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Episode 38: Google's ChromeBook Pixel gets the ultimate road testHave dreams of living in the cloud? Three testers take the 13-inch Google ChromeBook Pixel out for a test drive. We unbox the stylish Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet. Plus, Jeff drives NASA's Space Exploration Vehicle on a simulated Mars surface.
-Next stop, the moon. -This week on Always On-- -Yes. -Are there lasers? -This is a really nice box. My favorite. We're gonna find out if you guys can live in the Cloud. -I just can't even plug it in. -Hell, no. -Welcome to Always On. I am Molly Wood. -And I'm Jeff Cannata. -This is the show where we take a look at the tech that's part of your life. -And your future. -And this week we're taking a look at a hot now 8-inch tablet. -Oh, the Galaxy Note 8. It's got a ton of really cool features. -And a ton of buzz, so let's take it out of the box. Today we are unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. I'm pretty excited about this little tablet. It is sort of bucking the 7-inch tablet trend by going all the way to 8 inches, although that trend let's be fair was first bucked by the iPad mini. So let's get this thing out of the box and check it out. Do not accept if the seal is broken. This is a really nice box. It sort of feels like it's like all recycly, you know, slightly more responsible seeming box. It's not shiny. So we have the Wi-Fi 16-gigabyte version. Unfortunately there is a version that has 3G connectivity built in, but that one is not coming out in the U.S., only in the U.K. Galaxy Note 8.0. I love this new trend towards stickers that tell you everything that's going on inside the tablet. The tablet is also nice, lightweight, nice big camera right on the back and let's see what else is in the box. All right. So we have our little manual, our white charging cable which just is my favorite, micro USB. Pretty good size power brick. All right. And that is it. And then I'm sure we can just recycle this. No problem. I'm gonna go through some setup and in the meantime here are the specs on the Galaxy Note 8. The Galaxy Note 8 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Samsung's custom TouchWiz UI. It does have a stylus which they like to call the S Pen. I do not like to call it that. I like to call it a stylus. It has a 1.6 gigahertz quad core processor with 2 gigabytes of internal RAM. The Note 8's display is 8 inches with a 1280x800 pixel resolution. That's not bad compared to the iPad mini which has just 1024x768. Samsung claims you'll get 14 hours of battery life which is not bad but of course we'll have to test that. The front-facing camera is not impressive, 1.3 megapixels. The rear-facing camera is also not that impressive at 5 megapixels. In terms of ports you get micro USB, a slot for the S Pen, and a micro SD card slot. The Note 8 is expandable up to 64 gigabytes. Now for the bad news. The iPad mini costs $329 to start. The Note 8 which is probably its best competitor is $399. So let's compare the Note 8 to its primary competition, the iPad mini. Now the screen is better and I actually prefer the size a little bit. The Note 8 is a little bit taller than the iPad but what I really like about it is that it has this sort of extra bezel space on the side. That actually makes it easier to hold than the iPad mini because if your thumb kind of strays on to the screen, you'll start making things happen. This one if you're using it as an e-reader or something like that, you actually have a place for your thumb. All of that said, this is a wonderful tablet with a truly bummer price tag. When I found out it was $399, I was crushed because I think it has so much potential. It's so nice to use and it's such a nice size, but with all those 7-inch tablets being $200 or less, that $399 tag could be a killer. Now for the most part our CNET editors do agree with me but go on over to CNET.com to read the full review yourself. -That Galaxy Note 8 looks really nice. -Yes. -Can't wait to check it out. -It's nice. I mean that price is kind of a killer. -Yes. -We'll see. Jeff and I get to road test it in an upcoming episode, so we'll let you know things a little bit. -Can't wait for that. -Yes. All right. We're gonna take a quick break. When we come back another road test. This time the Chromebook Pixel. -And I get to check out what's next for NASA's exploratory space missions. -Welcome back, everyone. Now I do love the occasional beautiful expensive and practical items. So I fell in love with the Chromebook Pixel-- -Yes, you did. -When we unboxed