Tag Archives: gadget

STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L

This weeks review centres on a product that is aimed at safely carrying your gadgets or in particular your laptop computer.

For the past few weeks, I have been testing the STM Myth 18 L Laptop Backpack. STM Goods were founded 20 years ago when the founder Ethan Nyholm realised that carrying his laptop around in a padded envelope whilst hiking wasn’t a lasting solution! He teamed up with Adina Jacobs and together they have been making fashion-conscious tech-carrying gear.

STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L
STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L

The Myth is available in three colour schemes, Granite Black, Slate Blue and Winsdor Wine, min was the latter.

Unlike most laptop bags which are simply foam-padded, the Myth utilises a proprietary technology called ‘SlingTech’ which features extra padding and gapless corners and actually ‘suspend’ your laptop away from the edges of the bag and thus out of harm’s way.

Aside from this ingenious protection, the bag also boasts a ton of features including music-centric CableReady systems, AirPod pocket and Earbud keeper. It also has a PassPort feature which allows you to securely attach other luggage whilst travelling, this is integrated with lumbar support, which made carrying the bag very comfortable. Helped by the Air-Channel back-panel which promotes air-flow and keeps you cool, so no more sweaty backs!

STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L
STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L

Aside from the standard back-carry straps, there is also a TPU coated webbing hand which is riveted in place. This allows you to carry the bag and the solid constructions keep it from banging off your legs.

Inside the bag is a myriad of storage, plenty to carry up to 16″ laptop and associated printed material. There are also several internal pockets for pens, plugs and accessories. It also has a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket!

STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L
STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L

The outside of the back is Water repellent and the outer zippers use reverse-coil zippers to protect the teeth and keep moisture and dirt out.

The bag is made from 100% polyester with dimensions of H 17.7 x D 11.4 x W 5.9 in / H 45.0 x D 29.0 x W 15.0 cm. The bag weighs in a 2.2 lbs / 1.0kg (without the laptop!).

I’ve been using this as my main laptop bag for a few weeks, my 15″ Macbook Pro slides in effortlessly and when fully unzipped the bag doesn’t just fall open, it feels like it is opening on a hinge and means the contents aren’t going to just spew out all over the place.

STM Myth Backpack
STM Myth Backpack

The bag feels extremely sturdy and very very comfortable to wear. The added back support is welcome and the flat base means it isn’t falling over when you place it on the floor. I can see many commuters finding a back like this very useful indeed and it has plenty of storage space inside.

If you fancy trying out the bag yourself, you can download STM’s App and use the AR Tag printed here. Once you get it going, it’s quite a bit of fun to play with and you can see how their bags look before purchase. https://www.stmgoods.com/stm-app2/

STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L
STM Myth Laptop Backpack 18L

Samsung isn’t listening to your private conversations after all

There’s been quite a lot of coverage in the UK media overnight regarding the supposed ability for Samsung Smart TV’s to listen in to our private conversations. It all makes great headlines I guess, but after being prompted to comment on BBC Radio Suffolk about the story, we decided to look into the matter a bit more closely.

The story was originally brought to the media’s attention after publication on the online news site The Daily Beast (view) which highlights a particular portion of the Smart TV Privacy Policy (view). The specific section states (important bit in bold):

  1. Voice Recognition
    1. You can control your SmartTV, and use many of its features, with voice commands.
    2. If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.
    3. If you do not enable Voice Recognition, you will not be able to use interactive voice recognition features, although you may be able to control your TV using certain predefined voice commands. While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it.
    4. You may disable Voice Recognition data collection at any time by visiting the “settings” menu. However, this may prevent you from using all of the Voice Recognition features.

Again, we looked into the technology behind the TV and found the that these specific Smart TV’s work in two modes of operations

1) The viewer can operate basic features of the TV by saying ‘Hi TV’ out loud. The TV wakes up and can be told to “Change Channel”, “Volume Up” etc. These commands are very basic and no online communication takes place at all.

2) This mode of operation can only be triggered by depressing the ‘Mic’ button on the remote control. whilst depressed, the view can ask natural language questions such as ‘What shall I watch tonight?’. It is at this point that your words are being recorded, when you finish talking those words are transmitted securely to third party natural language translation company Nuance (You might have heard of Nuance as they make the very popular dictation software Dragon Naturally Speaking). Upon arrival at Nuance’s servers, the spoken phrase in converted to text, the recording discarded and the text returned back to the TV for processing. Using a 3rd party means that the accuracy of the translation is much higher and less errors are likely to come about due to difference accents or dialects being used.

So, put simply. Unless someone with very advanced decryption abilities is permanently listening in to your internet connection on the vain hope that you might (whilst asking your TV to find you something to watch) divulge some deeply private secret, the chances of any kind of security breach is very low indeed.

I contacted Samsung for comment and a spokesperson issued the following statement:-

Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously and our products are designed with privacy in mind. We employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.

Voice recognition, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, is a Samsung Smart TV feature, which can be activated or deactivated by the user. Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only. Users can easily recognize if the voice recognition feature is activated because a microphone icon appears on the screen.

If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search to execute the command. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.

Samsung encourages consumers to contact the company directly with any product concerns or questions.

So, should we be concerned? Well, yes we should always be concerned about our privacy and where possible take every step we see fit to ensure it is maintained. We are at constant threat of having our privacy interfered with under the veil of protection by companies and possibly governments, so we should shown caution.

However, an obvious legal statement to protect a manufacturer from litigation is perfectly acceptable in our over litigious world and I think in this case, it has been taken out of context.

I would be very interested in what you think, so please feel free to comment as you see fit.

Samsung Gear 2 – Smart Watch or Novelty?

As smart technology begins to adapt into new frontiers, stretching its boundaries beyond that of the phone and into other common devices, the Samsung Gear 2 seems to be one of the first to really achieve what it is to be a smart ‘watch’, but does that make it necessary, or an extravagant novelty?

Continue reading Samsung Gear 2 – Smart Watch or Novelty?