Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skype Video Calling for the iPhone

Skype Video Calling for iPhoneSkype is one of the most popular internet phone services around. It gives you the ability to call, message and chat with people all from your computer without the need of a phone. There are also a lot of mobile Skype apps out there for the iPhone and Android phones that give you some of the functionality of the website. But now, the iPhone has something that everybody has been waiting for, full video calling.

Skype has just announced the newest version of its application for the iPhone which brings video calling to all iPhone users via 3G and WiFi networks. The app, downloadable from the Apple App Store, became available today and allows iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to make and receive free Skype video calls for the first time ever. With 25 million Skype users logged in at any one time you can easily share things with anybody in any part of the world.

The video calling feature will enhance your user experience with the Skype app significantly, and the app itself is one of the top 5 free apps according to Apple. You can now make and receive free Skype-to-Skype calls, call mobile and landline phones around the world and share more moments with Skype video calling.

According to Neil Stevens, General Manager of Skype's Consumer Business, "With video calling representing approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010, our users have been eager to get Skype video calling on their mobile phones. By bringing video to mainstream users at their home or work via their desktops, on the go with their mobiles or into their living rooms via their TV, Skype has made it possible for millions of people to share video moments wherever they are."

If you are like me, then you get bored physically talking on the phone. However, with this new video calling you can liven up the conversation by seeing the other person. Loved ones can see each other no matter where they are. If you have a loved one away in the military, then you can rest assured that they will never miss anything with Skype's video calling. You can even collaborate with colleagues back at the home office if you are, let's say, away on a business trip in Hong Kong.

Users of the app can place video calls over both 3G and WiFi, and the new app is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 4th Generation with ioS 4.0 or higher. The 3rd Generation iPod Touch and the iPad can only receive calls. Calls between devices can be made via the new Skype app for the iPhone and desktops including Skype for Windows 4.2 or higher, Skype for Mac 2.8 or higher, Skype for Linux and ASUS Videophone.

If you want true video calling from Skype, then head on over to the Apple App Store right now and pick up the newest app from Skype.

Source: Engadget
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Apple's iPhone is Still Going Strong

Apple’s iPhone is arguably one of the most successful companies of our time, and if you don’t agree with that statement, than you can’t argue with the fact that in the past few years the company has been incredibly successful. The iPhone is one of the factors that add a good bit to Apple’s success story. The iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry and continues to do so. Many would say that it is the most popular and coveted phone right now. Well, according to DigiTimes, Apple must feel that their success will continue with the phone.

On Monday, December 27, the popular Taiwanese publication DigiTimes claimed that Taiwan-based suppliers could confirm that Apple was planning to increase its global shipment of iPhones for the first quarter of 2011. They seem to be planning on increasing the number of units from 19 million to 20 or 21 million.

It has been reported that Apple’s supplier Foxconn is shipping out between 14 and 15 million WDCMA iPhones, which is up from 13 million. It is also said that Foxconn and Pegatron are going to be shipping out 5 to 6 million CDMA iPhones. It is expected that these devices will be released in Asian Pacific and the United States (on Verizon’s network) in early 2011. A rumor is flying around that China and the U.S. will be the first countries to offer a CDMA compatible iPhone.

There have been rumors about Verizon carrying an iPhone for quite some time now, but the Wall Street Journal seemed to hint in October at the idea that Apple planned to introduce a Verizon version of the iPhone sometime in early 2011.

According to JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz, if Verizon were to launch some type of version of the iPhone, there is a potential for Verizon’s stock to add at least $1.25 in incremental earnings per share annually.

For the fourth quarter, it is expected that global iPhone shipments are going to come in somewhere around 15.5 million. For the entire year, it is predicted that Apple’s total iPhone shipments are going to be close to 47 million.

Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said that his firm was forecasting iPhone sales to reach 13.3 million in the first quarter of 2011, and those numbers do not include what sales would be if Verizon were to release a version of the iPhone.

White wrote that if the number of CDMA iPhones that Digitimes claims to be shipping are correct, "these are big numbers and directly point to the growing popularity of the iPhone around the world in our view and the potential for a healthy upside to our earnings estimates.”

White said that during a trip to China, he noticed that the demand for iPhones definitely seemed to exceed the supplies that the country was receiving, as the exclusive official carrier of the iPhone, China Unicom, still seems to struggle to meet the demand for the iPhone 4. "For example, we indicated that the iPhone 4 was sold out for two months at authorized Apple resellers, Apple stores and China Unicom," he said. "We also mentioned that China Unicom was unable to fulfill approximately one-third of the iPhone 4 orders due to shortages." He said that China is still “in the early stages of catching ‘Apple Fever.’”

Earlier this month, Shaw Wu, one of Kaufman Bros. analysts, predicted that Apple would sell more than 62 million iPhones in 2011. This prediction did include Verizon contributing 2 to 3 million units in the U.S. per quarter or 8 to 12 million annually. Another analyst, Gene Munster, from Piper Jaffray said that Apple could sell another 2.5 additional iPhones next year if they add Verizon Wireless as a service provider.

iPhone sales are doing incredibly well, and it looks as though the sales will only continue to do well. Analysts are predicting that the first quarter of 2011 should be extremely successful. If Verizon can secure a version of the iPhone, I think that sales numbers will skyrocket. I know so many different people who prefer the iPhone to the Droid, but since they like Verizon Wireless service much better than AT&T, they settle with the Droid or some other smartphone offered by Verizon. If Verizon offered the iPhone, Apple would be sure to increase their iPhone sales by a good amount. The Wall Street Journal seems to think that Verizon should have some version of the iPhone early in 2011. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Microsoft Sells 1.5 Million Windows 7 Phones

On Tuesday, December 21 Microsoft announced that it has sold more than 1.5 million Windows 7 phones in the first six weeks of sales. Unfortunately, those numbers represent the sale of phones to retail stores and carriers. The sales numbers of devices actually sold to customers are most likely much lower.

"Sales are ramping well as our reputation is growing for offering users a unique experience and are in line with our expectations – especially when compared to other new platform introductions," Achim Berg, corporate vice president of mobile communications at Microsoft, said in a statement. "With a new platform you have to look at a couple of things, first of all customer satisfaction."

This is good to hear because there were very disappointing sales numbers when the phone was first released. The Windows 7 phone was built up by the company but only sold 40,000 devices on their launch day. The phone was available through AT&T and T-Mobile. According to a market research source who tracks phone sales and such, Microsoft spent $100 million on an advertising campaign for the phone. Just to give you a comparison, Apple sold more than 2 million iPhone 4s in just the first two days.

Roger Entner, a Nielsen telecom analyst, said at the time that, "It's early in the game. Not every product surges right out of the starting blocks. The first Android phone was not a big seller at T-Mobile."

He continued saying that the Christmas season would really tell how well the phone would do. "We'll see what happens with Black Friday sales," he said. "They'll probably cut prices like everyone else does. It's the nature of the beast. The only one that doesn't do promotions is Apple."

Entner was right. Microsoft has been much more successful since the slow start. Selling 1.5 million devices in the first six weeks is an accomplishment considering the original sales numbers for the devices. Berg did not discuss the U.S. sales versus international, but he did say, “We know we have tough competition, and this is a completely new product. We're in the race – it's not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum and we're in it for the long run.”

Berg continued saying that Microsoft had “realistic” expectations for its Windows 7 phones. “We started fresh with Windows Phone 7, and it's a different kind of phone. Measuring for success is more long term than short term," he said.

He further discussed the Windows Phone Marketplace, which now has 4,000 apps and 18,000 different developers creating apps. "We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning," Berg said. Berg said that sales are “in line” with Microsoft’s expectations.

Berg promised that the company is planning on releasing several updates for the Windows 7 phone lineups over the next few months. The lineup was released in October. Five different Windows 7 devices are available in the U.S. from AT&T and T-Mobile including the HTC Surround, the LG Quantum, the Samsung Focus, the HTC HD7, and the Dell Venue Pro. It is expected that Windows 7 phones will be offered at both Sprint and Verizon by next year.

