer’s departure announcement:

If Ballmer had exited, say, during the Windows 7 period, I think that his time at Microsoft would have deserved a different badge. However, missteps included, the recent few years have been a fundamental shift for Microsoft, leading it to functional preparation for the future, which is to his credit. If the company had failed, we would have blamed the leader. So as the company finds new success, we should laud the boss. Let’s be consistent, at least.

Presuming that Ballmer’s successor is competent, he or she will be inheriting a firm in transition, but one with a future that is quite interesting. And it hasn’t been too long that we’ve been able to say that about Microsoft.

That mostly holds up.

Devices

The most recent quarter was Microsoft’s strongest hardware quarter to date. The company set an all-time record for Lumia sales, getting 9.3 million out the door. That’s only up 500,000 from the year prior, but it shows passable sequential quarter growth. Heading into the holiday period, Microsoft could break the 10 million mark for the first time.

Windows Phone is still far, far, far too small. But it’s growing, and that might be enough to keep Microsoft hanging onto the edges of the mobile market for now. To become a real player, the company will need to multiply its device volume many-fold.

On the Surface side of things, the last quarter was a surprise. I didn’t think that the product line would break the $700 million revenue mark. It did $908 million instead. Now, some of that revenue comes from orders booked the preceding quarter that were not delivered until the fiscal first, but even with that the number was a surprise.

Device volume for Surface compared to the even-shrunken PC market puts Surface on the microscopic end. As a project, compared to the PC market, Surface is a hobby. It is now a far less unsuccessful hobby, but a single quarter’s good results do not a trend make.

Also keep in mind that tablets based on Windows itself remain bit players in the tablet space that Android and iOS essentially own. Surface hasn’t changed that, despite improving unit volume.

Like with Phone, Surface is doing better, but has nearly all its growth still ahead of it.

As Phone and Surface did better, Xbox had a more middling quarter, moving more than 2 million consoles. Microsoft didn’t break out the Xbox One sales figures, which tells you all that you need to know. But the Xbox line has been around for more than a decade, and so its current performance isn’t as tied to Ballmer’s exit or anything that Nadella might be up to. We’ll come back to it when we dig into Windows.

Services

Microsoft announced in the final quarter of its fiscal 2014 that its “commercial cloud” revenue was on a “$4.4 billion annual run rate.” Did we get a new number this time around? Nope. Microsoft is being quiet, because, I can only imagine, someone in its PR or IR hallways decided that when you are doing decently in a market category, not talking about it is the way to go.

In its fiscal first quarter, the most recent, Microsoft indicated that its cloud revenue was up 128 percent compared to the year-ago period.

Azure, born under Nadella’s watch while he was under Ballmer, is doing pretty well. The company recently held a cloud-focused event that continued its push into the space. Microsoft noted during that event that only itself, Amazon and Google have put the billions into straight metal required to be a truly competitive cloud player.

Back when Nadella ran Azure, he had this to say on the product:

“Fundamentally, we’ve been at this platform business forever. This is part of our core DNA, that whenever we think about how do we build out anything that we do, we think about the developer component as a very, very significant, first-class piece.”

Microsoft’s cloud growth has been a multi-year story, and its most recent quarter is more continuation than revolution. But it’s worth noting that Azure started with Nadella under Ballmer and is growing what appears to be faster in dollar terms under Nadella’s CEO tenure.

Azure is not the market leader in terms of mind share here in Silicon Valley. And market share will become increasingly dear in the space. Amazon is working to expand its global footprint. Google is a foe on price. There is enough growth in the cloud to allow each revenue growth, I’d guess, but that doesn’t implicitly matter in real market share terms. That’s where the real war will continue with the platform companies.

Speaking of platforms:

Platforms

Moving from the most recent earnings report for a moment, Windows 10 approaches. The recent developer preview saw more than 1 million downloads in 2 weeks. The number was a bit softer than I expected, but perhaps more importantly is the simple little fact that Windows 10, even in its yet-nascent-very-oh-god-not-nearly-done format, is picking up some decent reviews.

