John at myITforum.com

Mostly gadgets, but I'll occassionally get sidetracked...

November 2006 - Posts

Walt Mossberg tests the T-Mobile Dash and Palm 680

Walt Mossberg has been taking the T-Mobile Dash and Palm 680 for a test drive.  The verdict?

“Both are OK, but neither is as good as it could be. The new Treo still has great software, but it makes some compromises and still fails to match the new competitors in slimness, lightness or price. The Dash has very nice hardware, but is hampered by lousy software.”

Check out today’s Wall Street Journal for the full review.

Posted: Nov 30 2006, 07:17 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Regal Theaters battles cell phones

Regal Entertainment Group, the largest U.S. movie theater chain, is arming moviegoers with a new gadget that allows them to call in the ushers and remove unruly audience members with the press of a button.  "Cellphones drive us crazy," Regal Chief Executive Michael Campbell told the Reuters Media Summit in New York on Wednesday.

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"We had gotten to the point ... where we have had people getting into physical battles in theaters. One customer will say to another 'Shut off your cellphone' or 'Shut up' ... We've had people assaulted with bats, knives, guns."

Regal is testing devices at 25 of its theater locations, handing them out to frequent customers and may roll it out nationwide in the next year if it proves successful, Campbell said. Regal operates 6,400 screens nationwide.  About the size of a pager, the gadget has four buttons. One alerts theater managers about a disruption in the audience, such as a fight over a cellphone.  A second button gives notice of faulty movie projection, a third button can be pressed if the room temperature is off and a fourth button, marked "Other" covers any other problem

Posted: Nov 30 2006, 06:41 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Cingular to offier the Pearl
Cingular Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile phone service carrier, said on Wednesday it will start selling Research in Motion's new BlackBerry "Pearl" handheld device on Friday as both companies seek to boost sales during the holiday season.

The Pearl, the latest version of the BlackBerry handheld device used by thousands of corporate customers, has a digital camera and expanded capabilities for handling videos and photos. It is slimmer and lighter than its predecessors.

Posted: Nov 30 2006, 06:38 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Palm/RIM shares fall
Shares of smart phone makers Palm Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. sank yesterday as Palm slashed guidance for the fiscal second quarter and an analyst said RIM was no longer undervalued.

Nasdaq-listed shares of Palm plunged $1.18 (U.S.), or 7.7 per cent, to end at $14.19 on more than four times the daily average trading volume, approaching the low end of its 52-week range of $13.23 to $24.91.  For the second consecutive quarter, Palm pre-announced a shortfall in revenue. In September, shares sank on news that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company would miss its fiscal first-quarter sales outlook by about $30 million. On Monday, the smart phone maker said it would miss revenue targets by more than $40 million, and earnings targets by at least 4 cents per share for the current quarter, due to a delay in Cingular Wireless LLC's certification of its Treo 750 for sales in the United States.  Several analysts followed yesterday with cuts to earnings estimates for 2007 and 2008.

"The shortfall highlights Palm's inability to deliver on conservative milestones," wrote Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff in a note to investors.   Neff maintained his "underperform" rating, and slashed estimates for the second quarter and full 2007 fiscal year, as well as for 2008.  The analyst wrote that while Palm has continued to make progress in offering new models, including the lower-priced Treo 680, competition is intensifying with other device makers that are offering sleeker designs with more features at lower prices.

BMO Capital Markets analyst John Bucher wrote in a note to investors that RIM’s stock valuation was no longer compelling. In Toronto, the company's shares fell $1.46 (Canadian), or nearly 1 per cent, to close at $151.85.  Butcher wrote: "We no longer find the current valuation compelling enough to formally recommend RIM shares."

Posted: Nov 29 2006, 09:53 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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More Ohio Expansion for Verizon customers

Verizon Wireless today has expanded the national rollout of its Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) third generation (3G) wide-area network to portions of Richland and Ashland counties including Mansfield, Ashland, Charlesmill, Ontario, Springmill and Wooster Heights.

 

Posted: Nov 29 2006, 06:31 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Verizon continues expansion in Ohio

Verizon Wireless Launches High-Speed Wireless Network in Portions Of Hancock, Seneca and Wyandot Counties in Ohio.

Verizon Wireless today has expanded the national rollout of its Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) third generation (3G) wide-area network to portions of northwestern Ohio including Findlay, Tiffin, Upper Sandusky, North Baltimore, Arcadia and Carey.