It will be interesting to see if sales really do well over the long haul. Microsoft seems very confident in the idea that their phones will be successful in the long term. It’s definitely no iPhone, but I believe that the Windows 7 phones will do well and that the addition of phones from Verizon and Sprint will cause the sales numbers to most definitely increase. is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Amazon's Kindle for Android Goes 2.0

Kindle for AndroidThe Kindle, Amazon's electronic book reader, revolutionized the way people read books. The Kindle offered people not only a way to have their favorite book on hand at all time but also 750,000+ books. The ability to scan a database and find pretty much any book you wanted and then download it so you have it whenever you want is definitely a revolutionary idea.

With the popularity of smartphones increasing daily, it is no surprise that Amazon designed a Kindle app for smartphones that runs the Android OS. Since smartphones are basically a pocket-sized computer, why can't they give you books as well? That is what Amazon thought and that is why they developed the app.

Version 2.0 of Amazon's Kindle for Android has just crept its way onto the market, and it brought some friends, namely access to the company's vast library of newspapers and magazines, the ability to purchase content in-app and the freedom to choose where you want to store your app, even if that desired location is on your microSD card.

There are a lot of updates that come with v2.0. Among the new features, customers will be able to read the 100+ magazines and newspapers, sample and even purchase content using an integrated store, share book reading progress and double tap to zoom in. The app also allows you to access any books you have on your actual Kindle even if it isn't close by. It automatically syncs with your Kindle device to start reading where you left off, can adjust text size, add bookmarks, view any annotations you made with your Kindle, read in portrait or landscape views or tap on either side of the screen or flick to turn pages.

The Kindle store allows you to browse more than 750,000 books which includes 107 of 111 New York Times bestsellers, subscribe to specific magazines or newspapers having each new edition automatically delivered, or you can purchase individual issues. Like I said earlier, you can create social networking updates on your reading progress, zoom for images and graphics, and have the ability to use your volume buttons to double as page turners, you know, if you are in to that sort of thing.

If you are an avid user of a Kindle or the Kindle for Android app, then I highly recommend you update your app to the 2.0 version. It adds a lot of new features that many people will be impressed with and happy to have. The update is available on the Android Market now and requires Android OS 1.6 or greater.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kin Studio Terminated for Good

kin studio terminated
Just recently, Verizon sent out a letter to their customers explaining that the Kin Studio will no longer be in existence as of January 31. They also explained that any Kin One and Kin Two users will be offered any 3G replacement phone of their choice up until March 31.

On May 13, 2010, Microsoft released the uniquely designed Kin One and Kin Two phones. The reviews of the phone weren’t all bad, but they weren’t very good either. A lot of the criticism about the phones surrounded the required data packages that users had to take out and the pricing of the different packages. Critics were saying that the Kin phones did have a few extra features, but there wasn’t anything too special about them, and they were being priced as a smartphone. The Kin phones simply could not compete with the other smartphones that Verizon offered. After only 48 days of being on the market, the phones were discontinued. It was estimated that only about 9,000 devices were sold in that time period.

In the official statement that Microsoft made about discontinuing the Kin phones, they said, “We have made the decision to focus on our Windows Phone 7 launch and we will not ship Kin in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our Kin team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from Kin into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current Kin phones.”

At the time Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said, "Kin is still an important part of our portfolio," but obviously it wasn’t doing too well because Verizon quickly dropped the prices of the phones due to very low sales numbers.
On top of the phones being discontinued for almost six months now, the Kin Studio is closing as well. The Kin Studio is a cloud service that allows users unlimited storage of their photos, videos, and contacts for free on Microsoft’s servers.

Although the Kin Studio is being shut down, the phones will still be able to function; there will just be lots of key features that will no longer be available on the phones. The Kin phones will still have the ability to make and receive calls, text messages, write emails, browse the Web, and stream music via Zune Pass. They will not be able to deliver other features though like the extremely built up social media capabilities that the phones were supposed to possess. Kin users will no longer be able to update statuses, post photos, or leave comments on any of the social networking sites. Updates to the home screen of the Kin phones will no longer occur, the feed reader for RSS feeds will stop working, there will no longer be any over-the-air updates, and any data that users have stored via Kin Studio will no longer be accessible. Users will be able to access this data until January 31, so there is still time for them to transfer the data to their computer before the service is permanently closed.

Last month, Verizon announced that they will soon be offering the new rebranded Kin ONEm for $19.99 and the Kin TWOm for $49.99 with a two-year contract. The phones look very similar to the original Kin One and Kin Two, but these phones will be available as a straight feature phone. This means that customers won’t have to take a data package with the ONEm and TWOm.

A Verizon spokesperson said that the new Kin phones are being released to “provide an option for customers who liked the form factor of the previous Kin phones but want an Internet-capable device that doesn't require a data plan."

I think it’s great that Verizon is offering such a generous deal to current Kin users by allowing them to select any 3G phone free of charge. I think that it is good that Microsoft is finally admitting true defeat with the Kin One and Kin Two, and I guess we’ll just have to see how the Kin ONEm and Kin TWOm come out. It won’t take much for them to be a million times better than their predecessors.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

According to Consumer Reports, AT&T Is the Worst Mobile Service Provider

att is worst service provider
Yes, AT&T is the service provider of the coveted and ever so popular iPhone, but many customers are not even close to being satisfied with the service that the company provides. Consumer Reports did an annual survey of different cell phone carriers and reported Monday that AT&T is the worst cell phone provider in the country right now. Consumer Reports polled 58,000 readers to compile the numbers for their survey. More than half of the respondents whose carrier was AT&T said that they owned some version of the iPhone, but they didn’t seem too happy with their service.

Consumer Reports continued saying that AT&T was the only carrier whose overall satisfaction scores dropped significantly since the survey was conducted last year. AT&T only had a 60 percent score for overall customer satisfaction.

The data that was collected showed that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their service provider than owners of comparable iPhone-like smartphones that were on another carrier. Electronics editor for Consumer Reports Paul Reynolds said in a statement, “Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans.” This rumor has been circulating for quite some time. It’s been shot down many times, but I guess it’s begun swirling around again.

“We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is, wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors," said AT&T in a statement. "Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation's fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent - the equivalent of just one call in a thousand - of the industry leader."

So how did the other national carriers do with overall customer satisfaction? Well, Verizon and Sprint were almost tied. Verizon had 74 percent satisfaction, and Sprint had 73 percent satisfaction. Consumer Reports said, "Verizon Wireless has an edge in voice service overall. Sprint scored better in some aspects of customer service, which is a remarkable turnaround from past years when that was a weak point for the company,"

The fourth top national mobile carrier, T-Mobile, came in with 69 percent overall satisfaction rates, making it the third top carrier in satisfaction.

There is also one regional cell phone carrier that did quite well with customer satisfaction. US Cellular is available in 26 different states and has an 82 percent satisfaction rating. Consumer Reports said, "It stands out for value, voice service, and customer service.”

Consumer Reports also went on to evaluate the best smartphones from each carrier. They checked out the Motorola Droid X for Verizon, the Samsung Epic 4G for Sprint, the Samsung Captivate for AT&T, and the Samsung Vibrant for T-Mobile.

It was very interesting to see that one of the most popular smartphones is on the worst national service provider. That is encouraging for Verizon though if they are be able to secure the rights to the iPhone sometime soon. AT&T needs to step it up, or they are definitely going to face some major issues in the future.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Free Smartphones at Best Buy All December

best buy smartphone deals
Best Buy is offering an absolutely amazing deal right now. On Friday, December 3rd, they kicked off their latest smartphone promotion. They said that they will be offering at least four free smartphones every single day through the month of December.

Best Buy will be offering a phone from each of the four major U.S. wireless providers. On Friday Best Buy's deals consisted of Verizon’s HTC Droid Incredible, AT&T’s Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, Sprint’s LG Optimus S, and T-Mobile’s LG Optimus T.
To get the deal from Best Buy, customers have to sign up for a new two-year contract, or they must upgrade their existing account for another two years. Best Buy says that they will only have a limited number of devices in their stores for the promotion. The offer is also not retroactive.

These free smartphones will be available from all of the Best Buy stores, all 157 Best Buy Mobile specialty stores, and on Best Buy’s website.

"We were excited by the amount of consumer interest we received around our 'Free Phone Fridays' promotion in October, so we wanted to do it again only bigger," President of Best Buy Shawn Score said in a statement. "People want smartphones and we couldn't think of a better way to end the year for our customers than to offer free devices every day in December."

