Archive for the ‘Cellphones’ Category

PayPal wants your smartphone to be your wallet

October 28, 2010

Third party developers will play a big role in PayPal's expansion in the moble commerce world. Steve Makris Photo

I just had an interesting two days at PayPal’s second annual X Innovate Developers Conference in San Francisco.
PayPal is making your smartphone smarter, at home, work and play in new ways.
iPhones, Androids and BlackBerries are taking on serious digital wallet duties, literally shaking the way you pay for online services.
Here are some cool working examples shown by attending developers eager to put their innovative ideas into play.
-Want to pay back or burrow money to and from your friend standing next to you? A couple of clicks and a final real “bump” of your phone-clasping hands confirms the friendly transaction. Call it the new deal-making digital handshake.
-You are at a hockey game, in the nosebleed section and are hungry and thirsty. But you don’t want to miss on the game action. Fire up iConcessionStand.com on your iPhone and see the available arena concession shops on screen. Choose from the menus and after a couple of phone clicks, have your coke and hotdog delivered right to your seat at half the average time it takes to walk down to the food stand. You can even buy a souveneir jersey to celebrate the winning goal!
-Feeling charitable and want to donate to your favourite cause? Just Tweet the amount of the site’s Tweeter link on your smartphone using TweetDonate. The app, which got a special recognition award at the conference closing awards tonight, was created by second year Toronto law student, Addy Cameron-Huff. He said it only cost him nine bucks for the URL domain name registration. PayPal’s app development software is free – developers make their cut on merchant transactions, or extra fees like the 99 cents iConcessionStand charges for the seat delivery service.
And PayPal software developers now get their share of consumer transactions, in almost real time.
These cool apps and dozens more, shown at the X Innovate Conference let consumers easily pay with their PayPal account without leaving the merchant’s web site and allowing them to continue on to other transactions, even on smartphones, without having to log on PayPal again.
Some of these apps optionally let you choose a direct credit card transaction.
But the idea of letting PayPal look after multiple credit card transactions, including bank account money transfers, seems so convenient, and as proven, safe. PayPal’s buying power also translates into lower credit card fees for merchants.
The conference, attended by international media and developers, was PayPal’s coming out of sorts. The company is introducing new ways to make financial transactions, beyond their original eBay home turf, from anywhere, anytime with wireless laptops and smartphones.
This includes a competitive fee structure for under $12 micro payments.
PayPal started out as a conduit between eBay buyers and sellers, allowing them to use their already registered credit cards for online purchases.
The company is betting big on doing away with traditional payment methods. “We have already seen the death of cheques,” said PayPal Canada GM Darrell MacMullin.
This week PayPal also announced their expansion into building tools for third party developers to make creative software online applications for mobile smartphones like the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
Many of these new apps only work in the U.S., but will soon proliferate into the some 190 PayPal countries worldwide.
For more information go to:
http://www.paypal.ca

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Hands-on the Kinect, PS3 and Samsung Tab

