Wednesday, Dec 18 2013 06:00 AM

Smaller, faster, portable... do you have one?

While you may be using a computer such as a laptop or desktop to check your e-mail, go on Facebook, stay in touch with friends or do some gift shopping during this holiday season, it is very likely that the computer you are using is already old and outdated technology, even if it is only a couple of years (or months) old.

Ever since the iPod came out more than 10 years ago, the world was shown by Apple that micro-processing, the ability to include faster speed in a smaller chip, was the way of the future. The iPod continued to grow in popularity with different makes, models, sizes, storage capacities, colors and an array of different internal and external features.

Since the iPhone was released, it has become apparent that not only should a small lightweight device be able to play music, but it should also have the capability to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, e-mails, browse the Internet and basically do everything that a computer can do -- all wirelessly, just as fast and at anytime and anywhere we want.

As a matter of fact, at the time the iPhone was released, it was faster and better than many computers only a year old at that point. Now that the iPad is available and other companies have followed with different devices, operating systems and features, the world has rapidly been migrating toward a more portable, faster and convenient society, technically speaking.

So, what's the deal with these tablets and phones? If you were unable to stay caught up in the hype over the last few years, there are features and things to look for with these "smart" devices that you might just be intrigued by.

For starters, a "smart" device, by cultural definition, is a gadget that has the capability to make phone calls, send and receive text messages and can access Internet features such as e-mail, browsing, updating, application communication, etc.

A smart device comes in various sizes and flavors nowadays. All smart devices will likely come in one of these three popular operating systems: iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android/Droid or Windows Mobile/Windows RT. Blackberry recently filed for bankruptcy and is slowly being phased out.

iOS is easier to use but is more restrictive. Android/Droid is harder to grasp at first but allows more features. Windows Mobile/RT is a little bit of both; it is somewhat easy at first and it gives you access to most Windows-based programs.

Keep in mind that iOS is the safest of the three in terms of getting infected with malware or being hacked.

A smartphone or tablet can perform many actions nowadays, some that may even surprise you.

* A smart device can know, based on your schedule, whether you are in a meeting, sleeping, driving or even looking away from the phone and will automatically adjust the volume, display, brightness, call and text handling and battery usage appropriately.

* It can control your TV, computer and kitchen appliances or even lock and unlock the burglar alarm or lights in your house from anywhere in the world.

* Your smart device can give you your itinerary for the day. It can tell you what the weather will be, how far you are from work and/or home, display immediate breaking news and traffic alerts, sports scores and stock reports -- all on one screen at the same time.

* Also, you can scan items with the smart device's built-in camera at the supermarket or outlet store -- then give you the price, show you what others charge for it, provide you with reviews and add it to a virtual shopping list for later. If it's a food item, you can automatically add it to a virtual journal if you are logging your eating habits down to the exact nutrient.

* Plus you can take a picture with the built-in camera of almost anything; it it's as a landmark, your device will activate Google Goggles and will tell you exactly what it is you just took a picture of and immediately provide you with a ton of historical and other miscellaneous information -- which you can then e-mail off or even share on Facebook or YouTube instantly.

These are just a few of some of the other well or less-known abilities and features "smart" devices have the capability of doing.

Such features are just the tip of the iceberg. If you seem intrigued by them or the concepts in general, perhaps it is time to pick up a tablet or smart phone and maybe even dump the computer altogether.

My personal favorite and recommendation of a smart phone is the "Nexus 5" and tablet is the "iPad." Go to an electronics store or look them up online and you may just be convinced to move along with the rest of this smaller, faster and portable tech world.


MATTHEW SGHERZI lives in Tehachapi where he has operated an IT business since 2007 (tehachapicomputers.com).

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