Best Buy did something similar to this in October where they offered free smartphones on every Friday of the month, and luckily for those who are looking to upgrade their phones, the retailer expanded it to every day of the month in December.

This is a great deal that anyone who is a customer of the top four U.S. wireless service providers can take advantage of. I know that I definitely need a phone upgrade and will definitely be looking into the deals that Best Buy is offering. If you need a new phone, be sure to check out Best Buy.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

iOS 4.2 Supports New Network Congestion Reducing Technology

It appears that Apple is joining the fight in cutting down smartphone signaling with the company's latest iPhone iOs 4.2. Tests by Nokia Siemens Networks have displayed that iPhone iOs 4.2 supports a technology known as Networked Controlled Fast Dormancy. What the technology basically does it makes the network and the handset work together in order to create the best conditions for smartphones to be able to function quickly while at the same time having a longer battery life and minimizing network congestion.

Smartphones connect to the network constantly and are often driven by applications. However, this creates an huge amount of signaling as smartphones switch from idle to active mode in order for them to interact with the network. As soon as the smartphone has gathered all the necessary information it requires, it sometimes may switch immediately to the idle state in order to conserve your battery. Then when you want any kind of data from the network, your smartphone just has to reconnect. This involves the network and the smartphone exchanging many small signals.

Unfortunately, all this disconnecting and reconnecting takes a lot of time and can even cause a slow network response which can become increasingly frustrating. However, leaving your smartphone in an active mode at all times drains the battery extremely fast.

To overcome this problem, Nokia Siemens Networks has introduced a method that keeps your smartphone in an intermediate state as opposed to putting it into an idle mode or an active mode. From this point your smartphone can wake up much more quickly and also needs to send fewer signals to and from the network to start a data connection. This allows you to get a fast network response as well as a longer battery life.

The new Apple software release supports this way of working on networks that use this specific type of technology. Nokia also uses this technology in their smartphones which they released earlier this year. Testing in the Middle East reported up to 11 hours of battery life, and North America testing showed a 50% decrease in smartphone signaling.

As more smartphones and operators OS's incorporate technologies that improve smartphone performance, smartphone networks will play an increasingly important role in making your overall smartphone experience more enjoyable.
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Study Shows Women Prefer iPhones and Men Prefer Androids

nielsen survey about operating systems
A recent study conducted by Nielsen found that when purchasing their next smartphone, women are much more likely to buy an iPhone and men are more inclined to purchase an Android device.

Nielsen Media Research is an American company headquartered in New York City that researches media audiences and their opinions of television, radio, theatre films, newspapers, and lots of other media outlets.

According to the data that Nielsen collected in October 2010, 31 percent of women wanted to buy an Apple iOS device of some sort as their next mobile device, while only 22.8 percent of them were interested in a Google Android device. On the other hand, among men the study found that 32.6 percent were more interested in purchasing an Android device, while 28.6 percent said they would first consider an iOS smartphone.

The report also said that in terms of market share, iPhones and Blackberrys are in a “statistical dead heat.” Both of these manufacturers each claim 27 percent of the smartphone sales. Android comes in behind them at 22 percent, Microsoft Windows Mobile has 14 percent, and Symbian, Linux, and Palm systems have less than 8 percent of the market.

However, the survey did not just look at the current numbers. Nielsen realized that the important thing to look at was the breakdown of “next desired smartphone purchases.” The study clearly showed that iOS and Android were going to be the preferred systems in the future. Of those surveyed, 35 percent checked that they were most interested in an iOS device and 28 percent said that an Android device would be their preference. Only 13 percent of those surveyed wanted a Blackberry device, which was the next “most desired” smartphone operating system. Following behind Blackberry, Windows Mobile was the next preferred device, but it only snagged six percent of the votes of those studied.

Nielsen even went as far as observing which operating systems were preferred among different age groups. They found that every single age range was most interested in Apple iOS except for 35-54 year olds. This age group said that they would prefer to make an Android their next smartphone purchase. Although this was the preferred system by this group of individuals, the numbers were very close. The study showed that 27.4 percent of those surveyed preferred an Android phone, but 26.3 percent said they would prefer an iOS device.

Another interesting figure that the report by Nielsen found was that 29.7 percent of U.S. mobile phone users currently own a smartphone of some sort. This is the highest figure recorded to date.

Earlier this month, two other research groups, NPD Group and Canalys, reported that Android was installed in about 44 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, putting it ahead of Apple and RIM. Another study released recently was conducted by comScore and claimed that Android was the fastest growing operating system in the market right now.

It’s interesting to see the audiences that different operating systems are appealing to and how close the numbers really are between the desire for an Apple iPhone and an Android device. It was intriguing to see that right now in terms of market shares Blackberrys are tied with iPhones and ahead of Android devices, but considering the future preferences that people have made clear with the Nielsen study, we should be seeing a decrease in the number of Blackberry devices being purchased.

Of course this could all easily change, but for now things are looking good for Apple and Google. We’ll just have to see how it all turns out.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mall Maps Deluxe App Can Help with Holiday Shopping

mall maps deluxe
As the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes settled in many content individuals' stomachs, other people were throwing on their hats and scarfs and rushing out at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning to catch the very best of the early bird Black Friday specials.

Many different companies did incredibly well with their Black Friday sales. Sears had great sales figures to report from Black Friday. A Sears spokesperson said, "Following the rush [Friday] morning, both Sears and Kmart stores across the country continued to see a steady flow of customers. Customers took advantage of our Doorbuster deals on home appliances, consumer electronics, jewelry, apparel and holiday trimmings – while also earning valuable Shop Your Way Rewards points at both retailers."

Although crowds flooded stores searching for the best Black Friday deals, the largest amount of sales were from online shopping. Internet retailers were the biggest winners concerning this year’s Black Friday sales, as many customers decided to make their purchases from the comfort of their own homes. is one of these online retailers that did very well. The company reported that this year was the most successful Black Friday in the company’s history. Their sales grew by more than 45 percent compared to last year. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, reported their 45 percent growth, a 100 percent increase in their marketplace sales, and “record numbers” of online consumers.

"Shoppers have come to know as a one-stop destination for the best return on their dollar," said chief executive and president of, Neel Grover. "Our initial holiday results point to a strong start of the season, as consumers responded favorably to the newest initiatives we put in place to create an even more wallet-friendly shopping experience."’s Black Friday deals included things like free shipping with no minimum purchase on over 2.7 million products and huge discounts on tons of their featured items. Most of the company’s deals were sold out by Saturday, but a few remained, such as a 23-inch Samsung B2330 LCD Monitor for $145, compared to its original price of $310.

Other Web sites like American Eagle and JC Penney did not do so well with their Black Friday sales due to terrible problems with their Web sites. On Saturday, WatchMouse reported that was only functional 64 percent of the time November 25 and 62 percent of the time November 26 (Black Friday). also suffered Web site outage problems and was only operational 78 percent of the time on Black Friday.

Other companies' Web sites including Fry’s Electronics, Office Max, Williams Sonoma, and Toys ‘R’ Us also suffered outage issues.

For those who didn’t get all of their holiday shopping finished on Black Friday and are looking to ease the stress of holiday shopping, there are a variety of different apps that can help you with all of your shopping needs. Developer Medl Mobile has created Mall Maps Deluxe for the very serious shoppers in the world. The developer dubbed the app “the shopaholic’s Bible.” It features a GPS-based search that will help you find all of the nearest malls. It will browse mall databases by state, show store lists with directory numbers, give addresses, phone numbers, and URL of every mall, and even give you a detailed floor plan of the malls you are interested in.

Holiday shopping can be an extremely stressful ordeal if you don’t have a very detailed shopping plan. With an app like Mall Maps Deluxe, you can easily plan what malls you need to visit to cover all of the stores you need to hit to get all of your holiday shopping done in one easy trip. If you’re deciding to brave the holiday crowds, let your phone assist you with your shopping and make your trip as stress-free as possible.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Smartphones Can Help with Black Friday Shopping

shopping appSmartphones have turned into devices that can help individuals with almost every aspect of their lives, and a new survey shows that they will even have an effect on the way that users do their holiday shopping this year.

