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REVIEW: LG QUANTUM with Windows Phone 7#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Microsoft has gone all out in making an impact with Windows Phone 7, with lots of marketing an exposure. However, the operating system is only a part of the overall phone equation. Windows Phone 7 did see the launch of a number of new devices from hardware manufacturers as well.

While Microsoft’s “Chassis” approach with strong hardware criteria has made for great similarities for Windows Phone 7 devices on the inside, there is still room for innovation and differentiation from manufacturers. The initial launch of Windows Phone 7 has seen a variety of features in the initial wave of devices in terms of screen sizes, sound capabilities and other amenities. One example of differentiation can be found in the LG QUANTUM. The QUANTUM is the AT&T-branded version of LG’s OPTIMUS 7 line.

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The folks at LG were good enough to contact me a short time back, offering me the opportunity to try out the LG QUANTUM for review. Having already had Windows Phone 7 experience, I was intrigued by what the QUANTUM had to offer. After using this phone for a while, I can say that there is quite a bit in the offering for those desiring certain features and functionality out of their Windows Phone 7 device.

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LG QUANTUM Highlights

  • Windows Phone 7
  • “Grippable” design
  • Physical keyboard
  • DLNA-enabled
  • Battery life

What’s In The Box

My LG QUANTUM review unit shipped with the standard configuration for AT&T. Items in the box included:

  • LG QUANTUM phone
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Headset
    • In-ear bud design
    • 3.5mm jack
  • microUSB to USB cable
  • USB to AC power adapter

The kitting was pretty much a standard AT&T offering, with standard branding in logos and colors.

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The Hardware – First Impressions

The first thing I noticed about the LG Quantum was the actual material makeup of the exterior. Personally, I have noticed a continuing trend from phone manufacturers towards the “shiny and smooth” approach with hardware. While this may be visually appealing, I constantly get the feeling with many devices that I am one small mistake away from the device slipping (or shooting if I squeeze too tightly) out of my hands. This is far from the case with the LG QUANTUM. The outer surface, especially along the sides, is designed for better gripping. Holding the device in my hands for the first time, I felt far more confident that the phone would not end up on the floor.

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The size of the phone makes for a nice fit in my (and I presume most peoples’) hands. My recent phone experience has been with phone that include large screens. While this makes for a nice viewing experience, it can make for an awkward experience when simply holding the phone or using the phone as a phone itself. Considering the fact that I have somewhat larger hands than most, I can imagine that a large-screen device could be even more uncomfortable experience for many. This is definitely not the case with the LG QUANTUM. The phone fits nicely in the hand and, when combined with the gripping nature of the exterior surface, makes for a pleasant experience.

The general feel of the LG QUANTUM is quite solid. While the device feels somewhat heavier than other phones I have worked with recently, it does not feel bulky. Of course, some of the additional weight can be attributed to the addition of a physical keyboard (more on that shortly).

From a Windows Phone controls perspective, the LG QUANTUM is designed with a physical hardware button for the Windows Start screen, and two touch-sensitive areas for the “Back” and “Search” functions. I do have to say that this takes some getting used to. With no tactile feedback for these two buttons, I often had to look at my device in order to touch in the correct place.

The LG QUANTUM also includes standard buttons for volume control (on the right-side of the phone), camera (on the right-side of the phone) and power/screen toggle (on the top of the device). LG chose a very “low-profile” approach with these buttons. While this makes the buttons less intrusive and less prone to accidental touches, it does make for some “trial and error” if trying to manipulate the buttons without looking at the device. The biggest case in point for this is the power button, which I found myself having to visually locate at times.

The LG QUANTUM also includes a cover for the microUSB port (on the upper left-side of the device). In a totally personal opinion, I tend to find these covers a bit annoying. While they do provide for nicer aesthetics and some protection, my experiences with these types of covers is that they eventually wear out and break off.

Overall, I found the hardware packaging to be quite nice. The device is easy to hold and very “pocketable” as well. 

The Keyboard

A major differentiator for the LG QUANTUM is the addition of a physical slide-out keyboard.

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The keyboard slides in and out smoothly and easily. The keyboard includes full QWERTY alpha support, with numeric and special character keys accessible via a Function button. The keys are of the “chiclet-style” variety, allowing for reasonable tactile response. The Function and Uppercase keys are on the left-side of the keyboard and are a bit different. They are small, round and metallic buttons.

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One item I noted was that when the keyboard was slid out, the overall weight and balance of the phone still felt very good. In many phones I have used in the past, sliding out the keyboard made the phone feel very unbalanced in my hands. As a result, I had to be extra careful to grip the keyboard area of the phone to avoid the entire phone flipping out of my hand. This was definitely not the case with the LG QUANTUM and was a big plus in my mind. 

There was a time where I basically demanded a physical keyboard for my phone. With recent advances in on-screen keyboards and larger screens, I have been less demanding in this area. However, I did find that the LG QUANTUM keyboard was very easy to use (with one exception). The keys were easy to tap and the feedback was good. My only difficulty was with the Function and Uppercase keys. In addition to being quite small, they were another example of being “low-profile” and made for a difficult time in hitting. Aside from this, I can say that I generally liked the LG QUANTUM keyboard and became quite comfortable using it. If a physical keyboard is a hard and fast requirement for a Windows Phone 7 buyer, the LG QUANTUM should meet those requirements quite nicely.

The Screen

As I noted earlier, I have become quite used to using larger screen devices as of late. This being the case, I had some initial reservations about using a device with a smaller screen (the LG QUANTUM has a 3.8-inch screen). However, I found the screen to be very readable and usable.

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Thanks to the nature of the Windows Phone 7 OS, touch areas for navigation were easy to use and performed well. The screen is also very viewable in outdoor lighting.

The Camera

As phones become more and more of an “on-the-go” photo-taking device, using the camera and resulting picture quality is of greater importance to a lot of users. The LG QUANTUM ships with a 5 megapixel camera. As is the case with all Windows Phone 7 devices, the hardware leverages the standard Windows Phone 7 camera interface.

I found the picture quality of the LG QUANTUM to be quite good. Snapping a photo in standard lighting resulted in good picture quality. The picture below is left in it’s default resolution; click on the image for the full version.

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Low-light photography also worked well, thanks to the built-in flash on the LG QUANTUM. As an example, the following photo was taken in very low-light -

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While I am someone who has never looked to replace a true camera with a phone, I do believe that the LG QUANTUM more than suffices for taking photos when you’re camera simply isn’t available. Between the general camera quality and Windows Phone 7’s ability to go straight to the camera interface with just a push of the camera button even when the phone is locked, I found it easy to take quick snapshots “on-the-fly” that I wouldn’t have been able to do even with a regular camera.

The Media Experience

For me, one huge advantage of the Windows Phone 7 platform has been the inclusion of Zune integration. While other platforms have media integration, Zune adds Zune Pass functionality, allowing me to stream any music from the Zune Marketplace directly to my Windows Phone. As a result, I am finding myself using my phone as my primary media device for the first time (I previously used Zunes separate from my phone for my audio and video).

The standard headset shipped with the LG QUANTUM was adequate for my audio needs. If you are an audiophile, they may simply not be enough for your taste. The good news, however, is that you can use any 3.5mm headset for a better audio experience. Headset aside, the music experience is very good. I love the Zune-like interface for playing audio and video on the LG QUANTUM. I have used many phones and many interfaces (both stock and 3rd party), but the Zune interface is still my personal favorite.

Video playback is also good. I was able to easily transfer purchased video content from the Zune Marketplace to the LG QUANTUM and play on the device. The playback was smooth and crisp. I also was able to easily transfer other video content to the device and play with the same results. I will admit that the smaller screen is not the most ideal medium for watching video, but the LG QUANTUM screen is no smaller than the Zune HD and I was comfortable watching video on that device on a regular basis.

The LG QUANTUM does include another interesting feature – DLNA support. If you have watched the “Swamp Creature” commercials here in the US recently (where the homesick swamp creature looks at photos, watches videos and listens to the sounds of the swamp on other devices straight from his phone), you have some idea of what DLNA is about. Basically, DLNA allows for the streaming of content via WiFi to devices that also support DLNA. While I do not have any TVs or audio players with DLNA support, I do have two devices that do – a PC with Windows 7 and an Xbox 360. DLNA support in Windows Phone 7 is provided through Windows Media Player, and Xbox 360 support is indirect (using the Windows Media Center Extender functionality to view the content streamed to the PC from the LG QUANTUM). I tried out the DLNA functionality and have to admit it is quite cool. LG provides an application (“PlayTo”) on the phone. Simply open the application while your phone is connected to your WiFi network, and the application locates the DLNA-enabled devices also connected to the network. Pick a device, select the content and viola! – your media appears. I found the performance of this to be very good.

Overall, the combination of Windows Phone 7 and LG functionality (both hardware and software) makes for a compelling media experience.

Performance

I have talked about performance in the context of some of the specific functionalities of the LG QUANTUM. A couple of other areas of performance should be noted, however. First off, I have to talk about battery life. This is one area where I was extremely impressed. Generally speaking, battery life was very good. Average usage, with multiple email accounts using Exchange ActiveSync push, frequent Internet access and moderate phone usage (approximately 1 – 1.5 hours usage) found me with approximately 50% battery life after about 10 hours. When you compare this to my past devices, this is really amazing. When you add in the fact that I was using a 2G network (I am on T-Mobile and the LG QUANTUM radio does not support the 1700 MHz 3G spectrum), good battery life is exactly the opposite of older phones without some intervention. In the past, a phone capable of 3G running on a 2G network would constantly search for a 3G connection, greatly draining the battery (Note: Some phones provided the capability of turning off the attempts to find a 3G network to alleviate the issue). My use of the LG QUANTUM with just 2G and the resulting battery life was a very pleasant surprise.

From a performance perspective, my other observation about the LG QUANTUM is – things just work. Pairing a Bluetooth headset – no problem. Using WiFi – no problem. Using voice-activated calling – no problem. This may not sound like much, but it is a testament to both Microsoft and LG that the basic functionalities work without the need for advanced tools or customizations. 

Additional Software

In addition to the standard Windows Phone 7 software, the LG QUANTUM for AT&T does ship with some additional software. On the AT&T side, there are a few applications available. Most notable is the offering of AT&T U-verse Mobile, providing access to a lot of video content. Unfortunately, I was not able to try this out. In addition to the PlayTo software for DLNA, LG also provides access to the LG Apps Store from within the Marketplace application on the phone. There are a number of useful and entertaining applications to be found here and (as of this writing) all are FREE to LG QUANTUM users. The additional software does make for a nice “value-add” when considering the purchase of an LG QUANTUM.

Conclusion

The initial launch of Windows Phone 7 brought with it a number of new devices. Based on performance and features, the LG QUANTUM rates as one of the most compelling of this first wave of hardware. If a well-built phone with a physical keyboard and solid battery life is what you crave, the LG QUANTUM has to be at the top of your list. I highly recommend you take the time to look closely at this phone if Windows Phone 7 is on your wish list.

12/27/2010 11:52:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 and “The Hundred Years War”#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Well, I sit at my keyboard typing on the eve of Microsoft’s “Big Event”. Tomorrow at 9:30am EDT in New York City, Steve Ballmer will unveil the long-awaited Windows Phone 7 platform (for those interested, the press conference will be live streaming here). For those who are involved with or follow the smartphone market closely, October 11th 2010 marks a day a long time in the making. I have had the great fortune to be quite close to all of the events of the last several years leading up to tomorrow, be they good or bad. There is a lot I would love to write about here, but cannot. Some things I will be able to write about in due time, while other things may never see the light of day. However, I thought I would take a few minutes to jot down some “safe” thoughts and observations this “Windows Phone 7 Launch Eve”.

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  • Whether you individually like it not, Windows Phone 7 marks a “company reset” for Microsoft when it comes to the role of a smartphone for the consumer market at large. Anyone who follows the industry (even casually) has read or heard from Microsoft executives about what Windows Phone 7 is all about and who the intended audience for Windows Phone 7 devices are intended. For diehard Windows Mobile users, this move will likely cause some pain; Windows Phone 7 introduces a number of new features and functionalities that are often at the expense of what Windows Mobile was or could do. Putting personal thoughts aside, I can only say one thing to those those who are upset by this change – Windows Mobile just wasn’t working.

    As much as there was (and likely will be) a very passionate and loyal Windows Mobile following, it was a VERY small passionate and loyal following. Such user segments are nice to have when market share is great, but when market share falls to single digits, it just isn’t enough. Even in the smartphone segment, there is history that backs this up. Simply look at failed attempts by Symbian/UIQ and the old Palm OS to build upon that small core of loyalty and the end result. In the end, it’s all about business folks – business was not good for the old Windows Mobile brand and change had to happen. For those upset by this change, the options *do* exist, but may not be what you want. Stick with what you have until you cannot any longer, or move on to another platform. For many Windows Mobile users, Android holds the greatest promise for now – Android frequently reminds me of Windows Mobile at its peak in both good ways and bad (good = control and customization, bad = platform fragmentation). I know this may all sound a bit harsh, but like I said – it’s just business and the reality we live with.
  • Speaking of “company resets” in philosophy, for those that think that the moves made with regards to Windows Phone 7 are solely out of desperation and cannot succeed, a little historical “reality check” is in order. This is far from the first time Microsoft has had such a significant change of heart. Remember the Microsoft of the ‘90s, that didn’t think this “Internet-thingy” was worthy of much attention. How about more recently, when the company realized that companies *didn’t* all want everything contained within their corporate firewall and cloud computing was something that had to addressed?

    Microsoft has tackled company shifts that in many ways dwarf the shift being made in the mobile space and has been reasonably successful in doing so. Does this guarantee success with Windows Phone 7? – absolutely not. But to simply dismiss any chance of success because of the shift is foolish, to say the least. Microsoft has too many people, too much talent and too much money to ever be dismissed. The key will be to see how these resources have been and will continue to be utilized to increase the chances for success.
     
  • While there are some things that have surfaced regarding Windows Phone 7 in the media that might sour some potential users (absence of “cut and paste” comes to mind Smile), there is something important to remember with regards to this technology segment – no one has ever gotten it all right in “Version 1”. Not Palm, not Microsoft, not Apple and not Google. The keys to success here (I believe both Apple and Google are doing this) are to “make a splash” up front and, more importantly, quickly evolve to meet demands of users and the industry at large. As someone who makes his livelihood working in this technology sector by dealing with potentially thousands of users and dozens (if not hundreds) of enterprises using all of these platforms, I can safely say that mobile platforms that evolve quickly to meet the demands and requirements of their target audience do gain acceptance.

    Windows Phone 7 will, by and large, will be found to have flaws in the minds of some users and businesses. However, there are enough compelling features at launch to get some to jump on board and others to pay close attention as Microsoft moves to meet their needs. Folks – most business users didn’t go within 10 feet of the iPhone in versions 1 and 2 of the OS. The same can be said for many in the early 1.x (and even early 2.x) features and limitations of Android. I can tell you from firsthand experience, however, that these platforms were never completely dismissed. Instead, the prevailing attitude was “let’s see what comes next.” Microsoft can put themselves in a good position to do the same with Windows Phone 7; personally, I believe they have done this based upon what I have seen. The key will be to adapt and evolve after October 11th, 2010. I also believe they will.
  • I find it amusing when I hear commentary in the mobile segment about “[Fill in the blank] has won the smartphone wars”. Folks – there is no such thing as a “war” here; only an ongoing set of “battles” that will constantly change and evolve over time. If anything, the “war” is more like The Hundred Years War when it comes to mobile technology. If it were truly a war, Palm would have won in the early 2000’s, Microsoft would have won in 2005 and Apple would have won in 2008. Last time I checked, none of those platforms owned a monopoly on the smartphone space.

    In this battle for market share, the companies involved have to be willing to commit to being in the arena for at least a couple of years in order to see any true results. If Google had only committed to 12 months, they wouldn’t be where they are today. Same goes for Apple. This simple fact is important to remember when it comes to Windows Phone 7. If unit sales aren’t astronomical for the first three months and market share has not shot through the roof, this is by know means a sign of failure. If only a few hundred units move in that timeframe, then – well, you’ve got the KIN Winking smile (BTW – The KIN is an entirely different story altogether; I believe we may never know all the details behind this failure unless someone writes a tell-all book).

In the end, I am extremely excited about what Windows Phone 7 brings to the mobile market and sincerely believe it will have an impact on the segment as a whole. I won’t be audacious or arrogant and try to predict the future here – I’ll leave that to the analysts Winking smile I do believe, however, that Windows Phone 7 will “bring enough to the table” tomorrow to at least become a player in this technology-based Hundred Years War. It sure will be fun to watch it all play out, too.

10/10/2010 10:23:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Rethinking Device Convergence–The Video Experience#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

If one is to consider using a single mobile device for all their multimedia needs, serious consideration has to be paid to the capabilities of the device for video purposes. In my first article on my decision to give mobile device convergence a serious try for the first time in many years, I listed video viewing as a key reason for carrying and using a dedicated portable media player (a Zune HD). In all honesty, video viewing takes up a small portion of my usage on a mobile device, especially when compared to listening to audio (described in my last article on this topic).  When the desire arises, though, I have always been a bit picky when it comes to the viewing experience.

From a video perspective, there are basically two major usage scenarios for me -

  • Viewing video stored on the device.
    Whether it is recorded TV, movies or home video, I like having the ability to store video on the device for watching “on demand”. While I don’t expect “theatre-quality”, I do expect a pleasurable viewing experience. The video should not be constantly subjected to stutter and buffering (this is as annoying to me as pixilation when watching live TV), and the audio quality should be at least acceptable stereo quality.
  • Viewing video streamed through the Internet.
    While the first thought that comes to most people’s minds when viewing Internet video is YouTube. For me, this is actually a rarity. I have a slightly more unique requirement in mind, and it is something I could not do with a dedicated media device. More on this in a moment…
    As with local video, I do have some expectation of quality of the video. I am a realist and understand that streaming video (especially when using a cellular connection as opposed to a WiFi connection) can suffer due to bandwidth. That doesn’t translate to blind acceptance, however.

In my previous attempts at device convergence and video usage, I seemly always came upon the following limitations -

  • Inadequate hardware.
    Limited CPUs and memory often meant stutter, buffering and occasional device freezes. I also include the limits of storage in this category. While storage cards did exist “in the day”, they were very limited in capacity and very expense. As a result of hardware and storage limitations, I found myself encoding video to compensate for the limitations. The result – grainy video and diminished experience.
    I should also note that displays on phones have often left a bit to be desired with regards to video. Small screens, lower resolutions and restricted display technologies did not help in making video viewing a pleasant experience.
  • Inadequate software.
    While hardware was a primary culprit in the mobile phone video experience, it was not entirely to blame. Native applications were limited in video codec support, and third-party applications often complicated matters by requiring extra hardware and memory usage on top of the video requirements.
  • Inadequate bandwidth.
    This was far and away the greatest constraint when it came to streaming video through the Internet. While many devices had WiFi capabilities, I rarely found myself in a location where WiFi was available when I wanted to view video. And cellular networks were nothing like they are today. For those that complain about network speeds and quality, think back 5 years ago. 3G networks were barely in existence. EDGE and 1XRTT were the norm, with sub-100Kbps speeds and unstable connectivity a way of life. Trying to watch video through the Internet was often painful at best.

With the painful memories of the converged device video experience still fresh in my mind, I was prepared to give this experience another try in 2010. A lot has changed over the past 5 years. I still could not help going in to my experiment that this would be the greatest challenge for a mobile device convergence test.

Gather Up Requirements

The requirements for a positive video experience on a mobile phone basically boiled down to the goal of overcoming past limitations. That meant -

  • Appropriate device hardware.
    Big screen, fast processor and lots of storage capacity. For me, the device is my T-Mobile USA HTC HD2. With a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor and a large WVGA screen, the basic needs appeared to be met. From a storage capacity, the T-Mobile USA variant of the HD2 came with a 16GB microSD card. Remembering the days when a 256MB Compact Flash card was considered a luxury, the 16GB total seemed like it should suit my needs Winking smile
  • Appropriate software.
    Be it native to the device or via third-party, I would need software that made it easy and enjoyable to view video on the device. There were 3 pieces of software I would try -
    • Windows Media Player for Mobile
      Standard on Windows Phone devices, it would be interesting to try the “out-of-the-box” video solution to see how it would fare.

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    • Kinoma Play
      In my previous article covering the audio experience, I discussed Kinoma Play as an audio solution. Well, from a video perspective, Kinoma Play works as well.

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    • Sling Media Sling Player for Mobile
      Here at BostonPocketPC.com, we have talked about Sling Media’s fantastic Slingbox solution many times in the past. Providing a hardware solution that allows you to “placeshift” (watch and control a home system while outside the home), the Slingbox and associated Sling Player software allow you to access your home TV no matter where you are. Slingbox is flexible; it allows you to connect in to any number of home entertainment configurations.

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      For me, a Slingbox is connected to and controls a Comcast cable receiver. While this box is not a DVR (if you hook into that, you could watch your recorded shows remotely), it does provide me access to all of my Comcast channels as well as Comcast On Demand.  

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  • Appropriate bandwidth.
    I would need a device and carrier that could provide acceptable speeds, coverage and reliability to allow me to watch video through the Internet when I wanted. As a longtime T-Mobile USA customer, the issues of bandwidth and coverage were rather numerous over the years. From a bandwidth perspective, even as T-Mobile rolled out 3G coverage they did so on the 1700Mhz spectrum. My problem? – most of my devices (unlocked) did not use this frequency, leaving me on EDGE data speeds. My first T-Mobile 3G device was the MyTouch 3G. While it gave me the bandwidth I desired, it lacked in other performance areas.
    With the HD2 I get 3G capabilities and 3G performance. While the Greater Boston area has yet to receive the nationwide HSPA+ upgrade (which will also increase performance for 3G devices), I still am receiving data throughput rates worthy of effective streaming.

With my tools now in hand, it was time to try to live the converged device experience with video.

Evaluating The Video Experience

When you consider the fact that I consider video to be the toughest challenge for a converged mobile device experience, I will say that the HD2 exceeded most of my expectations.

When it came to local video viewing, the HD2 provided a wonderful experience. T-Mobile USA and HTC knew this would be the case, including copies of both the first and second Transformers movies on the included microSD card. Something I did notice – the video quality in terms of framerate and lack of stutter was far better using the native Windows Media Player than the third-party Kinoma Play. I suspect the combination of the higher encoding rate for the movie, combined with the age-old issue of third-party software running on top of the OS and the CPU/memory requirements made for a bit of degradation of performance. I used my Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones (discussed in my previous article) for the audio, and the quality was very good.

From a streaming video experience, it was – well, spectacular! I had become accustomed to a low-bandwidth experience with past devices. Slingbox and the SlingPlayer for Mobile do a wonderful job of adjusting and optimizing to bandwidth, but the result was typically grainier and often required pauses for buffering. On the HD2, however, I rarely (if ever) had issues. This is as much a credit to the T-Mobile network as it is to the hardware and software. In addition, the higher speeds of the network allowed the SlingPlayer to stream higher quality video. The SlingPlayer is one area in a converged device scenario that really can’t be duplicated with dedicated media players. While there are newer solutions on the market (FloTV, for example), they are highly specialized and limit you to the content they provide. The SlingPlayer lets me watch whatever I have access to via my Comcast cable subscription (I am a bit embarrassed to say that means quite a lot Smile).

While a wonderful experience, only longtime issue around using a phone as a converged device still exists – battery life. While things have improved on this front, I will say that the video experience makes the battery issue most obvious. I could get about one two-hour movie in on my HD2 before becoming concerned about battery life. By comparison, I could watch at least twice as much video on my Zune HD. Being the realist, I understand why this is the case as the phone is doing so much more behind the scenes than a dedicated media player. Still, my feeling is that planning on using the HD2 regularly for video would require either a second battery or a portable charging solution.

The Final Verdict

Honestly – the jury is still out Winking smile There is no doubt that the HD2 is more than capable of handling my video needs. While I believe I lean towards using it on a regular basis, I will remain cautious in situations where battery life is important. Aside from that, I believe the score is now 2 – 0 in favor of going with a single device.

Next up (in my next article) – GPS navigation and trying to eliminate the need to carry a dedicated GPS device.  

08/07/2010 11:51:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Rethinking Device Convergence–The Audio Experience#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

In my quest to try once again to use a single device for all my needs, I decided that the first real test for my T-Mobile USA HTC HD2 would be with regards to the audio experience. In my previous article on the subject, I laid out what I thought were the needs, criteria and requirements for what would be deemed an acceptable experience. With all of this in hand, I set forth to put everything in motion.

Gathering Up Requirements

There were a few criteria for the audio experience that needed to be addressed from a hardware and software experience. They were -

  • Vehicle mounting.
    I wanted to be able to have a device mounting solution that allowed me to easily put the device in place where it was accessible when in my car. In all honesty, the greatest amount of audio usage for me has been while driving, be it during commutes or on business-related trips in the New England region. Fortunately, I have had the solution to this requirement in hand for quite some time – the ProClip Vehicle Mounting Solution.

    Longtime readers of this website have seen past reviews regarding ProClip solutions. I won’t rehash that all here, but I will restate what I have said to many time and time again – ProClip provides some of the most professional and easy-to-install solutions for vehicles you will ever find. I have used ProClip with a countless number of devices over the past several years and have never been short of completely satisfied with the results. The two-part aspect of the solution (one mounting bracket and device-specific holders) combined with their Move Clip enhancement have made switching between devices an absolute pleasure. My wife, who at one time used ProClip with her vehicle with an older phone, quickly remembered the convenience of the solution herself recently. When she asked me about using ProClip with her new T-Mobile USA Touch Pro 2, my answer was simple – “Your mounting bracket is still there. It’s just a device holder away, honey.” Smile

    For my vehicle needs, the ProClip HD2 holder was the obvious answer. ProClip provides variations of holders for some devices, and the HD2 was no exception. In addition to a basic holder, ProClip also provides a holder with a built-in DC cigarette lighter adapter. This is perfect for the user who intends to use the device heavily in scenarios that increase battery drain.

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    ProClip HD2 Holder with built-in charger.

    The holder also includes a swivel mount, allowing for adjustment to meet viewing needs.

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    ProClip HD2 holder attached to bracket with swivel mount.

    The end result – the HD2 is in a position for easy access and “at-a-glance” readability.

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    ProClip HD2 Holder with device (driver perspective).

    This is not as important for audio experiences as it is for GPS navigation and incoming call perspectives, but is important nonetheless from an overall driving perspective.

    All in all, ProClip once again proved to be an invaluable component for using a device while driving. If you are interested in ProClip for your vehicle and device, check out all of the information at the ProClip website.
  • Device-Friendly Car Stereo. 
    For any driving scenario, a device-friendly car stereo is always a big plus. Such solutions come in many forms today, from Bluetooth integration to device-specific solutions. I’ve long had a flexible solution – a car stereo with a 3.5mm auxiliary input jack in the stereo faceplate. When combined with the 3.5mm output on the HD2, I can have full stereo sound with a minimum of difficulty.
  • Audio software.
    While there are a number of pre-installed and third-party audio solutions for Windows Mobile devices, I have some rather unique requirements. My audio comes in multiple “flavors” -
    • Music. This comes is a variety of formats, including WMA and MP3.
    • Podcasts. Usually, this comes in MP3 format, but there is the occasional WMA file thrown in.
    • Audible audio books. This is the really tricky part. Audible books come in a proprietary format and require authentication. Usually, this means installing Audible’s Audible Player software. While this works, Audible Player has not always been my favorite software.

Ironically, it was my audio book requirement that led me to look into a third-party solution that helped me to deal with Audible – and provide me with so much more. The solution – Kinoma’s Kinoma Play

KP01

Kinoma Play is a virtual “Swiss Army Knife” solution for media on your Windows Mobile device. A complete review of all of Kinoma Play’s features would probably be worthy of a book Smile. There were several features which did catch my eye.

  • Audible support. Kinoma Play supports Audible audio content without the need for the Audible Player. You can authenticate with your Audible credentials from within in the interface. That’s not all, however.
    Kinoma Play allows you to download and listen to your content, but also allows you to stream your audio books and subscriptions!

    KP02
    Audible support in Kinoma Play.

    My Audible plan includes a daily subscription to the Wall Street Journal Daily Edition. While I could download it (the Audible Player includes Audible Air, allowing you to schedule downloads over-the-air), it is often simpler to just stream it while driving during the morning commute.

    Kinoma Play also allows you to sbuscribe to podcasts. Similar to Audible support, Kinoma Play allows you to either download or stream podcasts as well.

    From an music perspective, Kinoma Play provides you with everything you would expect from a music player. Sorting by song, artist, album or genre, album art – you name it, it’s there.

    KP03
    Song view in Kinoma Play (with album art).

    While a full-blown equalizer isn’t present in Kinoma Play, there are audio settings available.

    KP04
    Audio settings in Kinoma Play.

    All in all, Kinoma Play exceeded all my needs and expectations. I will say that this does come at a rather hefty price – Kinoma Play retails for $29.99 USD. For all that it provides me, the cost was well worth the investment. If you are interested in finding out more, be sure to visit the Kinoma Play website.
  • Bluetooth stereo headphones.
    I admit it – when it comes to my devices, I hate wires. I avoid them wherever and whenever possible. As a result, a good set of Bluetooth stereo headphones are a must for me. I have been a longtime user of Motorola’s HT820 headset and have been reasonably satisfied.

    MotoHT820

    My only complaint has been not with sound quality and performance, but with comfort. The headset’s “around the ear” design without passing can get a bit uncomfortable over time. From a technical perspective, however, the sound quality is good and the fact that the HT820 also serves as a hands-free headset, allowing me to answer phone calls, makes for a big plus.

Evaluating the Audio Experience

In short, I can say that the audio experience using my combination of device, hardware and software has met or exceeded my expectations. The only complication I have experienced thus far is the in-car experience. using the 3.5mm auxiliary jack works great for music, but answering a call has complications. As it turns out, the speaker phone on the HD2 works rather well, so I can leave the device in the cradle. I will say that, ideally, a complete integrated Bluetooth car kit would be perfect.

My audio experiences have also worked well when dealing with incoming phone calls. Software has recognized the incoming call and responded accordingly. Phone functionality has not suffered as a result of my device convergence.

The bottom line – I am now using my T-Mobile USA HD2 as my primary audio device Smile My Zune HD has not been entirely abandoned; there are still times when I prefer to save my HD2’s battery life (this is still a major inconvenience with convergence, especially when using Bluetooth and streaming from the Internet at the same time). However, the first device I reach for now is my HD2 when I want to listen to music, podcasts or audio books.

Next up (in my next article) – device convergence and video. Stay tuned… 

08/01/2010 12:42:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Revisiting the Idea of Device Convergence#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Way back in 2003, I wrote some articles that discussed my case for resisting device convergence (that is, trying to do everything with one device). At the time, it seemed that everyone was trying to use their Pocket PCs (yep – we still called them that back then) and Smartphones (yep – that was a Microsoft branding) to be the one device for all of their needs. At the time, I gave several reasons for my thinking -

  1. The devices just were not powerful enough.
    Sure, Pocket PCs and Smartphones could multitask – in theory. But with limited CPUs, limited memory and no real hardware assistance for graphics, more than one resource-intensive application at a time meant sluggish performance and a degraded user experience.
  2. “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” Syndrome.
    In 2003, a Pocket PC could play movies, but not as well as a dedicated device. It could play music, but not as well as a dedicated device. It could perform GPS navigation, but not as well as a dedicated device. The result was a lot of sacrifice in quality for the luxury of less devices.
  3. The need for “accessories”.
    Many functionalities around device convergence often needed a bit of assistance a few years back. Sometimes, the assistance came in the form of software designed to overcome the limitations of Pocket PC default software. One example – I was an avid user of Conduits’ Pocket Player for its robust equalizer. Other times, the accessory came in the form of additional hardware. Most notable here was GPS adapters for navigation (that’s right – GPS chips didn’t always exist on phones, kids Winking smile).

In the end, the amount of effort required for device convergence combined with the often mediocre results drove me to the conclusion that specialized hardware was the way to go. The result -

  • A smartphone for “smartphone things” – Phone, email, Internet applications.
  • A GPS device for navigation.
  • A dedicated media player – in my case, Zune/Zune HD.

A lot has happened since those days of old, but for the most part I have continued with the 3-device solution – until now. I came close a couple of times…

  • The iPhone 3/3GS had me seriously thinking about convergence. However, iTunes has never been my cup of tea and managing multiple formats for media just didn’t seem to be worth it.
  • Several Windows Mobile and Android devices caught my attention. In the end, though, the devices that met most needs didn’t meet all and that wasn’t enough.

So, what changed my mind, you might ask? Ironically, in an age where Windows Mobile is typically a “whipping boy” in the mobile device space, it was a Windows Mobile 6.5 device that did the trick – the T-Mobile USA HTC HD2. Back in June, T-Mobile USA had their one-day Fathers Day promotion going. My wife and I, both longtime T-Mobile customers (going back to the days of Voicestream) realized that 1) we were off-contract and 2) T-Mobile’s “Even More” plans would give us more than our current plan and cost us less (including finally getting an Internet data plan for my wife, something we had discussed for quite some time). While we didn’t qualify for free phones (that was only for new customers), the combination of a “Buy One Get One Free” phone offer and other rebates was just too good to pass up. My wife decided on the HTC Touch Pro 2 (she really wanted a physical keyboard and the slide out functionality of the TP2 was just what she wanted). I, on the other hand, looked at all the specs and potential of the HD2 and decided that this was my choice.

When I first fired up the HD2, my intention was not to go “all-in-one”. I still was using my dedicated Navigon GPS unit for navigation and my Zune HD for videos and music. Late in the first day of usage, though, a casual try of a feature that came with the T-Mobile USA version of the HD2 lit the proverbial lightbulb over my head. The HD2 came with a 16GB microSD card. Included on that card – the movies Transformers and Transformers 2. I decided to try out the movies on the device. To my amazement, the quality and clarity of the videos were on a par with my Zune HD, and with a bigger screen to boot. Of course, battery life on a Zune HD (or any dedicated media player for that matter) would be superior to a multi-purpose device, but still – this was intriguing. Could I possibly go one-device after all of these years? Had the time come and the hardware progressed to the point where I could change my mind?

In order to fully evaluate the possibility of device convergence on a regular basis, I decided to break down what my requirements would be. I took the approach of defining desired experiences first, then looked at more tangible requirements. The results -

  • Experiences
    • Audio on-the-go.
      This would include music, podcasts and audio books. I want to use the headphones of my choice when needed, and have a positive experience when in my car as well.
    • Video on-the-go.
      Similar to audio, except drop the “car” part. No watching video when driving, you know Winking smile. I also including streaming media into this equation, whether it is from the Internet or through it (as in “from my home”).
    • GPS navigation.
      I desire a quality and accurate experience here, on a par with dedicated GPS units. I expect audio (turn-by-turn directions) and video (accurate and readable visuals).
    • Phone usage.
      While this is considered a given at face value, the experience here relates to phone experiences while involved with other experiences. This is a huge consideration for for converged scenarios. What happens when a call comes in while listening to music or using the GPS? How easy is it to answer a call? What happens when the call ends. From my perspective, this is still often the greatest point of failure for many phone today.
  • Requirements
    • Big screen.
      Needed for an enjoyable video experience and effective GPS presentation.
    • Powerful CPU/GPU.
      A big screen is worthless without the processing power to provide the required frame rates and updates needed for video, audio and GPS.
    • Well-supported Bluetooth.
      I add “well-supported” for a couple of reasons. First – without the proper Bluetooth profile support, using a Bluetooth stereo headset or car kit is impossible or unlikely. Second – profiles without the hardware support for performance results in quantity but not quality. This was a major failing for earlier Bluetooth implementations; I could use a Bluetooth stereo but the quality was horrible or the there was a tremendous amount of buffer/stutter with the hardware trying to keep up.
    • Supporting hardware.
      This includes things like headsets for audio and car accessories for when driving. I can’t put all of the burden on the device now, can I? Winking smile
    • Supporting software.
      While there are onboard solutions for many of the experiences I desire, that’s not to say that third-party solutions cannot enhance the experience even more.

With my requirements and experiences now in hand, the grand convergence experience could commence. It is currently in process, but so far so good. The details? I will be writing them up in more focused articles shortly. The articles will include what I included from the Requirements perspective and will discuss the pros and cons of the experience. Stay tuned…

08/01/2010 10:31:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Astraware Announces OddBlob and Police Range for Windows Phone#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

The folks at Astraware have announced the release of two fun new games for Windows phone and Windows Mobile devices called OddBlob and Police Range.

oddblob_screenshot_480x640_01 oddblob_screenshot_480x640_03

OddBlob is a fun puzzle arcade game created entirely from modeling clay. Help OddBlob bound across the squishy maze to grab bonuses, chomp fruit, and win points as quickly as he can as the chasing tiles disappear behind. Bounce and double bounce tiles can help you reach your goal or throw you through the gaps to impending peril below, and cake slices earn you a try at the Cake Or Doom mini-puzzle!

policerange_screenshot_480x640_01 policerange_screenshot_480x640_05

Police Range is Astraware's take on the classic shooting range game. Put your skill and accuracy to the test as you train on the shooting range to become a crack police marksman. Choose from 2 ranges to train on: Target Practice, and Crime Alley, which between them test your accuracy, reaction speeds, eye and nerve!

Both OddBlob and Police Range include Astraware's new online high score table, which enables players to submit their best scores using wifi or data connection to see how they compare with other players worldwide. Players with non-connected devices can post their scores on the local high score table. Both games also include a range of fun awards and achievements.

OddBlob  and Police Range  are both available for devices with touchscreens running Windows Mobile or Windows phone 5 and later. Both games are priced $4.99 each, and a special discount will be available to Astraware Newsletter subscribers. To subscribe, visit: http://www.astraware.com/my/subscribe.php.

07/14/2010 04:39:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Why KIN and Windows Phone 7 Can Succeed – Getting User Experiences#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Print WP-vert-web

It’s fortunate that we all have the ability as humans to grow, mature and learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the ability to adapt and learn. This fundamental principle not only applies to “macro” topics like culture; it applies to the little things as well. Cellular technology and its uses are one such example.

When cell phones first came into existence, there was essentially one use for the new technology – to make and receive phone calls. Time passed, and the emergence of the Personal Digital Assistant (“PDA”) eventually merged with the cell phone to create what came to be known as the “smart phone” – a cellular phone that could also be used to digitally maintain and manage your life. While this technology evolved, something else evolved. People began to use the technology and evolve in the ways we use the technology, as well as what we expect from the technology. As we look at today (2010) and compare how people view and expect to use smart phones to a decade ago, a lot has changed.

Ten years ago, we were all trying to figure out the best way to take advantage of smart phone technology. Not only the makers of the technology, but also the users of the technology. Different companies took different approaches. For Microsoft, the approach was simple – give users the ability to do many of things they did on a computer in a smaller, more mobile form. This is what led to the Pocket PC platform and eventually extended to the Microsoft Smartphone operating system. For the most part, no one really knew well (and could only assume) how user should interact with and experience working with a platform of this type – there really just was not enough information. Microsoft took a logical approach of familiarity; try to give users a look and feel similar to what they had on the Windows operating system. For a while, this approach worked and worked quite well. But time marched on, and along with it users comfort, experience and desires with regard to smart phones. As a result, the focus of expected user experiences also changed. This became strikingly apparent when Apple introduced the iPhone to the world.

Say what you will about Apple. Whether you like them or not, Apple does one thing as a company better than anyone in the technology sector – they research and understand targeting users and understanding their expectations for user experiences. Apple has made their living by identifying a market segment, intimately understanding how they interact with a given technology (or more importantly, how they want to interact with a given technology), and crafting a solution based upon those needs and desires. They had proven themselves time and time again with OSX as an operating system and the iPod as a media platform. While these technologies may not appeal to you or I, they did appeal to millions (I now explain to people regularly why I am not an iPod user or an OSX devotee as simply “I am not Apple’s target audience”). Apple’s next target was the cellular market – an we all know about the success of the iPhone. By identifying and understanding a user base of cell phone users, Apple created a user experience destined for success for that user base. While this was going on, Microsoft continued its focus on enabling users to do a lot of things with their now Windows Mobile devices. However, the user experience around Windows Mobile seemed to be secondary when it came to features. Which leads us to the present time.

Microsoft has shown in recent years that they are increasingly “getting it” when it comes to the user experience. While Windows Vista wasn’t the success Microsoft had hoped for, it was obvious that Microsoft was moving the desktop computing experience towards more “user-focused” features. Windows 7 has taken that design thinking to the next level, and early indicators are pointing to success in this regard. Microsoft has also shown their understanding of user experiences with both their Xbox and Zune platforms. While Zune has never achieved the sales numbers that people would have liked or expected, the customer satisfaction numbers for Zune prove that Microsoft is at least listening and responding to a targeted user bases’ needs (I think it is easy enough to argue that while their technology focus has improved, their marketing strategy still leaves much to be desired). Now, Microsoft has turned its “user experience crosshairs” on the area where they most critically need it – their mobile phone business.

If you look closely at the announced KIN platform and first devices, you can see that Microsoft has targeted a very focused user segment. This audience is all about the phone being used for connecting with friends, be it by call, email or social network. They also created very useful user experiences around all of this functionality. In the KIN, Microsoft has designed not only to do things, but to do things in a fun and efficient way.