October 8, 2010
By John Makris and Stevoid
During a whirlwind 24-hour Toronto tech tour earlier this
week, we got hands-on time with Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect
game controller systems as well as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Pad.
How do the Kinect and PS3 Move controlling systems compare
with the Wii remote?
They all use different technologies to wirelessly control the console
content on your TV screen.
Here are our first impressions:
PS3 Move
The PS3 Move resembles the Wii controller but uses different
technology, including a video camera in the sensor that sits close to the
console and TV. It also allows for Wii-like nunchuk controller options for
boxin for shooting a bow and arrow and can accommodate a maximum
of two players.
Move was quite sensitive and responsive when playing several
new demo games at Sony PlayStation 3 Holiday Preview event at the
Sony Centre in Toronto. One thing the Move has over Wii are the HD
graphics which bring on a more realistic experience. Playing Sega’s Virtual
Tennis 4 was a blast althoughmore forgiving in bad returns than we would
have liked. But CTA’s Boxing Gloves was an energy-drenching workout
and felt quite realistic. But those glowing large rubber spherical orb  ends
were annoying.
They kind of look like protectors for out-of-control flying objects when
things heat up in some games. Setting was easy and didn’t need any
more adjustment once each game game got going. On the plus side, the
Move controller is much lighter than the Wii remote and the sub-controller
connects wirelessly compared to the tethered Wii Nunchuck. It also comes
with a rechargeable battery.  But the Wii remote buttons are better laid
out and its system is cheaper that the Move’s $100 start-up kit.
http://www.playstation.ca/ps3/motioncontroller.aspx
KINECT
The sign at the newly opened Kinect for Xbox 360 Experience
on Young Street across the Eaton Centre in Toronto says it all.  “If you
can shake, speak, tap, sway, wave, point, walk, spin, reach, turn, run
or jog, you can play with the new Xbox Kinect.”
Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360, out in Canada and the U.S.
November 3, was as impressive as it was fun. There is no controller to
hold in Kinect…your body, hands and feet control the game’s movements
as well as setting up a new game or additional players – a maximum of
four for games that allow it. It’s easy to use requiring a minimum setup
by simply moving your hand so its image goes over onscreen selection
buttons…keeping your hand over a button more than one second simply
selects it.
What amazed us was the selectionand variety of games and activities you
can play with Kinect. You can’t play Halo but there is Kinect Sports which
include table tennis, a gruelling beach volley ball and bowling including
spin throws. Kinect Adventures includes a mad water raft ride that left us
gasping for air as we leaned our bodies left andright, jumping over logs
and flying in the air to pick up more points.
The boxing-like exercise in Ubisoft’s Your Shape Fitness Evolved is a
real workout while the Yoga portion uses the Kinect cameras to show
and help correct your body posture on screen. There’s a personal trainer
and more.
The immersive Kinectimals for kids was so realistic one forgets it’s a
game. Petting a cute lion cub by waving your handsin the air felt so real,
especially watching it react to a gentle tickle under its chin. The cub
prods for more if you stop (see our YouTube vids below).
The Kinect’s three camera sensors also shoot pictures of you and fellow
players during games for sharing on Xbox Live. The future is bright for
the Kinect for Xbox 360, a come-from-behind gaming system for all
ages that is now also taking thelead with futuristic controller technologies.
http://www.xbox.com/en-ca/

Samsung Canada's Vlastimir Lalovic holds the graspable, lighter and smaller than the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab which looks like a giant cellphone screen on steroids running Android 2.2. Photo by Stevoid

SAMSUNG TABLET
We stopped at Samsung Canada on the way to the airport and
spent about an hour with the much anticipated Galaxy Tablet,
out in November with two Cellcos, one of whom we know will
be Rogers. Like all new technology form factours, you gotta be
there to touch and feel these new products. The 7-inch
graspable  Galaxy Tab seems to be just the right size for
holding firmly with one hand (as in curling your fingers
around both edges) compared to the 9.7-inch iPad that needs
a stand for long trips. It easily fits in large pockets and the ultra
bright screen seems to be just the right size for what is basically
a giant cellphone (minus the phone part) running on Android
2.2. It’s responsive, has two video cameras and uses a Micro
SD card.  It auto orienting touchscreen was fast too. It doesn’t
do voice but Vlastimir Lalovic, Director of Samsung Canada’s
Product Realization Wireless Terminals Division said there are
a dozen Android apps, including Skype, that can handle voice
call duties on the Tab. How will the Galaxy Tab compete with
the recently announced RIM BlackBerry Playbook?  Lalovic
thinks the two tabs are for different
demographics. Think of it this way: if you like using today’s
Android-based smart phones, you will love the larger-screen Galaxy
Tab for online reading and office work. One disappointment though
was the relatively small 3 megapixel camera which on a 7-inch
screen begs for more detail. What excited us is Samsung’s
aggressiveness in going out and hustling it’s iTunes like online media
service including millions of unlocked song purchases on Samsung
devices. More on that and reviews once the ready-for-shipping
product is out.
http://pages.samsung.com/ca/galaxytab/English/
Check out stevoidstickcam for Kinect and Move vids at:
http://www.youtube.com/user/stevoidstickcam

The new iPad is like magic, but not perfect

May 31, 2010

OK, folks, I had a weekend immersion with the just-released iPad in Canada. I must say, it’s one thing to listen to all the hype on Apple’s newest personal device and another to use it, for three days like I did.

