Go Ahead, Cozy Up to iPad

January 28, 2010 1:23 PM | 1 Comment
Thumbnail image for apple-ipad.jpgAre you supposed to cradle it against your chest? Or, pop it in your man-bag to pull out on the subway in lieu of your iPhone?
 
A gazillion stories about Apple's new iPad hit the wires yesterday and this morning. Unless you've been sucked into watching video clips of President Obama's State of the Union address, you know Apple's new 9.7-inch touchscreen tablet can do so many things, even give you a 3G connection.
 
Sure, there are concerns about lack of Flash and a higher-than-Kindle price tag ($499 and up!). But -- being the first cousin of the iPhone, iTouch, iPod and i-everything else Apple-invented - it's still supercool.
 
You know you want one.
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The big benefit of being a gadget writer is that I get to carry around a pile of phones in my big purse. I learn the most about myself observing my own cell-phone behavior (like reaching for a Motorola DROID over my very own BlackBerry Curve when I need instant directions somewhere).
 
But would I pay a stiff several-hundred-dollar fee to switch to the DROID?
 
Probably not, though the last time I tried typing in a request for directions last-minute on my pink BlackBerry proved a bit frustrating.

 
So when analysts and media types debate whether Google's new Nexus One, unveiled just hours ago, will be the "iPhone killer," what they're really debating is whether cell subscribers at the end of their contracts will opt to upgrade to Nexus One. Or, if those of us stuck on another plan will be persuaded to switch.
 
But if you're like me and get attached to things, even the most killer of iPhone killers might not carry much weight.
 
See, I like a lot of things about Google's first Google-branded smartphone. It's super-skinny, at 11.5 millimeters, weighing just 130 grams. Second, it's got technology that makes it super-fast, in the form of Qualcomm Snapdragon 3G QSD8250 chipset, delivering speeds up to 1GHz. Third, it's not an iPhone.
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droid-eris-verizon-Support-708.pngHaving HTC's Droid Eris is like having a little computer -- or a slightly cooler-looking iPhone.
 
But I wouldn't have known this hadn't a friendly Verizon Wireless PR rep suggested that I check it out (after asking for me to give back the Motorola DROID I borrowed). 

 
 
See, when Verizon Wireless released both gadgets in early November, a flurry of media write-ups and advertising campaigns crowned Motorola DROID the Alpha Male of the handset market (targeting non-princess types through questionably sexist commercials). Still, the hefty cell phone with both touchscreen widgets plus a tangible keyboard sported some seriously awesome features - like voice-activated GPS and the best-looking Gmail interface I've ever seen.
 
If the Motorola DROID is a beast, then the Droid Eris is a beauty, with a smooth, black/soft black exterior and bright, app-happy color screen. I love the little retro clock on the home screen and Eris' lightweight feel (plus, it actually fits into my princess-jeans pockets without making me look pudgy).
 
Still, I wondered, putting the pretty phone into my pants pocket, how could this gadget offer anything the iPhone doesn't? Soon, on the snowiest night of the year, I would learn that this little Droid did.
 
My hour-long train ride into New York City was MUCH more entertaining than it would've been with my standby BlackBerry.
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For the Ski Lover: Satsport GPS

December 14, 2009 4:45 PM | 1 Comment
GPS-black-Ski-high-res.jpgIf freezing temps make you want to hit the slopes when your pals reach for hot chocolate, perhaps it's time to treat yourself to a special kind of GPS system. You know, one that's made for skiers and snowboarders.
 

 
Though it's a bit pricy at $490, Satsport GPS - a multi-sport, interactive, all-weather GPS system - is loaded with bells and whistles galore that'll truly enhance the experiences of the road warrior/winter adventurer.
 
Sporting a 2.7-inch touchscreen, SiRF Star II antenna, Samsung 400 Mhz processor and micro SD card slot, the handheld gadget combines true, real-time interactive navigation for skiers, snowboarders, golfers, runners and cyclers. And it does this through PC software that syncs GPS data with Google Earth to replay in 3D.
 
Throw in an extra $65 for an optional SD card to turn the device into a voice-activated street navigator.
 
It's available at ski resorts worldwide, so you can try one out instantly -- on slopes or in the ski lodge, hot chocolate mug in hand.
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Skiff: Not for Town & Country Types

December 9, 2009 6:31 PM | 0 Comments
It's no secret the magazine industry is having a hard time staying afloat, as major titles folded by the dozen in 2009. And though Hearst made ears perk up when it said that it would launch Skiff, an e-reader service of sorts, in 2010, a lot of questions remain. 
 
The publisher of Harper's Bazaar and O, The Oprah magazine said that Skiff brings magazines to smartphones and Kindle-like devices. Plus, the Skiff service and digital store will feature a selection of newspapers, books and magazines.
 
Still, it's unclear whether I'll be able to download rival publications (those from Conde Nast, like Vogue), through Skiff.
 
Even though Skiff will be ad-supported, who will use it?  
 
Although digital media is cheaper to produce than print, there's "no proof" something like Skiff "is going to sell products," Steve Cohn, editor-in-chief of magazine industry publication Media Industry Newsletter, remarked during a recent phone conversation with me.
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The "iPhone versus BlackBerry" debate isn't just something I talk about during work hours.
 
It's a heated match on any given weeknight, when my proud iPhone-owning fiancé goes into debate-team mode over the merits of his touchscreen wonder.
 
