You gotta give some credit to the Zune, who despite weaker-than-expected sales and the inevitable release of new, updated players from Apple’s popular iPod lineup (as well as an iTunes upgrade), attempts its hand at persuadable marketing with new emphasis on the media player’s wireless capabilities.
According to Microsoft, the Zune promises to take music discovery “to the next level” by offering users the ability to wirelessly download and stream millions of song from wireless hot spots around the country. Zune’s software and firmware updates will allow users to purchase music directly from the built-in FM radio as well as wirelessly access the Zune store on the go. And if wireless isn’t available, the media player will queue the download until the user is back in a connected area.
Microsoft is attempting to take advantage of the fact that its player has wireless capabilities and the user can purchase the song as soon as he or she discovers it from the radio, in a store, from a commercial, etc. Zune customers will also have the option to pay for music per song or by purchasing a Zune Pass.
How connected to the internet do we need to be? I already tote my laptop everywhere in the house with me. Often it is quicker to email me as opposed to calling me. As it is, my wife gets mad at me if I bring the laptop in to watch a chick flick on TV with her. It is as if I mitigating my affection for her by not suffering through Sex and the City with her.
As if my internet addiction isn’t bad enough, Chrysler is making a roving hot spot option available on it’s mini-van’s. I now have to convince my wife that she needs a mini-van. Then maybe I can get the dealer to slip in the UConnect Web option on the sly. I can then play dumb when she asks why I have an internet connection so often when she is diving down the road. “Oh a lot of open hot spots in this neighborhood, honey.” Do you think she’ll buy it? Me either.
From a technical aspect the UConnect Webis way cool. It is however also pretty disturbing too. I cringe when I think of all the people I see driving in rush hour traffic shaving, applying makeup, reading the paper, or working their Crack- uh, I mean BlackBerries. I can just imagine adding a laptop to the mix. It’s bound to create a lot more combination vehicles like a “Chevroler”, or a “Forlet”. Of course, vehicles combined due to driver inattention just lose all of their value.
With around 40,000 traffic fatalities a year in the US now, do we really need to get our hit off the net in the car too? We don’t need to add fatalities beyond Fatal1ty to the information super highway. Chrysler’s intention is for the service to be used by the kids in the back seat, but do they really believe that is where it will stay? This article from the NY Times says no, but do you agree?
In between the ultra-high frequency television channels sits a spectrum of TV "white space," and as U.S. broadcasters transition from analog to digital transmission in time to meet the Federal Trade Commission's February 2009 deadline, these vacant bands are becoming a point of contention.
Google, Motorola, Microsoft, Philips, and others envision these vacant bands being used for universal wireless internet, and to plead its case to the FCC (and apply some pressure), Google has setup a website called FreeTheAirwaves.com with a four minute YouTube video outlining why opening up the spectrum would be a good thing.
But not everyone is in agreement with Google and Co.'s semi-Utopian vision. According to audio industry professionals, opening up the spectrum could be disastrous. Why? Because wireless audio equipment could suddenly find itself facing significant interference from electronic devices searching for wireless connectivity.
"The radio frequency environment is going to become more crowded and more difficult to use," says Mike Torlone, director of marketing services at AKG Acoustics, a division of audio-equipment manufacturer Harman International.
The fear is that everything from celebrity concerts to the local church sermon could potentially be affected, but Google thinks there are ways around the problem, such as using a geolocation database to ensure no white space device could transmit without first getting the all-clear from the database.
What's your take? Should the FCC open up the spectrum, or will doing so cause more problems than it purports to solve?
We don't know what it is about the year 2012 that has the technological world gunning for it, but we've heard predictions ranging from Linux losing it's command line, to mini-notebooks exploding onto the market with 50 million units expected to ship. There's even talk of being able to book 3-night getaways in outer space, and humans turning into robots! But if we had to pick one prediction most likely to come true, it would be that mobile broadband will hit 100Mbps by 2012, beating fixed line broadband to the punch.
According to the GSM Association (GSMA), demand for faster data speeds in Asian markets is pushing Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that could deliver speeds up to 186Mbps in the not too distant future.
"The places we expect to see it first are Japan and South Korea in early 2010 and [former Vodafone chief] Arun Sarin said he expects to see the technology in the European market by 2012," said Dan Warren, GMSA director of technology.
Despite the strides being made, Warren doesn't see mobile networks completely replacing fixed lines anytime soon. Of course, none of this will matter if the other predictions come true and we all become half-human, half-robots living in outer space by 2012.