Microsoft has taken this same approach with Windows Phone 7. They have looked at a targeted user base and focused on creating both fun and efficient user experiences to match up with user’s needs. In this respect, I am excited about Windows Phone 7. Not so much the “fun” side (although I do like fun) of the platform, mind you; I am looking forward to the efficiency. In this way, I too have evolved as a user of smart phones. While I enjoy the amount of control I have with a current Windows Mobile device, I have come to realize that is not what I really crave. I crave the ability to do the things I do on the phone in an efficient manner. I now leave the control and customization part of technology to my desktop and notebook computers. By the way – I’ve come to recognize this in my use of netbook computers as well. I craved the form factor, but the restricted power of a netbook was too hindering for me. I now realize that I am not the “target audience” for a netbook. Instead, I am the target audience for a small form-factor notebook.

KIN and Windows Phone 7 are not for everyone – I realize that. I know first-hand many existing Windows Mobile users who are upset with the decisions Microsoft has made in their mobile phone strategy. For Microsoft to succeed (or even survive) in this market, however, Microsoft has had to evolve along with users of the technology. Unfortunately, targeting certain user segments also leaves others out of the equation. From working in this segment on a daily basis, though, I can safely say the “old” market segment is much smaller than the “new” and “evolved” segment. In the end, it is about business.

Both the KIN and Windows Phone 7 platforms truly have the tools to be a success. They address how users have evolved in their usage and expectations of mobile phones. If Microsoft can effectively market that point to the world, they have the ability to once again be a major player in this market. 

04/24/2010 11:29:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone7 Series Development Announced at MIX 2010#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

At MIX10 today, Microsoft unveiled the long awaited developer platform for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series devices. Windows Phone 7 Series was announced by Steve Ballmer at Mobile World Congress last month with devices to be available for sale by holiday 2010.

WP7 MIX10

Mobile development for Windows Phone 7 will take advantage of both Silverlight 4 (the full version not a watered down “Lite” version) and the XNA Framework for games that is used both on the Zune,Windows (Vista and 7) and Xbox 360 Platform. This will provide a rich environment for both internet based applications and game development. As expected, Windows Phone 7 will use The Marketplace to deliver applications to the device and providing developers with a 70% revenue share for applications sold. Development fees will be waived for students who are members of the DreamSpark program.

Perhaps the single best piece of news is that Microsoft has listened to the developer community and will be providing Windows Phone Developer tools for free. Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone,Windows Phone 7 Series add-in to use with Visual Studio 2010 RC, XNA Game Studio 4.0,and a Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator for application testing will be available as a single download from http://developer.windowsphone.com. Expression Blend for Windows Phone Community Technology Preview will be made available as a separate download.

(Note: to run these you will need Windows Vista or Windows 7)

Windows Phone development starts with a single download of tools, runtimes, and phone emulator. The end-to-end application development environment includes a familiar Visual Studio IDE, Windows Phone Marketplace, and optionally Expression Blend. The supported runtimes are Silverlight, XNA Framework, and .NET Compact Framework. The application platform is running on Windows Phone OS 7.0 CTP, which is focused on the consumer, the information they care about, and entertainment experiences.

The following sections provide the information you need to build Windows Phone applications:

You can watch or download the 1st Day keynote of MIX10 on demand here.

Full Press Release:

LAS VEGAS, March 15 – Today at MIX10, Microsoft Corp. showcased advancements in its platform technologies that enable the developer and designer community to deliver compelling user experiences across a broad set of devices. Building on the excitement of the recently announced Windows® Phone 7 Series, Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president, .NET Developer Platform, and Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, Windows Phone Program Management, detailed the opportunity for developers to use proven technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight and the XNA Framework to build new mobile applications and 3-D Games.

“As the browser, server, Web and devices evolve, a focus on delivering consistently great user experiences has become paramount,” Guthrie said. “By extending our familiar platform technologies and tools to phones, Microsoft is delivering the premier application development experience across a variety of devices and form factors.”

End-to-End Application Development Platform for Windows Phone 7 Series

During the keynote, Microsoft provided the first deep dive into Windows Phone 7 Series application development. By combining Silverlight features for rich application development and the XNA Framework for games, Windows Phone 7 Series empowers millions of developers and designers to build visually stunning and immersive applications and games — one of the industry’s most profitable mobile application categories — while taking advantage of device-specific capabilities. Specifically, developers will be able to take advantage of the following features:

  • Accelerometer, an intuitive control that responds to motion
  • A Microsoft Location Service to provide developers with a single point of reference to acquire location information
  • Microsoft Notification Service for pushing information to the phone, regardless of whether or not an application is running
  • Hardware-accelerated video with digital rights management (DRM)
  • Internet Information Services Smooth Streaming for the industry’s highest quality content viewing experience
  • Multitouch
  • Camera and microphone support

“Windows Phone 7 Series brings together a rich application environment, powerful hardware, a fresh approach to software and a smart new design,” Belfiore said. “It was designed to generate incredible opportunities for developers and designers to quickly and easily deliver compelling applications and games. With the best developer tools, an established ecosystem and marketplace, and a path for developers to use their Silverlight and XNA Framework skill sets, we are delivering an application platform that is simple, powerful and inspiring.”

Free Tools for Windows Phone 7 Series Developers and Designers

To further support an end-to-end development experience, Microsoft announced the availability of comprehensive tools support for Windows Phone 7 Series. The easy-to-install package includes previews of the following:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone
  • Windows Phone 7 Series add-in to use with Visual Studio 2010 RC
  • XNA Game Studio 4.0
  • Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator for application testing
  • Expression Blend for Windows Phone Community Technology Preview (available as a separate download)

A Marketplace for Windows Phone 7 Series Applications

WP Marketplace

Microsoft also showed how developers and designers will be able to bring applications and games to market with a new Windows Phone Marketplace. The Marketplace features a panoramic design and active merchandising to increase the discoverability of games and applications, and supports one-time credit card purchases, mobile operator billing and advertising-funded applications. The Marketplace will also enable customers to try applications before buying them and allow developers to cross-promote their applications through deep linking.

wpAPmob WPharvest wpgraphicly

Several leading companies will be creating exciting applications and games for Windows Phone 7 Series. They include The Associated Press, Archetype International Inc., AWS Convergence Technologies – WeatherBug, Citrix Systems Inc., Clarity Consulting Inc., Cypress Consulting, EA Mobile, Fandango Inc., Foursquare Labs Inc., frog design inc., Glu Mobile Inc., Graphic.ly, Hudson Entertainment Inc., IdentityMine Inc., IMDb.com Inc., Larva Labs, Match.com LLC, Matchbox Mobile Ltd., Microsoft Game Studios, Namco Networks America Inc., Oberon Media Inc., Pageonce Inc., Pandora Media Inc., Photobucket Inc., PopCap Games Inc., Seesmic, Shazam Entertainment Ltd., Sling Media, SPB Software Inc., stimulant, TeleCommunications Systems Inc., Touchality LLC and Vertigo Software Inc.

Continued Innovation With Silverlight and Expression Blend

Microsoft announced a release candidate (RC) for Silverlight 4, available for download today, which builds on the beta version released at the Professional Developers Conference in November 2009. The Silverlight 4 RC provides powerful media and enterprise application and media capabilities, out-of-browser flexibility and world-class tools support via Visual Studio and Expression Blend with Sketchflow to enable robust application development and rich interactive experiences.

In addition, Microsoft unveiled the Expression Blend 4 Beta, a design and development workflow tool. New features such as Path Layout enable developers and designers to build and animate innovative user interface design via a groundbreaking visual layout mechanism, without the need to write code. Expression Blend 4 Beta also adds support for Silverlight 4, .NET Framework 4 and Visual Studio 2010.

Silverlight Customer Adoption

Silverlight adoption has continued at a rapid pace with installations approaching 60 percent of all Internet devices worldwide — an increase of nearly 15 percentage points in just four months. Customers such as Major League Soccer, BBC, eBay Inc., Netflix Inc., NBCOlympics.com and CT Corp., a Wolters Kluwer business, demonstrated how they are taking advantage of the power of Silverlight to deliver compelling consumer and enterprise experiences.

“Microsoft Silverlight technology will be the backbone of the video platform on our newly launched MLSsoccer.com,” said Chris Schlosser, director of digital strategy for Major League Soccer. “Our work with Microsoft allows us to launch cutting-edge digital and mobile experiences for our loyal fans. As part of our increased focus on digital media, we view a rich video experience as absolutely critical to accomplishing our goal of ’super serving’ MLS supporters.”

All the latest news and links from MIX10 are available at http://live.visitmix.com/press.

03/15/2010 12:30:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

.NET CF Lesson: “SNAPI Fast, ActiveSync Not-So-Much”#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

I thought I would pass along a “good news/bad news” experience I recently had with regards to Windows Mobile 6.5, the .NET Compact Framework 3.5 and ActiveSync. Hopefully, it might serve to help someone in avoiding some coding and testing frustration.

I have been working on a project that requires responding to new incoming messages on Windows Mobile 6.5 devices. Fortunately, the State and Notification Broker API (“SNAPI”) made this simple enough. Now, my C# code needed to play a sound if certain conditions were met. Simple enough – the System.Media.SoundPlayer class in the .NET CF 3.5 would do the trick. Once the code was written, it was time to test.

The first test went according to plan. Use an emulator, deploy in debugging mode, set a breakpoint to ensure that I was hitting the correct branches in application logic and run with it. Sure enough, everything performed as expected. The next test was essentially the same, with the exception being connecting an actual Windows Mobile 6.5 device for testing. Again, there were no problems.

For the next test, I decided to remove the breakpoint in Visual Studio. I run the code and… no sound. My intellectual response - “WTF?!?!?” ;-)

I’ll keep the story brief here, omitting all the second-guessing and testing that went on up until my finally figuring out the root cause of the problem. The issue, as it turns out, is that -

  • SNAPI and the .NET Compact Framework 3.5 work very well. By “well”, I mean “fast”, especially when running on the latest hardware with Windows Mobile 6.5.
  • ActiveSync runs… well… about as fast as it always has on Windows Mobile, despite OS and hardware improvements.

Keeping in mind that ActiveSync and my application run on different threads, here is what I was able to determine:

  • ActiveSync begins a synchronization operation. As part of this sync, a new email arrives. Based upon device settings, ActiveSync prepares to play a sound and grabs resources.
  • At around the same time, my application receives the notification from the broker about a change in the unread email count changing. My logic has to do quite a bit of processing, but still managed to get to the point of playing a sound while ActiveSync still had a hold on resources. Result – my sound wouldn’t play.

“Fine”, I thought, “This is strictly a timing issue.” When I was in debugging mode, the stepping through the code and the latency associated with running in debug mode gave enough time for ActiveSync to complete. As a result, I decided to add code to pause my code to give time for ActiveSync to release resources. Here is where the real surprise came into play.

I spent quite a bit of time tinkering with the amount of time my application had to sleep in order to be able to play my sound. It took upwards of ten seconds for ActiveSync to release the resource I needed. When you consider the fact that ActiveSync had a “head start” on my code (AS was the cause of the SNAPI event firing, mind you), the amount of time from start to finish for AS was, well, A LOT. Ten seconds?!? Needless to say, I was very surprised and disappointed. This wouldn’t have surprised me a few years back, when slower hardware and slower network speeds could be the culprits. But today? With faster hardware and networks?

I guess the moral of this story is… If you are coding for Windows Mobile with a dependency on ActiveSync, NEVER assume performance. Code for the worst case and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

12/11/2009 09:19:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Zune HD Pamphlet#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

I have received quite a few tweets and emails pertaining to the Zune HD Pamphlet that was handed out at Best Buy during the Zune HD Best Buy Event (even more since it was posted on Engadget).

One thing I noticed was how similar the pamphlet size was to the box on the demo table and just assume it is one that will be included in the box as an accessory up-sell to inform users of the available accessories and services available to the Zune HD. A video and few pictures on the internet have confirmed this.

The Front – Zune Everywhere

Front of Zune HD Pamphlet

explore beyond music at zune marketplace

Zune HD Front 1

(The upper left corner)

Access Zune Marketplace from your Zune software. Easily find music, HD movies, TV shows & podcasts from millions of selections. Explore new and more music with Mixview & other unique discovery features.

This got a lot of people excited- seeing HD movies available for download. I wonder if Mixview will apply to videos as well - Kind of how Netflix does their movie referrals based on your ratings of movies. This may or may not be the new Zune 4 software or it could be an aspect of it. It looks very much akin to the Xbox 360 Zune Video Marketplace that was demoed earlier this year. Hopefully the same ease of use, UX, and nice graphics will carry over.

simplify your life with zune software

Zune HD Front 2

(lower left)

Zune software smartly organizes your collection exactly how you like it. Browse Zune Marketplace for music videos,& more. Get all your favorite music & recommendations right up front with QuickPlay.

This seems the same as the current Zune 3.0 desktop client. I wonder if there will be some integration of song PINs, New, and History on the desktop client as there is on the Zune HD, so you will have a similar experience when you are experiencing music on your desktop software client. What they really need is a Mac OSX client that will help transition those from iTunes and iPods and those that use Macs that don’t want to run a Virtual PC session in Fusion, BootCamp, or Parallels just to sync their Zune.

Zune HD Front 3

(Underneath the Zune)

HD Radio & HD –compatible video. Multi-Touch-navigation is a breeze.Surf the web & download music from Wi-Fi hotspots.

The current Zune needs configuration of Wi-Fi hotspots via the desktop client to enter any keys,pass phrases, etc. Now that the Zune HD has browser support it can easily jump on public Wi-Fi hotspots that require proxies and passwords. Older version will probably have to look at using the desktop software unless a software update includes a keyboard.

connect with music and more on zune.net

Zune HD Front 4

(middle right)

Log into Zune music universe from a web browser. Stream music & podcasts. Check your inbox & see what everyone’s playing in the Social.

Pretty much the same currently on the web client.I wonder if there will be some UI enhancements and some Silverlight or similar interfaces as seen on the Xbox 360.

expand your entertainment with Xbox 360

Zune HD Front 5

(Upper Right)

Buy movies & TV shows and playback on your TV, PC or Zune player. Get smooth HD video streaming from Zune on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Play music from your Zune player on Xbox 360 while you game.

This is the integration between the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Zune Marketplace in regards to video which was announced at E3 09 this June that the video on the Xbox 360 will fall under the Zune brand and Marketplace. Note on the Xbox 360 it will get 1080P movies in 5.1 surround sound. The Zune will get 720P movies down-converted to fit on the screen, but will still have 5.1 surround sound support. Looks like MS is finally aligning their services together and got all the legal matters settled with the content providers allowing them licensing on the Zune and hopefully other devices as Zune as a service evolves. The music while you play was always there and the Xbox 360 supports other sources for music as well including iPod.

Zune Pass enjoy unlimited music for one low monthly fee

Zune HD Front 6

(lower right)

Download as much music as you like. Keep your favorites with 10 song credits per month. Use you Zune Pass with up to 3 different players & PCs. Try a 14-day Zune Pass @zune.net/free

Still a good deal. It might be better if they throw a free movie every other month as well - I am just sayin’ :) Here I would love to see some interface with other services that are out there that are now supported on the Xbox 360 like Last FM and Pandora support with the ability of adding songs that are streaming from these services to “my favorites” or “pins” and for purchase via the Zune Marketplace.This would also be great for other devices that support the Zune Marketplace like Sonos, which already has these partnerships. Hopefully this is in the works.

The Back – All the Accessories You Need

Back of Zune HD Pamphlet

These are the accessories available at www.zune.net/accessories

Zune Premium Car Pack

Zune Premium Car Pack

Charge and Play music, podcasts & HD Radio stations from your Zune HD player while you drive. FM transmitter / car charger auto seeks the best available frequency on your car stereo. 

From Microsoft Store ($79.99):

Charge and play music, podcasts, and HD RadioTM from your Zune HD player while you drive. FM transmitter/car charger auto-seeks the best available frequency on your car stereo. USB port allows you to charge a second Zune player simultaneously.

  • Includes FM Transmitter/Charger.
  • Compatible with all Zune players.

This looks like V3 of the Car Pack aka FM modulator for the Zune. It looks much smaller than the previous versions, but I want to know will work better? The two previous versions have incrementally gotten better, but still how do you say? - suck. I don’t know if it has to do with the new FCC regulations for FM transmitters that Satellite radios had to deal with recently for being “too strong” or just poor design. I have an older Griffin iTrip that works fine, but doesn’t charge the Zune. The new Car Pack has the tuning LED display in the Zune connector with what looks like two Preset buttons above the display like the last version. There is also an additional USB port for charge another USB based device like your phone. There also appears to be a hole under the cable connector. I wonder if that is an additional AUX 3.5mm input or antenna for the HD Radio?

Zune Charge Pack

Zune Charge Pack

The Zune AC Adapter will quickly recharge your Zune player up to 70% within an hour. Folding blades make it easier to travel with. use The included USB cable to sync with your PC.

From Microsoft Store ($29.99):

Includes AC adapter and USB cable.
Compatible with: Zune HD (32 & 16), Zune 120, Zune 80, Zune 16, Zune 8, Zune 4.

About time faster charge and folding blades make it more travel friendly. It also looks thinner with the USB port on the side. It looks like the small USB wall-wart charger that comes with the Aliph Jawbone II and Prime and can easily fit into a crowded outlet strip. It looks like it will easily fit in ones gear bag or pocket. Specs don’t list the Zune 30GB, but I am sure it will work fine.

Zune HD,AV & Power Pack

Zune HD AV & Power Pack

Connect your docked Zune HD with the A/V cable to your home audio system to play music and HD Radio stations. The HDMI cable connects your docked Zune HD with your HDTV so you can view movies & videos. Zune AC Adapter included. (Dock sold separately)

From Microsoft Store ($49.99):

Includes AC adapter, HDMI cable, and AV output cable.
Compatible with: Zune HD (32 & 16), Zune 120, Zune 80, Zune 16, Zune 8, Zune 4.

This cable was on display during the Best Buy demos Hooked up to the AV Dock.

Zune Sync Dock (not shown in pamphlet)

Zune Sync Dock

Connect with your PC and sync all your content while you charge your Zune player. Wireless remote included.

From Microsoft Store ($49.99):

Includes dock, three inserts (one for each Zune model), wireless remote, and AC adapter.
Compatible with: Zune HD (32 & 16), Zune 120, Zune 80, Zune 16, Zune 8, and Zune 4.

This isn’t shown in the pamphlet, but I would assume it would be the same as the AV Dock, since it comes with a remote control, but it looks like it’s designed for the desktop only to connect your computer. I am hoping that it also has audio out and maybe composite video(yellow RCA) I am confused on this one without a picture, one can only speculate that this dock will be backwards compatible with the older Zunes and support the new Zune HD. Looks like the 30GB Zune will be left out of this one like with the Zune AV Dock unless there are different docking options like the ones offered in the iHome accessories and wonder if no adapter inserted would accept the 30GB Zune. It would be nice if this dock allowed you to charge your Zune and play audio out to PC speakers when connected to a PC when the play button is pressed instead of default synching.

Zune HD & AV Dock

Zune HD AV Dock

This all-in-one package enables Zune HD to charge,snc & play HD videos on supported HDTVs. Send music and HD Radio content to your home audio system and control it all via wireless remote.

From the Microsoft Store ($89.99):

This all-in-one package enables your Zune HD player to charge, sync, and play supported 720p HD videos on your HDTV. Send music and HD RadioTM to your home audio system and control it all via a wireless remote.
Includes dock, three inserts (one for each Zune model), wireless remote, AC adapter, HDMI cable, and AV output cable. Zune HD player sold separately.
Compatible with: Zune HD (32 & 16), Zune 120, Zune 80, Zune 16, Zune 8, and Zune 4.

As said in the text this is the all in one AV pack needed to show video on an external display/TV. If you notice in this picture it shows the Zune Charge Pack with the AC blades folded – showing a nice compact block. The cable length is fairly bulky to carry and one would hope there was some way to contain the octopus of cables like a bag or something.

Zune HD AV Back

(Photo Courtesy of Gizmodo)

The back is the business end of the dock with a thin wire that looked like an antenna and a hardwired cable and connectors for both the tri-3.5mm AV jack that has your standard Composite video (yellow) and stereo audio(red and white), optical out and HDMI out. 

Zune HD AV remote

(Photo Courtesy of Gizmodo)

The remote control is different from the ones previous in that there are more buttons. One at the top simulates the D-pad with left,right,up,down and middle select. Beneath that are two thin rectangular buttons the back and Home keys and below them are the media buttons- Volume Up and Down, Next and Previous track and Play/Pause.

Zune HD AV Box

If you are wondering what the product boxes may look like. The images on the back of the pamphlet look to match up with what was on the Zune HD & AV Dock box that was demoed at Best Buy. ;)

Hope that answers most of your questions. If not feel free to comment below.

08/29/2009 03:48:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Zune HD Best Buy Event#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Well we had some errands to run as a family is the per usual and my daughter read about the new Zune HD Best Buy events and saw Boston was one of the chosen few areas. So we pulled up the PDF off of the Best Buy website and headed to Framingham. The display was right at the front of the store for Demos this is a premium real estate with a lot of foot traffic, a small crowd was already gathered when we arrived and jumped into the demo and fondled some mock up models that were being passed around.

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Zune HD Hardware

The ID (Industrial Design) of the Zune is really cool mainly due to the addition of the OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology lending to its svelte thin size. This device is really thin! My daughter placed the mockup being passed around next to an iPod Touch for size comparison and when placed next to an 8GB Flash Zune (sorry I don’t have a picture for comparison my oldest wanted to go look at all the phones) The weight we were told was the same as two of the mockups together, very light and barely noticeable in one’s pocket (So be sure to check you pockets before doing a wash!).

  • To power on the device you press the power on at the top of the device. My daughter asked how you lock the device and I believe the person giving the demo said you press the button to lock the screen and press and hold the power button to turn the device all the way off and on. There is a lock screen like many phones and DMP (Digital Media Players) have that can have a PIN to keep people off of your Zune. The lock screen image is the same as your background image which is selected from images on your Zune like on the current Zune.
  • Pressing the button on the upper left-hand side toggles the transition interface that has both volume up and down controls as well as Play/Pause in the center and previous track on the left and next track on the right, which the current Directional-Pad/Squircal does now, with a large text read out of the volume great for those over 40. Pressing the transition button on the side will bring you back to the screen you were previously on.
  • On that same side one of my daughters noticed the Hello from Seattle that used to be on the back of the Zune.
  • The back of the Zune has two beveled edges for a nice comfortable grip in ones hands no matter what you hand size and it’s held together by 4 Tri-Wing screws that are found on some of the previous Zunes.
  • The Home button does just that, brings you all the way back to the Home interface, much like pressing and holding the back button on previous Zunes. That’s it for buttons on the device the rest of the interface done via the beautiful touch screen with a swipe in the back direction to bring you back.
  • The accelerometer automatically shifts the screen from landscape to portrait mode depending on the orientation of the Zune.
  • HD Radio is added that allows you to listen to HD enabled radio stations, much like OTA (Over The Air) HD TV where you have many HD options on one main frequency via the headphones doubling as the antenna. HD stations are indicated with an HD text
  • On the bottom of the Zune HD is your headphone jack(no headphones where shown at this event) and the same Zune connector so if you have old Zune accessories and cables they will work with the new Zune HD.

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User Interface

UI Elements you have the standard:

  • Music
  • Videos
  • Pictures
  • Radio (FM and HD)
  • Marketplace
  • Social
  • Podcasts
  • Settings

Removed from the menu is Games (which used to reside between Podcasts and Settings). Squeezed in between Podcasts and Settings is the Internet, which is an internet browser that wasn’t shown at the demo due to some changes that might occur. Also not demoed was the Marketplace, which was revealed on the internet in another BestBuy demo that there is an Apps and Music listing. At our store we were told that Microsoft gave specific directions that no one was to see some of the unfinished portions of the software, because they haven’t been finalized yet and didn’t want to give the public a false information – those being the Internet browser and Marketplace. MS also requested that no one, but the person doing the demo could touch the device. So we all got to touch and fondle plastic mockups, which are generally sent to accessory manufacturers so they can make cases, docks, etc. Back to the UI. When asked if the current Zune devices will receive updates, he said yes, but it won’t have all the features of the Zune HD and wouldn’t go any further. I am assuming this means the basic menu structure will be changed reflective of the new offering in the Zune Marketplace, but it wasn’t clear if the new sidebar UI would be there.

New UI on the side under the Standard UI are really cool shortcuts to get you to your media quicker.

You have Pins, which are songs and playlists that you can drag and pin to the UI great for favorites or favorites at the moment. You also have a History that allows you to not only look at songs, but radio, videos, pictures, and media last viewed. Also added is a New category. Something which is really cool if you have a Zune Pass or you just downloaded a new song, video, podcast, to the device and you want to get to it quickly you can find it listed under here.

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During playback you have the same series of artist pictures that are shown in the desktop software as well as access to the Artists bio. You also get the same cool animations that In regards to new software that not only works on the Zune screen, but can also be displayed in party mode via the Zune HD & AV Dock. It kind of reminded me of liner notes on vinyl, cassettes, and CDs - I used to read when listening to their music. I would love to see the addition of lyrics here as an option in the Zune software. I asked how large the pictures and information were for each artist and our demonstrator said a few kilobytes and I asked if there was an option to toggle this on or off on the Zune desktop software and thinks there is an option, but wasn’t a 100% sure.

The Zune HD & AV Dock shares the same connector as the previous Zunes, but the ole 30GB Zune won’t fit into the slot. The dock had a few issues displaying via the HDMI cable, probably due to scan and resolution switches that the Samsung LCD television couldn’t detect - (our television at home has similar issues synching when video sources change when played through our receiver like switching from Xbox Dashboard to playing a DVD-a quick turn off and on usually reestablishes synch). Our Demo person was able to get it to work once and showed an HD video of the next series of Heroes that was shown at ComiCon09 He ran most of the other demos showing off the UI and playback via the composite connection.

HD Video (720p) is actually compressed and reduced in size to the resolution of to save space on the Zune HD otherwise you would only be able to store a handful of HD videos. Playback supports 720p HD video files play on the player, downscaled to fit the screen at 480 x 272 - not at full HD resolution.

I asked about Media Center synchronization of recorded television and the demo rep wasn’t sure.

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Overall we were impressed with the Zune HD. It was much nicer than I had expected and it was smaller than the iPod Touch, which is pretty remarkable considering it has some great ID. The UI and side-by-side comparison makes the current iPod Touch look very dated. As the iPod starts to move away from Media, it appears Microsoft is focusing on media first and add-ons like apps, games, and internet – (with social media Twitter and Facebook which the Zune is all about sharing media) second, while not losing sight of what is important to the consumer. It does seem to come a bit late especially the Zune video store and merge with Xbox Live. To gain true market share MS really needs an OSX version of the Zune software and the ability to sell media and Zunes in Europe, the Pacific and Asia even if it is in baby steps.

My kids who are current Zune owners – 1 30 GB Zune, 1 8GB Zune, and 1 4GB Zune wanted the new Zune HD for Christmas, but missed the games that were present on their current Zunes. My wife who loves her Sansa Clip even wants one (in green). Myself I am still on the fence since my current Zunes work so well and with each product update it stays current and works better than it did with each software update. However the gadget lust is really getting me thinking. As with my kids if there are more XNA games in line with the Xbox 360, with Xboxlive Gamer Tag/ Zune Tag synch and achievements/badges along with some cool apps like a Sonos control application(please?) like the iPhone/iPod Touch have as well as Netflix streaming over WiFi, then I am full on board.

I will get a Zune HD, its just a matter of when.

Zune HD. The wait if over. Pre-order yours today.

Both Zune HD 16GB and 32GB and both are ready for pre-order for September 15th delivery date through Zune HD’s product page. You can pre-order the Black 16GB and the Platinum 32GB Zune HD from one of five retailers; Best Buy, Amazon.com, the Microsoft Store, and Walmart. If you visit Newegg directly you can preorder from them too. (I don't know if its on Bing Shopping yet for Cash back.) You can also visit Zune.net/zunehd to find links to the four online retailers and to get a more detailed look at the device. As expected, the suggested retail pricing will be $220 for the 16GB model and $290 for the 32GB version.

Make it yours

Also at  http://www.ZuneOriginals.net, starting on September 15th both 16GB and 32GB capacities of Zune HD will be available in four different colors with the option to customize your player with one of 10 new engravings designed by guest artists.

Videos:

Here are some great videos to check out on the Zune HD.

One by our buddy Andru Edwards from GearLive.

Another by TechFlash with Brian Seitz of the Zune team.

Gizmodo has one too on the Zune HD TV interface.

And another recorded by at the gdgt event in San Francisco.

If you would like to win one the folks at Microsoft have a few contests going on. Head here for more info.

You can win a Zune HD through Microsoft, ;) if you're social enough.  According to another press release and giveaway rules, if you visit Zune's Facebook and MySpace page and comment on their profile about the one Zune HD feature you're most excited about, if you're on Twitter you must add a Zune gradient to be eligible at http://zune.m80im.com and @reply to Zune about the one feature you're excited about.  Here are the rules:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Only in the United States
  • One entry per social network, three entries per person in total
  • Four 16 GB Zune HDs are being given away
  • Giveaway going from Aug 13th through Sept 10th

Good Luck!!!

08/23/2009 05:45:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

SureLock Studio: Kiosk-Mode Lockdown for Windows Mobile Devices#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

I am frequently asked by enterprise IT groups about ways to control user access on Windows Mobile devices, restricting use to only “business-critical” applications. While there are any of a number of ways of managing this, having a “kiosk-mode” type functionality that only displays shortcuts would typically be the easiest implementation from a device management perspective. Software company 42Gears recognized this fact, releasing a new application named SureLock -

surelock_small

“In recent times Windows Mobile has become quite popular among companies to deploy and run their business applications. Windows Mobile is a generic operating system and therefore provides opportunities to employees to use the device for entertainment and gaming purposes (browsers, audio players, games, phone etc) which results in wastage of crucial working hours. Besides, accidental corruption of device settings by employees can cause critical business applications to fail.

SureLock Studio helps enterprises avoid above problems by locking down Windows Mobile devices into kiosk mode. As configured SureLock allows the employee to launch and use only the "approved" Line of Business applications.”

If kiosk-mode is what you desire, you should check out the SureLock product page. There is even a free trial download to evaluate it for yourself.

08/21/2009 12:08:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Twikini Not just another Twitter App#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

If you are familiar with the many Windows Mobile twitter applications like PocketTwit, ceTwit, TinyTwitter, Twoble, etc. - it usually requires additional downloads like .NET CF 3.5, Java, etc. to work and it takes a while for the application to get started and sometimes they crash or your Twit post gets lost in the ether of the internet never to return. The folks at Trinketsoftware have a new one for you called Twikini 1.0, which was just released out of beta and after a few quick changes from comments made to the developer via Twitter in a day it quickly jumped up to version 1.1. It has been my Twitter client on my various Windows Mobile devices for a few months now. I used to use PocketTwit, but it was way to bloated and would occasionally crash, but it is also a twitter client with a lot of features, that has pretty large memory and processing requirements to run smoothly.

 ScreenShot1

Twikini is only a 110K download and takes up a mere 240K of space on your device and it runs pretty quick since it is using C+.Twikini offers a powerful and efficient way to use Twitter on your phone, but still is very simple and easy to use. It allows you to quickly update your favorite twitter feeds in the background, and leverages the camera, GPS, media, touch screen, keyboard, graphics and storage capabilities of your device. Also the same code runs on both touch and not-touch screen phones and is very easy to use on both platforms.

Main Features

  • FAST! Unlike other Twitter apps for Windows® Mobile, Twikini is written entirely in native C++ code for maximum performance and the fastest load time possible.
  • Simple, uncluttered, and customizable user interface. Choose from a variety of themes for the best reading experience. (Screenshot 1, Screenshot 2, Screenshot 3)
  • Post tweets using a full screen editor. Optionally, set your location (either manually or using GPS) along with your status updates. (Screenshot)
  • Twitpic integration to post photos with your status updates. Select existing photos or click new ones from your device's camera.
  • Read status updates just like browsing a web page. Quickly reply, retweet, favorite, or email other people's tweets. (Screenshot 1, Screenshot 2)
  • Windows Media Player integration. Automatically tweet the song and artist you're listening to.
  • Single download that is compatible with all Windows® Mobile devices - both touch and non-touch.
  • And lots more...

Using Twikini:

ScreenShot6 ScreenShot2

The controls are very simple - up and down on the directional pad (d-pad) allows you to scroll between your twitter follows with a highlight of the tweet post you are on. To retweet someone's Tweet all you have to do is move your d-pad to the right, to respond to a tweet click on the left d-pad it’s pretty simple really. In your response you have options to add a Picture; Shorten URL with a choice from several services like Bit.ly, Digg, and TinyURL;Add GPS Coordinates and Add GPS Location to your message.

ScreenShot4

Under Options ->Tools - You also have some other options as well such as Tweeting your Song Info of music playing over Windows Media Player,(which may bother some if its quite frequent, but people want to know what you are doing right?)

  ScreenShot12

You also can go to the selected User, which will bring up their twitter information – followers and who they are following as well as their twitter bio information such as webpage and location. Here you also have the option to Follow/Stop Follow this person, send them a tweet, DM (direct message), view a larger picture or view their current given location on a Google map.

ScreenShot11

You can also view their updates via the left soft key.

ScreenShot18

I really like the built-in Twitpic integration, which never is displayed correctly in Internet Explorer Mobile and would only show up in something when redirected or rendered like when using Skweezer or another browser like Skyfire or Opera. It would be nice in future versions would support some other future picture formats that others use like Ping.FM that I see regularly pop-up in Tweets, but TwitPic is pretty much becoming the standard. An option I would more like to see would be automatic Skweezer redirection for quicker render of links in tweets and shortened URLs as an option to the user.

Some of the cool things is that Twikini does is support multiple accounts and allows you to switch between them, there is no timeline merge and personally I kind of like that so you can keep things separate. It would be nice to have them running at the same time, but with some sort of notification bubble, sound or toast of a DM (Direct Message) and allow it to tell me which account it was sent to.

ScreenShot9

Another thing is that when the Twitter timeline refreshes it now keeps your current position in the timeline. However when you tweet, RT aka retweet or respond it still automatically places you back at the top of the Twitter stack and you have to scroll down to where you left off and if you are not quick enough you may be caught in another refresh.

Another feature request I would like to see would be the ability to have search of topics aka # as something added to the timeline as well as separate like how it handles multiple accounts. Another would be the automatic filling in of those you have messaged in the past as soon as you type the @ sign it will give you suggestions like a spell checker, which may be another added feature, but most of the time people are shortening their tweets with abbreviations and text-speak.

Configuring Twikini

ScreenShot13 ScreenShot14

Under Options->Tools you can customize how you use Twikini. Under Timeline display you can adjust the Font Size-small, medium, large; Theme for general appearance; and how you display the name either Full Name or Twitter Screen name. I am using the HTC Black Theme you have several of those (7) to choose from as well so the interface is slightly customizable to your liking – Windows Default, HTC Black, Summer,Seattle, Cheesecake, Cool Winter, and Lounge.

ScreenShot17

Under Automatic Refresh you can change the refresh interval from disabled so you can manually choose when it refreshes, or have it automatically refresh in intervals every 2, 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes or every hour. Here you can also choose a notification sound of new Tweets and not to auto refresh when you are roaming.

ScreenShot15

Under Data Download you can choose to download images as well as how many tweets. The default is 20 with other choices of 50, 100, and 200 –which is the slowest and had problems rendering the screen when refreshing. Best sweet spot was 50 with no lag and 100 was good when you check it fairly infrequently.

ScreenShot16

The last option allows you to clear Twikini’s Cache folder, which it stores for 3 days to increase performance and decrease data download.

You can also check for updates of the application by going to Menu->Twikini->Check for Updates and it will go to a webpage and compare your version with the latest version available and if its older a link to update. It would be nice if had ApptoDate support so you would be automatically notified when updates became available. However, the application is very stable so far, but the developer pushes out updates with new features fairly frequently and following @twikini on Twitter is the best way to know of updates. :)

Summary

Overall, Twikini has won the spot on my device as my preferred Twitter application due to its quick response and overall stability, plus it doesn’t kill the battery on my phone if I leave it on all day. You can get your copy of Twikini for any Windows Mobile device from here with 14 day trial and for with a starting price of $4.95 it won’t break the bank.

05/31/2009 22:38:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Step-by-Step Installing Windows 7 from Bootable USB Flash Drive#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

This is a step-by-step for installing Windows 7 via a USB Flash drive for a few people that wrote in and Twittered. For my Netbook and mini laptop that don’t have optical drives I made a bootable USB drive with the 32-bit version of Wndows 7 RC by following the instructions over at TechNet and made it a bit easier for those that had difficulty doing it themselves or weren’t clear on the steps.

What you will Need:

  • USB Flash Drive (Minimum 4GB- I use an 8GB/16GB and have the installs of my most used programs ready to go in a separate install directory for me its-Windows Live Essentials, MS Office, Snagit, Camtasia Studio, Mozilla, Adobe Air, Tweetdeck, SlingPlayer,SOTI, Zune, Visual Studio,Paint.NET, etc.
  • Windows 7 or Vista installation files in either .ISO file or DVD format

What You Will Need to Do:

1. First plug-in your USB flash drive and move/backup all the contents from USB drive to another drive on your computer, storage card, etc. This way you can copy it all back later if there is room on your USB flash drive.

2. Next open Command Prompt with elevated admin rights.

diskpart commands

DiskPart commands

3. To setup the USB drive type the DISKPART command in the command prompt window.

diskpart

Next type the LIST DISK command and make sure note which Disk number (ie: Disk 1) is your USB flash drive you will need this in the next step.

4. Next type all the below commands one by one. I am using “Disk 1”.If you have Disk 2 as your USB flash drive then use Disk 2.Refer the above step to confirm your USB flash drive, mine is 16GB so I can see it is Disk 1.

diskpart1

Next type and execute each command below one by one:

SELECT DISK 1

CLEAN

CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY

SELECT PARTITION 1

ACTIVE

FORMAT FS=NTFS

diskpart2

The format process may take a while depending on the size of your thumb drive. Once DiskPart has successfully formatted the volume enter the next command:

ASSIGN

EXIT

Now keep the command prompt window open because we will need it for the next steps.

5. Next insert your Windows7/Vista DVD into your optical drive and check the drive letter of your DVD drive in Computer. I will be using  “D” as my Optical DVD drive and and the USB drive letter is “E”.

diskpart4

6. Next type the following command now:

D:CD BOOT and hit enter.Where “D” is your Optical drive letter.

7. Next in order to update the USB drive so it will work with BOOTMGR. You will need to enter the following at the command line:

BOOTSECT.EXE/NT60 E:

Where “E” is your target USB drive letter. If yours is different make the appropriate drive letter changes.

copy files to USB

8. Next you are going to copy the contents of your Windows 7/Vista DVD to the USB flash drive.

9. Now your USB drive is ready to boot and install Windows 7/Vista. In order to boot from the USB drive may have to enter your BIOS to set it to boot from the USB flash drive, set drive priority, and/or on start up, you may have to choose what device to boot from. This all depends on what BIOS you are running.

05/01/2009 19:06:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

BPPC Deals o’Week#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

OK this weeks deals look to be some pretty sweet ones with several coming from Geeks.com.

xbox-360-elite

They got the Xbox Elite until April 30th for $219 with code ELITE more details here with free shipping.

backup camera

Geeks.com also has a backup camera for $49 also until April 30th with code CAMDEALS.

flip-video

Don put up a great review of the Pure Digital Flip Ultra Camcorder#last week here is its little brother in white –refurbished with 60 minutes of video for quite a good deal - $79.99  over at Buy.com with free shipping.

pink-zune-and-auto-kit

If you are looking for something to give mom for Mother’s Day Buy.com thinks she may like this Microsoft Zune 4GB Pink with Free Microsoft Zune Car Pack v2 for $74.99 with free shipping. Yeah its pink, but you can get a skin for it and customize it. :) This is cool if you have RDS in your car radio, the artist and song info from your Zune will be displayed on your radio via the FM transmitter.Pretty cool stuff and not bad considering the car kit still retails for near $79.99 in some places.

moto-headset

Buy.com also has the Motorola S805 DJ Style Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, which are great if your phone supports A2DP & AVRCP Bluetooth stereo. Its not in a box but is sold as new in a Poly-Bag for $29.99 with free shipping.

moto-360-headset

Don alerted me to this deal earlier in the week the Xbox 360 Motorola Gaming Headset - $12.99 Use code motoxbox360Live for additional $10 off so its $2.99 with around $10 shipping. Not a bad deal to look like John Madden or your favorite hoodie-wearing coach.

