Motorola's Droid smartphone will soon be replaced by the Droid 2, the only questions are 'when' and 'how much?' We have a couple of tentative answers to both of those.
As for when, it's looking like Verizon will officially announce a launch date this Tuesday, which Web murmurs have pegged for this Thursday, August 12. The Droid 2 has already been given a full page spread in the Boston Globe, so we know we're getting close.
And as for cost, expect the Droid 2 to run $200 with a 2-year service agreement, or $600 without. That's according to yet another leak, this time from a North Carolina resident who spotted a dummy unit at his local Best Buy accompanied by a price tag.
While final specs have yet to be officially released, the Droid 2 is expected to come configured with a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, 5MB camera, and an improved slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Best Buy’s CTO and Geek Squad founder, Robert Stephens has just piqued our interest today after tweeting some pics of a Rocketfish tablet. In case you haven't spent any time in the big box electronics chain, Rocketfish is Best Buy's in-house brand for various accessories. But a Best Buy tablet? There are a few things this might be, some of them pretty exciting.
There are a fair number of similarities to the HP Slate, at least superficially. The ports seem to be the same, and the design is similar. So it's possible this tablet is being manufactured by HP. It would be a cunning way for HP to test the markets. They said the HP Slate would be a business only product, but they didn't say anything about a Rocketfish-branded, HP-built tablet. If this device fails, consumers will chalk it up to Best Buy, not HP.
But what OS is this tablet running? The obvious answer is Windows 7, just like the Slate. But HP did acquire Palm for webOS. But would they really debut a webOS tablet under someone else's brand? While webOS is a long shot, Stephens did let it slip a while back the company was working on an Android 2.2 tablet. What's your take on this?
For the bargain basement price of $30, Best Buy's Geek Squad division will "save you time and help you get the most out of your [eBook reader] device by updating its firmware and performing the initial setup for you." And by bargain basement, we really mean <facepalm>.
Don't get us wrong, we don't mean to diss on Geek Squad -- they do a pretty job of that themselves on a fairly regular basis -- but $30 to setup your Nook? Really? In return, here's what Best Buy advertises for its Device Setup service:
Perform the initial configuration of yoru device.
Download the latest firmware and update your device, giving you access to the latest features.
Provide a functionality check to ensure the device is working properly and can connect to a wireless network.
An Agent will provide you with tips and tricks on what to expect when you take the device home.
It's like buying three bullet points for 10 bucks a pop, and getting a fourth thrown in free! But joking aside, are we the only ones taking issue with a service package where 25 percent of what you're paying for includes verifying the device you just bought "is working properly?"
Hit the jump and tell us what you think of this -- is it brilliant marketing, another overpriced service, or both?
Best Buy still hasn't managed to find its funny bone, but at least the company isn't going to fire Brian Maupin, the 25-year-old graphic art student who uploaded a handful of awesome videos mocking the whole mobile phone war. If you haven't seen them yet, stop whatever it is you're doing and kick back for the next few minutes, so long as your boss, kids, and anyone else easily offended by foul language is out of earshot, there's a fair amount of cursing. When the coast is clear, click here and here.
Pretty funny, right? Best Buy didn't think so, and so it suspended Brian Maupin, and it appeared as though he would later be fired. Maybe the media attention had something to do with it, or the fact that Maupin did in fact remove several other less popular videos that mentioned the retail store by name, but either way, he's not getting a pink slip, NBC reports.
"We have completed our investigation into the videos created and posted by Brian Maupin, the aspiring filmmaker and Best Buy employee," Best Buy said in a statement. "This is an important situation for us because it involved balancing our social media guidelines with a commitment to creating a supportive environment for our employees. It's important to note that our investigation involved three videos that were posted in late June because they were openly disparaging of our employees, our customers and our vendor partners. Our investigation is over, and these videos are no longer on the web. Contrary to rumors, Brian has not been fired and is scheduled to return to his job at Best Buy this Friday."
Whether that's a blessing or a curse remains to be seen, and is something Maupin will have to figure out.
"At this point, I haven't decided if it would be appropriate to return," Maupin wrote on his Twitter account.
Best Buy isn't out on a mountain top screaming about its mobile wireless broadband service, but with a couple of mouse clicks, you can uncover a fair amount of details about its Best Buy Connect program.
Rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach, Best Buy Connect comes in a variety of plans, including no contract options and both 1-year and 2-year pricing models. Without a contract, Best Buy will sell you up to 250MB for $30, while all three plans offer up to 500MB for $40 and 5GB for $60. Both service agreements are tied to subsidies on new laptops, with the longer you commit, the more you'll save upfront -- up to $275 off of any compatible laptops when you agree to a 2-year plan.
From what we've uncovered, you'll also be able to log in to your account and monitor your monthly data usage. And to help prevent you from wracking up a ginormous bill filled with overage charges, Best Buy says it will email customers when they get near their monthly allotment.
The iPhone 4 vs. HTC EVO 4G video went viral a few days ago with well over 2 million views, but some executives over at Best Buy aren't laughing. Apparently using other videos uploaded under his profile, managers with the electronics retailing giant were able to determine his real life identity as an employee and have placed him on suspension pending review.