According to the newest study from market researcher IDC, mobile devices are going to have a very large impact on the holiday shopping habits of American consumers. The survey was conducted with more than 1,000 consumers in September. It showed that customers who use a mobile device for shopping assistance will have a “greater advantage as they engage retailers.”

More than one-third of individuals who were surveyed said that they planned to improve the efficiency and ease of their shopping experience by utilizing their smartphones. They will be able to use their mobile device to search different stores' “price and product information” and also to search for “merchandise availability.” This will help to cut down a lot on stress and wasted time. Of those surveyed that said they plan on using the smartphone, 45 percent said that they would use their mobile device to compare the pricing of certain products to other stores' prices in the area, and 32 percent said that they will be using their phones to browse reviews of certain products that they are interested in.

It has been predicted that the holiday shopping season this year will generate somewhere around $447 billion in revenues. Of the $447 billion, IDC predicts that $127 billion in revenue will be spent by shoppers utilizing their mobile phones to enhance their shopping experience. One thing that is important to note is that these figures do not mean that shoppers are spending cash and purchasing items through their smartphone. IDC says that it simply means that these shoppers will be using their smartphones to help them to ease the stress of holiday shopping and to assist them with their buying decisions.

Now as amazing as these developments may sound to a consumer, it is not necessarily the best news for all retailers. IDC has said that “these new behaviors will exert pressures that weaken the store's immediate influence on purchase decisions at the shelf.” This is a very true thought that I’m sure has many retailers nervous. IDC continued discussing the topic saying that only those retailers that have “superior mobile and social media commerce strategies in place will have a decided advantage."

IDC’s study followed the study conducted by Yahoo that claimed that two-thirds of individuals with a mobile phone will be utilizing it this year while they are doing their holiday shopping. The Yahoo survey also discovered that the average American consumer will be spending close to $900 during the holiday shopping season this year.

These numbers that have been released by IDC and Yahoo are incredible. Mobile devices are increasingly becoming a very essential tool in many individuals' lives. Although it may not be the ideal thing for retailers, utilizing your smartphone to check pricing, availability, and quality of products is smart. It will help shoppers to find the best deals and best products available this holiday season. I know that I will definitely be utilizing these mobile benefits while I’m out doing my shopping. If you’re looking to ease some of the shopping stress of the holiday season, maybe you don’t need to look any further than your smartphone.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Netflix Coming…But Only to “Select” Android Phones

netflix on android
Netflix is showing up in a lot of different places these days. Phones, TVs, laptops, tablets, game systems, etc. are all starting to have Netflix capabilities. Well, Android phones are about to be added to that list of devices, but only a few “select” smartphones. A blog that was posted by Netflix on Friday, November 12th said that by next year the company will have their service fully extended to the select phones. The reason why Netflix is not able to provide their service for all Android platforms is due to some concerns about security, privacy, and content protection.

Android product developer Greg Peters wrote, “The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android. The same security issues that have led to piracy concerns on the Android platform have made it difficult for us to secure a common Digital Rights Management (DRM) system on these devices.”

Peters continued saying that unless there are some developments made to assist with protection, major studios won’t provide their content for Netflix. So, as Peters has stated, Netflix simply does not have the “common platform security mechanism and DRM” that is necessary for an Android phone. On the other hand, Netflix has recently been working with individual manufacturers to add content protection to their devices so that they can utilize the Netflix service. So hopefully, all Android phones will be able to utilize the service sometime in the near future.

“Unfortunately, this is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won't,” Peters said. This may be disappointing to some Android users, but as of right now, there isn’t much that can be done. "This clearly is not the preferred solution, and we regret the confusion it might create for consumers," continues Peters.

Peters adds that he feels that providing the Instant Streaming Netflix service to some Android users is better than to not provide it to any. That is why the decision was made that by next year certain Android-based phones will have the ability to utilize Netflix’s streaming service. As of yet though, it has not been revealed which “select” Android phones will feature the service.

Peters finishes by saying, “We will also continue to work with the Android community, handset manufacturers, carriers, and other service providers to develop a standard, platform-wide solution that allows content providers to deliver their services to all Android-based devices.”

Google has made no comment about this so far.

Most recently in August, Netflix added their streaming service to Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. They also made it available for the iPad. Apple’s Steve Jobs is mostly likely getting a kick out of Netflix’s use of the word “fragmented” to describe Android platforms. During Apple’s most recent earnings call, he made a comment about the devices that caused a bit of a stir. He said, “Android is very, very fragmented, and becoming more fragmented by the day.”

Well, despite everything, some of the “fragmented” platforms will soon have Netflix streaming capabilities, and hopefully, all Android phones will have streaming abilities soon.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

SquareTrade Research Reveals the Most Reliable Smartphone

squaretrade research
There are tons of smartphones available from a multitude of service providers these days: the Droid from Verizon, the iPhone from AT&T, the HTC EVO from Sprint, etc., but which phone is the most reliable? Well, according to SquareTrade Research, a company that analyzes more than 50,000 different phones, Apple’s iPhone is the most reliable smartphone available to date.

The study that SquareTrade Research conducted analyzed four different phones from four different smartphone manufacturers: Apple, RIM, HTC, and Motorola. The last time that the company had conducted research concerning the reliability of a smartphone was back in 2008 when they analyzed phones such as the iPhone 3G, BlackBerry, and Palm Treo.

For their recent study SquareTrade Research utilized four months of data from the iPhone 4, one year of data from BlackBerry, and eight months of data for both the HTC and Motorola smartphones. The study utilized the Droid, the Droid X, and the Cliq to evaluate Motorola. To look at HTC’s smartphones, SquareTrade Research used the Nexus One, the EVO, the Droid Incredible, the Aria, and the Hero. For Blackberry observations, they used the Curve, the Bold, the Storm, the Torch, and the Pearl.

The study, which was conducted in November of 2010, found that the iPhone 4 was the most reliable phone, but it also found that the Android-based Motorola and HTC smartphones were actually pretty comparable to the iPhone when it came to dependability. Within the first 12 months of the iPhone’s existence, 2.1 percent of the phones were “projected to have non-accident malfunction.” In comparison, the Motorola smartphone had a malfunction rate of 2.3 percent, and the HTC smartphone had a rate of 3.7 percent. The study clearly showed that the RIM’s BlackBerry devices were much less dependable compared to these other smartphone options. It showed that in the first 12 months, the phones had a 6.3 percent malfunction rate.

The study did clarify that 75 percent of smartphone malfunctions were a result of “accidental damage.” In this area, BlackBerry did better than the other phones. These “accidental damages” only occurred in 6.7 percent of BlackBerrys. The iPhone 4, which did so well when it came to dependability, had the highest rate of “accidental damage,” coming in at 9.4 percent, which is nearly 1 in 10 of the iPhones researched.

The study stated, “There is a good deal of variance in the failure rates of different smartphones. The iPhone 4 is the most reliable phone in the study, but also has the highest risk of accidental damage. BlackBerrys had the least risk of accidental damage and may be the best choice for the clumsiest consumers but had a relatively high malfunction rate.”

It can be extremely difficult to decide on the smartphone that is best for you. If you just go into your service provider's store, you will most likely be overwhelmed and not know which direction you should go, but if you do a little research and consider some of the things that were discussed here, you will be able to march into your service provider’s store and make an educated decision. Don’t let buying a new phone stress you out. There are plenty of options out there that will fit any of your smartphone needs.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

New App Store for the Droid Incredible

v cast on the droid incredibleOn Thursday, November 4th, Verizon announced that their new Droid Incredible software update, which will be available within the next week, will add the V CAST App store to the phone. Basically, Droid Incredible users, who are currently utilizing Android Market for their apps, will have a second app store to browse.

Due to this new change, app developers will now have to decide whether they want to offer their apps with Android Market or the Verizon app store. The only real difference is the billing format. Unlike Google’s app store, which allows users to return their apps for a full refund up to 24 hours after the purchase, Verizon’s V CAST will only consider refunds on a case-by-case basis. One nice thing about the Verizon store though is that it will allow users to send the bill for the apps that they purchase to their existing wireless bill. With the Android Market, users are forced to utilize Google Checkout.

The update that Droid Incredible users will receive next week won’t just give them a new app store, but it will also update their Flash player, improve their visual voicemail application, enhance Yahoo IMAP email, update their Slacker application, give them the ability to attach files that are larger than 5 MB, update COX and Comcast POP3 mail, and a variety of other things.