 

asus-26-lcd

ZipZoomFly has the ASUS VK266H 25.5in Widescreen LCD Monitor 2ms 300 cd/m2 Glossy Black with 2MP webcam for$299.99 after MIR. not bad for near 26” computer display. Asus LCD is perfect for using both as an every day computer monitor for office tasks, and also perfect for playing back HD movies such as BluRay, and also gaming it has component and HDMI 1.3 inputs and SPDIF out.  It also supports HDCP so you can view BluRay in all its splendor. Another thing that is really cool is that it has Splendid Video Intelligence Technology, which analyzes the video input picture and adjusts the screen to get the very best image quality. It also has built-in 3W speakers. I am thinking of getting one of these to use a bedroom/secondary television works if you have a laptop for (Sling, Hulu, You Tube, NetFlix, Amazon)DVR, Xbox 360, or Cable box as a source. Also if you have small notebook or netbook an additional screen at almost 26” is a great accessory.

samsung-toc

Amazon is having a sale on Samsung HDTVs. Get the Samsung LN52A750 52-Inch 1080p DLNA LCD HDTV with Red Touch of Color for $1,999.98. You’re saving 31 percent off of the original price of $2,899.99 with 120Hz Auto Motion Plus scanning (that can be turned off if you don’t need it or it bothers you), 4 HDMI 1.3 ports, InfoLink-RSS feeds of news, weather and sports right to your HDTV with a built-in Ethernet port. Granted it doesn’t have the same level of blacks as the more expensive Samsung LN52A850 52-Inch for $2299.89, but most people can’t even see the difference unless they have a very keen eye. Note newer versions have come out - one at 240Hz and another with LED backlight, but the deal on these current models is pretty good in that you also receive $200 off of select Samsung Blu-Ray Players like the Samsung BD-P1500 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player, but for an extra $69 I would opt for the Samsung BD-P1600 1080p Blu-Ray Disc Player with NetFlix and Pandora support. Both support BD Live and software upgrades. If you don’t need surround sound you can get the Samsung LN52A650 52-Inch for $1899.98 it also has a smaller bezel as a result of the lack of better surround sound speakers and a built-in subwoofer that the Samsung LN52A750 has.

kill a watt

In honor of earth week get one of these so you can see and show your family how much energy they are wasting by leaving things plugged in and on. The Kill a Watt Electricity Load Meter and Monitor costs just $19.99 at NewEgg will calculate electrical expenses by any period while checking the quality of your incoming power by monitoring the voltage, like frequency and power factor. Now you'll know if it's time for a new appliance, or whether new items touted as "energy saving" are actually doing their job.

 

hangman

OK someone emailed me and they wanted some games. So I got some good deals in that department too. Hangman for Windows Mobile hey its free.

orange-box-logo1

This weekend, Valve is offering The Orange Box in all of its award-winning, immensely entertaining glory for just $9.99. If $50 for this package was considered the Best Deal Ever, then $10 must be whatever 5 times that is. The current list price for all of these games combined, if bought individually, is $84.95. The running price for The Orange Box is $29.99. This weekend you only pay $9.99. See for yourself in the Steam Store

The Orange Box features three highly-awaited new games by Valve: Half-Life® 2: Episode Two, the second installment in the Half-Life 2 episodic trilogy; Team Fortress® 2, the sequel to the game that put class-based, multiplayer team warfare on the map; and Portal, the game that blends puzzles, first person action, and adventure gaming to produce an experience like no other. One of the best PC Gaming packages ever and for under a Hamilton.

To bring gamers up to date with the Half-Life 2 universe, The Orange Box also includes Half-Life 2, the best-selling and highest-rated action game series of all time, and the episodic debut Half-Life® 2: Episode One.

$84.95  Individual price
$29.99  Package price
$20 off  66% off this weekend only

$74.96   Net Savings

$9.99    Cost to you

Enjoy!!

04/24/2009 23:35:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows 7 – Ink Input and The Tablet PC#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

This article, Ink Input and the Tablet PC popped up in my RSS feed from the Engineering Windows 7 blog early this morning. It’s an interesting read on how and what was done to improve inking in Windows 7. I am really liking the new TIP (Tablet PC Input Panel) and things are just more intuitive. The keyboard is much bigger, easier to read and has predictive text output similar to Windows Mobile. It has design improvements for touch based screen like my Fujitsu P1610 and the now defunct Origami group, which has been absorbed under the Windows 7 umbrella to support the growing number of small notebook/netbook PCs. On my old Fujitsu slate at home running Windows 7 is actually easier (and faster) with the new TIP and I notice I don’t have to correct my ink as much as I did with Windows XP and Windows Vista saving time and making it much more useful especially when using the browser. Also the addition of the Math Panel for students and math/science ilk is a great add-on.

There’s a strong community of developers who take advantage of the ink input/TabletPC functionality to develop unique solutions for specific markets (medicine, education, line of business) and create software in Windows that builds on this experience to streamline how these end-users interact with information on their PC (usually with unique form-factors such as slates or wall mounted PCs).  Earlier this week I received a great email asking “what’s new for us” from the head of development for one such ISV (medical software) and so we put together an overview of the new functionality.    Several Program Managers on the team authored this post. 

Also, as you have noticed, the site has had some uptime troubles over the past 10 days or so and I think we’re all back to normal.  That’s ok since we’ve also been pretty busy in the Windows 7 hallway :-)   --Steven

04/23/2009 04:40:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 Released#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Spb Software, one of our favorite mobile software companies, releases the long anticipated next version of one my favorite software applications Spb Mobile Shell 3.0, the next-generation user interface for Windows phones. Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 accounts for two different smartphone use scenarios: at work and at play. The application offers distinctive 'professional' and 'lifestyle' desktops, integration of picture contacts with Facebook, account-sensitive email indicators, handsome time and weather screens, widgets, responsive kinetic scrolling, signature 3D animation engine, and other appealing assets that change the way a Windows phone is used altogether.

 

Previous versions of Spb Mobile Shell were shipped by a number of innovative phone makers, such as Acer, O2, Pharos, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba, have won numerous awards, and have been the choice of millions of customers. "It was challenging to design 3.0, as customer expectations are quite high," - comments Yaroslav Goncharov the Spb Mobile Shell Product Manager and CTO at Spb Software - "On the other hand, this level of success gave us confidence in our basic ideas and design philosophy, and we certainly feel that Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 has all it takes to be the strong foundation for a host of new and immensely popular Windows phones."

Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 Main Features

  • Professional and Lifestyle home screens (for work and for play)
  • Widget-based photo contacts with Facebook integration
  • Widgets
  • 3D carousel and hardware accelerator support
  • Ringtones, Contacts, Profiles, and Wireless management
  • Many integrated tools such as Weather, World Time, etc.
  • Highly customizable for the needs of phone makers and mobile operators

Pricing and Availability

Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 is available in 24 languages, is compatible with Windows phones running Windows Mobile 5 and later Professional platforms, qVGA, VGA, Square QVGA, and WVGA screen resolutions are supported. A free, 15-day trial can be downloaded, or Spb Mobile Shell can be purchased for 29.95 USD from www.SpbSoftwareHouse.com. Users of any 2.x versions of Spb Mobile Shell are welcome to upgrade to Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 for just 14.95 USD. According to Spb Software's upgrades policy, all Spb Mobile Shell users who have purchased the product within the last 90 days, are invited to exchange the previous version of software for the newly released one, for free.

I have been using it for a few days and really like the Facebook integration of being able to change your contact/call pictures to ones in a persons Facebook profile. I would have loved to see more integration with Facebook and possibly Twitter in the future. I will be posting up more detailed review soon. Check out Remo Knops Step-by-Step over at MobilityMinded.

04/21/2009 21:44:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Pantech Matrix Pro Tweetstakes#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Pantech will be starting up a new contest for all you Tweople & Twitiizens out there with a chance to win one of many Pantech Matrix Pro smartphones to be given away as well as a chance to win the grand prize of $25,000! This contest is covering the launch of the Pantech Matrix Pro web site and their twitter page for their Tweetstakes promotional contest:

Tweetstakes

"The Matrix Pro by Pantech has a new home online: pantechmatrixpro.com, the first place to go for all you need to know about this exciting new smartphone. See the Matrix Pro's unique dual-keyboard design in action; get the lowdown on all of the Matrix Pro's great features; read blog entries highlighting the latest Matrix Pro news and reviews; get information about the upcoming Tweetstakes featuring a grand prize of $25,000; and follow handy links to purchase your very own Matrix Pro online. Visit pantechmatrixpro.com to experience the site for yourself."

The Matrix Pro Tweetstakes is coming! Every day during the Tweetstakes, we'll be asking a question about assorted topics related to the mobile lifestyle. (For example, "Breaking up via text: done it to anyone? Had it happen to you? Fair game or bad form?")

The sweepstakes is designed to celebrate the Matrix Pro, so Pantech and AT&T are giving away prizes to Twitter users who follow and reply to @matrixpro.  The format is:

  1. Each day, Pantech/AT&T will tweet a question from @matrixpro
  2. Followers tweet their responses to @matrixpro
  3. Each day, Pantech/AT&T pick a user from the replies to win a free Matrix Pro
  4. At the end of the sweepstakes, one very lucky player will win $25,000
  5. Players can also enter by email, but entering via Twitter is easier

So sign up for the Tweetstakes and watch your Twitter feed - some of my favorite ways to do be part of the “tweetosphere” from a windows mobile device is via Pocketwit and Twikini.

Good Luck and may the Tweet be with you!!!

04/14/2009 08:03:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Pure Digital Flip Ultra Camcorder – A Winner#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Add me to the long list of people who have been won over by the Pure Digital Flip Ultra camcorder. Not for a long list of features, mind you, but just the opposite. Simplicity of use is key here.

As a longtime camcorder owner, I have to admit I do not take much video. The reasons -

  • Size.
    While camcorders have gotten smaller, they are still a pain to lug around during all-day excursions (especially when everyone is active). Example – our family’s last vacation at Disney World. One more bulky item to carry around the parks when traveling light is essential.
  • Durability.
    Let’s face it – most camcorders are something you tend to treat with kid gloves. Only the most daring will take along an expensive camcorder on an outing where the risk of drops or bumps can occur.
  • Usability.
    I always say that I am born to operate a camcorder for two reasons – big hands and long fingers. With many camcorders I have tried or used regularly over the years, even the simplest of operations (like starting and stopping recording) required two hands to complete. And don’t get me started on advanced features; try to change settings on some camcorders while shooting and not destroy the video.
    I also have found too many camcorders require you to become an expert on the hardware in order to perform anything other than the most basic of operations. The result – you see me in very few family videos. I am always the “video technician”.
  • Time to operate.
    Most camcorders take time to power up and start shooting video. When you want an “in the moment” shot, you either have to be always ready or run the risk of missing out.
  • Video transfer/edit.
    To be honest, most camcorders still make this a difficult process. Whether it is the additional cabling, proprietary drivers or proprietary hardware, nothing ever seems to go as planned. Example – our current family camcorder. Between drivers that won’t work properly under Windows Vista and software that is just outright buggy, the process of moving video to the PC for editing requires both patience and expert knowledge.

I had heard quite a few positive things about the Flip Ultra from people I know. Importantly, I heard good things from people who were not “tech savvy”. When a deal good good to pass up showed up one day at woot.com, I decided to take the plunge. Folks – it was well worth it.

FlipUltra01

Anyone who knows me or has read by reviews over the years knows I am a huge fan of Sling Media’s Slingbox. From Day One, my major argument for the product being a success was the design emphasis on simplicity. The hardware and software just works, without the need for deep technical knowledge. Until now, I found no other product that provided so much with so little technical effort. The Flip Ultra becomes the second product to achieve that distinction.

What makes the Flip Ultra so successful? Well, let’s look back at my criteria -

  • Size.
    At just over 2 inches width by 4 inches height, and weighing in at a svelte 5.2 ounces, this is one “pocketable” device. I love being able to just drop the Flip Ultra into my pocket and go.
  • Durability.
    Simplicity often results in a certain amount of durability. Such is the case with the Flip Ultra. Not a lot of moving parts to break here. Combine that with solid casing, and I immediately have a level of comfort with the device. Heck – I’m even willing to hand over my Flip Ultra to my sons (ages 8 and 4), which is really saying something.
  • Usability.
    Any device that requires less than a minute of explanation to describe operation is a winner in my book. Add to that the ability to explain that to a child and for them to get it, and you have a HUGE winner. Let’s be clear – the Flip Ultra is not a high-end, feature-rich camcorder and it never should be. That is the beauty of the device; ease of use.
  • Time to operate.
    From a complete power down state to recording is less than 2 seconds. A power button on the side brings the device to a ready state almost instantly (the true beauty of flash memory and good industrial design). One button push and recording starts.

    FlipUltra02
    Power switch on the upper-right. Red button to
    record/stop. Simple enough, right?
  • Video Transfer/Edit.
    It’s all about designing for usability, folks. A USB adapter is built into the Flip Ultra. Pop it out and plug it in to your PC to start the transfer process. The flash memory is configured to detect it Pure Digital’s FlipShare software is already installed. If not, you can install it – directly from the Flip Ultra itself. Once installed, the software runs and even checks for updates (the software on my device required an update; easy enough to do and only took a couple of minutes).
    FlipShare is designed for – you guessed it – ease of use. Drag and drop to transfer files from the device to your PC. You have a multitude of options here, including sharing files via email, uploading to popular services like MySpace and YouTube, creating movies or burning DVDs.

    FlipShare02
    Lots of options within FlipShare

    All of FlipShare’s options are wizard-based, making the process simple and usable for just about anyone.

    FlipShare03 
    The Movie-Making Wizard in action

    For the Flip Ultra and FlipShare, video is captured, stored and saved in MPEG-4 AVI format. If you wish to convert to other formats, there are any of a number of freeware and pay-for converters available (including higher-end video editing tools). If you choose not to install the FlipShare software, that’s OK as well. You see, the device also presents itself as a USB Mass Storage device when connected to your PC.

    FlipUltra03
    It’s a camcorder! It’s a storage device!

    A note here – if you do have the FlipShare software installed and wish to explore the device from File Explorer, you need to right click on the “drive” and say open. The default association set up on the device makes a double-click prompt for software install.

    flipultra04
    Flip Ultra in File Explorer view.

    All in all, the video transfer and basic editing/upload process is made almost trivial by the Flip Ultra and FlipShare. That in and of itself is quite a statement when coming from a camcorder world that is just the opposite.

The Flip Ultra is capable of storing 1 hour of video. This may in fact be the only downside to the device that I can personally see. I have enjoyed using it so much in such a brief period of time that I may find myself needing to download frequently. The Flip Video (the Flip Ultra’s sibling) is only capable of 30 minutes of recording. There is also the slightly more expensive but slightly smaller Flip Mino at 60 minutes of recording, and the new Flip MinoHD (capable of 1 hour of recording in high definition). You can see and compare the specifications at the Pure Digital web site.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Pure Digital Flip Ultra. I really believe that Pure Digital has finally brought the end-to-end experience of basic video recording to the masses. 

04/12/2009 08:38:16 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Vito’s “Tuned In Package” – 3 Great Apps at 1 Low Price#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

With all of the great work Vito Technology has done with the finger-friendly products that can be found at iWindowsMobile.com, I sometimes forget about some of the other long and successful products that make up their portfolio. The latest offer from Vito Technology, however, brings some of these applications back to mind -

Vito_logo

Vito Technology wants to inaugurate spring with a new offer for its customers. With its newly created 'Tuned in Package' customers, buy 2 applications and get 1 free.

The Tuned in Package includes: audio bestsellers AudioNotes, SoundExplorer and RingtoneEditor for $14 instead of $21. All information can also be found on Vito technology’s new offers page where users can get up to date with current offers by VITO Technology and enjoy them. 

So go and get Tuned! Make your MP3 notes filed and send them around via mail or MMS with AudioNotes, create your own ringtones and share them with your friends with RingtoneEditor and... more get your player and audio recorder onto your phone with SoundExplorer. All for the price of $14 instead of $21.

Still in need of more info? Here you find a detailed description of applications' main features: 

RingToneEditor allows you to make ringtone of any MP3 file. You just need to start the app choose the MP3 file that starts playing press the "Start" button and then "Finish" button. The Ringtone is ready, now you may save it or set as a default ringtone immediately.


AudioNotes is for making audio notes. You may just with one tap (firstly assign the hardware button) start recording with the help of your WM device in any situation. Or if your device doesn't have any restrictions for calls recording then you may record important calls to have this information at your device. 

SoundExplorer  is for not only recording your notes and lectures it can be a great tool for reproducing your notes using different speeds of playing and creation of playlists. Besides it reproduces different formats like mp3 and wav. It also has equalizer and VAS. You may edit ID3 tags and even convert wav files into mp3.

Any of of these three products is well worth the $14 price. All 3 for $14 – that’s a real deal!

04/02/2009 08:17:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

NEXT USER/DEVELOPER GROUP MEETING: Wednesday, Feb. 18th, 2009#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Our next Windows Mobile User/Developer Group meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 18th at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor) starting at 6:30 PM.

Map picture

Our meeting will include:

  • Device Security Open Discussion
    Last’s month’s CES roundup ran a bit long (as is often the case with such a vast amount of information presented). As a result, our discussion regarding personal device security will take place this month.
  • Mobile World Congress Roundup
    The 2009 edition of Mobile World Congress (“MWC”) begins next week. By Wednesday, there will likely be lots to discuss and lots of questions. We will bring together all of the major news from MWC into one presentation for your enjoyment!
  • Microsoft Tag
    Microsoft has released the beta version of a barcode technology (and more) in Microsoft Tag that has the potential of opening many doors to new opportunities. A major player in this strategy is Windows Mobile. We will provide an overview of Tag, it’s possibilities and demonstrate how you can begin using this technology today for your own benefit.

As usual, we will have lots of giveaways in our monthly end-of-meeting raffle.

Hope to see you there!

02/12/2009 09:23:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

CES Predictions for 2009#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Each year we try and make some predictions on what will be the hottest technology at CES. There are a lot of electronics introduced each year that don’t make it to the store shelves until around the September time, others are soon right after CES, and others fail to make it out of the gate. Most technology has been around for a while, but it takes a while for it to gain market acceptance and become a consumer electronic staple. Last year it was the year of the GPS. For the year 2009 I think this will be the year of the mini-notebook.

 2009_international_ces

Mini Notebook

Many of us have been using them for years, but now consumers have found their value as well as price range very acceptable for a portable machine on the go that allows for email, web browsing and occasional document creation and viewing via presentation. This what most consumers want and have been desiring for a while and manufacturers are now starting to listen like Acer,Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Other manufacturers like Fujitsu and Toshiba have been doing this for years, but they weren’t affordable(under $500) and came a high cost premium for miniature computing. People will see these not as main PCs, but more like companion PCs for travel and occasional computing that they can’t do on handheld devices and smartphones. Small screen-size is what people desiring portability want. The sweetspot of screen size varies from user to user some like 9-inch display for ultra-portability and others like a 12-inch screen for portability and a comfortable viewing size for extended periods.

Other innovations will be in the computing space that we will see more on both the desktop and notebook computers.

USB 3.0

It has been a while since this technology was mentioned and USB 2.0 just seems to have taken hold as the standard interface for data with devices leaving IEEE 1394 aka Firewire on only a few video cameras, which are a rare find even today. USB 3.0 is set to multiple the 480Mb/s (peak) of USB 2.0 a tenfold.It does this by adding 5 new lines (two for receiving data, two for sending data and an additional ground) on a new plane to USB 2.0’s existing 4 lines so it will still be backwards compatible. Hopefully we will see more support for devices and computers this year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath until late 2009.

Display Port

Some newer laptops are shipping with this new connector that is smaller than your standard 15-pin VGA connector and beefier DVI connector making for a smaller footprint in laptops, video cards and built-in video display. However, monitors will also need to accept that connector, which are currently rare and in-between. If anything people will be purchasing adapters to go with their Display Port enabled computers.

OLED

Hopefully this will be the year that we will be seeing the long-waited clearer image and energy savings of OLED displays will hopefully hit mass production in laptop and desktop displays. We are still waiting for OLED to hit televisions as well that are larger than a total foot diagonally.

802.11n

Will this version of WiFi ever settle on their standards. Hopefully the draft standards will become standard. Personally it works well with what devices I have that utilize the n standard and it would be nice to see it become standard will all new computers.

WiMAX

WiMAX is finally coming and some people have been using it small areas with companies like Clearwire delivering it into select markets in the country. This technology has been around quite a few years and I think it will start to reach consumer acceptance, much like 3G has with phone and cellular data modems with the help from Intel and Sprint with their new Sprint 4G network.

Blu Ray Disc

Well the format war is over, but Blu Ray still hasn’t won the hearts of the consumer’s wallet, DVD sales are still strong and many people are waiting for player prices to drop as well as the Blu Ray Media Price like DVDs did, which I have noticed is happening – DVD prices are going up and BRD prices are dropping. BD Live is some cool technology and we are seeing players coming equipped with a network connection to get you a little more out of your HD media with new content updated frequently. LG even released a player that supports NetFlix HD streaming, like TiVo and Xbox 360’s. Currently BRD should be making moves a bit faster than DVD did with online distribution services of HD content winning consumer’s dollars faster due to ease of use and price point. Digital copies does help, but for Home Theater enthusiasts storing and distributing it is still a huge hurdle. Also its about time they now have BRD with THX certification, well one Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls. Hopefully we will also see more titles that move beyond the aged 5.1 surround sound and move to at least 7.1 or heaven forbid 9.1 and TrueHD for sound that is normalized and is heard like it should be heard as the director intended it to be.

Green and Energy Star

I have been asking many manufacturers about this for years and it looks like last year it started to become a great marketing and good for the environment move by many companies as well as many new laws and regulations setup by other parts of the world. More electronics will be green and Energy Star compliant, but I would like to see some products own up to the actual carbon footprint left behind in the manufacturing process and disposal of the device. Its crazy to think that the carbon foot print of a Toyota Prius battery tray which is made from material in Canada, that is shipped for processing in Europe, then shipped to China for final product manufacture of the batteries and then shipped to Japan is larger than two Land Rover Discoveries. People looking to be energy conscious isn’t just at the plug-end, but also the whole cradle to grave existence of the device. It would be nice if a new standard was developed to show this. At least more manufacturers are moving toward this.

LED Lights

Well this isn’t big on the tech side of things, but reinventing the light bulb has been a topic of conversation for many years since Edison. Newer replacement LED bulbs yet have to reach the same lumens output as current Halogens, but they don’t cost as much to operate as well and don’t waste energy in the form of heat. I am hoping this year more LED based lighting options are available in 2009 from leaders like Philips, Sylvania, and GE that are also affordable for the average consumer that will reach the similar light output of current bulbs they are replacing.

Software

How come no one really talks about this at CES? In the current economic client we will see companies and VC cutting back funding for new hardware and focusing on software and services for their new products. More products are now interfacing with existing online services making devices more connected. Microsoft and Google should be meeting with partners and resellers and selling and informing resellers what to expect in the coming months.

Again this year I don’t think any huge announcements made in the CE space, but many soft launches of some newer technology as evolutionary, not revolutionary from current electronics, still its enough to make me say “Gimme” and feed my Technolust. Still I can’t wait for CES to begin, I am as giddy as a child during the holidays. I can’t wait…

01/07/2009 18:29:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

SlingMedia delivers On Demand Video#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

The folks at Sling have listened to their users and are proud to announce the public launch of Sling.com, an online video entertainment destination that could easily fill and your dependency on cable and satellite television providers. Users can go to Sling.com to watch a huge selection of clips, TV shows, films, news and sports in high quality, for free, anytime they want. This includes video programming from over 90 content providers spanning 150 content brands. Most of the content looks to come from a partnership with Hulu.com.

sling stream

“Sling.com is a wonderful combination of premium video content, television viewing, robust editorial and consumer-friendly access and socialization features,” said Jason Hirschhorn, President, Sling Media Entertainment Group. “Users will have a blast watching great clips, full length shows and movies while customizing the viewing experience to their liking."

Sling.com features:

  • Robust editorial programming: Sling.com’s editorial team creates great content including blogs, playlists and clip collections.
  • Socialization features: Users can subscribe to any channel, show or user to create a feed of programming and activity that reflects your personal tastes and those of your social network.
  • Slingbox access: For the first time, Slingbox owners can now access and view their home television (cable, satellite receiver) and DVR via the Sling.com website, making their Slingboxes available without a software client download.

“Our mission from day one was to enable access to content regardless of screen or source,” said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media, Inc. “Sling Media will continue to link and meld video solutions from the television, computer and mobile device to create seamless experiences for consumers.”

Best of all if you have a mobile browser that supports Flash video like Skyfire, you can watch your favorite television shows and movies right on your phone on demand when the mood strikes you.

12/03/2008 05:44:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Day 4 of the HP Magic Giveaway Contest#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

On the fourth day of the contest for the HP Magic Giveaway Contest there will only be one site launching their contest.

HPN80175_blog_300x250_v4

Hack College

Here are their contest rules:

The Giveaway

Our new favorite PC manufacturer is giving us more than $6000 worth of gear to make one lucky group of friends' Christmas spectacular. 49 other blogs are also participating in the HP Blogger Magic Giveaway. We are more than excited to be giving away 3 laptops, a desktop and a few other things.

Our Rules

Watch episode 8 for a complete overview:

 

We want to give our package to a group of 4 friends. Whether you are roommates, housemates or can only tolerate eachother long enough to enter the contest, we encourage everyone to enter. To enter, we're asking each of your 4 team members to join our Facebook page and then report back here.

We will be randomly selecting a fan of the Facebook page on December 8 and announcing the winner on our Facebook page. If the randomly selected winners do not respond to us within 12 hours, we will select new winners.

Enter Your Team

First, head over to our Facebook page with your 3 friends and become fans. Then enter your name, your email and your 3 friends' names in the form here.

Also don’t forget you do have other chances to win as well so be sure to check out the other 50 sites participating at HP's Magic Giveaway site.

Good luck entering the contests for today and from the other contest from here, Mediablab, Neowin, Morningside Mom, Thoughts on poetics & tech, Bleeping Computer, Gear Live, and Windows Connected.

12/01/2008 22:06:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Celio Introduces Two New REDFLYs#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

The folks at Celio Corp (the maker of the REDFLY Smartphone Terminal, unveiled two new models: the REDFLY C7 and REDFLY C8N after hearing tons of feedback from early reviews and customers of the original REDFLY, the folks at Celio Corp took that feedback and produced these new models. The REDFLY C7 is a new, more affordable model with a power-saving seven-inch display, light-weight five-hour battery, and feather-light design under 1.5 lbs. The REDFLY C8N is the next evolution of the original REDFLY design, enhanced to allow the use of the eight-inch screen by an iPod™, iPhone ™, Zune™, or digital camera. These new Celio products continue to support the smartphone, the most successful mobile computing platform available today, and enable the smartphone’s Internet-based and cloud-computing applications.

REDFLY_C7_m REDFLY_C8N_m

As you can see in the pictures above it looks like they have the same size and footprint, but the C7 on the left sports a smaller 7 inch display.

REDFLY_C7_m_ports REDFLY_C8N_ports_m

On the back you can see that the C8N (N for NTSC) – the one on the right has an additional port for video (located between the 2 USB ports and the VGA out) in via an accessory cable shown below.

REDFLY_Media_Cable

The cable looks to support composite video (RCA) only and looks to have an additional USB port receptacle for charging a portable device such as an iPod or Zune.

Available the week of December 1, 2008, REDFLY C7 and C8N can be pre-ordered today from select Celio resellers listed at www.getredfly.com for a suggested retail price of $229 and $299 respectively. 

“REDFLY has taken off in the smartphone market and these new models are designed to extend this success,” said Kirt Bailey, CEO of Celio Corp. “The REDFLY’s larger keyboard and screen brings the right functionality to the smartphone, making it the netbook of choice without the additional TCO (total cost of ownership) and data loss risk of a UMPC or laptop. Combined with the REDFLY device, the smartphone has become the center of mobile virtualization and mobile cloud-based computing.”

The REDFLY C7 is the result of a customer-driven plan for a power-efficient, lightweight and more affordable solution. With a power-saving seven-inch display and power-efficient features, the REDFLY C7 uses a lightweight battery that provides up to five-hours of performance, perfect for many mobile users. The REDFLY C7 weighs less than 1.5 lbs., lighter than any mobile computer with a seven-inch display. 

The REDFLY C8N evolved from the original REDFLY design to meet overwhelming customer demand to use the larger screen as an external display for media players such as an iPod, iPhone , Zune, or digital camera. A new REDFLY Media Port and REDFLY Media Cable provide a simultaneous connection as a third USB port and composite video input (NTSC/PAL compatible). Now the REDFLY’s 800x480-pixel screen can be used to view photos, show demos and even watch movies. The REDFLY Media Cable is available for a suggested retail price of $19.95.

Available the week of December 1, 2008, the REDFLY C7 and C8N Smartphone Terminals can be pre-ordered today from select Celio resellers listed at www.getredfly.com including: Amazon.com; Enterprise Mobile; Expansys; MyTreo.net; Treonauts.com and WMexperts.com. For more information about REDFLY, visit www.celiocorp.com.

11/30/2008 11:25:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Zune Pass now Gives you 10 Free songs /month#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Microsoft has made all sorts of Zune related announcements this week. First came the price-drops on the Flash-memory-based Zunes  (see the bottom of the post), as well as some minor upgrades to the Zune marketplace software and Zune firmware update to 3.1 so you can use the new services available, which includes new games and the ability to play SuDoKu and Checkers against other Zune owners via Wi-Fi and Texas Hold ‘em now has multi-player Zune to Zune playability. Another new game is Space Battle.

zunepass10

The big news today, however, is that Microsoft is making its Zune Pass subscription that costs $14.99 a little more interesting and you don’t even need a Zune to use it! :) On a monthly basis, subscribers can now download 10 songs from the Zune Marketplace and keep them forever.

"The week just keep getting better for Zune owners: today we're announcing some amazing enhancements for Zune Pass. Starting today at about 11:00PM pacific time, everyone with a Zune Pass gets to keep 10 tracks from Zune Marketplace each month. These 10 tracks will be yours to keep, forever. Each month that you keep your Zune Pass current, you'll get another 10 tracks credited to your account. All this for the same price as your Zune Pass today: 14.99/month, or about the price of one CD per month. So each month as you discover and download new music in Zune Marketplace, you'll be able to keep 10 of your favorite tracks. One quick note: there is no roll-over, so make sure you collect your 10 tracks each month."

Even if your subscription runs out, the songs are yours. Almost 90 percent of the files will be DRM-free MP3s, and the others will be protected WMA tracks. That means that the majority of downloaded tracks can be transferred to different devices as many times as you want. The four major labels are on board, as well as several Indie labels. Your tracks won't roll over from month to month, you only get 10 a month and if you don’t use it – you loose it. So you get 120 tracks per year that Zune subscribers weren't getting this time yesterday.

The Flash-based Zunes also had a price drop this week as well. The 4GB model is now available for $99 (down from $130), the 8GB is $139 (down from $150), and the 16GB is $179 (down from $200). Also some Zune accessories were also reduced: the Zune Car Pack has dropped to $69 instead of $79, the Home AV Pack is now $59 instead of $79, and the Dock pack is now $39, down from $49. The new prices, software and firmware updates, and new subscription deals are all in full effect now.

11/20/2008 11:46:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

SlingCatcher Now Shipping and Available in Retail#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

One of the things I would like to do in my household is to stream the DVDs to my bedroom. Currently Microsoft Vista’s Media Center doesn’t support direct DVD streaming (there are ways to rip it to a hard drive and then stream it, but that breaks the DMCA). One solution I am currently using is an old laptop with video out hooked up to my television that streams the DVD output of my Media Center PC and DVD changers via SlingPlayer, however there is a loss of video quality in the process. We were also looking at getting another HD DVR cable box for the bedroom, but the SlingCatcher looks like a great solution that pays for itself.

SlingCatcher-Angle

The solution I have been waiting for a few years made its appearance at multiple CES shows called the SlingCatcher from SlingMedia which distributes video and audio without the need of a PC. It also includes software to allow you stream any video from a PC to a television if you have a Slingbox. Currently there isn’t any support for HD streaming support, but it is coming as well as streaming video from various online sources as well are mentioned in the press release:

The SlingCatcher allows customers to watch online video from any popular site on the internet including network television sites like ABC.com, video content sites like Hulu.com and CollegeHumor.com, community video sites like YouTube.com, and even online movie rentals from popular services like Netflix, directly from a PC to the TV for the ultimate lean-back, social viewing experience…

SlingCatcher comes with three built-in applications: SlingPlayer™ for TV, SlingProjector™ and My Media that combine to create a unified media platform capable of delivering content from disparate places for viewing on a single TV screen. This unique approach promises to give customers unprecedented control over their home television experience.

SlingPlayer for TV delivers one of the most requested features from existing Slingbox customers: the ability to watch and control their living room TV on another TV in the home or on a TV in a remote location without using a PC or custom cabling.

slingcatcher back

The back of the SlingCatcher includes both standard definition and high definition outputs to connect to a TV - including HDMI, component video, S-Video and composite video, and analog and digital audio connectors. SlingCatcher also features a standard Ethernet jack to connect to the home network, either directly or via SlingLink powerline Ethernet adapters. The SlingCatcher even has two USB ports for connecting a thumb drive or external hard drive to play video directly through the SlingCatcher.


SlingCatcher can be purchased in the U.S. from many leading online retailers for the MSRP of $299.99. like Buy.com, NewEgg.com and Amazon.com – who has it for $285.02. ;) The SlingCatcher is also on retail store shelves starting today, including national retailer Best Buy, as well as Fry’s Electronics, Microcenter, J&R and other regional retailers.

News | Misc
10/09/2008 08:44:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Zune 3.0 Fall Update News#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Well rumors have flown across the Internet for some time now on the the release of the new Zune units the new blue 8GB Zune, 16GB Zune,  and the big daddy of Zunes the 120GB Zune! Microsoft has released an official release here.

ZuneFallUpdate_lg

Some notables to take away from this that the Zune 3.0 firmware will be available for all Zunes on September 16th and the price points of the various sizes; the first 30GB, 4($129)/8($149)/16($199) GB Flash units, and newer 80($229)/120($249)GB hard drive units. Notice there is very little price margin between models phasing out the older models as they are slowly removed from retail, which I see coming in at even lower prices this Holiday season or maybe on Woot!

- It gets a Clock in the upper right hand corner- yeah great for runners and those who don't wear time pieces.

- Some free games “Hexic” and “Texas Hold ’Em”

- Option to purchase or download from FM radio via RDS+ data depending if you have Zune Pass or not

- Link to the Social via hotspots that don’t  require internet browsers to agree to TOS.

- Support for audiobooks including content from audible.com and overdrive.com

There is a great summary of what was added over at the insidecircle.net by Neville Williams.

A few other Zune MVPs have even posted videos worth checking out.

Zune Gaming and Wireless Song Purchasing Experience over at ZuneThoughts

Texas Hold ‘em and Hexic from ZuneLuv

Zune Software Features- Zune Fall 2008 from Microsoft at the Zune Insider

Zune Fall 2008 Wireless Features

Zune Fall Update: Channels

Zune Fall update: buy from FM

 

Over at Kombo rumor has it that MS has purchased some air time on the g4TV network on September 25th and should be announcing the following:

- Free DLC (Down Loadable Content) for Halo 3, and paid DLC for Mass Effect and GTA IV

- Six free Xbox Originals for download - we all love some of those Xbox original games

- A partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio (please be free for existing customers)

- 12 new exclusive titles, including 2 Halo games (as well as the supposed Peter Jackson Halo project, and the game Bungie was supposed to premiere at E3)

- A new music download service or some gaming music

Hopefully there will be some truth to these rumors, we will have to just wait and see.

According to Engadget it looks like Xbox Live Music Marketplace and Video will be shared with Zune according to Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore and legal measures had to take place in the background before we see a merge of the two services in the future.

According to this job post it looks like Windows Mobile will also be in the Marketplace mix as people have begged and hoped for.

“The Zune team is embarking on the mission to create a “Connected Entertainment” experience, realized through the Zune service, that spans multiple devices such as Zune, Xbox, PC and Mobile phones...Do you dream about having a mobile phone based entertainment experience powered by a unified entertainment service across devices such as Zune, Xbox and PC?”

So if you are looking to compete the tri-fecta of Microsoft technology: Windows Mobile, Zune, and Xbox it looks like the new $199 price for the Xbox Arcade looks pretty good for the bedroom or spareroom.

Also If you would like to win one of the Blue ones Chris Leckness   is giving one away over at GotZune. :)

Note: You also get 20% off any Zune Accessory and $20 off this Speaker Dock at Amazon with this Code: ALTECSAV

09/09/2008 12:16:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Palm Treo Pro#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Palm just officially announced the Palm Treo Pro. The Treo Pro has been on the internet already as the 3G counterpart to the Palm Treo 800. The Treo Pro includes a headset jack, Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities geared for one handed use that meets the needs of businesses and end users alike. Palm also raised the screen to be flush, so unlike the bezel of older Treos the new Treo Pro won’t catch the debris in the edges of the bezel from your pockets as well as streamlining its looks.

palmpro2

The Treo Pro, will be made available from Vodafone and O2 in Europe and from Telstra in Australia, also an unlocked version will be available in in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific.The Treo Pro will be available in September in Europe through Vodafone (from free to EUR 399 with contract) and O2 (pricing is available from O2 direct sales and online business stores), and in Australia through Telstra (from free with contract). It will be available in the United States in the fall through the Palm online store (http://www.palm.com/store) as well as select Internet, retail and enterprise resellers for a suggested retail price of $549. The U.S. version is unlocked and unsubsidized, giving end users the flexibility to simply insert their existing active SIM card and immediately start using their Treo Pro without a new contract. :)

treo pro

QUICK FACTS


· Palm shortcuts for the things you do most
· Touchscreen and full keyboard
· Microsoft® Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional Edition
· Outlook® email with Microsoft® Direct Push Technology
and HTML support1,2
· High-speed data with UMTS/HSDPA3
· High-capacity, removable battery
· Instant-on Wi-Fi button1
· GPS for navigation, turn-by-turn directions, and local search1
· Microsoft® Office Outlook® Mobile for Contacts, Calendar,
and Tasks
· Edit native Microsoft® Word and Excel® documents4
· Open and view PowerPoint,® PDF, and ZIP files
· Use Internet Explorer® Mobile to search the web fast1
· Functions as a high-speed modem for your laptop5
· Personal email including Hotmail, Yahoo!, and Gmail1
· Chat-style view for SMS and MMS6
· Windows Media® Player Mobile for audio and video
· 2.0 megapixel camera with video capture

Here is a link to the official press release.

Here is a link to a video on the Palm Blog.

Palm Pro layout

Palm Treo Pro Specifications:

Brochures Treo Pro by Palm
Platform Microsoft® Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional Edition
Processor Qualcomm® MSM7201 400MHz
Display 320x320 transflective color TFT flush touchscreen
Radio HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS/GSM radio
Tri-band UMTS – 850MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz
Quad-band GSM – 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz

WiFi
802.11b/g with WPA, WPA2, and 801.1x authentication
GPS Built-in GPS
Bluetooth®
Wireless
Version: 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate
Memory 256MB (100MB user available), 128MB RAM
Camera 2.0 megapixels with up to 8x digital zoom and video capture
Battery 1500mAh lithium-ion; Up to 5.0 hours talk time and up to 250 hours standby
Expansion microSDHC cards (up to 32GB supported)
Connector MicroUSB™ 2.0 for synchronization and charging
Audio 3.5mm stereo headset jack
Dimensions Length: 4.49", Width: 2.36", Depth: 0.53", Weight: 4.69 oz
Color Obsidian
System Requirements Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
Software on device

ActiveSync®; Adobe Reader LE; Bluetooth®; Bubble Breaker; Calculator; Calendar; Communications Manager; Contacts; File Explorer; Get WorldMate; GoogleMaps;Internet Explorer® Mobile; Messaging; Microsoft® Office Mobile including Excel® Mobile, OneNote Mobile, PowerPoint® Mobile, and Word Mobile; My Treo; Notes; Pics & Videos; QuickGPS; Quick Tour; SIM Manager; Solitaire; Sprite Backup; Streaming Media; Tasks; Telenav; Voice Command; Windows Live™; Windows Live™ Messenger; Windows Media® Player Mobile

 
08/20/2008 08:56:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

SlingPlayer for Windows 2.0 PUBLIC BETA#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

If you are SlingBox owner you will be happy to know that the folks at SlingMedia have a new offering for your in the form of the SlingPlayer for Windows 2.0 PUBLIC BETA. We got to see a sneak peak of the beta when we were at CES 2008 and now you have the chance to get part of it as a beta. Here are the features that was requested by the community to make a better viewing experience:

slingplayer 2

Live Video Buffer—Control Live TV
The new Live Video Buffer with DVR-like control, allows you to easily pause, rewind or fast-forward, up to 60 minutes of video on your PC, right from the SlingPlayer. (Not yet available for Mac)

sling EPG

The Guide—See What's On
The SlingPlayer Guide, is just like your programming Guide at home but is built right into the SlingPlayer for Windows 2.0 PUBLIC BETA software. So you can easily find what's on without having to use your TV's programming Guide or the remote control. (Not yet available for Mac)

SlingRemote
SlingRemote™ looks and acts exactly like your real remote control at home, giving you full control over your viewing experience. From changing channels to setting a DVR to record, you can do it using buttons right on your computer screen.

Multiple Viewing Modes & Sizes
With different viewing modes, the SlingPlayer software allows you to work, surf the web and enjoy your TV, all at the same time.

slingbox2 install

When installing the new version of SlingPlayer for Windows 2.0 you will also need to upgrade the software on your SlingBox(es). This can take a while. You will then need to enter in your Zip code and cable/satellite service provider so you can receive the correct EPG information.

The buffering for pausing and replaying are just simply awesome. I really like the actual time indicator of on the time slider of the recording and not just a minute ticker like most other PVRs. Also the addition of the EPG (Electronic Program Guide is great as well.)

Be sure to read the requirements and known issues before installing to make sure you want to participate.

08/07/2008 22:15:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

REVIEW: Electric Pocket FlipSide#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Introduction
While many people look at some of the new and innovative user interfaces for mobile phones as a way of adding "sex and sizzle" to their devices, I tend to look for applications that make my interactions more efficient, friendly or just plain fun (without adding complexity, of course). While the iPhone and HTC's "Manila" interface tend to grab a lot of the headlines, there are any of a number of smaller and more focused applications that are also very useful and aesthetically pleasing.