it. -When we unboxed, you loved it but is it more than just a pretty face, Molly? -I don't know. Maybe we should find out. Time to road test the innovative Chromebook Pixel. We have some expert product testers here and we're gonna find out if you guys can live in the Cloud. Brian, Abby, and Herman. Each of you will spend 2 to 3 days with the Pixel. Are you familiar with this kind of Google laptop? -I've seen some reviews and had a chance to look at it a little bit, but curious to see how it works in the real world. -And, Abby, I know you're in production. How do you feel about the idea of something as basically just a browser? -I'm a little skeptical about it. I'm not sure if they can do everything that I want it to do, but I do use Google products, so-- -All right. And then, Herman, I'm thinking that you live on a Cloud. Do you live in the Cloud? -Oh, I am a Cloud. So I can't wait to test it out. -He has his own weather. All right, guys. Have fun with the Chromebook and then we'll get back together in a week or so and we'll report back. -Hi. My name is Abby Berendt Lavoi. I'm a professional filmmaker and producer and I love to shoot video and read comic books. -I'm Bryan Fischer, Senior Correspondent for the Pac-12 Networks and I am always connected. -Hey, my name is Herman Chan, a real estate broker extraordinaire. I'm a Bay area native and I went to Cal. Go Bears. My first impression when I see this packaging is if it were not for this Google insignia here, I would've thought this was a Mac product. -The first thing that I do notice is that the screen resolution is beautiful, but it is a glass screen and not a matte screen which I don't like because it has so much reflection in it. So that kind of takes away from how beautiful this screen does look. -You know I like the design, I like the look of it. It's a little bit darker which is a good color and otherwise you know it's solidly built and definitely feels like it's one piece of machine. -The Chrome OS is fairly user friendly. -I think it'll be cool that I can do this touchscreen swiping and stuff like that and I think that would be really useful if I were meeting a client in a presentation, but me sitting in my car or at an open house or at my desk, doing this all day would ergonomically just kill my shoulder. -I mean I think the only limited thing on this laptop and especially working outside is probably the battery life. I think that's part that's only negative. -I just had shot some footage and it's on this card here, so I wanted to see. I'm pretty sure it's not gonna work, but I just kind of wanted to see if it would load onto to this computer. And the first issue I ran into is there's no FireWire 800, so I just can't even plug it in. So I'm gonna try this one. It has the USB so let's see. And there it is. It looks like you can actually play it. I seriously didn't think it would play. -Well, I would love to tell you more about the app experience. However, I can't log on because apparently I need a Wi-Fi hotspot to get on the internet. So I mean that's a big downer for me. -It's a little bit too big to kind of take it with you to say a press conference and what not and run up and down and get interviews but if you're just kind of staying in 1 spot, you know, it's pretty solid. The aspect ratio is a little different, you know. It is 4:3, it's not the 16:9 I'm really used to and you know someone who likes to have Twitter up on the side, I'd rather have that with. I like the idea of having Cloud apps, but you know traveling and doing all that, you know, you kind of wanna make sure you can have that offline capability. -So here we are back where we started with the Chromebook Pixel. I can't wait to get you guys your thoughts. So what do you think about the Chrome OS then and the usability of life in the Cloud? -I like Chrome. I use it all the time but I also like options so I was little bummed I couldn't use Safari or anything else, but it was easy to use. -Yes. So what, did you find it easy to use also? -I would love to live in the Cloud but the thing is that it's predicated upon wireless and if you don't go wireless, then it's kind of to hunt. -Oh. Friend, how about you in these-- -I mean you can use Google docs or spreadsheets and all that's great but kind of do more than that especially for that price. You know I was looking for some more options and just didn't see it. -All right. Overall for $1299, Pixel, would you buy it? -Do not buy. -Do not buy. What about you? -Hell, no. -Hell, no. And Bryan? -No buying. -No chance on the Chromebook Pixel. It's really, really pretty. Nobody wants