The V CAST App store was originally launched by Verizon in July of 2009 for the RIM platform. A Verizon spokeswoman said that the company has always planned on expanding the V CAST App store to other platforms. “We think of it as sort of complementary to the other marketplace out there,” she said. "It gives consumers an opportunity for discovery and to choose.”

So far Google representatives have chosen not to respond to the question as to whether or not they view the Verizon app store as complimentary or competitive.

In contrast, Apple offers a single app store. Steve Jobs, chief executive at Apple, has said that Google’s OS itself is “very fragmented.” In an October conference call Jobs said, “Many Android OEMs, including the two largest, HTC and Motorola, install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves from the commodity Android experience. The user's left to figure it all out. Compare this with iPhone, where every handset works the same."

Jobs added, “The multiple hardware/software iterations present developers with a daunting challenge. Many Android apps work only on selected Android handsets, running selected Android versions. And this is for handsets that have been shipped less than 12 months ago. Compare this with iPhone, where there are two versions of the software, the current and the most recent predecessor, to test against."

I think that having two app stores is great. A little competition has never hurt anybody. Verizon says that they are excited about the V CAST App store because it will allow them to have “the opportunity to do marketing and merchandising” for the developers. The Verizon spokeswoman did add that Verizon will offer the same 70/30 revenue split with V CAST that Google offers with Android Market. It will be interesting to see what V CAST has to offer in contrast to what is currently available with Android Market. I think that there are advantages and disadvantages with both of the app stores, so I guess it will simply come down to what apps you are looking for and which store is offering them.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Possible PlayStation Phone from Sony?

sony playstation phoneSony has had announcement after announcement recently. About a month ago, Sony released their PlayStation Move motion controller system, and just a few days ago they announced the price drop of their PSP go mobile gaming device. Now reports are leaking that a new version of the PlayStation Portable is on its way in the form of a smartphone.

Engadget reported that the Sony PlayStation smartphone is already in the prototype stage. Underneath the phone’s glossy exterior, there are a variety of different features. The phone is reported to have a 1-GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 CPU, 512MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM, and run the Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) OS. From the pictures that Engadget posted, the phone from PlayStation will have a sliding design very much like the design of the PSP go. It will include a multitouch trackpad instead of the analog disc found on the PSP. It is said that the PlayStation Phone won’t use Memory Sticks like other PSP models. Engadget says that it will instead support a microSD card. The prototype picture shows the phone with a Sony Ericsson logo, but as of right now, the phone does not show any PlayStation branding.

Right now, Sony will not confirm any details or really even the existence of the Sony PlayStation Phone. Last month Shaun Himmerick, the executive producer at Netherrealm Studios and the developer of Mortal Kombat, described a new device that he referred to as the “PSP2.” Himmerick said that Netherrealm Studios currently had a “PSP2” in their hands. He said that it “looks like it's a pretty powerful machine.” Just like Sony has not confirmed the existence of the PlayStation Phone, they also have not confirmed anything about the PSP2.

When Peter Dille, the senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment of America, was questioned about the PlayStation Phone he of course would neither confirm or deny anything about the existence of the device. He did in fact say though that Sony’s portable game system was definitely due for a change sometime soon. He said that the lack of cellular data connection could quite possibly be holding back Sony and their portable gaming system.

“The PSP is a Wi-Fi device,” said Dille. “People are used to having always-connected devices.” Sony’s devices are designed to last. Their home game consoles have a lifespan of about 10 years, says Dille, and the PlayStation 3 should last at least that long. The issue is that after six years, the PSP just might not hit the 10 year mark. “The portable market moves so fast,” said Dille. The PSP is now being put up against hand-held game systems that allow users to call, text, and access thousands of games and apps.

The PlayStation Phone definitely sounds fascinating. Unfortunately, until Sony makes some kind of statement, all of this information about the device is speculation. It is encouraging though to see pictures and hear specific details about the possible device from Sony because it makes it that much more plausible that the PlayStation Phone could be a reality. I guess for now we’ll just have to keep our eyes and ears open for more information about this possible exciting new development from Sony.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Top 10 Touch-Screen Phones

top 10 touch-screen smartphones
These days, everything is going in the touch-screen direction. High-quality touch screens can be found on PCs, tablets, phones, GPS systems, digital cameras, and a variety of other different devices. By now, touch-screen interface has almost become mainstream.

The original iPhone that was released in 2007 is the device that sparked the touch-screen revolution. Consumers were fascinated by the beautiful 3.5-inch Multi-Touch screen found on the iPhone. Since then, every major phone manufacturer has come up with their own touch-screen smartphone. Some of the companies have succeeded, but others have failed miserably.

Three years after the release of the first touch-screen smartphone, there are plenty of phones that could make the top ten touch-screen phones list. Every one of the major U.S. carriers have at least one very successful touch-screen smartphone. If you’re looking for an amazing smartphone, here is a list of the best of the best.


iPhone 4
The iPhone 4 has the most gorgeous touch-screen of any smartphone in my opinion. It also features a fantastic camera and the fastest iPhone processor yet. Apple’s app store has the greatest variety of apps that offer you anything you could need in a phone. Unfortunately with the iPhone 4, Apple has still not made voice calling top priority, which can be frustrating.

iPhone 3GS
Yes, the iPhone 3GS is not as fast as the iPhone 4, but it is still a great phone. This affordable smartphone features access to the thousands of apps that are also available for the iPhone 4, but you can get them for half the price for your iPhone 3GS. The iPhone 3GS is still a very popular smartphone that has all of the features you look for in an iPhone.

Samsung Captivate
The Captivate is perfect for AT&T users who simply do not like the iPhone. It is a fantastic smartphone that features a very fast processor, bright screen, amazing social networking hooks, and the ability to sync your phone with PCs.

Verizon Wireless

Droid Incredible by HTC
This smartphone has a great screen and lots of power. Droid phones are the iPhone’s biggest competitor. The Incredible truly is incredible. It has beautiful interface additions and good strong call quality.

Samsung Fascinate
For Verizon customers that aren’t really interested in a Droid smartphone, the Fascinate could be just what you are looking for. It has a gorgeous screen and is very light and slim. The Fascinate also features a fast processor and a loud speakerphone. One of the biggest disappointments with this smartphone is that it has very inaccurate voice dialing.

Motorola Droid X
The Motorola Droid X is the most powerful Android smartphone to date. It features a large 4.3-inch, 854 x 480 resolution screen that gives you tons of room to maneuver your finger around the screen. The smartphone has excellent reception and fantastic noise cancellation. The only thing to criticize is the size. Some people simply think the screen is too large.


If you’re looking for a smartphone that is dedicated to providing great online access, the EVO is perfect for you. It is the first WiMAX phone to be offered in the U.S. It is perfect for streaming media, Web browsing, and getting your laptop online with Sprint’s 4G network.

Samsung Instinct HD
The Instinct HD is the first phone in the U.S. to be a true high-def video phone. It can easily record and display sharp HD video and features lots of great media features. Some of the issues are that it's expensive, takes a long time to boot up, and has a very poor battery life.


Samsung Vibrant
This is T-Mobile’s super smartphone. It has a very bright screen, PC syncing options, great camera, and a free full version of Sims 3. This phone offers a lot of power and a relatively inexpensive monthly plan. Unfortunately, the phone does not support Bluetooth voice dialing or tethering, but it is still an excellent smartphone.

Samsung Highlight SGH-t749
The Highlight SGH-t749 from Samsung features a very responsive touch-screen and TouchWiz UI that is extremely easy to use. It also features great battery life. If T-Mobile customers are looking for an touch-screen smartphone that is straightforward and simple to use, the Highlight is the phone for them.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple’s iPad Available from Verizon?

apple ipad from verizonUnfortunately, despite all the rumors, Verizon Wireless will not be carrying the iPhone anytime soon, but they will be offering something else from Apple. As of October 28, over 2,000 Verizon stores across the nation will be carrying Apple’s iPad.

Now this statement may cause you to question how this is possible. Doesn’t Apple have a completely exclusive contract with AT&T? Hasn’t Verizon been attempting to get an Apple product as part of their line for a while now and been totally unsuccessful? Well, with the iPad the company has been able to pull a few strings.