One great example of providing a friendlier face to a Windows Mobile application is Electric Pocket's FlipSide. As someone who uses Windows Media Player on my Windows Mobile phone quite frequently, I have to say that the "drill-down" approach that Windows Media Player uses to get to my music can be quite frustrating and, well, bland. FlipSide provides a finger-friendly and visual way of interacting with your music collection.

Features

  • Visual and intuitive way of interacting with music on your Windows Mobile device;
  • Extra functionality for album art and artist information.

Installation
FlipSide is available for installation as both a CAB file for direct installation from the device, or as a desktop installer. FlipSide requires the .NET Compact Framework 2.0. For Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional devices, the .NET CF 2.0 is pre-installed and should not pose a problem. Electric Pocket's FlipSide download page does provide additional links and instructions if a .NET CF 2.0 installation is necessary.

Installation was simple and straight-forward. An interesting note - as a result of leveraging the .NET Compact Framework, FlipSide itself is small; very small. Taking up only 127K for the actual executable is rather impressive, especially considering the functionality FlipSide provides (more shortly).

One final note - as an application focused on the touchscreen interface, FlipSide is intended for Windows Mobile Professional / Pocket PC devices. While the FlipSide web site states that FlipSide supports all Windows Mobile versions, I did not test this application against a Windows Mobile Standard device.

Usage
Basic Functionality
When you first open FlipSide, you will immediately be reminded of the media interface seen on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The application scans for music and album art already installed on the device to build its own index of information. This process does not take very long and is visually represented by a very small progress bar at the bottom of the screen. The positive to this approach is that you can still interact with the application while the metadata is being captured. One big "pet peeve" I have had with the Windows Media Player interface for quite a while is the need to navigate menus to build the library and having to sit and wait while the library is built. Kudos to Electric Pocket for allowing me to move forward while work is performed in the background.

FlipSide presents your library organized by album.

screen01    

Using gestures across the screen from left to right (or vice-versa), you move between the various albums. A nice fluid animation scrolls you from album to album. You also have the ability to use the left and right portions of a directional pad to perform the same actions.

When you find the album you wish to listen to, simply tap on the album art and the track list is displayed.

screen02

You can then select the first track you wish to hear by tapping on the title. I must admit that this can be a bit difficult with the large fingers possessed by yours truly, but if all else fails the stylus works well too.

Once music is selected, the track information is displayed and a progress bar designates the play progress.

screen07

You can fast forward and rewind within a track by touching the progress bar.

FlipSide works in both portrait and landscape modes.

screen08
This functionality does bring to light one of the shortcomings of FlipSide. Many common interactions are mapped to keyboard keys. While this works well for devices with QWERTY keyboards always displayed, it does not work well for devices like the AT&T Tilt that has a slide out keyboard. Actions like pause and play, for example, are mapped to the spacebar. If you do not wish to slide out the keyboard, you can choose to leave full screen mode by tapping near the bottom of the screen. This will bring up the default menu bar.

screen03

From this view, you have access to more functionality and a few features. I do hope that a future release of FlipSide will allow for hardware button mapping, as this would greatly reduce the keyboard issues.

As far as playing music goes, FlipSide had no problem playing my Windows Mobile music. No more so, that is, than Windows Media Player itself :-) Sound quality and performance were the same as if using the Windows Media Player directly. Of couse, that also means that the limitations imposed by Windows Media Player (no equalizer, no cross-fade) were also in place.

Enhancement/Features
FlipSide provides some nice and useful features in addition to the user interface functionality. They include:

  • Downloadable album art. If your music did not have album art or perhaps not the most recent art, you can choose to download art from the Internet.

    screen09

    You will be reminded that the Internet will be searched and data charges may apply.

    screen10 

    If located, the album art will be displayed.

    screen11 

    As you can see, the album art might not always be the the most pleasing to the eye, buy hey - it's better than no art at all ;-) You also have the ability to remove album art if you choose.
  • Artist information. At any time, you have the ability to locate (from the Internet) artist information using the Find Extras menu option.

    screen04

    This option opens a browser window that presents biographical information and related information, all nicely formatted for a mobile device and powered by Last.fm.

    screen05

    I found this feature to be very useful and a lot of fun as well (trivia buff that I am).
  • Shuffle
    FlipSide does provide shuffle functionality, either at the album level or for all music.

    screen12
  • Playlist functionality.
    FlipSide provides the ability to work with playlists on the device, including the ability to create and/or modify playlists.

    screen13

Overall, the additional features for FlipSide serve as a good "icing on the cake" to enhance the overall user experience.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Visually pleasing user interface
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Informative and useful extra features

Cons

  • No custom keyboard mapping
  • Some finger functionality difficult in the limited screen real estate

Pricing and Availability
FlipSide is available for a trial download at the FlipSide web site. FlipSide is available for purchase from the FlipSide web site (partnered with MobiHand) for $19.95.

Conclusion
By providing a combination of an aesthetically pleasing interface with intuitive user interface functionality, FlipSide adds a new and fun level to playing music on your Windows Mobile device. The additional Internet-related extras provide a great way to enhance the experience even further, making FlipSide a great enhancement to your Windows Mobile-powered device. I strongly encourage everyone to at least give FlipSide a try; it is worth the effort.

07/16/2008 09:53:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

PocketMind Announces Forecast Daily and Update for PocketMusic#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

The PocketMind team is happy to introduce a new weather application - Forecast Daily a weather application for your mobile device with database of more than 58,000 global locations. Compatible devices: Pocket PC and Smartphone (Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5, Windows Mobile 6).

forcast daily

Download quick video guide to Forecast Daily (short 3-minute AVI file)

Forecast Daily is an ultimate weather forecast application for your Windows Mobile device (both Pocket PC and Smartphone):

  • - Choose from 58,000 global locations and cities, including 2,400 airports
  • - Ability to use the application without any wireless connection
  • - Optimized for finger operation, support for iPhone gestures
  • - Low traffic
  • - Today screen plugin
  • - Advanced day-and-night temperature graph
  • - Custom Refresh options

Web page: www.pocketmind.com/forecastdaily.htm

Trial version - www.pocketmind.com/files/ForecastDaily.exe

pmusic

The latest version of PocketMusic Player 5.1 is now available for downloading!

Here is what's new:

  • - New options for equalizer
  • - Improved sound quality
  • - New interface
  • - Additional support for Bluetooth remote controls and stereo headphones
  • - Added support for more different resolutions, square screens, and landscape mode on new devices
  • - Adjustable alarm volume
  • - Best compatibility with Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1
  • - Improved HTTP, Windows Network, Shoutcast, Icecast streaming
  • - More

To download the PocketMusic Player Bundle head here.

If you have the version 5.0 or 5.0.6 - guess what this upgrade is free for you!

If you have the version 3.x or 4.x  well you are not totally out of luck there is a special upgrade price of $4.95 especially for you.

For directions on how to update: please head here.

Enter your discount code C922265B and click "Recalculate". ;)

07/16/2008 08:42:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Palm and Sprint Release the Treo 800w Smartphone#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Palm and Sprint have released the latest in the lineage of Treo Smartphones with the Treo 800w. This unit is a bit different from its predecessors in a good way - loaded with Windows Mobile 6.1, a built-in GPS, Ev-DO Rev. A, and Wifi it looks like they listened to their customers needs and seemed to satisfy them. They also did away with the proprietary connector that plagued many previous Treo users and went with microUSB. Some nice things they kept were IR port, which is rare in newer devices, the stylus in the same location as well as the lovable one-handed form factor.

treo800w

From the Press Release:

treo800w front and back treo800w size treo800w bottom treo800w side

The Treo 800w is Palm's most business-friendly phone yet. IT departments can simplify infrastructure and lower costs with a direct connection to Microsoft Exchange Server, giving users up-to-date email, contacts, calendars and access to other productivity applications. Palm designed the Treo 800w for easy-to-use mobility with a full QWERTY keyboard, five-way navigation and one-touch buttons to the most-used applications, making it a smartphone people want to use...

The Sprint Mobile Broadband Network (inclusive of data roaming) reaches more than 246 million people, 16,022 cities and 1,506 airports and brings customers instant gratification so they can work fast and on the go. With EV-DO Rev. A, peak network download data rates increase to 3.1 Mbps and peak upload data rates increase to 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds improve to 600 kbps to 1.4 mbps and average uplink speeds increase to 350-500 kbps.

Palm's WiFi hardware and software innovations make it easy to get online fast and manage network connections and power usage. The one-touch WiFi button provides a clean, uncluttered WiFi experience that gets Treo 800w users rapidly connected at home, in the office or in WiFi hotspots. It includes 802.11b/g WiFi and built-in Internet Explorer Mobile, which means faster, more secure access to web-based data.

With integrated GPS and Palm software enhancements, the Treo 800w smartphone offers maps, point-to-point directions and point-of-interest (POI) searches for locations such as restaurants or stores.(3) POI search is available directly from the Today Screen and is integrated with contacts, giving customers one-touch access to the places they want to go. Treo 800w also supports Sprint Navigation for turn-by-turn directions as well as other popular third-party location-based services applications.

The Treo 800w is compatible with Microsoft's System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008, which delivers increased security and easier smartphone management as well as access to information on the corporate network via mobile VPN. IT professionals can confidently manage large Treo 800w deployments the same way they would expect to manage PCs with a low-cost, reliable solution that fits seamlessly with their existing IT infrastructures.

The Palm Experience on Windows Mobile 6.1

"Palm is adding a unique stamp to the Windows Mobile experience with the Treo 800w," said Stephane Maes, vice president, product marketing, Palm, Inc. "It's an easy-to-use feature-packed smartphone that will keep users happy, empowered and productive."

In addition to Palm's WiFi and GPS enhancements, Palm innovations on top of Windows Mobile include:

-- Today Screen enhancements -- call, text, email, perform a web search and map a contact's address, all directly from the Today Screen;(5)

-- Dial from the Today Screen -- enter the contact name, select the number and dial. Add text or picture speed dials for one-touch calls to family and friends, or use the physical or touch screen number keys to dial the number directly;

-- Voicemail controls -- VCR-like icons, such as rewind, delete and fast-forward, for easy navigation;

-- Ignore with text -- ignore a call quickly by sending a text message, such as "In a meeting" or "Can't talk right now";

-- Superior phone and call management -- dedicated mute, speakerphone, conference calling icons, or dial any number in an email or webpage, all with just one touch; and

-- Palm ease-of-use features -- hard buttons for email and calendar, a five-way navigation button and on/off ringer switch.

Exclusive Sprint Content and Services

"Sprint recognizes that businesses must stay productive and competitive with quick, always-accessible information and assistance for their own customers," said Michael Hahn, vice president of device operations for Sprint. "With instant access to email, messaging services and the web on the nation's largest Mobile Broadband Network, Sprint provides its customers the mobile tools they need to increase productivity and improve competitiveness now."

In addition to the valuable business-friendly features delivered through Palm and Windows Mobile 6.1, new business applications are being created through Sprint's newly launched Professional Developer Program and with tools such as the Titan platform for Windows Mobile 6.1 devices. A growing community of application developers who may previously have focused on desktop services are now finding it easier to generate services that can perform on both the desktop and mobile devices.

Pricing and Availability

The Treo 800w is available today for consumers and businesses at Sprint Stores, online at www.sprint.com or www.palm.com, and through Sprint or Palm's B2B sales organizations. It will be available for $249.99 after discounts and rebates with a two-year contract.

Dimensions: 4.4" x 2.3" x 0.7"

Weight: 5.0 oz

Battery Information: 1150 mAh standard

Included Accessories:

  • Standard Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery
  • Battery Door
  • AC Charger with Adapter
  • MicroUSB Sync Cable
  • Stereo Headset
  • User Guide is available here.

    Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Software

    Windows Mobile 6.1 provides features allowing you to stay connected to your business and personal data on the go. Windows Mobile 6.1 supports many forms of email including HTML mobile. Edit documents using Microsoft Mobile applications. Easily transfer your digital multimedia from your Windows-based PC to your device.

    GPS Capable

    Autonomous and simultaneous GPS using Sprint Navigation for turn by turn directions, and points of interest searches.

    Wireless Email-Corporate & Personal

    Outlook email with Microsoft Direct Push Technology and HTML support. Send and receive email from multiple corporate and personal email accounts. Also, get wireless email access to popular commercial POP3 and IMAP accounts like AOL, Gmail, Earthlink, and Yahoo!

    Stereo Bluetooth® Wireless Technology

    Enjoy the convenience of hands-free communication by using headsets, car-kits and other Bluetooth-compatible devices.* Stereo Bluetooth lets you listen to your music on the go or listen to your music using compatible accessories without wires. *Bluetooth wireless accessories are sold separately.

    Embedded Wi-Fi

    Instant-on short-cut button for Wi-Fi access where Sprint's Mobile Broadband Network is unavailable.

    Attachment Viewing and Editing

    Edit Microsoft® Excel® and Word®. View PowerPoint®, PDF Mobile documents and more.

    2.0 Megapixel camera/camcorder

    Shoot high-resolution digital images or videos. Capable of 2X Zoom. Build and customize your favorite photos into your very own slide show on this powerful device. Send your photos using Outlook Mobile.

    Micro SD Expansion Card Slot

    Capable of a 8GB Micro SD Card - Add memory and selected peripherals, transfer music, photos, and video from your desktop, or load additional games and applications.

    Sprint TV® Enabled

    Watch live TV and video-on-demand with full-motion video and vivid sound. Catch the latest news, sports, weather, entertainment and movie trailers on the go.

    Built-in media player

    See and hear your favorite news, sports, and other fun content in real-time streaming video and audio, all at broadband speeds.

    Easy Navigation

    Touch-screen and integrated, backlit QWERTY keyboard makes sending email and editing documents fast and familiar. Central five-way navigation button provides easy access to menus and dramatically improves one-handed operation.

    Speakerphone

    Hands-free operation of your phone is made easy with the built-in speakerphone allowing you to take a conference call virtually anywhere!

    Customize to suit your style

    Make the Palm Treo 800W exclusively yours by adding applications which can also be found on www.palm.com among games and downloads found on www.sprint.com.

    Brilliant Color display

    Vibrant TFT display with 65K colors and 320 x 320 resolution

    Memory

    256MB user memory and 128MB of program memory offers plenty of room to carry everything you need.

    Data Transfer Mode (DTM)

    Set in the default position allowing users in an active data session to be notified of incoming voice calls, rather than having them go automatically to voicemail.

    Voice Memo/Recorder

    Record your brilliant ideas with the built-in voice recorder.

    Customizable picture Caller ID

    Know who's calling you by linking downloaded images and photos to specific contacts in your internal phone book.

    Phone as Modem:

    Take advantage of Sprint Mobile Broadband on your laptop by using your smart device as a wireless modem (USB cable included). Requires appropriate service plan.

    TTY Compatible

    This phone connects to a TTY device, allowing anyone who is visually- or hearing-impaired the ability to communicate.

    Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC)

    This handset has been certified as Hearing Aid Compatible in accordance with applicable industry standards. This handset has a HAC rating of M3 for hearing aids operating in the acoustic mode. This handset has a HAC rating of T3 for hearing aids operating in the telecoil mode.

    07/14/2008 11:23:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Samsung SC-MX20 Flash-based Compact CamCorder Delivers Features at Comfortable Price Point#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    I just had someone email about a suggestion for a cheap video camera that was easy to use and had no tapes or DVDs. I remember at CES 2008 there were a few affordable camcorders out there and was compiling a list when I got a press release this morning from Samsung Electronics America, Inc. on their SC-MX20, the successor to the popular SC-MX10 compact digital camcorder, that a few friends have and love. This camcorder is targeting consumers looking for an easy way of uploading video content to the Internet, the SC-MX20 features a customized recording mode optimized for YouTube™ or multi-media devices, further simplifying the way users integrate the camcorder into their digital lifestyles.

    Samsung SC-MX20 Camcorder 2

    The Samsung SC-MX20 Camcorder features a high-performance 680K pixel CCD sensor which delivers a resolution of 720x480, the Samsung SC-MX20 captures video with stunning color and clarity. The new model features a powerful Schneider lens with 34x optical zoom and advanced noise reduction (3-D Noise Reduction) technology to provide superb video quality. It also features Samsung’s improved Advanced Image Stabilization, assuring that consumers will be able to record blur-free memories both near and far, as well as Face Detection, which can automatically detect up to five faces and adjust focus to ensure better composition.

    The SC‑MX20 features a slot for SD/SDHC (up to 32GB) and MMC+ memory cards and utilizes H.264 compression for longer record times and enhanced video quality. Samsung’s H.264 technology more than doubles the compression ratio so that it takes less time to send video files via email or upload them onto the Internet.

    Thanks to H.264 compression, when in full resolution and when set to fine mode, users can record up to four hours of footage using an 8GB memory card, eight hours using a 16GB memory card, and up to 16 hours using a 32GB memory card. Furthermore, the SC-MX20 features the longest battery life in its class, lasting up to three hours.

    For added convenience, and to enhance the consumer’s experience when shooting video, the new SC-MX20 features Samsung’s exclusive swivel hand-grip which effortlessly adjusts for regular and low angle shooting.  The camcorder features a large 2.7 inch LCD to help users frame their subjects and review footage even in sunlight.

    “The SC-MX20 is a camcorder that offers a host of advanced features at an impressive price point,” said Tony Sorice, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Digital Imaging at Samsung Electronics America. “Sharing many of the same advanced features as our higher-end digital camcorders, including the head-turning design of the SC-HMX20C, the SC-MX20 is sure to stand out from the crowd of ‘me-too’ camcorders.” 

    The SC-MX20 features a unique shooting mode that allows users to select a resolution and format that are perfect for uploading content to YouTube™ or multi-media devices. By selecting the Web & Mobile mode, the camcorder’s resolution is automatically adjusted to 640x480 (H.264 / AAC / MP4) and optimized for use on Web sites. Unlike other camcorders, users can easily import video from the SC-MX20 and play it on MP3 players and other portable multimedia players supporting H.264, without having to convert the files. The SC-MX20 also comes bundled with CyberLink software for the additional editing and customization of video files.

    The SC-MX20 features Samsung’s useful iCheck and iScene modes. iCheck allows the user to effortlessly check remaining battery life and memory capacity with the touch of a button, while iScene allows the user to select up to 10 automatic scene modes for capturing the best footage no matter what environment they may be in.

     

    Image Sensor 680K pixel CCD
    Lens 34x Optical Zoom
    f=1.6 ~ 4.3
    LCD 2.7" LCD
    Image Stabilizer Advanced Image Stabilization
    Memory - SD/SDHC  (up to 32GB)
    - MMC+
    Interface - USB 2.0
    - AV inputs/outputs
    Other Features - Aspect ratio 4:3 & 16:9
    - 720x480 Resolution
    - Schneider Optics
    - Innovative Swivel Grip
    - 3 Hours of Battery Life
    - YouTube Recording Mode
    - H.264 Compression

    Appealing to a variety of consumers, the SC-MX20 will be available in four colors, including black, red, white, and blue, all with silver trim. The SC-MX20 will be available in August 2008 with an estimated selling price of $279.99 a very affordable price point.

    It is one of the most affordable cameras out there with a great lens set at CES, I remember Eric stating this would make a cheap backup camera or a great camera for his son.Granted he was also eyeing their sub-$1000 HD camera that handles H264 mpeg-4 files as well. :)

    07/09/2008 09:02:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Media Center Sideshow Gadget#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Since we first mentioned Windows Vista Sideshow gadgets, we have received lots of comments from people, that they would love to see some for Media Center Sideshow gadgets. Well guess what, Stuart Thailand over at the Media Center blog found that there are some beta Windows Media Center Gadgets for download on the Microsoft Connect site.

    MCE_Gadget_Control_Panel1

    I've been talking about this for months now over on TGB and the potential Windows SideShow holds and that this was indeed coming. Released today at long last, is Beta 1 of the Windows Media Center SideShow Gadget.

    I've had a very quick look at it and done some screen shots. I need to play around with it in much more detail and do a full write up about it soon.

    I've opened a new thread on TGB here to discuss this new SideShow Gadget.

    Media Center Gadgets - General Information and Known Issues There are 4 Media Center gadgets: Download and install the Beta Media Center Gadgets: Click here to download.

    download

    Note: To get this download you have to first be a member of Connect and join the beta for Windows Sideshow (you will be automatically approved). After you register the link in the Click here to download will work.

    TV:

    Device-Home3

    Browse TV and schedule recordings. Browse the TV program guide, view metadata on upcoming or current shows, and pick shows to watch and record (single showing or series), without interrupting the TV viewing experience. Recorded TV. Select a previously recorded program to play back, without interrupting the viewing experience on the TV.

    Music:

    Device-Home1

    Play Music. Browse the media library, control music playback on the PC by using the remote control device instead of the primary display, such as a TV. Play radio presets. Browse your radio presets and playback that station through your Media Center.

    Pictures + Videos:

    Device-Home2

    Browse the picture and video libraries. Make a selection on the remote and that picture or video will be displayed on the TV.

    Now Playing:

    Device-Home4

    Provides "now playing" information. The remote control device shows information about the currently playing medium, such as the track title or the time elapsed similar to the Windows Media Player SideShow gadget. Known Issues: Enabling the Gadgets on more than one SideShow device to control the Media Center PC is not supported for Beta Enabling the Gadgets for more than one user session on your PC is not supported for this Beta.

    Thanks for the great find Stuart!! :)

    07/06/2008 10:09:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Astraware Announces Free Fireworks#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    The folks at Astraware are pleased to announce their fun application Astraware Fireworks is now available again for a limited time. Astraware Fireworks is a simple FREE application, showing sequences of fireworks flying and exploding into the air. As 4th July is traditionally a time for fireworks and celebrations in the USA, the features have been created to help our American friends highlight one of their major holidays - Independence Day! Astraware Fireworks features a selection of patriotic backgrounds including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Stars and Stripes, and offers a choice of stirring tunes including the Star Spangled Banner and Stars and Stripes Forever!

    Astraware fireworks

    Astraware Fireworks is available for devices running Palm OS(R) 5 and later and Windows Mobile(R) 2003 and later, and this year a new BlackBerry(R) version is available which includes the backgrounds and firework effects but doesn't include music, so sorry BlackBerry-owners - this time round you'll have to hum your own marches!

    What better way to celebrate 4th July than with some Fireworks? Download your copy today at http://www.astraware.com/fireworks - it's available for a limited time only! Oh, and did we mention, it's FREE?! We all like FREE.

    Also if you are a Club Astraware member (if you aren't a member you can register for free!) you can get Big Box of Blox (here is your favorite price again) absolutely FREE throughout July '08 on S60, Windows Mobile and Palm OS phones, and it's still a very reasonable $9.95 for non-members.  If you aren't familiar with Big Box of Blox it is a blox-stacking game taken to outrageous extremes! Players arrange the three-blox-high stacks as they fall. Match blox in groups of three or more, vertically or horizontally, to eliminate them - but that's not all!

    The cool thing about this game is that you just don't stack the blox. Smash them, blast them, mutate them or explode them in a shower of flames! Use special blox including jokers, bombs, frogs, mushrooms, fireballs and slot machines to clear the board before it reaches the top!

    Big Box of Blox includes five mind-bending game modes: Flaming Peelout, Blok Atak, Groink, Mushroom King and Asylum Cubez, and players can even create their own combination using the special Custom Mode.

    Enjoy the 4th of July thanks to the folks at Astraware!

    07/01/2008 16:29:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Real Estate on your Windows Mobile device via Silverlight#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    The folks at John L. Scott Realty have a really cool application for Windows Mobile devices utilizing Silverlight to help showcase houses they are selling. The program also uses Silverlight to provide an interface to Virtual Earth so users can interact with maps and house in their area. Clicking on a house will not only bring up information and picures, but can also display video as well. So while people are driving around or sitting on their couch at home they can peruse the available houses in the area they are looking. Channel 10 has a great video of the application in action.


    Silverlight Mobile with John L Scott Real Estate

     

    Lennox Scott, Chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate and Sam Chenaur, Microsoft Platform Strategy Advisor, join me in the studio to talk about Silverlight on the mobile device and it's application in the Real Estate industry.

    Sam walks us though a proof of concept (POC) Silverlight mobile app for John L. Scott Real Estate developed by Microsoft partner, Dr. Neil Roodyn, with the assistance of Loke Uei Tan from the Windows Mobile group.

    This is a very cool application this combined the Collections search  in Live Search Mobile's Home Thinking:Recent Home Sales and Yakaz:Homes for Sale, you have some powerful and useful tools for house hunting on your mobile device.

    06/13/2008 05:08:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone Proof of Concept#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    The folks at SlingMedia have been working hard on coming up with a SlingPlayer Mobile client for the iPhone and have come up with a proof of concept running on a jailbroken iPhone while they await Apple's stamp of approval. Looks like the folks at Engadget got an early look at it and posted up about it here. Dave Zatz also has some pictures of it in action here.

     

    SlingPlayer_iPhone

    If you are attending Apple's WWDC.  Sling Media's Product Manager Vicky Shum will be close by hanging out at the Starbucks at 120 4th Street, San Francisco (right across from the Metreon) between 10:00 and 16:00 (10am and 4pm) on Monday, June 9th.  So if you'll be in town attending WWDC, please stop by for an SPM demo you won't be disappointed. :)

    06/09/2008 04:47:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Microsoft’s Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile Developer Preview#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Our good friend Arne Hess over at the::unwired posted up an article about Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile, something that many people have been waiting for when Windows Vista was released (recently mentioned an update to it here). Well its still not ready for the mass-market yet, Microsoft’s Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile Developer Preview v0.01 is an application for both Windows Mobile 5 and Windows Mobile 6 Profesional/Classic/Pocket PCs and Smartphones/Standard devices that allows you to use your Windows Mobile device as a Bluetooth SideShow-compatible device. Basically using a Windows Gallery Gadget that runs on your computer as another window or remote control that allows for two-way communication between your computer and the information on your Windows Mobile device. If you do happen to fall out of the 30m range or if you shut off/sleep/hibernate your computer you can still view the content sent to the phone previously.

    windows sideshow windows sideshow2

    System Requirements

    • Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista Business; Windows Vista Enterprise; Windows Vista Home Premium; Windows Vista Ultimate
    • A Bluetooth-capable Windows Mobile 5, Windows Mobile 6 Standard, or Windows Mobile 6 Professional device with the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 installed.
    • A Bluetooth-enabled PC. Note: this release is not compatible with computers running Toshiba Bluetooth drivers. See the “Troubleshooting” section below for more information.

    Instructions

    sideshow download

    1. Download and run WindowsSideShowForWindowsMobile.exe on your PC, and open the folder it was installed to.
    2. Connect your phone to your computer over USB and select "Open device to view files".
    3. If the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 or later is not installed on your device (it is not on most Windows Mobile 5 devices), install it:
      1. Copy NETCFv2.wm.armv4i from the installation folder to the My Documents folder on your device.
      2. On the phone, open File Explorer.
      3. Open NETCFv2.wm.armv4i in File Explorer, and follow the instructions to restart the device.
    4. Connect your PC to the Internet if it is not already connected.
    5. Drag WindowsSideShowForWindowsMobile.CAB to the My Documents folder on the Windows Mobile device.
    6. On the phone, open File Explorer.
    7. In File Explorer, select WindowsSideShowForWindowsMobile.CAB in the My Documents folder. Click OK if you get a publisher warning. The program will install on your phone.
    8. From your PC, pair and connect your phone over Bluetooth.
      1. On the device, click the Start button, click Settings, click Connections, and then click Bluetooth. Turn Bluetooth on and make the phone discoverable.
      2. On your Windows Vista PC, open the Bluetooth Devices control panel, and then click Add.
      3. Select your device and click Pair. If you do not see your phone, make sure it is in discoverable mode, and that there is a Bluetooth adapter connected to your PC and turned on.
      4. Select "Let me choose my own passcode", and then enter a passcode.
      5. A dialog box will appear on the phone asking you to enter the passcode.
      6. Enter the passcode and then press return. If notifications to enable other services come up, click Allow All Connections.
    9. When a message appears on the PC to install driver software, click Locate and install driver software.
    10. After the drivers install, go to your phone's home or today screen, where you will see the SideShow logo with the text not connected (you may have to scroll to see this). Select the text. If you do not see this text, click the Start button, click Programs, and then click Windows SideShow.
      1. If you get an error saying you do not have the latest version of the .NET Compact Framework installed, perform step 3 to install the .Net Compact Framework. Remove and reinstall Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile by clicking Start, clicking Settings, clicking Remove Programs, clicking Windows SideShow, and then clicking OK. Then start again at step 7.
    11. Wait a few seconds for the phone to connect. If it does not connect automatically, click the Connect button on the lower left. Your phone may take up to 30 seconds to connect. If the phone does not connect, try turning it off and on, and see the“Troubleshooting – Phone fails to connect” section in the readme.
    12. Choose your user account on the phone, when prompted. You can change this later by clicking Menu.
    13. sideshow with 8900 connected
      Open the Windows SideShow control panel to pick gadgets to use on your phone. You can click the "Get more gadgets online" link at the bottom of the screen to access the Windows SideShow section of the Windows Live Gallery.

    sideshow powerpoint install Sideshow on WM6

    The Power Point Remote control application is great. Its also pretty cool to control your Media Player via Bluetooth. I can't wait to see more gadgets like some Media Center based ones. :)

    06/03/2008 22:16:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Review of the HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook aka the Dragon#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    hdx

    The HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook PC also known as the Dragon due to the imprint design in its case is a true lifestyle PC, especially if you are a one who likes the best of the best. This laptop has just about all of it, the model HP Pavilion HDX9200 Notebook PC.

    This unit is fully loaded with everything:

    HDX System Specs

    Operating system:

    Genuine Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)

    Processor:

    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)

    Display:

    20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920x1200)-"True HD" 1080p res

    Memory:

    4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)

    Graphics Card:

    512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS

    Personalization:

    HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone

    Networking:

    Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth(TM)

    Hard Drive:

    500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2)

    Primary CD/DVD Drive:

    Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer

    TV & Entertainment Experience:

    Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers +the HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer

    Primary Battery:

    9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery

    Size:

    18.7 inches/47.5 cm (L) x 13.36 inches/33.95 cm (W) x 2.3 inches/5.85 cm (min H/max H)

    Out of Box Experience

    PICT0022PICT0024  

    Its a pretty big box. We brought the box to the scale we found that the box weighs in at 26 lbs, the laptop alone only weighs 16.6lbs with battery/15.5lbs without, yes only. :)

    PICT1103 PICT1102

    Carefully taking the HDX out of the box, I actually experienced something that only comes with very few electronic devices. A pleasant out of the box experience. It even has writing on the inside of the box lid (see picture upper right), which is far from the norm or brown boxes most HP laptops come in.

     PICT1335 PICT1344 PICT1345 PICT1346 PICT1347 PICT1348

    Upon opening the box you see a large poster(I mean really large- 19x29") on one side and a quick start guide that tells you everything about the laptop and where it is located. I wish all laptops had these.

    PICT1104 PICT1105

    Underneath the poster lies a large black box with a remote control (more on that later) with a picture of a hand around the remote, I really liked it and that there was some thought to the packaging. You definitely feel like you are getting something special.

    PICT0017 PICT1470

    Opening the box you will find your typical laptop amenities the Power Brick, power cord, battery, an HD antenna, a standard RF antenna, F-connector antenna adapter, a pair of HP branded earbud headphones, IR transmitter, and a black box.We took out the battery and power cord began to charge it before turning it on surprisingly the charge light went off after 2 minutes.

    PICT1313 PICT1316 PICT1320PICT1322

    The small black box holds a ton of pamphlets on the software installed on the system that we affectionately call "crapware", special offers, as well as some CDs for some of the installed software. There were no restore CDs/DVDs, just a pamphlet on how to create your own.

    PICT0026 PICT0001

    (I actually created a set of 3 recovery DVDs after stetting it up and it took quite a while about 3.5 hours.See above photos.) Another option is to purchase the recovery discs directly from HP for $19. Also in the box is a microfiber cloth for cleaning both the laptop screen and outside shiny surface that attracts a fair share of fingerprints.

    PICT1323 PICT1324 PICT1325 PICT1327

    One thing you may have noticed in that small black box that is something rare now when you purchase a laptop. An actual user manual. And it comes with useful tabs for easily finding information and how to use and setup your laptop. It is really well written for both the novice and advanced user. An online version of the HP Pavilion HDX Entertainmet Series Notebook PC - Maintenance and Service Guide is available here if you need more details or ever need to take it apart.

     PICT1445 PICT1437 PICT1438  PICT1441

    The power brick (and I mean brick) weighs in at 2.5 lbs. As you can see from the standard PC power connector to the transformer this baby needs alot of power to build the fire in the belly of this beast. The power supply has an operating voltage of 19VDC @ 9.5A delivering 180Watts of power.

    PICT1107  PICT1452

    Lifting open the lid on this made me feel like Indiana Jones opening up the sarcophagus that held the Ark and lifting this lid is pretty darn close. The are two locking mechanisms on the screen to the arm when folding it closed.

    PICT0005 (2)

    Opening the lid reveals a mesh linen material used to protect the screen from the keyboard. It could be reused again to prevent grease from your fingers that stay on your keys from getting on your nice screen.

    PICT1124 PICT1122  PICT1266 PICT1259  

    After all the heavy lifting is done you see a really cool dual hinge design that allows you to move the display into various configurations and allows for fine forward and backward adjustments. The back of the display (or top of the lid depending if you have it open or closed) has an HP Logo that has a backlit glow to it like Apple computers.

    PICT0009 PICT0008 PICT1461  PICT1361

    The lid is already showing signs of being a real fingerprint magnet. Here you can see the nice dragon imprint finish on both the outside and on the inside bezel.

     

    PICT1108  PICT1290

    It is a full size keyboard just about the same you would find on a desktop. With the full keyboard and bezel making the laptop measure in at 18.5" wide, which has the comforts of your standard desktop PC and then some.

    PICT1306 PICT1232

    It would have been nice if the keys were backlit as a nice feature not really needed, but that is one thing I am envious of Apple hardware and Alienware for doing this with some of their laptops. Here you can see where the full featured remote control lies in a bay to the left of the keyboard and even works in its storage compartment. There is a simple slide catch release that releases and locks the remote into place to the right of the remote control. On the bezel it wears just a few badges of honor - one for the Intel Core 2 Extreme, Windows Vista, and NVIDIA PureVideo HD.

    PICT1484PICT1481  PICT1480PICT1490PICT1486PICT1492

    Its big really big here are some size comparisons with some other laptops in the house. It even dwarfs the large 17" HP laptop that used to be the largest in the house. With the left edge lined up 20" display towers over the 17" and peaks out from behind it even on an angle.

    PICT1121PICT1207

    The picture on the left is my small Fujitsu P1610 on the keyboard of the HP HDX Dragon. On the right Here is a screen to screen comparison with the P1610

    PICT1226 PICT1227

    The TX2000 with 12" display on the left and the DV6000 14" display on the right. You can clearly see the same web page and the amount of screen real estate is viewable with a larger screen.

    Riding Around the Dragon

    There are alot of ports on this computer and that is a good thing.

    PICT1229 PICT1231

    On the front left there are 3 LED lights for Power, Battery, and Hard drive. In the center is a consumer IR port (for the remote control) an audio in jack for a microphone and 2 audio out headphone jacks so you can share your media experience. Unfortunately they are analog only and don't have optical SPDIF support via an adapter like some of their other laptops.

    PICT1242 PICT1245 PICT1249

    On the back are two vents for cooling on each side of the back of the laptop. On the right side there is a power jack on the far right as well as ports for surround sound speakers. On the left(bottom picture from above) has an Infrared(IR) emitter jack for controlling cable and satellite set top boxes,TV audio-in jack, S-Video-in jack, and an RF coaxial cable jack.

    PICT1236PICT1237PICT1238 PICT0008 PICT1240PICT0001

    On the left side there are 2 USB ports, an RJ45 network jack, a 15pin VGA display adapter, a HP Expansion port 3 jack(why I don't know- Do you really need a docking station for this laptop and if you do I would love to see it),an HDMI port, eSATA port(all new laptops should have these and more than one), 1394 "Firewire" port, Digital Media slot LED, Digital Media Slot that supports SD,MS/Pro,MMC,and XD and an ExpressCard/34 Slot. The digital Media slot had no problem reading SDHC cards or running ReadyBoost with it.

    PICT1250 PICT1256 PICT1253 PICT1257

    On the right side there is a Kensington security lock,Optical drive that burns DVDs, CDs, and their Re-Writables as well as a BluRay player. There are also 2 more USB ports.

    Yeah there is no wasted modem port on this laptop, even though it could fit it, knowing its customers well. We would have liked to have seen an additional USB port on the back.

    Starting it up

    PICT1474 PICT0003 (2)

    On first boot up you will get the logo screen with a few options to choose on bootup by pressing the appropriate Function keys.

     PICT1109 PICT1110

    Booting it up you have to go through the standard EULA acceptance.

    PICT1111 PICT1112

    You also have to set up your Vista User Icon

    PICT1113 PICT1114 PICT1115

    Pick a desktop, there are 3 custom Dragon wallpaper backgrounds to choose from.

    PICT1116 PICT1117

    You are asked how you want to protect your computer with Windows Updates, Set the Date & Time and time zone and you think you are all set.

    PICT1118 PICT1119

    Well you are on the Vista side of the house. Next comes the HP software setup. :)

    PICT1131 PICT1125

    There is an install of HP's preloaded software this takes about 12 minutes and there is no way to opt out of this.

    PICT1126 PICT1127

    You are next asked to personalize it, basically register your computer for warranty and remote service. I suggest you do it now, it takes about 20 seconds or you can opt to register later, which it will nag you pretty much until you do so it can't hurt.

    PICT1128 PICT1129

    You can also opt in to HP's Total Care where they notify you for driver updates and enhancements if you do run Windows Update it may ask you to check with HP first. If you can self-manage it yourself or fix it only when broke, you can avoid this and save some memory/processor clock cycles. You are also asked to provide anonymous feedback. Next it will find your internet connection or help you set it up if you don't already have one.

    PICT1130

    There are also some "special offers", which I just skipped over.

    welcom PICT1120

    After another 5 minutes of bootup and hard drive activity we are finally ready to "Enter the Dragon" after closing down the Welcome Screen, but you can get a nice glance at its specs, which brings a nice smile to one's face. :)

    PICT1387 PICT1388  PICT1394 HP Update

    Well not quite while using the HDX I got prompted by Norton begging to be installed so I bit to see if it had any real impact on the overall performance, but not after checking it out first and looking at the Performance scores. Not to be left out HP also has some updates to install.

    wei

    System specs rate this system, well as you can guess pretty well. The Windows Experience Index was an overall 5.1, with the Intel Core2 Extreme CPU X900 at 2.8GHz pulling a 5.6 subscore, the NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS pulling a 5.9, Gaming Graphics 2303MB of total avaliable memory was at 5.8, The Primary hard disk(219GB) and the 4GB DDR2 RAM each pulled a 5.1. I wonder if you were able to upgrade the two WDC WD2500BEVS-60USTO hard drives (a 7200RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive-200GBX2 is now available) and find faster 667 memory to up the performance of this laptop. In the HP TX2000 a WDC WD25 00BEVS-60UST SCSI Disk pulls a WEI score of 5.2 and the 4GB of memory(which may be 800mHz RAM) pull a score of 5.8. However its performance is almost on par with my desktop which rocks at only 5.3 due to the processor and memory needing to be upgraded soon, the rest clocks in at 5.9. So this laptop definitely fits the bill as a desktop replacement from the WEI score.

     startup uninstall

    There are also a few programs installed as well, that you can manually uninstall, which takes about 20 minutes to do and a few reboots.

    Buttons and not Gumdrop Buttons:

    PICT1212PICT1213

    On the top left there is a recessed Power Button and next to that are QuickPlay buttons - for launching Quick Play for music,video and picture playback, DVD playback,and quick television viewing. Then there is a set of Media Buttons-Rewind,Stop,Play/Pause,and Fast Forward.

    PICT1215PICT1214 

    A theater mode button, fingerprint scanner, wireless on/off button, mute button and a Volume scroll bar.

    PICT1216PICT1381

    Next to the Volume bar is a Treble/Bass Toggle with touch sensitive adjustment scroll bar and an Eject button for the optical drive. HP claims there are 16 buttons in total on the this laptop, the finger print scanner is considered a button.

    finger7 finger2 finger3 finger4 finger5

    Enrolling your fingerprints is a fairly easy process using the DigitalPersona Personal software and takes about 3 minutes to enroll your 6 main fingers and 2 thumbs. You can use the access for websites, logons, and anywhere you may need a password.

    PICT1391PICT1392

    The finger print scanner after being used to enroll all the fingers into the software left the fingerprint scanner with a ton of fingerprints.

    PICT1382PICT1447

    The most unique button I have see on this laptop is the Theater mode button that is located to the left of the fingerprint scanner. The Theater mode button turns the backlight off for all the buttons so it won't be distracting when watching a movie. The only one that is illuminated is the theater mode light, even the power, charge . You can even customize the Media console button sound, which sounds great out of those 4 Altec Lansing speakers hidden behind the plastic grill in the display's bezel.

    PICT1411 PICT1417

    You can see how bright the lights are when playing back a movie. You really notice it when the lights are turned off. (You may have to click on the above pictures to see what I mean. Also the flash of my camera washed out the image on the TV in the picture on the right.)

    PICT0009 (2)PICT0010 (3)

    Here is a close up of the keyboard and the lights both on and off via the Theater button.

    PICT1218PICT0001 (3)

    The touchpad can also be turned off by pressing a button as found on most HP laptops, which is a must have for gamers.When disabled the LED changes from blue to amber.