The iPhone is pretty amazing, no doubt, but the of lack of pressable buttons that make grammatically perfect e-mails easy to pound out was reason #1 I choose the sunset-pink hued BlackBerry Curve 8330. The second, as noted, was color. Oh, and I also love my service provider, Verizon Wireless (I switched over from Sprint PCS in 2003, when I lived in Washington, D.C., because I needed to make calls while riding the Metro).
 
But when it comes time to upgrade in 2010, I'm going to need more than a pretty pastel color and press-easy buttons -- and not just because I don't ride the D.C. Metro anymore.
 
 
It's a good thing I got in touch with Mike McAndrews, vice president for product marketing at RIM, who spoke about the criteria one should use when picking their best BlackBerry.

"We tried to create a portfolio of smartphones because we feel that one size does not fit all," McAndrews told me, as we spoke about the differences between the touchscreen Storm line, the "BlackBerry for everyone" Curve line (RIM's most successful product to date), the Pearl (for traditional cell fans who need some convincing), the Tour (for world traveler types) and the Bold models.
 
"One of the first things a user needs to consider is the carrier," McAndrews said, validating at least one of my criteria for choosing my Curve, and suggesting consider the advantages of each network based on location.
 
For example, let's say your folks have a mountain house where there is coverage from just one carrier.
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Just because I write about gadgets doesn't mean I'll get all the cool ones I want for Christmas.
 
Unfortunately, one of the toys topping my wish list - the Barnes and Noble 'nook' e-book reader - is out of stock. But you can still get (and give) a specially made 'nook' e-coupon (at least it will save on wrapping paper!).  
 
At Amazon, some of the big deals of the day include 40 percent off the EyeClops Mini Projector, Sennheiser RS 130 Wireless Surround Sound Headphones for $199.68 (normally $380.61) and the 2G Apple iPod touch 8 GB for $158.
 
And at Buy.com, the $82 pricetag on the TomTom One 130 Portable GPS with Preloaded Maps and a 3.5" Touchscreen is certainly enticing (as I always get lost driving around my new home state of Connecticut).
 
Then again, I should probably get in the true spirit of the holiday and shop for someone else, like my fiancé, who really wants the new Beatles Rock Band for Wii (on sale for $40). At least that's a gift that'll benefit the both of us.  
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cheetahprintII_HD_1000x1000.jpgWhat do screen savers, ring tones and what you're wearing to dinner have in common?
 
All three things can be personalized!
 
If you're known to love (and lose) pricy gadgets, chances are you're a fan of personalization, whether it's the tropical screen saver that graces your PC/Mac or a slick black skin that covers your iPhone.   
 
And if you're the animal-loving type, today's Flip MinoHD is available in the coolest cheetah-print you've ever seen.  
 
 
Or, if you're the creative type, upload your own graphic or image to TheFlip.com and create your own design using the pattern generator. Choose from psychedelic swirls or slick, linear montages.
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I live in Connecticut, but I'm from Washington, D.C., which means six-hour train rides back and forth for the holidays. Though I love my BlackBerry Curve, there are days I wish my Mac had a built-in wireless network access thingie so I could surf the 'net while cruising down the mid-Atlantic. 
 
So when I heard about AT&T's HP Mini netbook with built-in access to the AT&T's 3G and WiFi networks, my ears perked up. 
 
This new, light, 2.57-pound 'book features Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, a 10.1-inch LED anti-glare widescreen display, 1G of memory, a 160GB hard drive and is only $199 after mail-in rebate via an AT&T promotion card. There's just one catch: You have to buy a two-year data service contract, and pay $35-60 per month for service. All for the benefit of getting to use AT&T WiFi wherever you are. 
 
Still, making a commitment to shell out another $35-60 a month is difficult - I wish you could just rent netbooks for $20 per train trip (hint, hint Amtrak)! That would make those monthly train rides go a whole lot more smoothly. 
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Thumbnail image for Jabra Stone_1 Hi-Res.jpgI've never been a fan of Bluetooth wireless headsets.

 

Freakish extensions of the ear, the few headsets I've tried been a pain to put on, and an even greater pain to use correctly. Like bicycle helmets, they're not terribly sexy, either.

 

Until now. 
 

 

The task of charging up the new Jabra STONE for a product test was met with far less enthusiasm than getting a Motorola DROID.

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Okay, I admit it.

 

I almost jumped out of my seat when my new Motorola Droid got all robot-like on me, announcing "Droid!" in  a dark-electro freaky alien voice when I first turned it on. But as soon as I charged that baby up, easing into life on Android turned freakishly easy. 

 

It's pretty amazing how well the Google Android-infused Droid capturing the gorgeous, full-color images embedded in my Gmail messages. That -- plus the easy-to-scroll Facebook app -- makes my BlackBerry Curve 8520 seem so archaic.

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It's been a almost a week since Verizon Wireless unveiled its first-ever cell phones based off the much-fussed-about Google Android platform -- the DROID by Motorola and the DROID ERIS by HTC - so TMCnet decided to visit to a Verizon Wireless store in Norwalk, Conn., to get a closer look. Boy, was it worth it! 
 
We were ushered in by a Verizon spokesman, along with sales guy Jared Fixler, who navigated some of the phone's most-talked-about features. 
 
I'm a bit obsessed with fashion, so my first Google search on the Motorola DROID's voice-activated search was for "Vera Wang." Within seconds I was presented with a map to the designer's flagship New York City store. 
 
It's been said by some that the iPhone has better resolution than the DROID, but I honestly could not tell the difference. The DROID slightly heavier than the iPhone or my BlackBerry Curve, thanks to a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. But having access to hundreds of widgets, GPS directions and my Facebook page makes the weight worth it.
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