Bling comes in all shapes and sizes. So to, unfortunately, do Bluetooth devices. Image the bizarre possibilities if you combine the two. One such possibility is Tokyoflash’s new Bluetooth headset/remote control. It’s all neatly packaged as a neck pendant. How very, very stylish.
It’s not really clear what is the Kisai Escape C. It’s touted as a “personal wireless receiver with headset & headphone profiles.” It allows hands free phone calls, and can be used for VoIP. It will also pair with a Bluetooth capable Mac, PC or MP3 player, where it can be used as a remote control. And, we are told, it “displays the time in a new way.”
There are a stream of specifications that can help make some sense of the Kisai Escape C. It has A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP interfaces. It uses Bluetooth v2.1 +EDR Class 2. It operates on the 2.4GHz frequency. And has a range of about 30 feet. Talk time is up to 6 hours; standby up to 180 hours. It charges through a USB port. And has a 3.5 mm audio jack.
Still, for all that it does, how useful can it be if it’s dangling around your neck? It’s a pity that Tokyoflash didn’t build this functionality into one of the watches it's so famous for.
Slashgear is expecting the Kisai Escape C to be available sometime this quarter, and cost between $150 and $180.
In the world of the phone user a phone call is a phone call, regardless of where it originates or where it terminates. Landline to landline or landline to mobile are one in the same. But not for mobile phone providers. For them mobile to mobile is okay, but landline to mobile is another matter. Virgin has announced an exception to this distinction, and will treat landline to mobile calls the same as mobile to mobile calls. But there are caveats.
First, this offer is only for residents of the United Kingdom. (That revolution business back in 1776 looks pretty foolish now, doesn’t it?) And you have to be a Virgin Phone and Virgin Mobile customer, because only calls from Virgin landlines (“home phones”) to Virgin mobiles are included. (Also, the language of Virgin’s announcement suggests that only landline to mobile calls are without charge--not the reverse.)
What’s Virgin up to? Drew Cullen at Reghardware.com says Virgin is dumping its estimate £1.6 billion ($2.6 billion) a year in landline to mobile revenues in the hopes of signing up more customers to its “quadplay” service bundle. “The company may lose a little in individual elements of the bundle but it makes much more money in the long run: people who choose all four services are very profitable and less susceptible, we suspect, to “churning” than single-service rates tarts," writes Cullen.
Virigin’s new service will go into effect April 1st.
If you are going to be tracked no matter what, you might as well have some fun while it’s being done. To that end, Verizon Wireless has introduced an upgrade to VZ Navigator, version 5.0, which does just that.
According to Verizon Wireless, VZ Navigator is a “GPS-enabled service that transforms a wireless smartphone or handset into an all-in-one powerful navigation and communication device, enabling customers to find useful information and discover new places and destinations.” This new version will be available right away for users of the BlackBerry Curve 8530, the LG enV TOUCH, the HTC Touch Pro2, and the Samsung Omnia.
New to version 5.0 are streamlined maps for faster navigation start-ups, enhanced points of interest, real-time traffic information and road alerts, and voice integration. Roadside assistance is available. And version 5.0 will also let you tap into social networks, such as Facebook, allowing you to share your location information with family and friends in real-time.
No surprise here--Verizon charges for the service: $9.99 per month for unlimited use, or $2.99 for one-day/24 hour use (on certain devices). Verizon says that download charges vary, and airtime or megabyte charges may apply when using.
Touchscreens are a kludge. For the most part they consist of a touchscreen laid over a display. It works, but it adds an extra layer of complexity and weight to any device that uses one. Samsung says it will begin mass producing a 3.3-inch AMOLED WVGA panel for mobile devices this March, which effectively merges the touchscreen into a single device.
An AMOLED is an incredibly thin LED screen, with brightness nearing that of LEDs, and which has no need for backlighting. What Samsung has done is place the touch sensor onto the display, making them one in the same. (The touch sensor is 0.001 mm thick.) This single-piece device is not only less complex, it’s lighter and thinner.
According to Samsung, “Through mass production, we want to make this touch embedded AMOLED panel number one in the LCD and AMOLED market. Also, we want to mass produce touch screens and construct a system so that we can expand the display market.
Fabian Hemmert’s demo at the TEDxBerlin seminar is a bit hokey, but then that’s usually the way with new ideas and prototypes. In it, though, he raises some profound questions about the connection between us and our newly expanding digital world. In particular, “how do we make digital content graspable by humans?”