Paul Thurrot, a human that I quite like, said something today that is worth quoting:

To date, most of the conversation around Windows 10 has focused on surface-level niceties like the new Start menu and the ability to run Universal mobile apps on the desktop side-by-side with other applications. These are important changes, to be sure. But other advances in Windows 10 rival and even surpass anything that Microsoft has ever attempted in the past. And with this in mind, it is very clear that Windows 10 isn’t just another major new Windows release. It is inarguably the most audacious release in the history of the platform.

I don’t state that lightly.

I agree. Here’s me from a few weeks ago (And I am not subtweeting Paul here. His post was great, and worth reading.):

Microsoft’s Windows 10 must patch the consumer-facing flaws present in Windows 8.x, and also bring enterprise customers into the modern era of computing. Couple that to the larger Windows trend of platform unification that Windows 10 will be the apparent culmination of, and you have what must be one of the most audacious software projects ever attempted.

That’s not to say that Microsoft will pull it off, but I like their guts.

The quarter saw the first release of something approaching Windows 10, an operating system that borrows on Windows 7 and 8 and 8.1, which all came under Ballmer.

So what began under Ballmer continues under Nadella, reaching a point of chrysalis this quarter, as the culmination of the company’s Windows 8.x strategy, and its work to unite its platforms under a single Windows tag.

Microsoft could still fuck it up. Never underestimate the ability of a big company to face plant when it comes to change. Especially when, as Paul and I noted, the project under work is massively complex.

Productivity

Finally, productivity: Akin to services, the current quarter wasn’t as seminal for Microsoft’s productivity efforts as earlier periods this year. But the numbers were still good:

Office 365 Home and Personal subscribers totaled more than 7 million, representing more than 25% sequential growth over the previous quarter.

Office 365 is just past its third birthday, putting it towards the end of Ballmer. It’s only accelerated under Nadella, who was more than content to launch the iPad build of the productivity suite, and zip ahead with the Android build, even as the ever-missing, touch-based build of Office for Windows muddles along. Ballmer started it, Nadella capped it, and the revenue is rolling in.

Ballmer’s Beta, Nadella’s Launch, And What’s Next

I am not trying to shade what Nadella has accomplished thus far as the CEO of Microsoft, any more than I am trying to draw up a hagiography for Ballmer. There’s little need to praise the rich, but it is worth noting that much of what is going well at Microsoft is a combination of both their work.

If Microsoft can keep its hardware business growing, and continue executing on its transition to SaaS in its various forms, the company could pupate in motion. That would be a feat. However, it’s far too early to call victors. Quite literally the smartest technology companies are working to make sure Microsoft fails. That’s not minor friction.

See the original post: About That Microsoft Quarterly Report

New iPhones Selling Faster Than Galaxy Note 4 In Korea

In an interesting turn of events, the WSJ is reporting that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are outselling the Galaxy Note 4 in Korea, a bit of news that should give Samsung pause.

Pre-orders for the new phones hit 100,000 on the first day of pre-orders compared to 30,000 units for the Galaxy Note 4. Analyst Lee Seung-woo, an analyst with IBK Securities said that he expected the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to outsell the Galaxy S5 and Note 4 by a factor of five.

The Note 4 is Samsung’s latest large phablet and I found it quite pleasant to use. Sadly it was plagued by a minor manufacturing issue in Korea that could have turned off the average consumer.

We will know more as the iPhone begins rolling out around the world but it is interesting see Cupertino beat Samsung in Seoul, at least at this early date.

Originally posted here: New iPhones Selling Faster Than Galaxy Note 4 In Korea

Microsoft’s Xbox One getting $50 holiday price cut from November 2

Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console will be getting a $50 price cut in the US for a limited time in a bid to take on Sony’s rival PS4 system during the holiday season.

Announced today, the $50 reduction takes the base cost of the console to $350 and will also be applicable against special edition bundles that include games too. So, for example, the Xbox One Assassin’s Creed bundle being released on November 2 will cost just $349. Other deals, like the Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle including a custom console, custom controller, a digital copy of the game, and a few other features, for $449.