it. I cannot believe my beautiful Chromebook Pixel got a hell, no. -Yes. It did get a hell, no, although there is the LTE version which lets you be connected all the time, maybe that would be what people would like more. -That's true although they may have to pay $1450 plus a monthly service. -Yes. -That's some tough sell. -That's a lot of money. -It turns out, yes. Okay, but you know what really costs a lot of money? -Deep space. -Space exploration. -Yes. -Jeff got to get a look at the future of like trips to the moon, trips to Mars-- -Even trips to asteroids and ways that you can explore these rocks without having to get into a space suit. It's really cool. -Check it out. -3, 2, 1. -We may have seen the last of the modern man space flight missions, but that doesn't mean we're giving up on sending astronauts to space. NASA is hard at work right now on missions to the moon by 2020, asteroids by 2025, and Mars by 2030. This is NASA's space exploration vehicle weighing 6,600 pounds. It's a futuristic concept designed by engineers to explore the surface of the moon and Mars. Let's take a look. -The goal of this vehicle is to be able to explore the surface of Mars, the moon, or any other planet, to make observations through the front of it. -Right. -So you can be scouting out different parts of the planet. -Right and looking for you know either geological things or signs of life or whatever the science happens to be. -And you pull up to something, you say that's interesting, I wanna get out and explore it further. -Which is easy to do when you consider all the tech built into this vehicle. First, it's all electric with a lithium ion battery that powers it and it's controlled with this steering stick. There's also a dozen cameras attached to the exterior and the 12 wheels can each pivot 360 degrees, so it can drive up and down most slopes. So can we take it for a ride? -Yes, absolutely. -All right. Let's do it. -I'll give you a ride and I'll turn it over to you and you can drive. -I can drive? -You can drive. -I can drive. I'm so excited. Next stop, the moon. Oh. Oh my God. Oh my God. That's amazing. This is what you call the crab mode so we're actually blending a Y command with a little bit of yaw and it allows you to go around and keep your optimal window view for what you're trying to look at. All right. Moving to Mars. We're going up. Oh, look around. We're just rotating like it's nothing. It's so fast. How incredible. NASA has also designed the vehicle so astronauts can venture outside. There's a space suit port integrated into the back hatch that makes it possible to step into the suit right from the cabin and go for a spacewalk. But if astronauts just wanna explore from inside, there's also a specially-designed window for better viewing. This bubble was made for astronauts to be able to actually stick their face in and observe rocks up close while staying inside the SEV. You can actually pitch it down so that we can look right up close next to the rock. How cool is that? Pilot selected. -Okay. You have got the vehicle. -All right. Here we go. Oh my God. I'm going into the crater. Oh my God. It's amazing. It's the coolest video game you've ever played in your life. All right. I'm turning to crab now. -Okay. All right. And I'll start twisting the stick. -Twisting the stick. Oh, here we go. -You're actually doing quite good. -Thank you. I played my fair share of joystick games. This is insanely steep. Faith in the vehicle. Incredible. Oh, crazy. I'm driving a space vehicle. I'm driving a space vehicle on the simulated lunar surface right now. 10-year-old me, eat your heart out. NASA has also developed this prototype for deep space exploration. It's for missions that can one day explore near earth asteroids. This vehicle let's astronauts check out the surface of those asteroids, surveying and collecting geological samples to study later. So where is all of this headed? Are we going to be mining asteroids? -The more we know about asteroids, the better position we'll be in to deflect them because some day maybe 100 years from now or 100 million years from now a big asteroid is gonna hit the earth. -So we wanna find out how to make that not happen. -Exactly and as some people have said if the dinosaurs had a space program, they wouldn't be extinct. -All right. So I got to drive the wheeled one. -Right. -Can we give this one a spin? -Yes. Let's go inside. -All right. I'm gonna follow my commander and go toward where the laser pointer is pointed on the asteroid. It's just like the video game Asteroids. -Okay. -At this momentum. I mean I have a lot of