The trick is that Verizon will not be selling the iPad (Wi-Fi + 3G). This is the version of the device that runs on AT&T’s 3G network. They will instead be providing the Wi-Fi only iPad that will run on Verizon’s MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot.

There will be three different bundles that Verizon will offer to customers: a 16GB iPad with MiFi for $629.99, a 32GB with MiFi for $729.99, and a 64GB iPad with MiFi for $829.99. Verizon will only offer one data plan for the iPad: up to 1GB of data for $20 per month.

It’s no surprise that AT&T announced recently that they will be selling Apple’s WiFi + 3G iPad in their retail stores as of October 28 as well.

The bundle prices that Verizon will offer will be about the same as AT&T’s 3G packages, but with AT&T there will be the option of two different data plans. You can either get up to 250MB of data per month for $14.95 or up to 2GB of data per month for $25.

So which carrier should you consider purchasing your iPad from? Well, the up side to getting your device from Verizon is the convenient versatility of their MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. Verizon’s MiFi provides Internet access for up to five different devices ranging from 30 to 40 feet away. Unfortunately with MiFi you have to carry it around with you. It is very small though, measuring about 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches.

Battery life is another thing that you must take into consideration. When you have other devices connected, the life can be drained very quickly. Some testing revealed that when four other Wi-Fi connections were made, the battery dropped to one single bar in about an hour or so. In about an hour and a half, the battery was almost completely drained. On the other hand, AT&T’s iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G was able to last about eight hours, while having the 3G modem running constantly.

Where you decide to buy your iPad is entirely up to you. There are advantages with both of the carriers. No matter what, I just think that it is great to see an Apple product made available from Verizon. It may still be awhile before we see the iPhone, but the fact that they are now providing the iPad is definitely a step in the right direction.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Newest Adition to the Rugged Line of G'zOne Phones: The Ravine

casio g'zOne ravineOn Monday October 4th, Casio announced the newest addition to their rugged G’zOne line of phones for outdoor enthusiasts, the G’zOne Ravine. Casio’s G’zOne line of phones from Verizon are waterproof, rustproof, and shockproof. These phones are not only for individuals with hard hat jobs, but also for people who simply would like a phone that can withstand a dunk in the pool or a drop in the sink.

The design of the Ravine is very similar to other phones found in the G’zOne line. The phone is made of a sturdy black plastic and is a little slimmer than previous G’zOne models. It certainly is no smartphone but the Ravine is much sleeker and not as “outdoorsy” looking as some of the other G’zOne phones.

The Ravine not only has all the basic features found on most cell phones, but also includes tons of outdoorsy apps including a compass, a thermometer, a pedometer, a tide chart, a sunrise/sunset list, and an astronomy app. The astronomy app allows you to figure out and name constellations and shows local star charts. Whether you’re outdoorsy or not, these apps are cool. Several of these apps can even be accessed from the external display so that you don’t have to open the phone. There is also a flashlight on the back of the phone. The Ravine definitely has some very unique features to offer consumers.

Inside of the Ravine, there is a lot of Bing to be found. Verizon began promoting Bing hot and heavy with Samsung’s Fascinate. The Ravine features a Bing icon and a Bing home page in the phone’s basic browser.

Besides being waterproof, rustproof, and shockproof and featuring some unique apps, the Ravine includes a 3.2 megapixel camera and camcorder with flash, VZ Navigator GPS software, and voice dictation that allows you to text hands-free. The phone also is capable of running Verizon’s usual feature phone e-mail and IM apps.

The big question at hand about the Ravine is how it will perform. The other G’zOne phones from Casio have been all over the boards. Some feature amazing voice quality for your calls, while others have been absolutely terrible. The Type-V phone was excellent on voice quality, but the Type-S and Boulder that followed were certainly not the best on quality. Casio claimed in their press release that the Ravine would have noise cancelling abilities, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee good voice quality.

Verizon has said that the Casio G’zOne Ravine will be available with a two year contract for $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. As of right now, there is not a release date, but Verizon says that it will be “coming soon.”

This is a very intriguing cell phone. Whether you’re an adventurous outdoorsy type of person or simply don’t want to take the chance of having your phone damaged by the elements, this phone can serve all of your needs plus more. No it’s not the iPhone or Droid X, but this is definitely a phone that offers something new and unique to the cell phone market.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AT&T Brings New BlackBerrys to Their Smartphone Line Up

blackberry pearlOn Wednesday AT&T announced that they have added the 3G versions of the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl to their lineup of smartphones. As of October 17th, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100 will be available online and in AT&T stores for $149.99 with a two year contract.

The Pearl is two inches wide and weighs 3.3 ounces. This smartphone supports Wi-Fi and GPS and features an optical trackpad and a 3.2 megapixel camera with flash. It also has a redesigned SureType QWERTY keyboard, 360 x 400 pixel high resolution display, dedicated music keys, and support of a microSD card that supports up to 32GB of content.

blackberry curveIt has not been announced yet when exactly the BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 will be available from AT&T. It should be available before the holiday season for $99.99 with a two year contract. It includes a full QWERTY keyboard, optical trackpad, built-in GPS, 2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, and a microSD card that supports 32GB of memory.

AT&T U-verse customers will have the ability to download the U-verse app onto their BlackBerry Curve. This app lets customers manage their DVRs at home and even download certain shows via the Wi-Fi connection and watch them on their smartphone.
AT&T has said that the BlackBerry Curve 3G will support the new BlackBerry 6 OS, but that unfortunately it will not be available for the Curve for several months.

It’s exciting to see AT&T add these amazing BlackBerrys to their smartphone lineup. They have so many great features to offer. They are the perfect smartphone for someone that doesn’t want to deal with a touch screen.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Consumer Reports Continues to Wait to Recommend iPhone 4

iPhone 4 death gripConsumer Reports simply will not recommend Apple’s iPhone 4 to its readers. Why, you may ask? Well, they say that until Apple decides to offer customers a free, easily accessible case to solve the “death grip” issues that the iPhone 4 has been facing, they cannot endorse the smartphone.

The so-called “death grip” was noticed by iPhone 4 customers from the start. It occurs when a user grips the phone with a full or whole hand grip. Holding the device this way causes significant issues with the connection speed when uploading or downloading data and with the reception of the phone in general.

Due to all of the problems concerning the “death grip,” Apple decided in July to offer customers a free case or bumper to fix the issue. If you had already purchased a case, they even offered to refund you the money that you had spent on it. Unfortunately, Apple decided to only keep this offer up until September 30th.

Now, Apple is saying that they are going to discontinue this offer all together, instead of waiting until the 30th. They say that the antenna issue “is even smaller than we originally thought.” They feel that this justifies ending the free case or bumper offer.

Consumer Report feels that this is unacceptable. They have said, “Our tests found the Bumper successfully mitigates the iPhone 4's reception issue, which was a weak point in the phone’s otherwise-stellar performance in our tests. We agree with Apple that not all iPhone 4 owners will experience reception difficulties with the device, but putting the onus on any owners of a product to obtain a remedy to a design flaw is not acceptable to us. We therefore continue not to recommend the iPhone 4 and to call on Apple to provide a permanent fix for the phone's reception issues."

I believe that Consumer Reports is definitely right. I feel that it is ridiculous that Apple is discontinuing their offer to provide a case or bumper for the iPhone 4. They made the mistake, so they should be the ones taking full responsibility for it. It doesn’t matter if not everyone experiences these reception issues. Apple’s goal should be to satisfy all of their customers, especially when it comes to something as important as reception and uploading and downloading data.

I feel that Apple is making a huge mistake by discontinuing their free case program, but will it affect sales of the iPhone 4? I’m guessing that most likely it won’t. Although I wouldn’t want to deal with the issues, the iPhone has a prestigious enough reputation to keep the sales coming in. If you’re considering a new smartphone, the “death grip” is something that you should definitely consider before settling on the iPhone 4.

