Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apple iPad Announcement Podcast Posted

Apple has posted the podcast of the iPad announcement from last week. You can download the video to your Mac, PC, iPhone, or iPod by subscribing to the Apple Keynotes podcast feed.

I skipped watching the iPad event as a streaming video so I can download the event to my Apple TV so I can watch it in my living room on a 42-inch TV. If you can't see Apple's keynote events live, then a TV in your living room is the next best thing.

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Microsoft Makes Windows Mobile Noise

First it was Windows CE. Then it was Pocket PC. Next came Windows Mobile. Now Microsoft is talking "Windows Phone."

According to Electronista.com, Microsoft is going to be talking about some new details about the next version of Windows Mobile at Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona. The February European mobile event is just as geeky at January's Consumer Electronics Show.

Will Microsoft finally give us some real details on the next version of their mobile phone OS or will they talk about some release of Windows Mobile that will sit between Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7.0?

[Via Electronista.com...]

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HTC Droid Eris

Last week I came back to my office to find a present waiting for my on my desk: an HTC Droid Eris smartphone!

Since this phone is being issued to me as a corporate asset, I'm required to use the phone for business purposes only. That means that the phone can only be used for business phone calls and email only. (If I need to make personal calls or send personal email, I'll have my Palm Pre for that.)

So here are some pictures of the Eris being unboxed. The first thing that I noticed when I took the Eris out of the box was how thin and light it felt; something that I will appreciate since I will be required to carry two phones most of the time. The Google Android OS is on par with Apple's iPhone OS and Palm's webOS. The Verizon edition of the Eris ships with Android 1.5 installed. If some of the rumors on the Internet are to be believed, HTC and Verizon are working on an Android 2.0 update, however, the ticking point is the porting of HTC's custom Sense UI to the Android 2.0 platform.

Unlike the Motorola Droid that I recently reviewed, the HTC Eris lacks a physical keyboard. I'll have to get used to that, but it is the price you have to pay to get a thin device.

I'll have some more thoughts and impressions on the HTC Droid Eris as time goes on.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

First Impressions of the Apple iPad

Just saw that Jimmie over at GadgetsOnTheGo.net has a cool graphic of the iPad posted with a compact specs block.

The iPad looks really cool, but I'm not sure I'll buy one before I get to play with one at Best Buy or an Apple Store. Ya, let's make that until I play with one at an Apple Store. Sure it's an hour to the nearest Apple Store, but you kinda have to visit "the holy land" if you're going to play with the newest Apple hardware and software and talk to someone who really knows the product inside and out.

Regardless of what I do, I don't see myself buying one of the cellular service editions of iPad. I really don't want to have to put more money in the pockets of the phone company. I've been doing fine with my Wi-Fi enabled iPod touch. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm willing to bet that hi-def TV shows and movies, which I do watch often on my iPod touch, are going to look great on this thing.

And while we're talking about the "phone company," it looks like Verizon is out in the cold again as Apple selects AT&T as their 3G cellular edition iPad partner. I mean why not? It isn't like AT&T's wireless network is getting over run by iPhone users as it is.



Now for the part that is going to put me in the dog house for a few weeks: the price! How am I going to walk around the house toting this tech without my wife getting suspicious, checking the bank account, and finding out that I've dropped $600-700 on a new "toy" that I don't need?!

[Images courtesy of GadgetsOnTheGo.net, and Engadget.com]

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Jobs Introduces the iPad, Fanboys Go Insane

At long last, the new Apple tablet computer has been unveiled and Apple fans go nuts!

I have purposely been avoiding any leaked news about the iPad for the last few days because I like surprises. If you haven't seen Jobs' keynote address yet, you can watching a streaming video from the Apple website. I'm going to hold out for another day or so to see if it shows up in Apple's keynote podcast feed so I can download it to my MacBook and then sync it up to my Apple TV connected to my 42" TV.

In the mean time, you can check out all the specs and gallery pictures over on the Apple iPad website.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Palm Pixi Hands On Review

The Palm Pixi is the Palm's low-cost, consumer friendly Palm Centro replacement. I have been test driving the Sprint Palm Pixi for the last two weeks. The following are my impressions of Palm's new webOS powered smartphone.

[Editor’s Note: Starting today, January 25, 2010, Verizon Wireless will begin selling the new Palm Pixi Plus. The Sprint Pixi and the Verizon Pixi Plus are identical phones with the exception that the Verizon edition hardware includes a Wi-Fi 802.11b/g radio.]