You can go online and read about all it does at: www.apple.com/ca/ipad/

What I will share with you are my personal thoughts on the functionality and usefulness of the iPad, a cross between the iPod Touch, iPhone and a regular laptop.

Pundits are arguing how good the iPad is, what’s missing and what the next version (I assure you, there will be a next version) might be like.

So here goes:

WHAT I LIKE

-Blazingly fast and responsive. It feels like my Intel 6-core desktop on all the stuff it’s designed to do.. including wake up after you temporarily turn it off. Great battery life.

-Even though it’s not multi-tasking – you have to close each program to start another – its speed makes up for that, so it feels like you are switching between programs, some of which open up to where they were.

-The auto-screen rotation works all the way around, so you have a choice of where the Spartan buttons are when you hold it, and it’s great for simply flipping the screen to the person sitting across you.

-Its minimalist in navigation, nothing new to Mac users, but Windows users (it works through iTunes on Windows PCs) will take a few tries to get the idea. Try Real Racing HD, $9.99 from the App Store…it’s a blast using the screen orientation to drive your car.  

-I was pleasantly surprised on how good the iPad Mail program is. I was able to set up three Microsoft MSN/Hotmail/Live account with just two minor setup items like Pop3 and SMTP. The iPad had Microsoft Exchange, Apple’s mobileme, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL ready to go. Nice.

-Calendaring is nice and well thought out. I like the 24-hour layout…let’s face it our lives today are 24/7 so shouldn’t the calendar be too.

-The App Store rocks more than ever, because of the larger 9.7-inch screen. It won’t take long before your expandable desktop screen fills up with apps, some of are free and great to try out. In fact, any Internet experience is great, with full screen views and off course, the smooth finger pinching.

-YouTube rocks, as it does on all Apple portable devices.

-It’s unlocked so you can put any micro SIMM card from any carrier worldwide and it simply works with reasonable data plans from local carriers like Bell, Telus and Rogers…with no contract. In fact most are monthly plans. Kudos to Rogers, for having the easiest “on-device” SIMM setup compared to the more cumbersome dance for the other cellcos. But since it easy to switch carriers, every month if you like, try out the Bell/Telus versus Rogers connections to find the best cellular coverage for you.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE

– The iPad is an engineering marvel and belongs in an art museum, but it’s not easy to physically handle. It’s heavier than it looks and the bevelled metallic back makes it difficult to hold. It’s a slate, so you quickly get tired of holding it upright, whether standing or sitting. I recommend the simple charge dock to hold it upright on your desk. I predict many dropped units, so stock up on parts Apple. I often fall asleep with my BlackBerry in my hands, no harm there. But dosing off with the discus-shapped, densly packed and slippery  iPad is not a good idea.

-I can live without a mouse, after all, it’s a slate. The keyboard dock is nice, but by the time you buy that, the much-needed longer power cord extension and USB/SD reader combo pack, you are spending $150 more.  

-By biggest beef…no web-cam, a must tool for a go-anywhere personal tablet. All the money in the world can’t buy you one of those. Maybe the next version…I would gladly pay for the difference.

-An eBook reader it’s not. This is still an LCD screen, and yes a nice size, but can’t match the mage-like screens of dedicated e-book readers.

-Having a choice between WiFi and paid-for data plans is nice. But I was disappointed with Bell’s initially cool Mobile TV. Sure, it works great on the soon-to-comeI larger screen iPad version, but the catch is it costs eight bucks a month for either the live NHL hockey channel, or another eight bucks for half a dozen live stations like weather, CBC news, comedy channel and more. I am sure folks who don’t have access to a real TV can live with that. But why can’t I access the TV service from my WiFi connection like all other apps?  I now have to pay (after the free data trial is over July 31) for the streaming data…yikes! I have a love-hate relationship with Bell.

Keep an eye on this page as I will frequently add more comments.

Useful Accessories for Cellphones

April 26, 2010

The Otterbox Defender case: Three tough layers warp around a BlackBerry Bold 9700 keeping everything out but your calls and messages. It's the bulkiest of all three case designs.

Checkout these quality cellphone accessories which were shown at the recent CTIA convention in Vegas. I have been trying them out in Edmonton, and although pricier than others, they offer value to consumers wanting the best in protection for their cellphone investment and screen  “analog” privacy in airplanes and close encounters elsewhere.

Otter Box cases: they come in several types for many phones.

www.otterbox.com

www.shop3mcanada.ca

In contrast, Otterbox Commuter case, is slimmest case, featuring a thin silicon layer and an included optional flex plastic casing that keeps the rubber one snug in all the right places. This is the best model for pockets.

All

The Otterbox Impact is the second thickest one-piece flex protection for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 with re-enforced corners. It works best on slippery surfaces including moving cars with its jet-black silicon rubber.

 

The 3M Moblie Privacy Filter available for most BlackBerry models sticks on your cellphone screen which looks dark from anyone looking at it next to you. It works better for larger screens, as the embedded texture for doing the darkening is noticeable in smaller screens. 3M tells me screens will be available for the iPhone, the ideal size screen for these filters, availabe this summer.

 

Check out my feature on the newest smart phones with cool messenging features at  www.edmontonjournal.com

THE NEW GOOGLE NEXUS PHONE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE

January 6, 2010

Here are my two bits on Google’s new Nexus One mobile “super phone”.

Yes, it’s one cool piece of hardware running on Google’s newest Android version OS, just as powerful as a four-year old laptop and with cool features like large OLED screen, built-in compass, position sensor, voice commands for every app for hands free use and much more. You can read all that on www.google.com/phone.

But here’s what this Nexus One is not. It’s not cheap, and will disappoint many shoppers used to actually seeing and touching a real phone in an old fashioned cellphone store…before buying one.

Why? Because according to Google, at a by-invitation-only Nexus One press conference announcement on Tuesday morning, this is a new and simple way to buy a cellphone…online. Welcome to the Brave New World…Google’s World. Don’t expect TV advertizing and other traditional marketing. That will save money and get the lower prices, Google claims.

Folks south of the boarder (Canadians have to wait) can go on the Google website, buy the phone, choose a growing number of American carriers to activate with for as low as $179, select the custom two-line engraving message and wait for their phone to be shipped at their door, and activate online. Or, they can pay the full retail price of $529 and get an unlocked phone they can use anywhere they want with their own SIM cards.

But this model only runs on the Edge network, now the second fastest network in Canadian GSM networks…so don’t expect the greatest online experience that today’s HSMA phones enjoy with all majour Canadian carriers. The iPhone does that, as do other models.

Don’t expect the coolness and plethora of apps Apple phones enjoy, having recently announced the three billionth application download mark. By the way, the Nexus doesn’t do dual touch, so no on-screen squeezing. It doesn’t tether yet either. Picky? No, just trying to water down the “super phone” part.

So, while we Canadians will have to wait a bit before jumping in the web to buy a Nexus One, we can see just how Google does with its online phone store. In a way, I feel sorry the carriers have been shut out from actually carrying the Nexus One, in-store. This is the second time a non-phone company, Apple being the first, has called the shots on cellcos.

Well, I am actually not really sorry…Canadian cellcos are doing well, thank you.

Should I wait for the “free” Google version, like all free things Google got us used to? According to them, that will be some time. The Nexus One is not an iPhone killer. But it is a media advertizing revenue killer, hoping to better Apple on the power of the Net and customers who know what they want.

I still want to buy my cellphone like I buy my shoes… in an analog store, one foot at a time.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I spent some time with the Nexus One during a brief three hour showing at the Digital Experience show in Las Vegas.

Needless to say, the phone is quality throughout, no surprise there, considering HTC built with Google’s input. I found the touch screen, not much different than an iPhone, although I did miss the lack of iPhone’s two-finger and pinch touch.

The touch keyboard was responsive as was the switching between horizontal and vertical modes. The five virtual desktops, and HTC specialty, that are a finger swipe away worked well.

But my ultimate Internet experience, watching YouTube movies online, was disappointing. Due to the slower network connection, the image quality was below average and adjusting it to the highest quality, froze the unit.

If you want Internet performance, the iPhone is still king. Time will tell if the Nexus will dent iPhone sales.  

Interestingly, in the third hour of the Digital Experience show, the Google booth was almost empty, as if the several hundred reporters who initially crowded the booth, lost interest halfway through. I think there is a message there.

Hey folks, check out my first stevoidstickcam ride in YouTube on Epson’s new eneloop hybrid electric battey-run bike at Showstoppers at the CES show in Las Vegas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snNrUV4ciH8

CUT YOUR PHONE CORD…AND YOUR INTERNET CORD!

December 2, 2009

Newest Wireless HSPA Internet Hubs Rock
Cutting the cord on landline phones, in favour of cellphones, may soon not be the only cutting going on.
Folks who get Internet via cable or ADSL may be cutting those cables too.
Why? Because of some pretty cool new technology from Bell and Rogers that is making fast Internet access easier, even possible in rural areas. Imagine downloading a 100 MB movie file in two minutes, wirelessly!
Rogers’ Rocket Hub, $149.95 with a plan, for example, is a cellular device in disguise. It looks like an upright modem with a power cord, four Ethernet connections and a phone plug. It uses Rogers HSPA network, like cellphones, for data-based wireless Internet from anywhere. Up to ten WiFi equipped computers (including four Ethernet cable desktop PCs) can access the Internet for email, surfing, gaming and more, at speeds equal, if no better to my current Shaw or Telus land connection.
You need to subscribe to a very reasonable data plan from Rogers, starting at $35 monthly for up to 3 GB, up to $60 for up to 10 GB. If you lowball your subscription, Rogers simply charges you the next level for going over for the month.
But it gets better.
You can plug any home phone into the Rocket Hub and talk and receive calls. You can port your home phone number to it and subscribe to a Rogers combo data-voice plan, starting at $50 for up to 3 GB data, unlimited local calling, voicemail, caller ID and call waiting.
Can your current home phone and Internet service beat that?
Rogers is selling the Rocket Hub for folks who live in fringe cellphone coverage areas with less capable and pricier Internet options. I think its for anyone who needs a “phone” and Internet package at a good price.
BTW, one GB of data get’s you 5,000 text emails + 1,000 web pages + 400 photo upload/downloads + 50 minutes on YouTube.
The MiFi 2372 from Bell, $99.95 with a plan, doesn’t have as many features but is ultra portable. It is rechargeable and works with up to five WiFi equipped computers. It comes with a USB cable and software to connect to desktop PCs too. The micro SD slot can hold up to 16 GB of memory as well. It doesn’t do voice (other than Internet based calls you run on computers) but you can carry it in your pocket wherever you go in Bell’s HSPA cell coverage area and have Internet access for computers and cellphones with WiFi capability.
The one downside to extreme portability for the MiFi is its data plan, considerably higher than Rogers, at $30 for 500 MB, $40 1 GB, $65 3GB and $85 5GB.

Which is faster? I tried both units from various parts of my home, as well as parking in different areas in town. Overall, I found the Bell MiFi to be a bit faster (maximum download speeds of 650 KB/sec versus 580 KB/sec.) The MiFi only dropped to 450 KB/sec when locked in my car’s trunk, parked inside my garage. Impressive. But the Rogers Rocket Hub did a better job of keeping connection speeds up, when hooking up several laptops with simultaneous downloads.
So, if you are not a hardcore Internet user, consider the convenience these unique hubs offer.
Both units come with pre-configured security, with passwords printed on the back or battery cover. After all, you don’t want your neighbours running down your data plan, do you?
For more information got to:
http://www.rogers.com/web/content/internet-mobile/rockethub
http://www.bell.ca/shopping/Novatel-Wireless-MiFi-2372/69136.details
Check my cellphone gift guide roundup in today’s http://www.edmontonjournal.com

CELLPHONE HEAVEN IN CANADA

November 5, 2009

Finally, cellphone heaven in Canada!

With this week’s launch of the Telus and Bell HSPA wireless network, Canadians can finally enjoy, not just a blazingly fast network, but a great choice of new phones, previously available outside Canada, even North America.

Also known as 3G+, the new network will show a doubling of performance to previous networks, all things being equal. Like faster media downloads, faster mapping programs and for HSPA “stick” models, faster browsing on laptops.

But, some explaining on how the HSPA works, is in order. HSPA phones will only work on the new HSPA network, pretty much covering what the older existing Edge network does.  In Europe, it will work with the growing HSPA network, and revert back to Quad Band Edge when not available.

This means when you go to a Telus or Bell store, you need to decide which network you want to be on. Your deciding factour will likely be based on the model phone. If you like the BlackBerry Storm for example and the yet-to-be officially confirmed Storm 2, you will have to forgo the HSPA network, which for a lot of folks is not a big deal.

But if you want HSPA for the fastest online experience, BlackBerry offers the new Bold 9700 available at  Telus and Bell. They will still appeal to current RIM fans with its improved keyboard layout, smooth touch pad instead of ball, faster processor and more memory.

But more choices of phone models with more operating systems, will make choosing the right phone challenging.

Some HSPA phones are exclusive to either cellco. The new LG New Chocolate from Telus, for example,  is exclusive in North America. This is not a phone for the timid. “This is the phone for the person who want’s to be noticed,” said Hilen Wong, director of director of Product Marketing at TELUS. It’s thin, narrow and long with a stunning 4.12” multitouch  touchscreen that shows full width web pages. The HD video play impresses.

Competition between cellcos now is good for the consumer, especially on the popular iPhone 3Gs which now availabe in from three cellcos.

TELUS and Rogers, offer cheaper (but less data and voice) than Rogers. This competition is opening the doors to cool new and cheap services for consumers. Bell is offering the Video Calling service for just 5$ per month, or included in several plans.  Users get Unlimited Video Calling with no data charges and it doesn’t come out of your voice minutes. Concurrently, Bell’s Facebook app  lets users receive video calls from friends from anywhere in the world. All they need is a Web cam. There is no cost to the friend and there are no long distance charges. Sweet.

Folkd who live in rural areas will be able to have affordable and fast access on their PCS, by tethering their HSPA phones for speedy Internet access.

Here is a brief rundown of the new HSPA phones I previewed with TELUS before launch this week.

HTC Hero – This new version leaps ahead where it left off in its Rogers version. It has seven panels to choose from with lots of smart widgets for more personalizing. Running on Google’s Android, it has everything at your fingertips and lets you take all the great things about Google in your pocket.

BlackBerry Bold  – This is an expensive phone , but it’s the  BlackBerry flagship.  It’s used by most of the RIM brass, with many big and small improvements that will likely be noticed and appreciated by current Bold users. The fret keyboard is slightly curvier and easier for most fingers (mosly thumbs) to hover over while the touch pad is awesome and looks like it will never break down. The screen is crisp and the battery life is longer. This is a fast phone that snaps on your command.   

LG New Chocolate – As mentioned above, this a fashion and geek magnet. Unusually long, thin and narrow, it’s awesome on HD movies, great full width web experience, and even has room for dual frame display when handling your email. Nice.

Nokia E-71 – Similar to Rogers version this smartphone is indeed clever, an example of Nokia’s craftsmanship, engineering and practicality. It features two home pages, one for office and a switchable home version, each accommodating the demands or work and play. It has a crisp screen, a well laid out QWERTY keyboard even fat fingers can use.

Sierra Wireless 306 Mobile Internet Key – You know what this does. Plug into your laptop USB, the built-in software installs and you now have fast Internet. It even accommodates micro-SD cards, currently maxing at 32 GB, for carrying your digital stuff around.  

BELL to come soon, as I get my hands on some of their phones.