Console price wars are fairly commonplace in the run-up to the holiday period, and it seems 2014 will be no different, although there has been no word from Sony yet of any across-the-board price slashing. Microsoft’s $50 reduction is available from November 2 until January 3, 2015 in participating stores nationwide.

Xbox One Available for $349 in the U.S. This Holiday Season [Major Nelson]

Image credit: Canadapanda / Shutterstock.com

Offline over the weekend? Read all the tech news you missed right here

Read the rest here: Microsoft’s Xbox One getting $50 holiday price cut from November 2

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Is A Nearly Perfect Mini Tablet

Like the great zeppelins of old, nobody expected the Galaxy Note to fly. The phones were too big, the embedded stylus too silly. I reminded us all of the bad old days when PIMs were black and white and bulky. But Samsung persevered and Apple followed suit and now we enter the era of the phablet, a time of strange portents and weird UIs. A time where a phone that makes all other phones seem comically small can become a crowd favorite and an unexpected hit. Buy why? And how does this new model stack up?

Basics

  • 5.7 inch Quad HD Super AMOLED (2560 x1440)
  • 176 grams
  • Up to 128GB internal storage, 32GB internal
  • 30 hour battery life
  • MSRP: $299 with contract
  • Product info page

Pros

  • Fast processor
  • Beautiful screen

Cons

  • UI is a cluttered
  • Crapware abounds

Design

Let’s start with the bad news. Samsung still has not perfected the art of mixing the high with the low. While not all of Apple’s materials are high end, they are harmoniously put together to suggest an organic thing rather than something assembled. This is not the case with the Note 4. The beautiful front screen – and I don’t use that term lightly – is connected to a black bezel and, while not exactly #gapgate-worthy, there is a small space between the two. The nice metal band around the entire thing is the best part of the phone because once you turn it over you find Samsung’s tried-and-true plastic leather. Like the fake birds-eye wood grain that some car makers still stick into their dashboards, Samsung just can’t get enough of the fake leather.

This, thankfully, is the worst I can say about the Note 4. It is, in short, just about the greatest “big phone” or “micro tablet” I’ve used and can easily replace either of those items in the mobile arsenal.

  1. IMG_4793

  2. IMG_4780

  3. IMG_4783

  4. IMG_4775

  5. IMG_4776

  6. IMG_4778

  7. IMG_4771

The Note 4 is very usable. It fits in my large hand without problems and the buttons and the screen are intuitively placed and easily accessed. The stylus is almost invisible until you pull it out and swipe-to-unlock works equally well with two hands or one.

If you’re looking for Samsung’s traditional removable battery or SD card slot you won’t be disappointed. The thin back slips off like a snakeskin and exposes the massive 3220 mAh battery and a small slot for a MicroSD card. Once the back is off you learn just how flimsy it is – it feels like a piece of thick paper. Presumably it’s enough to keep things safe back there, but wouldn’t drop it on a sharp edge.

The screen, which is a full 5.7 inches, displays 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at 515ppi. It is the best I’ve seen and is great for reading, drawing, and general mobile chicanery. The screen, in fact, is the best part and if the phablet is aimed at people who just can’t see the font on smaller phones, this is the phone to get. The iPhone 6 Plus screen is slightly less exciting when compared to this model and Samsung deserves praise for packing so many pixels onto such a small surface.

Making calls on the phone often led to issues. For example, if you don’t hold the speaker right against your ear you run the risk of listening to dead plastic. While there was some resonance in the case, the device is packed so tight that you need to position your ear properly to get anything down. It’s not a deal-breaker but it’s something to remember.

In all this is the phablet refined. Apple is an upstart in this market and while I’m not about to follow Engadget in saying this is the best large phone I will say it is definitely at the top.

Performance

The model I tested has a Snapdragon 805 processor that runs a Quad-core Krait 450 CPU at up to 2.7 GHz per core. This means that everything about this phone is fast. While I saw some minor lag during multi-tasking and bringing up processes, the fact remains that everything loaded and ran quickly and smoothly.

