New Tech Update: Amazon Alexa can now respond to running water, bleeping appliances, & can now order presription pills

Amazon has improved sound detection for routines and made Amazon Pharmacy customers eligible for Alexa's prescription refill skill. The modifications were detailed in Amazon's Alexa monthly report for November, which also mentioned the US launch of Conversation Mode and the arrival next week of the wall-mountable Echo Show 15.

Amazon first announced its ambitions to allow custom sounds at its autumn event in September, but it doesn't appear that users can write custom sounds just yet - instead, Amazon has introduced two new noises that Alexa can detect. With the new version, the device can now detect sounds such as running water and beeping appliances.

For example, if you want Alexa to detect the chime of your dryer, you may set up a program for Alexa to notify you when your dryer turns off. Dogs barking, kids crying, sleeping, glass cracking, and smoke alarms ringing were the only sounds the device could distinguish previously.

Additionally, if you’re an Amazon Pharmacy customer, you can now say, “Alexa, refill my medications,” when you need a refill on your prescriptions. Alexa will provide you with updates on when your medications are delivered, and you can also ask Alexa to call Amazon Pharmacy if you need any assistance. In the past, the ability to request refills through Alexa was only available to Giant Eagle Pharmacy customers.

Amazon has also fully rolled out Conversation Mode for the third-gen Echo Show 10 in the US, something that it started adding to devices in November. You can opt in to the feature by saying, “Alexa, join the conversation.” After that, you can speak more “naturally” with Alexa without using a wake word.

Anyone in the room can talk to Alexa if they face the device's camera, according to Amazon. If Alexa is directly addressed during Conversation Mode, she will respond, and if she is interrupted, she will pause. The blue border that appears around the screen of the Echo Show indicates that Conversation Mode is active. Simply say, "Leave this chat" when you wish to turn it off.

 


Best switch for large networks: TRENDNET TEG-224DG

What Ethernet switch is the best?

We think the best Ethernet switch for your network depends on how many ports and features you need, but if you’re just looking for a few more Ethernet ports for wired connections, the Linksys SE3008 Gigabit Switch is a great option. It has eight ports, an easy plug-and-play setup, and simple Quality of Service (QoS) features that prioritize audio and video streaming.

About TRENDNET TEG-224DG

  1. ETHERNET PORT CONFIGURATION: 24 Gigabit RJ 45 ports provide high-speed network connections to devices and a 48Gbps switching capacity allows data traffic to flow smoothly, reducing traffic bottlenecks.
  2. ENERGY SAVINGS: The 24 Port Gigabit GREENnet Desktop Switch, model TEG S24Dg, provides high bandwidth performance, ease of use, and reliability, all while reducing power consumption by up to 70 per cent. GREENnet technology automatically adjusts power consumption as needed, resulting in substantial energy savings. Embedded GREENnet technology works right out of the box with no management requirement.
  3. Desktop Design:  Sturdy metal Ethernet desktop switch with a built-in power supply is well suited for desktop or rack-mount installations. Its fanless design is perfect for quiet environments that require a silent operation.
  4. PLUG AND PLAY: Simply power up the switch and plug-in connected devices. No software to install or configuration is needed.
  5. TRENDnet LIFETIME PROTECTION: Lifetime TRENDnet Manufacturer Warranty.
  6. LOW NOISE OPERATION: Fanless design lowers energy consumption and eliminates operating noise.
  7. MOUNTING OPTIONS: Optional Rack Mount (sold separately) Rack-mountable with ETH 11MK rack mount brackets.

 

 


Recognising Excellence in the European IT Channel

Now in their twelfth year, the European IT & Software Excellence Awards 2020/21 will showcase the cream of European software, solutions, Information, and Communication Technologies.

The awards are designed to recognize and reward excellence in the UK and European channels and include categories that are open to Solution Providers, ISVs, VARs, Systems Integrators, MSPs, Service Providers, Vendors, and Distributors.

The finalists and winners will be recognized at the European IT & Software Excellence Awards Dinner which will be held in London on 19th October 2021.

New categories for 2020/21 will recognize innovation, marketing campaigns, and specialist software delivered in a variety of ways, including SaaS, cloud, and hybrid.

Organizations wishing to enter the European IT & Software Excellence Awards or interested in sponsorship opportunities can find further information and details of the categories at: www.iteawards.com

The entry deadline has now been extended to Wednesday 31 August 2021.


Apple's MagSafe Battery review

In this review of the MagSafe Charger, you can read whether this magnetic charger is for you. How handy is it and is the MagSafe charger worth the money? We discuss the pros and cons with our experiences with the MagSafe charger.