The Hardware

I was really impressed by the size and weight of the Pixi when compared with other phones from Palm. The difference is noticeable as soon as you pick it up. The Pixi seemed much lighter than my Palm Treo 755p. I was also impressed by the thickness of the Pixi. Compared with my 2G Apple iPhone, the Pixi was the same high and thickness. The Pixi is slightly more narrow than the iPhone. The physical keyboard on the Pixi is completely usable, however, I found the Palm Pre’s keyboard to be more roomy and also felt more sturdy. The Pixi keyboard’s tactile feedback was good, and you know that you pressed a key, which is something you don’t get from an on screen virtual keyboard. If you plan on sending a lot of email or text messages, you will appreciate the Pixi’s hardware keyboard.

The Pixi’s 320x400 pixel screen measures 2.63-inches. I found the screen to deliver a sharp, crisp image and I had no trouble reading the screen. Viewing photos, watching video, or even surfing the web was easy on the eyes.

Starting with the Pixi, Palm has chosen to remove the center button that appeared on the Sprint edition Palm Pre. If you have never used a Palm Pre before, you will never miss the center button. To zoom out of the current application card on the Pixi, simply flick your finger upward from the gesture area to the screen. To zoom back in, tap the card you want to bring to the foreground.

For the Pixi, Palm included an EVDO Rev A CDMA cellular radio, a GPS receiver, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and A2DP support, 8GB of storage space (about 7GB is available for use), and a 2MP camera with LED flash. The You won’t however, find Wi-Fi or an microSD card slot in the Pixi.

The Palm Pixi has an 115mAh removable battery. During my test period, I was able to use the Pixi for about about 14-16 hours before I started to think about where I could plug in the phone to charge up. I had the Pixi checking 5 different email accounts on varying schedules, I referred to my personal and business calendars frequently, snuck in the Smartphone Fanatics Facebook page and Twitter accounts, and surfed the web. During my day, I don’t spend much time talking on the phone. Milage will vary with your usage pattern. In my opinion, if you like to talk, send a lot of text or email messages, or surf the web constantly, you will want to carry a charging cable or a spare battery with you. (I recommend the same thing for Pre owners.) I did like the rubber microUSB port cover. I am always concerned that I am about to break the door off my Palm Pre each time I connect my Pre to my MacBook to access the USB storage partition. Thanks to the Pixi’s rubber door, I wasn’t worried that I would break the phone.

The Software

The Palm Pixi is the second smartphone from Palm to run their new Palm webOS operating system. My demo Pixi was delivered to me running Palm webOS 1.3.5.1, the same version of webOS that I am running on my Palm Pre.

Palm webOS is a modern mobile operating system that retains all of the ease of use that made Palm OS devices so easy to use. Synergy, the data synchronization technology built into webOS, keeps all of your data organized and in sync on your phone. You will be able to easily access your corporate Microsoft Exchange account, Google Gmail account, Yahoo account, as well as your Facebook account and standard POP/IMAP email accounts.

Universal Search is another major improvement over the search feature in Palm OS. Universal Search will not only sift through your contacts, but also searches your email, the applications on your phone and offers to continue the search on Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia, or Twitter if the search term can’t be located on your phone. Universal Search is a powerful feature that I use every day to quickly locate information on my phone or to launch applications.

For those folks who like to have all of their stuff with them all the time, the Pixi comes preloaded with useful applications for taking pictures, playing music and audio files, accessing Facebook, and viewing Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents. Today you can only view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the Pixi, however I understand that DataViz is working on a full version of Documents To Go for Palm webOS. Palm has done a good job writing the Synergy interface with Facebook. When you login to your Facebook account after downloading the client from the Palm App Catalog (think Apple’s App Store), Synergy downloads your contact information in the Pixi’s local contacts database. I’m hopeful that a more feature rich version of the Facebook application will be released by Palm soon. While the Facebook contacts integration does work well, and the status feed is OK, there are many other features of Facebook that you simply can not access from the webOS client. Heavy Facebook users will want to access the mobile Facebook site, x.facebook.com, if they want to do more than just update their status or comment on their friend’s status.