Luckily the battery can stand up to abuse. I saw about a day’s worth of use out of it, about 30 hours if I used it sparingly. There are a number of battery-saving methods available as well, including a system that turns off the color screen and leaves everything dim and dark. That’s hardly an ideal experience but it’s helpful if you’re hurting for battery.

One odd UI choice is Samsung’s multi-window system. Initially available in some of their higher end tablets, this system allows you to minimize an app in a window and even shrink it down to a Facebook Face-sized coin that floats on the desktop. This allows you to edit a document and make a call, for example, or look at your calendar and a web page at the same time.

For example, below is the calendar app in a window:

IMG_4793

And then you see it shrunk down to a nubbin:

IMG_4795

It’s an interesting concept but I didn’t use it once while testing and it is normally turned off by default, making it hard to access when needed. It’s a clever idea if not a bit of overkill.

I also rarely used the stylus. However, the “Air Command” feature – a little arc of commands that let you take notes on the screen or send data to the cloud, was always there, appearing like Clippy the Paperclip in Microsoft Word. Again, I didn’t have to use this feature but it was there to a fault.

IMG_4783

Camera

The camera on the Note 4 is particularly nice. It has image stabilization and it is not full of goofy modes like “Birthday” and “Fireworks” mostly because it works well in most lights. It was fun to take video and slow-motion shots and family snaps were clear and bright. Compared to the iPhone 6 Plus the Samsung shots – unadulterated – were a bit brighter and the colors a bit different but the resulting photos, shown side by side, are sufficiently nice for a cellphone camera.

  1. 20141015_115718

  2. 20141015_115641

  3. 20141013_115335

  4. 20141013_110537

  5. 20141013_110412

  6. 20141007_184516

compare

chork
The front camera is nothing to write home about but it works. The little flash on the back of the phone also doubles as a heart-rate monitor which, although useful, I did not find a compelling enough feature to return to it while I used the device. In short, however, you will like this camera and it does take great photos.

The Features

Samsung has packed an entire laptop’s worth of features into this little package. This makes things both exciting and infuriating. Do we need multitasking, at least using Samsung’s windowing method? Do you really need a way to cut out portions of a screenshot? How many AT&T apps does this thing really need?

At the risk of alienating fans, I will say that Samsung’s version of Android is full of doodads and whatsits galore and can often seem overcrowded and fiddly. A few good features well done are all I ask from a phone and having an army of AT&T apps and help screens march across my phablet is frustrating at best. Again, this is not a deal-breaker but it is a deal-bender. I would love a cleaner version of Android but I suspect Samsung needs to keep innovating in order to stay fresh. There is nothing sadder than a simply boring device, and the Note 4 is anything but boring.

Bottom Line

I will admit that I did enjoy using and carrying the Galaxy Note 4. I liked it better, in fact, than the Galaxy S5. While the devices are essentially the same – screen size and processor excepted – the Note 4 was speedy, bright, and very usable and the stylus adds a bit of benefit for those used to writing things down. This phone, like all phablets, is not for everyone. I myself have only just hopped on the phablet train and while I’m an iOS man at heart, I could be swayed by Samsung’s wiles.

Samsung did a good job. It’s a solid, useful, and usable phone designed for folks who need a bit more real estate or at least folks with big hands. I have become a phablet convert and this is the best of the breed.

Would I recommend it? Take a look at the iPhone 6 Plus and decide. If you can’t live without the stylus than this is the phone for you. However, if that’s not a deal-breaker I would argue both phones have their benefits but are, oddly enough, very much the same. Samsung could have added fewer bells and whistles and still made a great product and Android is a bit confusing to the uninitiated but all in all you’re dealing with two very different answers to the same question namely how to make a big phone that doesn’t seem big and an Android device that doesn’t frustrate. In this case, Samsung succeeds on both fronts.

Read more: The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Is A Nearly Perfect Mini Tablet

Ubooly Acquired As It Rebrands To Focus On Building Smarts Directly Into Toys

Ubooly is demoing on stage at Disney’s Accelerator Demo Day, but it’s not the company it was when it entered the program. The startup has renamed itself to “Smart Toy,” which better encompasses its vision of interactive toys with computing intelligence beyond just its initial product, which was also called Ubooly. But it’s also no longer a startup – or at least, not one operating solo. The company was acquired by Cartwheel Kids, an 18-month old venture founded by a group of top talent from Disney and elsewhere that has had great early success creating dress-up and costume-based toys licensed from existing kids brands.

