Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Best Buy Selling Musical Instruments -- Making Real Guitar Heroes!

October 3, 2008

Look out Guitar Center and Sam Ash!

Maybe you don't think of them as gadgets, but Best Buy is adding musical instruments to its entertainment repertoire at roughly 85 stores nationwide.

(Didn't I just see you at Best Buy?)

The stores will cater to novice and professional musicians and carry brands such as Fender, Gibson, Roland and Drum Workshop.

The Best Buy in Pembroke Pines, FL, for example, features a 2,500-square-foot store-within-a store with more than 1,000 guitars, bass drums, keyboards, recording equipment and other instruments and accessories.

The Best Buy in Pembroke Pines will have five to seven trained musical instrument specialists and will offer guitar lessons (for all of those Guitar Hero dudes who want to play for real).

There also will be drum and amplifier rooms to test equipment.

Best Buy had offered a smattering of beginner guitars and home-recording equipment, but now it wants a bigger slice of the $7.5 billion U.S. musical instrument market.

More here.

Ronco's Baaack!!!

October 2, 2008

Remember the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler? To many baby boomers, those names recall the days when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and Farrah Fawcett starred in Charlie's Angels.

And who can forget the Bass-O-Matic skit on Saturday Night Live (when it really mattered!)?

Now a new generation will be able to form its own memories. The Ronco Acquisition Corporation, the company behind these products, is reviving its in-your-face infomercials, even weaving in historical footage of Ron Popeil, the original pitchman.

(Now if only Crazy Eddie came back, too ...)

Now, under a new owner, Ronco is using old film of Popeil to peddle a new product, the Grillwave, and one that has not seen the studio lights in years, the Veg-O-Matic. Also coming back are some of Popeil's signature lines, like, "But wait, there's more!" "Set it and forget it!" and "Isn't that amazing?" 

The Times has more.

How about Being Your Favorite Gadget for Halloween?

October 1, 2008

Motorola Femtocell Picture Frame Combines VoIP, Video, Bluetooth, Touchscreen and more

September 26, 2008

Check out this cool new converged prototype device from Motorola that combines a picture frame with touch-screen, video camera, Bluetooth headset, VoIP, femtocell, and video streaming. A femtocell is a small cellular base station, typically designed for use in residential or small business environments that allows you to use your mobile phone in your home connecting to your femtocell access point.

Femtocells essentially are an alternative way to deliver the benefits of Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) without the need for a dual-mode handset. In the Youtube demo video below demoed by Motorola representative Harsha Hegde, you can clearly see they're using the popular Counterpath Xten SIP-based softphone - also shown in the screen grab above. Motorola also demonstrates a femtocell mobile-to-mobile VoIP call, which is pretty cool.

Going Green with My Gadgets

September 15, 2008

We all love our gadgets -- some more than others -- but all of those TVs, computers, mobile phones and DVD players suck up energy and end up clogging landfills.

How can you stay plugged in while minimizing the effect on the environment?

Take a look at, a website launched last year by the Consumer Electronics Association.

The site offers lists of low-energy-use electronic products, tips on how to limit energy consumption by the electronics you own and advice for making your electronics last longer so they don't have to be thrown out so soon.

If you no longer want an electronic device, the site can help with its list of nonprofit groups that accept them, and an easy-to-use search tool (just enter a ZIP Code) for finding electronics recyclers in your area.

A calculator on the site can help you estimate how much energy is consumed by electronics in your home and what it's costing you.

(Don't know if really want to know all of the gory details, but this is very important -- carbon footprint, you know -- so will have to try it out.)

Om Interviews Skype CEO

September 12, 2008

New iPod touch supports VoIP

September 11, 2008

The Cult of Mac claims that the new iPod touch is VoIP-capable on the hardware side:
With 5 wires connected to the Touch headphone jack (instead of 4 on the previous model), the device now supports the external microphone included with some headsets, according to Kyle Wiens of iFixit, who fully dismantled an iPod Touch on Wednesday.
So who needs an AT&T-restricted iPhone? Course, you'll need to be in range of a Wi-Fi network to use VoIP on the iPod touch.

It is worth pointing out that this is not the first time someone has run VoIP on the iPod touch. Touchmods added a microphone hack to the older iPod touch version. Another group enabled a SIP softphone client for the iPod touch to use with the "hacked-in" microphone.

With the new iPod touch - no hacking required.

Sling Media SlingCatcher and Slingbox PRO-HD Available

September 10, 2008

The new Sling Media SlingCatcher and Slingbox PRO-HD (Sling Media Slingbox PRO-HD SB100-100) are now available for pre-order from Amazon and at $299.99 each. Just in time for the Christmas holiday season! Woot! Ok, Christmas is still 3 months away, so I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Buying an iPhone at Best Buy

September 8, 2008

Best Buy began selling the Apple iPhone on Sunday, becoming the first U.S. retailer to do so outside of Apple and AT&T stores. The Apple iPhone will be carrier in 970 Best Buy stores. Rich Tehrani and I decided to take a walk to Best Buy which is just down the street from TMC and take some pictures of their display.

We Keep Doin' the Gadget Redo ...

September 5, 2008

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