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Gadget

Sears Goes High Tech With Video Streaming

January 4, 2011

One imagines the person above represents the typical Sears customer... Will this news lure the person below?

As reported by Gary Kim on TMCnet, Sears is now launching a new streaming video service under its Alphaline brand which is expected to provide a full line of consumer electronic products.Unlike subscription based competitors you do not need any sort of long-term commitment to use the service which prices new releases frequently at $3.99 per rental while TV episodes are priced at $1.99 per rental.

Buy That iPad 2 Case Now

December 31, 2010


You know who you are... You need to be the first to have everything. You will wait in line for hours so you can have a piece of electronics your friends and relatives will drool over.

We all know the iPad 2 is coming and unless you happen to be a personal friend of Steve Jobs - and even then, you probably aren't going to get one before everyone else.

But while you wait, how about picking up a case or two or even 500 for your iPad 2.

You see Alibaba the site used to connect manufacturers in Asia with resellers and distributors worldwide has two listings for iPad 2 cases. Both have camera holes in them and frankly look just like large iPod Touch or iPhone cases.

One has a slew of colorful case choices while the other has a dark translucent cover for the next-gen Apple tablet.

As I inferred above, you more than likely have to order the cases by the hundred.










Skype Video For iPhone a 2011 Killer App

December 30, 2010

I just did a brief test of Skype video calling on the iPhone - it works on the iPad as well. TMC's Tom Keating and I tried calling over WiFi and AT&T 3G. WiFi worked amazingly well and the first 3G call I tried just hung.

My second attempt to call Tom's iPhone 3GS with my iPhone 4 went through and the quality seemed slightly worse than WiFi but still quite good. During the demo I received two non-Skype 3G calls which placed the Skype call on hold.

News to Know Before New Year's 2011

December 29, 2010

The bitter fight between Oracle and SAP over copyright infringement got more bitter with courts agreeing SAP owes Oracle $16.5M in interest on the $1.3B award Oracle received. While less than the $211.7M Oracle sought, Oracle will also get reimbursed by SAP for $120M in attorney fees.

Let’s say you got a NookColor for Christmas but your books are all on Amazon’s Kindle service… You can now read Kindle books on the Nook – but you need to put on your propeller hat first.

Most Indian telcos must roll out services on wireless spectrum they purchase from the fovernment in a year or pay fines.

The Apple iOS vs. Android Fight in 2011

December 28, 2010

As TMCnet's Tom Keating mentions on his blog, there are many factors to consider in the fight for mobile supremecy between Apple, Google Android and yes, even Microsoft. Tom's point about Microsoft injecting itself into the Android relationship with carriers to become the defacto search engine has even begun to happen already.

But what caught my eye regarding the controversy is will Apple become the defacto high-end alternative that is priced out of the reach of most of the market?

The answer may lie in production numbers alone.

You see, the Apple hardware is virtually unchanged from iPod to iPhone to iPad so economies of scale work in the company's favor.

However, Android devices are gaining massive share. If these gadgets can also leverage the same hardware with other mobile operating systems then they too can take advantage of the same efficiencies. Perhaps Samsung and HTC are best positioned in this regard as an HTC device, for example, can do double-duty as an Android and Windows Phone 7.

A while back I asked Nokia execs about the disadvantage they had in supporting a plethora of form factors while Apple gets away with one and they didn't have a good answer.

But if a phone manufacturer can leverage multiple operating systems to drive scale they can then compete more effectively with Apple.











Microsoft Kinect to Explode in 2011

December 28, 2010

Using my personal experience as a guide, I can tell you hands down that the Xbox 360 Kinect is a breakthrough in technology. Here is a little secret which I will share with you about what happened when I actually saw the device in action in New York this past August thanks to Zig Serafin, General Manager, Speech and Larry Heck, Chief Scientist, Speech at Microsoft.

Picture this – I was sitting on the edge of stage where there were a number of stairs – maybe eight or ten behind me. I had a briefing in which Zig and his team explained how the company’s speech strategy was evolving.

Appliances Should Become Easy to Use Before Smart

December 27, 2010

Devices are getting smarter - the smart home of the future will consist of gadgets which speak with one another, the electric company, the cloud and all your computers - from desktops to the ones you keep in your pocket. They will tweet, post status messages on Facebook and more than likely teach you about calculus if you sit still long enough.

The only challenge of course is devices are getting more complicated - with interfaces most likely created by the same people who designed cell phones in the pre-iPhone days.

A reminder of the situation comes courtesy of Alexia Tsotsis at TechCrunch who talks about a trip to her relatives house and how the experience left her longing for all devices to be made by Apple.

If household appliance makers haven't gotten the message about the importance of simple and easy to use GUI by now, they should get ready to watch new entrants steamroll them in the future.









3G and 4G Group Data Plans Needed

December 20, 2010

I am beginning to change my tune on the embedded cellular radio vs. the external MiFi device debate. Does it make sense to purchase a tablet with embedded 3G or 4G or is it better to go with an external 3G/4G device which becomes a personal hotspot?

To date I have decided that my laptop should have embedded Verizon 3G via EVDO while the iPad - embedded AT&T 3G.

But if you have a family and your kids need (OK need is a strong word - desire is probably more appropriate) connectivity, should you embed their devices with 3G modems as well?

Obviously the bill can get pretty big pretty fast and if you have kids who only occasionally need wireless access when WiFi isn't available it is crazy to sign a multi-year contract for $40 or more per month. Sure you could get a cheaper plan but if you opt for an iPhone instead an iPod Touch to take advantage of a wireless carrier's larger 3G wireless footprint you have to buy a voice plan as well which starts at $39.99/month - then of course you'll want to add a text message plan, etc.

This is why I read with interest the news that Best Buy is selling a bundle of an iPad with a free MiFi with a 2-year contract.

When you amortize the use of this free device across all your family's gadgets such as the Nintendo DS, iPod Touch and future products you know you'll buy, it seems to make sense to have one.

But one wonders if carriers aren't doing themselves a long-term disservice by not coming up with some sort of group or family plan for devices.











Callvine Simplifies Mobile Conferencing

December 19, 2010

Yesterday I was at a party where one of the guests was telling me about her job managing real estate for her family. I inquired about where her office is and she held up her cell phone and said my car is my office. This conversation reminded me about a recent conversation with Callvine Founder and COO Mark Dzwonczyk who tells me his company has found the secret ingredient to take conferencing to the mobile professional. After a couple of years of work, the company has an app which I tried on an iPhone (iTunes preview) allowing you to quickly set up groups which you can use to SMS and conference.

Ready, Aim, Send: Military Embraces Smartphones

December 18, 2010

It is not as if the US government has slowed spending to keep up with the general economy so it comes as a surprise to me that we haven't been issuing a couple of smartphones apiece to soldiers in the field. Thankfully, the military is getting into the swing of things by ensuring virtually everyone will have 24x7 access to mobile information, videos from unmanned vehicles and tactical information of various sorts.

My only concern? I hope these things are really locked down well so as to make leaks more difficult to pull off. The last thing we need is thousands of soldiers tweeting sensitive information on the battlefield.

Just to be sure, I hope the top brass in the armed services is monitoring the hashtag #topsecret.

Ed Silverstein breaks the story on TMCnet.





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