The original Ubooly was a crowdfunded toy, which was plush and huggable, but which could also house an iPhone or iPod touch within to give it not just a face, but a whole computer-driven intelligence. This allowed for personalized, interactive play with a child using it, and since the platform was app-based, it could grow and “learn” new tricks through updates and downloadable content.

holding-uboolyThe new vision includes a range of smart toys, and Smart Toy co-founder and CEO Carly Gloge explained to me that the price pressure on components also means they’ll be able to build the smart hardware right into the toys while keeping things affordable, eliminating the need for an iPhone or iPad, and freeing up those gadgets to interact with the toys in new and innovative ways.

One of the perceived advantages of the original Ubooly was its animated face which was displayed on your iPhone’s screen, but Gloge says that despite what they thought, it wasn’t that integral to the overall experience.

“Only one kid out of a group of thirty actually noticed that it wasn’t animated,” she said, talking about the prototypes of the new toys. “Kids really don’t care because they’re filling in those details. We tried to start doing things with animating, but it increased the cost, and you ran into uncanny valley issues [...] also, a lot of parents don’t want another screen in front of their kids.”

smarttoyexplodeddiagram

The new toys can recognize other screens, so if you’re playing a game on your iPhone or iPad, and the toy’s nearby, it can provide helpful hints. In this way, the toys can become second-screen experiences, deepening interaction on the tablets and devices that so many kids these days are using anyways. The key is that the tech angle is invisible, and that it works, Gloge says. This is something borrowed from Apple, but it’s important in creating any kind of tech, where anyone beyond the early adopter crowd just wants something to work right away.

“Consumers don’t care about technology, especially parents – they care about it feeling magical,” she said. “If you truly look at it, toys have not really innovated since the eighties. The nineties were a bit of a ‘dark ages’ for toys. The toy industry moved away from inventors, and tried to do everything in-house. What it’s going to take is these small, scrappy companies to make things interesting again.”

The smarts that Smart Toy is building into its products are also a new kind of intelligent, with software that’s cloud-based and constantly improving, and that can truly interact with and respond to its users in a meaningful way. Cloud connection also means that these can be contextually-aware devices – they can work with other smart home elements, like the Phlips Hue lighting system. Gloge says future versions could adjust lighting while reading a story to a child to set the right mood, for instance.

team

New owner Cartwheel Kids explained that Smart Toy made sense for them as an acquisition because they felt the toy industry was ripe for innovation, according to SVP of Sales and Marketing Sunny Laurisden, who also said that their focus on a solid end-user experience above all else was key. For Smart Toy, the acquisition was on the table alongside raising further funding, but Cartwheel’s ability to provide the resources needed for mass production and distribution of a new toy won out.

The new toys are set to make their official debut at this year’s CES, and feature embedded accelerometer, NFC, 8GB SSD and Wi-Fi chip hardware, as well as a speaker and microphone.

See original here: Ubooly Acquired As It Rebrands To Focus On Building Smarts Directly Into Toys

Bag Week: Herschel Heritage BackPack Plus

Chances are, you’ve seen someone wearing a Herschel backpack. They have signature leather elements including zipper pulls and straps, depending on the series, and they always bear the company’s old-timey logo in a small white patch somewhere you can reasonably expect it to get seen.

The Heritage backpack is one of the company’s standards, as it likes to work with a limited number of different models and then change up the materials, patterns and colors in varying combinations to give shoppers ample choice. This fall, the Heritage got a Plus upgrade, which offers ample padding, both a dedicated iPad and a dedicated 15-inch laptop sleeve, and a mesh organizer pouch for easy visibility of its contents. The Heritage also has a dedicated separate shoe compartment, which is great for keeping your gym runners separate from your other stuff, and which folds flat if you want to use the full capacity of the bag’s main compartment for other gear.