    Remote Control

    The only bad thing about the remote control is that it isn't back lit and using it in poorly lit or lightly lit area is very difficult to use.

    PICT0007 PICT0005

    The remote control has four very small rubber feet on the bottom so it doesn't slide away on any surface. It pretty much stays put. The large silver Directional Pad is very comfortable to use and has some great ergonomics for both left and right handed users, which is very surprising in such a small form factor.

    PICT0010 PICT1217

    The green button is in the center of the remote. The play, rewind, fast forward, stop media buttons are rather thin as well as the rest of the buttons you would find on a Media Center Remote control. Surrounding the directional pad are icons for HP's QuickPlay as well at the very top. From left to right Print pictures in My pictures window in QuickPlay only, switch screens between display and external displays,Snapshot of screen to clipboard, and theatre mode which dims the lights on the laptop. Some of these just aren't needed and clutter up the remote with useless buttons that one may accidentally fumble and press. I actually did find the screen capture button more convenient than pressing Fn +Home to get the Print Screen.

    Media Center

    PICT1148PICT1158

    The Media Center interface looks very good on this laptop. As a Media Center PC you can guess this laptop performs very well with its large display, Blu-Ray DVD drive, processor, video graphics card, etc.The pictures don't really do it justice since it is truly something that has to be experienced.

    PICT1168  PICT1170   PICT1173 PICT1174   

    Madonna LIVE in Concert, which just happened recently was available for viewing courtesy of MSN and Control Room, which has some greatly filmed concerts that sounded great on the 4 speakers and subwoofer. 

    PICT1181 PICT1182 PICT1179

    I also had to play the Hives live in concert again to see if had the same enjoyment on my big screen at home. I was amazed how the speakers seemed loud around the computer, but if you walked away from it the sound stayed pretty contained to a radius around the computer.

    PICT1246

    If you do want some extra thump you can hook up your laptop to some external speakers. There are left, right, surround, and subwoofer hookups at the rear of the laptop with full 7.1 surround sound support. There is no optical out to hook it up to your sound receiver since SPDIF out is over HDMI only. Over the HDMI out port I was able to watch The Hives play on my LCD television as well as my 11' diagonal projector screen and Yamaha RXV2700 receiver and my house speakers. Getting the sound to come out over HDMI was a bit of a problem and required a simple change that seems to common with most HP laptops with HDMI out.

    HDMI audio outHDMI audio out2

    To setup audio out over HDMI required changing the default sound from the speakers to the Digital Output Devices (SPDIF) in the Sound settings in Control Panel. After that was done all you had to do was plug-in the HDMI cable and enjoy not only video out, but audio out as well.

    hdmi in PICT1433 PICT1409

    If you notice Media Center and movie playback look fine, but in actuality the resolution is a bit off from the computer screen image.

    PICT1424 PICT1420

    If you look at the desktop and an Internet browser you can actually see that part of the sides of the computer screen is cut off. This is due to the computer outputting 16:10 and the television displaying 16:9. Some televisions allow you to configure your television to automatically compensate or make manual changes for horizontal and vertical changes for this and some don't. My HP LCD allowed me to make changes in screen size via the PC input(VGA) only and not via any of the 3 HDMI inputs.

    nvidia2 nvidia

    You can also make some other changes to your display image via the NVIDIA software.

    Tuning In

    PICT1398 PICT1397

    The HDX is the first laptop I have seen with an integrated HDTV Hybrid TV/Tuner by AverMedia, that works with (ATSC-over the air HDTV and NTSC). I was sad to see no inclusion of a QAM tuner, since most hardware is capable of doing so. The HDX comes with several ways of getting a signal into this Media Center very capable laptop.

    PICT0023 PICT1331

    PICT0011 (2) PICT1247

    It comes with a standard aerial antennae for standard definition transmission that will be going away in 2009 to make way for HDTV, an HDTV antennae for tuning in ATSC signals, and the last is an RF coaxial cable adapter that allows you to connect up a standard coaxial cable (F-connector).

    PICT1367 PICT1369

    PICT1386 PICT1385

    In my area the digital antenna was able to find 33 different HD stations from the center of a room, with fairly poor signal strength when I moved the antenna to the window it resulted as you would guess in a much stronger signal. The suction cup on the bottom of the antenna ensures it doesn't move or tip over.

    PICT0004

    To compete the media center experience along with the included HP Dockable Media Center remote control is an Infrared (IR) transmiter cable that allows you to change the channels of your set top box(cable or satellite).

    PICT1147 PICT1164

    If you have an XBOX 360 or other Media Center extender you can move the experience to another location without having to move the laptop.  The internal Intel PRO/Wireless card provided more than ample bandwidth over my Wireless-N network for connecting to my Xbox 360 and the bluetooth radio stack had no problem pairing with my Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard/remote.

    Portability

    OK if you can't guess from the specs given, this piece of hardware is huge! Huge in a good way it truly is a desktop replacement not only for productivity, but this thing can be a desktop replacement for audio and video editing as well as one nice gaming machine.

    I have a few bags. OK alot. I had to go through 3 storage bins to find 1 bag to fit this behemoth and it barely fit, luckily it had an extended bottom. I brought it out to see what reaction I would elicit from a public environment. I placed a piece of acoustic foam on both sides of the bag to make sure nothing happened to it as well as placed it in a large plastic bag.

    Perusing the HP website I found they do have a bag by Targus on it that is made for this hauling this laptop called the HP 20" Roller Case for Notebook PCs. Another option is to use some roll around luggage if you have some.

    PICT1134 PICT1142  

    I met up with Jack Cook at Panera Bread to see how it would work in a mobile warrior's home from home.

    Steve@panera PICT1138

    When we got to Panera we had to move to another table because the Dragon HDX took up the entire table. We were able to find two tables pushed together and even then it wasn't large enough. While showing Jack how nice the screen was and playback of movies was. We had several people stop by to gasp in awe and wonderment at the beauty of this screen. We then gave a few people a go at it (after they wiped their hands down with some aniti-bacterial soap) and told them that we were giving it away with 30 other websites and they immediately hit their laptops to enter Absolute Vista's first contest.

    PICT1357 PICT1468

    Playing a movie Jack commented that the adjoining table was vibrating from the thumping of the Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer located on the bottom of the laptop while the movie Cars and Beowulf were playing. Regular DVD playback looked nice, but the high resolution of the screen seemed to beg for more. I was able to find a copy of the Last Samurai on BluRay when I got home that I got from CES and was simply amazed at the picture on both the laptop and play back on my 1080p HP LCD TV.

    Battery life

    PICT1472 PICT1471

    The battery only weighs 17.5 ounces so carrying another if you really need it isn't that much if you are comparing it to the weight of the laptop and/or the weight of the power supply. There is an optional 12 cell extended battery that will raise the bottom of the laptop up as an option for more power on the go. Surprisingly the 9 cell battery life isn't too bad under the HP Recommended Power setting under normal usage with WiFi on we averaged 3hrs and 10 minutes of use including using Media Center. Playing a movie at 70-100% volume averaged 2 hrs and 17 minutes for 3 different movies before the low battery warning in HP's MediaPlay software came on with 4% of battery left. Average movie playback with WiFi and Bluetooth on netted an average of exactly 2hrs. Of the the 3 movies I watched I was able to watch them all on battery power. Now this may not seem a big feat, but it is considering most power draw on laptops is directly related to the screen and the bigger the screen the more power required.

    PICT1446 PICT1299

    Battery life playing Crysis averaged 1 hour and 13 minutes before going into hibernation, which left us pretty impressed considering all that is going on with the the game pushing the CPUs and GPU to its limit and occasional use of the optical drive and hard drive. It was just enough time for me to get halfway through a game on easy mode. Crysis would play at 1920x1280 at very High detail, but it wasn't smooth enough for me, actually it was pretty slow.

    PICT1301PICT1304 

    So I knocked it down a notch to 1280x800 and still ran it at Very High(except Object Quality) via the Auto Detect settings and game play was smooth as butter. It is still the highest resolution I have played on a laptop, which others either can't play at all or run at that resolution. The highest resolution I had played on other laptops was only at 1024 x 768 and even then it wasn't as responsive as the HP HDX. The laptop didn't get hot at all, it was just a pleasant gaming experience. Granted Anti-Aliasing was off and if I knocked everything down to just High. Running at full screen ran a lot smoother and the frame rate was a bit more to my liking.

    vista game3 vista game1 vista game2 first update

    Before gaming on the Dragon a few updates and patches needed to be applied that are included in Vista Service Pack 1 among others that are needed in the first Windows Update which stated there were 64.

    hold 'em

    Running Windows Ultimate gives a few extra games like Texas Hold Em, which looks pretty good on this display.

    You may be wondering if this laptop has got performance. Well feel rest assured that it does. The 45nm Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 processor with 6MB of shared L2 cache and an 800MHz front side bus working at 2.8GHz makes working with many processor intense applications like compiling code, rendering 3D images, editing video, playing games, etc. a sheer joy. Intel’s new 45nm technology infused with Hafnium technology, improved thermal management, more transistors, and Intel HD Boost allows the Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 to deliver an increase in executable instructions with less strain on the CPU. Couple all that raw processing power with NVIDIA's GeForce 8800M GTX 512MB GPU and 4GB of DDR2 memory, you got yourself a pretty capable gaming rig.

    3dMark score3dMark detailed results 

    3D Mark scores are pretty impressive for a laptop. A P2625 3D Marks score, CPU Score of 5531, and Graphics score of 2234, but more impressive is real usage, tests are just that-tests. It had no problem running the beta Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, which all laptops I tried had it on failed to perform decently enough to move away from my gaming rig at home. The HDX handled it just like my gaming rig and it is very nice!

    The Dragon is also a Workhorse

     wordup big word

    And yes it can be used for work too. However if you open any office application you will need to register it. Here you can see the default view easily allows for more than one page. It is very nice to work with. Running some graphic intensive applications like Autodesk's 3DStudio Max and Maya, I was able to render a 3D walk-through from an AutoCAD drawing and a 3D prototype fairly quickly (as fast as some very expensive dedicated PC workstations). Using Adobe Audition on the the large screen made it much easier to edit Podcasts and other sound files. I only wished there was a higher-end audio card in this laptop as an option from the Soundblaster 16bit card. I even installed Visual Studio 2008 and it compiled through some code that I knew took a while on my current laptop in no time. Not only can this laptop play hard it can work hard too.

    Burn baby Burn.

     cyberlink dvd PICT1402

    There is quite a selection of multimedia sofware that comes with the HDX, some that works directly with the QuickPlay software, some with Media Center, some cohesively with Vista and some that runs independently like the titles from Cyberlink like Power2Go and Cyberlink DVD Suite Premium, which also provides the codec for Blu Ray playback. The optical drive can create CD-R/CD-RW or DVD-R/DVD-RW discs using various software packages included on the HDX. The inclusion of the BluRay drive to make this one great Media Experience when played on the 1080p display resolution at 1920x1200 pixels.

    muvee

    Another nice addition is MuVee6 for making videos and picture slideshows.

    HP WebCam -Lights, Camera, Action!

    PICT1219  PICT1221

    The HP Webcam is pretty good. Not only does it have a blue LED to let you know when it is on it also tilts down to make sure you're framed properly in the image due to the height of the large display. On either side of the camera are two stereo microphones that are used for providing differential input to provide noise cancellation and subtract out background noise.

     PICT1396

    Using the popular Cyberlink YouCam software you can make your own YouTube videos and video conference with ease. My kids love using this software on the other HP laptops we have and find it easy to use as well as entertainment for hours using all the special effects. If you click on the image you can see the image quality is pretty good with an image of the included Getting Started manual.

    Personalizations

    mouse

    A few personal adjustments had to be made to allow easier use of this larger than life laptop. I had to speed up the trackpad speed to its maximum speed because travel across this large 20.1" display takes a few strokes of the track pad to navigate across this screen. Even then you will only be able to traverse 2/3rds of the screen when maxed out a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.

    PICT0012 (2)

    An external mouse is highly recommended. Traversing the large screen is much easier with one. I found that my Logitech MX Revolution mouse paired well with this laptop. It would have been nice if HP included a bluetooth or RF mouse with the same finish as the laptop, since it truly is a desktop replacement.

    PICT0008 (3) PICT1381

    You can easily adjust the volume with some really cool UI on top of the screen with the touch sensitive buttons at the top of the keyboard bezel. You can also customize the bass and treble with a simple press of the button labeled (guess what) Treble and Bass. This will toggle an indicator light between the bass and treble and allow you to adjust it in the same way with a slight touch and drag over the touch pad, that will also be accompanied by clicks and a visualization.

    sling

    I also removed a lot of unneeded software and removed programs like Vongo Tray from startup as well as the entire program from the computer since most of the movies are the same I currently get with my Starz subscription and On demand which I can view through the installed SlingPlayer software from my Slingbox. A newer version was available, but configuring and adding my Slingbox to the player was as simple as launching the software and running through the configuration in less than a minute. I also removed all the games and these programs: AIM,EA Link,alot of HP software, Microsoft Works, Serif WebPlus, The Sims, Vongo, Yahoo Toolbar, which took about 20 minutes as I stated towards the beginning of this review. I also did the usual shutdown and removal of unneeded services, if you are unsure of which ones to uninstall or disable I highly recommend TweakVista.

    Conclusion

    OK besides gaming, movie watching, web browsing and running office applications. This laptop can do a pretty good job as a nice rendering workstation for 3D Studio and Maya with no problems. It also makes a pretty good programmer's coding computer. I installed Visual Studio 2008 and compiled some code that I know would take a while and it flew through those computations like a hot knife through butter. This is really the fastest laptop I have every used and can be seriously be used for both work and play as true desktop replacement. If you are looking for a desktop replacement with a large screen and need portability the HP HDX Dragon is for you.

    05/17/2008 09:59:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    HP Computerlicious Auction - One of a Kind HP HDX Dragon Laptops#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    If you didn't win an HP HDX Dragon Entertainment laptop in the 31 Days of the Dragon there is another way you can get your hands on one besides the HP website and it is a unique one at that.

    computerlicious

    To commemorate its 25th anniversary, PC Magazine is having A Computerlicious Design Experience, the dramatic redesign and auction of 9 laptops by top designers benefiting the non-profit National Cristina Foundation (NCF). The 9 Computerlicious Hewlett Packard PCs auction is now Live! The auction will commence on May 12, 2008 and conclude on May 19. All proceeds will assist NCF in providing used computer equipment to non-profits, schools and public agencies nationwide for the training of people in need. Go to eBay's Computerlicious page for more details!

    Video Icon Check Out the Video of all the Computerlicious Laptops! This is a cool video with all the designers showing the design process and how some of them made the laptops for the auction.

    Here are few of the HP HDX Dragons available for bid with all proceeds going to the Cristina Foundation:

    DDCLAB's Computerlicious Design - HP Dragon

    Paul Frank Industries Computerlicious Design-HP Dragon

    Peter Harper's Computerlicious Design - HP Dragon

    Not a bad way to Enter the Dragon with a one of a kind HP HDX and help a good cause at the same time. There are also several other HP laptops that have been customized that are up for bid as well.

    05/17/2008 07:42:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Day 15 of 31 Days of the Dragon#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Steve O'Hear at www.last100.com has posted up the details of his contest to win an HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook in Day 15 of the 31 Days of the Dragon.

    last100 hdx

    Here are the details of the contest:

    To qualify for a chance of winning a top of the line HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook loaded with features and software — 20.1″ display, Intel Core 2 Extreme x9000, 4GB of Ram, Blu-Ray drive and lots more including a good few games and Blu-Ray movies to get you started (total retail price approx $5,000) — you’ll need to do the following:

    1. Leave a comment on this post listing your top five digital lifestyle products and/or services. They don’t need to all be products you own, and they could be digital lifestyle services you use, but they must all be currently available. It would also be useful to add in brackets what they do (see example below).
    2. Make sure you leave a working email address in the ‘email’ field of the comments form.
    3. You may only enter once.
    4. If you are the winner and based in the U.S. you must be willing to file a tax return form with Buzz Corps who are administrating the competition. However, they will cover any tax liability relating to the prize.
    5. After seven days from this post, the winner will be chosen randomly from all complete entries.
    6. Our decision is final and we reserve the right to change the rules if there has been an omission on our part or we suspect unfair conduct on the part of an entrant.

    As an example, my top five current digital lifestyle products and services are:

    • iPod touch
    • BBC iPlayer (for iPhone/iPod touch)
    • PlayStayion 3
    • Zattoo (Live TV on a PC)
    • Pandora (Internet radio)

    Good luck!

    To find out the next contest tomorrow head here or over to www.labnol.org.

    Remember There are 6 more chances to win one of these fabulous laptops from DigitalHomeThoughts.com, Windows-now.comWindowsConnected.com, Geekstop, bink.nu, and www.mediablab.com

    Good Luck!

    05/16/2008 20:50:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    BostonPocketPC Days of the Dragon Contest Winners#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Well, we have a winner of the HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook in the 31 Days of the HP Dragon Giveaway. It is Finalist #9 - Duane Laflotte who garnished the most votes in a very tight race between all 9 finalists.

    Duane will be receiving the fully loaded HP HDX Dragon sent to him along with some pretty cool Software: Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Corel PaintShop Pro X2, Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Ulead Video Studio Plus  11.5, Symantec Norton Internet Security 2008; some cool Games for Windows: Viva Piñata, Microsoft Flight Sim, Microsoft Flight Sim Expansion Pack, and Gears of War; and BluRay movies -Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End.

     hpbchdxdragonbppc_thumb3

     

    From the hundreds that voted, these are the winners that were picked by Randomizer.org:

    Pam Trader wins the Oakley Vertical Computer bag

    Timothy Hays wins a copy of Gears of War for the Xbox 360.

     

    Thomas Berney wins the Maxtor One Touch 4 Mini 2.5" 160GB portable hard drive

    Mark “Sumocat” Sumimoto has won an Honorary mention award, that kept us laughing through the night as we looked over all the entries to the contest. Here is his entry, which would have made it to the finalists if had a picture of his gear:

    sumocat

    My current gadget bag is the Monster 3000 backpack for extreme hiking. It’s loaded with an Alienware ALX Crossfire desktop (fully loaded with 3.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme processor, two 500GB 7200rpm SATA hard drives, 4 GB of ram, ATI Radeon graphics card, and HD-DVD drive), 42” Phillips LCD HDTV (1080p of course) with 5.1 surround sound speakers, Microsoft 8000 Bluetooth entertainment keyboard and mouse, and a stack of ten Electrovaya 130 Powerpads for mobile computing, plus all the requisite cords and cables. It’s been working out great, but I really need to upgrade now that Blu-Ray won the high-def war, hence I am interested in the Blu-Ray equipped Dragon. I believe it will provide a similar portable computing experience, and hopefully I will adjust to carrying the lighter load.

    Actually, my previous gadget bag was quite light. It’s an Incase sling pack (first generation). Designed for Macbooks, but it fit my Toshiba R25 Tablet PC in the dedicated padded pocket quite nicely. Along with my tablet, I packed a spare stylus (Wacom eraser pen), Targus podium coolpad, my old battery as a spare, and of course, the AC adapter. In the interior zipper pocket, I kept a D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter, spare 1GB SD card, SDHC USB adapter (a 4GB Sandisk SDHC Extreme II card sits in my tablet’s memory card slot), USB adapter for a presentation remote control that fits and sits in the PC card slot, and my Cellink Bluetooth stereo headset and 3.5 audio adapter. It also holds a crappy little mobile phone in the zipper pocket at the bottom of the strap. I used to carry my Casio EX-S500 digital camera in my bag until it broke (Hence, I am unfortunately without a quality camera at the moment and unable to provide a photo of my “previous” gadget bag). Hope one or both bags make it into the running!

    Mark for his hard work and his grand effort in making us laugh will be getting a Pantone Huey to help calibrate his displays. :)

    All Winners will need to send an email to dragoncontest@bostonpocketpc.com with your current shipping address and phone number for you to receive your prizes! Duane since you live in the United States a 1099 form will also be sent to you and all taxes will be reimbursed by Buzz Corps and HP, who we would like to thank again for helping us put on this contest.

    To all our winners, Congratulations!

    05/14/2008 15:32:51 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Boston Pocket PC 31 Days of the Dragon Finalists#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    OK we had so many entries we had a tough time narrowing down all the entrants to just 5, so we have 9 finalists and even that was very,very hard to do and we stayed up way too late doing this, but it was worth it. We want to thank everyone that took the time to enter and we wish we could have given one or at least a prize to everyone that entered, but I don't think that many Dragon HDX's exist!

    hpbchdxdragonbppc_thumb1

    In the second stage of this contest the final winner of the grand prize package of the HP HDX Dragon will be decided by you! So if you got friends and family who want a chance to win some free gear and help you out winning yours, that is fine as long as there is just one vote per person. Finalists can vote for themselves or another finalist if they feel like it. So good luck to all the finalists and the voters!

    All comments, votes and feedback will have to be in by 6PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time US May 13th 2008. The winner(s) will then be notified by email and posted here on Boston Pocket PC with their name and winning entry on May 14th 2008.

    Again those that give feedback and comment (1 per person) on who should win - (by giving the Finalist# and why they should win) by sending an email with your full name to: dragoncontest@bostonpocketpc.com with the subject "And the winner is" will be entered in a random drawing for some other prizes mentioned here. To be eligible for the random drawing you have to submit the requested information.

    And here our our Nine Finalists in no particular order with a randomizer (clicking on the pictures will bring up the original images. This is one long post so be prepared to scroll):

    Finalist #1

    Here are a few pics of my gear bag and some of the gadgets I carry in it. It is a classic old school leather saddlebag that has a "Indiana Jones" look to it according to my kids :-)

    bag1  bag2

    This thing is really durable and holds all my stuff when I am out and about.

    Here is a list of the items I carry in it:

    bag3

    HP TC4200 Tablet PC

    Fujitsu U810 UMPC

    Samsung i760 Windows Mobile smartphone

    Black Zune 80

    Canon TX-1 HD Video/Digital Camera

    Garmin Nuvi 200

    Verizon USB727 Aircard

    Cradlepoint PHS 3G router

    Black and Decker Portable Power Supply/Battery Uniden BCD396T Handheld Scanner Yaesu VX7r Handheld Ham Radio Several USB retractable cables to connect my devices/charge them.

    Hopefully the pictures show everything okay, I really love this setup and get a lot of compliments on it when I am running around. I can pretty much do anything with this setup, from anywhere. Cell phone, aircard for the pcs, and when those fail I have 2 way coms with my Ham radio.

    Finalist #2

    I would like to introduce you to my gear bag! It’s a special Windows Live Messenger laptop bag I received as a thank you from a beta program. The bag features multiple compartments for storing my laptop, mobile devices, CDs and magazines. There is even a nice side pocket for storing my umbrella. The only thing I don’t like about it, it does not include a shoulder pad and it’s very heavy to carry around, but that’s the trade off for my daily gear. As for the gears themselves, it’s quite a simple array of tools I use to function on a daily basis. These include my 2003 Dell Latitude c840 laptop, Dell Optical Mouse, ViewSonic v37 Pocket PC 2002 Premium device, Motorola E398 Cellular phone, Motorola C350 Cellular modem for connecting to the Internet if I don’t have access at work/school or on the road and my beloved Canon PowerShot A520 Digital camera (you never know when the unexpected might happen, also used to take a picture of this entry). A few DVD movies, an array of backup CD’s and some mix music CDs I made are also included. I also carry a few technology magazines for light reading. 

    clip_image001

    My gear bag and gadgets: laptop, cellular phone, pocket pc, camera, dvds, cd’s, camera, umbrella, magazines

    My laptop is the centre of my work experience; e-mail, schedules and contact information in Outlook 2003, Internet, and office productivity are all stored on it. Of course, there are the occasions for multimedia whether it’s snapping a few photos at work or school, listening to music or messing around in Adobe Audition. If I don’t have much to do or simply nothing I just pop in a DVD and watch one of my favourite movies, (I have with me now Star Wars Episode II, Spiderman and Michael Jackson’s History collection of his famous videos. When I am out on the road or at lunch, I carry my View Sonic Pocket PC V37 and my Motorola E398 cell phone. These keep me in contact with friends and my schedule under control whether its finding out my next task or next class, in addition to this they help me stay in touch with classmates, co-workers, family and friends.  That’s the gear in my ‘gear’ bag.

    Finalist #3

    Thanks in advance for a great opportunity! Even the chance to day dream about owning this amazing piece of hardware is worth it! clip_image001

    1 2 3

    Oh and that pic of that handsome bloke is me when I was on vacation! :D

    My Gear consists of:

    1. HP Pavilion dv6000 series laptop upgraded to include 4GB RAM and Windows Vista 64 bit!
    2. Microsoft Zune 30GB hacked to include a 100Gb HDD clip_image002
    3. 160GB Encrypted Backup HDD which holds my Norton Ghost Backups and other important files!
    4. O2 XDA Atom with custom WM6 ROM which helps me access email and keeps me connected while on the road and helps organize my day!
    5. Sony PSP for the usual Gaming fix! :D
    6. A USB Converter charger which charges both the Zune as well as the O2 Atom. It saves me space as I just have to carry their respective cables!
    7. Panasonic Noise Isolation earphones which help immensely while traveling. Has separate converter for use on the O2 Atom as well!
    8. Canon S5 IS which I used to take the pics! I love this camera because it gives me so much more control than a regular point and shoot camera. It is coupled with 4 Panasonic AA 2700mAh batteries with a Panasonic quick portable charger!
    9. And finally a Samsonite laptop bag which serves as the "base station" for all my stuff. I love this bag because its got all the various compartments that I need as well as gives a lot of protection to my laptop!

    Finalist #4

    Here is my gear bag:

    bag1

    The bag is 12 inches high by 9 inches deep and 15 inches wide and was intended to hold four Plano [TM] compartment boxes. When Filled with my gear, the bag weighs is 14 pounds.

    bag2

    This picture shows the bag's general layout. It has two outside mesh pockets where I store photo albums, notebook, and a drogue chute. The lower compartment, accessed through a zip-open front flap, holds two Flowform kites, a frilly tail, the radio transmitter, and a Plano box containing camera cradle and small parts. The top-loading upper compartment contains the rest of the gear shown below.

    Contents of the Bag

    This set of components is a very workable collection for my aerial work. Having the gear in a compact set makes it easy to take the gear along and thus I am taking more aerial photographs.The bag fits in the diminutive trunk of my Volkswagen and is light enough to carry for a distance. The only addition I'd like to make is a dog stake but at this point there isn't enough room.

    bag3

    Contents of My Gear Bag:

    1) Sutton Flowform 16 kite

    2) Sutton Flowform 30 kite

    3) the empty Cabela Gear Bag

    4) a 9" Halo reel with 1500' of 100# kiteline. The bag also holds a second 9" Halo reel with 750' of 200# kiteline (not shown.)

    5) A drogue to stabilize the Flowforms in light wind

    6) A 30-foot-long 'fuzzy' tail to stabilize the Flowforms in heavier winds.

    bag4

    7) a notebook for keeping random notes and insightful musings

    8) two photo albums holding images to show to passerby

    9) a mesh bag to organize small parts

    10) a climber's strap and carabiner for tying the kite off to secure objects

    1) four homemade 'hangups' to attach Picavet suspension to kiteline (requires two)

    12) large o-rings (muffler hangers) and sticks used to dampen vibrations on the kiteline in heavy winds

    13) my current miniature Picavet suspension rig(stored in ziplock bag)

    14) eight film canisters taped together to store film

    - typically four rolls of 100 ASA and four rolls of 400 ASA

    15) plastic Planto [TM] parts box holds lens brush, batteries, electrical tape, sewing kit,and camera cradle

    16) the glove, essential for handling kiteline

    17) a Davis Turbometer anemometer (with case) to measure ground level wind velocities

    18) Airtronics four-channel radio transmitter

    19) camera cradle with Yashica T4 camera and radio receiver(not shown) a small charger for the radio batteries - used for out-of-town trips

    I hope I can win HP HDX Dragon

    Finalist #5

    Here is what I have in my gear bag:

    clip_image001[4] clip_image002

    First, I sport a Red Wegner SwissGear Maxxum Laptop backpack, it is by far the best backpack/gear bag I have ever owned.  It holds my normal gear, as well as any additional stuff I need for special projects.  Aside from a monitor, I can carry my entire mobile office in it, with room the spare, and yet it isn’t so big that it’s annoying to carry, and the extra padding makes it a cakewalk to carry across my work’s large campus.  This is very nice, since I have to hoof it a few blocks from the parking lot to the office.

    The centerpiece of my gear is my Toshiba M400 Tablet PC, with Centrino Duo 1.8gHz processor, 2gb of RAM, Dual Layer DVD-R, 80gb hard drive, and a not-so-impressive 12” display that boasts resolutions up to 1024x768.  I am a major tablet pc fanatic, and love using a pen on my machine.  The one good thing about its small size is that it’s easy to lug around and write on.

    My other gear includes:

    · Logitech VX Nano Mouse

    · 8gb iPod Touch with Griffin case, charger, and sync cable

    · Motorola V3 Razr (Unlocked European Version from TigerDirect)

    · 1gb Memorex Flash Drive

    · 2gb SanDisk Cruzer Micro Flashdrive

    · 4gb SanDisk Cruzer Micro Flashdrive

    · 8gb Sandisk CF card

    · External FireWire Enclosure for Seagate 120gb hard drive

    · Sharp VL-Z1 MiniDV camera that I use as a webcam

    · Holux Bluetooth GPS receiver

    · Cheap GE headset for Skype

    · Philips Earbuds with ear clips

    · Philips Headphones with ear clips

    · Cheap Card reader

    · 2 6’ USB extension cables

    · Retractable USB A/B cable

    · Retractable FireWire 4pin/4pin cable

    · 2 USB to Mini-USB cables

    · FireWire Cable (4pin to 6pin)

    · Short stereo connector cable

    · Ancient PC microphone

    · Belkin combination laptop lock

    · Swiss+Tech Micro-Tech 6 in 1 tool

    · Antistatic wristband

    · Lens cleaner with microfiber rag in premium vinyl case

    · Bandanna

    · Assorted Pilot pens and blue Sharpies

    · Spray Listerine – I recommend this to everyone, bad breath sucks!

    · Advil in a travel tube

    · Elmer’s Glue – don’t ask.

    · Keys to my wife’s minivan

    · Toshiba Portfolio for the M400 tablet, for important meetings.

    · Wrist rest for Tablet PC when in Laptop Mode

    · Flavor packets for 16.9oz bottles – office water is nasty, and I like to reuse bottles to save landfill space.

    What’s Missing: PS2 EyeToy (my other webcam), Sierra Wireless VOQ Smartphone, Mini Maglite (my son stole it)

    Finalist #6

    I've annotated my picture of my gear bag and (most) of its contents.

     clonedgearbaggq5

    Finalist #7

    My gear bag is actually anything but. Not finding the style and features that I was looking for in a good gear bag, I checked some of the other bag solutions at my local Target. Eventually I settled on the weirdest gear bag I know: a diaper bag by Eddie Bauer.  In fact, I loved that bag so much that I eventually bought a second similar one that I could use for different types of gear.

    Total Gear Gear Bag packed
    As a teacher, I often need to be able to transport all of my portable gear on a regular basis.  This can make for a pretty hefty bag.  However, diaper bags are made to carry a lot of stuff (just ask your wife).  The great thing about this bag too is that it looks nothing like a diaper bag. Take a look at the pictures.  The gear list below is all of the gear that you might find in my bag on any given day.  Sometimes more, most often a little less. I interchange the bags depending on what gear I need for that day, whether it be my Infocus projector or student papers.

    Gear list:

    1. Laptop (Compaq Presario) with power, to be replaced with HP TC1100 Tablet PC when it arrives in the mail on Monday
    2. Projector (Infocus IN24+) with power & cables
    3. MP3 Player (iPod 30gb 5th Gen) with earbuds & cable
    4. Port. Hard Drive (WD Passport, 60gb) with cable
    5. Cell Phone (Palm Treo 700wx) with cable
    6. Space Navigator
    7. Webcam (either Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks Pro or Logitech Quickcam Ultra Vison SE)
    8. Digital Camera (Kodak Easy Share 4.0mp)
    9. SD Cards (1gb SD and 1gb MicroSD, both SanDisk)
    10. USB Drives (2x 256mb and 1x 2gb, all SanDisk)
    11. Wallet
    12. Lesson plan books x2 (paper still works best)
    13. Half notebook
    14. Men's Journal magazine
    15. LED book lamp bought at Costco
    16. Bible (was my Mom's, has her name etched on the front)
    17. West Wing DVD (for class & pleasure... I teach gov't)
    18. Highlighter
    19. Gel pens
    20. Titanium reading glasses
    21. Small clear gear bag

    So that's my bag.  The small clear gear bag is actually a dirty diaper holder (never used), instead it holds all of my cords and stuff.  All of my gear fits comfortably in the green bag but most days I only have 3/4 of the gear.  I don't need the projector everyday. I don't know which one is my favorite as I love them both.

    Finalist #8

    Trader_GearBag

    Being a girl-techgeek is harder than being a guy-geek.  We are expected to adhere to certain "standards" which involve not only carrying our own gadgets and tech toys, but also the rest of the girl stuff we carry.  Then, we have to not look geeky in the process, so we can avoid the fashion police coming to take our stuff away.  Unfortunately, I still run from the fashion police...I still haven't found a gear bag that fits their definition of fashion.

    Another thing about being a girl-geek is that you always end up carrying stuff for the family too.  My husband's sunglasses, or dog treats when we take the dogs out and about.  So it's a new adventure everyday!

    So I carry two bags - a purse and a gear bag that changes depending on the mood and how big my lunch is.

    Here's my daily gear list:

    - The new HP 2133 Mini Note in its homemade slip case

    - A non-digital steno pad for those times when you just don't need to fire up a tech device to take notes

    - Samsung Blackjack  and its USB cord for tethering to the Mini (Because I can't get Bluetooth PAN to work on it...yet!)

    - Plantronics bluetooth headset

    - 1 tube Loreal lipstick that hardly ever gets used, 1 tube lip gloss that never gets used

    - GPS puck for use with Telenav and the Blackjack

    - miscellaneous ATM receipts, dry cleaning tickets, and other paper flotsam

    - a 30GB 5G iPod

    - an iTalk attachment for voice recording to the iPod

    - travel tube of ibuprofen

    - Bose earbuds

    - a Levenger Circa notebook/agenda

    - Canon Powershot A560 digital camera (not shown in the pics because it was being used)

    - A paperback book (because you don't always need to read digitally)

    - a yellow umbrella

    - car keys

    - sunglasses

    - XM radio and remote (an older Delphi SkiFi model.  The DH got the sexy newer model.)

    - 15 ink pens

    - a portable tea tin and a few packets of Splenda (Hot Cinnamon Sunset)

    - A WD 250GB hard drive (contains mostly videos - to play on the HP Mini Note)

    - a collection of Coke Reward Points

    Thanks for sponsoring this contest!  Good luck with all the entries you're probably getting!

    Finalist#9

    My Gear

    I travel too much and NEED my gadgets.  Games are a must (as you will be able to tell from some of my gear) 

    clip_image001[8] clip_image002[5]

    Gear bag SQUEEZED closed             Dear god its busted open!!!

    So my gear bag contains the following:

    The Gear Bag:  The bag is a Kensington Contour.  Not too shabby.  Normal over the shoulder bought because it’s the only bag that could hold my 9300 with the 17” screen ;)

    clip_image003

    All my gear in its glory (keep it clean)

    clip_image004 clip_image005

    Separate Gear Focus :) For fun

    Devices:

    1. Cingular 8525

    2. PBZ (30gb Brown Zune)

    3. G-Sat GPS Receiver

    4. PSP  (original version)

    5. Saitek Pro Gamer (a must for travel gaming)

    6. Bose QC2 (just awesome for plane rides)

    7. Dell Inspiron 9300 (2gb ram, 128mb ati x300, 80gb hdd, dual layer dvd burner J) ß Work laptop but games ok

    8. Jabra BT800 BlueTooth Headset

    9. Microsoft Sidewinder Gaming Mouse (AWESOME by the way.  Just awesome)

    Storage

    1. 8 gb PNY thumb drive

    2. 160gb USB 2.0 external Maxtor drive

    3. 1gb MVP Thumb Drive in a nice leather case

    4. 2gb Memory Stick Pro Duo (for PSP stuff ;)

    5. 8gb Memory Stick Pro Duo (for PSP stuff ;)

    Energy Drink  - Monster Energy (always) (not shown in picture ;))

    And that’s about it!  Damn I carry too much stuff. 

     

    Good Luck to all of our finalists (and voters) and let the voting begin!!!!

    05/11/2008 15:00:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    31 Days of the HP Dragon Giveaway#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    OK we haven't done a big giveaway contest in a while. As we posted before and linked to other sites participating in the 31 Days of The Dragon with the help from HP and BuzzCorps, we will be getting a fully decked out HP HDX Dragon laptop (with just about every option including a Blu-ray player, 1080P 20.1-inch XHD Ultra Brightview widescreen display, 500 GB HDD, Intel Extreme Processors, etc.) to give to one of our readers as part of the 31 Days of the HP Dragon Giveaway.

     hpbc--hdx-dragon-bppc

    Hardware

    HP HDX Dragon - $4,500 retail value

    HDX System Specs

    Operating system:

    Genuine Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)

    Processor:

    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)

    Display:

    20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920x1200)-"True HD" 1080p res

    Memory:

    4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)

    Graphics Card:

    512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS

    Personalization:

    HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone

    Networking:

    Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth(TM)

    Hard Drive:

    500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2)

    Primary CD/DVD Drive:

    Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer

    TV & Entertainment Experience:

    Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers +the HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer

    Primary Battery:

    9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery

    Evaluation Software Certified For Windows Vista

    office corelphoto corelpainter

    corelvideo  nis 2008 

    Microsoft Office Professional 2007
    Corel PaintShop Pro X2
    Corel Painter Essentials
    Corel Ulead Video Studio Plus  11.5 
    Symantec Norton Internet Security 2008

    Games For Windows

    pinata flightsim

    flightsim2 gow

    Viva Piñata
    Microsoft Flight Sim
    Microsoft Flight Sim Expansion Pack
    Gears of War - $49.99 retail value

    Movies

    poc1 poc2 poc3

    Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl - Blu Ray
    Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest - Blu Ray
    Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End - Blue Ray

    Total Retail Value is over $5100!

    The goal of the contest is not to only give away a really cool laptop, some cool software, and cool movies, but help the online community by bringing new readers to others sites and sharing readers. So as you can guess you will have 31 chances to win one of these beautiful laptops! We will also be giving away a few other things as well. :)

    Contest Rules:

    So to enter our contest all you have to do is send an email to dragoncontest@bostonpocketpc.com with the subject "Contest Entry" and  tell us about your gear bag, the gear you carry in it and include a picture of it (and yourself if you like). That's it. Only one entry per person. The contest starts now May 7th 2008 and all entries must be in by Saturday May 10th 2008 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time US. All entries after that will not be accepted.

    Your fate will be determined in two phases of the contest by the staff at Boston Pocket PC will choose a minimum of 5 finalists and you the readers will get to give your feedback on who think should win and why starting on Sunday May 11th 2008 at 12PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time US. Those that give feedback and comment (1 per person) on who should win and why by sending an email with your name to: dragoncontest@bostonpocketpc.com with the subject "And the winner is" will be entered in a random drawing for some other prizes listed below:

    We also got a cool Oakley Vertical Computer bag aka gear bag that isolates bluetooth so you won't be snarfed if its on.

    We have a copy of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 to prepare yourself as a true Mobile Warrior.

    We also have a Maxtor One Touch 4 Mini 2.5" 160GB portable hard drive for backing up all your data, keeping two computers in synch, or for bringing it all with you when you are on the go. It also supports full encryption so your data will be safe from prying eyes. Here is what it comes with:

    • Portable hard drive with preloaded installation software
    • Maxtor SafetyDrill™ Recovery CD
    • Maxtor Backup and OneTouch Manager software applications
    • USB 2.0 Y cable
    • Quick start guide
    • Maxtor 5-Year Limited Warranty

    Notice a theme???

    All comments, votes and feedback will have to be in by 6PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time US May 13th 2008. The winner(s) will then be notified by email and posted here on Boston Pocket PC with their name and winning entry on May 14th 2008.

    Its all about the gear, so lets see what you got and how you use it and you may be able to add some more to yours! Good luck!

    05/07/2008 00:01:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Zune Software update 2.5#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Well if you are a Zune user you may or may not be aware there is an update for the desktop software to version 2.5 called the Spring Update.

    zuneupdate2

    These are alot of features that were echoed in the community and its nice to see implemented, but I am still waiting on seeing some movie content on the Zune Marketplace, hopefully that will arrive soon...

    New 2.5 Update includes:

    • Syncing Zune Cards to a device.
    • Enhanced friends search.
    • Instant friends.
    • Artist and album reviews.
    • Reputation badges.
    • Windows Live connections.
    • Auto playlists.
    • Browsing videos.
    • Editing album and track information.
    • Organizing collections.
    • Gapless playback.
    • Syncing groups.
    • Zune reminders.

    Here is the official press release:

    Microsoft Corp. today announced that Zune, the company’s all-in-one digital entertainment brand, is adding new software features and content to the Zune online store, music community and Zune Pass monthly subscription service. Zune is expanding its video store to include downloads of popular television shows from COMEDY CENTRAL, FUNimation® Entertainment, MTV, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon, Starz Media (including Magna Entertainment), Turner Broadcasting, Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC) and VH1 that consumers can sync to their device and enjoy on the go. In addition, by further integrating the Zune music community into the core experience, the new software makes it easier for people to find and listen to the music they want, share it with friends, and take it with them wherever they go — whether they choose a Zune Pass or a la carte MP3 downloads. Zune Pass subscribers can now set up automatic, real-time feeds of the music their friends are listening to and add those songs to their collection or Zune device.

