Big cable-backed broadband bill soars through NC House, one step closer to stifling ISP competition

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 3/30/11

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Time Warner Cable is made up of some insanely shady folks. And frankly, it’s not just TWC to blame here — CenturyLink, Embarq and a smattering of other big telecom companies are banding together in order to push the ironically-named H129 “Level Playing Field” bill straight into law. Unfortunately, said bill sailed through the clearly oblivious (or “persuaded”) North Carolina House this week, with just 37 sane individuals voting against 81 delusional proponents. For those outside of the loop, the bill effectively suggests that commercial entities — municipal ISPs like Wilson’s own Greenlight that provide greater levels of service with lower costs — are unfairly competing against for-profit monoliths. In short, that’s an absolute joke. Rep. Bill Faison nailed it with this quote: 

“This bill will make it practically impossible for cities to provide a fundamental service. Where’s the bill to govern Time Warner? Let’s be clear about whose bill this is. This is Time Warner’s bill. You need to know who you’re doing this for.” 

Yours truly just so happens to reside in the wonderful state of North Carolina, and knows first-hand what it’s like to live in a major metropolitan area with a single high-speed broadband carrier. TWC has only recently announced impending DOCSIS 3.0 coverage, but early installations in the heart of Raleigh have been fraught with latency issues and router difficulties. Oh, and it’s charging $99 per month for a service with 5Mbps up; for comparison’s sake, Greenlight gives customers 10Mbps internet (in both directions), home phone and expanded basic cable for the exact same fare. So, NC lawmakers — how exactly do your constituents gain access to that “level playing field?” 

[Image courtesy of IndyWeek]

5 reasons you should consider a 3G iPad 2

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5 reasons you should consider a 3G iPad 2

via Resources | ZDNet by Matthew Miller on 3/21/11

Back before the iPad 2 was released to consumers Robert Scoble recorded a CinchCast message that said no one should buy a 3G iPad because you can just use the WiFi hotspot capability on your smartphone. Brian Chen, from Wired, also recently posted an article on why you can skip 3G on the iPad 2. This idea sounds reasonable and I admit to being a part of that camp for a couple of years, but after using my Samsung Galaxy Tab with integrated 3G I realized that integrated 3G is actually the way to go for power users and I have five reasons you should consider a 3G iPad.

There are 18 variations of the Apple iPad; black or white, 16GB/32GB/64GB, Verizon 3G, and AT&T 3G. Thus, it isn’t easy to make a choice, unless you end up like me and have no choices left. It has now been over a week and I love using my iPad 2 with integrated 3G service and am happy that is what I was led to purchase. I have been traveling a lot to Alaska for work and get 3G data even up in Ketchikan where I was able to watch March Madness live.

Here are five reasons why you should consider a 3G iPad:

Battery life: Using the mobile hotspot on your phone is convenient, but 3G and 4G kill the battery on phones faster than just about anything while the iPad models can go 10 hours. If you actually ever want to use your phone to make and receive calls or text messages, you won’t have much luck if you kill it through tethering. To support the devices you carry for WiFi hotspot functionality you will also have to carry a means to charge up your phone and maybe your iPad if you use them paired together extensively.

Integrated saves time: Today’s smartphone WiFi hotspot utilities are much better than the ones I started out using a couple years ago, but it still takes several steps to launch the hotspot and get connected with your iPad while integrated 3G is just always there and good to go. Also, it can cost you money or be a pain to find other WiFi hotspots at hotels, airports, and such while integrated 3G is always there with you and ready to go.

iPad has large antenna system: The iPad 2 has a larger antenna than your smartphone and it is possible that you may see a stronger signal to let you connect in more places. I have only seen 4 or 5 bars on my iPad 2 and the experience has been terrific.

iPad 3G has a GPS receiver: Unfortunately, Apple does not include a GPS receiver in the WiFi only models. GPS is slick with Google Maps, Navigon, and a number of other 3rd party clients that let you roll down the road with a large screen GPS navigation display.