It's not often that a technology comes along that significantly changes the way we do things, but we're on the verge of such a transition if Intel succeeds in its latest endeavor, and it has nothing to do with Nehalem. Instead, the chip maker has made progress in a technology that could pave the way for the wireless recharging of electronics.
Intel claims it has found a way to increase the efficiency of a technique for wirelessly powering consumer gadgets and computers, potentially allowing a person to place a device on a computer desk to power it. In short, the technology could do for powering gadgets what Wifi has done for internet access.
"Something like this technology could be embedded in tables and work surfaces, "said Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, "so as soon as you put down an appropriately equipped device it would immediately begin drawing power.
The technology uses a magnetic field to broadcast up to 60 watts of power two to three feet, while only losing about 25 percent of the power in transmission. And while some start ups have also announced similar wireless charging technologies, those demonstrations have required that the consumer gadgets touch the charging station.
With the emergence of eSATA combined with Firewire still sticking around, competition remains stiff for USB to stay on top of its game. Helping it do that, NEC this week expanded its wireless USB devices lineup with the introduction of the uPD720171 wireless USB host controller. The new controller ups the ante over NEC's previous model with higher throughput and higher performance.
"As the consumer appetite for wireless connectivity increases, the industry is requiring reliable, standardized interface solutions that can transmit data at speeds equivalent to wired USB connections," said Yoshiyuki Tomoda, Group Manager, SoC Systems Division, NEC. "By providing these performance levels, our new uPD720171 host controller is helping bring the industry closer to mainstream adoption of advanced wireless technologies."
NEC claims the new host controller supports data transfer rates of up to 480 Mbps within a maximum range of three meters, along with up to 32 connections to physical wireless USB compliant devices. Pricing and availability are yet to be determined.
The WiMax Forum has formally approved three licensed spectrum profiles for WiMax, 2.5 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz. Intel’s primary focus hitherto has been on the 2.5 GHz spectrum profile as it is used in the U.S – Clearwire will roll out its WiMax service in three U.S cities later this year. The chip maker has announced that its WiMax chipset will support frequencies beyond 2.5 GHz in 2009.
Although it didn’t specify the exact spectrum profiles it plans to support, it is safe to assume that the remaining two profiles approved by the WiMax forum will be on the list. As WiMax networks in various countries around the world operate on either 2.5 GHz or 3.5 GHz, it is very obvious that Intel will soon support them. But Intel stopped short of announcing any release dates.
Coming this fall, Sony will unveil its first WHDI device, the DMX-WL1T. If you haven't been following, WHDI is a new technology co-developed by Amimon, Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony that provides a high-quality, uncompressed wireless link for transmitting video data rates of up to 3Gbps between an HD source and an HDTV.
Giving the device widespread flexibility, Sony's DMX-WL1T will come equipped with four HDMI inputs, one component input, one digital audio input, and a stereo analog input. The two-piece system will transmit uncompressed 1080i video and audio, but according to Sony Insider, HD content will likely only stream to a Sony DMex compatible Bravia HDTV.
Concrete details have yet to emerge, but it looks as though the WHDI device will offer a range of up to 100 feet and possibly more. Three IR Blaster ports also suggest that users will be able to control other third-party devices. Sony is expected to officially announce the DMX-WL1T later this month at the IFA conference in Berlin. Until then, it's all speculation, including pricing and availability.
Canary Wireless was the first out with a usable Wi-Fi network spotter. We say usable because we’ve seen all manner of gimmicky, useless devices that couldn’t spot a Wi-Fi network if they were hit by a semi full of them.
Thankfully, Canary's second-generation Hot Spotter is quite a capable beast.
You knew it would happen sooner or later, and now it has; a Wii controller knockoff for the PC. Sort of. Asus has dubbed its new Wii remote lookalike as the Eee Stick, "an easy-to-sue use yet highly versatile Plug and Play wireless controller for the PC platform that translates users' physical hand motions into corresponding movements onscreen."
Interestingly Asus has no plans of selling the Eee Stick as a standalone peripheral and will instead bundle the motion controller exclusively with select models of the Eee PC and the Eee Box. Huh? We don't understand it either, but Asus justifies the move by saying the Eee Stick is "perfect for gaming on-the-go."
The vibration capable controller connects via a 2.4GHz RF dongle with a broadcast range of 10m. Two AA batteries are required to power the Eee Stick, which Asus claims will provide up to three days (72 hours) of continuous play.
Will the Eee Stick entice potential customers to pick up an Eee PC or Eee Box, or is Asus making a mistake by not offering the controller as a standalone device?