    Starting today, consumers can choose from more than 800 episodes of popular television series to download and watch on their computer or their Zune, including COMEDY CENTRAL’s “South Park,” FUNimation’s “Afro Samurai” and “Witchblade,” MTV’s “The Hills,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Heroes” and “30 Rock,” Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” SCI FI Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” and “Eureka,” Starz’s “Ghost in the Shell” and “Street Fighter,” Turner Broadcasting’s “Metalocalypse” and “Robot Chicken,” UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter®” and “Fight Night™,” and VH1’s “Rock of Love” with Bret Michaels. Each television show will be priced at 160 Microsoft Points per episode (approximately $1.99) at launch. With more than 3.5 million tracks, two-thirds of which are available in pure MP3 format, 800 television shows, 4,800 music videos and 3,500 audio and video podcasts, the Zune online store is a great place for consumers to find the entertainment content they want. In addition, the bright, full-color screen on every Zune portable media player delivers a high-quality video experience on the go.

    “Partnering with Zune will allow us to develop innovative content offerings for their customers, including flexible pricing and packaging options beginning this fall,” said JB Perrette, president of NBC Universal Digital Distribution. “NBC Universal is excited to offer our hit television shows to Zune customers.”

    A Better Way to Experience Music
    In a recent study commissioned by Zune, 54 percent of consumers surveyed said they were frustrated when trying to find new music, mostly because they said they didn’t have enough time, didn’t know where to look, or felt that they ended up wasting money on music they didn’t end up liking. At the same time, 89 percent said they would trust a friend or family member’s musical recommendation over a music critic’s.

    The growing Zune online music community enables consumers to explore, discover and share music. Members get a free, customizable Zune Card: a snapshot of their favorite tracks and the music they’re playing on their Zune. Previously this personal snapshot resided only on the Web, but with the latest software updates Zune Cards have become much more portable. Now consumers with the Zune Pass subscription have the ability to take what their friends are listening to from the Zune music community on the go via Zune Card personal playlists for easy exploration and access, when and where they want it. The Zune Pass subscription allows consumers to explore millions of tracks with no commitment other than the monthly fee similar to the price of one CD — $14.99 per month.

    “Consumers want more than the traditional transactional model of an online music store plus portable device,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager of Global Marketing for Zune at Microsoft. “Zune is putting the strong combination of an online music community together with subscription to deliver a new experience centered on music discovery that’s good for consumers, artists and the industry. This approach exposes consumers to music they might not have otherwise tried, keeps them coming back, and gives them purchasing options that suit their preferences.”

    New updates to the Zune online music community include the following:

    • Syncing Zune Cards to a device. Consumers simply drag and drop Zune Cards from friends to a Zune device and get updates on what friends are listening to every time they sync. If the song is available with Zune Pass, subscribers automatically have the full tracks on their Zune while nonsubscribers have full album information and artwork. If consumers hear something they like, they can add it to their collection with one click. Next time the user syncs his or her Zune, he or she will be asked to confirm the purchase.

    • Enhanced friends search. Consumers now have the ability to add their name, location and bio to their Zune music community profile, making it easier than ever to find their friends.

    • Instant friends. The true power of the Zune online music community is unlocked when friends are added and consumers can follow the music they’re listening to. Now, when new Zune owners join the Zune online music community, they’ll find the top music editors from the Zune Marketplace team already added to their friends list, giving them a head start in finding new music.

    • Artist and album reviews. Inside the Zune music community, members have the ability to write and post their own reviews for artists and albums, providing another community-driven feature to support the exploration and discovery of music. The music community helps to find and recommend the best music.

    • Reputation badges. Now members of the Zune community can earn badges that are displayed on their Zune Card showing they’re passionate fans or active members.

    • Windows Live connections. Windows Live Messenger contacts will now be able to see what users are listening to via the Zune software. Clicking on the tracks displayed in the “Now Playing” feature will connect the Windows Live Messenger friend directly to that artist’s page on the Zune Social.
    A More Integrated Way to Manage and Enjoy Entertainment
    Responding directly to customer feedback, Zune has updated and added features and functionality to address better integration between the software, the online music community and the store. In addition, the updates include frequently requested features such as the ability to sync multiple Zune players at once. Specific feature updates include the following:

    • Auto playlists. Users can create an auto playlist that updates itself automatically as new music is added.

    • Browsing videos. Consumers can browse their video collection by genre and series, plus they can preview videos before they play them on full screen.

    • Editing album and track information. Users are able to edit track or album information (metadata) quickly via multi-select and drag-and-drop. The advanced metadata editing features make it easy to edit multiple tracks or survey albums and artist information.

    • Organizing collections. In addition to sorting by artist or album, consumers can now sort by genre. While browsing by genre they can further sort music by artist, album or release year.

    • Gapless playback. Consumers will now be able to listen to an album without the brief gap between tracks, both on their Zune and in the Zune software. This is a must-have for live-concert recordings and compilation albums.

    • Syncing groups. Zune software now syncs to multiple Zune players simultaneously. Users can prepare which content on their computer to sync even when their Zune isn’t connected. Consumers can create custom sync groups for music, pictures and videos.

    • Zune reminders. Experience is improved when a Zune player’s memory is nearing capacity, via an easy-to-use tool.

    Jason Dunn over at ZuneThoughts has some nice screen captures, videos, and descriptions of the update and its new features:

    Zune 2.5 Spring Update: Delving Into The Social

    Zune 2.5 Spring Update: A Video Walkthrough

    Zune 2.5 Spring Update: Finally, Some Serious Software Updates!

    Zune 2.5 Spring Update: The Zune Social

    Zune 2.5 Spring Update: TV Shows Comes to the Zune Marketplace

    05/06/2008 15:32:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Review - Celio REDFLY#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    The Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion from Celio Corp garnished alot of attention at this year's CES as a notebook replacement with no operating system, but works merely as an extension of a Windows Mobile device providing an 8 inch screen and full sized keyboard.

    redfly

    CEO Kirt Bailey told us at CES that the REDFLY is a companion device for Windows Mobile devices without having to repeat computing power on a laptop form factor as well as without having to deal with the operating system, hardware, and software expense and support issues involved with laptops and UMPCs. He told us they were mainly targeting companies and enterprise users that have to issue users with laptops and mobile phones. This saves the cost not only of purchasing a laptop, but also the ROI involved with managing and administering the devices, which are estimated to roughly $4100 a year each. Another issues was security because the REDFLY doesn't store any sensitive information and all the data remains on the smartphone, displays can be shared amongst users without risk of data loss or security breach.

    Unboxing and Setting up the REDFLY

    PICT0726 PICT0727 PICT0728 PICT0738

    The REDFLY comes in one color on release and it will be a scarlet maroon that has some flecks of red metallic in it. There is some nice thought into the overall design including matching the color of the touch pad to the outside color. Out of the box the screen has a protective removable plastic film that should be removed before using.

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    The finish on the REDFLY is similar to many phones in that it has the "soft touch" finish that gives it a slightly rubbery/silicon feel so it has some grip to it and won't easily slip out of your hands.

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    (Note: the review unit we had was a pre-production unit so the final unit may vary from the one reviewed here)

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    The REDFLY measures in at 1 x 6 x 9 inches (just a bit smaller than the Fujitsu P1610) and weighs only 2lbs 4oz with the included 9VDC power supply and an ounce just under 2lbs if you choose to leave the charger at home, in the hotel, or back in the office. If you do, the unit when tethered via USB charging our device averaged 5.5 hrs of battery and 7.5 hours via a Bluetooth connection. This is inline with the stated 8hrs if you round up from the 4500ma Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery.

    PICT0737  PICT0734

    The REDFLY has 2 USB 2.0 powered ports on the back of the unit that can be used to synchronize and charge your Windows Mobile device or to connect to a USB keyboard, mouse, or even external storage like a USB thumb drive.

    PICT0735

    Also on the back is a standard 15pin VGA port used for an external display or projector perfect for giving presentations on a larger screen as well as via a projector.

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    The last port on the back is a 9VDC connector for charging the device and using it on AC power in case you ran the batteries down.It takes on average about 18 minutes to fully charge the internal Li polymer battery.The unit can even charge the current hungry i-mate JasJar aka HTC Universal.

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    On the right side of the unit near the hinge is the power button. Pressing the button turns the unit on. Also on the right hand side are two LED lights that the one on the right closest to the power button lights up green indicating that the unit is on in case you have the screen contrast too low or the lid closed since there is no auto shutoff switch or light sensor. The  left light also changes to amber when the device is charging, green when it is fully charged and red when it is low.

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    When the screen is turned on it will first turn on in full brightness mode with the mouse cursor centered on the screen and a slide out tool bar of icons will appear indicating the status of connection, battery state (charging, fully charged, 1/2 charged, or if the battery needs charging) Num Lock and Caps Lock. If this screen disappears to quickly for you to read it all you have to do is move the mouse cursor over the the lower right-hand corner and bring it back on the display.

    PICT0940 PICT1219

    The icons will even show you how you are connected via USB 1, USB 2, Bluetooth, or not connected. There also a signal strength meter if you are connected via Bluetooth.

    The REDFLY Mobile Companion is compatible with selected Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC and Smartphone editions and Windows Mobile 6 Professional and Standard Editions.  A list of tested smartphones is available at www.celiocorp.com/smartphone.  At the time of this review only a handful of devices were supported on the Pocket PC Platform with support for Smartphones aka Windows Mobile Standard coming soon.

    install option

    You have two choices in which to install the software either over the air or via your computer.

    install software

    The 8" screen supports resolutions up to 800 x 480 (WVGA) pixels. The current drivers available for the REDFLY are only QVGA for certain device models like the HTC Mogul - Sprint ,HTC Tilt 8900 - AT&T, HTC XV6800 - Verizon Wireless ,Samsung SCH-i760 - Verizon Wireless and Palm Treo 700wx - Verizon Wireless. I decided to give the HTC Tilt drivers a try and download the drivers directly on my VGA display device, the imate JasJar aka HTC Universal. The drivers had an option to install on the device or on the storage card. I chose to install onto the device to prevent any performance problems.

    A reboot was required to install the the drivers properly and after a soft reset the device was ready to be hooked up and paired with the REDFLY.

    PICT0755  PICT0758

    To first connect the REDFLY to your Windows Mobile device you will need to do this via a USB cable. Once connected your Windows Mobile screen will go blank except for a REDFLY icon showing that it is connected and your display will show up on the 8" REDFLY display in landscape mode.

    sshot001 sshot013

    Under the Start-> Settings Folder-> was a new icon for the REDFLY that allowed you to configure how you want the REDFLY to interact with your device.

    redflykey

    Once connected via USB or Bluetooth you can also access this screen via the REDFLY button.

    PICT0751 PICT0756

    To connect via Bluetooth you will need to use the REDFLY software to initiate the connection. This looks at the MAC address of the connected device and establishes the proper pairing and partnership between your Windows Mobile devices and the REDFLY. Up to 5 devices can be paired to the REDFLY, which is great for an office that chooses to save costs and share just one unit for sales calls, meetings, etc. Before authorizing the device you will have to turn your Bluetooth radio set on.

     PICT0757 sshot007

    To connect via Bluetooth you have three options on how to do it. All require that you can initiate it by pressing the Bluetooth key on the keyboard, which is Function F12 and choose which device you wish to connect it to or when you setup your Bluetooth connection settings you can have it automatically pair with your Windows Mobile device upon power up, Ask whether to connect or reject the connection.

    Bluetooth is a nice option to have if you forget your USB cable or don't feel like removing your Windows Mobile device from your bag or pocket.

    Some Caveats

    • When disconnected from the REDFLY it takes about 7 seconds for the screen to return. The default orientation that it returns to is portrait.
    • When you are connected to the REDFLY you can't beam files over IR or Bluetooth due to the current communication between the REDFLY and your Windows Mobile device.
    • The USB ports also allows you to use USB Jump drives for additional storage, but the USB ports don't see external USB hard dives. The drive will spin up and power up fine, but Windows Mobile may be the deciding factor here. So its just USB thumb drives, which still isn't bad.
    • The Bluetooth connection is not as fast as a direct connection given the speed of the data pathway. Bluetooth is good for checking your emails and PowerPoint. USB seems the way to go for extended usage.

    Working with the REDFLY

    IMGP4511 IMGP4512

    When I got the REDFLY I plugged it in and it charged up in literally 3 minutes at the airport (probably due to a residual charge left on the device when it left Celio) and I took it with me on my flight to Redmond for the MVP Summit. I had downloaded and installed the software on both my HTC Wizard and HTC Universal in under 2 minutes while we waited to take off and was up and running using it. This was without reading the manual, which gives very detailed directions in their Quick Start Guide.  After being told to turn off all electronics and put the tray in the upright position, I turned off both the REDFLY and my phone and placed them in the pouch on the back of the seat in front of me for take off. 

    PICT1217

    I did bring the Quick Start Guide with me on the plane to read and peruse while we took off.  After being notified to that we could use our electronics I was able to quickly pull them out of the pouch in front of me and get back to work. One of the flight attendants asked me if I was connected to the Internet through my phone, while half the plane got up to use the rest rooms, because he saw it tethered via USB to my phone. I proceed to show him how it worked and what it was. He was impressed and he asked if they were available for sale yet because he would like to use it with his Windows Mobile Treo, but gauffed at the price when I told him.

    PICT0749 sshot008 

    After my quick demo, I quickly brought up Word Mobile and started writing this review. To give you my first impressions and initial findings as I discovered them. I really like the size of the touchpad, which is a wide screen pad matching the display similar to the Apple Macbook Air. The touchpad speed out of the box was a bit slow and required several swipes of the finger to get it to navigate across the screen. I went into the Input tab in the REDFLY and was able to speed up the responsiveness of the touchpad to my preferences which was fast in order to transverse the entire screen in one swipe.

    sshot010  sshot011

    I went with the default settings for dimming the screen and sleep (shutting the device down) because it seemed to fit my usage pattern. As I reached looked out the window or partook in a conversation the screen dimmed saving battery life and shut off after 10 minutes, while I was glancing over the Quick Start Guide and gnoshing on some snacks.

     PICT0946 PICT0947

    PICT1026

    I easily was able to read and respond to email -even using OWA (Outlook Web Access) using the full sized keyboard. The only request I would want would be the ability to zoom out to fit more text on the screen. I went and changed my System Settings->Screen->Text Size to the smallest setting and found it much more usable and I enabled clear type. It would be nice if these settings could be saved into a profile so when you connected to the REDFLY your settings for smaller print would become active and then default back to your handheld settings when you disconnect. Word and Excel do allow you to set your Zoom levels inside the program which are very useful when using the REDFLY's 8" screen.

    IMGP4520  IMGP4521 

    I found 75% zoom to be comfortable in viewing and typing Word documents.

    PICT0938 PICT0939

    Using Excel Mobile on the REDFLY is a dream! See I have these pretty large and elaborate spreadsheets for project planning, construction projects, inventory, and IP address, port assignments, my DVD collection, etc. Viewing without panning up/down and left/right is very time consuming and now I can view them pretty quickly and fairly easy as I do when I am using a laptop or desktop computer. I can make changes to a spreadsheet and have it synch via shared folders in Exchange when I am connected to the Internet as well as have a local copy that fits in my pocket. It really is great to see quick graphs and large spread sheets in all their glory with out having to shrink it all down and squint at the content. Coupled with a USB mouse I didn't miss using my P1610.

    PICT1032 PICT1031

    Remote desktop looks very nice on the REDFLY and even allowed me to control my Media Center at home as well as remote in to a few servers.

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    The touch and pitch on the keyboard were comfortable enough for short stints of typing. I am used to typing on a small keyboard of my P1610 so the transition for me wasn't too bad as it might be for others it it is you can also add larger USB keyboard and mouse. :) Using the keyboard to quickly cut and paste as well as shortcuts also saves time and increases productivity from working directly on the device, that doesn't have CTRL and ALT keys amongst others. Also being able to use PG UP and PG DN buttons are nice as well when perusing a long document,email, PDF, or spread sheet is great. Switching between applications by using the ALT-TAB key combination is great too, which was helpful when I had to look at a Word document, spreadsheet and email simultaneously.

    PICT1221  sshot012

    With all the keys being a benefit, the REDFLY adds even more. Yes more. You can even customize some of the hotkeys if you wish.

    The function keys have additional shortcuts assigned to them:

    F1 = Home, which opens your Today screen

    F2 = Mail, which launches your Mobile Messaging

    F3 = Web, lauches Internet Explorer Mobile

    F4 =  Send, acts like the green phone Send key

    F5 = End, acts like the red phone End key

    F6 = L Menu- which operates like the left softkey

    F7 = R Menu - which operates like the right softkey

    F8 = OK works like the dedicated OK button on a keypad

    F9 = Brightness Decrease

    F10 = Brightness Increase

    F11 = External Monitor Toggle

    F12 = Bluetooth activation key with your Windows Mobile device

    REDFLY = There is also a special button to launch the REDFLY software

    When I got back from MVP Summit I made it a mission to use it as my primary computer replacement for a week at work. So it brought it to meetings to take notes as I would my current Tablet PC using OneNote Mobile, granted I couldn't take hand written notes and simultaneously record audio, but I was still able to take good typed notes. I could triage, read and respond to email pretty quickly with out having to wait for my computer to wake up from sleep and logon with my password and ground away loading up applications. On the REDFLY I begin using after entering my password on the keyboard nonetheless. Entering numbers into a spreadsheet went pretty quickly using the numeric keypad, much faster than just using my phone. I was also able to answer and place calls using the dedicated buttons on the keyboard.

    Bringing the device into meetings did elicit some conversation and comments on my new small laptop. Others were also wondering where I was getting Internet access since there was no WiFi in the conference room. I was able to VPN into our Sharepoint server and pull up some documents from the last meeting as well as easily use the simple Internet Explorer Mobile browser to look up some specs on a few new ceiling equipment booms for our new GI suites.

    PICT1213

    Browsing websites doesn't look too bad using Internet Explorer Mobile, however if there is a mobile version the page will render for mobile.

    PICT1214 PICT1215

    Granted I did try to use the new Opera browser beta 9.5 and I got some Direct Draw errors and it wouldn't open.

    PICT1216

    Using an older version of Opera v.8.65, I was able to work and the experience very similar to working on a small screened laptop or UMPC. It was a nice experience.

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    Later that day I was able to pull up a PowerPoint presentation I had on a thumb drive to do an ACLS In-Service training for some doctors and nurses. I attached the REDFLY to their conference room projector.

    PICT1209 PICT1210

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    Next all I had to do was press the F11 key and select just like on a laptop either from just the LCD display, LCD Display and external monitor, or just external monitor. I chose to go with dual display as I do with my laptop.   I was able to deliver my training class with no hitches. I even had my Windows Mobile device in my hand and advanced the slides using the arrow keys and the directional pad. Before giving the presentation I did adjust the Battery Power settings in the REDFLY software not to dim the screen or go to sleep.

    PICT0949

    When using a USB Memory stick it will appear on the device as a Remote Storage device under File Explorer and you can peruse the directory as you would on any device. At the Microsoft MVP Summit, Eric Hicks was able to copy a certificate from his computer onto a thumb drive and transfer it to a server back at home using the REDFLY and Remote Desktop via his iMate JasJar.

    Some applications I did miss where I did need to use a laptop or desktop were drawing programs, audio/video editing, and Live Meeting. I hope someone comes out with a Live Meeting client for Windows Mobile soon. However I was easily able to do with out them when out of the office.

    Standing and holding the unit one handed and typing was a bit awkward due to the weight of the display being heaver than the base made it difficult to hold unless I held it behind the hinge. It was manageable, but not as easy to use as a Tablet PC, UMPC or Windows Mobile device.

    PICT0926 PICT0928

    IMGP4515 IMGP4517

    Hey guess what? You can even play some games on the REDFLY. Granted not all screens render perfectly and performance is a bit sluggish, but you can play some games like Bubble Breaker, Solitaire, Zuma, Hexic, etc without any problems. If you want to play video or use applications like Sling Player Mobile, the drivers and speed are not quite there yet.

    IMGP4513

    If allowable by law you can even use the REDFLY as a larger screen for your GPS navigation software in your car.

    PICT1209 (2) PICT1206 (2)

    The REDFLY also works well with both Google Maps for Mobile and Windows Live Mobile Search.

    The instant on feature of the REDFLY is a great and connecting it up being productive in a short period of time extends the functionality of your Windows Mobile device is its biggest strength. The price point however is its weakest point with an MSRP of $499 it aligns it self with some very affordable small laptops like the Asus EEPC and HP MiniNote. Where its cost savings comes in is in the licensing of software, maintenance, hardware, security, and service of the laptop, which averages most companies around $4100 per user. These costs are saved without any worry of loss of sensitive data if the device is lost or stolen. The same unit can also be easily shared with up to 5 different users cutting down costs even more.

    Product Information

    Product Name and Model Number: REDFLY Mobile Companion C8
    Size: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
    Weight: 2.0 lbs.
    Battery Life: 8 Hours under normal use via USB
    Display Size: 8 inch diagonal wide screen
    Display Resolution: 800 x 480
    VGA Display Output: 800 x 480
    Keyboard: 8.3 inch 80-key QWERTY keyboard
    Touchpad: 1.0 x 2.9 inches
    Special Fn keys: Fn buttons are hot-keys for phone control
    (i.e. send, end, OK, esc, left menu, right menu, etc)
    Operating System Compatibility:
    Windows Mobile 5.0 (Pocket PC and Smartphone editions)
    Windows Mobile 6.0 (Professional and Standard editions)
    More operating system compatibility to be announced
    See tested smartphone list at http://www.celiocorp.com/smartphone
    Application Compatibility:
    Applications and data from the smartphone appear on the REDFLY
    enabled display
    Ports and Connectors: VGA port, 2 high speed USB 2.0 ports, AC power connector
    Smartphone Connection: via Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0 EDR (compatible with Bluetooth 1.0, 2.0)
    Smartphone Connection: via USB Use USB cable included with smartphone
    Smartphone Charger: via USB Able to charge smartphones via USB (as supported by phone)
    USB Flash Drive Compatibility Standard USB Flash Drives (Drives appear on smartphone file system)
    USB Keyboard Compatibility: Standard USB Keyboards
    USB Mouse Compatibility: Standard USB Mice
    AC Power Charger: AC Power Adapter Input: 90 – 264VAC, 47 – 63 Hz, Output: 9VDC, 2.5A
    Operating Temperature: 0 degree C min (32 degrees F), 55 degress C max (131 degrees F)

    At the time of this review drivers for only Windows Mobile Professional/Pocket PC devices were available. Today Celio announced support for 12 new phones to its list of supported smartphones (Beta release dates will be announced during Q2, 2008):

    HP iPAQ 910 6.0 Professional

    HTC Touch Sprint 6.0 Professional

    HTC Dash T-Mobile 6.0 Standard

    HTC Wing T-Mobile 6.0 Professional

    Motorola MOTO Q AT&T 6.0 Standard

    Motorola MOTO Q 9h AT&T 6.0 Standard

    Motorola MOTO Q Sprint 5.0 Smart Phone

    Motorola MOTO Q 9c Sprint 6.0 Standard

    Motorola MOTO Q 9m Verizon 6.0 Standard

    Palm Treo 750 AT&T 5.0 Pocket PC

    Samsung Black Jack AT&T 5.0 Smart Phone

    Samsung Black Jack II AT&T 6.0 Standard

    Company officials noted that Windows Mobile 6.1 compatibility is particularly important due to the new features of Microsoft SCMDM (Security Center Mobile Device Management). This new functionality allows enterprise IT managers to manage these mobile devices much more easily within the corporate environment to push applications, security settings and transparently manage devices out in the field.

    The REDFLY Software will be available for other operating systems in the future.  The REDFLY Mobile Companion from Celio Corp. will be available in May 2008 for $499 MSRP $399. To sign up for product updates head here to place a order for one head here.

    (note this entire review was written using the REDFLY)

    05/02/2008 22:52:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    SlingPlayer Mobile Updated to 1.6#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    We mentioned that an update will be coming for SlingMedia's SlingPlayer Mobile client a while back, well its now here in version 1.6 for both the Windows Mobile Professional/Classic (Pocket PC) and Windows Mobile Standard (Smartphone). Well if don't own a Windows Mobile phone there are updates for other platforms as well like Symbian S60 client has a new version at v1.01 with added support for the N82 and N95 8GB as well as for the Palm OS which also checks in at version 1.01, which includes the Palm Centro, 700p and 755p.

    HTC_Hermes100_uk Moto_Q9h_web N82_us_ca

     

    There is a nice new GDI rendering option that bypasses Direct Draw so it works well with full screen rendering on all Pocket PC devices. Smartphones aren't left out either. You get full screen rendering as well as a new UI bar that you can toggle on and off as well as hotkey shortcuts as well as improvements in performance across the board. There are also new IR codes added for more device and set-top box support.

    To get the latest update head here it is free for current users and $30 for new users. Cool thing is that you can download and install it directly onto your device by browsing to the webpage. Enjoy!

    04/30/2008 11:33:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    VelocityMobile a new player on the Windows Mobile platform phones#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo

    What do you get when you cross a Windows Mobile proffesional Phone (Touch Screen) and  a Blackberry.

    "A VelocityMobile 111 phone with all those benefits"

    Some previous i-mate employee started up their own company and at CTIA they where giving private showing of their new phones. The Microsoft booth had also one on display.

    A touch screen, qwerty keyboard, trackball with mouse pointer on screen and internal GPS on board. This is going to be very interesting.

    Just take a look at the specifications

    This phone is being set for launch in Q3 but their 103 phone should be coming already in Q2....which can be any day now.

    Let's see who has this one first for review.

     

     

    04/06/2008 19:27:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Astraware releases Hexic and Mozaki For Windows Mobile#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Hexic is a very popular game in our household next to Zuma. My entire family play it on the Xbox 360, their computer via MSN games and now it is available on both the Smarthone platform aka Windows Mobile Standard and Pocket PC aka Windows Mobile Professional and Classic from Astraware for Microsoft. The game plays like other versions using the directional pad to move around the screen and rotate your gems in search of the elusive Black Pearl which is done by creating a flower to earn a starflower piece, then you use starflower pieces to make another flower and earn the elusive black pearl when you make a cluster or flower out of black pearls you win the game.

    hexic_screenshot_640x480_01 hexic_screenshot_640x480_02

    (pictures above are from the PPC version)

    hexic_screenshot_320x240_03 hexic_screenshot_320x240_04

    (pictures above are from the Smartphone version)

    If you are not familiar with Hexic, it is a fantastic twist on the match-three genre by famed Tetris designer, Alexey Pajitnov. Hexic is deceptively simple to begin with - just rotate any trio of hexes in order to form a cluster of three or more same-color pieces - but a real brain-boggling challenge to master. Featuring Marathon, Timed, and Survival game modes, players are sure to enjoy many hours turning hexes into stars, stars into pearls, and pearls into victory!

    mozaki_screenshot_640x480_01 mozaki_screenshot_640x480_03

    (Pictures above are from PPC version)

    mozaki_screenshot_320x240_02 mozaki_screenshot_320x240_03

    (Pictures above are from SP version)

    Astraware also has released Mozaki, a classic brain-teasing strategy puzzler, also by Alexey Pajitnov. Players grab a piece from the stack and place it on the board, connect pieces of the same color to make an unbroken line from the colored edge to the centre of the screen, and connect the required number of lines and win the level. Marathon Mode is deceptively simple, but more colours and mismatched blocks increase the difficulty. Players who prefer to play against the clock can check out Timed Mode for an extra challenge.

    Both games have been developed by Astraware for Microsoft's Carbonated Games studio and can be purchased at Astraware for $9.99 each. To try and learn more about Hexic head here. To try and learn more about Mozaki head here.

    If you don't have a Windows Mobile phone (you know you should!) you can check here to see if both games will play on your phone direct via your carrier all you need to do is enter your phone number and you will be charged $6.99 for the game and it will be sent to you. Head here for HexicMobile and here for Mozaki Mobile.

    03/28/2008 11:10:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    SlingMedia Announces SlingPlayer Mobile for UIQ on Symbian OS#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    The folks at SlingMedia have done it again and have brought the SlingMobile client to another platform and I am sure this won't be the last one! :) In addition to the currently supported Nokia S60 handsets and SlingPlayer Mobile for Symbian, UIQ will be launching this summer (models listed below):

    •    Sony Ericsson P1i
    •    Sony Ericsson P990i
    •    Sony Ericsson W960i
    •    Sony Ericsson W950i
    •    Sony Ericsson M600i
    •    Motorola MOTORIZR Z8

    N95_8GB_portrait SE_P1_Portrait SE_W960_Portrait

    SE_W960_Fullscreen

    The Nokia N95 8GB is also planned with an updated SlingPlayer Mobile for Symbian S60. There will also be some Windows Mobile client updates coming soon (The beta client works well and Windows Mobile Standard users will be happy!) and the SlingMedia folks are also hard at work at bringing you BlackBerry support later this year (the same one demoed at CES this year)

    Sling Media, Inc., a digital lifestyle products company, today announced SlingPlayer™ Mobile for UIQ on Symbian OS™, bringing the best mobile TV experience to this popular smartphone platform. The company will showcase its new software at the Symbian booth (# 4855, Hall N4) at the CTIA Wireless Show in Las Vegas, NV April 1 – 3 2008. Separately, Sling Media is announcing that its existing SlingPlayer Mobile for S60 on Symbian OS will soon support Nokia’s popular N95 8GB, which will also be demonstrated at CTIA.

    With today’s announcements, Sling Media adds to the already robust smartphone support it offers its customers and gives Slingbox owners the ability to watch and control their home TV using even more of the most popular smartphones available in the U.S. and in Europe. Sling Media expects to release SlingPlayer Mobile for UIQ worldwide this summer and expects the new version of SlingPlayer Mobile for S60 to be available this spring.
    "We are excited to expand our support for Symbian smartphones, providing customers with the best possible mobile TV experience. With over two-and-a-half billion global 3G and WiFi connections the market potential for mobile TV is huge," said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media. “In order to meet this growing desire for mobile TV, we will continue to expand the availability of SlingPlayer Mobile to as many platforms and devices as possible. Adding SlingPlayer Mobile to such a cutting edge platform as UIQ on Symbian OS is a great step forward in expanding user accessibility to their home TV set-up.”
    The personalized mobile TV experience for smartphones is enabled by the award-winning Slingbox, which allows customers to watch and control their home TV on an Internet-connected Mac or PC as well as a range of mobile phone platforms including Symbian OS, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and coming soon, BlackBerry.
    Sling Media expects to support the following UIQ handsets at launch and will continue to expand handset support thereafter.

    A full list of compatible smartphones for all SlingPlayer Mobile-supported platforms can also be found at http://www.slingmedia.com/go/spm-requirements.
    “SlingPlayer Mobile for Symbian smartphones extends the reach of home TV viewing to a user’s phone with the same diverse line-up of viewable content. We’re excited to have the SlingPlayer experience delivered to UIQ -- it’s fast, it’s fun, and it offers an enjoyable user experience,” said Jerry Panagrossi, Vice President and General Manager of North American Operations, Symbian.

    SlingPlayer Mobile gives Slingbox customers their entire home TV experience, including local channels, local sports teams, video on demand, pay per view, etc. Any program that you can watch on your sofa back home, you can now watch via a PC or Mac, as well as UIQ, Symbian S60, Palm OS, and Windows Mobile-based smartphones anywhere you can get an Internet connection (3G Cellular or WiFi). In addition, SlingPlayer Mobile users can also control their home digital video recorder (DVR) to watch recorded shows, pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV and even program and watch new recordings while away from home.

    SlingPlayer Mobile does not require a monthly fee or other recurring charges. Slingbox customers simply need to purchase SlingPlayer Mobile for a one-time charge of $29.99 US, $34.99 Canadian dollars or £19.99 Inc VAT British pounds. All versions of SlingPlayer Mobile include a 30-day free trial and can be purchased at www.slingmedia.com.

    03/27/2008 16:43:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Review of Spb Mobile Shell 2.0#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Spb Mobile Shell is one of my favorite applications on the Windows Mobile 6 Professional platform combined with Spb Pocket Plus it makes the UI and usage of the phone much easier. Allowing me to see and access the information on my phone that is important to me at a glance. Well the folks at Spb Software House have improved on the product even more with their latest version Spb Mobile Shell 2.0.

    spbmobile shell

    There are three main Panels in Spb Mobile shell as well as a Today screen plugin. The three main panels are the Now Screen, Spb Menu, and Speed Dial Panel. There is also a new way to interact with the panels and call them up as well that makes this program a joy to use.

    Now Screen

    Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 makes some improvements on the the previous version by making some updates to how the "Now Screen" operates. The Now Screen if you are not familiar with the product is the first screen you see when you turn on the device.

    ms now1 ms now2

    The Now screen is customizable in that you can change the color and from two different looks - Professional (on the left) and Classic(on the right). The layout of each is a bit different with the most notable being that the Professional has a digital clock and the has an analog clock, but the UI is also different. My personal favorite is the Professional, since it displays the information I need, yours may be different. Its good to have a choice!

    ms professional settings ms classic settings

    Each of the screen has customizable settings to tailor its look and functions of the Now Screen  under settings.

    ms now4 

    The Professional screen comes with the very top bar with a battery indicator, signal indicator, and cellular provider information. Beneath that is a larger iconed bar that displays the local weather, phone functions of new messages, text messages, missed calls, and also has a volume indicator. Tapping on each of these icons displays detailed information and controls of each.

    ms classic2

    The Classic has similar icons with a larger icon for battery and weather and depending on your preferred setup options the placement will vary with how you have configured the display of your upcoming appointments.

    ms weather ms weather settings

    Tapping the weather icon brings up a new detailed Now screen with the weather for that day with the times of weather and temperatures for that day with a 5 day forecast for the week. Tapping on the subsequent day icons will bring up the detailed information. Selecting the settings gear allows you to set your local city.

    ms phone profiles

    Selecting the Volume icon will bring up a Profile screen to set the volume of your device, which is great when you entering a meeting or place where you need to quickly silence your phone.

    ms time

    The next bar on the Professional screen is the local time in nice easy to read numbers with the current date. Tapping on this icon brings up an even larger time, great for those over 40 who have macular degeneration or thickening of the cornea and need to extend the device away from their body in order to see it clearly will really appreciate this. This Time screen also shows your next alarms as well as time zones in three customizable cities.

    ms now 3

    The next bar is your next three appointments from your calendar or calendar for the current month. Depending on the number of appointments you have or how you configure it the amount of calendar you see will vary, so if you have no upcoming appointments you will see 3 weeks of the current month. Notice the picture is different from the one above.

    The last row is new to Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 panel bar that has quick jump icons to jump between the different panels. One for launching applications called Spb Menu, One for quick dial by Picture ID  from your contacts called the Speed Dial Panel, and Close. Some cool things I found when using the software is the ability to toggle between the three different panels via the soft keys on your device for quick on handed use. Pressing the left soft key advances the panels to the left and pressing the right soft key advances the panels to the right. You can also access the same Now screens by using the new kinetic interface by dragging your finger across the screen from left to right will bring you to the Picture ID contact screen, from right to left will bring you to the application launcher and if you keep going in either direction it will keep rotating through the screens. The way the screens and UI work are very similar to the HTC’s TouchFLO interface.

    ms animate

    You can customize the kinetic animations in the settings menu under the Animation tab.

    ms panel ms panel 2

    You can also access the Panels of Spb Mobile shell by making a gesture from the top of the Taskbar down with your finger or Stylus. This too is activated in the Settings of Spb Mobile Shell and is called taskbar smart gestures. Once the panels are on screen moving left or right will allow you to select and launch the panel if your remove your finger from the screen you will cancel the operation.

    Spb Menu Panel

    spb menu

    Spb Menu is a great program in itself and showcases some cool animation when launching the larger iconed buttons.

    ms menu pin

    The smaller icons at the top are similar to the icons that appear on the Today screen with both pinned applications (you can pin an application in a position by tap and holding it- see picture above) and recently opened applications.

    ms brightness

    One of the icons is the screen brightness icons that is always there and it allows you change your screen brightness on the fly.

    ms customize windowms customize menu

    The larger icons bring up a large iconed list that allows you to easily launch programs in that category.These are customizable in the Spb Mobile Shell Settings->Advanced Tab->Menu Button. Here you can add remove items.

    ms settings Menu options

    You can also choose the layout in either One by one list, Grid view (if you have alot of items), and choose whether to have the most used items first.

    ms organizer

    There is one for Spb Organizer that launches Spb Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, and allows you to beam your contact information. Each item has a sub menu to allow you more granularity, but quickly and easily with out having to grab a stylus.

    ms spb contact

    Here is the Spb Contacts that allows you to search your contacts by phone number or by name by using the touch screen keypad it searches both numbers and names (first or last).

    ms calendar

    The Calendar allows you to add a New Appointment, view Today, Tomorrow, This Week and This Month with a press of the screen or selection of the directional pad.

    ms tasks

    The same goes for Tasks that allows you create a New Task, view All Tasks, and view Active Tasks.

    ms note

    Notes allows you create a New Text Note, New Ink Note and to Show Notes.

    ms beam ms beam 2 beam 3

    Beam My Contact provides a simple way to beam your contact information to another user. It brings up my Contact and you select from Spb Contact what you want to set as your default contact or to select which contact you wish to beam. It then brings up Windows Mobile Beaming which turns on your IR and Bluetooth ports(if you have them) and proceeds to scan for devices to beam to and you just beam them the contact.

    ms internet

    The large Internet icon allows you to launch your Favorites, History, Internet Explorer and Live Messenger.(This will vary depending on what you have installed on your device)

    ms multimedia ms multimedia2

    The large Multimedia icon allows you to launch Media Player, Camera, and Pictures. I added a few that I use regularly.

     ms tools ms themes

    The Tools icon seems to integrate well with the Spb Pocket Plus I have installed that allows me to use the Task Manager, Soft Reset, Rotate Screen, and Theme picker from Spb Pocket Plus.

     

    ms theme

    If you don't have Spb Pocket Plus you can change the theme in the settings of Spb Mobile Shell under the theme tab there is a drop down list of theme colors.

    ms browse files

    You also have a nice menu to Browse Files as well with quick links to My Device, My Documents, Storage Card and previous visited directories.

     

    Speed Dial Panel

    ms contact

    The Speed Dial Panel allows you to add up to sixteen photo contacts of your choice mine was auto-populated with Contacts from calls I made that were in my Call History.

    ms contact3

    Selecting the contact will bring up their contact information with their phone numbers and allows you to send off a quick sms text message or open their contact information for a more detailed view or to access another phone number if its isn't listed.

    ms contact 2

    To edit the list a simple tap and hold on the contact will allow to remove, add, edit contacts as well as add a quick launch icon shortcut for Spb Contacts.

    Spb Mobile Shell Today Screen Plugin

    The Today Screen plugin consists up to six tabs that can be displayed on the Today screen from a predefined list of options. A nice feature is that you can hide the tab so it won't steal screen real estate when it isn't in use . When you press on tab it will open up the Today screen application and any quick launch short cuts to applications you add to it. Here are few that I placed in mine.

    ms today home

    The Home Tab indicated by the battery % indicator brings up the same programs found in the top of Spb Menu of your pinned items and recently opened items.

    ms today time

    The Alarm/Time Tab lets you see the 3 different time zones you selected and upcoming alarms. Here you can also add items to the bottom of the tab and change your preferred cities.

    ms today contacts

    The Contact Picture ID allows you to place 5 of your most frequently called numbers and with this new version you can have more tabs of contacts than just the five. If press and hold on the contact you get a list of their numbers which you wish to call or set as the default indicated by a check mark by the number. I also added some icons to launch connection manager, phone, contacts and Internet Connection Sharing.

    ms today windows live

    I added a Windows Live tab that utilizes the today screen plugin from Windows Live that allows me to toggle between Live Messenger, Live Mail, connect to Live Messenger and sync mail. I also added some items to the bottom of applications similar in nature that I use frequently.

    ms today media

    I added a Windows Media Player tab from a Today screen plug in that allows me to control Windows Media player and view what is playing from the today screen as well as launch my media applications and applications that use it. I was also able to place some buttons on the tab to increase, decrease, and mute the volume.

    ms today weather ms today weather2

    The last tab is the weather tab, that allows you to quickly glance at weather on your today screen as well as see a four day forecast. You can also customize this tab. I was thinking of adding the Weather Channel and some satellite feed links to the bottom tab. To add items to any of the tabs, all you need to do is tap and hold and it will allow you to arrange items in the tabs as well as add items, files and folders.

    ms today ms tabs

    You can customize the today screen tabs and soft keys in Settings to fit your personal needs. I had upgraded from Version 1 and found that none of my tabs are there in the Tab setting even if I added the tabs I already have. The only one that was there was Device Lock which I don't have in my tabs. Hopefully this will be fixed in an upcoming version.

     

    Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 Features
    • NEW! All functionality in one tabbed window
    • NEW! Full screen dialogs for Weather and Time
    • NEW! Animated transitions
    • NEW! Contact cards
    • NEW! Navigation with gestures
    • NEW! Quick panel selection with taskbar gestures
    • Now Screen: the most important information at one screen
    • Spb Menu: phone style menu
    • World time
    • Weather forecast
    • Photo speed dial
    • Launcher
    • Color based themes
    • Spb Contacts: smart contact search

    If you can't tell this program is great, hopefully the will come out with a Windows Standard version that allows you to customize Smartphones like SBSH's Facade. This is a one of those must have programs for Windows Mobile 6 Professional owners paired with Spb's Pocket Plus it makes for a great user experience that I wish was inherent in the UI of Windows Mobile and now I have it!