Conclusion

After spending a few weeks with the Sprint Palm Pixi, I am convinced that it is a good low cost, consumer smartphone that can do double duty as a business phone. The Pixi’s small candy bar form factor means that you will carry it with you all the time. The lack of Wi-Fi on the Sprint edition Palm Pixi shouldn’t be a deal breaker for most people as the Sprint EVDO network is fast enough in most cases. Depending on how you use your phone, battery life could be an issue.

Pricing and Availability

The Sprint Palm Pixi is available now for $99.99 when you purchase it directly from Sprint after a $200 instant savings and a $100 mail in rebate when you also sign up for a qualifying 2-year service agreement. The Sprint Palm Pixi costs $399.99 when you purchase it without a service plan. You can save yourself some extra money if you shop around for the best deal on a new Pixi. For example, Amazon is selling the Pixi for $24.99 when you sign up for a 2-year service plan.

For more information about the Palm Pixi for Sprint, visit the Palm website.

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Palm Pre Plus, Pixi Plus Go On Sale Today

The new Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, introduced during this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vega goes on sale today for the Verizon Wireless cellular network.

Verizon Wireless, the company with the largest and most reliable wireless voice and 3G data network, announced today that Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will be on store shelves and ready for purchase. The Palm Pre Plus will cost $149.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, and the Palm Pixi Plus will cost $99.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, each with a new two-year customer agreement. Buy a Palm Pre Plus or a Palm Pixi Plus and get a Palm Pixi Plus free after a mail-in rebate through Feb. 14.

Both Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus come travel-ready with a built-in 3G Mobile Hotspot – a Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared among five Wi-Fi-capable devices. The 3G Mobile Hotspot is the perfect family vacation companion, and at $40 for 5 GB and 5 cents per megabyte overage, it provides an allowance big enough for sharing with the entire family for downloading games, Internet access and more.

Paired with Verizon Wireless’ new Nationwide Talk or Nationwide Talk & Text plans and a $29.99 monthly data plan, Palm Pre Plus is the perfect tool for the busy family manager, while Palm Pixi Plus is the perfect complement to a youngster as part of a Family SharePlan. Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access and Nationwide Talk & Text Plans begin at $59.99 monthly access. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Plans and Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Plans are available at $69.99 and $89.99 monthly access, respectively. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Family SharePlans start at $119.99 monthly access for the first two lines, while the Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Family SharePlans are $149.99 monthly access for the first two lines of service.

In addition, Palm Pixi Plus customers have more options for personalizing their phones with the new color Pixi Touchstone Back Covers. The covers will be available in pink, blue, green, orange and black for only $29.99 each at www.verizonwireless.com and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Palm webOS Tip: webOS Shortcuts Revealed

Over on the Palm company blog today, Calvin P has posted a list of Palm webOS shortcuts that use Universal Search to help you quickly get to applications on your phone.

Kudos for Palm for sharing their list with us! Double Kudos points for readers of Smartphone Fanatics because we posted our list of shortcuts first! (Here and Here.)

Palm webOS shortcut list:
  • store or cat: App Catalog
  • pic(ture): Photos
  • sms or text: Messaging
  • time: Date & Time and Clock
  • add(ress): Contacts
  • todo: Tasks
  • eve(nts): Calendar
  • note: Memos
  • net: Wi-Fi
In addition to those listed by Palm, you can also use:
  • peo(ple): Contacts
  • pref: Palm webOS preference applications

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Rumor: iPhone 4G on Verizon in Late Q2

Today on the AllThingsD.com website, Apple hysteria continues with YAAiR (Yet Another Apple iPhone Rumor). Today's rumor is that Apple will bring a CDMA iPhone to Verizon Wireless for late Q2 or early Q3.
"iPhone OS 4.0. And the iPhone 4G–on Verizon.

That’s the word from Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek, who believes there’s “a good chance” we’ll hear about all three come next Wednesday.

The phone will be carried on Verizon and hence will operate on the CDMA network,” he asserts, adding, “however, it will also support European GSM and HSPA standards. An updated 4GS version that will support LTE is anticipated to arrive in June 2011.”

You're guess is as good as mine as to whether or not Apple will announce that the iPhone is coming to Big Red this summer or not, however, I suspect that Apple wants to:

1. Make more money selling the iPhone to more customers here in the US. Ending AT&T's exclusivity is a clear cut way to make that happen and Apple has already allowed exclusive carrier contracts come to an end in other countries.

2. AT&T is getting battered in the reputation department for having a really crappy network, regardless of whether or not iPhone users are to blame. In the minds of wireless customers, Verizon has a reputation of running a good wireless network.

