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Consumer Electronics

Sites, Apps and Gadgets for the Holidays

December 12, 2011

Google Currents Crashes Newsreader Party

December 9, 2011

Flipboard calls itself the pocket-sized social magazine and this is an apt description for a social newsreader so popular that this week when it launched an iPhone edition, it was overwhelmed with traffic and crashed. Obviously there is tremendous interest in this category which explains why in April of this year the company raised $50M at a $200M valuation.

Another player in the space Yahoo! has Livestand, an app which has improved over the months but still has a somewhat non-intuitive user interface.

Using Amazon to Compare Kindle Fire to iPad

December 5, 2011

Apple customer loyalty is the stuff of legend as anyone who visited an Apple store this holiday season can attest to and to delve further into this issue Philip Elmer-DeWitt at CNNMoney did some research on Amazon to see which device customers liked better. As the Kindle Fire has only been out a short while it may be unfair to compare the devices as Apple has had some years to improve the tablet’s software. Then again, running on Android, the Kindle Fire does benefit from software updates which have been issued to solve problems faced by other tablet and smartphone makers.

The bottom line is the Kindle fire has 47% five-star reviews and 13.3% one-star reviews.

Altigen's iFusion: Fuses the Desk Phone & iPhone

December 2, 2011



The smartphone and tablet are taking the world by storm and this information isn’t lost on Altigen Communications the company who literally revolutionized the communications space in the nineties by merging the best of the PC and telephone into an office phone system for small companies. I remember meeting the company’s VP of Marketing Gary Andresen in 1996 as he showed the fascinating concept of merging the best of the PC and telephony worlds. For the next ten years or so Altigen evolved and went upmarket but in the past few years they’ve been very quiet. Part of the reason for the slowing in PR and marketing has to do with the company retooling its portfolio and evolving its strategy.

Slacker on Sonos Review

November 30, 2011

After waiting for over a year for Slacker to come to Sonos - I am now one very happy camper. First off Slacker provided me with a Premium Radio subscription a while back - prior to that I had a paid subscription called Slacker Radio Plus which was helpful as it allowed me to cache 25 radio stations for offline use.

What is great about Slacker Premium is the combination of algorithm/human selected radio which allows you to discover music similar to songs you like combined with on-demand radio - basically songs you search for and select. Basically the best of Pandora and Spotify but with the added bonus of immediately listening to any song which you see on any playlist.

When I got home I opened the Sonos app on an iPad and upgraded all the components in my system. the software asked me not to shut it down or close the app and it took about 15 minutes or so for six components connected to the system to be upgraded.

The Sonos remote control now called the Sonos Control (it was the CR200) had me press a button to upgrade - a painless process which took a few minutes.

I then logged into Slacker and all my favorite stations and other information was immediately available.

An added bonus - in some ways the Sonos interface is better than the PC or iPhone version.









Sonos Now Works with Slacker

November 30, 2011

Apps Swallow Car Tech as Slacker Integrates With Ford

November 29, 2011

Slacker announced it will integrate with Ford vehicles via SYNC AppLink. It further says it will launch new Lifestyle stations with ABC News. For Slacker Premium subscribers, you will be able to listen to music on demand as well as a customizable radio station. The company says it offers the best of both worlds - the benefits of Spotify and Pandora in one.

The company provided me with a premium subscription months back and I am now an addict. In addition to the above benefits, it provides the ability to cache radio stations for times when you either don't have great Internet access or are low and battery.

Although I am not allowed to share the company name, Slacker will have big news soon regarding integration with a well-known WiFi stereo solutions provider as well.

The big picture here is the fusion of consumer electronics, streaming radio and telematics/automotive tech.

The latest model Mercedes for example has an iPhone app which allows you to check things like distance to empty as well as the location of your car.

Its all coming together nicely and to me it seems the biggest challenge ahead is for terrestrial and satellite radio providers who have to deal with the additional overhead of running a satellite network and/or radio towers throughout a geographic region.

One issue remains - how will consumers deal with bandwidth caps? In other words in an all-you-can-eat world, streaming wins - right?











iPhone to Get 4 Inch Display?

November 29, 2011

Two weeks ago I discussed my smartphone envy after using the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone which sports a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 4G and a bright Super AMOLED Plus Display. I suggested that Apple needs a 4.5 inch display as well - and interestingly the latest iPhone rumor says the next iPhone will have a 4 inch display. Sure, this is a nice step up from 3.5 inches but I prefer the larger screen in part because it is easier to type on.

One hypothesis I have about why the Android tablet market hasn't taken off (Amazon Kindle Fire aside) is that the latest crop of Android smartphones are similar enough to tablets to keep users from needing both devices. If you use the Kindle Fire as an example, it has a 7 inch screen - just 2.5 inches larger than the aforementioned Samsung - not such a huge difference.

In fact Apple is probably afraid if it makes the iPhone too large - it will not only make it less portable but eat into iPad 2 sales.

One other point I need to clarify is the iPhone 4S does indeed render web pages a bit faster than the Samsung Galaxy S II based on my testing but then again, every page I tested had Flash and iOS doesn't have to deal with it while the Samsung does.





Mood Detection Software Coming

November 29, 2011

Drop the Phone in a Toilet and Still Use it!

November 18, 2011

Many of us have been there – you walk into the bathroom, the phone rings, you see who is calling and the phone slips – whoops, there she goes, right into the toilet. Then the agonizing second when you contemplate whether you are going to stick your hand in the toilet to retrieve it. Then you do and now the interesting part begins.

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