I'm sure I speak for all Apple fans when I say I was looking forward to the AirPower, Apple's first wireless charger. The AirPower wasn't just a typical wireless charger with an Apple logo, as Apple frequently does. It has to accomplish something remarkable, such as charge your iPhone and other devices without issue and with accurate placement. However, the proposal proved to be a little too forward, and the AirPower never materialized. That is not to say that Apple has been idle, as we now have a new wireless charger from the company. The MagSafe Charger is especially for the iPhone 12series and has the main twist the magnetic attachment. Is the MagSafe Charger a must-have? Or is it better to ignore the new charger? In this review of the MagSafe Charger, we provide the answer.

MagSafe Charger review: in short

These are the main features of the Mag Safe Charger

  1. Easy to attach to the back
  2. The magnetic wireless charger is available for iPhone 12 models and higher.
  3. Can Charge with up to 15 w
  4. Available from 45 euros
  5. Round disc with aluminum housing.

For this MagSafe Charger review, we tested the regular charger. Apple also comes with the MagSafe Duo Charger, a combination between the MagSafe charger and an Apple Watch dock. This model is expected to be available later this year for an unknown price.


Best Small Business servers of 2021 so far

If you are a small business enterprise and you are not sure what server is best for you, here is the best recommendation we know would be suitable for you.

Sure, this can be initially more expensive than dedicated server hosting or renting your own bare metal server, but in the long-term, it will almost certainly prove to be the more cost-effective option, even by comparison to cheap dedicated hosting deals.

Dell PowerEdge T30

A Xeon dream with plentiful connectivity on offer.

Reasons to Buy: 

  • Fast quad-core Xeon processor
  • Room for six internal disks

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530
  • RAM: 64GB
  • Storage: Up to six SATA HDD
  • Connectivity: 10 x USB ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, serial, PS2, Gigabit  Ethernet
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 43.5 x 36cm)

There are so many different servers out there, and that means that you’ll sometimes have to sort through entire price lists in order to find the best small server for you. Just look at the Dell PowerEdge T30 – you can buy it either as a barebones or as a fully configured server. Aimed at the entry-level/SoHo market, the T30 manages to fit in a ton of expansion potential into a tiny, mini-tower-like chassis, and it even comes with a wealth of server features by default, which makes it a perfect alternative to an office workstation.


Netgear Orbi RBK50/752: Best Wi-Fi Routers 2021

With the increased use of work-from-home opportunities and the explosion of streaming, the demand for a high-quality router has never been greater. In today's connected world, nearly every home is crammed with phones, computers, smart TVs, and a slew of other devices all competing for bandwidth.

Your ISP may try to sell you a router, but it is almost certain that it will be overpriced and underperforming. Check out our top options if you want a router with superior performance, range, and functionality. We weren't promoting Wi-Fi 6 systems until recently, but most items arriving now support it, so we're comfortable starting to promote such systems.

Best Mesh Wi-Fi System

Netgear Orbi RBK50 or Orbi RBK752

Mesh Wi-Fi networks have grown in popularity. They are intended for medium- to large-sized homes when a single router cannot reach every corner. Mesh systems are more expensive than traditional routers, but they offer a number of advantages such as greater range and seamless connectivity, a simple setup process, and an enhanced management interface.

The Netgear Orbi was the greatest performer in our Mesh Wi-Fi roundup a year ago, garnering top ratings across three competing systems. A properly built mesh network will outperform a classic router with an inexpensive range booster by leaps and bounds. While boosters make it appear as if you have a strong signal throughout your home, they virtually always give slow speeds and poor dependability. Mesh networks of today use powerful routing algorithms to maintain high speeds even at long distances. They often employ separate channels for internal backhaul, whereas standard extenders consume your primary connection.

Almost every major home networking supplier has a foothold in this market, although some are better than others, and Netgear's Orbi kit is reasonably priced at $260. However, keep in mind that this is a Wi-Fi 5 only system.

Do you need the Wi-Fi 6 Mesh system?

Then send a message to our sales team: sales@easyhardwaretrading.com


Apple have done the coolest drag and drop demo ever

Apple debuted its latest macOS version today at the Worldwide Developers Conference, along with a feature dubbed Universal Control, which allows you to use your Mac's mouse or trackpad to control the cursor on an iPad or another Mac's screen, reaching into and across many devices. On the surface, it may not appear to be revolutionary, but Craig Federighi did something pretty remarkable during the demo: he moved his cursor onto an iPad, then clicked on a photo and dragged it across two other machines to place it into a Final Cut timeline.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PcKvaW5jzw

While Logitech's Flow and programs like Synergy have also enabled users to easily switch between PCs, it's not always as remarkable in practice - some solutions require specific hardware, some don't support true dragging and dropping, and still, others have cumbersome configurations. Apple's version appears to be flawless.

It is worth noting that, according to Apple’s site, there are a few small caveats for Universal Control — it will only work with three devices (so Apple was showing its full capabilities in this demo), and it won’t work on every device getting the new versions of macOS and iPadOS.