The launch of the wireless broadband network means Verizon Wireless customers in northwestern Ohio can access the company’s high-speed business and consumer network and enjoy two prime services. BroadbandAccess is the company’s high-speed wireless service, with average user speeds of 400-700 kilobits per second (kbps), geared toward mobile professionals and business customers. V CAST is a consumer-oriented multimedia service that offers music and short content on demand, including cutting-edge 3D games, music videos, news, weather, sports and more.

 

Posted: Nov 29 2006, 06:30 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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YouTube goes mobile

YouTube, a consumer media company that enables people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience, today announced that, in early December, its leading video entertainment service will be available to people on mobile devices. In its first strategic mobile distribution agreement, YouTube will enable Verizon Wireless V CAST consumers to access a selection of YouTube videos from their mobile phones exclusively for a limited time.

In this landmark arrangement, YouTube will deliver a sampling of the most popular videos to Verizon Wireless’ V CAST subscribers in the United States. With the largest community for online video entertainment, YouTube’s move into the mobile space will enable a new audience of mobile users to enjoy entertaining videos virtually whenever and now wherever they want.

“We are excited to launch our new mobile service and to partner with Verizon Wireless to bring YouTube videos to a new audience,” said Steve Chen, chief technology officer and co-founder of YouTube. “People want to be entertained in a way that fits their individual lifestyle. This service offers our community and Verizon Wireless subscribers a new opportunity to connect and engage with their favorite videos. We will continue to roll out more exciting partnerships and features for the mobile user over the coming year.”

Posted: Nov 28 2006, 10:00 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Cingular updates it's coverage viewer
Have a new UMTS capable phone and want to see where it works?  You’re in luck.  Cingular has updated it’s coverage viewer that lets you see where 3G capable networks are, and where coverage is best.  Check it out here.
Posted: Nov 24 2006, 09:47 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Microsoft responds to Windows Mobile 5 Security Concerns
Microsoft officials said that Windows Mobile 5.0, the latest iteration of the product, provides users with the right balance of security and usability and does not put data stored on the devices at risk by failing to offer additional encryption.

With the features already built into the handheld software, along with aftermarket security tools available from its partners, the smart phone platform provides more than sufficient protection for enterprise workers who use the software, said John Starkweather, product manager of the Mobile and Embedded Devices division at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash.

"Our intent is to provide a solution that works for most organizations; some may want additional security tools, and our partners can provide that and allow end users to encrypt everything natively on the phone," Starkweather said. "But most people don't want to encrypt everything on the device—most don't even do that on their PCs. There is such limited memory on the wireless devices, even smart phones, that using encryption like that slows performance down to a crawl."

Read the full article here.

Posted: Nov 24 2006, 09:40 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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First dual processor Windows Mobile PDA?

O2 is claiming that the XDA Flame is the world's "first dual processor PDA phone," featuring a full VGA screen driven by an Nvidia GoForce graphics processor, according to information gleened from a tradeshow poster.

According to Nvidia, the GoForce 5500 handheld GPU (graphics processing unit) offers full-motion digital TV, high-fidelity surround-sound, rapid multi-shot photography, and "console-class" 3D graphics, according to the company. The chip is said to be compatible with several new network standards, including DVB-H, ISDB-T, and DMB, and with commonly used data formats such as H.264, MPEG-4, and WMV9. Additionally, it's capable of both encoding and decoding full motion video (30 frames/sec.) with NTSC resolution of 700 x 480. Nvidia also says the GoForce supports photo resolutions up to 10 megapixels and offers "rapid multi-shot" capabilities. It's not known, however, how much of this capability the Flame supports.

For more information, check out dinarsoft’s GITEX report.

Posted: Nov 24 2006, 09:34 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Windows Mobile continuing to gain market share
Unit sales of smartphones nearly tripled between 2004 and 2005, but growth slowed to around 50 percent in the first half of 2006 over the first half of 2005, In-Stat reports. Additionally, Windows Mobile grabbed U.S. marketshare to match that of BlackBerry and Palm during the first half of 2006, according to the analyst firm.

The growing acceptance of smartphones "offers new competition to established products such as BlackBerry, Personal Information Managers, and PDAs," In-Stat says.

Analyst Bill Hughes notes, however, that despite "spectacular sales, many smartphone users continue to carry the very devices that smartphones are meant to replace." Additionally, he points out that "users have been slow to add new applications to their devices," and most "have only downloaded a few applications."

According to Hughes, much of 2005's robust smartphone shipment growth can be attributed to a surge in Linux-based handset shipments in Asia, during the final months of the year. However, he adds, these devices -- primarily from Motorola, NEC, and Panasonic -- "don't really have the advantages of smartphones," in comparison to the capabilities offered by devices running the Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Palm OS stacks. Although the Linux-based handsets can run user-added Java applications, Hughes considers them to be more on the level of feature phones than smartphones.