    I think its amazing that the folks at Spb were able to add functionality as well as reducing the memory consumption of the first version by about a half. If you have the previous version you can upgrade at 50% off the retail price.  If you purchased a 1.x version within the last 90 days, you are eligible for a free upgrade. If you are new to purchasing you have 30 days no questions asked refund of your money if you aren't satisfied with the product.There is currently a special offer for Spb Mobile Shell for $6 off at Handango here so you get it for $23.95.

    For more information and for other reviews by others in the community head here. Also check out Matt Coddington of Pocket PC Louisville's video review of it here as well as Arne Hess of unwired's review here.

    03/04/2008 12:03:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 -Asus#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    We had a meeting with the folks at Asus. They had no presence on the floor, but a small booth near the CES Blogger's Lounge in the South Hall of the Convention Center. They had many of their products out on display some were that were definitely crowded were the Asus Eee PC (we couldn't even get near them - heck it was even hard to enter the booth area since it was at the entrance), but we have seen enough of them in the wild at CES to get a good look at them.

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    They also had their ,which contained 1TB of hard drive space and pretty impressive performance numbers as well including a nice graphics card. This was designed for the serious gamer and PC Power User who may use it for CGI work, Video editing, game or software development on the go.

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    In the area where we had our meeting we also got to look at their UMPC.

    What we were there for were their new Windows Mobile devices...and it was well worth it too.

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    They had a nice WM6 Professional phone with GPS called the P527 that was being sold unlocked for around $497 retail.The GPS can log and upload your data to be mapped on places like Google Maps or used in court to fight a speeding ticket.

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    The outside of the body is a nice tight metal casing with no gaps or creak like you get from current models of phones made from plastic. There is also a nice rubber coating on the back that provides a nice feel in the hand and prevents sliding around when on a flat surface.

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    The UI on the phone was very nice and some of it was customized to work with the numerical keypad on the front like WM Standard devices aka Smartphones do. There was no included GPS software like that found the MyPal line, but we were told it would come preloaded with North American Maps for those sold to the US and we were able to find it at Amazon for $566.36 with the maps preloaded.

    Cellular Radio: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900

    Dimensions: 113 x 58 x 15.4 mm

    Weight: 125 g

    Display:TFT touchscreen, 65K colors

    Size:240 x 320 pixels, 2.6 inches

    Ringtones:Polyphonic (128 channels), Midi, MP3, WMA, WAV

    Card slot: microSD (TransFlash)

    Memory: - 64 MB RAM
    - 128 MB internal memory
    - TI OMAP 850 processor 200 MHz

    WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g

    Bluetooth: v2.0

    Infrared port: Yes

    USB:Yes, v1.1

    OS: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional

    Camera: 2 MP, 1600x1200 pixels, autofocus, video

    Other Features:

    - GPS receiver with SiRF Star III chipset
    - Business Card Recognition
    - FM Radio
    - Voice Recognition and Hand-free mode
    - MP3 Player
    - Java MIDP 2.0
    - Scheduler
    - Voice memo
    - World time
    - Currency converter
    - Stopwatch

    For more information on their products with built in navigation head here for more information on the P527 head here.

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    They had the WM6 Standard phone, called the Asus M530W that looked alot like the HTC Excalibur/T-Mobile Dash with a 2.54 inch landscape screen, but it had a dedicated volume buttons on the side as well as a jog dial. On the bottom are a mini-USB port and a standard 2.5mm headphone jack. It also had a 2MP camera with LED Flash/Light on the back like most phones in their ilk, but it also has a VGA quality camera for video conferencing. It is powered by a 1200 mAh battery. It also has a microSD slot under the battery cover next to the SIM. The processor is by Intel at 460Mhz with around 150MB of usable memory built-in flash RAM of the 256MB on board and 64 MB of flash ROM with around 52MB of it being used, so it moved very fast. The key pad in touch and feel was very similar to the Moto Q. We were told it could be found at various retailers for around $399 unlocked we found it on Amazon for $395.16! One cool feature that Eric found was that it included card reading software(so we know why there is a 2MP Auto-Macro camera so it can capture the details of a business card without data entry-sweet!) as well as well as ClearVue Document viewer. For more information on the M530W head to the Asus website here.

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    They also had the Dual screen WM6 Standard called the M930 (Vega 2) which they said would retail around $995. It packed quite a bit in a small package with a 5 line QWERTY keyboard,GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, HSDPA, WiFi in both b and g, Bluetooth Ver. 2.0 with EDR, USB 2.0, a 2MP camera (we are assuming it is the same Auto Macro mode as the Asus M530W and we can only hope it will come bundled with the business card scanning software as well), 1100 mAh battery and a separate VGA camera on the front of the phone in landscape mode for video conferencing. The internal landscape screen is at 400 x 240, with 256MB of flash, 64MB of ROM. More information on the M930 head to the Asus website here.

    The ID design and construction of these phones are first rate. They have all metal bodies, well built no creak to them what so ever. Its nice to see an alternative from the plain Jane phones being offered from today's carriers with no contract. We believe we will see more phones like this emerging without carrier partners from other manufacturers as well giving consumers more choice as to which mobile handset fits them best for their needs. As with their motherboards, video cards, and other products Asus is committed to supporting these devices via their Asus VIP Member Area with software and firmware updates.

    02/23/2008 06:02:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Blu-ray is gaining ground#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo

    After the announcements of Netfix, Best Buy and Wal-mart decision to only sell the Blu-ray products, Toshiba is giving up on their HD DVD players and recorders. However they will keep supporting their current customers with their HD DVD products.

    It looks like the Blu-ray and HD DVD battle will be shorter as the battle we had with VHS and Betamax video tapes.

    You can read more here

     

    02/19/2008 10:11:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - JuiceCaster#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Walking the floors of Pepcom's Digital Experience, one booth that caught my eye was Juice Caster. I remember perusing my literally thousands of emails from CES and finding a meeting request to meet with Juice Wireless and thought nothing of it. Now in hindsight I wished I booked a meeting with them rather than some others that were a complete waste of time, but that is another story...

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    JuiceCaster is a mobile application that allows users to post content onto their favorite sites instantly and simultaneously.  Social networking sites have grown tremendously; 2 out of 3 persons online visit a social networking site during each internet session.  At the same time, mobile phones have grown to become more than just voice communication tools; they are becoming a means for empowering self-expression on the Internet while on-the-go. 

    JuiceCaster is designed to make it easy for consumers to incorporate every day life with their social network by providing the ability for users to capture and upload photos and video with virtually any mobile phone and social networking/blogging site. 

    Because it's free, easy to use, and brings your cell phone to life! Use JuiceCaster to post videos and pictures directly from your phone to:

    • Your personal JuiceCaster Player which you can put on 100's of your favorite sites like MySpace, Hi5, and Xanga
    • Your desktop Player or the desktops of your friends
    • And to any other cell phone user!

    Plus, you can watch great videos, meet new friends, make comments and more - right on your phone, right now!

    As a JuiceCaster user, you are free to select the user networks that fit your lifestyle and reflect your interests. You also have complete freedom over where to view your favorite channels and interact with friends or other members:

    • On Your Phone - capture content via your camera phone, download JuiceCaster to your handset, or visit the JuiceCaster WAP site (www.juicecaster.com/wap) to view and comment on your favorite channels, pictures, and videos
    • On Your Desktop - download JuiceCaster to your desktop to automatically receive all the latest pictures and videos on your favorite subjects
    • On The Web - add JuiceCaster to your personal webpage or social networking site to share your favorite content with friends and visitors
    • On Facebook - add JuiceCaster's 'Mobile Video' application and show your cell phone pictures/videos to your friends right on your Facebook profile
    • At JuiceCaster.com - create a profile, manage your account, and check out the top JuiceCasts and JuiceCasters right from our homepage

    They also have a Mobile Video Search, which is a free service that anyone with a video-capable cell phone can use. By texting keywords to ‘84462’, users can watch desired videos on-demand as the search tool replies with links for the requested content.

    I have yet had some free time to use it, but when I do I will be sure to post up a review of it.

    02/17/2008 21:03:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - HP#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

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    HP had a large booth on the Floor to support the many products they produce as well as a large presence at several other press only events like PepCom's Digital Experience and at the Bloghaus.They really are making huge strides in making the PC Personal again!

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    At their booth they had alot of accessories that brought attention alot of people wanted to purchase the beige bag that was part of a laptop Make Art Contest by HP and MTV, but it wasn't available.

    IMG_0104   IMG_0107

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    The contest for artist to design a cool laptop look for the dv6000 and we have the winner that had his design imprinted on HP's unique manufacturing process that imprints the image into the plastic via a special manufacturing process of ink. The pictures above are the winning design and the 20 year olod artist Joao Oliveira of Porto, Portugal who designed it. Todd not only came up with that design, but also entered several. Some of which are available via SkinIt as well as some of the other entries. (Note his name tag is that of Todd Bradley, HP's Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group) The special edition HP Pavilion 14-inch diagonal notebook PC with his imprinted design will be available in Spring of 2008.

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    This dv6000 had a cool Copper metallic like finish complete with metal fleck and the inside looks like liquid metal, but its just plastic, it looked nice even around the built-in webcam. This version will be sold exclusively at BestBuy. We are slated for a review unit so be sure to come back for that.

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    Circuit City will be getting an exclusive white one loaded with an Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, 3GB of DDR2 SDRAM,250GB hard drive, Bluetooth, 802.11agn, and a LightScribe DVD burner.

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    However the plain old model still doesn't look all that bad, but if you think it does you can always SkinIt.

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    Many people didn't even realize these were vinyl stickers and thought they were actual customized laptops, I guess it pays to read the little placard and signs in the booth area. :)

     

    IMG_0105 

    They also unveiled the HP Pavilion HDX series Entertainment Notebook PC  which offers a 512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS video graphics and the latest Intel® Core 2 Extreme and Intel® Core 2 Duo processor technology, giving it desktop-caliber performance. Now it comes with both Blu-ray and HD DVD support, the HDX series plays high-definition DVD or Blu-ray movies on the world’s first 20.1-inch diagonal WUXGA XHD Ultra Brightview display that supports 1080p! HDX Integrated Audio provides a best-in-class audio experience with four discrete Altec Lansing speakers and the integrated HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer.  Its a beast that is more powerful than most desktops with a price starting at $2999.

    IMG_0103

    They also had some other custom PCs and bags to go along with different lifestyles with this product target toward the ladies.

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    What attracted Eric's attention was the new and improved HP Pavilion tx2000 Series Entertainment Notebook PC, which Eric immediately noticed how well it performed over its predecessor in both speed and functionality via a touch-screen capability and a built-in digitizer into the 12.1-inch diagonal display that rotates 180 degrees and folds flat for easy inking much better than its predecessor the TX1000 series that was plagued with accuracy problems with its touch screen. Eric even downloaded installed Sony Vegas while on the show floor to test out the processor's prowess and was impressed enough to place it at the top of his next must have laptop list. It will be made available starting on January 8, 2008 with base configurations starting at $1,299 and hard drive configurations up to 250GB in size and 4GB of memory.

     IMG_0607 IMG_0608

    The unit also had a Notbook stand, which doesn't appear on the HP Shopping site or SKU list.

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    They had their PDAs on display the iPAQ 111($299) and 211 ($449) series (both equipped with Windows Mobile 6 Classic, 64MB of RAM, 256MB of ROM, a Marvell PXA310 624MHz CPU, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, and color touchscreens-the 111 sports a 3.5-inch, 240 x 320 screen, Mini-USB, and SDIO card slot, while the 211 Enterprise edition sports a larger 4-inch, 480 x 640, 260k screen, 24-pin and Mini-USB connectors, plus SDIO and CF card slots. Their bigger announcement in the iPAQ line is their new HP iPAQ 300 Series Navigator GPS units and they just announced a new website to accompany the device, that provides online trip planning, which allows you to create tailored travel plans, research points of interest and load their custom itineraries onto HP iPAQ handhelds. You can also send itineraries to friends/family/co-workers and edit itineraries on the device. I received a review unit before leaving for CES literally it arrived as I was heading to the airport and I will posting a review of it here after using it for a month. So far it looks pretty good and I really like the high resolution and 3D buildings that help in navigating by landmarks.

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    They also had their new printers as well, which are more consumer focused and targeted towards printing digital pictures. They had two photo centric printers featured in detail below as well as their new all in one printers (pictured above right) like the HP Photosmart C8180 All-in-One, which delivers the fastest and easiest way to print photos at home and also allows for photo archiving with a 3.5-inch touchsreen for easy navigation and LightScribe technology for etching labels directly onto the surface of CDs/DVDs. In addition to delivering easy printing at home, this feature-packed printer offers lab-quality photos, laser-quality documents, copy and scan functionality, as well as built-in wireless and Ethernet connectivity. With one touch buttons, blazing print speeds, Bluetooth®, HP Smart Web Printing and an automated photo tray it is designed for ease of use for $399.

    To its right is the HP Photosmart D7460 Printer which prints at blazing speeds – up to 34 pages per minute (ppm) black and 33 ppm color, and photos in as fast as 10 seconds. It also has built-in built-in wireless and Ethernet for easy network connectivity all for $179 retail.

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    On the left is the HP Photosmart A626 Compact Photo Printer which allows consumers to unleash their creativity with over 200 creative options including album pages, frames, graphics and effects. This printer features the world’s first 4.8-inch color touchscreen on a portable compact photo printer for easy personalization of 4 x 6- and 5 x 7-inch photos. With a built-in handle, foldup tray, optional battery and instant-dry and smudge- and fade-resistant photos, the HP Photosmart A626 Compact Photo Printer makes printing truly portable and makes prints in 38 seconds it retails for $179.

    The one on the right is the HP Photosmart A826 Home Photo Center, according to Frank Fellows of HP its designed to be like a home printing kiosk. Featuring a large 7.0-inch color touchscreen with stylus included, the Photosmart A826 allows users to edit, design and personalize photos with borders, text and creative graphics. With the 100-sheet internal paper tray, users can conveniently print up to 100 photos at a time. Print borderless 4 x 6- and 5 x 7-inch photos, holiday cards, wallets and panoramas from the convenience of home and retails for $249

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    They also had their new high end systems on display as well. like the HP Pavilion m9100 Elite PC- Premium PC delivering high-end home entertainment with the HP Easy Backup button to instantly back-up files, NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT graphics card with support for Microsoft DirectX 1. The Pavilion m9160f and m9180f will also feature Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition,which is nice to see that HP listened to our feedback of shipping systems with 64bit OS on 64bit hardware. These will be available mid-January 2008 starting at $1,159.

    Coupled with the HP w2408h Monitor - 24” monitor, providing vibrant colors, convenience, personalization and height adjustment options, dual inputs support true digital (HDMI) and traditional analog (VGA) signals,four built-in USB ports. Available February 3, 2008 for $499.

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    They also had their HP Pavilion m8330 Media Center PC on display with their Home Servers showing how you can consolidate, organize, and play your favorite TV shows, movies, music, photos and videos. It sports a cool, but fast AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor,NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT graphics card with support for Microsoft DirectX 10 and is available January 6, 2008 for $959.99 and up.These seem to be perfect for the home or work office as well.

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    Home servers were also out on display the HP MediaSmart Server EX470/EX475 -Price: $599 (500GB model) and $749 (1TB model), which are designed to provides consumers with a central, safe location to keep all their media and files for easy access from any computer on their home network or remotely from any internet-connected computer. We were told by Tom Augenthaler that the HP MediaSmart Servers will have three enhancements coming in February 2008, which will be available via push updates to existing customers:

    • Integrated server-side anti-virus software from McAfee for added security both at home and remotely.
    • Improved media streaming to DMA devices through Packet Video for enhanced experiences such as thumbnail photos and album art
    • Support for Vista 64-bit

    HP will also be offering an HP Upline Storage Service that is an online storage service lets the customer put their data in a secure, offsite location mainly targeted towards consumers and SMB customers to quickly and easily access, share, manipulate and store data. It is slated to become available in March 2008.

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    The HP Blackbird 002 was designed with gamers in mind by the folks from VooDoo, as well as for anyone needing a performance machine. Full System Liquid Cooling – HP Blackbird 002 is the first in its class to feature full system, maintenance-free liquid cooling that draws heat away from the CPU, motherboard and GPUs.Its removable side panel, interior and back panel lighting, and Voodoo-style wiring provide easy access for enthusiasts to fine tune their machine’s performance. All the components, from the CPU and GPU to the hard drives and optical drives, can be removed and installed without tools. Pricing for this masterpiece starts at $2,500 and peaks up out at only $7,100. Needless to say its probably the highest performing PC on the market today with an all aluminum chassis that can support up to 600 lbs while fully capable of supporting future industry standards. The machine can be purchased online at www.hp.com/blackbird.

    The also had their HP Pavilion Slimline s3330 PC -which is one-third the size of a conventional tower PC for under $1,000 with a Blu-ray/HD DVD player and NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT graphics card with support for Microsoft DirectX 10. It will be available January 13, 2008 at prices starting at $949.

    CES 2008 Day 0 209 CES 2008 Day 0 208

    HP also had their MediaSmart Televisions on display as well that now via flash update for older sets and installed from the factory for new sets can operate as a Windows Vista Media Center Extender. The sets have an ethernet port in the back as well as 802.11 a, b, g & draft n wireless, on-demand movies through CinemaNow, photos from Snapfish and music from Live365 radio, a backlit universal remote control, redesigned speakers, panels and 2000:1 contrast ratio for an enhanced connected entertainment experience.Retail Price: $1,899.99 (SL4282N 42” model) and $2,399.99 (SL4782N 47” model).

    hp mediasmart closed  hp mediasmart2 hp mediasmart

    When we were in the Microsoft tent Sunday morning (at the time we weren't allowed to take pictures due NDA's and Bill Gates presence) was the HP MediaSmart Receiver x280N, which allows MediaSmart technology to aggregate digital content from multiple PCs and home servers to make any HDTV a “MediaSmart” TV. It also had a built-in HP Pocket Media Drive bay (for offline storage and other uses), two USB ports,HDMI, component out, Ethernet and 802.11a/b/g/n. It also has the sporty piano-black, high-gloss finish with HP's exclusive “Zen” imprint pattern designed to fit perfectly with any home décor however we think it would just be mounted to our flat screen TV bracket. It will also work with older televisions since the output can be toggled on the front between 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i with a press of a button.

    They said it would be available in Spring 2008, but didn't have a price however it was estimated to be around $300 in the MS booth. I see this working much better than the unit from Samsung, which only works with Samsung televisions, which still requires the use of 2 remotes to operate the extender portion and your original remote to switch to the input (really dumb design) and much quieter than an Xbox 360. For us it was the best item in the MS tent besides Microsoft Surface, which we only got a brief 2 minute demo of :(

    CES Day 2 097 CES Day 2 093  CES Day 2 095 CES Day 2 096

    We also found that HP had an 8" Digital Picture frame out on display as well that looked just as good as the Kodak ones that were in the booth right next door, which we were told retailed for around $179 with 2 interchangeable frames.

    02/17/2008 12:21:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Live TV on your PND Navigation System is on the way#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo
    The next step in the PND navigation systems is the integration of live TV capabilities using your data connection of your Phone/laptop or even maybe with an integrated Mobile Data Connection(Sim data card). See below the press release and the full specs of this new AvMap PND
    AvMap introduces Geosat 6 TV, the world’s firstPND featuring DVB-H TV, connected navigation and tri-band GSM phone options

    AvMap, the Italian GPS company, today presented the most complete and versatile stand-alone GPS unit in the market: the new Geosat 6 TV. Geosat 6 TV is a Do-It-All Personal Navigation Device (PND) featuring DVB-T and DVB-H TV (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) on the move, connected navigation, a tri-band GSM phone and multimedia player functions. Geosat 6 TV includes an unmatched integration of technologies and functions in a single all-in-one GPS device. The multimedia engine and TV middleware are provided by Cidana Corporation and the device will also feature digital maps and content from Tele Atlas. AvMap is previewing the world premiere of the Geosat 6 TV at the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the Tele Atlas stand, Hall 2, Booth 2B69.

    “Geosat 6 TV is a connected device capable of enriching the navigation experience with dynamic information on-the-go.” said Simone Lazzarini, Managing Director of AvMap “Geosat 6 TV represents the result of the most advanced converging technologies and it opens the way to limitless opportunities of partnerships with location-based services (LBS) and content providers to offer innovative solutions for the mobile user.”

    “Rich, live mobile TV is the next key feature for navigation devices,” said Ioannis Katsavounidis, Chief Technology Officer of Cidana. “Geosat 6 TV is the first of a new breed of devices that combine portable navigation with live media entertainment. Its light-weight form factor and GPS location-aware features, coupled with the many services that DVB-H TV signals carry, will make it a natural success. Cidana is excited to provide our universal DVB-H/DVB-T and PMP solutions to AvMap for the Geosat 6 TV.”

    “Consumers seek a content-rich experience from their mobile multimedia devices, so it is natural they will also want to leverage navigation information and features as a part of their complete on-the-go environment,” said Jack Reinelt, Tele Atlas’ Managing Director and Chief Operating Office of Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We’re pleased to partner with leading companies such as AvMap, which are focused on providing innovative solutions for the mobile user.”

    Advanced GPS Navigation
    The new Software by AvMap makes navigation easier thanks to advanced functions such as the stop planner, the trip computer an FAQ and on board user guide.
    Dynamic contents
    Find out how connected navigation makes the difference when planning your journey: receive real time weather info, then take a look at the gas prices to decide where to stop and refuel, look for free parking and get some tips on events to plan your night in town. Geosat 6 TV will be the first connected navigator in Europe of its kind, finally bringing Location Based Services capabilities into a PND device.

    GSM and emergency Calls
    With Geosat 6 TV, AvMap enters the mobile phone market. Thanks to the built-in tri-band GSM, Geosat 6 TV works as a mobile phone. The SW interface includes a quick access button for emergency calls, which can be configured for special services (such as car insurance support).

    DVB-H and Multimedia Functions
    Geosat 6 TV includes numerous mobile entertainment applications. Geosat 6 TV is equipped with a DVB-H and a DVB-T module to ensure an optimal reception of Digital TV in any condition. This portable multimedia device also includes a picture viewer and an Mp3 and Mp4 player.
    Hardware & specs
    AvMap Geosat 6 TV is 100% designed and made in Italy. The new stylish design features a slim metallic case which is robust and elegant. The large, high-resolution 4.8” wide-screen ensures recognition at a glance and can be viewed in horizontal or vertical mode. The innovative smart magnetic holder holds the navigator with 4 powerful magnets and lets you rotate the navigator from landscape to portrait mode with a simple gesture to choose the best point of view on navigation.
    The AvMap Geosat 6 TV features a 520 MHz processor, a Sirf Star III GPS receiver, sensor for automatic brightness control and a master/slave USB port.

    Preloaded with the Tele Atlas maps for 34 European countries and with more than 2 million POI’s (Points of Interest), Geosat 6 TV comes with text-to-speech technology that announces street names and live contents with the AvMap dynamic info service. AvMap Geosat 6 TV adds a digital media player to play Mp3 and Mp4 files.

    AvMap Geosat 6 TV will be compatible with Geosat Updater the desktop application that helps people manage their GPS maps, Points of interests, Welcome images, Voices and other content and easily synchronize it to their devices. The Geosat Updater allows free download of the latest software release, helping customers to keep their AvMap devices up-to date. Through the Geosat Updater, which is a free download from http://www.avmap.it/ , AvMap customers can personalize and expand their GPS experience.
     
    Availability
    AvMap Geosat 6 TV will be displayed at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, 11 – 14 February 2008 in the Tele Atlas stand in Hall 2 at booth B69; visitors to the AvMap corner of the stand will be able to view demonstrations. AvMap Geosat 6 TV ships in Q2 2008 with a smart magnetic mount, a cigarette lighter power supply cable, A/C power supply cable and USB data cable.
    02/08/2008 07:56:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Opera 9.5 Coming soon!#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    One trend you may start to see on several new handsets even on Windows Mobile devices is the addition of the Opera browser, which adds many features that are missing from Internet Explorer Mobile. The folks at Opera announced an innovative technology in latest mobile Web browser - Opera Mobile 9.5- the latest version of its award-winning Web browser for sophisticated feature phones and smartphones. Participants at the Mobile World Congress 2008 will be the first to experience the improved functionality of Opera Mobile 9.5. Built on Opera's unique core architecture, the Opera Mobile 9.5 desktop-like browsing experience has been enhanced with innovations such as zooming and panning that make it easier to navigate, load pages quicker and get users closer to the Web content and entertainment they want. With Opera Mobile 9.5, users can experience the real Web and interact with content exactly as they do on their PC.

    opera menu_options opera tabbed_browsing 

     opera sms_image opera cnn_entertainment


    Faster speed
    The new version utilizes Opera's Presto rendering engine to achieve page load speeds comparable to a desktop experience. The Opera Presto engine was modified and improves browsing performance significantly by accelerating the handling of Web pages. It dramatically improves page responsiveness on pages with heavy use of languages such as JavaScript and Ajax, ensuring smooth, hassle-free browsing.


    Compelling experience
    Opera Mobile 9.5 includes numerous features aimed at elevating the mobile browsing experience. Not only is the user interface (UI) intuitive enough to master in minutes, Opera Mobile 9.5 introduces several new innovations that elevate the Internet experience on a handheld device. Users can take advantage of the intuitive Opera ZoomT to dive into the page and get closer to the content they want. In addition, productivity tools like the ability to save pages for offline browsing, Web address auto complete and password manager help busy users make the most of their time.

    Fully loaded
    Web 2.0-enabled, Widget-ready and Flash support turn Opera Mobile 9.5 into a fully loaded browser allowing users to access all their favorite Web sites such as Facebook, MySpace and more. With Opera Mobile 9.5, OEMs and operators will have the capability to include Flash Lite 3, empowering their smartphone users with access to the full Web including the ability to watch videos on YouTube effortlessly. In addition, Opera Widgets, which are mini applications that allow content to be accessed easily from the device idle screen with just a few clicks, are included in the new edition - automatically engaging the user through ease of operation and meeting consumer demands for quick access to information.

    The Opera Mobile 9.5 experience includes many of the innovations found in Opera's trend-setting desktop browser including:


    - Intuitive user interface
    - Tabbed browsing
    - Improved text wrap
    - Page overview, zooming and panning
    - Landscape mode
    - Save Web page for future offline access
    - Call phone number from Web page
    - Send link as SMS/MMS
    - Send image as SMS/MMS
    - Small Screen RenderingT
    - Password manager
    - Web-address input auto-completion
    - History and bookmarks
    - Copy text
    - Opera Widgets


    Opera Mobile is currently shipped on more than 100 million phones with many of the world's top mobile OEMs and operators such as HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, and others.
    Leading software platform provider, UIQ, has realized the potential of Opera's new mobile browser. "UIQ works with the world's leading mobile phone manufacturers to create the ultimate user experience. Our long-standing partnership with Opera has given users the ability to access all their favorite Web sites and services," says Mats Barvesten, EVP Product Planning and Product Management at UIQ Technology. "We look forward to introducing our upcoming handsets, featuring the groundbreaking Opera Mobile 9.5 browser."


    Along with hands-on exposure to Opera Mobile 9.5, Mobile World Congress participants will also have the ability to experience Opera on a variety of devices: Opera Mobile on smartphones, free downloads of Opera Mini 4, improved Web browsing on gaming consoles and the ARCHOS Generation 5 Media players will be just a few of the exciting features of Opera's 2008 exhibit.

    Opera Mobile 9.5 will be available on all major platforms including Symbian, Windows Mobile and Linux, as both a standalone browser and as a SDK. The public beta release of Opera Mobile 9.5 will be announced separately.

    A demo video is also available here of the new 9.5 browser its pretty impressive.

    02/05/2008 18:35:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Sony PSP 3.9 Update#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Hey, I know Skype wasn't added to the standard PSP (1000 Series) with this update and its only available on the newer slim PSP aka 2000 Series that you will get this option to Skype from your PSP. Its not really worth it to me to purchase another PSP just for the feature, that was announced at CES, nor is the video out option, since I use the PSP for watching movies locally ripped. I do have a Zune, but the screen on the PSP and the expanded battery make it perfect for watching movies on coast to coast flights when I am not partaking in some mobile gaming. The update does add some features if you like me haven't updated your PSP in a while.

    3.9 update

    The PSP is still one of the best mobile devices I have bought, Don and Eric also picked one up a year and a half ago in a bundle package when we were doing some contract work for Microsoft at Frys. I would love it if Microsoft came up with a similar device (once on a flight home from SEATAC I sat next to a XBOX hardware engineer and the possibility was discussed-fingers crossed) with a touch screen and hand controls, WiFi, Bluetooth, an SSD drive that downloads game titles, music, video from the 360 or computer from Xbox Live, Zune, Amazon Unbox, etc. No Discs, no proprietary format for movies that cost as much as DVDs. Added functionality is great, but make it a great portable gaming platform first and supplemental entertainment device second. We can only dream...OK back to the update.

    PICT0199  PICT0200

    Here are some of the other features added to the PSP from the update:

       PSP skype_EN

    • (Skype™) has been added as a feature under [Network] for the 2000 Series only
    • Support for PLAYSTATION®Network titles has been expanded.

    If you haven't upgraded to 3.8 you will also get their updates as well:

    • Network
      • (Internet Radio) has been added as a feature under [Network]. You can now play programs (audio content) distributed by Internet radio stations.
    • Settings
      • Version 1.2.0.0 of the theme creation tool is now available here. You must use this version to create a theme for a PSP® system with system software version 3.80 or later.
        * A theme that was created using version 1.2.0.0 of the theme creation tool cannot be displayed on a PSP® system with system software earlier than version 3.80.
    • Video
      • You can now preview each scene of a video using the [Scene Search] feature. (Note this is just awesome. Like chapters on a DVD you can skip forward or backward to video converted to the PSP.)
    • Music
      • The number of visual player types that can be used has been increased.
    • Network
      • You can now import OPML files under rss (RSS Channel). Yes this works with your Bloglines feeds Virginia...
      • You can now view photos displayed on a PSP® system that is connected to the Internet under rss (RSS Channel). (Flikr feed support)

    PICT0214 PICT0217

    The PSP has done some nice things over the years and is still in my book the top portable gaming platform out there, they get the ability to add functionality via software and have provided numerous updates over the years supporting a better browsing experience, music(if they would only add album art support for that nice screen) Video playback is awesome once you get used to the controls. Remote Play is great too if you have a PS3, which may be a next purchase for me if the price drops and the number of gaming titles make it worth it. (Right now the 360 is my top gaming platform, but a Wii may be in our family's future since the kids love playing at their friends house, but at a recent sleep over the 360 got a work out by some 10 year old girls playing Fusion Frenzy 2, Guitar Hero 2 & 3)

    Online instruction Manuals, how cool is that, Microsoft and Nintendo should take note on that. Location Free Player, meh I have a Slingbox and love it and it works with so many more devices not just the PSP, too bad Sony won't allow Sling to offer a client for the PSP. TiVoToGo allows you to watch recorded TV content (downloaded to your Memory Stick Duo™) from your TiVo.

    PICT0210  PICT0211

    The RSS Channels have a very nice UX (User Experience) granted when you now first launch it. Sony is pimping their content for the PSP which is fine with videos of popular titles updated daily. The RSS feeds even have a Media Finder for PSP Games, Game Demos, UMD Media, Videos, Images, Music, and RSS. I really like the ability to download demos via the PlayStation Underground (which is much easier to sign up for online rather than on the PSP) very similar to the Xbox Live experience on the 360. Here you can download content to your Sony Memory stick. The nice added feature is OPML import support.

    PICT0219  PICT0225

    The Internet Radio Player is a JavaScript plug-in saved to your Sony Memory stick that allows you to listen to SHOUTcast radio streams, which you can already do on Windows Mobile devices with GSPlayer or Resco's Pocket Radio. It is a great replacement for those who don't have satellite radio and do have a WiFi connection.

    PICT0226  PICT0227

    The controls are kind of hard to use. My kids figured it out fairly easily, how ever both my mother and wife thought it was cool it was hard for them to operate . They both agreed it would be nice if there was better use of the buttons on the device, but there is a help screen to give you directions on how to use the player. My daughter really liked it and wished her Zune had a similar functionality, I told her maybe in the future...

    Overall Sony keeps pushing out updates fairly regularly on a pretty old platform to make it current and I appreciate it and best of all it is free.

    To learn more about this update and how to perform the update head here.

    02/05/2008 15:29:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    8GB Zune $20 Price drop#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Effective February 1, 2008, the 8GB Zune Digital Media Player gets a $20 Price Drop. Now customers can get all the great features of the 8GB Zune for just $179.99! But, for just $30 more than the 4GB Zune, you can double your music or video content. Now hopefully we will see a price drop across all the players. :)

    ZunePriceDropMainScreen

    The 8GB and 4GB Zune devices both come in four colors - Black, Red, Pink and Green.

    ZuneFlashLineup

    There are no noticeable difference in terms of physical size or exterior features between the units except double the memory here is a quick comparison.

    zune flash Capacities

    The main difference is song and video capacity, where storage is doubled. But, notice that pictures aren't doubled. Why isn't that double too? Well. the picture storage capacity is actually a software setting and that is capped at 25,000 pictures. In fact, even the 80GB Zune has a picture capacity of 25,000. However that capacity should be ample room for almost everyone, even proud grandparents.

    The coolest use I have heard for one of the flash-units was that a listing/selling real estate agent would leave one in a keybox for a house to be shown and it had a video/audio walkthrough of the property for the showing agent. I am sure there are other cool ways people have used these beyond music and video entertainment.

    02/01/2008 11:15:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - Zune Booth#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Ah yes the Zunes were out in a big portion of the Microsoft booth since their launch of pretty new colors and 4GB/8GB flash-based players and larger Zune 80GB model were launched back in November. Zune was back on the scene at CES again sporting their new versions as well as their customized Zunes via Zune Originals. Complete with their graphical lithographs on the wall in gallery lighting with the corresponding Zunes in product light boxes.

    CES 2008 Day 1 109 CES 2008 Day 1 161 CES 2008 Day 1 160 CES 2008 Day 1 163

    They were more impressive in person than online and I wish more people had some way of experiencing them. I really like how they framed each of the prints and they would be a nice addition to any home.

    CES 2008 Day 1 156 CES 2008 Day 1 157

    CES 2008 Day 1 158 CES 2008 Day 1 162

    See the detail of the engraving gets one stoked and makes people wonder why they don't offer some of their best selling designs at retail outlets as well. I guess those in the know can get the exclusive designs and personalization, hoping for viral growth.

    CES 2008 Day 1 165 CES 2008 Day 1 166

    They also had a ton of their accessories on display as well.

    CES 2008 Day 1 167 IMG_0408

    Like the updated speaker dock from Altec Lansing the inMotion iM414, which retails for $99 and updated clock radio from iHome.

    IMG_0354   CES 2008 Day 1 107 CES 2008 Day 1 110

    It was hard to get a chance to look at the 80GB models(all retail stores I have been to since the release in November have not had them on display to "play" with as they did with the 30GB Zunes-granted those were encased in chunk of plastic that added to its bulk) they were crowded throughout the show. We finally got to get up close to them as soon as the show floor doors opened on Wednesday with only about a 5 minute wait. This was our first time using the touch interface and I was impressed. I will probably order one via Zune Originals and probably not one of the Valentine's Day ones however the red 80GB does look pretty nice.

    01/30/2008 01:37:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - Slingbox / Sling Media#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    At CES this year Sling Media made an announcement that they were going to ship the SlingCatcher that was announced at last year's CES 2007. The SlingCatcher is a standalone device that receives video content for display on a television in your house. Video can be received in a variety of ways: The SlingPlayer for TV feature allows the SlingCatcher to display local or remote Slingbox content on a television so it kind of works like an extender and doesn't need a dedicated PC to watch it on your television.

    PICT0822 PICT0824

    As you can see from the pictures it is a pretty small device akin to the first Slingbox, but with more connection options and video out as opposed to video in. Yes you are looking at Digital audio, typical 3 component connections, composite and (what is that?) a true HDMI connection on the back along with 2 USB ports and Ethernet.

    The SlingSync feature allows a variety of video file formats including popular HD content to be synchronized from the PC to a USB storage device (hard drive or thumb drive) attached to the SlingCatcher for television playback. SlingProjector streams any video content displayed on a PC to a television, such as content from popular online video sites lke YouTube, Revver, Blip.TV and Soapbox. The SlingCatcher also comes with an IR remote for pasting your self to your couch and indulging in a true television experience from the comfort of your backside. The folks at Sling told us SlingCatcher will be available in Q2 for $249.99. In Q2 the will also be introducing for $49.99 the SlingLink Wireless which is an optional 802.11g USB adapter designed for use with the SlingCatcher. They had demonstrated the SlingCatcher publicly for the first time at their booth in the Sands Convention Center.

    slingplayer 2

    Brian Jacquet told me they will also be having a new version of SlingPlayer 2.0 for PC which will also include the  "Clip+Sling" functionality, allowing Slingbox customers to "grab" clips of their favorite television moments and instantly share them online. Additionally, SlingPlayer 2.0 also adds a new feature that many users have requested(however I have a feeling Dave Zatz had a lot of influence on this!) an EPG (Electronic Program Guide) that displays a customer's television channel lineup and programming based on zipcode and provider information. And something that was desired from the beginning of the creation of SlingPlayer is addition of a 60-minute video buffer that allows local
    pause, rewind, and fast forward transport controls so if you are just using the built-in tuner you will now have PVR functionality on your PC. SlingPlayer 2.0 will be available in Q1 (so check your SlingPlayer for updates) at no cost to Slingbox owners. Yes free!!

    Dave Zatz also gave a demonstration of SlingPlayer 2.0 to the folks at Sling Community the video is definitely worth checking out here.

    slingplayer modem

    Sling also announced they will be working with OEMs to create a SlingModem, which provides a cable customer with both a broadband connection as well as the place-shifting functionality made famous by the Slingbox all in one simple to install package with no router configuring needed. The above picture is not a final product, but a mockup still it looks pretty nice!

    EchoStar and Sling Media will also sell for $39.99, a digital-to-analog converter allows analog TVs to receive digital over-the-air broadcasts and comes with an onscreen setup wizard for easy installation called the TR-40 which will operate strictly over-the-air,  Other features include up to a seven-day electronic programming guide (EPG), program search, parental locks and VCR auto-tune timers. The box can also be purchased via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program.  The program provides U.S. households with up to two coupons, worth $40 each, toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes, which includes the TR-40. I have some old CRT televisions and may retrofit them with one of these when they become available.

    SlingPlayer_for_BlackBerry-Pearl

    Other big news that hit the wire fairly quickly was support for RIM Blackberry in SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry later this year, which was demonstrated at CES on a BlackBerry Pearl™ 8120 via WiFi and Cellular connectivity.

    IMG_0115_thumb CES 2008 Day 0 071

    For all those people with new HD televisions they announced the next generation Slingbox PRO-HD, that is capable of streaming HD content from a home television source, including over the air HD digital signals, HDTV cable or satellite receivers, or HD DVR’s, to a laptop or desktop computer in and around the house. Geared to be paired with Sling Media’s SlingCatcher, the Slingbox PRO-HD will transmit the HD signal to another TV in the house. Also for customers who have a high speed broadband connection with upload speeds of 1.5 – 2 Mbps or higher can even stream their content in HD outside the home to the office, to a hotel room or even to a remote TV when using SlingCatcher. What had me stoked was that the Slingbox PRO-HD supports some pretty impressive and new hardware like a ATSC/QAM HDTV Tuner, S-video, composite video, component video and either analog or multi-channel connection, and 5.1 surround digital audio. The Slingbox PRO-HD will be available for purchase in Q3 2008 for a suggested retail price of $399.99.

    What I was told at the booth was that the connector on the back is like the previous high-end model the Slingbox PRO with the HD connector being provided by an HDMI connector, but really isn't due to the added costs. Rather it supports a convertor cable to add the ability via the HD Connect Cable from the previous PRO model. Who knows when it finally comes out I am hoping it supports true HDMI like the SlingCatcher for one cable connectivity. Each year at CES SlingMedia seems to innovate and not disappoint, I can't wait...

    01/30/2008 01:36:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Sharper Image to offer Unlocked Phones with WM6#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo

    I just opened my e-mail box this morning and a unlocked phone from Sharper Image is looking at me. Of course I noticed the Windows Mobile 6 screen on it, so I looked a bit more at this one.

    Accordding to the site this phoen has indeed Windows Mobile 6 on it, but also integrated GPS. The phone sells for $499.95 and is available at Sharper Image.

    This PocketPC Executive Pack includes a Bluetooth® mini headset and features:

    • 240 x 320 TFT 2.8-inch touch-screen LCD with 65K colors
    • 2MP camera with Flash
    • MP3
    • Windows Media Player with MPEG 4 video
    • Wireless Bluetooth® compatibility
    • Tri Band
    • Polyphonic ringtones
    • Microsoft® Office Mobile, Direct Push and Windows Mobile 6 Pro
    • Voice memo
    • Speakerphone
    • Built-in GPS receiver
    • Text messaging (SMS/MMS)
    • Games
    • Calculator
    • Alarm clock
    • USB 1.1
    • PDF viewer
    • Smart dialing
    • GPRS
    • WAP
    • JAVA
    • Enjoy up to 7 hours talk, 20 hours of music/video, 240 hours standby on a single USB charge
    • On-board 128MB memory with Micro SD slot, expandable to 2G
    • Speed codec HR/FR/EFR/AMR


    Measures 4.3" x 2.3" x 0.6"; weighs 4.3 oz. One-year warranty. A Sharper Image exclusive.