[Via AllThingsD.com...]

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Rumor: iPhone OS 4 only for iPhone 3G, 3GS

BoyGeniusReport.com has some new details on what could end up being in the final version of iPhone OS 4.0, widely rumored to be either introduced or launched next week during Apple's media event along side the fanboy insanity that could be the launch of the iTablet.

According to BGR, the following could end up on a fruit themed smartphones near you very shortly:

  • There will be multi-touch gestures OS-wide. (Would make sense for that as the rumored OS for the iTablet is close if not the same as the iPhone)

  • “A few new ways” to run applications in the background — multitasking.

  • Many graphical and UI changes to make navigating through the OS easier and more efficient. We haven’t had this broken down, but we can only hope for improved notifications, a refreshed homescreen, etc.

  • The update will supposedly be available for only the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but will “put them ahead in the smartphone market because it will make them more like full-fledged computers” more than any other phone to date. Everyone is “really excited.”

  • The last piece of information is the most vague, but apparently there will be some brand new syncing ability for the contacts and calendar applications.
If the iTablet does end up running iPhone OS, and I think that makes the most sense and allows Apple and their third-party developers to leverage the existing iTunes ecosystem, the changes coming in iPhone OS 4 make a lot of sense and are probably right on.

The bad news is that that, if true, the rumor suggests that folks using the original first generation 2G iPhone will be shutout from future OS updates. Also missing from the rumor is the fate of the current pool of iPod touch owners. If the iPhone 3G and 3GS are eligible for the upgrade, it follows that the most current iPod touch would be also.

Man, I'm suddenly not all that excited about losing access to new software updates on my first generation iPod touch and iPhone. We'll have to wait and see what happens next week.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Confirmed: Apple Event January 27th

Apple has confirmed that they will hold a media press event on January 27th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. In the emails sent out to the media, Apple invites people to "Come see our latest creation."

Let the wild speculation begin. Ops! Too late! So what does Apple have in store for us? Well, the leading rumor is that Apple fill finally introduce their new tablet. At this point, we all know that Apple is doing a tablet. The only question people have is what amazing things will it do?

Other rumors flying around the Internet today suggest that Apple will bring out iPhone OS 4.0, but not a new iPhone or iPod touch, and possibly talk about or release a new version of iLife 2010 (and if there is an iLife upgrade, rest assured that there will be an iWork upgrade sooner than later).

Even if we only get half of what is rumored to be shown off next week, it will still be a great event!

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Google: Next Version of Android Codename "Froyo"

Looks like Google's Erick Tseng has come out during a taping of The Engadget Show to say that the next version of Android will be codenamed "Froyo;" as in "frozen yogurt."

I'm cool with that; and besides, who doesn't like a nice dish of frozen yogurt on a hot summer day? Just make sure you don't drip any on your phone.

[Via Engadget.com...]

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A History of Tablet Computing

Most smartphone fans started out life using devices referred to a "personal digital assistants", or PDAs. Over the last 10 years, the most iconic PDA was the "PalmPilot." Apple has reignited a second mobile computing renaissance first with the iPod, then iTunes, and most recently, the iPhone and the iPod touch. While we wait for Apple to unveil their next mobile computing platform, rumored to a new tablet computer, AppleInsider has published a very good historical accounting of mobile computing.
"A variety of vendors have tried to deliver tablet-like products over the past two decades, but none have been a standout success. This has the tech world watching with bated breath to see if Apple can apply its aura of desirability to the tablet segment in the same way that it has managed to do in desktops, notebooks, MP3 players and smartphones."

Read the full AppleInsider article...

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Custom Ringtones for the iPhone

Someone saw me with my iPhone recently and asked how to go about converting an .mp3 file they already had in iTunes into a ringtone they could use on their iPhone. Since I haven't activated my iPhone's phone service, I never checked out how to make a ringtone. Sure you can buy them from the iTunes store, but it seems silly to spend extra money for a 15 second song clip after having already purchased the full song.

Turns out that the folks at Art of the iPhone have a good tutorial on how to convert a non-copy protected song in your iTunes library into an iPhone ringtone.

Head over to ArtOfTheiPhone.com for more details.

[Via ArtOfTheiPhone.com...]