Integrated 3G could be cheaper: WiFi hotspot services on your smartphone can range from $15 for 5GB (T-Mobile), $20 for 2GB (ATT and Verizon), up to $29.99 unlimited from Sprint. 2GB of data on AT&T is $25 for the iPad while Verizon has a 1GB option for $20, 3GB for $35, 5GB for $50 or 10GB for $80. The monthly data cost differences between the integrated or WiFi hotspot options are fairly close so monthly price should not be much of a factor in your decision.

I can understand if you have a group of people or a family with multiple iPads and you want to connect all of them at once with one smartphone then you can use that phone as a sacrificial phone and WiFi only iPads may be the way to go. However, after tasting integrated 3G on my Galaxy Tab and now on my iPad 2, I cannot go back to a two device tablet connectivity solution.

Can you think of any reasons to buy or not to buy a 3G iPad?

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Motorola has an LTE phone for Verizon in the works

via Engadget by Chris Ziegler on 12/21/10


Verizon’s chief operating officer John Stratton mentioned today that “LTE smartphones are on the horizon,” a sentiment the carrier has been echoing since it launched its 4G network earlier this month. That alone isn’t new, but what is new is the mention of Moto in the same breath: “Motorola will be right there.” He wouldn’t go into specifics about models, specs, release dates, or prices, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the offering looked a little like the Tegra 2-powered device codenamed Olympus (pictured) — allegedly for AT&T — that we’ve seen floating around recently. For what it’s worth, we’re also aware of models from HTC and LG in the pipe, so by all accounts, Big Red is planning on coming out with guns blazing when it rolls out 4G handsets next year.

Motorola Droid now best Android phone ever

Motorola Droid now best Android phone ever *via DVICE Atom Feed by Stewart Wolpin on 10/28/09

Motorola Droid now best Android phone ever *

A few weeks I go I proclaimed the Motorola CLIQ the best Android phone ever, asterisk, at the time it came out.

On Nov. 6, the new Android champion will be the Motorola Droid. That’ll make Verizon customers/Apple haters happy now that the carrier has a phone to match its vaunted 3G network, or will have when it becomes available on Nov. 6 for $200 after the usual contract stipulations and rebate.

Handling the phone for the last couple of hours, I find Droid’s imperfections overwhelmed by Android 2.0 advances that help unify related functions and, first and foremost, its gorgeous screen.

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At 3.7 inches diagonal, Droid’s display is the biggest on a cellphone, yet the Droid is only a hair larger and actually a bit thinner than the CLIQ. Even better, the LCD is 854 x 480 (WVGA) or 400,000 pixels. Most similarly sized screens are 480 x 320. In less tech terms, text and colors are sharper, bolder and crisper than on any other cellphone LCD I’ve seen.

All Together Now
Droid is more than its screen and slide-out QWERTY keypad. To make non-verbal communications easier, Motorola borrows the contact-centric phonebook from CLIQ’s MOTOBLUR social-network interface. Contacts in your phone book include text and email data, but let you compose a message or post to varying your contact’s pages on social-networking sites such as Facebook without having to actually boot the Android Facebook app. Droid also handily merges all the info from contacts culled from varying app phonebooks and email contact lists, such as Facebook and Gmail.

Further unifying disparate functions, the home page-based Google Search now scours not only the Web but data on your Droid. For instance, if you do a search on U2, you’ll find websites, plus websites you’ve visited or bookmarked, apps, contacts or, optionally, YouTube and your music. You can change these search options in the settings.

Google Maps now comes with voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions and “layers” — instead of having to choose a normal map view or a traffic view or a satellite view, you can overlay these options on top of each other. You can also share your location with other Google Navigation users for keeping track of your peeps or coordinating arrival at a mutual destination, i.e., “I’m lost, do you see where I am? How do I get to where you are?”

Moto Quibbles
I have some initial complaints. First, the 5MP camera is slow to process the large images. And, despite included image stabilization, indoor shots with the dual LED flash come out blurry if you don’t hold the camera stock-still until the shot is processed. Photos also can be geotagged, but oddly this is not the default setting. I’m not even sure why there is an option to begin with — what is the drawback to having all your photos automatically geotagged?

Like the CLIQ, Droid’s slide-out horizontal keyboard is three-line rather than four, which means you’ll need to tap ALT to access the number keys.
YouTube playback was hinky on my demo unit, especially when I tried to watch videos in HQ. They’d get stuck in “loading” and never actually play. Unlike other Android phones, there isn’t a “full screen” zoom option, which means videos that do play play in the middle third of the screen.

But Droid’s big, sharp screen makes everything easier to read, Android 2.0 adds the kind of intuitive interface that makes using a complex cellphone easier, Verizon’s EV-DO network speeds net surfing, and Droid’s solid metallic body fills klutzes with confidence.

Now all we need is an iTunes-like Android client software.

Verizon Hub Phone Review

via Gizmodo by matt buchanan on 4/23/09

The Verizon Hub is unstuck in time. It’s a 2006 device that’s just getting here, now, in 2009, begging the question, “Is it better to be late than never?”

The Hub is a landline slayer launched in a wireless world, where the landline is almost dead. It’s a fertile garden behind a red-painted wall—red ’cause it’s Verizon, har har—found when most people are trying to break down those walls. It’s a Verizon Wireless VoIP phone coming about at a time when AT&T is killing their VoIP service entirely. It’s the phone we imagined before the iPhone, tethered to our home broadband connection for instant-pizza-ordering awesomeness. In other words, it’s a lot of interesting things, appearing in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

That’s not to say it’s bad. It’s just unfortunate. The Hub makes sense in a very specific context: If you’re a lock, stock and barrel Verizon customer, from wireless to TV to internet to, obviously, landline phone service. That’s where the “Hub” name comes in—it brings a bunch of different Verizon services together in one spot: You can monitor cellphone locations using Verizon’s Chaperone, send maps and directions from the Hub to phones running VZ Navigator, and manage a central calendar that your entire family’s phones sync to. Eventually, you’ll be able to do more, like manage your Verizon FiOS TV DVR. While a minor point, in a sense it’s a very sore point with the Hub, since you can already do that from many Verizon cellphones this very second. Why do I need a Hub again?

The garden walls reach their greatest heights when you try to text or picture message to a non-Verizon phone—you can’t. The calendar isn’t open, using a standard like CalDAV for easy export—it’s squarely in Verizonland. A surprising amount of managing the Hub actually takes place on Verizon’s website, like uploading contacts (via CSV files) and photos. Thankfully, the Hub’s pages are better designed than the rest of Verizon’s website—there’s legit eye candy in the photo gallery, for instance. And nearly anything you can do on the Hub itself, you can do from the website remotely, like manage voicemail or check your call history. But it’s odd you can’t do something very simple like upload photos via the Hub’s USB port.

It doesn’t really matter if there are walls around the garden if you’re never tempted to leave. Unfortunately, the Hub isn’t enough of an attraction. Pretty much anything you can do on it—buy movie tickets, send text messages, check traffic or watch videos, you can do faster or better on your computer or cellphone. The virtually useless selection of VCAST videos make the average YouTube video feel like HD in comparison, and the “traffic report” isn’t a map with live traffic info, but a canned audio briefing from Traffic.com that you have to sit through an ad to hear.

The Linux OS itself isn’t particularly a joy. God knows, Verizon’s committed some horrible user interface atrocities over the last few years, but at least the Hub’s is alright—usable, not mind-blowing. I wish it moved faster. The keyboard is annoying to type on, but it’ll get better in the next software update, which adjusts the spacing and adds pop-up letters. A persistent set of buttons on the left gives you constant, instant access to the two main menus: The phone and the uh, menu, where you get to your apps. In the top right corner is the home button, which takes you to the desktop, where your widgets, like for weather, time, voicemail, etc. hang out. Applications tend to have a two-pane layout that’s framed by buttons on three sides, which doesn’t sound like a problem, but it becomes one since the touchscreen is not so responsive around the edges. I’ve accidentally called two people at 3 in the morning while trying to press the menu button. Not cool.