This conundrum isn’t restricted to the digital world. We’ve long tried to make representations of the physical world more real, such as making baby dolls that cry, wet, and can be comforted. (Maybe a G.I. Joe with kung-fu grip would have served better here.) But in the physical there’s a visual connection upon which to build. What happens when there is no visual to connect to? How can you make the digital, which is virtual, into the physical?
Hemmert offers three possibilities--two of which are already in play (albeit in modest ways). They are mass, shape, and intuition. Mass shifts weight within the object--in this case a prototype of a mobile phone--to aid the user’s understanding or use of content. (An adaptation of the Rumble Pak.) A shifting shape can provide clues about that content--how much or where there might be more. Intuition is basically the Tomagotchi paradigm-mimicking in the device emotional responses to which we can relate.
For gamer these ideas are logical extensions of what they already experience. Hemmert’s interest is in making such experiences commonplace. Integrating them into mobile phones, for example, will make the technology more approachable, and expand the potential the technology has to offer.
There’s good news, and there’s good news in the latest leaked figures on Kindle ownership. While Amazon is a bit tight-lipped on the subject, with Jeff Bezos only admitting to “millions of people” owning Kindles, TechCrunch is reporting the number of those millions to be three.
Michael Arrington, who’s checked with this “amazingly accurate” sources, reports that the three million number was hit sometime in December, before the release of the global Kindle, and Amazon’s “free” Kindle offer.
Why double-good news? First, because this gives Amazon a distinct early market presence, which can have a snowball effect. (If all you see are Kindles, why by a Nook?) Second, because Amazon might well need this presence to weather the introduction Apple’s iPad into the market. For no other reason than its cachet value, the iPad will sell, and when the initial frenzy is over Kindle has a good chance of still being there.
Dumb phones may not yet be dead, but they are in the process of dying. Manufacturers who haven’t hitched themselves to smartphones are paying the price--it’s time to put-up or shut-up for them. Motorola, which has been struggling with sales of late, has decided to put-up, announcing plans to introduce 20 smartphones in 2010, including one “consumer device” it will produce with Google that will be sold directly to consumers.
The hot phones for the final quarter of 2009 were produced by Nokia and Apple--both saw a rise in market share--while Motorola’s share and revenue dropped. (No word yet on what happened for RIMM or Palm.) Motorola only managed $5.7 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, a 20% decline from the fourth quarter of the previous year. The smartphone handwriting is clearly on the wall, as Motorola’s only bright spot was the sales of Android-powered smartphones, such as the Droid and the Cliq.
There are no other details, other than this admission by Motorola. What this new Google phone will look like, what it will do, what it will cost, or when it will be available are all unknowns.
It's a new year, a new decade, with bigger hard disks than ever and new technologies like SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and bigger solid-state drives to choose from. So, what do you do with the drives you've replaced (or will replace this year)? From drive enclosures and media streamers to storage for home servers and salvage fodder, find out the best ways to decide which drives get promoted, which drives are out, and which drives deserve a second life.
Long Zheng, at istartedsomething.com, shows a text dump of the new Zune driver .inf file. Under device descriptions comes both “%Zune.DeviceDesc%” and “%Phone.DeviceDesc%”. Proof positive! After all, why put something into a device driver that you don’t have (or plan to have)? Better yet, because there are three distinct device entries, it’s a certainty there’ll three different Zune phone models.
Zheng dismissed the notion that these entries are references of Zune integration into Windows Mobile 7. He says “this particular driver references specific hardware IDs that are locked to a vendor (Microsoft) and product which under USB body regulations cannot be masked.”
When will the world be blessed with an actual announcement of a Zune phone? John Paczkowski, of All Things Digital, says expect something that coincides with the World Mobile Conference in February, or the CTIA in in March.
Sure, chalkboards and paper do what they do quite well, but we’re always looking for a way to apply technology to solve problems no one knew they had. Case in point, the “Boogie Board” from Improv Electronics uses a power-free transflective LCD to mimic a chalkboard.
No special tools are required; anything that can apply pressure to the tablet will work fine. You can draw whatever you like, educational or not. When you’re done, the tablet can be erased. The manufacturer claims the device will last for 50,000 erase cycles. If used in lieu of paper, Improv Electronics claims the savings are significant. The Boogie Board costs a mere $30.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to get anything off the tablet. No connecting to the computer, no syncing. This is for writing and erasing only. So if you hate dry erase boards and wasting paper like it grows on trees, this might be a good buy. Okay, paper does sort of grow on trees, but this thing is still cool, right?