Not interested in the iPhone? Check out some other great smartphones like the Motorola's Droid X or the HTC EVO 4G.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Accessing Everything, From Everywhere

I am a gadget-holic. I own an Amazon Kindle, an Apple iPad, a Motorola Droid cellphone, a Dell Studio laptop, and a desktop computer. I use every one of them on a regular basis, though some more than others obviously. What do I love most about all of them though? They are all connected. Virtually everything I do on one of my devices, is instantly replicated across all the rest and is stored online in some fashion so that I can access it from other computers and/or internet connected devices should the need arise.

I’ve setup my office email to use IMAP, so that my inbox is stored on my mail server and not locally on my computer. What does this really mean? It means that my inbox is accessible from my desktop computer, my laptop, my cellphone (Motorola Droid), my iPad, and from any web browser. This access makes me productive at work because throughout the evening as I receive emails, I read and delete them; whether sitting at my daughter’s gymnastic class from my phone, or sitting on my couch at night with my iPad playing a game, I periodically take 1 minute to check my mail and remove anything I don’t need or flag anything that I need to respond to/follow up on the next day. Doing this gives me a clean inbox each morning when I arrive to the office. No more spending the first hour of my day on email.

For years I carried around pocket USB flash drives with all of my essential files, including copies of anything I was currently working on or files that I may need at any given moment. Now, instead of a flash drive, I use DropBox. I have the DropBox application on my laptop and desktop, so whenever I save a file to “My Documents,” it instantly syncs between both computers. I also have the DropBox app for my iPad and Droid, so when I’m on the road I can access files from anywhere.

Not only does DropBox allow me access to all of my important documents, it also gives me a backup of my documents should one of my devices fail. This type of peace-of-mind is priceless.

Google Calendar is wonderful. Accessible from an application on my Droid and iPad, as well as any web browser, I always know what’s going on and when. I have 5 different calendars, one for work, one for family events, a personal calendar, a calendar for my wife’s schedule, and one for all my bills. Whether on vacation or just out of the office for a day, I always know what needs taken care of and nothing ever slips through the cracks (unless I forget to put it on my calendar... which happens more than I’d like to admit).

Using an application called EverNote, I create shopping lists and jot notes to myself whenever I need to from whatever device I’m currently using. I also keep some notes that are import to me like my home IP address, WEP key, etc. Once I create these notes they are accessible from my Droid, iPad, computer, and the web. I love looking through the Sunday ads and typing my shopping list on my iPad or computer and then going to the store with just my cellphone and having access to the list, it’s such a time saver.

I keep my address book in Google Mail’s contact area. It instantly syncs with my iPad and Droid. I can export it to my computer to do mass mailings (for business or personal use), and I categorize everyone into any different groups so that I can quickly filter out who should receive my mail, whether it’s physical mail or email.

While not business oriented, all of my devices provide me entertainment in some way, and again, this entertainment of often synchronized between all of my devices so that I spend less time making things work, and more time just enjoying them. For example:

Kindle: I love reading, but don’t carry a book with me all the time. Reading on my actual Kindle device is by far my favorite reading because the screen is so clear and it’s like reading a regular book; however, I always have my cellphone, or iPad, or a computer near me. With all of the Kindle applications available, I never have to be away from my book. If I get some free time at work I can just open the Kindle application and read my book from desk on my monitors. If I make an impromptu hair cut appointment I can read from my cellphone while I wait for my turn in the chair. If I’m in the car with my iPad (which I carry with me all the time in case I need to connect to my office and fix anything that’s broken), I can read when I get bored. All of my books are accessible from all my devices and Kindle WhisperSync keeps my book page synchronized at all times, so I’m never worried about where I am in the book.

Netflix: With Netflix streaming video, I (or my wife and daughter) can watch movies and television shows from any of our computers, our televisions (which are all hooked up to the internet), or from my iPad. What’s great is when we stop what we’re watching and switch devices, we can resume the show from right where we left off. No fast forwarding and trying to remember where it stopped, just click “Resume” and we’re good to go.

SlingBox: Having a SlingBox hooked up to our living room TV gives us access to live television, as well as our DVR from virtually anywhere with internet access. With an iPhone (which is installable on the iPad) and Droid app, I never have to be without television. Now, honestly, I don’t use my SlingBox very often but it is very nice to have instant access to my child’s favorite TV shows (which we DVR) no matter where we’re at. If she’s restless in the stroller or in the car, I can hand her my iPad or cellphone and give her some entertainment.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nokia N900 Smartphone on Sale

nokia n900 smartphoneDell Smart Business has the Nokia N900 Smartphone on sale until 6 a.m. September 3rd. The N900, which is normally listed for $599, can be purchased for $349.99 with free shipping with the coupon code: 5RMTRF1H8QS3DF.

This is a 3G Linux smartphone with built-in XTerm. It features a 600 MHz processor with up to 1GB of application memory. It is almost as powerful as the iPhone 3GS. There are thousands of fun and useful apps including: Tetris, Chess, AP News, Twitter, DocumentsToGo Microsoft Office reader, and more.

For some people the phone may seem a bit chunky, but it is still sleek and fits nicely in your hand. It features a 3.5-inch touch screen with 800 x 480 resolution. There are no hard keys on the front of the phone, but slide back the touch screen and reveal a full backlit keyboard. There is also a 5-megapixel camera and a widescreen video camera that can take DVD quality videos. There are 32GB of storage that can hold over 40 hours of video and up to 7,000 songs.

The Nokia N900 comes with T-Mobile service. It is perfect for anyone that likes using Linux. This sale won’t last for long. If you’re looking for a quick, stylish smartphone, this could be the phone for you.

Looking for help with travel and technology? Then call a Tech Travel Agent at 800-736-8772. Or see this link for a Laptop Rental on your next trip.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fight Boredom with StumbleUpon App for the iPhone

Sometimes life just gets boring. The book on the table beside you looks distasteful and nothing is on television. Facebook? No one is online. Email? Inbox is empty. Free time can quickly begin to feel like wasted time. Millions of people have beat back the boredom in the last few years with StumbleUpon, the internet's version of channel flipping. The best thing about StumbleUpon is that you can customize the topics that you like to read about, so not only can you pass the time, you can also feel inspired by stories and web pages catered just for you. Now with StumbleUpon making its debut on the iPhone, you can stumble anywhere, anytime, into something incredibly entertaining.

For those unfamilar with StumbleUpon here are a few of the basics. StumbleUpon is a website dedicated to linking its Stumblers with web pages that will intrigue and entertain them. No membership or sign up is required. You don't even have to choose topics if you do not want to. Simply hit the "Start Stumbling" button on the page and have your browser whisked away to a new site that you have probably never seen before. Only the best of the web is featured. Once you are comfortable with stumbling, you can choose which topics you are most interested in and from then on you will only stumble to pages pertaining to those topics.

The new StumbleUpon app is simple to use and is available for the iPod Touch and iPad as well as the iPhone. Unlike the site itself, you must have an account to use the iPhone version, but the sign up is quick and easy.Upon first opening the app your options are simple. First timers may want to simply hit "Start Stumbling" first and see what the internet has to offer. Users more familiar with StumbleUpon will be able to choose specific topics, or if they have a previous accounts, their preferences will already be present. If the page is something that you enjoy, you can hit the thumbs up at the top of the screen and the app will filter its stumbling results to reflect what you have previously enjoyed. The same goes for the thumbs down. If you don't like what you've stumbled across, hit the thumbs down and StumbleUpon will try and avoid similar pages from then on.

A new feature that the StumbleUpon app offers is the option to choose only stumble pages that are mobile friendly. Right under the "Start Stumbling" are four buttons labeled "Photos", "News", "Flickr", and "Youtube". When you choose one of these options, you will stumble to mobile-friendly sites, pictures, and videos catered directly to the iPhone. This option is very convenient for quick on-the-go stumbling between classes or meetings, or even just to make lunch break a little more interesting.

With StumbleUpon finally arriving on the iPhone boredom has a much slimmer chance of taking hold. The StumbleUpon app is simple and easy to use, needing very little time to get acquainted with the setup. The app itself is quick and responsive, remembering all of your preferences and never taking you to the same page twice. The sites it will take you to will capture your imagination and stimulate your creativity.