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rumor: Next Gen iPhone Due Up in April

File this under the WAG rumor department, but new rumors about Apple's next generation iPhone and iPhone OS 4 are making the rounds on the Internet.
"The Korea Times claimed Tuesday that sources at KT said the new phone would have an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen, would feature video chat functionality, and a removable battery is "highly likely." The report also said the new iPhone would include dual-core processors, more powerful graphics capabilities, and a superior camera."

I can see Apple breaking out their design kung-fu to bring us new OLED screens and even a forward facing camera for video conferencing, but a removable battery? Apple? Come on. Apple is dropping removable batteries from their MacBook and MacBook Pro note books. Can you really see Apple switching to a removable battery on the iPhone? I'm less sure about the addition of a dual core processor on the iPhone. Sure, the extra horsepower could be used in next generation 3D games, but I'm concerned with how a dual core processor will impact the battery.

Read the full article over AppleInsider.com.

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 Lands in Europe

Following a few short weeks after the introduction of Palm webOS 1.3.5 and 1.3.5.1 here in the US, O2 Pre customers in Europe where treated today to the Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 update.

By and large, Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 and 1.3.5.2 appear to be identical as there doesn't seem to be anything in the release notes that jumps out at you as being different.

Just like the US edition, Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 includes the fix for the pesky Calendar and Exchange ActiveSync sync issue and effectively removes the application install limit that some customers who loaded their Pres up on App Catalog and homebrew apps ran into.

For the complete list of updates included in the European Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 update, visit the Palm webOS European updates page.

The update is available now and can be installed on your Pre smartphone by running the Updates application.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

FCC Still Looking for Answers from Verizon Wireless

In the on-going back and forth over changes in the fees that Verizon Wireless charges their customers for ending their contracts before the 2-year maturation point, the FCC feels that the wireless carrier still has some explaining do to.

During the CES show, that wraps up today in Las Vegas, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says that he is still looking for more details.

Sinead Carew, a reporter for Reutuers, writes:

"I thought that response raised more questions than it answered. The bureau is looking into that," he said but declined to say what the FCC's next move would be in that case. Verizon Wireless had cited increasing costs for the fee hike.

"There's a very real level of consumer confusion around these areas," Genachowski said.

[Via Yahoo News...]

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Android Users Suffering from App Space Limit

Now where have we seen this issue before? Seems like folks using smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system are caught up in the same issue that Palm webOS customers where until the release of the 1.3.5 update back on December 28.

At issue is the fact that when you install an application on your device, the app and potentially all of its data, are stored in the phone's memory space and not on the microSD card. This issue gets a little tricky as the app and required files can get stored in memory, but data files created by the user can be stored on the microSD card. It seems that the hacker community has some ways of dealing with this issue, however, Joe and Jane Average likely won't be making any modifications to their phones or the Android OS just to squeeze more apps onto their phone.

The good news is that Google has acknowledged the issue and says that they are going to address the issue in a future release of the Android OS. The only questions that I have is when will this update be released and for what versions of the Android OS and smartphones will it be released for?

[Via EngadgetMobile.com...]

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Palm webOS Tip: Contacts Shortcut

I stumbled upon another webOS application shortcut.
If you begin to type "address" or "people" on your Palm Pre or Pixi, Universal Search will find the Contacts application.

Cool, huh?

Here's a quick recap of the short cuts I've found so far:

add = Contacts
date = Calendar
sms = Messaging
pref = Displays webOS' "control panel" applications
peo = Contacts

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CPR for the Palm Pre

I just had a problematic 30 minutes to deal with. My Pre, my every day cell phone, for whatever reason, stopped responding to input. The last two pieces of software I added to the phone was the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update (to address the Calendar and Exchange ActiveSync issue) and the new 3D game, Monopoly by Electronic Arts mobile.

So what gives? The phone just stopped working. I wanted to shut the Pre down correctly so I held the Power button down for 2 seconds, but then I couldn't tap the on screen Power button to reboot the phone. So I pulled the battery out. Not exactly the graceful shutdown of webOS that I was hoping for.

I waited a few seconds, popped the battery in and the Pre seemed to just hang at the Palm logo screen. Ugh! Out comes the battery again.

I really didn't want to have to re-flash my phone to reload a fresh copy of Palm webOS and then have to reload my data from a back. (Make sure you are using the Backup application to back your data up to your Palm profile!!)

To resolve the issue, I pulled the battery out, let the phone sit for about 30 minutes, and then popped the battery back into the phone. I then waited another 5 minutes or so (it felt like 3 hours) for webOS to boot itself up and get itself going. Another 5 minutes later, everything was back to normal.

