Chris Richards

marketing | branding | tech | startups

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Chromecast: A Modern Media Consumer’s Dream

A while back when Google’s Chromecast was announced, I didn’t immediately understand it’s purpose. Fast forward to now, and I couldn’t more highly recommend any gadget for the price. Should you buy one too? Without hesitation.

Chromecast HDMI dongle

In case you haven’t noticed, TV these days is terrible. Even with hundreds of cable channels, there’s rarely anything on worth watching when you want to watch. With Chromecast, I’ve exponentially increased my viewing options, and the reality has only just sunken in. Things like full National Geographic documentaries are now at my fingertips, ready to cast right onto the TV in full HD. With so much content on YouTube, this $35 device literally opened up a new world of watching, and I find myself using it more and more.

It may seem silly and lazy, but the way this little “dongle” immediately turns on – it automatically switches to its  input as soon as you tell it to cast a video – just totally improves the experience of online video watching. And it’s amazing how much more enjoyable watching something on the TV is compared to the confines of a small laptop of phone screen.

Chromecasting National Geographic in HD for Free!

Better yet, it makes the experiencing of finding a video or something to watch a more social experience. The way someone else can grab control and “cast” their own content up onto the screen, makes searching for/finding videos an activity in its own right.

Does the device still have some flaws? Of course, the full-screen tab casting could be greatly improved, but so far the app experience (YouTube and Netflix) has been nearly flawless. But like the Chromebook, I can’t wait to see how this gadget gets updated. With time, it’s bound to become an even more useful component in the modern media consumer’s arsenal.


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Making Old Gadgets Feel Worth Something

Ebay My GadgetsFor those that are into technology, you already know that once new tech comes into your life, it becomes hard to keep your older gadgets feeling worthwhile. But, I’m one of those types of people that hangs on to my tech, even past its prime. With eBay’s My Gadgets, I am very glad to see that clinging to all that tech over the years might actually pay off.

comparing value between my gadgets

As you can see above, from the brief inventory I took of the gadgets immediately around me, I’m actually surrounded by quite a few valuable pieces! The cool thing that My Gadgets does is to rank your technology according to the average prices eBay users are getting by selling on the site. It feels like a mix of magic and the feeling of walking into a pawn shop, waiting for your items to be judged by the shop keeper.

Notice anything funny about my gadgets I’ve started to list? That old Nintendo 64 is actually worth more than a 5th generation iPod! Adding gadgets to the list just to see their relative value is pretty addictive, and it kind of made me wish I had kept some of the other things (like laptops, cell phones, etc.) that I’ve given or thrown away over the years.

Knowing that there’s a chance of winning the ultimate gadget collection by adding more gadgets to the list, I’ve found myself imagining life with a brand new collection of technology.


Samsung vs. Acer: Chromebooks

So, I did end up getting a Chromebook. Well, technically, I didn’t get it right away. But I did receive an “IOU” from my father as a great Christmas present this year. Though I’ve already mentioned that the Samsung model was higher on my priority list, both it and the Acer are very similar in terms of specs.

So, my willpower was tested today as I browsed Best Buy’s selection only to find the Acer in stock. I was tempted to snatch one up and take it home, instead of waiting for the Samsung to be restocked, but I resisted for a few reasons.

Chromebooks: Samsung vs AcerWhen it comes down to it, the Samsung Chromebook provides far better value than the Acer. Engadget breaks down the differences quite nicely, but I’ll summarize my thoughts here:

  • Most noticeably, the Acer looks cheap. It looks like a $200 device, whereas the Samsung looks like a high quality Macintosh-esque product. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer feels cheap. Touching it, the Acer feels like something out of the early 2000s or like an early Netbook. It has a dull gray, steel color that’s rough to the touch and feels chunky/bulky even if it is only a couple pounds. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer’s screen is glossy. The demo unit was covered in greasy finger prints and the gloss was not attractive at all. Again, the Samsung wins in the screen department with its soft matte finish and 1366 x 768 resolution. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Samsung has Bluetooth. Even though I don’t use it often, it seems like a good “future-proof” feature to include. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer has a 300+ gig hard drive, while the Samsung only has 15 gigs. (+1 Acer)
  • The Samsung has a solid state hard drive that makes it super speedy and attractive, even if it is a tad small. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer has a big vent down the left side which houses a traditional cooling fan. What is so cool about the Samsung is that it doesn’t have any moving parts. No fans, no moving parts. (+1 Samsung)

Maybe I’m a bit harsh on the Acer, but for $50 more (and a waitlist) to get the Samsung, the styling and functional benefits are clearly worth it. If this is my first  foray into the “cloud world” of Chromebooks, I want to do it well. I choose Samsung.

EDIT (1.15.2013): After using the Samsung Chromebook for over a week now, I noticed one thing right away. It scratches very easily! I carried it to in my regular backpack and took it out only to find some dark spots that seemed to be rubbed in from moving around in the bag slightly. My recommendation: Buy a small Caselogic protective cover if you want to be carrying this thing around.

EDIT (3.11.13): Great news for Chromebook owners – Netflix has been made officially compatible with the Samsung. Download the Netflix Chromebook App here and get watching! This was the only thing holding me back from recommending this device hands-down to everyone.

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Some (Unnecessary) Thoughts on the iPhone 5

apple is coasting on their success

Everyone’s talking about it, I know. So, basically it’s pointless to write anything about Apple’s new phone because it’s all being said right now. But this is a blog, so I’ll write if I want to.

My friend, Ben, just sent me an article from Wired titled, The iPhone 5 Is Completely Amazing and Utterly Boring, and I can’t help but agree fully. This quote nailed my sentiments for the new product directly on the head, expressing exactly what I felt as I watched the underwhelming live presentation yesterday:

…But mostly it is the Toyota Prius of phone updates. It is an amazing triumph of technology that gets better and better, year after year, and yet somehow is every bit as exciting as a 25 mph drive through a sensible neighborhood at a reasonable time of day. It’s not going to change your life. It’s not even going to offer a radically different experience.

To seal the deal that this new phone is nothing life-changing, nor innovative on any bigger level, take a look at the reactions earned from Jimmy Kimmel’s social experiment.

The people impressed by this supposedly amazing new phone can’t even tell the difference between the existing model and the one that was announced! And here I thought Samsung was the one found guilty of copying design. At this point, Apple is resting on its success, and bringing little to nothing to the party.

The College Humor video referenced in the picture up top also says everything I could have wanted to say. So, watch that too!