Actually, that’s one of my more concrete frustrations with this phone: The hardware feels cheap and shitty. The handset, which costs $80 a pop, is a plastic piece of garbage with a shoddy build quality and terrible screen. (It doesn’t help that you can’t do much from the handset either, like send text messages.) The touchscreen isn’t as responsive as it should be, and it distorts with even the slightest bit of pressure, adding to the whole crappy feeling. A screen designed to be touched shouldn’t freak out when you touch it. The speakers really harsh, crappy and tinny too. I couldn’t stand using it for loudspeaker calls.

There are a few bright points. While the directory isn’t as precise as say, MenuPages, it is fairly painless to find a nearby pizza place and call them in a single stroke. The synergistic—I know, that word provokes a gag reflex—stuff works well. Directions quickly went to the Samsung Sway test phone I got with it, which promptly fired up VZ Navigator and pointed to wherever I pointed it. (Too bad VZ Navigator is slow and sucky, but that’s somewhat besides the point.) And the call quality itself is pretty good—or at least I sounded “loud and clear” to the people I called.

The brightest light may end up being the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel—the promise that developers will be able to create their own apps for this thing in the future. The included ones, for the most part, just aren’t that hot, and some of the newer ones in the pipeline are definitely more head-turning. But it’s hard to see how this product can sustain itself long enough to engender a solid third-party developer community. More likely, it’ll get slightly better, then go extinct.

It’s pretty ballsy to charge $200 for a landline phone with $35/month VoIP service right now, one that does the same thing you can do on an iPhone or G1, but is tied to your desk. Which is a lot of the reason I like it. But it’s just as ridiculous to ask that much for a phone that’s built with subpar hardware and doesn’t live up to its full potential in a world where it’s already horribly outmoded. Time was up two years ago.

[Verizon]

Verizon rumored to be prepping Storm OS update for today

via Boy Genius Report by Michael Bettiol on 12/5/08

In case you’re one of the squares who hasn’t yet grabbed a leaked copy of OS 4.7.0.75 for the Verizon Storm, you’re going to love this. Rumor has it that Verizon is getting its servers all set to officially unleash an OS update to fix the problems that have become the bane of some users existence (before you flame, no, we’re not hating on the Storm). Rumor has it that the OTA updates will be available in the afternoon followed by computer-based upgrade downloads in the evening. We’ll be sure to update this post if and when the update is ready, but we can tell you that if you prefer to upgrade your OS via Desktop Manager then the update will be available here. Note that OTA upgrades will only work for BIS users as this feature is not supported on BES.

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Samsung’s upcoming US handset lineup exposed

via Boy Genius Report by Zach Epstein on 11/6/08

It looks like Samsung has a busy schedule coming up here in the US and while it goes without saying that we’ll be missing out on the cream of Samsung’s crop, there are definitely a few gems in store from our South Korean pals. AT&T, Alltel, Verizon and T-mobile are all covered here while Sprint is omitted. As such, we can probably expect a few additions to the list as 2009 rolls around. So let’s see what we’ve got here…

T-Mobile:

  • Behold T919

AT&T:

  • SGH-A777
  • Eternity A867

Alltel:

  • SCH-R600 Hue II

Verizon Wireless:

  • Saga I770
  • OMNIA I910
  • Renown U810

That’s a whole lot of Samsung right there. The upcoming T919, announced earlier today, and A867 are particularly sexy and will both sport TouchWiz along with 5 megapixel cameras which is a nice little clarification from initial reports. Following all of these press shots, we should see time lines emerge in the not so distant future.

[Via IntoMobile]

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