Talk about a wild ride. I'm not sure what I would have done all weekend without my cell phone. If the Pre had really died, I wouldn't have been able to swap it out until Monday afternoon with my BlackBerry Curve 8330. What a hassle that would have been! At this point, I'm glad I'm ok.

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Documents to Go with Exchange Attachments Updated

DataViz has updated Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. This is a free upgrade to current owners of the Exchange attachments edition of Documents To Go.
"[W]e are happy to announce that a new version (3.0) of our “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” for iPhone/iPod touch is available in the App Store. Documents To Go is now the only mobile Office application for iPhone with support for viewing and editing of all three Office formats (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). And we have no plans to stop there! In the next several months we will be adding some really exciting new features to the product, so be sure to stay tuned."

What’s new in version 3.0

* Edit & create PowerPoint presentations:
o Edit/add bullets and text in Outline view and see changes immediately in Slide view
o Edit/add speaker notes
o Sort, add, duplicate and delete slides
o Promote/demote bullets
o And more!

* Added support for Gmail attachments
o Edit/view attachments using Docs To Go

* Product name change
o From “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” to “Documents To Go Premium”

Pricing and Availability

“Documents To Go Premium” is available now for $14.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at: www.dataviz.com/itunes. All customers who purchased a previous version of “Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments” will receive a free update to version 3.0. For more information: www.dataviz.com/GetiPhone

DataViz is also working on finishing a free update to the base edition of the “Documents To Go” product ($9.99) with an in-app purchasing option for customers to upgrade to the features of the “Premium” version. The time frame for the upgrade for the base edition was not specified.

For more information, please visit the DataViz website.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

I was looking up the features of Apple's QuickTime Pro for Windows (yes, this is work related) and I noticed a small ad in the QuickTime Player window for Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, a game for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Clearly a tie-in to the movie now playing in theaters, skimming through some of the screen shots in the iTunes App Store you get the impression that this is a cool game to play. Best of all, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries is only $0.99 meaning that if the game isn't what you expected, you're out less than the cost of a gourmet coffee!

I'm definitely going to check this game out over the weekend. For more information about Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, check out the iTunes Store.

[Updated article with pictures from the game.]

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Up Next for Review: Sprint Palm Pixi

Upon my return home from work today I was greeted by a small package from Palm. Contained inside was my loaner Sprint Palm Pixi (not the new Palm Pixi Plus announced today at CES). Keep an eye out for my review of the tiny sibling to the Sprint Palm Pre smartphone next week. Until then, here is photo of the unboxed Pixi.

For more details on the Palm Pixi for the Sprint network, please visit the Palm website.

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Palm CES Coverage

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show is under way in Las Vegas this week and Palm has used the event to make a big splash with the media and their customers. Here's a run down of what Palm has been up to!


Palm 2010 CES Presentation Video and Highlights

PreCentral has posted Palm chairman and chief executive officer Jon Rubinstein's CES presentation for your viewing pleasure if you are like me and somehow managed to not make it out to Las Vegas this year. The highlights of the presentation include:
  • Palm makes the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus official, Verizon only, and with tethering
  • Pre coming to SFR in France
  • webOS 1.4 coming in February with built-in Flash 10.1, Video recording
  • Palm reveals open web distribution of webOS apps
To check the video, head over to the PreCentral website.

New Phones, Wireless Carriers Announced

Many people will be happy to hear that Palm and Verizon Wireless will finally be bringing Palm webOS phones to market. Starting on January 25, Big Red customers will have their choice of the newly reformulated Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones known as the Palm Pre Plus and the Palm Pixi Plus. Why "Plus?" The Plus refers to the refinements over the older versions of the Pre and Pixi smartphones already available on the Sprint network.

The Palm Pre Plus will sport 16GB of RAM and a more streamlined form factor. As far as I can tell at this point, that simply means that the center has been removed from the front fo the Palm Pre Plus. Rather than use the Center button to zoom in/out from card view, you can simply flick up from the gesture area to zoom out of a card and then tap on the card you want to zoom back into full screen. The removal of the Center button is just one less thing that can break on the Pre form factor body and I welcome the change. And unlike the Sprint edition, the Verizon Wireless Palm Pre Plus ditches the glossy back plate battery door for the slick matte finished Touchstone charging battery door. Even if you don't plan on getting the super cool Touchstone charging dock, in my opinion, the matte finish of the Touchstone battery door is much easier to hold than the slippery gloss finish door.