Here’s the list of Macs that can initiate Universal Control:

  • MacBook Pro (2016 and later)
  • MacBook (2016 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • iMac (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015)
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro 2019

As for iPads, it’ll work with:

  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

While the function works with iPads, it must be activated on the Mac – thus if you were hoping to transfer a file to your Mac using an Apple Pencil or your finger, you're out of luck (as fun as that sounds).

Apple claims that the function requires no setup (other than having your two devices logged in with the same Apple ID and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on), but we won't know how fast and reliable it is until we test it. Will it work every time you place your iPad next to your iMac, or will you be tapping your fingers on the desk waiting for them to understand they should be communicating?

Obviously, we'll have to wait and see how Universal Control works in practice, but the demo makes it appear as though everything just works - Federighi moved the machines close to one other and could switch between keyboards, mice, and screens. It makes for a great demo, hinting at the everlasting goal of computing: being able to use all of your gadgets together, regardless of form factor or operating system (though, of course, this version of the dream ignores non-Apple devices).


On June 24 Microsoft will reveal "what's next for windows"

Spotlight: Microsoft has sent invites to an event on June 24th, at 11:00 am ET, asking users to join them "to see what's next for Windows." The event will be hosted by Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella and Chief Product Officer Panos Panay.

During the Build conference a week ago, Microsoft teased the "next generation of Windows." What will change with the next major Windows release is unknown until something official is announced; however, if the Sun Valley enhancements make it to this release, it could mean a significant UI overhaul is on the way, including the redesign of old icons and the addition of a floating start menu. The update could also include a huge makeover of the Microsoft Store, which has been widely publicized.

Both users and developers would undoubtedly enjoy the rumored aesthetic upgrade, simpler program management, and support for unpackaged Win32 apps.

Microsoft has indicated that, despite the cancellation of Windows 10X, it intends to include some of its features into Windows 10. While we wait, you can update your PC with the Windows 10 May Update, which includes much quality of life improvements. This update will not revitalize your system, but the accompanying improvements will be greatly appreciated.

If you're interested in watching the reveal of the "next-generation of Windows," set a reminder and tune in on June 24th at 11:00am ET.

 


Sony has released a more powerful wearable AC

Sony has revealed a follow-up product to the Reon Pocket, an app-controlled "wearable air conditioner" that the company launched last year after crowdfunding it on its own website. The Reon Pocket 2 looks similar to the original model, but Sony claims that the newly built internals can achieve up to twice the level of heat absorption, resulting in more efficient cooling efficiency. Sony also claims that the sweat-proofing in the Reon Pocket 2 has been improved, making it more suitable for light workout situations.

The previous model was primarily marketed as something to wear with a special undershirt to make summer commuting more bearable, but Sony is emphasizing more flexible use cases — especially golf — this time around. The company has collaborated with sportswear brands such as Le Coq Sportif, Munsingwear, and Descente to create a line of golf clothing with pockets for the unit.

Sony has also created a neckstrap accessory to enable the Reon Pocket to be worn with regular clothing. Previously, you had to purchase a slew of pocketed undershirts from Sony.

The Reon Pocket 2 is out today in Japan for 14,850 yen (about $138). No word on a release elsewhere.


Motorolla rolls out a Dex-style desktop to the Edge Plus

Motorola is expanding its flagship handset, the Edge Plus, with a new desktop machine interface named Ready For. Ready For, like Samsung's DeX, allows users to plug their smartphone into a larger screen (via a USB-C to USB-C or USB-C to HDMI cable), allowing the Edge Plus (and potentially future Motorola phones) to be used as a device or even a set-top box option.

Ready For can be used in four different ways, according to the company. Users can turn the Edge Plus into a mobile desktop computer system, complete with a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard — similar to DeX.

However, Motorola has some more intriguing ideas about how to use Edge Plus. Another, for example, transforms the Edge Plus into a videoconference station, using the smartphone's superior cameras (either the 108-megapixel main lens or the 16-megapixel ultrawide lens) for a better video chat experience. There are also opportunities for entertainment. Players can attach a controller to the Edge Plus and use it as a makeshift console for native mobile games like Fortnite or game-streaming services like xCloud. Users may also use their phone as a portable set-top box — Motorola envisions plugging the Edge Plus into a hotel room TV, for example, allowing you access to all your already logged-in streaming apps when traveling without having to think about your room's Wi-Fi configuration.

Ready For (also known as DeX) is not the first effort to turn a smartphone into a device. The history of cell phones is riddled with unsuccessful attempts, such as the Palm Foleo or Motorola's own Atrix 4G's LapDock adapter. Although Motorola's use cases are a little naive (and even too optimistic about the number of users who keep HDMI to USB-C cables on hand), there are definitely more innovative ideas for converting a phone to a larger screen than a half-baked desktop computer experience.

Motorola's Ready For experience is scheduled to begin rolling out to Verizon Edge Plus users today.