Corporate Best Buy has apparently requested he take the video down, but creator Brian Maupin has rightfully declined considering that it was done on his own time, and in no way references the company. The irony of the whole situation is that Best Buy feels slandered by the video, but in reality is likely to incur more negative press as a result of their unjustified persecution of Brian. They would have been far better off if they simply ignoring it, but it's too late to cover it up now.
Young Brian Maupin of Kansas City made a hilarious video on YouTube that over a million people viewed (check out the vid here). The only problem is that Brian also works at Best Buy, and Best Buy has no sense of humor. The videos in question poke a little fun at Apple and the iPhone. Best Buy feels the video disparages a product that it sells, as well as the electronics retailer itself. Heaven forbid your employees have opinions about gadgets that they express in their spare time. Brian is now suspended indefinitely and is probably on the way to unemployment.
The most popular video has a customer at "Phone Mart" insisting that the only phone he (or she, the cartoon is indistinct) wants is the iPhone. Even after being told the Evo 4G could print money and grant wishes, the customer still wanted the iPhone because it has "the Wi-Fis". The weird thing here is that the videos say nothing about Best Buy, and Brian does not announce himself as a Best Buy employee. Indeed, the only connection Best Buy has to these videos is the one it has created for itself by perusing this. Maupin is taking the whole thing in stride saying, " I see it all as a blessing in disguise. I’ve wanted to start my career in graphic design/animation for so long, I see this as my kick in the pants to go get it."
Brian suspects Best Buy figured out who he was by digging through his other videos, which he removed at Best Buy's request. He refused to remove the Evo vs iPhone video as it had nothing to do with Best Buy. We wish him the best in his future video endeavors, and shake our collective fist at Best Buy.
Let iPhone 4 early adopters debate with Jobs and company whether Apple's latest smartphone has a legitimate design flaw, or if the reception issues are the result of user error; you can avoid the whole back and forth by jumping on the Android bandwagon. And as luck (and well timed marketing) would have it, Best Buy is now taking pre-orders for Motorola's upcoming Droid X smartphone.
"With the buzz we've seen around the Android platform, Best Buy is confident that consumers will be thrilled about the Verizon Droid X by Motorola pre-sale," said Scott Anderson, senior director of merchandising at Best Buy Mobile. "It has been a great summer for smartphones with the HTC EVO and iPhone 4 launches, and the addition of the Droid X adds another strong option for our customers to consider."
The Droid X is selling for $200 with a 2-year service agreement, and that's without any rebate shenanigans to wrestle with. Not a bad deal for arguably the most anticipated Android phone right now, and while you'll still pay the same by ordering directly through Verizon, you'll have to first contend with a $100 mail-in-rebate.
For those of you who have been keeping up with the smartphone market, the Droid X comes bult around Google's Android 2.1 platform and sports a 4.3-inch 'edge-to-edge' display. Other features include 8GB of internal storage, 16GB microSD card, 1GHz processor, and three (yes, THREE) mics.
Best Buy's latest pricing strategy has come under fire in the tech community, and for good reason. As the Consumerist tells it, the electronics chain has been jacking up the prices of certain laptop models by $20 to $50 over their own regular pricing and then slapping an "As Advertised" sticker on the units in-store. Deceptive? Yeah, just a little. But illegal? Apparently not -- Best Buy isn't marking these as sale items, so it's all good in the hood, even if the company's street cred takes yet another hit.
Citing a dude named Donald, the Consumerist lists out several specific models with inflated price tags, including a Dell laptop (SKU 9693171) now selling for $649.99 instead of $629.99, and an HP notebook (SKU 9705373) advertised for $699.99 instead of $649.99.
So is this a blatant case of Best Buy charging an idiot tax? We're not so sure. A quick glance at Best Buy's online listings for both above mentioned models show the higher price tag, so either Best Buy adjusted its pricing after the media caught wind of what was going on, or the Consumerist is off its rocker. But there's also a third scenario. According to Engadget, Best Buy is bundling 6 months of Ask an Agent and Virus and Spyware Protection into each of the offers. These normally run an extra $20 each, or $40 total, which would explain the higher pricing.
Best Buy on Tuesday said it is launching its new digital video service called CinemaNow, which will give movie watchers same-day instant access to new release movies and TV shows.
"With the introduction of CinemaNow, Best Buy continues our commitment to evolve with our customers as their demand for digital entertainment grows," said Chris Homeister, senior vice president of entertainment for Best Buy. "The convenience, selection and flexibility of the CinemaNow service offers customers more freedom in the way they choose to consume entertainment from Best Buy. This service, which complements our existing suite of digital entertainment brands, will be available to customers in their homes and on-the-go through a broad array of devices and will be brought to life in store with the help of our Blue Shirts and Geek Squad Agents."
At least initially, the service will be made available through select connected Blu-ray players and HDTVs, as well as on most PCs through CinemaNow's online portal, www.cinemanow.com, Best Buy said. Starting this month, the service will extend to all new connected Blu-ray players and home theater systems from LG, and will launch on several other devices from different manufacturers later this year.