    *For subscribers to T-Mobile, AT&T/Cingular and other service providers that use a removable SIM card with all your phone data. Your SIM card will work perfectly in any Sharper Image® "Unlocked" Phone.

     

    01/21/2008 09:13:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Google in the race for the 700 MHZ auction !#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo

    According to an article from the Reuters press office Google has entered the race to become a service provider on the mobile market.

    Communications regulators have cleared Google to bid in an upcoming auction of coveted wireless airwaves, according to auction documents released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday.

    Google was among a list of potential bidders released by the FCC to require up-front payment and be cleared to take part in the high-stakes 700MHz wireless auction.

    The auction is scheduled to begin on Jan. 24 and expected to raise at least $10 billion for the U.S. government from airwaves being returned by television broadcasters as they move to digital from analog signals in early 2009.

    The list of qualified bidders also included U.S. wireless providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, as well as ventures involving EchoStar, Cablevision, Qualcomm and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

    The 700MHz signals are valuable because they can go long distances and penetrate thick walls.

    The spectrum is to be auctioned off in several different blocks, ranging from smaller regional blocks to large, nationwide ones.

    Up-front payments for the spectrum licenses can range from several thousand dollars to more than $100 million, depending on the size of the license a company is seeking.

    The auction is seen as a last opportunity for a new player to enter the wireless market. Google and other Silicon Valley leaders see the wireless spectrum as a way to create more open competition for mobile services and devices than those available on existing networks.

    01/17/2008 21:50:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - Moxi#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    OK we have seen MOXI at CES several time and we are still waiting for this product to come to fruition. We were promised by Digeo that we would see it this year in many different forms not only as a set top box, but as a software version similar to the ReplayTV software are offered with some Hauppauge cards, and as an extender. A beta was available back in December 2007 for a few of their products, but I never heard back from them. Hopefully these products aren't canceled too.

    IMG_0114  CES 2008 Day 0 058

    The MoxiMulti-Room HD looks like your standard Media Center set top box with a slot DVD player and a clock on it and it uses a cable card as its tuner.

    A stand alone smaller set top box (the small silver box in the picture in the upper left) called the MoxiMate is a bit smaller and provides the same functionality of extending your media to another television over standard video Coax, no network required.

    IMG_0113CES 2008 Day 0 065 CES 2008 Day 0 063 CES 2008 Day 0 064

    The MoxiMulti Home Cinema is the HD DVR recording device and server of the media to the extender units. It also supports cable card and has a nicer display and more of a stereo component look to it. It's storage can also be expanded via an external hard drive up to 1TB in size.

    CES 2008 Day 0 062  CES 2008 Day 0 059 CES 2008 Day 0 060 CES 2008 Day 0 061

    We have been waiting for the nice Moxi UI for a while we really love the HD icons for HD channels and content as well as channel logos for easy recognition of channels and networks. It also has games, stocks, weather, and sports scores accessible as well.

    We just hope Digeo brings these to market. They made an announcement right after CES as to their current state of affairs here. Here is a brief excerpt and summary:

    As a result of its updated product development direction, Digeo will not release some retail DMR products it had previously announced, including the delayed Moxi Multi-Room HD DMR and the Moxi Home Cinema Edition DMR. Instead, Digeo will focus on its next-generation consumer DMR, which Digeo has been developing at the same time as the cancelled projects. Details about Digeo’s new retail product will be announced later in the year.

    We will just have to wait and see...

    01/16/2008 09:45:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - BlueAnt meets Furbie#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo

    BlueAnt launched during the CES a couple of new products. One very interesting one is after the succes of the Z9 the new V1. The V1 bluetooth headset is using a new technology from Sensory called the BlueCenie Voice Interface.

     

     

     

    The BlueAnt V1 Voice Controlled Headset allows users to easily control most functions of their headset using the revolutionary ‘BlueGenie™ Voice Interface*’ from Sensory, Inc.Talk to it – and it will talk to you. Ask it for assistance –and it will assist you in getting the right command. This headset eliminates the combinations of button pushes, button holds and flashing lights synonymous with advanced Bluetooth devices. One activation button provides you with total control of the V1’s entire function menu system via an easy to use voice interface.

    The V1 also incorporates dual microphones allowing for BlueAnt’s patented Voice Isolation Technology™’, a revolutionary proprietary Digital Signal Processor (DSP) software solution.Voice Isolation Technology™ uses advanced techniques to separate theuser’s voice signal from all other sounds,enhancing and isolating all frequencies that affect voices coming into and out of the headset resulting in outstanding environmental noise reduction, echo cancellation and wind noise protection.Fitting into BlueAnt’s premium headset range, the V1 is small and lightweight and clips neatly onto a tie, shirt or jacket when not in use.


     

     Another great new product the have is the Supertooth 3 which is the follow up on the Supertooth light. I wasn't able to get the specifics yet. But don't worry they will come.


     

    For motorcyclist they als have a new Blue Ant Interphone wireless headset. And as last they have demonstrated the M1 powerfull Bluetooth speakers.


    These BlueAnt M1 gives hardened audiophiles the quality sound they have
    been waiting for. Packing a mammoth 28 watts RMS, the BlueAnt M1 Bluetooth Stereo Speaker delivers phenomenal performance in a small stylish form factor. Its’ rich sound provides amazing body and balance to both low end bass heavy music and the subtle tones of an acoustic guitar. It displays the same great naturalness to soft intimate voices as in-your-face vocal
    attacks. Today’s music lovers demand quality products and the BlueAnt M1 is engineered to enhance the lower midrange while maintaining crisp and clear high frequencies. Blueant have added an inbuilt powerful subwoofer that utilizes antidistortion circuitry, all of which results in highly detailed reproduction of any music type. Compatible with all A2DP enabled devices, cell phones, PDA’s, PC’s or Macs, the M1 is an easy to carry, take
    anywhere device. Being wireless, portable and rechargeable the M1 can be used in the car, on the beach, and even as your homes main stereo system. Additionally you can plug in any MP3 player or iPod and get wired if you want.


     

    For more information and all the press releases you can go to :http://www.blueantwireless.com/resources/media2.htm

    01/14/2008 16:29:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 - BLUETOUCHmusic – we hold the car door open for any phone#
    Post By Johan van Mierlo

    At one of the press events during the CES. Pieker Acustic was showing of their Bluetouch at the Show Stoppers Event. This carkit has so many options with an easy to use interface. It requires an installation, but onces installed it will be so multifunctional and easy upgradable.

     

    With BLUETOUCHmusic, the car door is open for any phone and MP3 player. The multimedia system from PEIKER acustic and ALAC supports all of the cult favorite cell phone’s functions. From telephony to music – all of the features can be operated conveniently and confidently via touch screen and voice.
     
    Universality and ongoing optimization are the terms that best describe BLUETOUCHmusic. And rightly so: Free software updates published regularly on the
    homepage ensure that this development from PEIKER acustic and ALAC is always up to date. Its USB connection makes it all possible, enabling not only compatibility with the latest mobile phones, but also the integration of a whole spectrum of new functions. So it comes as no surprise that BLUETOUCHmusic is one of the first multimedia systems to fully support the Windows Mobile 6 devices and others. Users can talk on the telephone conveniently via Bluetooth, and thanks to the new software, rapid telephone book downloads via SyncML are now also possible. Another new feature is the telephone book search function. Any entry in the entire address book of the mobile phone that is hooked up can be found quickly. Depending on the mobile phone, a pop-up screen also indicates when a new SMS message has been received. Seamless communication is the guiding principle.
     
    And yet the factor for which BLUETOUCHmusic is most popular is its music function: Users can play their favorite songs in MP3 format directly from USB sticks or SD cards. Those who prefer their music the old-fashioned way can connect their music sources using a 3.5-millimeter stereo jack. And the Bluetooth A2DP profile (if it is supported by the mobile phone) makes it possible to transmit songs directly and wirelessly to the car’s own stereo system.
     
    BLUETOUCHmusic makes pulses quicken, particularly among fans of the Apple iPod. All of the current models, including the new iPhone, fit the specially developed interface. Once the device is connected, the user can use the touch screen or voice commands to browse titles, artists, albums, and playlists. The iPod or iPhone also charges at the same time. With features like this, you can feel right at home even in your car.
     
    This is a multimedia car kit that supports almost any possible inputs.

     

    For more information you can go to MyBluetouch.com

    01/13/2008 21:41:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CES 2008 SanDisk Press Conference#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    SanDisk had their Press Conference today and the nice thing they had mentioned that where they see the removable storage market going is mobile phones, not digital cameras like one would think and they are making some revolutionary changes in other areas as well. Our host and main presenter for the Press conference was SanDisk's CEO and Chairman, Eli Harari.

    IMG_0304  IMG_0288  

    CES 2008 Day 1 025 CES 2008 Day 1 026

    They talked about media changing from the day of the floppy disk to USB.

    CES 2008 Day 1 027 IMG_0292

    They showed off the new Cruzer Micro 8GB with automatic online backup in case you loose it.

    SanDisk SSD product line photo2 SanDisk 72GB SSD photo1

    IMG_0293  CES 2008 Day 1 031

    They mentioned their SSD drives in 64GB and 72GB capacites as well as their  new onboard flash for motherboards called Vaulter on the mini PCIe interface, now this would be cool 64GB built into motherboard for the OS and a hard drive for other media, I have been waiting a long time for this. We talked to Ken Castle from SanDisk at Pepcom the night before and they are slowly working on 128GB SSD, but the price point for manufacturing isn't quite there yet so it may 6 months before we hear word of it going to manufacturing, but consumers won't see that until 2009. In the 2H of 2008 we will see 73GB SSD on the market and in new PCs.

    IMG_0295SanDisk 12GB microSDHC card photo1

    They introduced the SanDisk 12 GB micro SD HC card for phones and cameras. It is know so easy to take everything you need with you.

     IMG_0296 IMG_0297

    They showed their growth and marketing in the mobile market

    IMG_0298 IMG_0299

    As well as storage cards designed for video.

    CES 2008 Day 1 043 IMG_0300 

    They showed their 'Four Screens' strategy of covering media for television/video, digital players/music and video, phones-pictures,audio, and video, and computers- pictures video and audio.

    IMG_0301IMG_0302

    They also showed their growth in Japan as the leader above Japanese made storage cards by Panasonic and Sony. Next they showed their growth in the EMEA market as well, where they are far above all other brands.

     CES 2008 Day 1 050  IMG_0303

    They next showed us where the current usage of flash memory storage is and where they see the future market share and growth for mobile storage going - mobile handsets.

    CES 2008 Day 1 053

    They then closed with a Thank You as people grabbed goodie bags from the empty seats near them containing a 1GB player and presskit. Unfortunately ours were taken before we even sat down, but were able to get them in the end. We will post up a review of the 1GB Sansa Clip soon.

    01/07/2008 21:50:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    REVIEW: Pantech Duo#
    Post By Eric Hicks

     

    Windows Mobile has always had a tough time playing in the "regular size" handset market.  Small phones are all the rage but what about when you want to do more than just have a voice conversation or send a quick SMS?  Sure you could buy sleek RAZR for voice and use a blackberry for your other electronic communications but after a while that utility belt becomes heavy and unsightly.  The other problem with smaller devices is while they're small enough to fit in your shirt pocket it's hard to type out a nice and detailed e-mail using just then numberpad.  So then you get a device with a QWERTY keyboard but trying to dial a number becomes a challenge without voice dialing aids.    

     

    Pantech Duo is aimed at addressing many of these shortcomings.  Weighing in at 3.88 ounces the device measures 4.02 x 1.97 x 0.83 inches.  To put this size into perspective the Motorola RAZR V3 measures in at 3.86 x 2.08 x 0.54 inches.  Other notable specs are 10 Day standby time, 3 hour talk time, Bluetooth with A2DP, Quad Band world phone, Dual-band domestic UMTS/HDSPA, 128 MB of flash ROM with 64 MB SDRam and a fast 416 MHZ Marvel Bulverde processor.  The thing I don't understand is the inclusion of only a 1.3 megapixel camera.  Many devices are already at 2 megapixel with higher resolutions coming soon.  The device also has a 2.2" QVGA screen with LED backlight.  The LED backlight is impressive as it draws very little power and will last longer than the flash ROM in the device. 

     

    Running Windows Mobile 6 Standard the Duo is not just an ordinary "slider cellphone".  Coupled with Exchange Active Sync this device can replace that blackberry and cellphone very easily while providing more functionality than having two individual devices.  Features such as SMS, MMS, Push E-mail, PDF viewer and the ability to edit Office documents help to distinguish the Duo from other "slider cellphones".

     

    The face of the device has a clean layout and access to frequently used buttons have really  been thought out.  On the main face of the device you have power, home, back, talk, end and two softkeys along with a 4-way navigation pad with selection button in the middle.

     

    On the left side of the device you have access to volume buttons and on the right side you have access to the camera and recorder buttons.  The buttons are small and make it difficult for those with larger hands to access them.

     

    A big rub for me with the Duo is it's power connector.  A majority of  my devices utilize a mini-usb connector which is great as it allows the use of existing chargers and accessories.  Plus it decreases the number of cables that you need to carry because many devices (mp3 players, digital camera's, etc) use the same mini-usb connector.  To use a wired headset you need to also use an adapter that plugs into the bottom connector.  Honestly that's just too many things to carry and I wouldn't dream of using a wired headset with this device for this very reason. 

     

    The one feature that sets this device apart from others is the dual sliding keyboards.  The Dual Sliding mechanism allows for a small device footprint when closed and still allows great functionality with either keyboard.  Slide the device up and you are greeted by a nice functional numeric keypad.  The numerical keypad provides great tactile feedback and navigation.  The button sizes are just right even for a person with wide thumbs such as myself.  Another nice numerical keypad feature is a spring assisted slider.  As you open or close the numerical keypad a spring assists in opening and closing the keyboard.  This makes one handed access and operation of the numerical keypad a snap.

    The QWERTY keyboard unfortunately doesn't receive the same accolades.  Sliding the screen to the left (or up if you change the orientation) and you now have access to the QWERTY keyboard.  To keep the device size small a condensed QWERTY keyboard is used.  It comprises of all the letters of the alphabet with punctuation and number keys being accessed via a secondary function key.  Punctuation placement is straightforward and easy to navigate once you familiarize yourself with the associated function keys.  Coming from the larger QWERTY keyboard on my Sprint PPC 6800 the transition to was slightly difficult until I became acclimated to the device.  One thing that I miss on the condensed keyboard was directional keys.  It's amazing how many time you use directional keys move information around, especially on a smartphone device since there's no screen to quickly tap on.  Unlike the numeric keypad the QWERTY keyboard doesn't have a spring to assist in the opening and closing of the slider but the sliding travel when on the QWERTY keyboard is very short so it's easy to open without much fuss.  Still it would've been nice to have the same "slider" feel throughout the device.  When I moved from the Sprint PPC 6700 which didn't have a spring assisted slider to the Sprint PPC 6800 which did, I could tell the difference immediately.  The biggest problem I had with the QWERTY keyboard was lack of tactile feel.  The keyboard is completely flush with the bezel and boxes that make up the whole keyboard face.  If you're a person with small fingers or fingernails then you're able to access the keyboard without much issue but if you are a person with large fingers and no fingernails then typing out messages will be somewhat disappointing and slow.

     

    Out of the box the device is preloaded with trial software like MobiTV and My Space Mobile.  You also have an AT&T branded IM program, AT&T Mail, AT&T Music and Cingular Video.  I tried out a few of my usual programs like Sling Player Mobile, Windows Live Search, and One Note Mobile which all worked great and felt snappy thanks to the fast processor in the Duo.  Sling player worked well over the fast 3G services and the best part about 3G on the AT&T network is that you can use both data and voice communications simultaneously.  This is extremely helpful when you need an e-mail and you need to be on the phone at the same time.  There were a few times that I forgot about this only to be startled when the device alerted me to new mail messages while I was on the phone. 

     

    Bluetooth worked very well on the duo and because the device is A2DP compatible I was able to use my blue spider stereo bluetooth headphones with the duo.  Listening to music and watching shows via sling media was very enjoyable and allowed for a nice complete "wireless" experience. 

    The Duo's Battery life is very impressive.  In my line of work I am sometimes in high density cellular areas and other times trying to cling on to that last bar but that didn't seem to affect battery life one bit.  There were times when I would forget to charge the device only to find the battery level still high the next morning.  Most of my use on this device was data but I use data like others use voice plus add the fact that continuous device data access keeps the backlight on much longer than a phone call would.  This shows the tremendous gains the LED backlight gives this unit.  One thing that I did notice and this is true with many smaller cellular devices is that prolonged voice communications will leave the back of the device fairly warm.  I haven't used a device this size in some time so I had forgotten about this until I started using the device for a few lengthily voice conversations.  A bluetooth headset will decrease the noticeable heat as the device will be tucked away in a pocket or case.

     

    The Pantech Duo is a really nice device aimed at those who require more functionality while maintaining a sleek appearance.  The device packs many nice features like great battery life, 3G data, dual keyboards and Windows Mobile 6.  The suggested price point will give it's competitors a run for their money.  One of the biggest problems with Windows Mobile Devices was getting the price point to be acceptable to the customer.  AT&T is selling the Pantech Duo for $449.99 but if you go for a 2 year contract the price is $299.00, adding a $100.00 mail-in rebate and the final price is $199.99.  Not bad for a device that packs so much functionality into a small package.  So if you're looking for a device that'll give you great performance while keeping you in the "in crowd" you will want to check out the Pantech Duo.

    12/19/2007 10:35:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    REVIEW: Vmoda VibeDuo Wired Stereo Headset#
    Post By Eric Hicks

    Stylish,functional and great sound, those are words which don't go together especially when  describing stereo headsets. Most cellphone headsets are included as an afterthought and many are cheap sounding pieces of plastic that are not even suited for listening to phone conversation let alone music. Add to that their usually bulky, cheap construction and poor sound and it's no wonder they only make their appearance when you really need them (like in your car).

    Vmoda wishes to change this. They have created a line of "designer" headsets that appeal to your fashion and sound senses. Just a look at the packaging suggests that this headset was made for you to wear and enjoy everywhere.  Plus the array of available colors makes color coordination with you outfit a breeze.

    Inside the box you will find the headset and leather carrying pouch. Inside the pouch you'll find different size earmolds for the earbuds in both clear and black rubber. For me the pre-installed black molds were a perfect fit. The earbuds are light weight and feature some pseudo "Bling"  to draw attention to you're new found status of sound and fashion. The headset buds are made to snuggly fit inside the outer ear canal giving you a nice sound space and reducing background noise.

     Along the wire for the left earbud you'll find a sleek microphone with a button. This button allows you to answer calls without touching the phone. Something that's definitely needed as your phone will likely be in your pocket. There's also a shirt clip and a nice Vmoda branded metal cylinder which is used to split the left  and right wires for each earbud.

    So with all that out of the way the big question is how do they sound? Well I hooked the Vmoda's up to my Toshiba Gigabeat and pulled up a playlist that I use to evaluate and set sound systems. My first impression was WOW, is this a headset or a nice pair of headphones. The sound was very full, rich and also had one thing that many headsets (and headphones for that matter) lacked and that was low end response. The specified frequency response is 12 Hz to 22 kHz and while I don't really think they are capable of reaching 12 Hz,the bass was full, deep and uncluttered.  You won't need to crank the volume of your MP3 player to max just to have good volume. When paired with the Gigabeat I was able to keep the volume at a reasonably low level while maintaining a good listening level even on a busy subway. Part of this I attributed to the earbuds sensitivity and the other is the earmolds. External noise is kept to a very minimum level even while riding an underground subway during rush hour.

    The Vmoda package says it's designed for iPhones and MP3 players but be aware that not all MP3 players are made the same. The Vmoda headset has a four conductor connector and depending on you MP3 player you may need to insert the plus only partially into the headphone  jack. My Gigabeat utilizes a four conductor headphone jack for the output of both audio and video, when I plugged the Vmoda's all the way into the headphone jack I got sound that was indicative of surround sound but not much else. This was due to the missing ground connection from the  MP3 player to the headset. It may be a good idea for Vmoda to include a four conductor to three conductor adapter with these headsets so the user doesn't need to pull the headset jack partially out of the device.

     

    Vmoda has what I feel is a good product but I don't know if many people are ready to shell out $101 for a stereo headset.  Then again there are those who these will definately appeal to and because this headset looks good and sounds good it will have no problems bringing hours of listening pleasure, comfort and style to the end user.  You can purchase the VibeDuo right from  Vmoda's website.

    12/17/2007 18:53:50 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Sling Media Goes SOLO with New Slingbox, Symbian S60 Player#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    Well, the announcement of EchoStar's acquisition of Sling Media hasn't slowed down what has already been in the works for some time. Sling Media today announced the release of a really slick-looking new Slingbox and support for Symbian S60 platform with SlingPlayer Mobile -

    Foster City, CA September 27, 2007 Sling Media, Inc., a leading digital lifestyle products company, today announced the retail launch of the new Slingbox™ SOLO, a freshly designed new Slingbox that can connect to a standard definition or high definition set top box and features increased streaming performance for less than $200. Slingbox SOLO transforms PCs, laptops, Macs and a variety of smartphones into personal, portable TVs and builds upon the goals of the original Slingbox – giving consumers the freedom to view their home cable, satellite or digital video recorder (DVR) programming on a wide range of devices anywhere they can access the Internet. Slingbox SOLO is available in retail stores and at www.slingmedia.com for a suggested retail price of $179.99.

    ”Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of place-shifting their favorite TV and DVR programming, and are demanding products that are both attractively designed and future-proof as they look to upgrade their TV service from standard definition to HD in the coming year. Slingbox SOLO has all of the right features built-in, making it an ideal fit for a wide range of customer needs,” said Blake Krikorian, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media. “The Slingbox SOLO fits the digital media needs of both new and existing customers, giving them the flexibility and capability to enjoy personalized content from any of their home entertainment devices - virtually anywhere.”

    SOLOprofile SOLOfront

    Slingbox SOLO is designed to meet the varied requirements of today’s multi-faceted TV-viewing households. The product includes standard (4:3) and widescreen (16:9) video support and increased streaming performance (full VGA resolution, up to 8Mbps around the home). Slingbox SOLO accepts inputs from either standard definition or high definition set top boxes, giving customers the ability to connect virtually any Audio/Video device via component video, S-Video or composite video connectors and features integrated looping outputs for each input.

    Slingbox SOLO will be available nationwide through Sling Media’s retail partners, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Buy.com, Circuit City, CompUSA, Fry’s, J&R and Micro Center as well as www.slingmedia.com for a suggested retail price of $179.99.

    Sling Media also announced a new version of its SlingPlayer Mobile software today that is compatible with smartphones that run S60 software on Symbian OS™ including Nokia Nseries and Eseries devices. Customers who purchase an N95 receive a free version of the SlingPlayer Mobile software, a $29.99 value. For a list of compatible smartphones and more details on the Nokia N95 offer, please visit www.slingmedia.com/go/nokia.

    Nokia_N95_Opened

    I like the thinking on the feature set and price point for the SOLO. Position it between the AV and the PRO, provide built-in component connections for high definition and price it in an attractive fashion. All this and just in time for the holidays :-)

    I wish I could take this as an indicator that things will not change now that Sling Media is a part of EchoStar (as I mentioned in my post earlier this week). However, both the SOLO and the S60 SlingPlayer Mobile have been in the works for quite a while. I still hold the hope that EchoStar's acquisition does not result in a change of direction for Sling Media's independent hardware. The ability for Slingboxes to work with just about any other piece of hardware out there has always been a huge plus for the consumer.

    09/27/2007 08:13:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    EchoStar to Acquire Sling Media#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    Upon receiving the following press release from Sling Media last night, I felt my heart sink a bit...

    EchoStar Announces Agreement to Acquire Sling Media, Inc.

    Combination Will Create Industry-Leading Digital Media Solutions Provider

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. and FOSTER CITY, Calif., September 24, 2007 – EchoStar Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) announced today that it has agreed to acquire Sling Media, Inc., a privately-held digital lifestyle products company. EchoStar, through its DISH Network®, is the third largest pay-TV provider in the United States. The transaction values Sling Media at approximately $380 million and is payable in cash and EchoStar options. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2007.

    Established in 2004, Sling Media has been a leading innovator in the digital lifestyle space through the introduction of the internationally-acclaimed, Emmy award-winning Slingbox™ and SlingPlayer™ software. Sling Media’s product line is distributed in over 5,000 retail stores in 11 countries.

    In 2006, Sling Media created the Sling Entertainment Group with the mission of developing entertainment experiences and business models that reach beyond the Slingbox. The group also fosters and manages relationships with content creators and owners. Its first initiative, Clip+Sling™, dramatically changes the way consumers socialize around TV by enabling users to clip and share limited segments of their favorite television programming.

    “As an early investor in Sling Media, EchoStar has been pleased with the progress and commitment the company has made establishing Sling Media and the Slingbox as powerful and beloved digital media brands,” said Charlie Ergen, CEO and co-founder of EchoStar. “With today’s increasingly mobile lifestyle, EchoStar’s acquisition of Sling Media will allow us to offer innovative and convenient ways for our customers to enjoy their programming on more displays and locations, including TVs, computers and mobile phones, both inside and outside of the home. This combination paves the way for the development of a host of new innovative products and services for our subscribers, new digital media consumers and strategic partners.”

    “We are psyched to make this announcement. We have worked closely with EchoStar for more than two years, and have come to realize that both companies have similar entrepreneurial cultures and mutual dedication and passion for creating empowering experiences that benefit the consumer and the media industry,” said Blake Krikorian, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media. “By combining strategies, resources and technologies with EchoStar, Sling Media will be able to rapidly expand our open multi-platform product offerings, not only for DISH Network subscribers, but for digital media enthusiasts around the globe.”

    If the folks at Sling Media are happy, then I am happy for them. I can only hope that this new chapter for Sling Media is one that benefits all Slingbox users. I have found myself becoming cynical in recent times regarding acquisitions that supposedly benefit both consumer parties, yet result in only bettering the side of the consumer who happens to own technology from the company making the purchase. Here is to hoping that this acquisition changes my perception.

    09/25/2007 08:31:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    NetWasp Releases FlashThemes Generator 2007#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    If your Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Phone Edition Today screen is simply not exciting enough when static, NetWasp has long had an alternative with their FlashThemes Player. While they also provide a wide variety of themes to download, you can take matters into your own hands with their new FlashThemes Generator 2007

     

    Following on from the enormously successful launch of FlashThemes Player 2007 Netwasp are pleased to announce the release of FlashThemes Generator 2007. This version of the theme creation toolkit is hugely advanced over its predecessor.

    FlashThemes Generator 2007 gives you the opportunity to make your own static or animated Pocket PC themes for any Windows Mobile PocketPC device, running on WM2003, WM5.0 and even WM6.0! You can design your themes for whatever screen layouts you have whether for Portrait, Landscape or even square screens.

    You can even publish on Netwasp.com and then start selling your own themes if you think they're good enough! Click here for more information: http://www.netwasp.com.

    You can find out more about FlashThemes Generator 2007 by visiting its product home page.

    06/05/2007 09:58:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    CBS to be "Sling"ed to Mobile Devices#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    CBS Corp. announced today that it has signed a new deal with Sling Media to create the CBS Interactive Audience Network along with several other significant companies including AOL, Microsoft, CNET Networks, Comcast, Joost, Bebo, Brightcove, Netvibes, and Veoh.   This announcement is set to position CBS as the most widely distributed professional content provider online. Can you say a move in the right direction?

    Sling Media’s role will be to distribute free, ad supported, full length as well as clip-based video content from CBS via Clip+Sling and enhanced SlingPlayer software, which will be launched for both Slingbox and non-Slingbox customers this summer. In addition, Sling Media plans to integrate the same CBS content into additional platforms including its forthcoming SlingCatcher.

    "We are excited to extend our business relationship with CBS by offering our current and future audiences access to great long form programming from CBS that covers the spectrum from drama and comedy to sports and news," said Jason Hirschhorn, president of the Sling Media Entertainment Group. "CBS is proving they are a leader in the digital media space by embracing new platforms for content distribution. The announcement is an example of true ubiquity as evidenced by the cast of both new and established partners. We are proud to be working with them on this endeavor."

    I can see in the future other Viacom entertainment properties moving in this direction as well like MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1,etc. Content will not be no longer be available as live only, but this brings a whole another direction to place-shifting television and Video on Demand. I have been watching "On Demand" CBS content on my Comcast cable box and I am assuming the same content will also be available. Me and my wife were able to catch up on the whole series of Jericho (a season and a half)in a single weekend and we watched it in HD!  I can't wait to see more and via my Slingbox optimized for my Windows Mobile device no less!

    04/12/2007 15:31:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    T-Mobile Dash: Impressions and Thoughts#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    As I promised, a full week of use of the T-Mobile Dash now affords some observations. If you do not want to read on, here's the short of it -

    The T-Mobile Dash may very well be the first device I have used that does not have me longing to use another device.

    Coming from someone who currently owns devices across a range of form factors, features and capabilities, this is a pretty big statement. If you read on, however, you may understand why I have become so attached to this device.

    Background:
    You may have noticed that the title of this post does not use the word "review". There have been any number of these around the Internet for a while. Instead, I decided to approach this post more from an observational perspective, especially due to the fact that my usage patterns for a Windows Mobile are not exactly the norm.

    I am a heavy, HEAVY Windows Mobile business user. I rely on the messaging capabilities of my devices, the reliability of phone operations, and the ease of accomplishing business-related tasks in "less than optimal" conditions. For me, the ability to quickly digest and communicate information while on-the-go is a critical factor in device usability.

    While Windows Mobile business productivity is essential to me, I do enjoy using my Windows Mobile device for "extracurricular activities" as well. In this category, I look for device and application performance and ease of use as criteria.

    The Device Itself
    The first thing I should talk about is the T-Mobile Dash in terms of dimensions, form fator and weight. In short, this is a wonderfully "pocketable" device for the functionality it brgins to the table. A very lightweight device that is also extremely thin, I find it very easy to forget that I have it in my shirt pocket! In addition, I can put the Dash into my shirt pocket and still have room for a business card holder and pen (something that was difficult with candybar-style Smartphones and impossible with my Phone Edition devices).

    The rubberized molding on the Dash gives me a feeling of confidence when holding the device. No slipping or fumbling around here. It is easy to hold the device in one hand and access all of the keys on the front of the device, including the phone, softkey and thumboard buttons. This has been incredibly important to me when trying to accomplish tasks like reading and writing e-mail with only one free hand.

    About the only complaint I have regarding the layout of the device is the location of the volume/JOGGR control and its associated defaault mappings. The control is on the upper-right side of the device. By default, it is mapped for "call reject" on incoming phone calls. Unfortunately, when pulling the device out of your pocket, there is a strong likelihood that this button will be accidentally hit. The mapping is configurable via a registry key, and there is a CAB file available at SurrealNetworks (along with some other useful Dash-related utilities) that makes the registry change simple.

    Phone Functionality
    Out of the box, the T-Mobile Dash is easy to use as a phone. Clearly-labeled buttons are easily accessible, and the clarity of both the speaker and the mic make for good cellular conversations. One of the first applications I added to the Dash (or any Phone Edition device, for that matter) is Microsoft Voice Command. The Dash comes with Bluetooth, and I am a serious Bluetooth user. Voice Command works well with the Dash, and not just for answering calls. I use it for making outgoing calls as well, speaking the contact's name and number to dial. Using my Jabra BT250v, voice recognition levels are regularly right on the money, even in noiser locations. With the Dash and Voice Command, I rarely have to take my phone out of my pocket when using the phone.

    Mail Messaging
    Microsoft Voice Command's capabilities have added a new dimension to my use of a Bluetooth headset. My company uses Microsoft Exchange for e-mail and calendaring, and my Dash is configured for Direct Push of information. Voice Command can be set to announce incoming e-mail (either important or all) as it arrives, and either always or just through the Bluetooth headset when it is paired. I tend to be away from my desk quite a bit, and the ability to have Voice Command read the sender's name and message subject has me now wearing my headset most of (if not all of) the business day.

    At this point, I should talk a bit about the Dash's display. The screen is quite readible, especially when compared to traditional flip-style and candybar phones. It is large enough to make me forget at least a couple of times during the first few days that this was a Smartphone, and had no touchscreen capabilities. The display is very legible in both indoor and outdoor lighting, and images are crisply displayed.

    From a messaging standpoint, it is easy to navigate and triage e-mails using the Dash.  I can easily read the subjects of e-mail without having to bring the device too close to my eyes (something I can't do with even a QVGA Smartphone like my i-mate SP5m).

    One initial area of concern was the Dash's thumboard. I tend to view individual's preferences to thumboards to be much like politics and religion. A discussion always results in passionate debate, and no two people seem to feel the same way ;-) That being said, I am one who enjoys using a thumboard, but also can be frustrated with implementations. While I have good dexterity, my fingers are not exactly "dainty", which can lead to difficulty in typing (especially in one-handed operations on small keyboards).

    I am very happy to report that I have been please with the thumboard of the T-Mobile Dash. While the keys are small, they are distinctly indivudual in their positioning. By this I mean that there is a noticable space between keys. To me, this is extremely important in typing, as the tactile effect this provides helps me immensely to avoid hitting multiple keys simultaneously. The tactile response to clicking keys is also very good, giving me a greater level of confidence while typing.

    The ability to use the thumboard with a single hand is a huge plus for me. My other devices with thumboards/keyboards (the i-mate JASJAR and the i-mate K-JAM) both were too heavy and awkwardly balanced to easily use with only one hand. With the Dash, I can easily type with my thumb and not be concerned that the device will fall out of my hand.

    I have become quite comfortable and proficient in a short period of time in composing and responding to e-mails on the Dash. I actually enjoy the experience enough to do this even when a desktop computer is within a few seconds reach. In the past, I would often say to myself "I'll be back at my desk in a couple of minutes. It'll be easier then." I really do not have that feeling any more.

    Instant Messaging
    I also use a lot of Instant Messaging on my device, for both work and personal use. The T-Mobile Dash comes with Pocket MSN installed. As a participant in the Windows Live Messenger for Mobile Beta, I have loaded the latest client onto the Dash (note - once this beta goes final, I will provide a more in-depth review. I must say, however, that it is definitely a big improvement for mobile IM). As in the case with mail messaging, the Dash has made me much more comfortable in IM conversations. As a result, I find that I am using IM on my device much more than I had in the past.

     Other "Mobile Activities"
    "All work and no play..." is the old saying. While business comes first, I do use my Windows Mobile devices for other purposes. I use IE Mobile for surfing the web and RSS reading. IE Mobile performs well on my Dash using EDGE data connections on the T-Mobile network. One big plus regarding this; the Dash comes with 128 MB RAM. Even after the OS and other default applications, there is a ton of room left for application installations on the device. More importantly, there is a lot of room for IE Mobile's temporary Internet cache. Users of many Windows Mobile Smartphones have had to resort to frequent clearing of the cache or registry hacks to move the cache to a storage card, due solely to the fact that there was very little available space on the device itself. This is definitely not the case.

    If you do wish to use external storage, the Dash takes a microSD card. At first this annoyed me a bit. It seems like we went from SD to miniSD to microSD in, oh, 2 days ;-) However, the fact that you can get a 1 GB microSD card (with SD adapter) for anywhere from $10 USD to $25 USD made the pain ease quickly. The microSD slot for the Dash is inside the same casing that houses access to the battery and the SIM card. While this means you will have to open that casing to change cards, I actually like the fact that it is now impossible to accidently lose a card while in a bag or pocket.

    Some other activities I have used the Dash for include:

    • Sling Player Mobile - Anyone who knows me knows I am as passionate about the Slingbox as I am about any technology. While have heard and read of some issues with the Sling Player Mobile client on the Dash (Sling Media is also aware of this), I have not had these issues myself. I have used the Sling Player Mobile client in both EDGE and WiFi environments and (as always) enjoyed the experience of catching up on news or watchig a sprting event when away from a TV.
    • Audible Player - I do listen to audio books quite frequently, and Audible has provided me with all the content I could want for now for over 5 years. The Audible Player works well on the Dash.
    • Windows Media Player MobileAs a Janus DRM-enabled device, I am able to download my content from my Napster and URGE "all-you-can-eat" subscriptions and play them on the device without issues. I do admit, however, that I do not do this as much as others might, mainly do to the fact that I own a Toshiba Gigabeat S that serves more regularly as my "mobile media player".

     Generally speaking, audio quality from the device is as good as my other Windows Mobile devices. One thing that can be an annoyance is the fact that the Dash has followed suit with other recent devices (the Samsung i320 and Blackjack) in using a proprietary headset adapter. This means that you have three options:

    1. Use the included headset. Not very good sound quality and a bit uncomfortable for my liking;
    2. Purchase a headset adapter. Several places (including MobilePlanet and DayDeal) sell adapters for the Dash, allowing you to plug in your own headset;
    3. Use a Bluetooth stereo headset. Yes, the T-Mobile Dash supports the A2DP Bluetooth profile! I have used my Motorola HT-820 headphones to enjoy music with Windows Media Player Mobile without issue. 

    WiFi - A Potential Differentiator
    One of the unique selling points of the T-Mobile Dash versus competitors for form factor is the fact that the Dash does come with WiFi. How much a person relies on WiFi in their Windows Mobile device can make the difference between choosing a Dash or a Blackjack, for example. In my case, my WiFi use is rather limited. EDGE data access serves me well for e-mail, web browsing and (for the most part) streaming video from my SlingBox. When I have used WiFi, however, it has been both reliable and well-performing on the Dash. The most common use I have had has been to watch TV on SlingPlayer Mobile; the picture has been crisp and with little hesitation.

    Battery Life
    For most people, battery life is an important consideration. It is a high consideration for me as well, but with a twist. I fall into the category of people who always drop a device into a cradle or plug in a power adapter at the end of the day. While it might be a very long day (trust me on this one), I seldom go more than 24 hours without a charge.

    I have found that my "regular use" (Bluetooth always on, 1 - 2 hours of phone calls, Internet access via EDGE) normally leaves me with somewhere between 40 - 50% charge left on the device at the end of the day. As always, the phrase "your mileage may vary" applies. For me, this is more than enough. Nonetheless, I picked up a second battery for the Dash (just in case).

    Conclusion
    Remember - I am but one person with one voice regarding one device here. I have always believed (and will continue to do so) that there are lots of preferences in the world with lots of choices that can match up. Based upon my preferences, needs and desires, however, I feel comfortable in recommending the T-Mobile Dash to those who are looking for a well-performing, lightweight messaging-oriented device. The combination of form-factor and capabilities make the Dash a real winner in my book.

    I will continue to keep everyone up-to-date as I continue to use the device. One thing is for sure - it will be getting a lot of "wear and tear" from me :-) 

    04/07/2007 10:42:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Vista Users: Windows Update for Windows Media Player 11 and Windows Mobile 5#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    If you are a Windows Mobile 5 user on Windows Vista, you may have experienced problems with trying to set up your storage card on the device to synchronize with Windows Media Player 11. Microsoft has issued an update (via Windows Update) to address the issue -

    If you have not checked Windows Update in the last couple of days, be sure to do so when you have the chance.

    03/28/2007 07:55:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    PocketThemes.com and PocketPCMall.com Relaunched#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    Back in January, we reported on Netwasp's aquisition of KamWare's ThemeMaker. Many people may not be aware that Netwasp also is the owner of PocketThemes.com and its e-Commerce sibling PocketPCMall.com. Well, word has now come that Netwasp has re-launched these two longtime web sites -

    In its heyday PocketThemes was the number 1 resource for all things ‘Pocket PC themes’; linked to by every major player in the industry and used by everyone wanting to publish that “must-have” theme”. Due to a number of technical and organizational reasons both sites went down a few years ago and, although the top spot in Google went over to Netwasp’s other community themes site (PocketPCThemes.com) PocketThemes has already proven it can rival the best of them.

    PocketPCMall is the eCommerce brother of PocketThemes providing a wide variety of themes and software dedicated to Pocket PC users. The site can boast the largest collection of Animated Today and FlashThemes themes anywhere in the world, as well as themes for FlashThemesPro and the soon to come FlashDash.

    Welcome to PocketThemes.com - The Windows Mobile Themes Site!

     

     

    If you haven't paid a visit to PocketThemes.com lately, now would be a good time to do so.

    03/25/2007 09:09:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Spb Softwarehouse Launches Spb Club#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    Imagine yourself as the owner of a shiny new Windows Mobile device. You've heard that there are lots of ways to customize and enhance your phone, but you're not sure how. Thanks to the folks at Spb Softwarehouse, there is a new and great place to start - Spb Club

    Signing up is free and easy, and provides access to:

    • 50+ free Pocket PC ringtones and SMS-tone (specially created for Pocket PC)
    • 40+ free Pocket PC themes (all themes support all resolutions + good usability of all themes)
    • 50+ free skins for different Pocket PC programs (Windows Media Player, Dialer, Calculator and Spb programs)
    • 200+ free tips & tricks about using Pocket PC
    • Information about Pocket PC accessories
    • Spb Pocket PC programs and games

    So don't delay!

    01/18/2007 12:30:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Cisco Sues Apple Over iPhone Trademark#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli