Friday, February 12, 2016

Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 4:38 PM

Been craving an iPhone, but resisted signing a long term contract? Regional carrier Cricket, owned by Leap Wireless, is coming to your rescue with the first pre-paid iPhone.

On sale June 22, the phone will cost customers a lot more upfront - $500 for a 16 GB iPhone 4S or $400 for the older iPhone 4, versus $200 or $100 in a subsidized iPhone purchase from Verizon, Sprint and AT&T when you're committing to a two year service contract at $70-$80 a month. 

 But over time, taking Cricket's contract-free service at $55 a month with unlimited talk and text,  the savings of a pre-paid iPhone add up.

POSTED: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 11:55 AM

Last time global internet service ratings came out, the U.S. ranked 25th in average speed and 15th in value. Verizon's new superfast FiOS internet may boost our rankings, though not by much.

Yeah, it's thrilling this fiber-optic cable-based service will soon deliver content at speeds up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps) - double the current top FiOS speed and capable of feats like pushing 20 high resolution photos to your inbox in 2.8 seconds  or downloading a two hour HD movie from VUDU in just 2.2 minutes. At the moment, the best that rival Comcast offers its' Xfinity internet customers is a 105 Mbps download (a 200 Mbps option has been talked about, futuristically.)  

Verizon left out an itty bitty detail in its grand announcement yesterday - the prices for this super service and other new options like a 75 Mbps download/35 Mbps upload "tier." 

POSTED: Friday, May 25, 2012, 11:38 AM
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Is there really no such thing as a free entertainment lunch? Depends on who you're asking. Sony and Tivoli Audio have just introduced free (at least for a while) music streaming apps for the iPhone/iPod. But three broadcast networks yesterday filed suits against satellite TV provider Dish Network, to try and squash the "Auto Hop" feature on new DVR boxes that makes prime time viewing ad-free.

Radio  Free World: While Boston-based, Tivoli Audio sells 60 percent of its' stylish radio products overseas and has come to have a deep appreciation of global radio entertainment. The proof is in the free Tivoli Audio app for the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Android that offers up push button access to 100 of the world's best stations, as defined by "quality of content,  streaming quality and reliability," said Tivoli Audio founder/CEO/designer Tom DeVesto. "There are now 40,000 internet radio stations worldwide, which makes searching for the best - in categories like rock, classical, folk and jazz - quite daunting. This is a great way to jump in with a positive experience."

Tivoli Audio makes a very nice stand-alone internet radio called NetWorks and built a good data base of audience favorites from it.  But it's frankly hoping the free mobile internet radio app will do more to sell its new Radio Silenz active noise-reduction headphones and forthcoming Bluetooth-enabled versions of its Pal portable and iconic Model One table radio.

POSTED: Thursday, May 24, 2012, 4:00 PM
Facebook has recently purchased the popular photo app, Instagram for $1 billion. (AP Photo)

Did Facebook buy Instagram to prevent a serious patent infringement suit?

Just a month after announcing its intent to buy the social photo site for a cool billion bucks, Facebook today launched a new application for iPhones (3GS and forward) and the iPod Touch called Facebook Camera that performs many of the same functions in similar fashion.

This dedicated app offers Facebook users a feed focusing solely on pictures. It lets you upload or download a bunch of images at a time, super fast, and at much higher resolution than the conventional Facebook app allowed. You can then scroll down a single feed to see all your friends' photos, even if they're coming from different apps.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 11:04 AM
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We should all hit the pause button for a second for Eugene Polley, a tech innovator often called the  czar of zapping, father of the couch potato and first beach boy of channel surfing.

Polley, who died of natural causes on Sunday at age 96, was best known as the inventor of the first wireless remote control for television, during his long stint working for Zenith Radio Corporation (now called Zenith Electronics and a subsidary of LG Electronics).

 His brainstorm was a space age styled zap gun that sent light signals to four photo cells placed in the corners of the TV screen. "A flash of magic light across the room (no wires, no cords) turns the set on, off or changes channels . . . and you remain in your easy chair," touted an advertisement  for the device, a feature of Zenith sets from 1956 forward priced at $149.95 and up.

POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012, 9:37 AM

If you travel, your high speed Internet account may have just gotten more useful. This morning, five major cable companies - Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable -  announced a joint partnership to enable free access to local WiFi hotspots for customers of any participating provider. 

To simplify access, a new unifying network brand "CableWifi" has been created for subscribers to identify on signage at available locations, sending the message "This hotspot's for you." At first, they'll sign on with the same credentials used on home turf. In a few months, users will be able to have their devices auto-connect to the internet whenever they're located in a "CableWiFi" zone, for free e-mailing, photo sharing, web searches, gaming, etc.

The system actually expands on a 2010 WiFi sharing agreement between Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable that covered Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Connecticut. The hotspot sharing will now grow to more than 50,000 locations with added service areas of Bright House Networks and Cox Communications.

POSTED: Friday, May 18, 2012, 11:34 AM

Today's free at noon concert with Norah Jones, Willie Nelson and Brandi Carlisle (broadcast on 88.5 FM) is the most visible event of this week's "Non-Comm" non-commercial radio conference. But for Gizmo Guy, there was lots more to take away from media guru Pal Marszalek's "Digital State of the Union" address yesterday.

Formerly music programmer for VH1 and high profile radio stations WXRT and KFOG, Marszalek is now managing partner of Media Mechanics, which works with brands like Starbucks/Sirius XM, the Sierra Club and the non-partisan, globe hopping Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He counseled the non-commercial broadcasters to embrace the new media, even (facetiously) those stupid pet tricks videos which garner (by far) the most views on YouTube. Here's some of the other points he made.

Facebook: Has 900 million users, but only 13 percent trust it. And as the membership ranks and posts soar, the number of friends who actually see your posts drops to 3 to 7.5 percent." With GM pulling its advertising from Facebook, "but continuing to spend $40 million on Facebook content" Marszalek wonders about Facebook's long term chances as a money maker and stock.

POSTED: Friday, May 18, 2012, 11:40 AM

Non-Comm got going in earnest on Thursday at the World Cafe Live.

For a better understanding of what exactly the left-of-the-dial radio confab is, let founder Dan Reeed explain it in my Inquirer story on the WXPN-hosted gathering and guest speaker agent provocateur Bob Lefsetz here.

Music was going on both levels Thursday of the University City club with acts alternating so as to not overlap. I missed the bell borttomed early 1970s Laurel Canyon video of Jonathan Wilson and Father John Misty, the Fleet Foxes drummer he produced, but got there in time for Lee Fields (pictured). The North Carolina bred old-school soul man who records for Truth & Soul records. Fields is a James Brown-Little Willie John style R & B shouter, like a make Sharon Jones, who sweat up a storm while a young horn happy band honked behind him. "Faithful Man," the title cut from his new album, is not what it seems: It's a cheating song.   

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