The new Palm Pixi Plus uses the same body form factor as the older Sprint edition, however, the Verizon Pixi Plus will include an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi radio. (Shame on you Sprint for not allowing Wi-Fi in your Pixi!)

Verizon customers will also have access to a new App Catalog application called Mobile Hotspot that will allow the Pre Plus or Pixi Plus to act as a cellular Wi-Fi router allowing other near by Wi-Fi enabled device, like a netbook, to gain access to the Internet over the Pre or Pixi's EVDO cellular connection. Up until now, this was a trick reserved for devices like the Verizon Mi-Fi card. Kudos for Verizon for allowing their customers to share their data connections this way.

Palm will also continue to grow their presence overseas in the second quarter of the year when they bring Palm webOS phones to France on the SFR wireless network.

The last remaining question for US customers is when will Palm webOS devices be launched on AT&T? For right now, there is no official word from Palm on when webOS phones will appear on AT&T, however, Engadget has posted an article stating that AT&T's President and CEO, Ralph de la Vega, has gone on the record claiming that by the middle of the year, they will be carrying two unnamed Palm webOS devices. You'll have to stay tuned for the next few months until more details emerge on the AT&T front.

For more details on Palm's newest smartphones, visit the Palm blog.

Here Come the 3D Games!

Today Palm also unveiled 7 3D games specifically written to take advantage of the special graphics processor, called a GPU, inside the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones. Combining the GPU, the new software development kit, released in beta form, and the software under pinning that are in the recently released Palm webOS 3.5.1 update, Pre customers can now play games on their smartphones that look just and play just as good as the games on Apple's iPhone.

Starting today, and via the Palm App Catalog, you can purchase and download the following 3D games:
  • "Need for Speed Undercover" (EA Mobile)
  • "The Sims 3" (EA Mobile)
  • "MONOPOLY" (EA Mobile)
  • "Asphalt 5: Elite Racing" (Gameloft)
  • "Let's Golf!" (Gameloft)
  • "Glyder 2" (Glu Mobile)
  • "X-Plane" (Laminar Research)
I'm excited about Palm's enabling of the GPU found in the Palm Pre and Pre Plus as it means that Pre customers no longer have to feel like second class citizens in the world of mobile gaming. While I looking forward to playing some of these games (I already purchased a copy of Monopoly this evening), I am still looking forward to playing games like Bejeweled and all of the great card and board games from Astraware, the games division of Handmark.

To learn more about today's announcement of the new 3D games for the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones, visit the Palm website.

Ready! Set! Develop!

Lastly, Palm announced that the Palm Developer Center is now out of beta status and open to any application developer who wishes to write applications for the Palm webOS platform. Palm also announced that developers will have a choice of selling their applications through the Palm App Catalog or promote their applications by themselves, yet, they can still leverage the Palm over the air (OTA) distribution and installation service.

This is great news for the legions of web developers out there who know how to write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code because, as I'm told, those three languages make up the bulk of the application development foundation for webOS applications.

For developers who are looking to write games and other applications that take advantage of the 3D rendering hardware and software found in webOS devices, like the Pre and Pre Plus, Palm is making the Palm webOS Plug-In Development Kit (PDK) available for use with the standard webOS Software Development Kit (SDK). According to Palm's press release, "[w]ith the PDK, developers can seamlessly integrate C and C++ code into their webOS apps, enabling new functionality such as 3D games."

Developers who wish to further explore the possibilities of the Palm webOS platform should visit the Palm Developer Center website.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Google's Nexus One Goes Live

Google's Nexus One smartphone has gone live and the details of the new phone have been posted on the Google website. Some of the key features include:
  • 3.7-inch 800x400 pixel WVGA touchscreen
  • 5MP digital camera with auto-focus and LED flash
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/GSM/EDGE cellular radio
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 1400mAh removable battery
  • Android 2.1 Eclair mobile operating system
  • 512MB of RAM and Flash memory
  • 4GB microSD card included, support for upto 32GB microSD cards
  • Assisted GPS receiver and digital compass
Pricing and Availability

The new Google Nexus One is available now as an unlocked phone directly from Google for $529.00. You can also purchase the phone from T-Mobile for as low as $179.00 when you subscribe to a qualifying voice and data plan. Google is also reporting that the Nexus One will be coming to Verizon Wireless and Vodafone during the spring of 2010. No specific dates or pricing has been announced for Verizon or Vodafone at this time.