Herschel has created a quality bag with the Heritage Plus, but that’s no surprise given its track record. The model we reviewed featured the eye-catching “geo” print, which is a little like camo but less obnoxious and far more appealing. The contrast black pocket sets off the look. The bag is comfortable when worn, even with a full complement of random gadget gear, a full-sized 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, an iPad Air and a pair of shoes. It’s also a fairly travel friendly bag, and should give you plenty of space for a couple of nights worth of stuff, without the checked baggage fee.

  1. herschel-heritage-plus-main

  2. herschel-heritage-plus5

  3. herschel-heritage-plus4

  4. herschel-heritage-plus3

  5. herschel-heritage-plus2

  6. herschel-heritage-plus1

  7. herschel-heritage-plus

One thing Herschel doesn’t provide in its backpacks are the kinds of cross-chest and waist support straps you might be used to from hiking bags. It’s likely an aesthetic decision, and provided this isn’t a 60L hiking pack, or a camera bag, it’s not going to make much difference to your general comfort level. Herschel’s padded back and straps have a lot more of an impact on general comfort, and they succeed here.

The Heritage Backpack Plus is $74.99, which is more than your average JanSport, but there’s an attention to detail here that shines in overall product durability, having used Herschel backpacks for longer periods in the past. Their unique look is also a big reason to buy, but the features and comfort back up the asking price, in addition to the fashion aspects.

bag-week14-banner

Excerpt from: Bag Week: Herschel Heritage BackPack Plus

Belkin Explains Why Its Routers Stopped Working

Yesterday morning, Belkin routers prevented users from accessing the Internet. In a statement provided to TechCrunch Belkin identified and outlined steps it will take to prevent it from happening again:

“One of our cloud services associated with maintaining router operations was negatively impacted by a change made in our data center that caused a false denial of service. Normal operations were restored by 3PM PST, however, some users might still be required to reset their router and/or cable modem to regain connectivity. Moving forward, we will continue to monitor, improve and validate the system to ensure our routers continue to work properly in the event connectivity to our cloud environment is not available.”

It took Belkin some 15 hours to fix the issue, which caused wide-eyed speculation and conspiracy theories.

Even with this explanation, it’s a scary thought that a local networking device can be disabled or even controlled from a remote server. Apparently, per the official statement, the outage was not caused by Belkin uploading buggy firmware, but rather one of Belkin’s remote operations.

Go here to read the rest: Belkin Explains Why Its Routers Stopped Working

Please Stop, HTC. Please.

Have a new phone? Better use fashion models to show them off. Because real people wear outfits that look like monochrome jellyfish and never smile and they want… no, need… your products.

That’s just what HTC did today in an industry that is plagued with gender inequality and “booth babe” marketing. They had models of both sexes strut around with phones designed to make it easier to take pictures of models.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.37.17 PM
The occasion for this ham-handed event was the launch of the HTC Desire Eye, a phone that features front and back 13MP cameras — you know, for the selfies. Instead of celebrating a fairly amazing achievement, they turned it into a fashion event. And when mobile companies try to put on fashion events, everyone loses.

Technology companies generally struggle to make press events like these interesting. It takes something special to get people to look up from their laptops and phones. Several years ago, Samsung put on a Broadway “show” worthy of a local community theater. But that backfired. It was hilarious rather than interesting. It was roundly derided as ridiculous.

  1. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.33.55 PM

  2. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.36.29 PM

  3. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.37.17 PM

  4. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.34.05 PM

  5. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.33.36 PM

At CES 2013 Qualcomm rolled out the psychedelic elephants and floating deadheads for an event that was clearly designed by someone dropping acid.

And now HTC joins this crowd with a fashion show featuring future Sith Lords. Well done, HTC. At least you didn’t die quietly.

Please, mobile companies, stop. There is nothing “fashion” about your product unless you count the number of celebrities who carry your phone for a week because you gave it to them. Phones are objects of desire, to be sure, but that desire is not manufactured or forced – it’s earned, and this was just a mess.

The rest is here: Please Stop, HTC. Please.