Posted: Nov 24 2006, 09:29 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Palm Treo 680

I’ve been testing the Palm Treo 680 the last couple of days.  So what do I think?

I’ll get to the pricing in a bit, so let’s start with the slightly sleeker form factor.  It’s a tad smaller than the Treo 650, and the antenna is gone (now how in the heck will you get the phone out of a carrying case?).  They’ve modified the keyboard to match the Treo 700 layout.  The keys are slightly more square.  The menu button however is now down in the lower right hand corner and if you are a current user, takes some getting used to.  Why they buried the menu button down in the lower right corner is beyond me.  Burying the menu button on a Palm is like burying the Start button on a Windows Mobile phone.  I can’t for the life of me figure out what the green key is for.  They’ve also moved the SD slot (still full SD, no mini or micro) to the right hand side of the phone behind a cover.  I don’t understand why the phone still weighs so much.  They’ve made the phone smaller, removed the antenna, but it’s still heavy.

They’ve also changed to a tabbed interface on the phone screen that allows quick access to things like internet browser favorites and call history.

What else did I notice other than the form factor and the tabbed interface?  Practically nothing other than the bump in internal RAM (from 32MB to 64MB).  It’s still Palm OS 5, still has a 312 MHz processor, still has the 320x320 screen, there aren’t many additional apps out of the box (other than Docs-To-Go, which isn’t even the latest release).  Disappointed?  A little.  Why didn’t they do more?

It’s still only a GPRS/EDGE device, in a world where almost all new phones have UMTS capabilities (the soon to be released Treo 750 is UMTS).  The Palm OS is still an antiquated single thread OS, so I can understand why they didn’t put UMTS in it (how can you do voice and data at the same time with a single thread OS?).  Why didn’t they put Bluetooth 2.0 spec in?  It’s only Bluetooth 1.2.  There’s no wi-fi (yes, I know, Palm doesn’t put wi-fi in its handsets).  There’s only a .3–megapixel VGA camera.  Yes, that’s right folks, a .3–megapixel camera again in a world of 1.3 and 2.0 megapixel cameras.  And, there’s the proprietary connectors for their phones that don’t allow you to charge via USB.

I should also add that Pocket Tunes MP3 player bombed more times than it worked, and the streaming video player also didn’t work well.  I didn’t take the time to load Docs To Go, and other than that, didn’t notice any additional apps.  Basic PIM apps remains unchanged, although I received several errors while working on Palm tasks and had to reset the device to get back in to them.

How’s the phone work?  It’s ok.  It IS better than the Treo 650 audio, but that’s not saying much since the 650 was awful.  The speakerphone doesn’t have much volume, and sounds distorted (pops) when you put it on max volume.  You almost need max volume because I couldn’t hear well while outside or in my car at highway speeds.  So, it’s OK, not great.  There are several PDA’s out there that I’ve tested recently that had better audio qualities (HP 6945 and Cingular 8525 to start) from a phone perspective.  Getting the phone to dial extra digits automatically is also quite cumbersome.  With a Windows Mobile PDA, I can input the extra digits (,,xxx,xxx) straight in contacts, and dial straight from contacts.  I can’t do this with the Palm OS Treo.  I have to go to an extra screen and input extra digits.  Speed dial entries are also a little cumbersome.

Which brings me back to pricing.  Palm is asking $399 on their website, and Cingular wants $199 with a contract?  More disappointment.  For what they’ve changed, and what they’ve left the same, they should have dropped the price more.  $399?  For this?  Most of the technology is old, and I prefer the 650 keyboard layout from a Palm OS perspective.  They didn’t add a single new piece of technology (like UMTS, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g), and it’s the same old single thread OS.  On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I’d give this a 2.  For Palm, this is a step back not a step forward.

Posted: Nov 24 2006, 07:21 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Sprint Treo™ 700wx SMS Patch

Palm support has posted the Sprint Treo 700wx SMS patch.

The Sprint 700wx SMS Patch is designed to improve the performance and reliability of the Palm® Treo™ 700wx Text Messaging (SMS) application on the Sprint Network.

NOTE
This patch is designed specifically for the Sprint Treo 700wx smartphone. All other Treo 700w and 700wx devices do not require this update.  In the event of a Hard Reset on the device, reinstallation of this patch is required.
 

Do you need this update?

  1. Press Start . Select Settings.
  2. Select the System tab. Open About. Go to the Phone tab.
  3. Look at the Software Version. What do you see?

    TREO700WX-1.13-SPNT:
    Yes, you should install this update.

screenshot Treo

Download here.

Posted: Nov 24 2006, 06:11 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Cingular/Palm announce Treo 680
Cingular Wireless and Palm, Inc. (Nasdaq:PALM) today introduced the new Palm(R) Treo(TM) 680 smart device, whose brand-new look, broad range of features and economical price will appeal to both consumers and business customers -- just in time for the holidays. The Treo 680 quad-band world phone on the Palm OS(R) platform -- which is available beginning Friday, Nov. 24, for as low as $199.99(1) -- boasts Palm's hallmark ease of use to keep any user productive, all with a slim and compact feel.

Cingular business and consumer customers will be able to better balance their personal and business lives, as the all-in-one Treo 680 seamlessly combines a compact, full-featured mobile phone with so much more, all at a competitive price. Users can do even more with their phone, from accessing email and editing documents at the airport to organizing photos and music while waiting for a friend at the coffee shop.

Market research firm In-Stat estimates that 25 percent of all wireless handsets worldwide will be PDAs and smartphones by 2011, which makes the Treo 680 the ideal phone both for feature-phone upgraders and new users.

The Palm Treo 680 is easy to use and affordable because of the multiple innovations it encompasses:

  • A new internal antenna enables a sleeker design
  • An improved phone application on the Treo 680 smart device allows users to dial faster
  • The ability to ignore calls with a quick text message lets users tell a caller "I'm in a meeting" or "Can't talk now"
  • The large, bright color screen is perfect for viewing email, documents or spreadsheets via DataViz Documents To Go(R), and even photos and movies
  • The highly regarded built-in QWERTY keyboard has improved buttons, making it even easier to type emails or SMS messages
  • The messaging application displays text-messaging conversations as "threaded chats," similar to IM, so users can see their entire conversation with a particular person; and
  • The Treo 680 smart device also can be used as an MP3 player and has an integrated digital camera, camcorder and video player, with simpler organization for photos and photo slideshows.

"The Palm Treo 680 will open up the popular Palm experience to a much wider audience of Cingular customers," said Jeff Bradley, vice president, business data services, for Cingular Wireless. "This next-generation Treo comes with all of the outstanding business features that Palm devotees have come to expect plus rich entertainment capabilities, and all at a very attractive price that will appeal both to businesses and individual users."

The Palm Treo 680 operates on Cingular's nationwide EDGE network, the largest national high-speed wireless data network in the United States with availability in more than 13,000 cities and towns, and along some 40,000 miles of major highways. Treo 680 users also can take their device with them abroad to make calls on six continents and over 190 countries, with wireless data roaming in more than 115 countries.

EDGE's widespread coverage makes the Treo 680 an ideal platform for business customers and consumers who want an easy-to-use way to check their email, send SMS, browse the Web and more.

"Palm remains focused on introducing Treo smartphones that are user-friendly and affordable for any audience -- from single users to wide-scale business deployments," said Tara Griffin, Palm vice president and general manager. "The Treo 680 from Cingular Wireless is an excellent proof point. We have a tremendous opportunity to serve customers the world over by helping them stay more connected to important people and information, whether it's through contacts and calendar, email, messaging, documents, web browsing, photos or music. This mobile phone enhances work and leisure time."

Posted: Nov 22 2006, 11:06 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Dataviz attains Gold Certified Partner status in Microsoft Partner Program
DataViz, Inc., leading provider of Office compatibility solutions for over 22 years, has attained Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner Program with competencies in Mobility Solutions, ISV Solutions and Information Worker Solutions, recognizing DataViz’ expertise and impact in the technology marketplace. As a Gold Certified Partner, DataViz has demonstrated expertise with Microsoft technologies and proven ability to meet customers’ needs. Microsoft Gold Certified Partners receive a rich set of benefits, including access, training and support, giving them a competitive advantage in the channel.

DataViz has a long history of developing and marketing its expertise in utilizing Microsoft technologies, by providing Office compatibility solutions for wide variety of platforms.  It began its business developing file conversion software between Macintosh and the Windows Operating System and has since expanded its expertise to providing solutions that meet the increasing demands of today’s mobile market.

Its flagship solution, Documents To Go, has remained the #1 selling office suite for Palm OS since the product’s introduction in 1999. Documents To Go provides users with the ability create, edit and work with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on non Microsoft-based mobile devices, such as the Treo 700p. Support for UIQ 2 and 3 and Series 80 on Symbian OS devices is also available.

Posted: Nov 19 2006, 12:26 PM by jgormly | with no comments
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