For more pricing and availability, visit the Google online store.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 Update Released

Following just 7 days behind the webOS 1.3.5 update, Palm has released the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update. This update, according to Palm, is attended to address a very specific bug in the Calendar application when data is synchronized with a Microsoft Exchange Server.

The release notes for the latest webOS update states:
"This release fixes an issue in which the Calendar app displayed no events for any account after a user synchronized Calendar with an Exchange account. With this update, Calendar events now appear correctly after an Exchange sync."

According to a KB article published by Palm on Jan. 3, the nature of the problem is "that the turn of the year [to] 2010 has surfaced an issue that affects customers who use Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) to synchronize their calendars. Data remains intact on the device; however, this issue prevents the data from being displayed correctly in the Calendar application. It impacts all versions of webOS."

The Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update is available for immediate download by using the Updates application on Sprint branded Palm Pre and Palm Pixi smartphones and will take about 10-15 minutes to install. Aside from resolving the issue with the Calendar application, there are no new changes between 1.3.5.1 and Palm webOS 1.3.5 which was released on December 28, 2009.

You can read the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 release notes on the Palm webOS updates page. You can read the full Palm KB article on the Palm support website.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Motorola Enhances Keyboard on New Droid Phone



One of the things that I was complaining about in my recent Motorola Droid review was the way that the keyboard was setup on the Droid. Yes, the Droid has a full Qwerty keyboard, which is still better than an on-screen keyboard in my opinion, but the keyboard was essentially flat and it was hard to feel where one key was from the next.

In a photo that surfaced on Boy Genius Report over the weekend, it looks like Motorola is aiming to please by changing out and enhancing the keyboard in their next Google Android device, called the Motorola Droid Devour, which is headed to Verizon Wireless at some point this year.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Classic Updated to Version 2.1.2 (UPDATED)

I just noticed that MotionApps Classic is showing an update to version 2.1.2 in the Palm App Catalog. I checked the MotionApps blog, however, there was no mention of the update. My guess is that the 2.1.2 update is a bug and/or performance update for Palm webOS 1.3.5. However, without any comments or release notes posted to the MotionApps website or blog, it is hard to know what exactly the latest update brings.

I have installed Classic 2.1.2 on my Pre with Palm webOS 1.3.5 and I am able to run DataViz Documents To Go 11 Premium and Passwords Plus without issue. Astraware Bejeweled 2 and Solitaire, the two games that I have loaded in Classic, are also working as expected.

To learn more about Classic, and how you can use your Palm OS applications on Palm webOS smartphones like the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi, check out the MotionApps website.


UPDATE
The good folks over at Motion Apps have dropped me a line to clear up what is addressed in the 2.1.2 update to Classic.
"This was a regular release bringing stability improvements mostly, the one we've been waiting for quite a while, mostly because the issues Classic had after [Palm webOS] 1.3.1."


So there you have it. Classic 2.1.2 is a maintenance update. If you haven't already done so, you can download the latest update to Classic by using the Updates application on your Palm webOS smartphone.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

CES 2010

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is set to kick off on January 7 in Las Vegas. Since the focus of the show is consumers, CES starts on a Thursday and ends on a Sunday.

According to the CES website, there are over 600 technology companies from the West Coast in attendance and event organizers are expecting 110,000 attendees for the trade room floor and workshop sessions. Tickets to the event are $200.

For more information about this year's CES event, please visit the CES website.

Rumors Aplenty

As usual for this time of year, there is a flurry of rumors about upcoming devices from a number of technology vendors. This year's rumors include: HTC's new touchscreen tablet device, Motorola's expected announcement of two new smartphones, Google's Nexus One smartphone press event on Jan. 5, with the device available from Google and T-Mobile.

Palm will also be at CES this year, however, it is expected that the focus will be on software development, and not on new device launches. However, there are those pesky Verizon Wireless Pre Plus and Pixi Plus rumors to deal with.

Apple won't be at this year's CES or MacWorld Expo events. Instead, it is widely rumored that Apple will hold their own press event on or around January 26th. Speculation is running wild in the face of mounting evidence that they will finally announce the table computer that has rumored to be under development for many years now.


[Via Boy Genius Report, Barron's Tech Trader Daily, Gizmodo, PreCentral]

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