experience with video game asteroids so probably I'm pretty good with this. But all joking aside, this is no video game, and NASA is serious about using vehicles like these for future space missions whether it's to the moon, Mars, and yes even near-earth asteroids. I hope you could tell how much fun I was having at NASA. -Yes, dude. You're breaking my heart. -It was really a childhood dream come true, and it's interesting how they've actually had to change the name of some of these projects to justify the fact that they're no longer using them for what they started out as which was trips to the moon and we're not doing that anymore. -But it is good to know that deep space exploration is still on the table. -Yes. -Yes. -And I wanna snag an asteroid in an asteroid bag. -I know that's-- -That's what we're doing, we're bagging asteroids. -That is awesome. All right. It feels like kind of a let-down but I know it's not. Let's read some of your mail. Here we go. Our first email comes from Dominic who says, "Hi, Molly. I'm Dominic and I saw you, Molly, unbox the Nexus 4 and I thought it was awesome, but I also thought that the HTC One and the LG Optimus G Pro was good too. From the 3 phones, which one do you think is best? And I also heard rumors about the Nexus 4 easily slipping off tables and everyone said that it was nothing different holding the Nexus 4 and holding wet soap. Wow. Really slippery. -That's right. I didn't know everyone said that. -Everyone said that. And people also said the Nexus 4 isn't as durable as they said it would be because of the Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Are all of these rumors true? Thanks. I think you're cool and Jeff, too. Love the show." Dominic from Jakarta, Indonesia. -Wow, very cool. -I know. I can't say if all of those rumors are true like the wet soap one because we're not really saying that here but maybe-- -Right. -In Indonesia that's what we're all saying. I will tell you though it is slippery. I have it here. It's also fragile. So this is the Nexus 4 from the show. -Look at that. -We have not-- I know. We have not torture tested it but the glass back did crack. -That's from use. -Everyday use. -Wow. -Like I think it might have fallen off a bedside table on to the floor. -Which it does because it's slippery like soap. -Yes. We can't spoil obviously upcoming torture tests of the HTC One and other phones, but I will say that this is definitely not the toughest phone around. If you are worried about durability and don't wanna use a case, I would maybe look at the HTC One. -Interesting. -Hope that's helpful. -All right. This one comes from-- -Wet soap. Oh, sorry. -Wet soap. This one comes from Aaron H. who says, "Hi, Molly and Jeff. I have a Fitbit One and I use it with my Nokia Lumia 920 and have an idea for a torture test for both. -Went two for-- -I used both when I work out and after today's 3-mile run I got in my complexes vitamin E and saltwater hot tub like I do after every workout. -Don't well all? -Right. However this time I manage to get in the hot tub with the phone in my pocket and the Fitbit clipped to my gym shorts, I noticed I had the phone in my pocket immediately and I didn't get it very wet. However I completely forgot the Fitbit and it stayed fully immersed for about 30 minutes in 110-degree water. Shockingly, both devices are no worse for wear and worked flawlessly without any drying off. -No way. -Pretty impressive. -No way. -Anyway, I think it would be a good idea to torture devices in the way you would work out with them since we have our phones and fitness devices on us all the time even when we work out, should they be able to survive sweat and maybe the occasional dip in a hot tub. -Wow. -That's pretty impressive. Maybe the vitamin E acted as a protective agent. -And also you get to see how many calories you are burning while sitting in a hot tub. -Also we now know that Aaron goes directly from his run to the hot tub like do not pass go, do not remove the gym shorts. -I can't blame him for that. -Overshare. Just kidding. Please keep oversharing. We beg you. Thank you for the feedback. You can email us at email@example.com or of course find us on Facebook and Google+ and the Twitter. That's it for this week, everyone. Coming up next week on Always On, we are unboxing a really big phone. -Holy moly. That's a big phone. -Big. -Plus we're roadtesting the Galaxy S4 checking out the eye-tracking features and some of the other things that make that phone unique. -That's right. All that coming up next week. Until then, thank you for watching Always On. -See you next week.