Looking for help with travel and technology? Then call a Tech Travel Agent at 800-736-8772. Or see this link for a Laptop Rental on your next trip.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

24 Hour Android Sale

24 hour android sale

Wirefly, the online site that sells discount mobile devices, is having a 24 hour Android sale that only lasts until this Thursday at midnight. They are offering amazing deals on some incredible phones. You can pick up the Motorola Backflip or the HTC Aria for free when you set up a new account with AT&T. You can also get the Sony Xperia or the Samsung Captivate for only $49.99. All you have to decide is which phone fits your needs the best.

Motorola Backflip
The Backflip features a great keyboard and has a battery life of about seven and a half hours of continuous talk time. MotorBlur also integrates e-mail and social networking quite nicely.

HTC Aria
This Android phone from HTC is absolutely adorable, and it is incredibly fast. It also has an excellent 5-megapixel camera. It is being called the first “usable” Android phone from AT&T.

Sony Xperia
The Xperia is great on battery life. It runs a little bit over 7 hours of continuous talk time. It also has a fantastic camera and great video playback. Sony gave the Xperia a slim, chic feel and plenty of features to make it a great choice.

Samsung Captivate
People are calling Samsung’s Captivate the top Android phone from AT&T and quite possibly the best alternative to the iPhone. It’s sleek, fast, and powerful. It has a big bright screen and tons of great apps.

You better hurry because this sale won’t last much longer. These are some excellent deals on some fantastic phones. Wirefly is the place to go if your looking for a new Android phone.

Looking for help with travel and technology? Then call a Tech Travel Agent at 800-736-8772. Or see this link for a Laptop Rental on your next trip.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White Noise App Will Lull You to Sleep

white noise appI don’t know about you, but I have problems going to sleep in complete silence. Depending on where I am, there are different things that act as my white noise. Sometimes it’s the sounds of the city or of crickets in the country or even just the whir of a fan. At times, you might be sleeping somewhere where these natural white noises are not available. That’s where the White Noise mobile app comes in handy.

The White Noise mobile app is available for a variety of different devices. It can help you relax anywhere with different options ranging from crickets to rain and thunder.

There are two different versions of the White Noise mobile app. There is the White Noise Lite version that is free for iPhone, Android, and Palm phones. It gives you enough sample sounds that you might be completely satisfied with the free version, but if that isn’t enough, then you can purchase the full version. For $1.99 you can purchase the full version for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones. For $2.99 you can purchase the full version for Windows Mobile and Palm WebOS phones.

White Noise Lite (the free version) comes with 10 sample sounds including: trains rolling on a track, crickets chirping in a forest, and the sounds of an airplane cabin. The full version of the app has about a total of 40 different soothing sounds that allow you to choose between options like beach waves or crashing ocean waves, light rain or thundering storms, and tons of other sounds.

The White Noise app is perfect when you travel a lot. You can easily plug some headphones into your device and take a nap or sit your phone nearby before you go to bed and turn the app on. Now, you may be concerned that your battery will run down if the app is playing all night. Well, both White Noise and White Noise Lite feature a timer that you can set. It will allow you to decide when you want the app to turn off so your battery won’t be shot. Now, you will only be able to run the app in the background while you do other things on your phone if you have the full version, but that’s not a huge deal.

The lite version of the app is a great way to check out the app and see if you want to spend the money on the full version. It gives you a really good sampling and could be all that you need. Both versions of the app allow you to create playlists of sounds so you can fall asleep to something like a light rain and then wake up in the middle of the night to something like beach waves. You can mix and match tons of different combinations.

Want more free apps? Check out the top 10 free iPhone apps.

Looking for help with travel and technology? Then call a Tech Travel Agent at 800-736-8772. Or see this link for a Laptop Rental on your next trip.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dish Networks Turns Your iPad into a Remote Control

Dish Networks Turns Your iPad into a Remote Control
Imagine you've just settled into your favorite chair after a long, hard day at work, you've got a nice cold drink, you've got your iPad so you can catch up on some reading, and you're just about turn on the TV, when you realize your remote control is out of batteries. Let's face it, when we're tired, most of us would rather watch the worst TV show ever than get up and change the channel ourselves, but what if I told you you could change the channel with your iPad? Well, if you're a Disk Network subscriber, you can now do just that.

Dish's new app turns your iPad into a remote control for your Dish digital video recorder. Just like similar apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, the app called "Remote Access" allows you to access all of the same DVR functions and features as your remote control does.

You can use the app to schedule TV recordings on multiple receivers, delete timers, browse and search up to nine days of shows, manage your DVR library by setting priorities, resolve recording conflicts, and delete the shows you've already watched. It works with almost all of Dish's standard and high-definition DVRs.

Best of all, if your TV is connected to a compatible Dish receiver, the Remote Access app can work as a TV remote control. You can use it to change channels, browse the program guide, play recorded programs, and access navigation features such as rewind, fast forward, and pause.

Dish also offers similar remote control-type apps for laptops, desktops, and non-Apple smartphones.

Along with several other vendors, Dish is also partnering with Google to make an app for the upcoming Google TV. This web-based app by Dish would provide a search box that would allow you to search for data via web and television sources. It would also allow you to find relevant content, regardless of whether it's on TV or online, and allow you to personalize it so that it's easier for you to discover content that fits your tastes. The first Google TV device is supposed to be introduced this fall by Sony. Dish will make it possible to use Google TV on its DVRs as well. Companies such as Best Buy and Logitech will also have a hand in Google TV.

In the meantime, Remote Access for your iPad is free and can be downloaded at the Apple App Store. Don't have an iPad? Consider trying out a temporary iPad rental to see if you like Apple's latest device.

Looking for help with travel and technology? Then call a Tech Travel Agent at 800-736-8772. Or see this link for a Laptop Rental on your next trip.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

BlackBerry Service Banned by United Arab Emirates

uae bans blackberry serviceOn Sunday, August 1st, the United Arab Emirates announced that BlackBerry service will be banned for security purposes as of October 11th. That means no BlackBerry messenger, e-mail, or Web browsing anymore.

This will not only affect those living in the UAE but also those that visit the country, even if their BlackBerry was issued in another country. The devices will still be able to be used for phone call purposes, but that’s about it.

The authorities say that the new ban is for security concerns. BlackBerry data is shipped to company computers that are abroad, so this makes it extremely difficult for local authorities to monitor and control any illegal activity or abuse.

Many people are very critical of this new ban. Some feel that it is simply a way for the country’s conservative government to control any content that they might consider politically or morally offensive. The UAE government officials says that there are BlackBerry features that are “causing judicial, social, and national security concerns.”

Maisoon al-Iskandarani, an Emirati BlackBerry user working at an international bank in Dubai, says, "I think it's a very big step back. All developed countries in the world have it. Why should we not? How are you going to stay in touch with your clients and colleagues?"

The country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) director General Mohamed Al Ghanim says, "With no solution available and in the public interest, in order to affect resolution of this issue, as of October 11, 2010, Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry Email and Blackberry Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied.”

P.J. Crowley, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said that such bans are "a move in the wrong direction." He states, "We're going to clarify with the UAE what's behind this announcement, but we think it sets a dangerous precedent. It is our view that you should be opening up societies to these new technologies that have the opportunity to empower people.”

Reporters Without Borders, a press-freedom group based in Paris, has urged the UAE to lift the bans and come to a compromise "that does not limit the freedom of the Emirati population,” but I don’t think that the UAE is going to consider another option right now.

Research in Motion (RIM), the Canada-based company in charge of exporting and managing overseas BlackBerry data services, defends their security policies. They released a statement stating, "RIM operates in over 175 countries today and provides a security architecture that is widely accepted by security conscious customers and governments around the world. RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers. RIM does not disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government however RIM assures its customers that it is committed to continue delivering highly secure and innovative products that satisfy the needs of both customers and governments."

Obviously despite all of this, the UAE remains unconvinced. Until they can come up with a satisfactory solution to their concerns about BlackBerry services, those living in or traveling to the UAE will just have live with out BlackBerry services. As annoying as this may be, it’s not the end of the world. I think people are more concerned about the principles of the matter. If the UAE feels they can take away things like BlackBerry service because of security issues, what else might they feel needs to be banned in the name of “security?”

Cell phones and all of their features and services are becoming a part of every day life for almost everyone. Read all about how landlines are quickly becoming obsolete.

Looking for help with travel and technology? Then call a Tech Travel Agent at 800-736-8772. Or see this link for a Laptop Rental on your next trip.
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