BLACKBERRY HAS FEELINGS

October 11, 2008

The Storm senses physical orientation, automatically adjusting the screen to work best, as in the full QWERTY touch and tactile feel keyboard shown here.

The Storm senses physical orientation, automatically adjusting the screen to work best, as in the full QWERTY touch and tactile feel keyboard shown here.

This was an exciting week for BlackBerry lovers who secretly suffer from touch screen envy. The big surprise wasn’t that the new BlackBerry Storm (up to now, it was called Thunder) was out so soon, but that Canadian CDMA cellphone providers were carrying it.

 

This means that Telus and Bell have more clout than Rogers when it comes to getting the next hottest smart phone – even one from Waterloo-based Research in Motion – or that Rogers simply passed. What do you think?

The best news about the Storm to me was that it is a World phone with full GSM capabilities right up to 3G, so who cares who carries it? I know Rogers and Fido have a good thing going with being GSM, available even on the moon, but CDMA, for all its battery guzzling features, offer better quality voice. Did you know that the already impressive talk and standby time on the Storm is even longer when in GSM mode? You will actually get the best of both cellular worlds with the Storm.

Telus was first to announce the new Storm in Canada but it didn’t take long for Bell to play catch up with a “me too” release later in the afternoon last Wednesday. The two competing CDMA companies, who are also partners in implementing the 3G and future 4G infrastructures in Canada, got into a contest of sorts on who would be first to actually deliver the phone.

Like, who cares folks? They both will have it before Christmas, so what’s a week here or there?

The Storm will not have the two-finger pinch effect of the iPhone – that’s a killer patent feature for Apple – but it’s kind of funny that RIM is so going out of its way to make its touch screen Storm behave… like a real keyboard, with fewer touch mistakes. You will have to press a little harder once the letter highlights on the first touch to actually make that key work, accompanied by a tactile feedback sensation.

I hope the Storm gives a better HTML experience than previous BlackBerries that can’t play most of the online videos. Despite it being the newest gee-whiz RIM gadget, it should not sell for more than $200 (with a 3 year contract) if it wants to be embraced by everyday consumers. Don’t forget, it has a bigger screen but does not carry pricey items like a real keyboard, trackball or WiFi, the later being a let-down for me. Sure, I get a great deal with Rogers data plans, $25 for 500 MB, for my Bold (not long ago, Rogers would only give you 4 MB for the same money) but I find that in WiFi mode, the online experience is much faster than 3G cell mode.

Still, can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Google “BlackBerry Storm” for the online RIM, Telus and Bell sites. 

 

CTO can’t keep TV out. Hot phones coming to Canada

May 3, 2008

XEROX CTO LOSSES BATTLE WITH TV

Here’s a few tidbits from my recent trip with Xerox at the PARC research centre in Palo Alto, California. I quoted Xerox’s chief technology officer Sophie Vandebroek in my PARC tour story in the Edmonton Journal, but her most interesting comments came from our dinner the night before. Sure, the single and very determined single mother of three can handle the thousands of Xerox research minds with a $1.5 billion budget. But Sophie’s biggest challenge has been keeping TV out of her house. Despite her efforts to raise her children with wholesome family values, opting for reading, the outdoors and weekly family movie rental nights, TV has crept in her home via, you guessed it, the Internet.

“It’s impossible to keep TV away from a computer today,” said Sophie, a BlackBerry fanatic. “I even took the modem away a few times but the kids got back online with the neighbours’ wireless Internet connection.” The energetic Sophie who travels ten days a month and still has the curiosity of a child, can slacken the TV rules a bit now. Two of her children are college-bound. 

 

Check out my quick “workout” walking interview with Sophie at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg4Ee8VALxs

 

My Journal story on the PARC research was an organized event with lab managers from nine different projects. But the one that moved me the most was the Rare Cell Detection which oddly enough was presented by PARC administrator Nitin Parekh. Only when I asked to see the scanning device, did I meet the brains behind the project in a room tucked away in the farthest basement room. Dr. Richard Bruce who manages PARC’s biomedical systems research area and directs the Scripps-PARC Institute for Advanced Biomedical Sciences, was hard at work, forgoing all the media hoopla a few floors up. His comments, in my story, on what went through his head when the Rare Cell Detection project worked were moving.

 

HOT PHOTO PHONE

Rogers Canada announced the hot Nokia N95 5 megapixel cellphone. I tried one out at CTIA in Vegas last month and must say this multi-media phone with 8 GB built-in memory is one piece of engineering. It’s available on May 6 for $399.99 (ouch!) with a three year plan. I will write about it in next Saturday’s Journal comparing it to the 5 megapixel CyberShot camera phone from Sony Ericsson. Is it worth the money and can it replace your point-and-shoot digital camera? Check out the demo at: http://www.nseries.com/index.html#l=products,n95

 

iPHONE  IN CANADA

So, finally Rogers brings the iPhone to Canada, well not yet, but a deal has been signed. No doubt it’s a cool phone and I am surprised how many PDA users have converted to the iPhone. I still think its too nichy a phone for business. Got to see how it works in Canadian winters, closer to release date. Meanwhile, there are other touch phones from Samsung and LG I will be checking on before the iPhone is released here. One thing for certain. The iPhone will bring about the “all you can eat” fixed monthly plan, something Bell had until recently but I can’t seem to find anymore. Is it gone?

CTIA 2008…cellphone heaven!

April 2, 2008

I saw some great cellphones at CTIA 2008 in Las Vegas, but many of them won’t make it to Canadian cellphone providers. Samsung quietly showed more than half a dozen European models at the private Showstoppers event Monday night with sophisticated features like your own widget-dragging onscreen featured on the gorgeous SGH-480 and a cool morphing screen feature on the “Soul” slider that changes onscreen button functionality depending on what you are doing.

The Moto Rokr E8 which should be a no-brainer for Candian Cellcos, hides buttons that are not needed for specific functions. Like when pressing the music shortut, the numeric keypads go dark and the player control buttoms light up. The circular Omega wheel, ala iPod, allows you to quickly scroll through any lists in many apps. I bet you it will be out by this summer.

Sony Ericsson showed improved features on its Canadian “shake” phone. The W760 handset has all the smart moves and is a world phone to boot. You can control volumes, change to next or previous song strack or scramble the song play order, all by shaking the phone in certain directions. I have to hand it to Sony Ericsson. Just minutes before the CTIA Wireless 2008 show closed I ran into Sony Ericsson’s channel and product marketing analyst Farhad Esmail check out the competition at the LG booth. It pays to know your enemies! 

 Nokia announced a non-cellphone device, the N810 Internet Tablet WiMax Edition, a 4.13 inch horizontal ultra-sharp screen and ready for Internet connectivity and easy typing on a well layed-out slide-out keyboard. Nokia hoisted a bunch of us tech scribes strapped on a large platform 180 feet high. They called it the Nokia Internet Cafe in the Sky and I tell you, I had a tough time trying out the bolted  N810 with my feet dangling and little people far below. Nice idea for a product launch but this cafe only served up fast Internet, no coffee or dessert.  Check my self-shot stevoidstickcam video link on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/v/aSkKa2jNqBY

I tried out Nokia’s soon to be released Maps 2.0 on a Nokia’s N95 8 GB 5 megapixel GPS slider phone. Its pedestrian mode kept track of my walks down the strip to meter-accuracy. I followed my virtual “bread crumbs” the program leaves onscreen to find out where I started from and it was bang on.

Pepcoms put son great technology showcases at major tech events, including the recent CTIA Wireless 2008 in Las Vegas. Not only did their mobile focules show serve up great technology but also an awsome martini ice bar…cheers! http://www.youtube.com/v/pjhLS2-oZU4 On the way back home from CTIA 2008 I was impressed with the frankness of a US Airways flight attendant who left me speechless. While she was explaining the ins and outs to me and fellow passengers about our required duties sitting on the emergency exit row, I jokingly asked her if there was a test to follow. Her reply: “No test, just a final exam and it will count.” Touche’

Check out my Edmonton Journal Story on CTIA 2008 cool gizmos I saw at  www.canada.com/technology